“So… you’re taking a level… in… Innkeeper?” (Also, character trees.)

by mshrm

Jed’s talking retirement. Maybe it was his “beyond death” experience that got him thinking. At any rate, he’s announced that he’s piled up enough savings to finally afford his dream:  to buy an inn and settle down.

And, of course, the player is wanting to try some new stuff. We’re at the point where folks are getting comfortable with the rules, and the templates, and the kind of stuff the party does, and so there’s a certain tendency towards experimentation. You can see it in the new guys, D’arth and Tantric. We started out with the standard human-dominated fighter/cleric/magic-user/thief party, and now we’re trotting out the freak show… as we’ll see in a moment.

Anyway, back to Jed. The thinking is, he’ll retire to the background animation that we call “town”. He’ll act as an agent for the party, and keep track of their money and investments. The regular pay for an agent will be subtracted from the party’s earnings, and they’ll share out treasure just like they had hired a hireling. The pay will not be added to Jed’s tally, but by the same token, we won’t try to price out an inn and subtract that from his earnings. If and when he returns to play, his character sheet will stay right where it is now.

It doesn’t matter what the story is. Maybe he’ll say that he bought the inn, lost it to arson, worked his way back up from the gutter, and now he’s back with a purse that’s coincidentally just as full as when he left. Maybe he’ll say he started a world-wide franchise of inns called “Mississippi Jed’s Tembladera-Fried Owl-Bear Parts”, became richer than Odin, went to be the king of all Londinium and wear a shiny hat, only to be betrayed by his vizier’s evil mustache, and now he’s back to make his fortune again…. with a purse that’s coincidentally just as full as when he left.

… ’cause that’s how we’re playing it. Ever since Day 1, I’ve offered the option of character trees. I see it working like this:

  • A player can have as many characters as desired, and swap them out freely in town.  Or even in the dungeon, between sessions, if I’m feeling generous. I would treat it similarly to how I’ve handled missing players in the past, with a bit of narrative hand-wave.
  • A player can only have one character active at a time, and a character can’t be active without a player. This means two characters in the same tree shouldn’t share a single bank account. At least, not without an Unusual Background of some kind.
  • A character who’s not on deck is frozen, like a saved game. Tell whatever tales you like about what life is like off-camera. Treasure and experience are only earned in active play. No secondary characters making fat cash working as enchanters who never leave town, bankrolling the primary.
  • Let me say that again:  A character who’s not on deck is frozen. Ever since they mugged Kadabra, they’ve remarked on how a starting 250-point character has $1000 in equipment, on average, while the goblins around Tembladera are usually only carrying a sword and some sub-standard archery equipment. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t care if the party members go around killing each other in play. (The rest of the campaign world might care, but that’s a different story.) What won’t happen is, player A misses one session, returns the following session, and is informed that the party needed cash for dinner, so they robbed and murdered player A’s character, since he was link-dead anyway.
  • For the sake of story, an off-camera character can act as an off-camera hireling.  Like Jed acting as an agent. If the numbers on the character sheets come out the same, I don’t care if they deal with “Nameless The Hireling” or someone they’ve adventured with. Either way, fortunes are made by adventuring, not through boring business deals.

Nobody’s ever taken me up on it, until now. If now, rather. Both TKotBO and, now, Jed, have been retired from play. It’s not clear if they’re “on ice” in the character tree, or retired forever. We won’t know until they come back.

Anyway. At the end of last session, we went through the process of choosing Jed’s replacement. I think the original vision was to give everyone a thumbnail to think over, and then have the in-play auditions next session, but it ended up being more of a quick selection process. The latest news, still subject to change, is that the newest new character will be a dog-folk Knight. Quite a change from Squishy Jed. 😉

For those keeping score at home… Why, yes, I would say that this addition makes the party look an awful lot like the group of monsters in Room 37. My question is… does this mean D’arth will take leadership along with full membership?