Content of the article: "Would I be too restrictive to create a new rule banning class switching for my new campaign?"
In my current campaign I have a player who, in addition to some other more serious problem player behaviors has been really fickle about their character build. They started as a chainmail wearing fighter, early on they decided they wanted to be stealthy and liked the idea of some of the ranger spells. So we switched them to a stealthy ranger. They reorganized their whole character persona to be totally about stealth and ranged fighting. At level 7, about 2/3 through the published module, after I've already created an entire then upcoming dungeon organized around stealth dedicated to their player's personal quest that he knew about and made a homebrew magic item dedicated to stealth and range they started messaging other players telling them that they were going to switch classes to a fighter without mentioning it to me, the DM, at all (this kind of thing has been a common problem). One of the other players told them to ask me first, and only then did they inform me that they wanted to switch the entire character back to a sword and shield chainmail fighter. I told them that the material I created for their character was pretty reliant on their build (character had extremely little backstory or personality besides being sneaky) and that it was way late in the campaign to retcon so much about their character suddenly with no reason in the middle of a quest where we had left off the previous session. They didn't want to roll and entirely new character and didn't want to wait a session or two so that we could make it make sense narratively so we decided to compromise by having them keep their stats, skills, and equipment as is and switch to an archery based fighter instead so the only thing changing would be class features and no spells. First session with the new archer fighter build he goes and gets a set of chainmail and shield lol. It wasn't a huge deal but it did mess with the integrity of the game enough for another player to note that he thought it didn't make much sense. It also meant the player, who is a new player, had to learn an entire new class at level 7 so that slowed down combat a bit.
In the grand scheme of things this really wasn't the biggest deal ever and if it had been the only thing with him I probably wouldn't have cared but coupled with other things he did I felt really annoyed by it. We're starting up a new campaign soon and while I'm not excited to play with him again there are important social relationships at play so kicking him isn't really an option. To help head off as many issues as possible I want to start the new campaign off with more clear and firmly stated expectations from the start. In addition to other conversations to address more serious issues, I'm thinking of making a rule that after level 2 classes are permanently locked in and after level 4 subclasses are permanently locked in. If a player is past that point and wants to switch they'll have to retire their character and make a new one unless there is a compelling narrative explanation for the switch that they have co-created with me. The purpose of this is to give a clear set window of time for players to commit to the character that they would like to play while allowing room to change their minds if they end up disliking something without killing story integrity.
However, I'm a little concerned that this ruling is overly influenced by my irritation with the previous player problem and isn't actually fair. Despite not liking the late game switch, I really prefer to be flexible with players switching things if they aren't having fun as I know player fun is way more important than rules or story integrity. I highly encouraged the first class switch because it was early and the player seemed to think it would be more fun for them. But I don't want these decisions to be impulsive and damaging to the story. This player always find a way to make me feel like I'm being crazy and I already know that they will argue this rule at some point so I want to make sure I'm in the right here. Am I being too restrictive of my players in limiting switching?
- Player wants to change character
- Consider having a side campaign
- Warlock/Fighter Multiclass Spells Known?
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