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A Solution For Drop-Ins, Casuals, And Other Sans Character Players

The one legged cheetah man? Or the Bindlestiff? Hmmm......

I, like I suspect many GMs, have a “player” that I have difficulty actually getting into a game. There are many reasons for this, but the one I want to focus on is a specific type. They want to play. They like to play, BUT:

To that you get a resounding: “No THANK you.”

So what’s the solution other than telling the player: “Well, guess you don’t really want to play that much. Bugger off then.” Assuming for some reason that’s not the answer you WANT to give? In this case, the answer is: Pregens.

These can be new whole cloth characters, OR you could grab likely NPCs that you didn’t really flesh out for game play: Jondo the overeager town guard from last session, that genius whiz-kid inventor the PCs had to save from his own creation, that sort of thing.

O.K. Article over. Go make a bunch of pregens so that your one player who’s kind of non-committal can play one, or on the off chance you get a drop in. Shoo!

Oh. Still here? So depending on system, making a bunch of pregens can be a pain in the rump, and maintaining them over time to be a good match for your party can be yet more work. Every time your party advances a bit you have to go and update all those pregens. And while it’s fine if you don’t mind the work, I’ve never been much of a “Do a bunch of work on the off chance you need it” kind of guy.

So from here, there are a couple options:

  1. Steal them: So you could find a set of already made characters appropriate to your game and just steal them. Depending on your game that could be easier or harder to find. If you’re lucky you can even find a variety of levels so that you don’t have to do advancement either. You can just grab the selection that fits. Some systems even have entire books dedicated to pregens [1].
  2. Bribe your players to do the heavy lifting for you: Not everyone is into lonely fun [2] anymore, but chances are you have a player or two that would love to crank out a few basic pregen characters and/or update a few from the stable you already have. Just toss them a few xp, hero points, or heck, let them choose the pizza toppings next session and you’re good to go.
  3. Some mix of the above: Steal some and update them yourself, Have a player make them and you update them, You make them and let a player update them, etc… Whatever matches your bandwidth.

O.K. Article really over. Standard closing questions: Have you used pregens at your table? What’s a new and clever way to apply this that I didn’t think of? And as always, anything you want a gnome to wax philosophical about? We’ll write about pretty much anything if it keeps us out of the stewpot.