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Multiple Character Disorder
Dragon Editorial
by Chris Youngs

I'm conflicted. Now that Player's Handbook 2 is out, I've started looking at the character sheet for Deimos, my beloved tiefling warlock, and wondering if he wouldn't look a little more appealing if he were, say, a barbarian. Or an avenger. Or, God help me, a bard.

I'll admit it. I have newcharacteritis. I can't stop thinking about rolling up a new character. Playing a new character. Leveling up a new character. And now that all the PH2 data is in the Character Builder, I'm doubly screwed. More options, and it's easier to make a character? Gah!

So I've been thinking a lot about how to get my new character fix. I've danced around this topic a bit in a couple of editorials, but I've given it more thought and I have some ideas. The first two are pretty basic, and you'll hear them from a lot of folks in the office here.

Play More Games. Yes, playing in more D&D games is something we'd all like to do more of. But as we've said many times, 4th Edition is easier to run than past editions and you have dozens of adventure options to choose from at this point -- there just aren't any more excuses. So start a new game, and at least your friends will be able to get their new character fix. Heck, maybe your new campaign can involve:

Round-Robin DMing. Again, we've said this a lot. Whether this is a new campaign or an established one, round-robin DMing can be combined with new characters. That way, each DM has a unique, unchanging group of PCs to deal with, and those PCs always struggle against the same DM. Sounds fun, right? It is!

Alternatively, you could try my new favorite idea:

The Swap Out. Build your campaign structure (or alter an existing campaign) so that you swap out characters every few levels. You could make the swap after each adventure or adventure arc. Your existing character goes on the backburner for some reason, while the JV team gets to step up. After a bit, you swap back. You could have a number of in-game reasons for this approach.

Geographic Swap: Your different adventuring parties are actually in different parts of the world, but they're working toward a common goal. Maybe they'll eventually meet up, and the two parties can mingle and swap some members.

Time Swap: Your two parties are at different points in the campaign timeline. It would be like having one party adventuring in an Eberron campaign during the last war with another in the present day. Both groups could even be working toward similar goals, in theme if nothing else. Or maybe some quirk of the campaign means the timeline is in flux, so the groups know they're working in tandem with other adventurers in a different part of the time stream (think Lost). Wacky!

Multi-Group Free-for-All: You run multiple groups all in the same session, pursuing different but related tasks. Think about the end of Return of the Jedi, when one group is attacking the shield generator and one is attacking the Death Star. You could set up a situation where you run a second group of characters during climactic moments in a campaign, each contributing to an immediate, pressing, but distinct goal. The DM shifts the focus back and forth to meet the demands of events and dramatic tension.

Superfriends: This is my favorite idea. Each player has a stable of heroes he or she can draw from for each adventure, kind of like the Superfriends in the Hall of Justice. Each adventure, the Hall sends out a different squad. Sometimes Superman, Wonder Woman, Samurai, and the Flash. In the next, Batman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and El Dorado are on the case. The number of PCs available is really unlimited. You could play someone new each week!

If all else fails, you can always get your multiple character fix by building a hybrid character. Using the playtest article for Player's Handbook 3 that comes out next Monday, you can wrap the best of two classes in the body of one adventurer.

This might sound like heresy to campaign purists, but all these ideas are options I'm considering for the next game I'm involved in. If I don't figure out a way to try out some of these new character options soon, I'm never going to be prepared for PH3.

What about you? Have you found a fun and innovative way to run multiple characters in the same campaign? If so, let us know! Send your stories to

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