Rules for Replacement PCs


Advice


When a PC dies is there a right way to adjudicate where the players next PC starts?

Starting with a 1 level PC with starting gold in a higher level team seems unnecessarily punitive as the PC starts as an observer too weak to participate and will always be weaker than the rest.

Starting a PC at the same level as the rest with appropriate WBL results in a death bonanza where a player is disinclined to want his dead PC back because a new one comes with a cash payout. This is especially true for APs where wealth comes in caches and isn't a steady flow across the board. It encourages abandoning dead PCs who could be revived or "quested" back to life. It's also kind of unfair to the others.

Is a good third way allowing a Replacement PC to come in at APL but starting him with level 1 resources? That way there is no death bonanza and the old PCs items may be sold to equip the new one and the survivors.

Is there an official rules based way to adjudicate this?

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This is table variation. No official rules beyond the WBL recommendation for starting characters.

I have neither experienced nor read any significant instance when players would abuse death houserules to gain a gold advantage. If you truly do have players like that, then you're better off not having them at your table. Players generally don't want their characters to die unless they're bored playing them. If you prefer that players keep try to keep their characters upon death, then make raising cheaper and more accessible.

My best recommendation is starting a new character at APL with the average wealth for a party member. Or, just use the WBL table since the other PCs will likely have higher wealth than that since they're not a character starting at that level


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There are no official rules for this.

Pathfinder doesn't work very well if you have a gap in levels. Even two levels is a huge power gap in many cases.

If you feel you absolutely must punish them beyond having already lost a character, have them come in with NPC levels of equipment and start them at the level of the lowest party member. Just be sure they have a way to recover.


It's not about punishing a player. It's about fairness to the others. I have three people who died. Two want to keep their old PCs one doesn't because he doesn't like the class he was. The two who want their old PCs back will get them back, but they're not going to get any gold out of the deal. The third player, rolling up a new level 3 PC is going to get $3000 out of the deal.

Is it not more fair to say that the old PC's gear can be sold for gold and used to buy other things for the group? Most likely the party will use the majority of the gold to bring the new PC up to speed with equipment anyway.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Just give the new characters the same wealth as the lowest party member or the average party member. I feel like you're overcomplicating it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Like treasure distribution*, this is something that is left up to each group to decide how they want to manage it.

Some options:

- Start at level 1 and go on solo adventures (or small group adventures, if there are multiple character deaths) until levels "catch up." Requires a heavier workload on the GM and the "main party" is short-handed for a while.

- Start a new character at APL - 1. The player can contribute, but is still a bit less "powerful" than a customized character of APL.

- "Promote" a cohort or other significant NPC to PC status (as long as they are close to APL). This method helps minimize any story disruptions, as the NPC already has a history with the rest of the party.

- Have the GM create a replacement character for the player. The player requests general role, personality, fighting style, etc., but the GM adds details and chooses equipment, feats, etc. based on both the player's inputs and their knowledge of the campaign.

*- Equal shares based on gp-equivalent, equal shares plus common reserve, random-order picks after the adventure, etc.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cyrad wrote:
I have neither experienced nor read any significant instance when players would abuse death houserules to gain a gold advantage.

It used to be somewhat common in 1st/2nd Ed AD&D days.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Shaun wrote:

It's not about punishing a player. It's about fairness to the others. I have three people who died. Two want to keep their old PCs one doesn't because he doesn't like the class he was. The two who want their old PCs back will get them back, but they're not going to get any gold out of the deal. The third player, rolling up a new level 3 PC is going to get $3000 out of the deal.

Is it not more fair to say that the old PC's gear can be sold for gold and used to buy other things for the group? Most likely the party will use the majority of the gold to bring the new PC up to speed with equipment anyway.

You didn't say what level the party was, just the level of the replacement PC.

How much wealth are the other characters at? The 3K figure appears to be from the Wealth by Level table, pg. 399 of CRB. That is what an average character should have at about that level.

All the characters should get up to that value, regardless of if they were raised or are replacement. Pathfinder assumes a certain amount of bonuses from equipment when figuring an appropriate challenge.

You can have them start at a lower value, Just realize that then the characters have had their effectiveness reduced and adjust the CR appropriately.

Table 14-9 on pg. 454 gives NPC wealth levels. I would not suggest you start them with less than those levels, and as started above make sure you have a way to allow the whole group to recover.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If players are munchkin enough to play the death card - you know the deal, you die, your gear gets split up or sold, and you come back with a new guy who has loads of his own gear - then maybe they aren't the players you want to play with after all. <g>

I used to (in DD3.5) ask my players to bring in a new character at one level lower than their previous level, with NPC wealth. That felt right to me as an old-school DM, but maybe it's a little harsh.

In the latest campaign (PF), we've only had one player death so far (one that hasn't been resolved by raising the dead in some way) and that was heroic enough that everyone felt the new PC should be full party level. IIRC I gave him like 80% of full WBL.

But yeah, you don't want to start folks at 1st level every time, unless it's a full sandbox (rather than a linked campaign) and you play a *lot* (like several times a week) so that the new guy can somehow hope to make up the difference.


They're all level 3. They're also playing an AP so the treasure is swingy and found in chunks. Some players have around 550 GP worth of gear while others had 3500 worth of gear. The thing is that they came upon it organically and everyone agreed when someone got an item. They also have a good amount of fluid gold sitting in the bank and unspent, so it's hard to say, really. WBL isn't something I'm worried about because I trust the writers of the AP have done the math so that in the end it balances out. What I am worried about is the guy who chose to roll a new character gets a payout that the guys who aren't don't.

As it stands, the guy who stands to start with 3000 had 3500 when his old guy died. And the gear he had that made up that number was cast off gear no one else wanted. I'd hazard a guess that the other guys who aren't making new characters are in the 1500-3000 range, probably. There are also magic items that sit on the shelf. These player's aren't squeezing every copper piece by any means.

Grand Lodge

Shaun wrote:

It's not about punishing a player. It's about fairness to the others. I have three people who died. Two want to keep their old PCs one doesn't because he doesn't like the class he was. The two who want their old PCs back will get them back, but they're not going to get any gold out of the deal. The third player, rolling up a new level 3 PC is going to get $3000 out of the deal.

Is it not more fair to say that the old PC's gear can be sold for gold and used to buy other things for the group? Most likely the party will use the majority of the gold to bring the new PC up to speed with equipment anyway.

I have had a GM that Renders most a PCs gear useless so the other PCs can not profit from death. Including the ones who Lived.

As far as a player not Liking their class it is a reason PFS gives a Level 1 rework. Now some people abuse it...but it is still early and why stick him with character he is not enjoying for months to come. They will not break the game with 3k gold, and if they do figure out some way, it is still early enough to replace them as a player.


I let them start with base points for lowest level player in the party.
This means they are a bit behind rest of party but that will even up eventually.
As for cash: I know exactly how much players have in cash/gems and in items. For players that have died also the same rule; the same as the lowest in the party. I also include the rule that 60% has to be spent on gear of this amount. All purchased items have to be cleared by me before first introduction into the game of the new character.
So the have some small penalties for death but nothing mayor.

Liberty's Edge

In the past, I have had players bring in characters of the same level, but with the WBL of a level below. That way, the character was equipped in a reasonable "I'm an adventurer, I've gotten some loot, I've survived this far" but not so much that they may over-gear other players who may not have had good luck with treasure (though I do try to place treasure semi-regularly that fits with the party rather than just complete random).

Grand Lodge

Vanye wrote:

In the past, I have had players bring in characters of the same level, but with the WBL of a level below. That way, the character was equipped in a reasonable "I'm an adventurer, I've gotten some loot, I've survived this far" but not so much that they may over-gear other players who may not have had good luck with treasure (though I do try to place treasure semi-regularly that fits with the party rather than just complete random).

As a Player, in general, I love when DMs changes the loot to fit the party better.


There are no official rules for this, and each table's houserules are highly variable.

Even at our table, we have 3 GM's and we take turns running. Each does it a little different. My method is you start out at the same level as the other characters, but at the WBL of one level below.


Fruian Thistlefoot wrote:
As a Player, in general, I love when DMs changes the loot to fit the party better.

I will do that with found loot, but with wielded loot (which is where the majority of found magic weapons come from) I will not because that would in many cases require rebuilding NPCs and I run APs precisely because I don't want to spend even more hours building NPCs.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand WBL as an average over the life of a character. It's not at any given time you look down and you have exactly that much wealth right now. You might be under WBL but are sometimes just one fight or one perception check away from being over it. I've found that people notice when they're under WBL but seldom do once they're over it.

However, when a new PC is rolled at WBL, all of a sudden he just gets there by virtue of his situation. It seems unfair when people who want to keep their characters get no such benefit.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Shaun wrote:
WBL isn't something I'm worried about because I trust the writers of the AP have done the math so that in the end it balances out.

That depends heavily on the AP. Carrion Crown is notorious for not giving PCs enough wealth unless they rob good people.

The APs are written for a typical group and may not necessarily be balanced for your group. Most of them need some adjustment and some supplemental treasure. There will often be side quests where precise treasure isn't specified.

The APs also don't generally provide 'replacement treasure' to cover the costs if the group needs some condition removal spells such as Lesser Restoration or Remove Curse.

How much you need to supplement the AP depends on a lot of different things including but not limited to how easily the characters have been able to deal with the challenges, how optimized the characters are, and the preferred style of play for both players and GM. The APs provide a good basic framework, but a GM will often need to adjust based on what happens in the campaign.


Yes, I always roll treasure for random encounters (depending on the monster's treasure stat) and also in cases where an NPC is listed as a fight with no treasure. I'm actually quite scrupulous about it. But at level 1-4 most of what you find for given encounters is going to be consumables. And sometimes I have the NPCs drink the potions if they'd be helpful.

We're working through Hell's Rebels, BTW.


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Shaun wrote:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand WBL as an average over the life of a character. It's not at any given time you look down and you have exactly that much wealth right now. You might be under WBL but are sometimes just one fight or one perception check away from being over it. I've found that people notice when they're under WBL but seldom do once they're over it.

However, when a new PC is rolled at WBL, all of a sudden he just gets there by virtue of his situation. It seems unfair when people who want to keep their characters get no such benefit.

Think of it more as a guideline for how much magical gear a character should have. You are correct that being a little above or below isn't generally a problem.

That said, you may want to look at Automatic Bonus Progression from Pathfinder Unchained. That gives you an idea of what sort of bonuses the game system assumes characters will have by level. Characters without enough gear will not be as effective as the CR system assumes.

It sounds like you are just starting to get to the levels where this starts making a big difference. At a certain point, not having a magical weapon will prevent a character from being effect in some fights that a character of that level should be able to handle, such as against a group of gargoyles.

Grand Lodge

How about letting the player roll up a new character at the same level as the rest of the party, but give it the exact gear and good the dead character had. Then let the player keep or sell all that stuff to outfit the new character. Maybe offer full price for old gear?


I honestly would not worry about at level 3, 3,000gp is a drop in the bucket at level 10+. I am honestly surprised you had 3 characters die in an AP at the same time. Where the dice no good on your players side or did they do something stupid. where they to good on your side? at level 3 and you die you really should just make a new character. after having to pay for 2 raise dead then having to get rid of two negative levels. is far beyond wealth by level. If you are giving them their characters back with out having to do this. It make me wonder what went wrong. These AP are heavily favored in the players direction. If they did something stupid Let them deal with things how they are learning experience, also teaching them that running from combat is an option. if the dice where to heavy and good on your side, I would let come back as they where. As GM you kind of have to read the flow of the game and fudge your dices rolls down if you are rolling too hot. I never had that many of party die in one session, expect in custom very hard adventure and the players where being stupid and stubborn. The event end in a TPK.


When a character dies in my game (and is not going to raised for whatever reason) the party is allowed to select one item that the dead PC had that the party can keep. All other possessions of the dead PC are hand-waved away and the player of the dead PC brings in a new PC at the same level as the party and with the appropriate WBL (in my current campaign, that would be halved because we are using the Automatic Bonus Progression rules).

Liberty's Edge

Headfirst wrote:
How about letting the player roll up a new character at the same level as the rest of the party, but give it the exact gear and good the dead character had. Then let the player keep or sell all that stuff to outfit the new character. Maybe offer full price for old gear?

The problem with that method, and it is a problem that can be dealt with to be sure, is that it quickly overpowers PC's. Suddenly, they have a surfeit of items they can sell to get things that enhance their characters, without having to make a sacrifice of selling something that they already have (and use) to make up the difference (i.e. upgrading a weapon or armor to have a special ability, for example). Not an insurmountable issue, but it's one that some people don't care to deal with regularly.

Not to mention the issue where you roll up a new mage...and suddenly he has all the gear of your old fighter....

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I think the handling of replacement PCs is one of those things that's best dealt with not by a codified procedure but on a case-by-case basis. (Well, unless your campaigns are such meatgrinders that deaths are happening all the time.) You've got to take into account how gear-reliant (or not) the new PC's class is, the circumstances of the death (was he swallowed whole along with his gear?), the circumstances of the new PC's introduction to the campaign (seeking employment with an established adventuring group is different from being found as a prisoner somewhere, for instance), and the current phase of the story (out in the wilds, mid-dungeon, downtime in a city, etc). These and other factors should shape the method of PC replacement, and the best solution might be different every time. A quick "level X, gear Y" rule isn't likely to cut the mustard in all (or even most) situations.


Back when I ran PF, I prefered the simplest approach. Between adventures the party was assumed to access markets and shuffle their gear loadout according to the PCs desire. Meaning everyone rebalanced to wbl on a regular basis.

Scarab Sages

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I don't understand how he is getting a windfall. That gold needs to go toward equipping this new, item-less PC. If everyone is assuming that the dead character's gear goes to the new character, I would reduce WBL by what he's given. (Although I don't know why they'd give their dead friend's stuff to some stranger.)

Honestly, this isn't really a question of fairness in a coopoerative party. NOT giving WBL would be the unfair thing, as it harms the other members of the group to have a less-effective, less-equipped companion.


I'll talk solely about the wealth issue, as I personally find mixing PCs of varying character levels creates unnecessary in-group jealousy, while also creating additional encounter-balancing challenges for the DM.

On the issue of replacement PC wealth, as othes have said, this is a decision that is left up to the DM. The average WBL table is simply meant to be a guide.

I do agree that there is potential for a windfall for a replacement PC, however, particularly if the rest of the party is working below average WBL. And this windfall can create a direct or indirect incentive for players to allow their characters to die.

As I posted about in another thread a moment ago, in my current AP campaign we have had one player who is onto a 5th or 6th PC, while the rest of the group are still using the starting characters.

Apart from the "connectedness" issues associated with bringing in a new PC into an existing story arc, the gear issue can also be a sore point. Though I try not to get too worked up about it (it's just a game after all), the new PCs always seem to stroll into the game with far more gear than the rest of us (and with gear hand-selected for their build, rather than the more random assortment the rest of us have from the AP). This is the case even though we use the Automatic Bonus Progression system and the new PCs are coming in with half of the usual WBL.

Someone suggested that the GM should allocate wealth along the lines of what the current "poorest" PC has, and I think that strikes a good balance. It means they won't be at a disadvantage relative to the rest of the party, but avoids incentivizing player death (meaning a character might be a little more likely to avoid doing something reckless, or to want to be raised if they die).

If that seems rough on new PCs, remember that new PCs also have an advantage in terms of how they are built. A new PC is always to fit the current level, meaning they can hand-select feats, stats, etc. without any regard for how rough it might have been to endure those during earlier levels. (For example, building an 8th level character which "started" at 1st level with multiple odd-numbered stats, knowing that they can be evened out at 4th and 8th level, without having to actually play through the earlier levels without those 4th and 8th level stat bumps.)


Shaun wrote:

When a PC dies is there a right way to adjudicate where the players next PC starts?

Starting with a 1 level PC with starting gold in a higher level team seems unnecessarily punitive as the PC starts as an observer too weak to participate and will always be weaker than the rest.

Starting a PC at the same level as the rest with appropriate WBL results in a death bonanza where a player is disinclined to want his dead PC back because a new one comes with a cash payout. This is especially true for APs where wealth comes in caches and isn't a steady flow across the board. It encourages abandoning dead PCs who could be revived or "quested" back to life. It's also kind of unfair to the others.

Is a good third way allowing a Replacement PC to come in at APL but starting him with level 1 resources? That way there is no death bonanza and the old PCs items may be sold to equip the new one and the survivors.

Is there an official rules based way to adjudicate this?

No there isn't. What I do as a GM is to adjust for such things on the fly so that there is neither a "death bonanza" nor any unfair handicapping of a new PC. So while there might be a few bumps, that's adjusted for by tweaking treasure drops as needed. Or if the new PC is of the same class as the old, I'll bring the character in practically naked to heavily encourage the party to pass on the gear, adjusting as needed.

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