Sometimes, after you’ve started a regular campaign, your players tell you ‘hey, we have this friend…’ It’s that unavoidable moment in every D&D game where you have to add another player. This can either be a great time that expands and enriches you game or it can be a huge pain in the ass. Sometimes it just ends up feeling unnatural and forced.
We recently added a new character to our group. Rob’s son joined us, playing as the elf druid Losdrides. He had sat in on one of our games (the first game since the three TPKs in a row) and crafted a backstory that fit into the theme and goals of the campaign. And I, wanting to make the story make sense from a literary sense, put the characters in a situation where his character would make an immediate impact. All in all, between the two of us, we made a situation that didn’t feel forced on the other players.
Here are some tips to help you make the best of adding new players:
- Don’t feel bad saying no. If you can’t fit them in, you don’t like the person, or one your players doesn’t like them, don’t do it. Don’t add someone just because you feel you have to, add them because you genuinely want to hang out with this person. Always remember, a campaign is a heavy time investment, and you’re going to be spending a lot of time with the people you play with.
- Don’t feel bad saying not yet. You want to add the person, the group wants to play with them, they’ve made a character and written their backstory, but there’s one problem, the characters are currently miles underground in a series of tombs. Should you add the new player? Only if it’d make sense. Adding a player where it wouldn’t fit in a narrative sense can quickly make things feel forced and iffy. However, adding a new character where it would make sense or enhance the story can make for a more rewarding experience.
- Put the new player in the limelight immediately. In shows and literature, a new character will show up and make an immediate impact on the narrative, making this happen in your game will make the character more imbedded in the ongoing story. You can do this by putting them in a situation tailored to the new character, an adventure based on their backstory, or an encounter that plays to their strength. Right now my players are in Arenal, the elven continent, and the new player, the elf, has to do all the talking.
- It doesn’t hurt to have them there before they start playing. This one isn’t necessary, but it will help a lot. By having the new player there, before they start playing they are able to get an idea of what the group needs, how the game plays out week to week, and what tone the campaign has. This leads to a character who fits into the ongoing narrative much smoother than someone coming in with no prior knowledge.
So don’t fret over new people. As with most things in RPGs, with the proper forethought and planning, it will always enhance your game.