Friday, November 8, 2013

Discussion: How Much Tweaking Do You Allow?

In my experience no one is really all that comfortable with their character until 2 or 3 sessions in. This can be more confined in systems like Pathfinder where build options are a bit limited once you start down a path, but for this post I'm talking about more point buy games like L5R rather than level based systems like D&D and pathfinder.

Now, I've noticed this trend strongly enough that I generally invite my players to talk to me and ask about tweaking things on their sheets over those first few sessions. Maybe an advantage doesn't fit the character with how he is played. Maybe a character needs a different hook in her backstory to make her work, and that hook requires different skills. The point is the first few sessions are where everyone, not just the GM and certainly including the player of the specific character, meets the PCs and gets to know who they are.

The question I have is how much do you allow tweaking in those first few sessions, provided you allow tweaking at all? Can people fully remake their character? Change a thing here or there? Does it matter if something the player wants to drop has already been a prominent feature of a game session or not?

How do you do it?

As a note, we will not have a post on Monday, November 11th. Enjoy celebrating Veteran's Day if you are in a position to do so.


  1. I am happy to allow minor adjustments to characters in the opening games as a player feels out what they want to character to be and reacts to changes in play.

  2. I tend to be more lenient in the first few session. I am also more tolerant of retraining for character or story driven reasons.

  3. I'm happy to let players tweak their character as long as what they're tweaking hasn't been a major focus in game. If they spent all weekend throwing lightning around in a dungeon and want to respec to being an ice sorcerer, it's an issue. We find in-game ways to do it, like managing downtime and doing retraining there instead.

  4. I allow a couple of changes within the first couple of levels, but my players should be savvy enough to figure out what kind of build to go for. I don't allow retraining or similar mechanics in my games.

  5. I run an open-ended campaign so, theoretically at least, they could be playing those PCs for quite a while. Therefore, my thinking is that well considered changes/tweaks in the first few sessions are well worth it to get players happily settled.

    Another version of this question has come up during a messy protracted rules edition change. The publisher did a rewrite for a 2nd Edition Beta, which we participated in, necessitating players substantially working their PCs to the new Edition.

    The players certainly kept the same PCs, backgrounds & themes...but the skills & talents of the 2nd Edition were really different, so here was a chance for them to tweak some 15 sessions in. No one did anything crazy &, through no fault of their own (I'm the one that suggested we participate in the beta), here was a chance for them to"fix" something that might have been bugging them.

    Well, the publisher suddenly threw out the beta with a completely rewritten one promised the end of this month! More tweaking opportunities than any player would want.