So we’ve talked about playing a ‘non-standard” character in TTPRG and one with a new parentage and upbringings. Now I want to discuss how to balance your player with a party.
A common argument or inquiry that I see online is the “my party feels like I’m catering to one player” and/or “the rest of my party feels left out because they picked a “standard” race or class.” First I will address that this is completely expected. If you look at an adventuring party like a family unit it’s easy to address the DM/GM in a parental role with each player taking on the role of a sibling. No one wants to think that one of the “siblings” is favored over the others because this breaks the immersion of the gameplay.
Related: Part 1 – How to Create and Play as Characters Outside of Standard Races
This can also be said for a character who finds themselves as a “chosen” or “devoted” one in-game. Fellow adventurers can instantly feel like their role is not as significant as another player and call favoritism. There can also be disappointment at the table if a player character feels their potential or use in-game is significantly less than other players.
As always, communication is key in these moments. The best time to address these possibilities in-game is talking it out in your session 0. If someone is starting as a cleric or paladin there is a high chance they will encounter a deity of sorts and may become a champion or a martyr at some point in the story. Address it right out of the gate. This sets up the expectation and allows for players to share their concerns in a safe space at the table without derailing a campaign or story out of jealousy, confusion, or justification. You will set yourself up for success if you make it clear that anything is possible in this game and that even if another player is having their time in the spotlight that does NOT mean anyone else’s story is inferior. Everyone will get their chance and another way to praise players is when a major achievement is unlocked for one play, have a benefit or sizable reward ready for the players.
An example I will use is from one of my own stories. A character knew her story was to help the others in her party and potentially find some sort of peace and justice by helping others. This was established with her player early on and she was content with her character “working in the shadows” so to speak. As gameplay went on I could she was visibly frustrated that she felt she had to handhold on several occasions and as her DM, I had to remind her that her purpose was greater and if she devoted her character to the cause they had set out on that she would get her chance at justice. This may have seemed like a small interaction at the time, but communicating that to her lit her on fire again for the cause and they dominated an encounter and got the revenge/justice they are been seeking for decades as characters. The whole party succeeded, but without her drive they likely would have stalled out and moved on, waiting to fight another day.
Related: Part 2 – How to Create and Play as Characters Outside of Standard Races
So what does this have to do with character creation? If we had not established her character motivations early on despite her taking on a role that is not a standard use of her class this triumphant moment would have felt forced or potentially would have never happened.
Your class says a lot about your character, but the standard definition should not be the only reason you choose a particular class. There is an infinite number of possibilities for character creation based on one fact or decision alone. Don’t be afraid to try something new, just make sure you are communicating with your GM/DM and your party outside of the game so that everyone can enjoy the story. Set up expectations early, and if you are playing a non-standard race or character type explain how your character differs from an existing version or how it compares to the other party members. There should never be a heated competition between players about who is better on paper (save that for the fighting pits of your favorite TTRPG world). Side note: It’s fun to jest with fellow team members, but remember everyone is there to have fun and a good time, not witness a real-life “My horse is bigger than your horse” argument.
If you would like to see a deeper dive into character creation on our site, please let us know in the comments and feel free to share your suggestions! We want to make sure we are helping players of all levels get the most out of their TTRPG experiences at the table and beyond.