[RPG] How attached should players be to the characters they make?


I'm new to RPGs and I'm not sure how attached I should be to any characters I make. On one hand I don't think it would be pleasant to spend hours making an in depth character only to have them die off, on the other I don't like not having a real risk involved. I have searched through previous questions finding some that discuss how to get getting players attached to a place or NPC, and I have seen questions about GMs dealing with character killing. That is not what I'm asking.

Where is the "Goldilocks" zone for characters, not too attached or you'll burn when they die, and not too cold that you lose interest. What are good ways to avoid over/under attachment?

One thought I had was to create a second character ahead of time, but I can already see that I probably wouldn't be as invested in them. Also I could then see myself playing the first one like I don't care I get a respawn after all. Is this feasible?

How do experienced players deal with this issue?

What are some strategies that have mitigated the impact of death for some experienced players?

I'll be playing D&D 3.5 with 3.0 Druids.

Best Answer

Experienced players talk about their expectations

There is no “Goldilocks” here that works for everyone in every game. Each player, each group, each system, each setting, and each campaign are going to have different expectations. Those expectations may very well be totally different in the next campaign.

So the right thing to do is to talk to the group about this, and other issues. RPGs are games of social contracts; every campaign effectively revolves around one. Sometimes they’re explicit, other times they are not. As a new player, it’s not unreasonable to ask the group to make theirs explicit, even if they’ve never done so before since they’re used to playing with one another. Some groups have explicit norms about this kind of thing, others never discussed it but happily coincide in their personal expectations, shaped by their history playing together. Some groups have the same expectations for every game, and other groups have expectations that change from one campaign to the next, to better fit the new campaign’s theme, setting, system, or what have you.

Experienced players also know what they want, but are (often) willing to try new things

You may, or may not, know what you want in this regard. You may, or may not, be comfortable playing in a campaign that differs from your personal preferences in this regard. No answer to these is wrong, but it is worthwhile to think about your own personal answers to them before you ask the group for theirs. It allow you to ask better questions and it will allow you to evaluate their answers better.

If you have any hard-and-fast requirements, you should know them and the group should know them. Having compatible requirements is a major part of forming a successful group.

The Same Page Tool is excellent for this

You may want to consider the questions offered by the Same Page Tool to get a clearer sense of what you personally want, of the sorts of things you’ll have to consider. You may even want to ask some of the questions of the group, or see if they’d be interested in filling it out as a group (that is, after all, how it is intended to be used). Even long-running groups occasionally find out interesting things about themselves using it; it’s highly recommended.

That said, many groups are defined by their long-time comfort with one another. Much is left unsaid because it doesn’t need to be said. There ought to be leniency for the new guy, but if you poke the social contract too much you may come off as picky or demanding, which may be off-putting for the rest of the group. Just accept the answers they offer, clarify anything that you find confusing, and don’t try to pick apart their style or challenge their preferences, and you’ll be fine.

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