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My DMPC will not be the party leader.
My DMPC will not be as important as the PCs.
My DMPC will be whatever the party needs them to be.

My DMPC's moods will not reflect my own.
My DMPC will be as much a slave to the Dice as the PCs are.
My DMPC can die.

My DMPC will not have all the solutions.
My DMPC will be underpowered.
My DMPC is not perfect.

My DMPC is a support character.
I say DMPC, because D&D is what I play, but really, it could be GMPC as well. I tread fragile ground.

Anyway, I noticed I was getting pretty bad with the Inevitable (my DMPC in Black Earth), so I made myself up some rules to follow. A visual thing so I don't forget you know? Originally they were going to be geared more specifically to that character, but then I realized it would be better if they weren't, and maybe other people could take some wisdom from this.

I was hesitant to have a DMPC at all (i've never done it before), but my PCs party constantly argues and can take upwards of two hours to decide a course of action. Seriously, they once spent an hour buying breakfast... from a bread shop.
Edit Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful advice - really, great suggestions for me to try and adapt to my style of DMing.

I had hoped the resulting discussion would have been more about GMPCs in general than about how to handle slow PCs. I love my players, I really do. I'm a very lucky DM to have a group of people that work so well together (even if that work is slow).

I also feel inclined to give a bit more description as to why I included a DMPC in my game, since it seems like some people are under the impression it was just to moderate the PC party.

He's a tool to introduce more adventures - a time-traveler (this was the original concept). I'll admit I pretty much stole the idea from Doctor Who - but I wanted to be able to jump my players around settings and get them to the action.

I really want to play. I... never get to be a player. I've never been a player in a game that lasted more than 2-3 sessions. Having this character lets me have a way to interact with the game from the other side as well. I've got NPCs, sure, but they're not really... the same... They don't stick around long, they don't follow the same rules... /Edit
I'll write up rules for him specifically later (being a time-traveler he really needs them, lest I get confused and contradict myself every other session). Also, his personality has gotten a bit wonky - which is really saying something since he's completely mad. (He's a generally cheerful fellow, but the PCs are just.... so obnoxious.)
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:iconshelly4fun:
shelly4fun Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2012
Having never played any of these types of games and knowing very little to nothing about them, I've come across these rules with a different perspective. After reading that a DMPC is a support character; I feel that I have something to add. In real life, I believe that this describes all 'support' characters: family/friends, teachers/mentors, soldiers/police officers and most importantly - each other. We can all share in the wisdom that has been gained from games like this and others, just remember not to let the game outshine your reality. Play on players!! :-)
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:hug:
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:iconhiahia2323:
hiahia2323 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2012
I dm and play a char in the party. yeah i follow the rules because it's only fair to the other players. I myself am the pure support char anyways (the school of magic my guy specializes in is healing) and of course that makes him the cleric.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
It can be hard sometimes, esp. if you really love the character.
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:iconhiahia2323:
hiahia2323 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
it's SO hard especially when I just wanna say, "And my character instantly kills Orcus with an arrow to the knee. Game over. I win." My god i just realized that my friends are max level and everything and haven't even fought orcus yet. they have the gear and items, so why not use the scenario I have set up already to have them eventually fight him? also, any tips with the encounter and rulings with major artifacts would be amazing, as one of my friends has the gold dragon sphere or whatever it's called and the ranger of the team has the wailing diamond. normally i dont have these things in my campaigns but they played a legendary kind of campaign (custom one that i didnt make, think as difficult as the original Tomb of Horrors. dear god, the orb of annihilation in the statue's mouth brings back nightmares.) and ended up with the things on two of the loot table rolls for the major encounters.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:lol:

I'm not sure I can offer any advice. The the items get make it hard for you to run the game, consider trying to come up with some clever way to limit them? Like, maybe they once belonged to some epic wizard, and their use somehow awakens him or corrupts the player or something? Something interesting atleast.

I hardly ever use artifacts like that. I usually make up my own (which gives me greater control over how they are used, and helps keep players from busting up my game with them). Granted, I am blessed with a really great group (especially for roleplaying).

I've always wanted to run the Tomb of Horrors, but I think I'd have to do the conversion myself from the orgiginal, I've heard mixed things about the newer versions.
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:iconhiahia2323:
hiahia2323 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2012
well I added -2 to saves, -4 to will saves from possessing the gold dragon orb, and only a remove curse can undo that. the wailing diamond thing grants 2 negative levels that can only be removed when the diamond is transfered to another owner.
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:iconnikitadarkstar:
NikitaDarkstar Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I'm one of those people who actually like it when my DM runs a PC too. Why? Because it honestly feels more like it's a cooperative game then instead of getting to a "us vs him" sort of deal. But I've always been lucky and had responsible DM's that have been able to handle a DMPC without overpowering it, under powering it (that can be just as bad!) or anything else, it's just been one more character, nothing more, nothing less. But it sounds like you're the responsible type too if you're noticing the issue (especially if noone has pointed it out yet) and set about to do something about it.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I've done the PC vs DM thing before, and it doesn't always work badly - as long as it's all mutual and no one's an ass about it. Same could be said of pretty much anything though. I wasn't a big fan of that though (however, I still design my combat encounters with this attitude - my goal being to bring them as close to dead as I can without killing them, for tough fights like bosses and such anyway)

About the underpowered thing: Yea. I deliberately gave him a shitty build (he's level 11 and my PCs are level 5, and they're pretty even atm), but when he joined up with the party, I started worrying that he'd be a burden because he was TOO terrible. Easy fix, I switched his con(8) and his str(12), boosted his HP by 22, and decreased his damage at the same time. Makes him and his feats much more effective - his role is combat is pretty much to be a meat-shield (with a feat that lets him jump in front of attacks and raise his allies AC). It's good for the party since they only had one tank - who was constantly getting KOed in every single fight.

Thanks, and no one did mention it =) I realized it happened when I was laying down for bed that night - and was reflecting about the events of the game. The ones I offended the most were "My DMPC's moods will not reflect my own." and "My DMPC will not have all the solutions." So those are the ones I'm going to work on.
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:iconnikitadarkstar:
NikitaDarkstar Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well there needs to be a challenge to be fun, but it shouldn't be an impossible challenge. But I get issues with DM's that actively try their best to kill my character. Sure IC a fight should feel like it's serious, but when the DM starts pulling CR 15's on lvl 5 characters and he understands the rules, then yes I have an issue. If I want to focus more on fighting for my life and less on plot and character development I'll join a horror/survival game. (Granted if you have a group with mostly spell casters pull whatever you want out of your rear... as someone who's played in a group with a sorceror and a druid while playing a wizard I see the issue. :p)

And I do think emotional detachment is the biggest issue for any player, and as a DM it's even more important. I mean I can get away with some of my mood showing through for my notoriously emotionally unstable, snappy, snarky rogue, but a DM really can't. And I suppose the easiest way to avoid the DMPC having all the answers would be to give him a somewhat passive ability. You know he just kinda follows everyone elses lead until someone asks for his opinion or something seems incredibly stupid. Heck for stuff like educated guesses that you as a DM do know the answer to, and your PC might be able to guess you could just roll %dice, the higher the number the more accurate the answer... say anything between 90-100 and it's spot on, anything between 89-60 is more or less but missing/off on something 59-30 is "umm no idea" 29-1 means it sounds very logical and plausible and he seems pretty sure, it's just completely wrong.. or you know whatever numbers sounds good to you, just some sort of personal chart to avoid giving them vital information every time they ask for it unless the plot demands it at that point.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Of course - I always try to pick reasonable CRs. Even if I were a more sadistic or mean-spirited DM, I wouldn't want to "win" by throwing something unbeatable at them. It'd be like cheating.

Those are really great suggestions - I'd already sort of planned for him to be more of a follower. Fortunately I've got a fairly good grasp of what he as a character knows about the world and plot, but I really like the idea of having a table for it, in case something I hadn't considered comes up. Usually I just have him make Knowledge rolls (he's got most of his skill ranks in Kn. skills, and a high int), but they don't apply to everything.
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:iconnikitadarkstar:
NikitaDarkstar Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Then you have the type of DM's that don't quite know how to scale encounters to deal with bigger (or smaller for that matter) than normal groups and just grab higher level monsters instead. Not as bad or frustrating as the DM who's actively trying to kill a group, but it's pretty far up on the "bad DM traits" list. ^^;

And glad I could be of some help. :)
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:iconlady-tempest:
Lady-Tempest Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
Have you tried a timer? I have been in a few games that have used it to great effect, especially in encounters that are meant to increase tension. Tell your players that they have a certain amount of time to plan/make a decision. When time is up things happen without them reacting, perhaps they are treated as surprised or confused (depending on the situations). Hopefully once this happens once or twice you'll get people trying to keep people on track.

If this game is online it will most likely move way slower then in person. I am playing one game online (which is planning heavy) and in the time it takes the group to gather information for the online game, we have successfully completed missions in real life.
Good luck.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I've never used a real timer for anything before. It's online so that's be kind of hard (hard to gauge how fast time passes). It just seems a bit... I don't know. Outside of certain encounters I don't see how I could make it work. If we were playing in person this would be a fantastic method for me, but online it doesn't seem very plausible.

But yea, online games move MUCH slower - and have a vastly different feel to them than RL ones. I love both.
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:iconlady-tempest:
Lady-Tempest Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2011
Fair enough, I've not tried it for an online game either.
Here's an online timer site, if you are interested. [link] It might be useful for letting people see how much time has passed.
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:iconbellaknoti:
bellaknoti Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
my group can spend an entire session on shopping, if i don't chivvy them along. dmpc's are perfect for this, but also random happenings that force them to act can be helpful, as well. you want to spend three hours in the market place? okay. while you're standing there, a fight breaks out right next to you, your purse is missing, the cleric is suddenly unconscious and then the city guard shows up before you've got your cleric off the ground, and they've decided it's you who started the fight. >.> hahaha ahhh... good times. chronomancers are awesome.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
BAHAHAHA. Nice.

My players spent an entire session shopping once. They were in an extra-planar demon-owned shop (they're level 5 by the way). The rogue managed to piss off the owner over a set of armor (he swore revenge), the cleric bought a 700gp magic cold-iron pot that came with it's own user-manual, and the fighter (a 15-year-old boy), stole 75% of the party loot for himself, leaving the other four to split the remaining 25%.

So you see... there's not much room for me to insert random happenings. My players have got that covered.
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:iconbellaknoti:
bellaknoti Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
oh, oh, oh, i would have SO much fun with those people. bahahahahaha oh, you want to piss off the demon? YEAH. they don't forget things, but by about this time six months from now, YOU will have... you want to steal 75% of the loot? guess what, that ring you stuck on your finger? hahahahahaha but there is something to be said for players who mess with *themselves*.
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:iconlorien077:
Lorien077 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011  Professional General Artist
If your PCs are that troublesome I don't think adding a DMPC to try to babysit/ move things along will work. Your party is going to have to learn how to cooperate before they can benefit from an additional ally.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Perhaps. You're probably right, from a realistic/literary sense at least. OOC everyone gets along great of course - but our game moves at the speed of old dwarf...
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:iconlorien077:
Lorien077 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional General Artist
Then really you need to work on in game party cohesion. Why are their characters arguing so much? What personality traits drive it, and who gets along well with who?
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I'm sure you meant that I need to examine it myself, but I'm going to share because I have no idea what to do.

They all lack decision-making skills (both IC and OOC).
One PC is focused on only their own goals -everyone else be damned. (Estella)
One PC is focused on always teasing and making fun of the one above. (Ava)
One puts way to much thought into what's going on. (Ares)
One puts no thought into anything. (Kyron)
One gets along alright, and I have no complaints about. (Andrak)

Estella and Ava are always trying to kill eachother, and Estella just doesn't get along with anyone, and is generally a bitch.

Ava is a complete ditz and a bit of an air-head, but when she does do something clever, is always ignored. She has a habit of saying something that ruins everything - to the point where she wasn't there one session and another player typed *insert comment from Ava that ruins everything here*.

Ares is sort of like the party leader, but he's the second youngest character in the group (16). He gets along best with Kyron (15), but doesn't have problems with anyone (and is Estella's favorite).

Mostly, they argue about petty things. "What door should we go through first?" When if they'd just checked the doors they would have found all but one locked. "What should we eat for breakfast?" or "How many groups should the party split up into for this mission?" Or they take two hours to come to a decision about something that should have taken 10 minutes.

I actually don't mind a lot of their REAL arguments (Stella and Ava have almost come to blows twice first time Stella missed, second time Ava was grappled. Since it reflects their characters, and there's a lot of interesting, if explosive, chemistry going on. It can be very fun and exciting really (I'm a blessed DM, really. My players are all very great).

What I don't like the gameplay getting bogged down by petty inconsequential things and the party's inability to make decisions. Having a DMPC helps me usher them along if need be (but sometimes they just ignore him!). There are others ways to handle the issue as, I suppose, but I have other reasons for this DMPC as well.

A lot of the slowness though, comes from us playing in a chatroom online, and there being so many of us (used I have 6 players, and things moved REAAALLY slow then)
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:iconlorien077:
Lorien077 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional General Artist
Sadly a DMPC isn't going to help herd cats. The first thing I recommend is getting everyone on voicechat (like a skype chat room) if possible. It'll get the players closer to a true tabletop experience and encourage a faster pace of play.

My best tactic for this situation is thus; its time to be a mean (but loved) DM. You don't give your players time to argue most of the time. (sometime you do to give them a breather/ encourage pacing) Whatever you plot is hits fast and puts pressure on them to get moving! Why argue about breakfast when that assassin is on his way to kill the king? Don't nag if they still lag, just let the consequences change the game. Don't punish the PCs; treat it as matter of fact. "The king has died so X, Y, and Z happen" sort of deal.
This sort of fast pace will also force your PCs past some of their issues as they learn to work together for mutual survival as well as the good of others (or their own goals not being messed up). Motivation is key my friend, and it'll light a fire under them like nothing else.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
About the voicechat thing, I just couldn't pull it off. I'm absolutely no good at DMing orally - I used to be fine at it (that is how I started anyway), but it's been too long now, and I'd just slow us down even more trying to relearn.
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:iconlorien077:
Lorien077 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional General Artist
In the long run it might be worth-while but I can understand that.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
They haven't really encountered anything that requires them to be fast-paced... no. I take that back.

They were arguing about whether or not to hide/split up/run/fight a bunch of mercenaries who were tailing them through a hostile-occupied town. Eventually the mercs decided for them, and they were surrounded. But this can't always be the case.

Though I suppose I do need to turn up the heat a bit. I'll have to do that soon (god knows they've pissed enough people off for this to be plausible).
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:iconlorien077:
Lorien077 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional General Artist
I highly recommend turning up the heat and the plot; the more concerned they are about important matters the less time they have to argue. Your party needs to go through its crucible so to speak.
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:iconarctic-master:
Arctic-Master Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
XD Most of my NPCs are support. I have one npc who's "leader-like" but he's about to leave the party. :3
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
The PCs are the main cast :nod:
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:iconarctic-master:
Arctic-Master Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Though there do exists DMs that would rather lead the party to victory. XD My first DM was like that.
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:icontheubbergeek2:
theubbergeek2 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011
It's true that DMPC can be a two edged thing, but there is maybe one solution...

Co-DM. Two dms, or one who take care of such things.

It's a complex thing, though.
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:icongeneral-ebonrose:
General-EbonRose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student Digital Artist
That sounds kinda like just adding another player - except one that I could control/influence more directly.
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:icontheubbergeek2:
theubbergeek2 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
partner in DMing, but well...
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