Adding a New Player Mid-Campaign

Sometimes you get part way through a campaign and you realize you need an additional player. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a player quits or moves and so can’t play anymore, leaving the party with a hole. Sometimes you notice things are ramping up in a way that the party can’t handle by themselves and you’d rather not fill in with NPCs. Or maybe you have a small party and a friend is now interested in joining. For any of these reasons and plenty more you’ll face the issue of how to add them. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when doing so.

 

  • Their schedule
    • The first and most important thing is keeping track of their availability. If your group always plays on Saturdays and they’re only available on Sunday then including them would be a bad idea. Making sure that the group doesn’t have to dramatically shift their schedule to accommodate the new player will prevent any animosity at the table.
  • Introducing them to the group
    • Introducing a new player to any group needs to be handled properly. Simply shoving them in unprepared can cause problems, especially if they don’t get along with the other players. If the players already know the newcomer then there’s little problem in adding them. However, if they’re new to the group or only you know them then some introductions are in order. The best suggestion is to simply have a hangout with everyone, maybe grab lunch together or just order a pizza and hang out for a bit. This will give the new player a chance to meet the group and for all of them to get comfortable with each other.
  • The group dynamics
    • Once the newcomer is acquainted with the party the group dynamics need to be established. Before your first session together make sure the new player knows how things work at your table. Are cell phones aloud or not? How is out-of-character communication handled? How does the team decide what to do in the game? Do they have specific rules or roles for how they play? Making sure the new player knows these rules will ensure a smoother transition for everyone. At the same time be careful to not be harsh, nor demanding that they act a specific way at all times. They have their own personality and interesting ideas and deserve a chance to be heard. While the other players have seniority to a degree that should only play into how things work for the first 2 sessions together while the new player becomes accustomed to the campaign and group. Afterwards they should have just as equal a say in things as the other members at the table.
  • Their Character
    • The new player’s character can be tricky to handle. When allowing someone to join mid-campaign you need to ask yourself a few questions.
      1. Is the party formatted around specific roles and if they are which one is missing?
      2. Should the new character be of equal level to the party?
        • If they come in at the same level they’ll feel equal to the team but at the same time they haven’t put in the effort that the other players have to reach that level.
        • If they come in at starting level then how do you make them feel useful with the team and how accelerated will their growth be so they can catch up with the others?
      3. What kind of gear do they get to start out with?
        • Starting gear makes them weaker but better gear or money questions what their backstory and experiences are coming in.
      4. What’s their backstory and how will they fit into the current party dynamic?
  • Introducing their character
    • Introducing the character can be as simple as saying “And then they appear and travel with you.”, though it’s rarely a satisfying way to handle it. The best way to incorporate a new character can depend on the campaign and group. If the group is a bunch of Bounty Hunters in Star Wars they could go after the new character only for the new character to convince the team that they’re more useful together, rather than if they just turn them in. Other times they can be a heroic party out to save someone and that person ends up joining them after being rescued. Maybe the group needs a hacker to get in somewhere so they go on a search for a new hacker which ends up being the new player’s character. Or if they’re a mercenary team then perhaps the new character is simply assigned to them and the party has to learn to work with the new addition, even if they don’t want to. There are a lot of ways to do it and the more ingrained into the story it is the more fun everyone will have.

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