It happens in almost every game, a PC dies and now you have to figure out how to introduce the new character. Or a new player joins your group and you struggle to explain why they should join the party? There are a many ways to go about answering these questions. From the serious role-playing that this type of event triggers, to the inane and superficial. How you approach this aspect of death and dying in Dungeons & Dragons will come down to the play style of your own group. Different approaches to the game will result in different introductions for new PC.
Poof, Hey Are You The New PC?
The simplest way to introduce a new player is to have their PC appear and join the party as if they’ve always been there. It defies all reasons of logic, it doesn’t require a rewriting of the story, the PC just appears. This is akin to a Wizard arriving, noting the party doesn’t currently have a Wizard in the group and offering their services. The party accepts blindly, after all we just want to play some D&D tonight so why waste time.
The problem with this is it just doesn’t make sense. Yes, from a get the new player involved in the game perspective it’s the way to go, but it cheapens the story. Adding a new player to the game is a great opportunity to increase the level of role-playing that occurs at the table. It also allows the DM to introduce new information to the game.
Granted, if you are playing a hack ‘n slash game of D&D just introduce the new PC. But if you’re game is running at a higher level then this you’ll want to take some extra steps.
Provide A Plausible Backstory
When bringing a new PC into the game take the time to work with the player in devising a backstory that meshes with the campaign. This allows you as the DM to bring new information to the party. It also allows the PC to feel that they are of immediate use to the party and gives them a reason for being there.
If the PC arrives with no backstory and no plausible reason for being present with the party it breaks the immersion of the world.
Get The New Player Involved, Quickly
Nothing is worse than arriving for a session of D&D with a new character and not being able to participate until the last half hour. If a new PC will be entering the game, get that player involved in things quickly. Now, if you are trying to maintain the level of immersion in the game and the PCs are in the middle of a dungeon it might not be very easy to introduce a new PC. In these instances you may choose to break the immersion and just have the PC appear in order to get them involved with things.
There are other ways to do this, such as having the party discover the new PC in prison or perhaps the new player is tracking a common foe of the party. No matter how you choose to introduce the new PC give the player an idea of how long it will take you to introduce their new character to the party. This way you set the expectation and avoid any hard feelings if it does take longer to get things rolling.
What experience do you have with introducing new characters to the game?