So in writing this, and for you the reader, I must make this PERFECTLY clear and open. This is NOT me mocking the disorder in any way. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a serious thing and should not be treated lightly, so this is the closest I could come to mimicking some of the effects, without the horrible disorder that people are sadly affected by. While not the most devastating things a person can go through, the lack of a solid identity is only something I can imagine. If you know someone, or are someone, who needs help with Dissociative Identity Disorder then here are a couple of links to hopefully help you or the person you know.
These are both Australian resources, you should search your local area as well for more local support.
When I first had this idea, nearly 20 years ago, I don’t think I was experienced enough to run this kind of character, but more recently I was given the opportunity to run this character through the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module. This is NOT a very experiences / user friendly kind of character, and I have added at the end some notes on the elements you have to think about in running this kind of character.
The overall concept of this build was to make a character that could have some great interactions, while allowing me to vary the play style from time to time. I however had NO control over when the changes occurred. I sat down and worked with the GM to figure out the mechanics, and what we came out with was easy to manage, simple to understand, and worked really really well. So, shall we kick on?
There are a few basics, and we kept it basic for a reason, and here they are:
- HOW did the curse happen?
- WHO are the other personality / personalities are there?
- WHAT has to be done to remove the curse?
- WHEN does the change trigger?
For the purposes of this, I am not going to go into the many and varied answers to these questions. Instead I am going to detail how we did it, and hopefully that will inspire some ideas in your group how you could do this too.
The Mechanics – HOW
In my PCs case, Ahvain was training in the College of Swords as a bard, when he found an old disused store room, and inside it in the corner covered in dust, and wrapped in an oiled cloth to protect it. Inside was a black Scimitar. Upon drawing the weapon, the curse kicked in.
The backstory for this part is pretty simple, in our case, a group of adventurers were trapped in the blade by one of the members of the group (The Warlock). During his adventuring, he was seduced by the power of the Shadowfell, and ended up becoming a Pact Hexblade. During their adventures, they were caught, and trapped inside the sword, the Hexblade and the other three in the party.
The Mechanics – WHO
So here is a tabbed section with the characters, and the backstories for them as well. Select a character below to see the details:
So this game me the WHO, now it was time for What.
Note: These PC sheets are missing some details, because we never needed them. So for all by Ahvain, roll the first three stats. These were using a modified roll system, and I got lucky. But we rolled 4D6, re-rolling ones ONCE< and keeping the top three. They are here more for reference.
WHAT has to be done to remove the curse?
This is, as yet, not known. While a remove curse or access to a powerful Paladin you may get the curse removed. Each of the individual personalities / characters has their own method’s for doing it, in line with the thoughts of the character themselves, and also how they feel about the others. Each knows what the others know through experience but only the currently dominant character is in charge to be able to use their individual skills.
WHEN does the change trigger?
This was and is I think one of the fun things about this design of character, there are only two times that a change cab be triggered. They are:
- If I suffer a head injury of any sort; and
- If I enter into a stressful environment, like combat for instance.
And each time is a CHANCE to change, not a guaranteed change either. There is only a 5% chance of a change happening. Even then, in a couple of sessions I switched 3 times.
What Effects Does a Change Trigger
The first thing is the new persona, takes over the physical attributes, as well as the mental stats of their own, so until an owner is found, they all share the same physical (STR, DEX and CON) stats over the others, which are left intact.
You have what ever spells the persona has to cast when you switch, however, if you don’t rest on that character, you lose the option to gain them back, so there is a long term problem if you never get rest as one character.
Clothing and equipment is also a factor, and while MOST of the personas could use a scimitar, there were two that could not, and the same with the armor. If the Wild Mage (Mindartis( had been in control, the armor they were wearing would have initially prevented spell casting, so in a fight, she would take a few rounds to recover, then a few more to undress so they could cast.
Also, two of them were women trapped inside a man’s body, so that had it’s own challenges, I luckily did not have to concern myself with. I am talking things like using the dunny etc. Perverts!
Running the Character(s) and Changes
One of the benefits to this kind of build.play is that you DO get available to you more dynamic options. The PROBLEM with this, is that is neither consistent on who you switch with, and the skills they have. You literally have no control over WHEN you change, and WHOM you turn into. It is worth noting, that to make a chance, after the chance has been low enough, that you want to be able to roll on a number one LESS than the persona you are on at that moment. I had a total of 5 characters, Ahvain plus four others, so I only needed to roll a 1D4 to see whom shall come forward.
See my comments in the Things I have Learned below for who I think the experiment went, and what changes if any I would recommend to anyone wanting to play a similar system.
When I DID do a change, I had a 1d4 round wait while I took stock to recover myself. This is very realistic, and actually if you like your PCs like I do, then the potential loss of one from standing around in the middle of a fight is bad. Then once I am back with the world, I can act again and we move on.
Things I Have Learned
Well there are a couple of things to note, and while not breaking in anyway, they were an inclusion I would in hind sight change.
- Four was too many extra characters. One, maybe (MAYBE?) two would be more than enough, and still offer the wide variety of gaming options this brings, without the overhead of character sheet maintenance.
- It does work, which was a surprise. But it must be noted I had a GM who was on board, and even keen to play it out, some GMs won’t like it, and see it as a meta style of gaming, which I can understand, but in the end, it’s actually not.
I think the biggest conclusory points are these:
- It is fun to play.
- Simplify it more.
- Great opportunities for story telling and role play, is built into a character.
- Do some NON spell casters. Every one of the 5 I had was a spell caster, and a melee would have been good.
- Like I did, don’t PICK a class combo, roll it randomly, same with race and sex.
I would suggest also this only be attempted by someone with a LOT of experience, and a good GM, otherwise it might fail. I found it very rewarding, and will likely play something similar again if I can. This time with just one extra personality.