Limitation cultivates creativity. You can find different quotes like that from loads of sources regarding everything from business to art. It can also work for RPG parties. By placing some limitations on the party before character creation, you can all experience something different and fun. You can do this for a regular length campaign, or if you’re not sure how the group will react, you can try it as a campaign with a set length (perhaps 4-8 games). And if they like it, you can keep going.
Everyone gets their character race, class, and base concept from http://whothefuckismydndcharacter.com
If you’re not familiar with the site (which I mentioned last week as a good GM resource), it creates a fantasy character that has a race, class, and line that either gives them the start of a backstory or a dominant personality trait. A lot of them have a humorous tone, but even those could be fleshed out into notable and endearing traits. It gives you random characters ideas such as:
- CHECK THIS SHIT OUT, I’M GOING TO BE A FUCKING EASY-GOING ELF SORCERER FROM THE DANK HOLLOWS WHO BELIEVES TREES CAN SPEAK TO THEM AND THEM ALONE
- I’M GOING TO ROLL THE STATS FOR A FUCKING ROMANTIC GNOME WIZARD FROM A FAKE LEPER COLONY HIDING A SECRET WHO WAS RAISED BY GHOSTS
- YOU THINK YOUR CHARACTER IS COOL? MY CHARACTER IS A FUCKING CAUTIOUS HALFLING CLERIC FROM A CLIFF-SIDE VILLAGE WHO IS THE LAST OF THE KING’S BASTARD CHILDREN
If you’re not certain the first character idea they get will work, or if you want to let each player have a bit more control, let them use it 2-3 times and pick their favorite. Alternatively, you could let players swap character concepts before they roll them.
Everyone plays the same class
How does a party of 4 wizards deal with a gauntlet-like dungeon that taxes their powers for an extended length of time? How does a group of 5 barbarians persuade the town guard without threatening them? How does a group of 3 rogues get anyone to trust them?
Everyone playing the same class still gives each player the ability to do different things and specialize in different ways. This is especially true in Pathfinder, where each class has one to six-thousand (roughly) different archetypes to choose from. Dungeons and Dragons 5e has its own set of archetypes for each class as well.
This might not work if all of the players can’t switch off the meta game. Players who want the perfect party of tank, dps, healer, etc may find this too limiting. As someone who has played many campaigns with no attention paid to the meta game, I can say these types of parties can absolutely work. You have to play to the party’s abilities and make plans around the fact that you might not have a tank or healer or whatever. As long as players are willing to think and act outside the meta, there’s a lot to enjoy with this kind of game.
Everyone has the same dump stat(s):
This is one limitation I haven’t tried on purpose, but I’ve played games where it happened by accident. A five-person party where no one had a good strength score? It turned out to be very fun.
With this, every player agrees to have one stat at 10 (+0). Or if you want to have even more fun, each player agrees to have two stats locked at 10 (+0). They choose one physical stat (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution) and one mental stat (intelligence, wisdom, or charisma).
Player’s active magic items can’t exceed a total value of +5
Collecting powerful magical items is fun, but it gets to a point where your enchanted armor, jewelry, and weapons become… absurd. Enjoyable absurd most of the time, but absurd nonetheless.
With this rule, the value of all enchanted items on a player cannot exceed +5. However, players can divide it any way they want. They could have one +5 item, five +1 items, one +3 item and one +2 item, etc.
For a twist of flavor, allow all players to have their chosen enchanted items from the start of the game. They could be family heirlooms, treasure from a previous adventure, a rambunctious spirit inhabiting and empowering item of theirs, or whatever they decide. They can still obtain new magic items through normal means, such as finding or purchasing them. Or you could have magic items be extremely rare, and their starting magic item(s) will likely be the only ones in the entire campaign they will come across.
In Pathfinder and D&D 3.x, limited enchanted items will affect the balance of combat, especially in the early and the later game. Challenge Ratings will be less reliable. It’s not difficult to compensate for the change, but it is something you’ll want to be aware of.
Give a hoot and got some loot?