There comes a time in every adventurer's life when they must say goodbye. Whether it be an act of a god or goddess or they meet their untimely demise, every adventurer must move on at some point.
Or you created this cool concept and you are dying to play it.
However it happens, the door is open for you to play a whole new character.
Step 1: Prepare your new character
This is the whole reason you're here, right? Either your last character met the wrong side of an enemy blade or Fireball, or you enjoyed my articles sooo much that you decided to build a Razorwitch or a Bomb Thrower. (😅)
Personally, I have multiple backup characters floating around my head at any given time. (Blame my first/current DM, lol. See my anecdote at the end of the article!) There's always something interesting I want to try out.
Take some time and flesh out your new character. Make sure they have enough to keep you interested for just as long as your previous character existed; don't hop from character to character haphazardly. Your DM has plans, whether you all are playing a pre-written module or your DM has built their own world, and shifting characters constantly is going to make planning your next session difficult.
Step 2: Tell the DM your plans
Outside of your character plummeting over 100 feet to their untimely demise (re: anecdote), you MUST communicate your intentions with your DM. As I said earlier, your DM has a lot of planning to do already. Switching characters already causes a shift, though with enough pre-planning you all can make this work.
My advice: tell your DM as early as possible. Once you have an idea for a character, whether they are fully fleshed out or you're committed to the idea of something new, inform your DM. Don't spring this on your DM the session before (or worse, the session of!). I'll reiterate this again: your DM already has plans. Shifting characters requires a shift in plans. Just communicate, and you'll be fine. This way your DM can help give your character an in-game reasoning for leaving and it won't seem like a rushed job.
Step 3: Work with the DM on how your character will exit
Once you've worked with your DM and set up your next character, your current character will need to make their exit. You can leave this entirely up to your DM, or (better option) you can present them with some ideas on how you want to be "taken out." Here's a few to help you along:
They stay behind
You all have just saved the town from a kobold invasion. You've stopped the local ruler from terrorizing the region, giving everyone a better life. You've taken a liking to this place and you can't be too sure trouble won't return, worse than before. Someone needs to stay behind and train the villagers. Someone needs to get this city under some kind of order, now that their ruler is no more.
That someone is you.
Their story is done
You've found your long last sibling and you can rest easy knowing that they are safe. You've finally exited the dungeon you and your friends have been trapped in for what seems like EVER. You've learned a lot during this adventure and...
They go to better themself
That magic school you've been hearing about for weeks now is too enticing; you have to go find it and study there yourself. That last fight you all had, the one where you almost cost one of your teammates their life, is weighing heavy on you, and you cannot go on knowing that you're not strong enough.
You shouldn't have read those pages. You shouldn't have drank that potion. You should have been more careful.
But you weren't.
And now, who knows what you are about to become? A vampire? A zombie? Your old party's new worst enemy? You DM should have fun unleashing you on your friends.
The first three options allow for your character to return someday. The last one (and dying) close that door, if you're up for it. But that's the perfect opportunity for your new character to swoop in and save the day...
Step 4: Work with the DM on how your new character will enter
Finally, that old worn out character is gone. WHEW. GOOD RIDDANCE. Just like you need a way to leave, you need a good way to bring in your new character. Your DM will have more say in how this happens as they loop in your backstory and how you fit into the area. Feel free to suggest some options to them. They already plan so much, so taking something off their plate may be appreciated. Here's a few examples:
They tag along
A group of adventurers has just saved a kobold invasion. They've just liberated your hometown from the oppressive rule of an evil tyrant. You've been waiting your entire life to leave and now you have that chance. You run up to the group of adventurers, expressing your many thanks and your hopes of one day leaving this small town.
Maybe they'll invite you along, and you can repay the favor by liberating another region.
Their an informant
You know the movers and shakers of your city, and you've been tasked with meeting a group of adventurers to point them in the right direction to help squash an opposing force. Or perhaps you, begrudgingly, are set to meet up with them because you're the bottom of the totem pole; you're the messenger that doesn't want to get shot for the message.
You help them out, and decide to stick around, showing them the city. It's not too long before you're involved in their next hijinks.
They save the party
You were just living your normal day: hunting, spying, reading. Next thing you know, BOOM. There's a scuffle nearby and it looks like there are some nice-looking people on the losing end of a spear or spell. Do you upend your normal day and involve yourself? Do you swoop in at just the right moment, turning the tides?
Well, there goes your lazy afternoon.
They're unleashed upon the world
You've been bottled up — perhaps literally — for centuries, a punishment you either did or did not deserve. Perhaps you are the manifestation of a spell gone awry, called forth from nothing or the great beyond. Now, you're here, with these people. And what year is it?!
It's a whole new world.
Step 5: PROFIT
And now with all that work complete, you get to be a brand new character. You get to integrate them into your party's complex dynamics: are they easy going, a leader, or just obnoxious? How will they grow? What does combat look like for you all now? Are you the new face of the party?!
These are a lot of words to say, "Talk to your DM. " Working together with them is the best (honestly, only) way to make this transition work for everyone. Don't rush the process. Your old character's grand exit may take a few months from your initial talk with your DM, as they have to prepare the right circumstances that work best.
Be patient and trust the process.
Let me know your character exits and entrances in the comments! I'll start: my very first character, the very first session, died by falling down a hole.