How many times have you been party to some variant of the following?
Sammie invites you into her new D&D campaign. Since you’ve been out of the loop, you inquire into what the others are playing so that you can decide what to play.
“Sure,” she smiles. “Danny is playing a dwarven cleric, Shiela is playing an elven wizard, and I’m bringing in a halfling rogue.”
There are many reasons why a GM may bring an avatar (or, as more commonly known now, GMPC) into the campaign. In my own circles, the most common reason is that the GM really wants to play but feels the need to fill the GM’s Chair. Other reasons have included rounding out a party, providing a convenient GM mouthpiece, or place-holding (as in the case of rotating GMs within a single campaign).
Now, some of you may ask why this is a hot button question at all. GMPCs are always a bad thing, right? In my experience, not necessarily so. In campaigns that are heavy on the roleplay and investigation, a recurring GMPC can often provide needed support without taking away the glory.
On the other hand, I’ve also been in campaigns where the PCs get their butts handed to them by the Big Bad until the GMPC rides in on her cyborg pegasus and obliterates him with her holy laser lance to save the day.
What say you? Are you against GMPCs in any form or do you tolerate (or even enjoy) them? Do the circumstances matter?