View Full Version : Character Generation

05-25-2009, 09:03 PM
With the other questions about firsts, it made me think about the initial stages of character development. When you, or one of your players is hit with the line, "Roll up a new character," what do you do?

Do you just use the point-buy and get something generated in five minutes?
How about dice and taking five minutes?

Yeah, I can do it, but I see the generation as being part of the big picture... part of how we will find out the motivations for the character... and it can take HOURS to go from a blank piece of paper to a 1st level (insert race and class here). There are SO many questions that need answering - and a "Here's 36 points, make a warrior," just won't cut it for me.

What say you? Well, since I'm in Alabama, What say y'all? :D

05-25-2009, 09:16 PM
Holy cow, theres a million answer to this. "It depends on the DM" - thats a stock answer, but assuming that you have control, it depends on many things. If the campaign has loose foundations - i.e. its mostly about adventuring and getting treasure and fame, then i prefer point methods. Epic campaigns - the only kind i run now - all have randomly gnerated characters rolled in front of me, or i flat out make the characters for the PC's. In the later case, i interview them to get an idea, then set the entire character up for them - keeping in mind the other characters and creating a inter-dependant party in terms of powers and total game balance as much as i can. If the players generate it, then its all witnessed by me and done randomly. Lowest stat can be re-generated. Epic campaign i provide a location where the PC's are from (to make sure backgrounds work without being too wierd) and i ask the PC's to take a few flavor abilities - those which they may not use, but serve to reinforce the background and outlook of the character. These i give for free usually. Then, depending on the edition, put together the character. If anyone tries for speciality or non-ordinary character facets, i force them to include how they were gained in their background.

After decades with some of the same players, i find that the players mostly ask me to make the characters for them. Its mostly the flavor and depth that gets built as a result, so maybe you can do that for the players and tell them a couple of freebies that they get in order to get the players really into the game (it works well for me) and let them do the rest. When i do the entire character, i always leave enough points for the player to do one final customization, for them to add something thats really theirs - that ties it all together. A lot of times, the players just leave it and we use our own "hero point" system for DnD which they keep any unspent slots or points to convert into hero points...

Oh yea, almost forgot - if its an epic campaign, i always throw in a chance for good items for each character - a gift from a family, lord, or patron. Non-magical or magical depending on the world, but i roll against charisma to see if they start with one.

The total process for me can take hours per character...

05-25-2009, 10:56 PM
4d6 and drop the lowest die. Repeat 5 more times and put into any order the player likes. If it's an on going campaign and a character die's, or a new player join's the group we would roll up the character the same way, but the starting level of the character would be one level below the party average.
4d6 x6 works best I think. It makes the characters stand out a little from the average guy.
Never was to keen on the point's buy method, but if that's what the DM want's in his/her campaign it's cool with me.

05-26-2009, 01:30 AM
I guess I wasn't clear...

Is it just a mathematical process for you, where you assign values (points or roll dice) and pick feats and skills, or is it more involved?

05-26-2009, 02:52 AM
That is the main part of it. What class, race, background and goals are in mind for my character. I don't mean min/max either. For example, if'n me be wanting te bring in a Gnoll Swashbuclker, I'd figure in the current level and why he chose such a career. Did he grow up on ships at sea or on the docks and slums of a major metropolis, or was he raised by a kind adventurer who happened upon him as an orphan? I may reflect these things by the better scores on the penalized abilities to reflect such things. One example of such could be reflected by switching which scores get bonuses due to an unusual upbringing for the species.

Also new characters shouldn't just pop in, in mid dungeon just because the old one died. Give that player the rest of session to roll them up and discuss what they want to do, and how they may meet the party. Does the porty rescue them from a cell? Does the new guy rescue them in some lucky, fortuitous way? Do they encounter them on the road? All these things are good options.

I hope this helped.

05-26-2009, 03:24 AM
Dice are the last factor. I can't say that a character has been lost my game in a very long time. I would have the player write up a new PC. Usually in the off game time. Two weeks to discuss and mull over the ideas. I trust my players, no face to face rolls required. If they want them the Harvey's d6s roll good characters.

05-26-2009, 05:17 AM
Interesting question. I've never personally been a fan of the various point buy systems out there. Granted they allow for stats tailored ideally for a particular class, but who is ever really tailored ideally to anything they do in life. College can only get you so far, and even then there is a really good chance that you don't get a job in the field or even a related field for which you've gone to school. I have a friend who has a Masters Degree in History with a minor in Geography, who has never put the degree to use...He's a Pension Fund Manager. Where does a masters in History come into play for that?

The character generation method I use is the old school 3d6 for attributes, however, I allow 1s to be rerolled once, and then assign the rolls as the player wishes. This allows them to min/max a bit towards a particular class. I don't feel too bad about this generation method for stats, especially with the natural attribute increase gained once every 4 levels. Most of my guys are pretty capable of whipping the skeleton of a new character in 5 to 10 minutes when they lose a character. The fleshing out happens between sessions.

05-26-2009, 06:28 AM
This most likely goes against the gamer aspect of most players, but if i am required to create a new character, either by misfortune on my behalf, which causes the character to become slain, or just to round out the group, i take time, usually two to three weeks to come up with a character concept, usually starting with something as simple as race, or class, then molding it from there. I usually stick with a standard array of 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10 for stats, and then add my modifiers and penalties. However i do change things by adding this rule: Why are your stats the way they are? why is your strength the highest value? maybe they spent time as a craftsman. why is their charisma low? maybe they had bad experiences with people...from there it begins to effect their skills. If i were to use the example from above, they would have crafts skills, and maybe knowledge, but definitely not performance or diplomacy...when i do actually commit something to paper, it usually takes me about two hours or so. I take character creation seriously and i always craft it to what i want in a character that is interesting and fun for players to adventure with, not necessarily what would best round out the group...

06-07-2009, 12:27 AM
Both as a DM and as a player, I prefer point buy. You can design the exact kind of character you want, and all characters will be the same power level. You'll never have to deal with some joker who "rolled all 18s at home." Also as a DM it's very easy to set the overall power level of your game from core 25-point buy to heroic 28-point buy to superhero 32-point buy.

06-07-2009, 11:39 AM
Well, there is a slight mathematical side to it for sure for me. 4d6 seven times, reroll 1's, drop lowest in each and drop lowest of the 7 and place where you want them to. But the skills and feats I want to match their background, I don't want min/maxers, I want their character to make sense. The stats may be high, but this is a heroic game :) Unless I have a low power game, then I will go with a 28-30 point buy for stats, but the skills and feats rule remains the same.

06-07-2009, 08:26 PM
Dice are a factor, but usually after I decide what I would like to play, and think about a little background. If the dice rolls preclude my choice, or I think another option might fit better (if others have already selected their characters), I work something else up.

I used to be able to just toss the dice, fill out the character sheet, and start playing, but now that seems kind of shallow to me. Just the way I feel though, others have fun doing things that way, and that's cool. I just like a more fleshed out character to start with.

06-09-2009, 12:57 AM
I take the elitest array: 18,18,17,16,16,15 lol

seriously...in our group it's roll 4d6 drop the lowest, reroll all 1s

06-09-2009, 09:04 PM
A bit in between for me. I don't go to hard into background for a new character. Here is my basic system
1) pick a party role for the character
2) determine class and race accordingly
3) roll for stats
4) build background based on those stats. why is one stat low another high?
5) start a basic personality off of the answers from step 4
Takes me about 20 minutes for non casters about 45 minutes for primary casters.

06-10-2009, 01:57 AM
Personally I prefer point buy (leads to less-obscene stats usually). Most DM's I know allow "roll 4d6, re-roll 1's." But if I allow rolls, I also add in one other thing: If you roll four 6's with NO re-rolls you get a 20, not 18, for that stat.

06-10-2009, 11:42 PM
For 4e I just use a standard array. In the past though I preferred to use 6+2d6. This gave you a minimum of 8, an average of 12 and a max of 18.

Baldwin Stonewood
06-11-2009, 06:55 AM
The DM in one of the games that I play in had us all complete a multipage questionnaire which was excellent at getting us to focus on player ideas and build concepts. It also helped him to create his overall theme for the game.

Another thing that I like to do is sit down at the beginning and write a few paragraphs about my character. This is given the limited information that I know about the campaign and world it is set in. Then as the game develops I revisit what I have written and another layer to the profile to see how he has grown within the setting. After a while you have a nice short story too.

The dice or point buy are down on the list.

06-13-2009, 11:43 PM
i have a short list of character concepts i'm itching to try. if one of those fits within the constraints of whatever that particular dm is allowing i'll just use that. sometimes i'll even have the concept drawn out through level 20, though that doesn't mean i won't change it along the way if something happens in-game that changes my mind about the character concept.

otherwise it can take me anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to find an inspiration that i can get into.

06-14-2009, 12:14 AM
for me it is a drawn out process i use the 4d6 drop the lowest, but i also create detailed pasts for the characters and choose profiencies according to stats.
any time i roll a 16 or better strength i am think he was a stonemason or blacksmith. 14 0r 15 a farmer.
i have an invoker who has a 7 str and a 17 intel i have him being frail and nerdy kind of like harry potter, as his background he was being trained but a washed out mage in a backwater town. he was being bullied and in a fit of rage used magic to strike down the bully. scared her ran away never checking to see if the bully lived or not.
this give the Dm something to work with too.
i have a drow who left the underdark, but is desperatly trying to save his equipment before it disintagrates.
for thieves ( i love thieves) i have pirates and circus workers (this usually explains their dexterity and rope use.
but i think a good character should take atleasst an hour to an hour and half if not more to role up