CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Its Alive, Alive

Many Ways to Create a Character

For the player, their character is the core of what the game is about. Just as there are a million and one characters to make, there are many ways to actually create your character. A lot of folks have one way that they are constantly set in, but sometimes it’s fun to try a different tact and see what you come up with. I personally like trying different methods of character creation because I find that I play a lot of the same characters if I stick with one method. But let’s talk about some different ways to do it.

Random Rolling

Every week the background for a character based on random rolls that I make. I find this to be a rather exciting challenge and not just because it’s what I grew up with. Obviously this is a more old school style coming from 1st ed D&D and a number of the games that follow, but it has many variations and levels as to how much randomness you want to use.

The traditional hardcore way doing it is 3d6 straight down the line and building your character based around this. Unless you’re incredibly lucky this usually leads to what these days can be considered slightly underpowered characters. The standard, at least for D&D, if you choose the rolling method is 4d6 drop the lowest and place stats. This lends itself toward slightly more powerful characters but usually not overly so and gives players some freedom for choosing what they want to be.

Some games also have background charts you can roll. I remember cyberpunk having one, and pathfinder has added a random background table. Legend of the Five Rings had background tables for each individual clan in their respective clan books as well. Some people find these charts restricting as it does not allow them full control over their character, but others –like myself – enjoy the challenge of weaving this disparate pieces of information into a cohesive character.

My preferred method, when I choose to make a character randomly, is  to pick a race first then roll 4d6 straight down the line. This is often seem subpar to some people because what if you roll a high charisma for a dwarf or a low dex for an elf, it doesn’t allow you to purposefully maximize the race’s strengths. Personally, I think that playing the world’s most charismatic dwarf is entertaining.

I like to add rolling also rolling on the random background chart to basic stat rolling. I then have to look not only at the stats but at the small snippets of history to determine what class this character would gravitate towards. Once I’ve made that decision, I then craft an background based on the class picked and rolls made. As an example here are the random rolls for a hobgoblin character I made, and the final background.

Point Buy

For some making the exact character you want to play is how they want to build their PC. For this point buy is the preferred method. Beyond the ability to craft the character you want, each player also starts out on equal footing — well for the most part. Those people with system mastery and a good grasp on statistics will often be able to build a statistically more viable character than those without.

Although when making my own characters I like rolling, I understand the level playing field aspects of this system. I was personally first exposed to it in World of Darkness games and then saw it in Champions and later Legend of the Five Rings. It was completely new to me coming from D&D and even Palladium’s system. It seems that is has become the more commonly used method, but even with in this method there are many ways to build your character.

Some folk come up with a character and a background before even sitting down to look at rules and stats. This allows for a ton of creative freedom, you can’t always make the character you envision with the rules at hand. If you have a very flexible GM they may work with you, but you can also only bend the rules so far before you break them.

Some folks build their character based around a rule and then work the background backwards from there. I once build a monk based on the ability to move around the battlefield and then counter attack all the attacks of opportunity he provoked. And I’ve worked with another player to build a character based around hitting things so hard you break them or knock them back very far. In these cases rules came first and I built the character background up around them.

Sometimes just an interesting piece of lore will catch your fancy and you’ll want to build around that. Having played through the first part of a boxed adventure before a new group was making a second attempt at it, I already knew some of the lore of the game. I made a character specifically built around being related to one of the NPCs that I knew existed. I like that when Paizo puts out there APs they also put out a player’s guide for it. It has bits of lore to help build your character and allows you to make a character for the game you’re in.

I’ve also touched on the idea of making theme characters before. Whether it’s a medival version of the Scooby gang, Arabian nights, or building around the classical elements, theme characters can be fun. I talked about it more in an earlier article so I won’t go into to much detail here. The one thing I really like about the whole party being built around a theme is that you really have to work with the group when building your characters.

Character creation is the first steps into getting sucked into a new world, even if your game is just a traditional hack and slash dungeon crawl. Without a character that both interest you and fits into the game your GM is running there is very little chance you’ll have any fun. Although these methods may be old hat to our veteran players, it’s good to take the time to talk about them for those new to the hobby.

What is your favorite method of character generation? Do you like complete randomness? Some randomness? Or total control? Which system has had the most interesting character generation rules to you?

Whether you’re a new player who finds inspiration to create or an veteran who’s going to try something new to them, please consider supporting your favorite content provider – that’s me, right? – by pledging as little as $1 on my Patreon or making a direct donation to my Paypal.

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