Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Character Creation and You

What? Who? Where the fuck have I been? So I promised a blog within 24 hours, and then 3 months later I finally post. Things got a little out of control in my world. Lost my job, then got a new one. But the new one worked me during nights and split shifts during the day so by the time I could blog I just wanted to sleep. But enough excuses...onward to character creation!

So a friend of mine was making his first character the other day and I was beating my head against a wall for a few hours helping him out. Experienced players know what I mean, and if you're a new player I don't mean any disrespect. It's just frustrating to those of us who already know what we're doing. But we're patient because we know you are learning. And if your teacher isn't patient, then shame on him.

Regardless, there are a few things to keep in mind when creating a character that makes the process go a lot quicker.

First is to try to keep things straight in your mind. Don't confuse your skills with your feats with your powers. Skills are things your character does out of combat (mostly) like athletics, or knowledge checks, etc. Feats are enhancements to your character and rarely require a dice roll, while powers are your combat abilities. This isn't overly complicated and if it's tripping you up then I would consider LARPing instead. It requires less thought.

A tip for more experienced players would be think of what you want your character to be like before you even start rolling up the sheet. I know not everyone is a role-player, but let me say that even for the power gamer or loot-whore out there it's a lot of fun to think of how your character would react to things. Take for example a rogue. You are a power gamer and want to pick a rogue that will roll tons of damage and dodge everything the mobs send at him. That's not a problem, but you can make a halfling who is extremely forgetful, or a gnome who is so obsessed with the shiny that he jumps headlong into conflict without even thinking about consequences. These things can affect how you make your character.

A rogue who is forgetful may have a high acrobatics, but won't need any points in insight. A rogue who jumps headlong into conflicts would want improved initiative or quick draw but wouldn't need any training in perception. This allows you to make a more interesting character that still does enough damage to make your dungeon master cry himself to sleep at night.

I have to admit, I was both frustrated and impressed with my friend as he made his first character. He was making a dwarven barbarian and one of the barbarian trained skills is perception and any experienced player will tell you that perception is one of the most oft used skills in D&D 4th edition. Yet my friend decided he didn't want it. In my head I was screaming at him that he was being a moron for not taking the most useful skill in the game. But then I also knew that he was going for the type of barbarian that jumped headlong into the fray with no concern for life or limb. A barbarian like that may not need perception.

Really what makes for a good character is foresight. You have to plan your character. It's not all about stats but how you play the character. Even a power gamer gets bored when his character isn't interesting. Flaws and quirks make for a good character. Sometime in the future I'll lay out a list of flaws and quirks I enjoy using for my characters.

Until next time...

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