September 9, 2014

Why Rush Character Generation?

I've seen numerous articles about how to speed up character generation...but I have to ask, why are we in a rush to finish character generation? I am sure some groups just want to start playing RIGHT NOW! but the faster the character generation, the less time is put into the character itself. They just become a series of numbers with no...character.

Case in point is the new 5E D&D. From everything I've read and seen, it takes about 30 minutes to create a character from scratch to being able to start play. 30 minutes. And yet, for some people apparently this is too long. So they create ways to speed things up. Now, I can see this for a one-shot, but if its a one-shot there are plenty of resources (check out these 1000 characters) for playing a pre-made character that you have no attachment to. With a pre-made you can completely skip character generation and start playing RIGHT NOW!

For me, I happen to like character generation, especially if its a character in a campaign that will last for some time. The decision making process causes me to grow an attachment with the character. I start envisioning why he has a low strength or how I'm going to play that low intelligence with a high wisdom. I can think about why he uses a bastard sword instead of a short long sword. I can use character generation to help define the character.

Only a newborn baby is devoid of a personality. By the time a character is able to start their adventuring life, they already have defined personalities. How do they react if someone snubs them, how do they react to nobility, do they like magic? While it is true many of these questions get answered during game-play (and I personally am against giving your character too much background) but many fundamental, or at least interesting, personalities are created as part of the character generation process. If you skip this process, you lose a lot.

Which then leads to the question of...exactly how long should character generation take? While I think there needs to be some time spent on character generation, sometimes it is possible for it to take too long, especially if all you are doing is defining numbers.

What do you think is a good amount of time to spend on character generation?


Stelios V. Perdios said...

30 minutes is a fair amount of time if you're creating a character for a long term campaign using current d20 based rule systems. Of course, it depends the level of the characters being created.

15 minutes is the maximum time, I'd say, if you're playing an "old school" game like Swords & Wizardry or doing a 0-level character funnel for DCC RPG. I'd also recommend this cap if you're playing any game where character deaths can be frequent.

Anonymous said...

As a player, I like to think about my character and where they fit into a campaign but usually very little of that time of though has to do with the mechanics of building a character. I am all for encouraging people to think about their characters and have a mechanically easy (and quick) system for creating said character.