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    UndertakerSheep's Avatar

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    Default Character creation is a difficult process

    It's not. But my players seem to think otherwise.

    My weekly group has been playing D&D for about 2 years now and they still run into the same issue everytime we start a new campaign: they don't know how to create characters. Scroll down below for a tl;dr

    I noticed this when we started a new side-campaign yesterday. I'm usually (read: always) the DM for this group but for once I got to be on the side of the players again. I created my character a month before the first session and although I hate to admit it, also created characters for them just in case they didn't finish them in time. They have a reputation for doing everything last minute. I gave it a rest and focused on my own campaign.

    Then one week before the first session, I reminded everyone that the session was coming up and they should make their characters. They promised they would. I wasn't surprised when I asked again the evening before the session and none of them was finished; only one of them had started on it. I tried leaving it in the hands of the DM but he assumed everything would turn out to be alright. Why? Because they promised it would be.

    So a few hours before the game, the real problem surfaces: They don't fully understand the steps required to build a 1st level character, let alone a 6th level. I once again reminded them of the pages in the Player's Handbook that offer a step by step approach to rolling up a character. Suddenly everyone was rolling strikers, but that's a different problem all together.

    Two of the players admitted to not understanding somethings on their character sheets (mainly the defenses) and I helped a third creating a character with the Character Builder.

    Our group is known for having a lot of one-off adventures and canceled campaigns so they've created characters more than once. We even had a few days where we got together and created characters, even once doing it step by step as a group (That was 3.5, but we've been playing 4e for about a year now).

    Back when we started playing 4e, I bought the rulebooks (store had a 3 for the price of one thing going on) and started rolling up characters with the only player (who is the DM for this thing) using the step by step in the PHB and it all went without a hitch.

    So my question is: is this a normal thing around players, or are the players in my group just 'D&D stupid'?

    tl;dr My players can't create characters on their own, despite playing for 2 years now. Does this happen more often, or are my players special?

    Also, any tips from the playground on handling problems such as these?

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    ghost_warlock's Avatar

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    Between the group of you scrape together the $10 it costs for a month's subscription to the D&D Insider. Use the character builder to make all the characters, letting the builder do all the math for you. After the characters are created, it's easy enough to just pick feats and powers the old fashioned way as the characters level.

    As for my group, I use the builder create characters for 3-4 of us whenever we start a new campaign or season of Encounters. Some of the group don't have the time and others just don't seem interested in learning diddly squat about character optimization. (Not even the basics like 'a sorcerer should probably have a high charisma.' I kid you not, I've seen one of them show up to the session with an infernal hexblade with a 10 Con, 16 Dex, & 14 Cha. )
    Last edited by ghost_warlock; 2012-10-06 at 03:45 PM.

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    UndertakerSheep's Avatar

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    I am currently on a year long subscription, costs cut between me and the player who is great at creating characters. It might be a good idea for them to have a subscription as well. If they pay on a monthly basis, it would cost them 2,50 a month each. That should be manageable.

    The problem is with getting them to pay for something. They're not very fond of spending any money at all. The best option then would be to have them create characters through our active D&DI account, but they'll have to do it when they're with us. I don't feel confident sharing my WotC log-in information with all of them. However, that would be Case#34 in the dossier of ''Things I buy and they use''.

    Does anyone know if there is a simplified version of the step-by-step featured in the PHB? Or maybe a website that does some of the work for you (without referring to D&DI)? I once wrote a summary of how to create a character back when we played 3.5, that seemed to work.

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    When i'm in a game, we all tend to plan on creating characters on the first session, and we all know that its unlikely any gaming will happen that day. That way, if people have questions they can ask them, and we can make sure that all the roles are covered. We also don't end up with any of those "What do you mean no one is trained in diplomancy?!" moments, and all of are characters can already sort of know how to use teamwork in combat, mostly because whenever we start picking powers we all start coming up with combos we can do with each other's powers. It also helps for role-playing purposes too, so if players want their characters to be brothers or childhood rivals or whatever they can decide beforehand. We can also go through character backround building exercises. The DM can also let everyone know about the reputations of races or classes if it's a homebrew campaign, and lets everyone know if certain stereotypes have changed, so no one shows up with a genasi if they are supposed to be evil and super powerful, and at least one person is a shifter if they are the dominant race for whatever reason. I think a session like that would really help everyone with setting up their characters.
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    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    Quote Originally Posted by UndertakerSheep View Post
    tl;dr My players can't create characters on their own, despite playing for 2 years now. Does this happen more often, or are my players special?
    Yes, that happens more often. The key points are that (1) 4E D&D is one of the most complicated RPGs on the market, and (2) people tend to get choice paralysis.

    Frankly if your players don't understand how their character sheet works after two years of playing, then I suggest they may be more interested in a rules-light RPG.
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    UndertakerSheep's Avatar

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    Thanks for all the advice everyone.

    It would seem that having a session prior to every new campaign for creating characters together is the best option. We can only play once a week and we usually want to make the most of the little time we have, but we'll have to make a little sacrifice.

    The other option would be to have the players themselves get together some other day in the week. I'm at college during the week so I'm not able to be there due to distance, but they all live within cycling distance of each other. In that case, the player who knew how to make a character since day one could help them. He has been helping them whenever I'm not around since forever, and he's getting tired of it. He keeps saying he'll never do it again, because people have choice paralysis (like Kurald said) or don't know things he thinks they're supposed to know by now.

    It will be tough to find an in between. Get together to make characters, play as much as we can and keep the stress off of that player.

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    Tegu8788's Avatar

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    Would it be possible to just give them pregens? Tell them they can change things if they want, but if not, just play something prebuilt?

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    Default Re: Character creation is a difficult process

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Yes, that happens more often. The key points are that (1) 4E D&D is one of the most complicated RPGs on the market, and (2) people tend to get choice paralysis.

    Frankly if your players don't understand how their character sheet works after two years of playing, then I suggest they may be more interested in a rules-light RPG.
    Perhaps but I think 4e is a ton easier then creating a 3.5 Wizard. Not so much a 3.5 fighter or barbarian but just choosing spells for the 3.5 wizard is tougher since there are so many that do so much (what you call choice paralysis).

    I don't understand how 4e is hard to create a character for... Sure the first time a newb may be a bit overwealmed but really I find it simple. Actually I hate using the character builder but that is due to it freaking out on me a lot *shrug*. Let the PCs pick 1 or 2 books to make a character from and that's it. That should drop the choices down a lot.

    I get the feeling the other PCs are just lazy since they had a huge amount of time to make these PCs. I mean.. If you don't know what to do and you have a week... Ok.. But a month + ? That is just sad not to ask for help.

    Of course they may just not like 4e and figured if they don't have PCs then they don't have to play and you will go on to something else? *shrug*
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