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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default What drives your initial character development

    There is no right answer to this, well someone on here will say there is, but I firmly believe that there isn't.

    What drives your class and character choices? Do you look at a class and subclass and say "hey, a ranged battlemaster looks like fun" and then you write a story to build into that class?

    Or do you prefer to come up with some concept like "I want to make a luchadore style wrestler" and then figure out the best class that fits into the ideas in your mind?


    Is you have done both, which style do you find as more fun character in the long run?
    Last edited by nickl_2000; 2017-12-06 at 08:13 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: What drives you initial character development

    After I choose class and race, I bounce back and forth between coming up with character details and picking options. After choosing a class/race combo, I'll start with a broad concept and a few key points. Then I choose the background and few skills that sort of cement more details about who this person is. I save ability scores for near the end, right when I'm about to pick gear.

    For me, it works well to go back and forth, with crunch or fluff choice informing the other. I have a hard time sitting down with a complete character in mind, or a complete build.
    Last edited by Jama7301; 2017-12-06 at 07:53 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives you initial character development

    My favorite 2 AL characters were completely random. Race, Class, Background, personality traits. All randomly determined. (I effectively used the Reincarnation table for race, but converted to d6s and Drow removed.)

    In fact, I highly recommend trying the random tables for personality traits, even if you change them up a bit after, if all you know to start is your class & background. It makes for some great characters.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: What drives you initial character development

    Survivability, then versatility, then performance (mainly in combat performance). I see little point in making characters that will die too soon.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: What drives you initial character development

    I usually start with the basic mechanics that I'm interested -- usually class/subclass plus a basic idea of what the PC will do in combat -- and then craft a backstory to fit. There are a couple of reasons for that. One of the biggest is that I find it difficult to just come up with a backstory from nothing. Having some concrete details about the character helps to focus my thinking and gives me a baseline to work off of. Once that's done I fill in the rest of the mechanical details like background and proficiencies based on the backstory.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: What drives you initial character development

    I do a mix of both, will also take the module or campaign type into consideration.

    For pota my group is thinking of captain planet like characters, a genasi for each element and a human to represent heart/spirit but instead of stopping the elemental evils our plan is to become the leaders of each cult and the human to be our patsy/the straight man. Our characters believe they'd make better prophets instead of the current ones since we're of elemental heritage not a deformed human sailor, medusa, elf deluded into thinking she's one of those fancy winged elves, or a tiefling.

    Class types are also going to be tied to each chosen element
    • Earth Genasi Champion Fighter (endurance like the earth)
    • Air Genasi either tempest cleric or storm sorceror (channel the fury of the storm)
    • Water Genasi Swashbuckler Rogue (Pirate)
    • Fire Genasi Fiendlock (refluff patron as Imix, kills things w/ fire)
    • Human Lore Bard


    recently I'm inspired to play a Tequila Wizard. Saw the wizard eccentricities table in xanathar's and one of the options is most prized possession is a dried worm kept in a potion bottle and that got me thinking about the worms sometimes found in bottles of tequila.
    • Race: probably dwarf cause reputation for drinking. Can anyone think of any other hard drinking races?
    • Background: Guild Artisan (Brewer)
    • Arcane Tradition: ?
    Last edited by Moredhel24; 2017-12-06 at 08:30 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Finding a 'roleplaying reason' to justify to my DM why my coffeelock goes out for a 5 minute jog every hour, on the hour.

    Finding a 'roleplaying reason' why my Evil PC doesnt harm other PCs, but makes Charles Manson blush with relation to NPCs.
    Last edited by Malifice; 2017-12-06 at 08:46 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I've done both before.

    Overall, I would say that I produce better, more fun characters when I start with the backstory. Although I can create a mechanical synergy and then drive the fluff to match that, doing so is less likely to result in good integration with the setting, which increases immersion and results in more rewarding roleplay. This doesn't mean that I don't optimize: I do, but I try to optimize in ways that I don't need a convoluted backstory or roleplaying strategy to justify.

    It is worth noting, however, that I prefer characters who have powers and abilities that are fairly generic, rather than backstory-dominating. Fighters and barbarians are excellent examples of characters that don't have to be consumed by class identity, and are rather more easily suited to a variety of differing character identities. At the opposite end of the spectrum are warlocks and paladins, who, using the default fluff, have either very precise roleplaying requirements and restrictions or very precise backstory requirements and restrictions.
    Last edited by Potato_Priest; 2017-12-06 at 08:55 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Kane0's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Pretty much all my character development comes down to 'Hey, you know what would be cool?'

    Sometimes that means the best build for X I can think of
    Soemtimes that means an interesting RP concept i've come up with
    Sometimes that means picking a subclass that appeals to me and working backwards
    Sometimes that means going along with a funny theme the group has come up with
    Sometimes that means rolling a character completely at random

    I've done them all, and theres no one way I find myself doing it more than the rest.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I tend to get caught on a ‘hook’... sometimes mechanical, sometimes conceptual, then build around it... what character can be most functional while having the most HP possible (hilldwarf battlerager?), or what character can make the best use of maximized passive perception (inquisitive using magic stone?), what is the best deep-sea Explorer (triton Outlander Gloomstalker Strength ranger?) etc...

    Once I have that framework, I build out from there; usually in the direction of ‘too much fluff focus or overspecialization’ if the concept ends up with much wiggle room once operationalized

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Hypersmith's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I usually start with an inkling of story in mind. So backstory pretty much. From there I work forwards towards a subclass I'm interested, or if I feel I've done the story particularly well I'll go for some odd mix that fits that concept best. Occasionally I'll just want to play a specific class or subclass and work from there towards a backstory. Race is always some mix between what I feel is cool and optimization.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    A bit of everything really. Generally speaking I use meta-knowledge first, like looking at what the party is missing, and then build a concept around what we need; it's my Support Main mentality at work.


    Sometimes I have a certain game mechanic I want to try out and I'll make a character around that concept, for example a Wild Magic Sorcerer. To this day I've yet to actually get to play it as I've (unluckily) been killed extremely quickly ever time I have rolled one up or the campaign falls apart. The next such concept I see is a Druid as I've never played one.


    And on a rare occasion I'll have a concept of a character I want to play and then pick classes/abilities to try to fulfill the concept. I made a thread dedicated to such a thing quite recently.
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...ng-Tarzan-Help
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    You nailed it on the head, with respect to me.

    I come up with an idea of what strikes my fancy (race and class). I think of a concept story and make sure my DM is ok with it. Then i will spend a few hours to write a story (can be about 5 to 10,pages). My dm's have always loved the detail. It helps me get attached to the character, which means i will play them fully and not likely gonna ditch them. The dm usually gives me 4 to 6 sessions to refine my personality and story....because what i envision on paper may not make sense in game play. DM has final review and editorial say, as needed for his campaign
    Rule 0: The most IMPORTANT rule of D&D. There is no more important rule than this rule. This is a game, and as such, you do everything you can to ensure everyone has fun. /TheEnd

  14. - Top - End - #14
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    Nifft's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Often I have an idea of a thing that I want to accomplish in the setting, and then I try to imagine who would be most interesting / most unexpected / most hilarious / etc. to accomplish that thing. Start from the finish line, work backwards.

    Sometimes I have a specific race/class combo that I want to play. Though usually, when there's a race/class combo that I want to play, it's because of a mechanical feature that I want to exploit.

    Occasionally I have no specific idea. For example, if the setting is poorly described, or the DM is a surprise-gimmick user, so that it's difficult to figure out what goals a PC can aspire to achieve in the game. In those cases, I try to fill in some role that nobody else in the party is covering.

    Other times I have no specific idea and the party composition isn't visible for some reason or another. In those cases, rolling dice gives me a framework, and then I'll figure out something interesting to do with that framework.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I think of an archetype that is supported that I want to create. Then I imagine what that archetype entails in the world of 5e. The order of how I do the rest is inconsequential.

    I work on building into the character actions that will showcase the character.

    Backstory is barebones, but everything else that will actually be in play is important including personality traits/ideals/bonds as they are represented through inspiration.

    Here is an example; a character that I am currently making for an upcoming game.

    Archetype: Lovecraftian researcher. This is supported in the GOO Warlock, Pact of the Tome.

    Patron Details - GOO not aware of character, sends dreams as part of its being. Must conduct bizzare rituals.

    Race - Human. Best represents the image of the archetype.

    Background - Waterdhavian Noble - I could have gone scholar, but instead I'm going with someone who is moneyed. This covers the ability to afford to research and also evokes hubris and lack of restraint/wisdom.

    Bonds/Ideals/Personality Traits - Not quite there yet

    Mechanical representation -

    Cold/Necrotic damage theme. Ray of Frost/Toll the Dead. Armour of Agathys. Tomb of Levistus. Retheme Cloak of Flies to be cold damage.

    Mind affecting spells like Detect Thoughts, Suggestion.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by furby076 View Post
    Then i will spend a few hours to write a story (can be about 5 to 10,pages). My dm's have always loved the detail.
    Ouch. You've been lucky to find DMs that like that. I've never liked long back stories, more than a summary paragraph. They go in the round circular short-term storage device.

    Now with 5e's personality traits showing how to do it right, when a player tries to give me a backstory, I tell them to go back and write me 5 motivations instead.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Ouch. You've been lucky to find DMs that like that. I've never liked long back stories, more than a summary paragraph. They go in the round circular short-term storage device.

    Now with 5e's personality traits showing how to do it right, when a player tries to give me a backstory, I tell them to go back and write me 5 motivations instead.
    I won't even read a paragraph and advise players against writing such things :p

    I don't even read their personality traits, I just ask them to bring them up in play when appropriate. If it doesn't occur in play it doesn't exist.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    If it doesn't occur in play it doesn't exist.
    Thats certainly my attitude as a player. That's why I emphasize motivations. Backstory is just history, and history that didn't even occur in game play, to boot. Motivations affect game play moving forward.

    Otoh I can deal with a very short amount of backstory, since most players like it when you use the hooks in it. Provide vampires for the orphaned-by-vampires vengeance pally to kill, or run a quick one-shot side quest foiling the tyrants again for the Folk Hero. Etc.

    (I try not to kill or take hostage happy backstory families. They're so rare I can't bring myself to.)

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    One of the first characters I've made: A Dragonborn, with a tail because I felt it was needed. I also wanted that tail to have a flaming tip. No, I totally didn't copy that from the Charmander line.
    Then I worked my way out from there. What sort of character would he be?

    Eventually, I ended up with a Fighter 1/Cleric 2 of the Death Domain. And he's been fun to play thus far.
    And no, he's not Evil. He likes to think of himself as a guide to the After, and his god's mercy. Death claims us all, and if it is your destined time? He will guide you. By force if you insist on clinging to (un)life.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    As a DM, I make a lot of characters, and they're about a 50/50 mix of what's interesting and what's mechanically sound.

    When I play, I generally come up with a few mechanical concepts, and then try to find an interesting story.

    So this time, I've got a Wild Magic Sorcerer or a Druid of the Moon. I found the backstory for the WM sorc first, and here we are.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I come up with answers to the simple necessary questions: "What is keeping me from retiring after acquiring a comfortable sum." and "Does this character do much planning or not". After that I move on to some mechanical trick that keeps the game entertaining. I figure out how to do something that isn't really replicable by most players and fit that into my character's class and stats. Then I'll look at the abilities I need and build a story around this ability and the reason why he still adventures and that usually brings to mind something more complete.

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    Example 1:
    The character has impulse control problems so they can never hang on to money but they also want to live a lavish life. This has lead them to a string of get rich quick schemes followed by binges or prison terms. I really like the idea of shooting people with a hand crossbow and them falling over, so I should make a battle master warrior with the knockdown thingy and get them crossbow mastery we'll grab the one where you can get other people to attack on your round to push this guy's selfish nature. I need dex and con for my shooting and drinking and it sounds like this guy lacks wisdom so we can dump that. He wants to be taken care of so no survival, no professions, no tool proficiencies. He sounds sort of boorish too, so no performance or persuasion. He seems like a jerk and a liar though so intimidate and deception are on the table. Dex>Con>Chr>Str>Int>Wis. Criminal, sailor, or soldier. Fighter 3 battlemaster then straight fighter or some rogue. Crossbow master, then the other shooty feat then who knows.


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    Example 2:
    The character has received expensive training and owes a substantial debt to his teacher. He moves around to evade creditors and spends money on himself so that he has little to no gold on hand whenever they catch up to him. I like the warlock at will illusion abilities combined with the actor feat allowing a character to walk into enemy camps effectively disguised as the enemy. This forces the creditors to be supernatural trackers, and his trainer to provide warlock abilities so I guess now my character graduated from some sort of evil magic college. Since he's squandering his first two warlock things on at will illusions, he's going to need to be a hexblade. Chr>Con>Dex>Int>Wis>Str. Charlatan. Warlock Hexblade. Actor doesn't need to be turned on at first level, and he'll often be disguised, so we can branch out with races the weirder the better.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Thats certainly my attitude as a player. That's why I emphasize motivations. Backstory is just history, and history that didn't even occur in game play, to boot. Motivations affect game play moving forward.
    I think we are on the same page.

    The background system is one of the best things about 5e. They got it right. It's a vehicle for things that will happen in game but also not hijack the game to be one player's story.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    A concept. Either class/subclass combination and what drove them in that direction. Which usually gives me the characters driving motivation for the beginning of their career. Otherwise, I figure out who my character is and then work towards mechanical fit of their personality.

    Either way I try to create a back story/history that drives towards joining the group and helps me define that character in my mind. Well, defines them beyond class and background.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    TheArcaneCaster's Avatar

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I see a cool class/subclass, think, “hey, I want to play that” and roll up the skeleton. After I’ve finished the crunch, I do the fluff (unless I have a specific character idea).

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by TheArcaneCaster View Post
    I see a cool class/subclass, think, “hey, I want to play that” and roll up...
    .
    The PC I'm most recently playing is a Outlander Wood-Elf Rogue.

    I like the "mechanicals" on that PC (good Perception, Stealth, etc.) and used it as a template to make my next character.

    I stuck with Wood-Elf, and since I wanted to try the "Archeologist" Background from Tomb of Annihilation, I swapped in that background, giving the PC the extra language of Undercommon.

    Next, because I wanted to try out the "Gloom Stalker" subclass from Xanathar's Guide I swapped out Rogue for Ranger, with a favored terrain of the Underdark.

    In looking over Standard Equipment for a Ranger, I see that one may choose either two short swords or two simple melee weapons, since short swords are more GP, I chose them.

    This is the PC

    So I have a tomb raiding Ranger skilled in the Underdark who wields two swords, and has relatively dark skin (wood elves skin tends to be copperish in hue, sometimes with traces of green, per the 5e PHB).

    Damn it.

    The PC is almost Drizzt.

    Forget that.

    I then steal am inspired by the back-story of Ulrich von Bek from The Warhound and the World's Pain, and make a standard human Fighter with a Mercenary Veteran background (from the SCAG) instead.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I'm kinda stuck as a perma-DM, but the two characters I made that stood out were

    Ragnar, the dwarven knowledge cleric. Here, I knew I needed to be a cleric since the group I was joining had just lost theirs. The rest was basically setting the "loves books" dials to maximum while finding a reason to work with everybody.

    The second was <???> (I've forgotten the name), a half-orc fighter. Never got high enough for a sub-class, but this one was because the party needed a front-liner. I had his race, class, and background (folk hero). Personality inspiration hit when I rolled for height/weight and got 5'4" (short) and 190 lbs (heavy). He was sensitive about his height and hated to be mistaken for a dwarf. Enough so that he shaved his head and beard and emphasized his tusks. Blunt and honest.

    So basically I've tended to go party niche --> personality, not the other way around. I made a few others, including one where I rolled everything. Ended up with a naive human death cleric. More comfortable around the dead (or undead) than around the living, she felt herself to be a psychopomp. Guide those whose time had come to the grave, keep those whose time it isn't yet out of the grave.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I roll on the trinket table and then try to explore the character who would have grown from possessing such an item.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Attribute rolls and whim. Though I am biased towards and against certain classes. I'm not a fan of playing a cleric, for example.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    I read all the classes and backgrounds an idea of story starts to pop into my head, I start thinking about Shooting bows, Swinging Swords, flying into a Rage, Smiting with holy power. An idea starts to become my favorite for the moment.

    When I've settled on a concept, then I plan on how I want to implement. multiclassing, feats etc. Sometimes I find a combo that is interesting enough to be to go back to the first step and rethink my concept.

    Then I make a level 1 character.

    Then I go back to DMing.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: What drives your initial character development

    Quote Originally Posted by mgshamster View Post
    I roll on the trinket table and then try to explore the character who would have grown from possessing such an item.
    Alright, that is certainly the most unique answer I've seen so far. Trinket driven character development :)
    To all the long suffering DMs putting up with our insane plans, crazy ideas, and "unique" solution we would like to say we are sorry. We "would" like to but we won't, since the truth is that we aren't sorry. We will continue to break your plans and make you make up rules at every possible opportunity.

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