5E Character Building Options: Do you use them all?
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  1. #1

    Character Building Options: Do you use them all?

    Xantathar's Guide to Everything introduced a whole mess of new character building options, from rolling to determine your druid's mentor, to figuring out how you became a soldier, sage or whatever your background is. It even includes an entire section on rolling the elements of your character's life such as if they have siblings, if their parents are alive or dead and so on.

    The Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron introduced a bunch more, like if your character has regrets over the last war or why they want to go to Sharn.

    While I love all of this I'm a little worried it might be overwhelming, especially all at once and especially when you combine it with the need to roll your personality traits or make decisions about your class features, spells, and equipment. It's a lot to take in.

    I know the system says you can come back to it later, but that feels like it would leave gaps in your backstory that may not make sense after you play. You can ignore those rolls sure, but it could still feel weird.

    What do you all think? Have you tried creating a character with all of the options? If so, did you roll them all at the same time or did you parse them out during play?

  2. #2
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    I turn on or off various options in every campaign in order to support the intended play experience of that campaign. I don't foresee a campaign where all the options are turned on, though I suppose in theory it's possible.
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  3. #3
    In the campaign I am currently running one player used the tables in Xanathar's guide to generate his entire backstory completely randomly. There were a few inconsistencies, I recall he rolled that his character never knew their parents and then later encountered a table to determine what kind of family he had. So it did require some human intervention and judgement calls to make work. But given that the tables only really give you a skeleton of a narrative some human embellishment was needed anyway. Overall it didn't feel much different to working with a player on any kind of backstory. They bring forward some plot points, or ideas they like and work with the DM to incorporate other tidbits from the world.

    In this campaign I also decided to allow pretty much any content from the hardcover books, with UA needing to seek approval. The player, not having this kind of freedom before all collaborated to exclusively use the races from Volo's giving me a party full of monsters. This actually kinda worked out in my favor as it served to show that the uncommon races were basically refugees in the main city and are treated as second class citizens.

  4. #4
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    I think things like the tables can be a decent starting point for generating ideas. As @MonkeezOnFire mentioned random generators aren't perfect so it's just a starting point.

    I have also used it a couple of times for important NPCs ... once again as something to jog my creativity. There's a few online generators I use as well that do something similar.

  5. #5
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    Since I have limited time to play, I have to go many months before I can use most of what I buy.

    When I started my Curse of Strahd campaign, I had some players use Xanathar's and Volo's, which were not options in my prior campaign.

    As DM, I find it easier to fit in DM tools mid-campaign, which is outside the scope of this thread.
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  6. #6
    Thanks for the replies all. Sounds like most people lean towards not using all options (especially at character creation), unless the players specifically seek that out. Am I reading that right?

    I have to admit, I sort of lean there myself, but on the other hand I personally love all the options. If I was making a character I would want to roll on each and every table. I just don't think most of the people I play with would want that although I have toyed with the idea of doling them out bit by bit during the 1st session. Like asking about how they became x background and then we play for a bit and then have them roll on the Last War regrets table and then we play for a bit. That sort of thing.

  7. #7
    I think a definition of "all the options" may be needed here. Like, it seems, most of us, I allow and use options based on the campaign I'm running or playing in. For many of them, I allow more 3rd party options than "official" ones, because that's what the campaign calls for.

    A good session 0 is your best friend when starting a campaign. Find out what people's expectations are and make sure they align with yours.

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  8. #8
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    I usually allow everything and then adjust the world to fit those choices. Usually my standard start to a new setting is "You are the only example of your exact class in the world. Other people use magic but they aren't wizards. Other people play music but they aren't bards." and figuring out what makes those statements true usually leads to a fun game.

    About to run a survival based 5e hack I did with no races or classes though so... I guess I only do extremes.

    EDIT: Oh I totally misunderstood the question.

    Ummm... Yes, but I regret using feats which I think mostly create more moments where people look at their character sheets for solutions vs cool storytelling moments. Generally, I find creativity usually comes from less options vs more.
    Last edited by Staccat0; Saturday, 11th August, 2018 at 12:53 AM.

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