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D&D 5E A blank canvas for creativity?

I was thinking about playing a champion fighter.

I have mostly played warlocks (and one multi cleric warlock) celestial patron and have an artificer ready to go. I have a Paladin in Avernus.
I am accustomed to more complicated characters.

but when looking at the champion I felt like the blank canvas was refreshing. Playing a human to boot, the lore and background is pretty minimal.

I just wondered if in your opinion the more “filled in” classes or the more open ones spur more creativity for you.
 

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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I was thinking about playing a champion fighter.

I have mostly played warlocks (and one multi cleric warlock) celestial patron and have an artificer ready to go. I have a Paladin in Avernus.
I am accustomed to more complicated characters.

but when looking at the champion I felt like the blank canvas was refreshing. Playing a human to boot, the lore and background is pretty minimal.

I just wondered if in your opinion the more “filled in” classes or the more open ones spur more creativity for you.

I prefer the classes with less ''buttons'' to push.
Champion, Thief, Totem/Berserker Barb, etc

Regular Human + Champion is pretty simple and, in the end of the day, still performs quite well.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Champion is mostly there for those folks who don't want a complicated character. It's easy to play, but is fairly shallow of depth - it takes some extra work to make them interesting, because their uniqueness does not spawn from their mechanics.

The "filled in" classes help to translate ideas into mechanics. But it is easier to fall into one-trick ponyism with the defined mechanics. The simpler classes - Barbarian Berserker, Fighter Champion & Rogue Assassin require a more creative mind to make them "interesting", and if you want interesting combats with them, you have to think outside the box a lot more. If you just want a strait-forward smash-em character, they are the classes/subclasses to look for.
 

Champion is mostly there for those folks who don't want a complicated character. It's easy to play, but is fairly shallow of depth - it takes some extra work to make them interesting, because their uniqueness does not spawn from their mechanics.

The "filled in" classes help to translate ideas into mechanics. But it is easier to fall into one-trick ponyism with the defined mechanics. The simpler classes - Barbarian Berserker, Fighter Champion & Rogue Assassin require a more creative mind to make them "interesting", and if you want interesting combats with them, you have to think outside the box a lot more. If you just want a strait-forward smash-em character, they are the classes/subclasses to look for.

I have to admit I find this to be an odd viewpoint. I've never felt that having more mechanics (more "buttons") contributes to figuring out who the character is, or really that there's any relationship/correlation between the two things. Sure, some of the very thematic subclasses (esp. Cleric and Warlock) give you a nudge in a certain direction, but in that case it's almost more work to avoid falling into the obvious stereotypes.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
When I play a rather basic (mechanically speaking) character, instead of basing its ''thing'' around its background or race instead.

Now in this here case we are talking a Human, so not too exotic. But your human can come from an interesting place.

Or, if you take feats, you can based their ''thing'' around their fighting style or the weapon they use, etc
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Personally I like playing "basic" characters because they can be more fun for RP and trying to get a bit creative in combat. For me, mechanical complexity does not necessarily mean more interesting, in fact if I'm always thinking what spell or power I can fall back on I don't think as much about alternative solutions.

Of course that's not going to work for everyone.
 

MarkB

Legend
I often like to play against type with a character. That tends to lead me to playing more defined classes / races, as otherwise there isn't really anything to play against.
 

jgsugden

Legend
About 10% of my character's character come from mechanical inspiration. The rest come from the background and personality I select. Usually, I come up with a premise for a PC and then fill in the mechanics after I decide who the PC will be. So, by the time I look at the mechanics, the PC is 90% complete. To that end: Neither complex nor simple PCs have a substantial impact on my creativity. Whether I played a mechanically simple PC or an intricate build like my Glasya Tiefling Gloomstalker/Divine Soul/Cleric of Order/BattleMaster/Assassin, it isn't the mechanics that are telling the story - they're just the window dressing of the character. The guts of the PC's character are the story of the PC.

There are times when a mechanic does inspire me and I build a PC around a mechanic - but that is rare. Mostly, the abilities the PC gains are treated like unexpected giftas they acquire as they become more powerful. When I do build around a mechanic, it is usually because the mechanic inspired a story that I thought it'd be fun to play out. As that tends to happen in more complex mechanics, I guess it would be fair to save the complex inspires me more than the simple, but - for most PCs - it isn't a factor.
 

J-H

Adventurer
You also have feats to work with. You can take Poisoner and use your bonus action to apply poison to your weapons; you can go Crusher for advantage-granting; Shield Master for shoving; Ritual Caster for out-of-combat magic; and more. Lots of options.
 


I just wondered if in your opinion the more “filled in” classes or the more open ones spur more creativity for you.
I find blank canvases incredibly daunting. Analysis paralysis means I never get anywhere. It applies to almost every creative thing I do--give me a prompt and I can write wonders, ever since I was a kid that was the case. Give me the non-prompt "Write a story that interests you" and I'm completely lost. It's a bit like someone saying, "Cook me food that's tasty" when you have the option to cook literally actually anything. There's so many things that could qualify as "tasty."

I've always been drawn to classes that have some kind of story or direction to them, with only one noteworthy exception. I love Paladins, Sorcerers, Warlocks, Shamans, Avengers, Swordmages, Monks...all classes with a starting flavor or style. In the rare cases where I don't like that flavor or it doesn't work for my purposes, I'm quite comfortable asking if it can be tweaked or changed. I find the reverse--taking an ultra-generic class and adding flavor to it--an almost unachievable thing.

The one and only time I've found a "generic" option compelling was the 4e Brawler Fighter. Chokeslamming dragons is just to gorram frellin' metal to not be compelling. I've no idea what I'd DO with it, but I always wanted to do something.

Edit: For a hopefully useful analogy, a class with built-in flavor is like having one restaurant very close to where you live, and other restaurants far away. You can choose to go elsewhere if you wish to, you aren't shackled to that one close one. But it's convenient. For me, choosing which class I play is like choosing which of 7 otherwise-identical apartments to live in, which have one restaurant next door and all other restaurants at least a mile away.

An "open" class (I personally prefer "blank," but I get that these are colored by our biases) is like picking a similarly identical apartment where all the restaurants that I like are equally far away, so it's always the same amount of effort no matter which one you want to eat at. I'm left paralyzed by indecision, because I like all of the restaurants equally and they're all equally difficult to get to.

Alternatively, if you're familiar with Buridan's ass, that's exactly what it is. I am caught perfectly between metaphorical hunger and metaphorical thirst, and thus die of starvation and dehydration despite being within sight of fixes for both issues.
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
IMO, 5E is a little different in terms of blank canvas than some other games. So many of the classes have so many widgets that, mostly anyway, it's about making the rules bulk you have work for the character you want. Now, take something like the Champion, which is, as you point out, about as tabula rasa as 5E characters get, in terms of mechanics anyway. My point, if I were to make a point about how I make 5E characters, is that I don't actually care about the mechanical heft of a class or subclass except as that relates to realizing the character I have in mind. Sometimes, I guess, less mechanics might be easier, but mostly that's just isn't my experience, mostly its about which set of mechanics get me what I want in terms of mechanizing things I want to be able to do. I'm an inveterate re-skinner of mechanics in service of character builds, and I realize that's probably not how a lot of people build. Anyway, that's my two cents.
 

I was thinking about playing a champion fighter.

I have mostly played warlocks (and one multi cleric warlock) celestial patron and have an artificer ready to go. I have a Paladin in Avernus.
I am accustomed to more complicated characters.

but when looking at the champion I felt like the blank canvas was refreshing. Playing a human to boot, the lore and background is pretty minimal.

I just wondered if in your opinion the more “filled in” classes or the more open ones spur more creativity for you.
I think you have identified the human fighter trap, it sounded easier as your first character but you gotta filling everything but to those that know how it is the most free.

personally, I suck without a guide rail.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I think it also depends a lot on the campaign that you are playing. If it's combat intensive, it might get a bit boring because of the lack of options and the repetition of the same tactics, especially if it's played very much according to the RAW.

But if you have a more imaginative DM who allows more options in combat, or even better (from my perspective) if you have a campaign that is more balanced in particular with social and intrigue and where combat is infrequent, then a Champion might do absolutely great based on what you take up for his personality, story, involvement in the game's story, etc.
 

I think it also depends a lot on the campaign that you are playing. If it's combat intensive, it might get a bit boring because of the lack of options and the repetition of the same tactics, especially if it's played very much according to the RAW.

But if you have a more imaginative DM who allows more options in combat, or even better (from my perspective) if you have a campaign that is more balanced in particular with social and intrigue and where combat is infrequent, then a Champion might do absolutely great based on what you take up for his personality, story, involvement in the game's story, etc.
That seems...really counter-intuitive. The class and subclass that has almost exclusively combat-focused (or at least combat-oriented) features is worst for a combat-heavy campaign, and potentially "absolutely great" for a minimal-combat campaign? This looks like treating stuff the player would do regardless (personality, backstory, participation) as though it were part of the system itself, when...it's just not. Like, what (if any) difference is there between a Champion who has these things and a Battle Master or Eldritch Knight who has them?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That seems...really counter-intuitive. The class and subclass that has almost exclusively combat-focused (or at least combat-oriented) features is worst for a combat-heavy campaign, and potentially "absolutely great" for a minimal-combat campaign? This looks like treating stuff the player would do regardless (personality, backstory, participation) as though it were part of the system itself, when...it's just not. Like, what (if any) difference is there between a Champion who has these things and a Battle Master or Eldritch Knight who has them?

This is not what I've written, so why don't you read my sentences without bias ? First, the Champion does not have more combat orientated features than at least half of the other martial fighter archetypes.

Second, I did not say that he would do better than the others, I just say that he might do absolutely great if he picks up these things, so being a champion is just certainly not worse off.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
I was thinking about playing a champion fighter.

Fun fact, out of every single Fighter that's been played by my players over the 6'ish years we played 5e...only ONCE has someone chose something other than Champion. And we don't even use Feats or Multiclassing.

Honestly? I think it's because I don't "build encounters to the PC's capabilities". Because of this, they can have 1 or 2 fights in the course of a session/adventure...or they can have 12 or 15. Those fights can be with things they walk over...or almost al die. Those fights may come with multiple days between them, or they might come flooding in, one after another. All the Classes with a lot of "limitations" (disguised as "special abilities") use them up in a couple fights. Then they are left holding an empty bag, so to say. But a Champion Fighter? Swing, swing, swing, swing, swing, Surge, swing, swing, swing... ad nauseum. They Just. Keep. Going! :)

So yeah, if you run a game where the DM "builds encounters" for the PC's and specifically sets up them being "triggered only when the PC's are ready"...then the other classes "never" run out of special goodies to use. But in a more Olde Skool game like mine? Champions rawk on toast!

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Hiya!


Fun fact, out of every single Fighter that's been played by my players over the 6'ish years we played 5e...only ONCE has someone chose something other than Champion. And we don't even use Feats or Multiclassing.

Honestly? I think it's because I don't "build encounters to the PC's capabilities". Because of this, they can have 1 or 2 fights in the course of a session/adventure...or they can have 12 or 15. Those fights can be with things they walk over...or almost al die. Those fights may come with multiple days between them, or they might come flooding in, one after another. All the Classes with a lot of "limitations" (disguised as "special abilities") use them up in a couple fights. Then they are left holding an empty bag, so to say. But a Champion Fighter? Swing, swing, swing, swing, swing, Surge, swing, swing, swing... ad nauseum. They Just. Keep. Going! :)

So yeah, if you run a game where the DM "builds encounters" for the PC's and specifically sets up them being "triggered only when the PC's are ready"...then the other classes "never" run out of special goodies to use. But in a more Olde Skool game like mine? Champions rawk on toast!

It's funny, it's exactly what we told our LARP players who complained about the power of the spells, because there is no saving throw, just very few resistances that few characters have. We told them, yeah, right, but over the length of the game, they have what, 10-12 spells, so they will hesitate wasting them, whereas your trusty longsword will never wear out, and when they agonise as to whether they should be using one of their precious spells now, you will just be making them eat steel all game long... :)
 

I struggle to give any meaningful input without mentioning Session Zero.

As a DM, I tell my players to NOT decide on race/class/background prior to the Session Zero, and instead listen first to what the setting will be like, and then talk together to form a party that works as a team. That includes both the background-story as well as all the race/class/background mechanics, and in our case ultimately also rolling dice for stats.

During such a Session Zero, I've had players who already had a character in mind, and it really made that Session Zero more difficult and less successful, because now the other players and the DM must work around this immovable rod.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I struggle to give any meaningful input without mentioning Session Zero.

As a DM, I tell my players to NOT decide on race/class/background prior to the Session Zero, and instead listen first to what the setting will be like, and then talk together to form a party that works as a team. That includes both the background-story as well as all the race/class/background mechanics, and in our case ultimately also rolling dice for stats.

During such a Session Zero, I've had players who already had a character in mind, and it really made that Session Zero more difficult and less successful, because now the other players and the DM must work around this immovable rod.

That's an interesting effect, do you know why the players already come with something in mind ? It is something technical like a build (which includes all the elements like class/race/background), or do they come with roleplaying character concepts ?
 

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