Do people in your games actually use "builds"


Do you let (or use) builds in your games for character building? Or, do you let your character grow and evolve naturally deciding what you want when you level, based on the things that your character does? I always see build topics, while this is fine, i find it severely breaks immersion when your character is a simply bag of numbers that makes a person efficient at something with no regards to roleplay.

I recently ran a campaign where everyone picked a race, then rolled 3d6 for your stats applying them as rolled down the column, and then picked their class. I actually let them roll 3d6 for stats twice to represent 2 paths in life your character could have taken . If you havent done this, I highly recommend it. I find the game is much much more enjoyable when people have weaknesses that help encourage roleplaying.

Also , i have heard the argument that some people simply wish to roleplay characters that excel at anything, and it's dumb to think that a character needs to be hindered to roleplay efficiently. While I respect the person's decision on what they want to play, I disagree that a person can roleplay well when they have little to no drawbacks. This argument is absurd due to the fact that a good character must have hinderances, or else they become a very 2 dimensional character.

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First Post
If by "builds" you mean "Do you put thought into your next level (or next 10!) before you actually gain it", then yes. Through out 3e, through out my very brief exposure to 4e, and even in 2e I had a good idea of how a character was going to progress.

With 2e the big difference is that we rolled at the table doing "Session 0" which was almost exclusively character creation. For awhile we did 3d6 in order which largely dicated what you could and could not make. We experimented with several other rolling methods and eventually said something akin to "Forget it, just make your character... as long as your stats are too retarded, you should be fine". Want to play a Paladin? Hey look, you have a 17+ Cha...

Eventually someone is going to link you to the Stormwind Fallacy, I'd do so if I wasn't half-asleep and/or cared more... googling it might save you some time. Short version: "Focus on mechanics and being good at what you do is *NOT* mutually exclusive with the ability or desire to Role Play."

Argyle King

I mostly see it when playing D&D.

That's not to say people don't put thought into building the mechanical aspects of their characters in other games. I'm simply saying I haven't seen it be boiled down into a science as much as I have when playing D&D with other people. In the last 4E game I played, one of the members of the group had a notebook which already had his character leveled up throughout all 30 levels. What I mean is that he already had his entire character sketched out and what choices he was going to make at each level.

John Q. Mayhem

I like to have a skeleton - a general idea of what I want to do mechanically with the character - but make most choices organically. I find that fun. Nothin' wrong with builds, though. Although having every choice mapped out level 1 to 30 is really, really odd.


First Post
I think of people are going to do build, particularly an optimized build, than everyone in the group should. The real problem is when you have a character that can function really well and one our two that are not built well there starts to be a disparity in play because one character is built for mechanics while others are built more for pure role play our are just not built well at all.

I've seen people try it, but it's very rare for any player to actually stick to a build. Often a build changes, not due to RP, but because the player had a new cool idea instead.

I think 4e builds tend to be a little more stable than 3e builds. This is neither a feature nor a bug, it just "is" IME.


No, builds only happen when you are making a character who is not 1st level in our games. Otherwise, they kinda just grow as the whim takes us as they level.

Would I let a player use a "build". Probably, unless it became a disruption. That's happened without actually having a "build" as such.

Have they used builds? Nope. Never. Not a one. That isn't to say that characters haven't trended towards optimizaiton, but it's a general optimization. Certain ability scores matter a great deal more or less than others. Certain skills get used a lot. Others not at all. Points thus gravitate into the more commonly useful skills. What a player wants a PC to be good at he or she emphasizes, but does not build his character around that. If "non-optimal" skills nonetheless provide the player with a heightened sense of what his character is supposed to be good at then those abilities are emphasized so that if/when they DO come into play the character is good at them - but, again, they never BUILD characters around it.

Characters also do not always go unplanned, nor evolve strictly organic fashion. A 2E psion for example is a case where the character MUST be planned, in detail, at EVERY level from start to end in order to be able to qualify for abilities which the player may want his character to have at high levels. They CANNOT be put together haphazardly and still expect to gain abilities later that the player desires. In 3E players who were interested in a particular prestige class needed to QUALIFY for that class with certain skill levels and thus would plan out their characters development accordingly. But the purpose in achieving the prestige class was not to maximize skills but merely to establish a general concept or simply to obtain abilities the player desired that were otherwise not available.
I find the game is much much more enjoyable when people have weaknesses that help encourage roleplaying.
I wouldn't use the word "weaknesses". Almost nobody looks at a character with a weakness and says, "Yeah! Now that will be FUN!" It is when they find an ability and say, "That'll be fun!" but then find they may need to make sacrifices to achieve it. And it is seldom a need to be better at that ability than anyone else in the game world could ever possibly be - just that they have an ability which others don't and that the character IS good at it.

It is not a crime for a PC to be good at something but the point of the game is not a challenge to push the envelope of what's achievable in the game until just before it completely breaks. For the people I have always gamed with the fun is to be found in the adventures the PC's undertake, the memorable moments on those adventures brought about by characters, places, and events. Noboby I game with has ever had to "build" maximally efficient, exceptionally specialized and optimized characters in order to get that. The fun is not in BUILDING the character (in fact the less of that the better), the fun is in PLAYING characters.

Players don't need to have characters with drawbacks, hindrances in order to roleplay well. In my experience, however, players do find it easier to roleplay well a character who faces challenges. If a character has it too easy then they do indeed tend to become very two-dimensional. The more specialized and optimized they are the LESS interesting the player finds the character in the long term. PLAYING the character becomes boring, tedious and they soon seek an alternative.

But that's MY experience and I don't really expect everyone elses approach to play to match my own. Just most. :)

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