D&D 5E How complex do you like your character creation process?

How complex do you like your character creation process?

  • 1. Super simple. Even 5E's streamlined process is too much.

    Votes: 11 11.5%
  • 2. Simple. 5E's streamlined process fits me well and I use it.

    Votes: 8 8.3%
  • 3. Standard. 5E's typical process, with choices I can think about, is enough.

    Votes: 31 32.3%
  • 4. More. I like 5E's process, but I think we could have some more choices.

    Votes: 28 29.2%
  • 5. Mega-More. I find 5E's process unsatisfying and I want a lot more choices!

    Votes: 11 11.5%
  • 6. Other. Please explain in your post.

    Votes: 7 7.3%

I had to vote for #3 because we always go back to it. When I was a kid I loved AD&D's Unearthed Arcana with all of the little extra stuff, plus using the DMG's NPC tables for character traits. In those days we had time to spend all weekend creating kewl characters. Now I like to spend my time playing. Starting at low level there's no benefit to having an intricate, fully formed character, and to be honest, that runs counter to the fundamental nature of D&D as a hero's journey. It's better to start with a rough outline, a character sketch more than a character. Then you fill in the rest during live play.
 

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Character creation in 5e is about as complex as choosing Green Elf or Red Warrior in Gauntlet. Nothing wrong with that. Don't shoot the food!
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I mean, I guess that is exactly why I have a problem with it.

I can play Gauntlet for a couple hours and not mind that it's a choice between four hard-coded options.

When I play D&D, I'm hoping for months, possibly years of the same character. It gets really dull as a game really fast if it's as ultra-basic as Gauntlet. Whether or not it has an entertaining narrative is mostly distinct from what class choices there are, so that really doesn't have any bearing on the question for me; that is, I'll probably have a story I'm interested in whether I'm playing Dungeon World or 13th Age, but one of those two is massively more entertaining as a game, that is, a thing I play while sharing/participating in a story, as opposed to merely a burdensome vehicle that I endure so that a story can happen. (I am of course using hyperbole, but the point stands: I enjoy 4e as a game to play significantly more than I enjoy Dungeon World as a game to play, even though I absolutely love both games for the stories that, in my experience, naturally arise from playing them.)
 
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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I mean, I guess that is exactly why I have a problem with it.
Same for me. I wish there was more to it than what it is. Not a whole lot, but something. As soon as you pick your subclass, the big decisions for your character are essentially done. Feats are either uninteresting or too good to actually be considered a choice. I hadn't once been invested in a character I played in 5e because of this. I've literally said to groups, I don't really care what I play. I'll play whatever.

On the other hand, there are some merits to a somewhat homogeneous system. I have actually used the same character idea for three different builds; a dwarven wizard/rogue, dwarven bard, and a dwarven arcane trickster. They were all the same character. I kept his class(es) a secret from the other players as best I could so they couldn't pigeonhole him. And I barely noticed a difference mechanically at the table.
 

Oofta

Legend
I voted #3, but I don't think there will ever be a perfect system for every character I ever play. I enjoyed having more complexity in 3E and being able to do special things, but it also led to huge imbalance. I had a fighter that took quite a while to come together but once he did he was far and above better than most fighters. I'm not an optimizer per se, I just have a knack for coming up with stuff that works. He was awesome (until 14-15th level or so when the only PC that mattered in the group was the optimized spellcaster), but he was too awesome.

My personal preference is that the game is successful and reasonably approachable so that it's easier to find players. Having too many options, too many chances for optimization leads to the impression that you must have a high level of system mastery to be "good" at the game. In my experience in 5E optimization for the same class generally means maybe increasing DPR by a point or so per turn. In 3E? For martial types it could mean doubling DPR. In the case of casters the difference between being a contributor or at higher levels making is so that the rest of the group was just "filler" until the caster got around to there turn and wiped out every enemy on the board.

So 5E is decent and works well for my preference to making the game work reasonably well, even if I had fun figuring out options in previous editions.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
#6. I don't care about whatsoever about whatever board game mechanics I get at 1st level. What I really wish was for my players to actually spend time building their history, background, personalities and character interests much more into the setting they are playing in, and thus actually caring from the get-go who their character is and what their character wants. Having a goal or reason to go out with these people to accomplish things.

One of my most irritating things is when someone just seems to choose a race and class at random and says something like "I'll play a Kenku Rune Knight!" without giving any last thought as to why a kenku is going out on adventure, how playing a kenku is actually different than just playing a human with a rubber mask, what rune magic is in this game world, and why a kenku of all creatures knows rune magic instead of just normal wizard magic or some sort. If they can't give me a concrete reason as to why this particular creature has learned these particular things and the reason why that creature is going out with these specific other characters in the party to accomplish specific goals... then for my money you are basically not caring about the story you are playing. You might as well just play a game like Smallworld where you will be any crazy race/class combo the game throws at you and you never have to worry once about why you exist. You can just do your combats and try and win the board game without all that pesky narrative stuff getting in the way.

If you want to play a Kenku Rune Knight... I have no problem with that on the face of it. I just want you to be able to give me creative explanations for why you are and need to be a Kenku Rune Knight rather than just a Human Eldritch Knight Fighter-- especially when playing in a setting location that is purposefully designed to be 90% Humans. You want to go off the beaten path, that's okay... you just gotta put in the work to tell me why you need to go that way.

And yeah... that makes me kind of a dick DM. I freely admit it. But if this isn't something you care about yourself, you do not need to play with me if you don't want to. :)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
In the 5E mod my group is designing, we've added a prologue level (Level 0), where you only select your race and background and need 1000 XP before you select your class. Part of this the choices you make for race and background leads to other choices before you even begin playing.

It adds another layer of complexity to the character creation process and I am wondering how well received it might be by others. Obviously our group likes it since we made it for ourselves. ;)
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We did something similar in a recent game, although we only started with race and stats, and not even the full race, just a minor benefit. Took about 5 sessions to actually gain class levels. All the players (including myself, I wasn't the DM for this) really enjoyed it.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
We did something similar in a recent game, although we only started with race and stats, and not even the full race, just a minor benefit. Took about 5 sessions to actually gain class levels. All the players (including myself, I wasn't the DM for this) really enjoyed it.
That is pretty encouraging. So far we've tried it a few times and it seems to play well. By enhancing the contribution background makes, it gives a bit more to play with instead of just race and stats alone.

In concept, it really is you begin as a "common person", you have a race, stats, and a background that tells you something about who you are and where you came from to get there, etc. Then, the adventure begins and we find out why you became an adventurer and what class you lean towards by your choices in game.

I hope when we are done others will try it for a few sessions and share their feedback.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
That is pretty encouraging. So far we've tried it a few times and it seems to play well. By enhancing the contribution background makes, it gives a bit more to play with instead of just race and stats alone.

In concept, it really is you begin as a "common person", you have a race, stats, and a background that tells you something about who you are and where you came from to get there, etc. Then, the adventure begins and we find out why you became an adventurer and what class you lean towards by your choices in game.

I hope when we are done others will try it for a few sessions and share their feedback.
I want to take it a bit farther and try a completely classless game, just race, background, and maybe feats, but I think that might be a bridge too far.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I want to take it a bit farther and try a completely classless game, just race, background, and maybe feats, but I think that might be a bridge too far.
Instead of classless, I would suggest using the sidekick classes as PC classes. You'll get some things, but without subclasses your characters aren't as powerful really. It is an idea our group has had for a long time, but we have too many other things going on to try it...

There is also a pdf online for playing a game without classes and you just get TONS of feats instead. If I can find it again, I'll let you know.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Instead of classless, I would suggest using the sidekick classes as PC classes. You'll get some things, but without subclasses your characters aren't as powerful really. It is an idea our group has had for a long time, but we have too many other things going on to try it...

There is also a pdf online for playing a game without classes and you just get TONS of feats instead. If I can find it again, I'll let you know.
Yea, I've definitely kicked around sidekick classes. My only concern is that I want magical ability to be discoverable during play, not siloed into a specific class.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Yea, I've definitely kicked around sidekick classes. My only concern is that I want magical ability to be discoverable during play, not siloed into a specific class.
Understandable. Would you want it discoverable so any PC could get into it, or just if you started along the path already?
 

Horwath

Hero
I voted 5, but maybe 6 could be more accurate.

We should have "feat points" instead of feats.

getting 2 feat points per level and having a "good" feat cost 8 point, a good half feat 4 points and a +1 to ability score 4 points would be far better system.

that way feats could get more granular and easier to balance.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Understandable. Would you want it discoverable so any PC could get into it, or just if you started along the path already?
The former, ideally. Although a character with higher mental stats, or proficient in Arcana, Religion, etc., would generally be better at it.

Ideally, most magic would be ritualistic and crafted.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
As someone who often plays with players new to TTRPG's and children, I'd say it's "too complex." But really only because it's a flagship at this point. D&D is the TTRPG because it's mainstream and relatively simple to play. Still, when a player cracks open the basic rules for the first time, it's often daunting as even if they can ignore 90% of the book, that's still alot of moving parts.

The fact that I consider there's less than 10 trap options in the entire game means it's actually decently balanced too.

I think the wizard should actually be around the same complexity as the warlock and everything else should be a bit simpler. Would that edge out more hard-core players? Probably. But honestly Pathfinder is meant to be a more hard-core experience and it's more suited for that anyways.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There's one element to consider here that only got briefly waved at upthread:

How long should it take to get a character to a state where it's game-playable (answer: as close to zero as possible) vs
How long should it take to get a character completely fleshed out (answer: as long as it needs).

A character doesn't need to be completely fleshed out with background, flaws, etc. in order to be playable; those can be filled in as play goes along. But it does need all the mechanical bits in place, and that's where 5e - though better than 3e! - is still way too complex and time-consuming for my liking. Ideally, a 0e/Basic level of simplicity - choose race and-or class, roll your stats, figure out your spells if applicable, gear yourself up, and come up with a name and description such that you or the DM can narrate your appearance/name to the rest of the crew - is all it should otherwise take.

My benchmark for this is the answer to the following question: if someone's PC just died and that player needs to roll up a replacement NOW because there's not otherwise going to be an opportunity to introduce a new PC for maybe several sessions or more, how long of a break does everyone else have to take so we can get that new PC up and running?

If it's less than 10 minutes*, we're good. If it's in the 10-15 minute range*, I'll live with it. If it's longer than that, something's wrong with the char-gen system. And yes, my own system needs a long look as it's slowly become rather bloated over the years and char-gen takes way longer than it once did.......

* - assuming the player is reasonably fast at making decisions if-when they arise.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I do also enjoy procedural or random character generation, though, especially stuff like playbooks in PbtA or FitD games.
Yeah, this is an underutilized approach, I feel.

Without life paths, though, 5E is about perfect for me: not too heavy, not too light.
 
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