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%


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DND_Reborn

Legend
Ooh, I like that. Lock down some of those feats behind storyline discoveries, and add a robust crafting system, and I'm like 95% of the way to what I'm looking for.
Great! I am glad to hear it and happy I saved it. :)

If you do try it, let me know how it works for you. I looked it over when I first saved it, but that was a while ago and we never got around to trying it. 🤷‍♂️
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
For 5e, I'm a fan of the 5e process. Because that's part of the charm of 5e.

If asked this in a more general way, my answer would pretty much be: All of the above.

I enjoy a lot of different systems, and get different things from them. l Not only isn't there a preferred size, there cannot be a preferred size for everything.

For example, I've been playing Champions for like four decades. Well, truth be told I haven't been in a Champions game in over a decade, but I still occasionally create a character. Because character creation is like a solo mini-game, and it's a great system to be able to work out such an amazing array of powers with flexibility nothing else matches - at the price of complexity.

On the other hand I can do a pick-up game of Fate Accelerated starting with a group of people who have never played the system and at the end of 20 minutes we're already playing. Because the concepts are so simple.

Other factors come into play - in an RPG where lethal conflict is a regularly expected challenge resolution, I want a much lighter character creation system then one where it isn't, like in a superhero game.

I want character creation crunchiness to match up with rules crunchiness, so prep and play both appeal to the same players. I think 5e does a decent job of this - the lighter end of medium for rules and for character creation, which is why I like that level in the vote. Trying to combine a much lighter or a much crunchier character creations system with the 5e rules system is a mismatch, it's a wrong pick. That doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy crunchier or lighter creation systems - just match them to the crunchiness of the rules system.

Actually, I need to walk that back a little - the 5e creation system that matched rules has been growing more options scattered throughout books. And while that is a surefire method for selling books, it's a horrible organization for character creation. So 5e is moving beyond what I want because of scattered organization of character creation, not inherent complexity of it.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Voted 1. 5E is too much. Perhaps not as written, but as actually used by players, it's way, way too detailed. Worrying about novel-length backstories and what feats they'll take by 20th level when making a 1st-level character with zero XP is the worst.
Luckily there no prerequisites like there was in 3.x, so there's absolutelyt zero rules or mechanics reasons to do anyuthing you are talking about.

Now, if players enjoy working ahead they can, in whihc case you are telling them there fun is wrong. But there is zero, zero and zero rules imperative to have to work out your character to level 20 from the beginning in 5e.
 

There are several steps to character creation. Some of which 5e does well and some it doesn't do at all.
  • Individual pre-game character creation. 5e pre-game character creation is the best D&D has ever had; it's simple, layered (especially with subclasses) and the characters are expected to have some depth and flaws.
  • Group creation and cohesion. 5e doesn't even try here to create a system of characters with pre-existing bonds or have that much synergy between the characters so they are encouraged to more than trivially work together
  • Setting integration/development. With backgrounds 5e does the minimum that qualifies. Slightly more than the minimum thanks to specific abilities for the backgrounds - and not making having a background compete for resources with other things. But still very little.
  • Character growth. This to me is where 5e really suffers. Once you've picked your subclass that generally lays your advancement out on rails with e.g. all Champion Fighters growing almost the same way, something which is especially strong for martial classes, divine spellcasters, and wizards (whose spells are equipment). It's part of why I favour warlocks and artificers over other 5e classes and is to me a significant failing in 5e.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
This is a pretty good summary:
There are several steps to character creation. Some of which 5e does well and some it doesn't do at all.
  • Individual pre-game character creation. 5e pre-game character creation is the best D&D has ever had; it's simple, layered (especially with subclasses) and the characters are expected to have some depth and flaws.
  • Group creation and cohesion. 5e doesn't even try here to create a system of characters with pre-existing bonds or have that much synergy between the characters so they are encouraged to more than trivially work together
  • Setting integration/development. With backgrounds 5e does the minimum that qualifies. Slightly more than the minimum thanks to specific abilities for the backgrounds - and not making having a background compete for resources with other things. But still very little.
  • Character growth. This to me is where 5e really suffers. Once you've picked your subclass that generally lays your advancement out on rails with e.g. all Champion Fighters growing almost the same way, something which is especially strong for martial classes, divine spellcasters, and wizards (whose spells are equipment).

Points 1 and 3 were the ones I was more concerned with when I made the poll.

For points 2 and 4 I rely more on the players than the rule-set. Creative backstories and such will make a good start for point 2, and the whole process of the actual gameplay itself leads to point 4 IMO.

If a player focuses too much of their character's growth on their features they gain or can choose from for point 4, your character is really just a bunch of features and numbers on a sheet.

It's part of why I favour warlocks and artificers over other 5e classes and is to me a significant failing in 5e.
LOL those are the classes I dislike the most (with bards being a close third), but that doesn't surprise me given our differences in the past.

So, what, precisely, do you find appealing about those classes for point 4, then??? (Honestly curious here.)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
So, what, precisely, do you find appealing about those classes for point 4, then??? (Honestly curious here.)
I'm not @Neonchameleon, but I would wager it's the both of those classes have to make a lot of semi-permanent decisions around invocations/infusions at quite a few points during the leveling process, as well as having to pick spells known, not prepared. (Semi-permanent in the sense you can change one per level up, so they can be altered but pretty slowly.)

The warlock definitely has some design flaws around Eldritch Blast, but the invocations/limited casting chassis with 2 different "subclass" paths in Patron and Pact Boon is something that would have benefited a lot of classes in 5e.
 

This is a pretty good summary:


Points 1 and 3 were the ones I was more concerned with when I made the poll.

For points 2 and 4 I rely more on the players than the rule-set. Creative backstories and such will make a good start for point 2, and the whole process of the actual gameplay itself leads to point 4 IMO.
Except that the locked in class and level system of D&D massively inhibits non-linear character growth compared to other RPGs.

To give an example from the last campaign I was a player in, it was a SF game with us starting off as poor merchant traders. My character started off as a fairly sneaky rogue type who made his official living as the ship's engineer. Not formally trained he was good at jury rigging with duct tape and string and competent enough to be an engineer on a cheap tramp freighter but nothing special (as well as being good at stealth, lockpicking, hacking, and the rest of the sneaky rogue set).

However as the campaign progressed we got our hands on Old One technology and he stepped up as the ship's engineer. His skills were called on both under fire and to fix ships and ship parts that no one had ever heard of because it had been tens of thousands of years since this tech had been seen openly. He never got any better at the stealth and infiltration I expected him to be used for (we had several stealthy people and his normal role in stealth operations was sabotage and computer hacking) but because he grew from where I spent the skill points and I spent them on what I was doing he became one of the best engineers in the galaxy thanks to his access to parts and problems no one else was using or facing.

Because we were playing a skill based game (Storyteller rules) his focus was able to shift organically rather than either changing my entire class or levelling up in lockstep in the rogue class. So he turned organically from a rogue who made his living with duct tape and string to an expert engineer who was well acquainted with the seedier side of engineering (and became a slightly more dangerous fighter in passing). This worked well and was character development - but because in D&D 5e you've made almost all your choices by level 3 you almost can't get the same sort of story in 5e and if you do the rules fight you all the way.

Edit: And you say "Creative backstories and such will make a good start for point 2" - which is true. They make a good start. But if "a good start" is all we want then we might as well dump backgrounds and just ask for creative backstories. For that matter we might as well dump skills entirely, and most spells. What we want to do is work with and be able to both inspire and build off creative backstories and such - and this goes for just about all of tabletop roleplaying.
If a player focuses too much of their character's growth on their features they gain or can choose from for point 4, your character is really just a bunch of features and numbers on a sheet.
And that might be relevant - but given how rigid the character levelling process is in 5e it's like saying "if someone gets too hot they will faint and eventually die" to argue against turning the heat on in sub zero temperatures with bad insulation. Sure, it's a theoretical worry, but it's a very distant one from where 5e is.
LOL those are the classes I dislike the most (with bards being a close third), but that doesn't surprise me given our differences in the past.

So, what, precisely, do you find appealing about those classes for point 4, then??? (Honestly curious here.)
@TwoSix nailed it. With both classes you pick class abilities distinct to that class and two e.g. Infernal Warlocks can be and grow very differently thanks to different Pact Boons and Invocations rather than having all the same abilities because they picked the same subclass. Your spells are also a character defining choice and might have no overlap between two characters of the same subclass rather than their choice in spells being a matter of what they decided when they woke up that morning.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I like life paths as a character build system, maybe not as hardcore as Traveller but there are a few simplified examples. I really like Spirit of the Century and the way it uses Background Phases to build the characters Aspects - in particulae First Pulp Novel and Guest Star help generate in game bonds and hooks
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Because we were playing a skill based game (Storyteller rules) his focus was able to shift organically rather than either changing my entire class or levelling up in lockstep in the rogue class. So he turned organically from a rogue who made his living with duct tape and string to an expert engineer who was well acquainted with the seedier side of engineering (and became a slightly more dangerous fighter in passing). This worked well and was character development - but because in D&D 5e you've made almost all your choices by level 3 you almost can't get the same sort of story in 5e and if you do the rules fight you all the way.
So, multiclassing and/or bringing back dual-classing or prestige classes wouldn't fix this?

Otherwise, D&D is a class-based game, not skill-based. So it does progress in leaps (when you level) instead of gradually (improving desired skills a few at a time, at most).

Regardless, from your example it is mostly about skill adaptation and role-playing. With rules for downtime, award, and feats, you can learn new skills and you can role-play your PC in whatever manner is dictated by you.

Edit: And you say "Creative backstories and such will make a good start for point 2" - which is true. They make a good start. But if "a good start" is all we want then we might as well dump backgrounds and just ask for creative backstories. For that matter we might as well dump skills entirely, and most spells. What we want to do is work with and be able to both inspire and build off creative backstories and such - and this goes for just about all of tabletop roleplaying.
I don't see how dumping skills and most spells is relevant to this. Your point 2 was:
  • Group creation and cohesion. 5e doesn't even try here to create a system of characters with pre-existing bonds or have that much synergy between the characters so they are encouraged to more than trivially work together
While I didn't specify, part of backstory is also about the players making characters and playing in such a fashion as to create "group creation" and "cohesion" between group members. The game is already designed for classes to more easily fill particular roles, while allowing for some overlap, particularly when subclasses are considered.

I don't feel we need a "system" for doing all this as much as it should be created organically from player choices.

And that might be relevant - but given how rigid the character levelling process is in 5e it's like saying "if someone gets too hot they will faint and eventually die" to argue against turning the heat on in sub zero temperatures with bad insulation. Sure, it's a theoretical worry, but it's a very distant one from where 5e is.
While it is entirely relevant, I don't see what my statement has to do with the analogy you cite.

More to the point, I discussed this with a group member whose been part of my games the longest (nearly 25 years now). We played AD&D back in late 90's together for over a decade. The conversation got me thinking about my characters back then in AD&D 1E and I can honestly say this:

I played several PCs of the same classes (such as over a dozen fighters, etc.) and NEVER, NOT ONCE, did I feel because they were the same class and were locked into the identical paths (more so than in 5e!) that they lacked character growth!

That growth came from the choices I made in the game about who my character was and how they would react, etc. Every fighter progressed exactly the same. Every thief used the same table for thieving skills, every PC got exactly the same thing as every other PC of the same class. It wasn't about what what happened when they leveled because you rarely made any choices then. In fact, the only choice you really made (outside of possibly choosing spells) was what weapon proficiency and non-weapon proficiency you might learn.

Your only other choices revolved around in game aspects: equipment, weapons, armor, magic items you selected when offered, etc.

What really led to character growth was how you played your character more so than what they got when they leveled.

@TwoSix nailed it. With both classes you pick class abilities distinct to that class and two e.g. Infernal Warlocks can be and grow very differently thanks to different Pact Boons and Invocations rather than having all the same abilities because they picked the same subclass. Your spells are also a character defining choice and might have no overlap between two characters of the same subclass rather than their choice in spells being a matter of what they decided when they woke up that morning.
So, while I understand your point and logic, I think the flaw isn't so much in the game system as how you choose to interact with the game. Having options can make for more interesting characters, of course, but IMO too many players in 5E focus on their character sheet (what features they have) instead of what they do in the adventure.

But if you want to focus on player choices for their characters as they are created and later gain levels, you can create and play out characters of the same class/subclass which are very different. Different races and traits, different backgrounds, different weapon focus, different fighting styles, different skills, different feats, different roles (melee vs. ranged vs. tank, etc.), all blend to create different experiences in playing.

Here are examples using just options in the Player's Handbook. Underlined content is repeated.
Race: Halfling (Lightfoot); Lucky, Brave, Nimble, Stealthy
Size: Small
Speed: 25 feet
Ability Scores: STR 10, DEX 18, CON 12, INT 13, WIS 16, CHA 9
Background: Criminal/ Highway Robber (Proficiencies: Deception, Stealth, Gaming Set, Thieves' Tools)
Class: Fighter 10 (Champion)
Proficiencies: All weapons, armors, and shields; Acrobatics, Perception
Features: Second Wind, Action Surge, Fighting Style (Archer), Improved Critical, Extra Attack, Remarkable Athlete, Indomitable, Fighting Style (Defense)
ASI/Feats: Sharpshooter (4th), DEX +2 (6th), Observant (8th, WIS +1)
Key Gear: Studded Leather and Shortbow

Story/ Motivation: This halfling led a hard life and had to make his way the best he could, often doing things he regretted just to survive. Convinced by the half-orc to try to make something more of himself, he choose a life of adventure, and travels with him.

Role: He functions in the group as a scout and ranged support in combat. He can serve as back-up to a rogue or ranger, or if not present, as the primary. His racial traits help him excel in this role. He considers multiclassing to Rogue to gain expertise and make him better in his role as scout.

Race: Half-Orc; Darkvision, Menacing, Relentless Endurance, Savage Attacks
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Ability Scores: STR 18, DEX 8, CON 16, INT 10, WIS 12, CHA 13
Background: Outlander/ Bounty Hunter (Proficiencies: Athletics, Survival, Musical Instrument, Dwarven)
Class: Fighter 10 (Champion)
Proficiencies: All weapons, armors, and shields; Animal Handling, Insight
Features: Second Wind, Action Surge, Fighting Style (Dueling), Improved Critical, Extra Attack, Remarkable Athlete, Indomitable, Fighting Style (Protection)
ASI/Feats: Heavy Armor Master (4th), STR+2 (6th), Inspiring Leader (8th)
Key Gear: Plate, shield, and Warhammer

Story/ Motivation: This half-orc has always been a hunter, bringing those to justice who need it and trying to lead others by example. Seeing the halfling struggling and following a road to worse crimes, he is helping the halfling follow a better path.

Role: He functions as a leader, a front-line defender and tank. He might one day multiclass to Paladin, but has not found an oath to follow yet.

Despite both these PCs being Fighter 10 Champions, they feel and play VERY different IMO.

Complete differences include:
  1. Race and racial traits (including Size and Speed)
  2. Ability Scores
  3. Backgrounds
  4. Skills
  5. Fighting Styles
  6. Feat selection
  7. Armor, shield, and weapon selection
  8. Story / Motivation (and likely Alignment & Personality based on motivation/background)
  9. Role in the party
  10. Multiclassing option (one lacks the DEX to be a Rogue, the other lacks the STR and CHA to be a Paladin)
Partial differences are:
  1. Languages (they share Common, but all other languages are distinct)
  2. Although proficient in all weapons and armor, their choices make them distinct: light armor and ranged, heavy armor and melee.
  3. Remarkable Athlete is shared, but because of skill choices, each will benefit from it in different ways.
Complete similarities are:
  1. Class
  2. Level
  3. Subclass
  4. Fighter features (Second Wind, Action Surge, Extra Attack, Indomitable), shared by all fighters regardless of subclass
  5. Champion features (Improved Critical)
If two players in your group played these PCs, I am sure the feel of each would be completely different to them.

While these "snap-shots" are just one moment at level 10, the paths the two PCs would take to get to level 10 are different and involve making a lot of choices (both feature-wise and in game play) along the way. And while using feats and multiclassing (which I didn't do, but offered as possible choice which could happen) are optional, most games play with feats and over half use multiclassing IME and according to a poll I did over a year ago.

You might seem them as being too similar for your tastes, but I think 5E offers a lot to make each character feel and play different through their career as an adventure, even discounting the choices a player makes in game to make the experience unique.

So, I must whole-heartedly disagree with this statement:

because in D&D 5e you've made almost all your choices by level 3 you almost can't get the same sort of story in 5e and if you do the rules fight you all the way.

I do understand if you only focus on class and subclass, it is harder, but still not as arduous a task as you feel it is. But that is just my opinion. 🤷‍♂️
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
5e's character creation is well and good. I wouldn't mind a little more in the way of choice (I tend to offer a free feat to new PCs when I DM) and I will always miss the granularity of skill points vs proficiency, but no, 5e's character creation is pretty excellent, especially DMing as I often do for new players.

Now, where I would love to see more crunch, or at least more meat? Party creation. Both FATE* and most PbtA hacks do this exceptionally well, and it's what I think was the biggest missed opportunity in 5e or even products that seem especially suited to the concept, like the recent Strixhaven book. Give me mechanics that relate to how I got to know my fellow companions. Nothing extreme, they could be something like quote-unquote "ribbon" abilities for all I care. But give players more agency (and incentive!) to explain their characters' relationships with each other.

*FATE has some of the best designed character creation I've ever seen, and the option to allow medias-res character creation is absolutely genius; it's a shame that I loathe actually playing it.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
5e's character creation is well and good. I wouldn't mind a little more in the way of choice (I tend to offer a free feat to new PCs when I DM) and I will always miss the granularity of skill points vs proficiency, but no, 5e's character creation is pretty excellent, especially DMing as I often do for new players.
IME many groups will offer a feat at level 1, if that is what you mean.

Now, where I would love to see more crunch, or at least more meat? Party creation. Both FATE* and most PbtA hacks do this exceptionally well, and it's what I think was the biggest missed opportunity in 5e or even products that seem especially suited to the concept, like the recent Strixhaven book. Give me mechanics that relate to how I got to know my fellow companions. Nothing extreme, they could be something like quote-unquote "ribbon" abilities for all I care. But give players more agency (and incentive!) to explain their characters' relationships with each other.
I am not very familiar with those systems or what they do, but for the most part it seems again like things you could with backstory, etc.

If you wanted something, would this work (as an example):

Tag Team
When you share this feature with another creature, you can use the Help action as a bonus action (i.e. giving the other creature advantage on its next attack, etc.).

The concept is two PCs might have grown up together, often getting in fights and used to working together as a team.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I am not very familiar with those systems or what they do, but for the most part it seems again like things you could with backstory, etc.

If you wanted something, would this work (as an example):

Tag Team
When you share this feature with another creature, you can use the Help action as a bonus action (i.e. giving the other creature advantage on its next attack, etc.).

The concept is two PCs might have grown up together, often getting in fights and used to working together as a team.
In those system, there are aspects of character creation where you define your relationship to each of the other characters. In FATE and several PbtA hacks these have mechanical implications.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
In those system, there are aspects of character creation where you define your relationship to each of the other characters. In FATE and several PbtA hacks these have mechanical implications.
I was hoping more for an example, so such as... ???

Would the feature I made be an example:
Tag Team
When you share this feature with another creature, you can use the Help action as a bonus action (i.e. giving the other creature advantage on its next attack, etc.).

Or is it something else?

And what if your party has no relationships to one another before the adventure begins??
 

So, multiclassing and/or bringing back dual-classing or prestige classes wouldn't fix this?

Otherwise, D&D is a class-based game, not skill-based. So it does progress in leaps (when you level) instead of gradually (improving desired skills a few at a time, at most).
The problem isn't that D&D is a class based game. It's that it's a level based game. You can be class based without ludicrous leaps. There's a decent case that the White Wolf games were class based. The PbtA games are definitely almost all class based but are class based without being level based.
I don't feel we need a "system" for doing all this as much as it should be created organically from player choices.
I do not believe you have played any game that uses systems to facilitate things this way. So, with all due respect, your opinion is basically created from ignorance.
That growth came from the choices I made in the game about who my character was and how they would react, etc.
And these choices had very little mechanical impact. For that matter D&D characters basically don't even pick up wounds when they get hurt thanks to hit points.

Have you ever tried any other way? Or are you looking at a newfangled invention and saying that things were good enough in your day? Yes you can use landlines all the time - but I'll keep my smartphones, thank you. And point out that land lines have numerous disadvantages.
What really led to character growth was how you played your character more so than what they got when they leveled.
And believe it or not feedback and taking both into account leads to a better play experience.
But if you want to focus on player choices for their characters as they are created and later gain levels, you can create and play out characters of the same class/subclass which are very different. Different races and traits, different backgrounds, different weapon focus, different fighting styles, different skills, different feats, different roles (melee vs. ranged vs. tank, etc.), all blend to create different experiences in playing.
But the other problem going over your head is that in 5e almost all your choices are made by level 3 unless you multiclass. There is a lot of variety in pre-level 3 characters and
Despite both these PCs being Fighter 10 Champions, they feel and play VERY different IMO.

Complete differences include:
  1. Race and racial traits (including Size and Speed)
    [*]Ability Scores
    [*]Backgrounds
    [*]Skills
    [*]Fighting Styles
    [*]Feat selection
    [*]Armor, shield, and weapon selection
    [*]Story / Motivation (and likely Alignment & Personality based on motivation/background)
    [*]Role in the party
    [*]Multiclassing option (one lacks the DEX to be a Rogue, the other lacks the STR and CHA to be a Paladin)
Of these almost everything was picked by level 3. After level 3 almost all your progress is on rails.
  1. Race and racial traits (including Size and Speed) - Picked at character creation
  2. Ability Scores - Picked at character creation. Can get ASIs or Feats at level 4 and 8 (and 6 as a fighter)
  3. Backgrounds - Picked at character creation
  4. Skills - Picked at character creation.
  5. Fighting Styles - Picked at level 1. The champion fighter gets an extra at level 10
  6. Feat selection - Picked at level 4 and 8. And as a fighter at level 6. Almost always at least one of these feats/ASIs is used to boost the highest stat, chosen in character creation.
  7. Armor, shield, and weapon selection - Level 1 choice. You can adjust - but this is interchangeable.
  8. Story / Motivation (and likely Alignment & Personality based on motivation/background) - With basically no mechanics. What mechanics there are (Ideals/Virtues/Flaws/Bonds) are picked at level 1
  9. Role in the party - Without supporting mechanics
  10. Multiclassing option (one lacks the DEX to be a Rogue, the other lacks the STR and CHA to be a Paladin) - Not actually chosen
Partial differences are:
  1. Languages (they share Common, but all other languages are distinct)
    [*]Although proficient in all weapons and armor, their choices make them distinct: light armor and ranged, heavy armor and melee
    [*]Remarkable Athlete is shared, but because of skill choices, each will benefit from it in different ways.
The partial differences are all at character creation or in the first three levels. After you've picked the subclass character creation is on rails.
  1. Languages (they share Common, but all other languages are distinct) - Picked at level 1
  2. Although proficient in all weapons and armor, their choices make them distinct: light armor and ranged, heavy armor and melee. - Again this is basically picked at level 1 and you keep the choice throughout
  3. Remarkable Athlete is shared, but because of skill choices, each will benefit from it in different ways. - Picked at level 3 when you pick the subclass
If two players in your group played these PCs, I am sure the feel of each would be completely different to them.
And just about all the differences were picked at level 1. (Although mostly because you didn't pick different subclasses or they would be more different). The difference between Str based and Dex based fighters is as large as the difference between subclasses.

Fundamentally what you have here is two fighters that started off on different sets of rails at level 1 - and you're pointing out that they are on different rails. Yes, a halfling dex based archer is different from a half orc sword and board fighter. But both of them have been more or less on rails rather than allowed to grow organically.
While these "snap-shots" are just one moment at level 10, the paths the two PCs would take to get to level 10 are different and involve making a lot of choices (both feature-wise and in game play) along the way. And while using feats and multiclassing (which I didn't do, but offered as possible choice which could happen) are optional, most games play with feats and over half use multiclassing IME and according to a poll I did over a year ago.
Let's look at all those game-play choices you've made after level 1.
  • At level 3 both chose to be Champion Fighters
  • At level 6 both chose to boost their primary stat by 2.
  • They each picked a feat that was a +1 to an odd ability score and had a secondary use (observant vs Heavy Armour Mastery)
  • They each have one other feat
    • The archer went for the obvious best feat for an archer in Sharpshooter
    • The half-orc picked Inspiring Leader rather than the obvious sword protective and board pick of Sentinel
  • They from the champion get to pick a second fighting style
That's a total of five mechanical choices made in nine levels of which they made the same choice for the biggest choice. One's an exact mirror, and two are near mirrors - and most classes will have this sort of mirroring of each other even cross-class on feats.
You might seem them as being too similar for your tastes,
And you fundamentally miss the point. They are two fairly different first level characters who have just got slightly bigger. What they do has not fundamentally changed since level 1 (normally there's a subclass so level 3) and they've grown in almost the same ways - just from different starts.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
The problem with just giving a free feat is that the feats don't cover enough character concepts and you can easily be left with no viable non-Lucky options, at which point there's still no choice.

More feats are needed is what I'm saying.

And stop calling them 'optional'.
 

I was hoping more for an example, so such as... ???

Would the feature I made be an example:


Or is it something else?

And what if your party has no relationships to one another before the adventure begins??
Different games use different systems - and they help. In Apocalypse World there's a section of character creation and mechanics called Hx/History. Each of the character classes has a different one - so one is:
Everyone introduces their characters by name, look and outlook. Take your turn.​
List the other characters’ names.​
Go around again for Hx. On your turn, ask the other players which of their characters you can trust.​
• For the characters you can trust, write Hx-1.​
• For the characters you can’t trust, write Hx+3.​
You are indifferent to what is safe, and drawn to what is not.​
On the others’ turns, answer their questions as you like.​

Another one has the following:
Everyone introduces their characters by name, look and outlook. Take your turn.​
List the other characters’ names.​
Go around again for Hx. On your turn, ask either or both:​
• Which one of you has been with me since before? For that character, write Hx+2.​
• Which one of you has betrayed or stolen from me? For that character, write Hx+3.​
For everyone else, write Hx+1. It’s in your interests to know everyone’s business.​
On the others’ turns, answer their questions as you like.​

Each of the classes represents that character's role in and approach to the world and it works wonders for getting the party on the same page early.

In Blades in the Dark you are a team of criminals working on a heist - and you don't just each have a character sheet, but you have a combined crew character sheet that represents what type of criminal organisation you are. Whether it's assassins, smugglers, a cult, or more. And you don't just have individual XP but also crew XP, and the crew cohesion and network levels up in the same way the PCs do. Your crew has contacts and hangers on - and you can also get special abilities for the crew based on their rep and cohesion, like smugglers getting upgraded vehicles or assassins getting rituals to make disposal of the bodies easier.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
That growth came from the choices I made in the game about who my character was and how they would react, etc. Every fighter progressed exactly the same. Every thief used the same table for thieving skills, every PC got exactly the same thing as every other PC of the same class. It wasn't about what what happened when they leveled because you rarely made any choices then. In fact, the only choice you really made (outside of possibly choosing spells) was what weapon proficiency and non-weapon proficiency you might learn.

Your only other choices revolved around in game aspects: equipment, weapons, armor, magic items you selected when offered, etc.

What really led to character growth was how you played your character more so than what they got when they leveled.
The weakness here is that every RPG in existence (that allows for campaign play) allows for narrative growth and change. That's not a strength of any version of D&D, that's just part and parcel of campaign RPG play. Making your character grow and change is one of the main reasons to play!

Now, I do think there's a fairly unexplored topic on the differences between games where growth is randomized and procedural (like primarily gaining powers via encounters and magic items) and ones where the growth options are player-facing (like most crunchy games). But I think it's undeniable that 5e, like 1e and 2e, is pretty inflexible at allowing major changes midway through the campaign.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The problem with just giving a free feat is that the feats don't cover enough character concepts and you can easily be left with no viable non-Lucky options, at which point there's still no choice.

More feats are needed is what I'm saying.

And stop calling them 'optional'.
I mean, they are an option. I've never played in 5E where people were using Feats, actually.
 

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