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'd argue the number of feats in 3.X and 4e are not within reason)
I know this is a parenthetical unrelated to the topic at hand, but I see this a lot and it's really not as bad as the Big Scary Numbers make it seem, at least for 4e. 3e I'll absolutely grant because the vast majority of 3e feats were either garbage or solid platinum, and either (almost) completely generic or so hyperspecialized that there was no reason to consider them.

I don't have numbers in front of me right now, but let's say that 4e had 5000 feats by the time it was done. It might be more or less but that's a ballpark. Now, let's say 10% of those feats are truly generic, like multiclass, power-swap, skill training, weapon/armor proficiency (huge list there just by itself), etc. That leaves 4500 non-generic feats. Now, these feats are not all class- or race-specific, but many narrowly pick out a few classes and/or races. I'm going to make the simplifying assumption that 2/3 are perfectly class-specific and the remainder are perfectly race-specific; this is false, but there only to illustrate my overall point. From here, we see there are 25 classes and something like 20ish typical races (ignoring very niche options like bladeling).

So, for any given single character, you have 3000/25+1500/20 = 195 specific feats that are worth considering, and a mass of 500 generic feats, most of which you will never pay attention to because you don't care about being able to wield wands as a Fighter or Ki Focuses as a Swordmage or whatever, and which get heavily reduced the instant you take your first multiclass feat. (Given almost every class had multiple MC feats, I have if anything underestimated the number of generic feats, which would drive down the number of class-specific feats.)

From there, we split it up by tier. 195/3=65 feats.

So, at any given level, you are typically only considering at absolute most about 65 potential feats, most of which won't actually be all that interesting and you'll know they aren't that interesting (e.g. they affect domains or powers you don't have or apply to options you aren't using). The only reason the Scary Big Number looks big and scary is because of the sheer number of races, classes, builds/subclasses, and interactions between these things.

None of this is to say that 4e couldn't do better. It totally could've. There are still a lot of very meh feats, or boring workhorse ones like Expertise. But that shows just how adding a lot of distinct options can actually be way better than the "simple" condensed ones. The Essentials Expertise fears were really good, not because they were necessarily more powerful than ordinary Expertise options, but because they did flavorful or interesting things other than "attack goes up by 1 per tier." Yet the only way to do that was to de-genericize, to make the feats narrower and more focused.

And from that, bringing things back to the topic at hand, we can conclude that yes, having generic but interacting options can be good (as with Background and Subclass), but moving away from generic options and in so doing proliferating them can in fact also be good for depth and richness of play. There is no magic formula. Simplicity uber alles does not get success in this regard, nor does complexity, nor generality, nor specificity. We must really think and, more importantly, test our thoughts against metrics to see whether they achieve the ends we seek. Which is why I almost immediately knew 5e was going to disappoint me the moment Mearls said "math is easy, flavor is hard." Because he's half-wrong. Both things are hard, and they're hard in different ways...but most people who do game design don't have the training to work through the hard math part so they kludge it and slap bandaids on as necessary and call it "easy."
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
CharGen is, within reason (I'd argue the number of feats in 3.X and 4e are not within reason) not somewhere slowdown is a problem because you have all the time in the world at chargen.
Not always.

My measuring stick is this: when your character perma-dies in mid-session, how long does it take to bang out a new one on the fly.
By contrast complexity and difficulties in play (like having to remember which subsystem to use) are meaningful issues because if one person is slowed so is everyone as they have to wait and it's being done at the table.
Disagreed about the subsystem example specifically, as that's almost always in the DM's hands and one assumes the DM knows this stuff off by heart.

Agreed about the general principle, though. In 3e as a player I was constantly either forgetting feats/abilities I could use or spending far too long trying to figure out which I should use this time. And I wasn't alone. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't have numbers in front of me right now, but let's say that 4e had 5000 feats by the time it was done.
Yikes!!!

That's gotta be at least 4700 too many. 300 feats - which breaks down to 10 new all-class feats available per level in a 30-level game - is already way more than enough.
It might be more or less but that's a ballpark. Now, let's say 10% of those feats are truly generic, like multiclass, power-swap, skill training, weapon/armor proficiency (huge list there just by itself), etc. That leaves 4500 non-generic feats. Now, these feats are not all class- or race-specific, but many narrowly pick out a few classes and/or races. I'm going to make the simplifying assumption that 2/3 are perfectly class-specific and the remainder are perfectly race-specific; this is false, but there only to illustrate my overall point. From here, we see there are 25 classes and something like 20ish typical races (ignoring very niche options like bladeling).

So, for any given single character, you have 3000/25+1500/20 = 195 specific feats that are worth considering, and a mass of 500 generic feats, most of which you will never pay attention to because you don't care about being able to wield wands as a Fighter or Ki Focuses as a Swordmage or whatever, and which get heavily reduced the instant you take your first multiclass feat. (Given almost every class had multiple MC feats, I have if anything underestimated the number of generic feats, which would drive down the number of class-specific feats.)

From there, we split it up by tier. 195/3=65 feats.

So, at any given level, you are typically only considering at absolute most about 65 potential feats,
Some people can take an hour to choose between three options. Give 'em 65 and if you're lucky you'll only be waiting till April for an answer.
most of which won't actually be all that interesting and you'll know they aren't that interesting (e.g. they affect domains or powers you don't have or apply to options you aren't using). The only reason the Scary Big Number looks big and scary is because of the sheer number of races, classes, builds/subclasses, and interactions between these things.
The "scary big number" should ideally be zero. Bake everything in with the class, such that a really significant choice only has to be made once: that being during char-gen, what class to play.

As a very pleasant side effect, baking all this stuff into the classes makes niche protection that much easier.
 

5E D&D has been incredibly successful at drawing in new players. Make it more complicated and the growth of the player base may stop.

Let's not forget how skewed this poll is: Newbie players typically haven't found their way to this forum (or may not have an account yet, or may only be lurking in the shadows). And I expect newbies to enjoy the simplicity of making a new character, and therefore be voting options 1, 2 and 3. The learning curve of 5E D&D is really quite steep already if you never played a TTRPG before.
 

I don't have numbers in front of me right now, but let's say that 4e had 5000 feats by the time it was done.
For the record it's about 1500 in the Character Builder
It might be more or less but that's a ballpark. Now, let's say 10% of those feats are truly generic, like multiclass, power-swap, skill training, weapon/armor proficiency (huge list there just by itself), etc.
Way more than 10% :) I'd have said around 25%
From there, we split it up by tier. 195/3=65 feats.
Most feats are heroic tier. Also in Paragon there are plenty of Heroic tier feats to consider. Also don't forget some classes are more popular than others.
So, at any given level, you are typically only considering at absolute most about 65 potential feats,
And that's still too many.
 

My measuring stick is this: when your character perma-dies in mid-session, how long does it take to bang out a new one on the fly.
Less time than the funeral for the old character takes...
Disagreed about the subsystem example specifically, as that's almost always in the DM's hands and one assumes the DM knows this stuff off by heart.
And the entire lack of regard for the DM and the arbitrary and unnecessary barrier for entry is one reason I consider that games designed with unnecessary subsystems belong in the landfill. One of the jobs of good game design is to make things easier for the DM. And, for that matter, for the players - but the DM has the highest load and that shouldn't be the main criterion for who gets to DM.
 


Yeah, looks like I was conflating power numbers with feat numbers. It's what I get for doing numbers off vague memories. According to my sources, there are (exactly) 3271 feats in 4e. That's everything--all sources, all supplements, every campaign setting, spread across all races, classes, etc., everything. So I rather over-exaggerated things on that front, and (as @Neonchameleon said, rather under-estimated the number of generic feats).

The "scary big number" should ideally be zero. Bake everything in with the class, such that a really significant choice only has to be made once: that being during char-gen, what class to play.

As a very pleasant side effect, baking all this stuff into the classes makes niche protection that much easier.
See, in 4e, that would mean you would have literally every character getting almost every feat for their class (18 feats over 30 levels, so you'll get more than 50% of all feats). There's no choices at that point, other than when you get them. And that's the entire point of feats. They're supposed to offer choices. They're supposed to be opt-in components rather than baked-in components. As soon as you bake them in, the entire point is lost; as soon as you make them inevitable, the vast majority of the point is lost. That's why you had, even back during the playtest, a significant number of people Rather Upset that they had to choose between ability score increases (aka raw, obvious, direct power in its best and most distilled form) and feats.

I get that you only want one choice ever. And that's pretty easy to design! People can give you that lickety-split, no difficulty. Why should your "I make no choices except at the start" preference be so categorically more important than mine, such that I'm not allowed to make those choices? That's the whole point of me advocating for this; to say that this is a lost aspect of play, a playstyle 5e as rather painfully neglected. It's not like having more feats makes you choose more, whether as player or DM.

Plus? If you think these numbers are ridiculous, you should already be taking aim at 5e. They're at 171 feats already. On your terms, they're only allowed to publish 29 more feats before that's it, no more.
 

The "scary big number" should ideally be zero. Bake everything in with the class, such that a really significant choice only has to be made once: that being during char-gen, what class to play.

As a very pleasant side effect, baking all this stuff into the classes makes niche protection that much easier.
If you bake things entirely into the classes you get several problems:
  • Either almost no mechanical difference or a proliferation of dozens and dozens of classes
  • Mechanical character advancement being on rails and cookie cutter.
There is no right choice. (There are plenty of wrong ones - just as there's no "right" food, but ground up glass is a wrong food).

And when you need to make an entirely new class for a new concept then you find as an unpleasant side effect you've just trampled all over niche protection unless you have defined roles for the classes.
 

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