D&D 5E How long are you willing to wait for a build to "turn on?"

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Some complex builds only seem to do their thing at mid levels. If you're going for a complicated multiclass or holding out for a specific weapon, it my be level 6 or 7 before you finally get to do your mechanical thing.

So like it says in the title: What’s the longest you’re willing to wait for a build to “turn on." Is there some particular weapon, ability, or prestige class that makes it worth the wait? Or is it better to wait for one of those "everyone starts at 10th level" campaigns to go for those builds?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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So like it says in the title: What’s the longest you’re willing to wait for a build to “turn on.
in a perfect world I should be able to start more or less as my concept game 1. I realize that is not always possible (but I currently play 5e and we start 3rd level or 5th level so that can happen).

If I have to wait 3-5 game sessions (1 level of play) I think that the idea just doesn't work with that game...

EXCEPTION: I can be a weak member of the concept like back in 3e if I am a 3rd level diviner wizard and call myself a lore master, and I am popping ranks into all the Int skills, that is good enough even without the PC yet.
Counter example: starting at 1st level as a fighter going to be an elderitch knight stinks... you play 2 levels before you get to be the lowest of weak members of your idea... BUT they tried to fix this with a fighting style giving you cantrips.


BEST EXAMPLE OF NEVER AGAIN: in d20 modern I wanted to play a street level wizard, but I had to take 3 levels of Intelligent hero with no spells before I could take 1 level in the prestige class that gave me the equivalent of a 1st level wizard... so I played MONTHs before I got to the concept I wanted to play.
 

pogre

Legend
It depends on your GM. One of the reasons my players are always content to start at 1st level is I always run the campaign into high levels, usually to 20.

My players frequently consider what they are going to do at 10th level and beyond.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don't mean to sound snarky, but I make characters, not builds. A build comes only as the character evolves and gains experience, and I rarely have even a subclass in mind when I start play (except when that comes at first level, of course).

I'm largely in this category as well. I don't usually put together characters for the purpose of seeing a tactical build come to fruition. The build is in service of the character's narrative, not the other way around.
 

the Jester

Legend
but you have to admit that there are concepts that you can pitch and then not be able to play at level 1.
I guess. I don't start with a concept, though. I roll my stats in order and then see what looks cool from there. I don't worry much about what the character's future holds except in the vaguest way ("ooh, this guy might splash a little wizard in there sometime").
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I don't mean to sound snarky, but I make characters, not builds. A build comes only as the character evolves and gains experience, and I rarely have even a subclass in mind when I start play (except when that comes at first level, of course).
While i understand what you mean, making-a-character-not-built is a false dichotomy. One can make and play a character with an objective in mind or let it advance "organically" or, in most cases, somewhere in between. One character is not less valid than another.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
As for the OP, I need to be able to get the basics of the build by level 2 or 3, and am willing to wait until level 7-8 for it to come "fully online". Anything beyond is too long for me.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I don't mean to sound snarky, but I make characters, not builds. A build comes only as the character evolves and gains experience, and I rarely have even a subclass in mind when I start play (except when that comes at first level, of course).
Same here. By the time I start rolling stats, my character is more or less "built" already. I've got the backstory written, the background, race, and class already selected, and I've probably already started working on the character sketch and mini over at HeroForge. I know their personality, my DM and I have already talked about where they came from, where they live, and whether or not they have any NPC friends/enemies/family in the world. Filling out the character sheet is my last step.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Same here. By the time I start rolling stats, my character is more or less "built" already. I've got the backstory written, the background, race, and class already selected, and I've probably already started working on the character sketch and mini over at HeroForge. I know their personality, my DM and I have already talked about where they came from, where they live, and whether or not they have any NPC friends/enemies/family in the world. Filling out the character sheet is my last step.
If I go to that level of detail first, I definitely don't want to roll stats! I don't even start thinking about concepts until stat generation method is decided (and rolled if it's random), as well as starting level and starting magic items (if any).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
but you have to admit that there are concepts that you can pitch and then not be able to play at level 1.

Sure. But being able to play anything you can pitch is not a reasonable expectation. I mean, even using the word "pitch" implies this: The game has a strike zone. If your pitch doesn't at least get in the general vicinity of the zone, that's not the zone's fault. The zone isn't hidden from you.

Every game has its limits and benefits. Part of the cooperative nature of the game is playing the game you are playing, and taking its limits into account.
 

Same here. By the time I start rolling stats, my character is more or less "built" already. I've got the backstory written, the background, race, and class already selected, and I've probably already started working on the character sketch and mini over at HeroForge. I know their personality, my DM and I have already talked about where they came from, where they live, and whether or not they have any NPC friends/enemies/family in the world. Filling out the character sheet is my last step.
do you ever have issues where the rolls don't allow for your concept?
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
If I go to that level of detail first, I definitely don't want to roll stats! I don't even start thinking about concepts until stat generation method is decided (and rolled if it's random), as well as starting level and starting magic items (if any).
It's not really a problem. I've already decided "my highest stat goes here, the next highest goes there," etc.

I'm never thinking "Okay, I need at least a 15 here, and this one can't be less than 13, because I need a 13 in order to get this, which I need to get that other thing," and so forth.

Just a different (and for my copper, a less stressful) way of doing it.
 



payn

Legend
I'll reply within spirit of the discussion! I usually try and build characters that I can at least tolerate and play at any given level. If I have to take X amount of levels in something that's going to stall effectiveness now, for optimal performance later, I at least have to be able to enjoy the ride. So, Id say I have to have at least a base of my build idea online by 3rd level.

For those rare builds that have require lackluster leveling, I usually save those builds for games that start higher than level 1.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm glad that works for you, but for me, that feels more stressful, not less. If I only get one high stat, I'm going to want to play something different than if I have 3 or 4.
I didn't mean to imply that there's something wrong with a math-forward character concept. It's just hard for me to relate to.

What constitutes a "high stat" is going to vary from player to player, and from table to table. For me and mine, I consider anything above average to be "high," and that would basically be anything over 11. So by rolling 4d6 for my stats, I usually have at least 4 "high stats." (shrug)
 

I'll reply within spirit of the discussion! I usually try and build characters that I can at least tolerate and play at any given level.
Same here.

I have to admit though, I do pick different characters if I am absolutely certain a game will get to a certain level. If I'm not, I only pick ones I'll be happy with even if they're only ever low-level.

So for example, in games where I have no idea how far it's going to go, it'll be Bards, Paladins, Warlocks and the like. Classes which are fun at all levels, and fun even if they don't get anywhere. But if I expect to get to say, level 5 or more it opens up a bit, and I consider stuff like Druid, maybe Ranger, and some others.
 

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