RIP, 2014 PHB backgrounds

dave2008

Legend
Which part don't they want to do? They don't want to pick the ability score increases that best match their chosen class? They don't want any say in what languages their character knows? They want to have their first-level feat chosen for them sight-unseen? Or they don't care what proficiencies they have?
Yes to all of that. They simply don't want to think about it. They want to pick a theme,* at most, and that is it.

*Such as "soldier," etc.
 

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Remathilis

Legend
Yes to all of that. They simply don't want to think about it. They want to pick a theme,* at most, and that is it.

*Such as "soldier," etc.
I wonder how many will pick options that aren't aligned with their class, such as a soldier wizard with a +2 Str. It will be race/class combos all over again.

At least this time the PHB has the "but I want to put the +2 in Int" option covered.
 

I wonder how many will pick options that aren't aligned with their class, such as a soldier wizard with a +2 Str. It will be race/class combos all over again.
I'm not sure it matters.

The folks who want to min-max their characters for the best stats possible will do so under any system. Many of them wouldn't care about roleplay anyway and those that do will roleplay even the crazier combos.

Conversely, the folks for whom roleplay is their primary focus will pick crazy combos, but usually because of the friction between them. My 78 year old dad plays a pirate bard and it's been a lot of fun leveraging both sides of the character.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Again, if I was seeing widespread misunderstanding of how it works, I might be concerned. I saw a little bit of that as the knee-jerk reaction when the UA first dropped, and when it was pointed out, the same people shifted to saying “well, other people are going to misunderstand it.” And I just don’t really see that. Again, some people might, but it is a simple matter to point out the actual text to them, just like we did with the initial wave of misunderstanding.

There does seem to be a lot of people who understand it claiming that other people are not going to understand it. Even to the point of asking for it to be changed or removed because of a misunderstanding that, while it can happen, doesn't seem to be too hard to correct by pointing to the part that says you can make your own.
 

dave2008

Legend
I wonder how many will pick options that aren't aligned with their class, such as a soldier wizard with a +2 Str. It will be race/class combos all over again.
I can only speak for my group, but it has varied from person to person IIRC. I don't remember their backgrounds off the top of my head so I will have to check when I get a chance.
At least this time the PHB has the "but I want to put the +2 in Int" option covered.
I am glad the are going to have all of the customizability, but I just know it is not for my players and that is absolutely OK.
 

As a wise boss once said to me: "think about how smart the average person is. Then think about how 50% of them are dumber than that."
I'd say this is a deepity rather than actual wisdom. Even if you could measure intelligence with enough precision to allow you to determine the one person who is the median, there would be HUGE numbers of people on either side of the median that are so close to the median in intelligence that it would make no difference at all. You would never be able to determine that they were any more or less intelligent than the median on a day-to-day, because the difference would be so tiny. So in reality there would be some significant proportion of people who for all intents and purposes are as smart as the average person, leaving far less than 50% to be less intelligence than that.

That, plus the fact that you can just as easily say there are 50% of people who are smarter than the median as well, thus making the exact opposite point using the same assumption, renders the whole thing rather meaningless. Especially in the context of game rules written in a book. Who is more likely to pick up a book to play a game from it, someone of below-average intelligence, or above-average?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
There does seem to be a lot of people who understand it claiming that other people are not going to understand it. Even to the point of asking for it to be changed or removed because of a misunderstanding that, while it can happen, doesn't seem to be too hard to correct by pointing to the part that says you can make your own.
Exactly. Will this be misunderstood sometimes? Of course. But I don’t think that’s a reason to throw out the design, especially when the misunderstanding is trivially easy to correct.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
I'd say this is a deepity rather than actual wisdom. Even if you could measure intelligence with enough precision to allow you to determine the one person who is the median, there would be HUGE numbers of people on either side of the median that are so close to the median in intelligence that it would make no difference at all. You would never be able to determine that they were any more or less intelligent than the median on a day-to-day, because the difference would be so tiny. So in reality there would be some significant proportion of people who for all intents and purposes are as smart as the average person, leaving far less than 50% to be less intelligence than that.

That, plus the fact that you can just as easily say there are 50% of people who are smarter than the median as well, thus making the exact opposite point using the same assumption, renders the whole thing rather meaningless. Especially in the context of game rules written in a book. Who is more likely to pick up a book to play a game from it, someone of below-average intelligence, or above-average?
Wow, you put way too much thought and analysis into a simple George Carlin joke.
 


I very much prefer creating my own backgrounds (the rules are right there in the Player's Handbook). Four of the last five characters I've played had custom backgrounds: Town Guard, Vampire Hunter, Whaler, and Tunnel Engineer. The one time I played a textbook background, it wasn't by choice: our DM told us that all characters had to have the Soldier background.

Do folks not write their own backgrounds? For me, it's a big part of the fun of character creation.
When I DM my players are about 50/50 on make there own or take one that fits... I once made everyone have to pick one and 2 players HATED it... I told them they could swap a skill and/or language out and that didn't help.

I almost always take a background, and make little mods.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
So far, in all my 5e campaigns, every player has chosen a premade background. Not one single player has made up their own background. I don't forbid it or anything, that's just how it's worked out so far.

Something about making your own background seems a little to much like "having your cake and eating it too." I've mentioned it in another thread, but I like there to be a little give-and-take in character creation; a little compromise between what we want and what we can live without. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a lot of players will make their own background giving them proficiency in Perception & Stealth and the Lucky feat.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Something about making your own background seems a little to much like "having your cake and eating it too." I've mentioned it in another thread, but I like there to be a little give-and-take in character creation; a little compromise between what we want and what we can live without.
Why? Choosing the "right" combinations is extremely metagamey and as opposed to simply choosing options that match with a player-designed concept.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
Why? Choosing the "right" combinations is extremely metagamey and as opposed to simply choosing options that match with a player-designed concept.
Because getting everything you want is boring and having to make difficult decisions makes those choices much more meaningful and intriguing. There's a reason that BIFT contains the "F" - nobody is perfect. There's a reason 3e used to have ASIs of +2/-1 instead of all plusses.
 

What? That is exactly what they did in the UA. They presented the default as make your own. The examples were just examples. Did you read the UA?

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I like this except that even though I play with feats, not everyone does. For backward compatibility, I recommend, 'If your game uses feats, choose one 1st level feat or alternatively, a one point increase to an ability that has not been increased by your lineage or one skill or tool proficiency, and one language. I don't think that every background needs a language or a feat to be a valid choice, and if everyone gets a 1st level feat, what will the variant human get?
 

Why? Choosing the "right" combinations is extremely metagamey and as opposed to simply choosing options that match with a player-designed concept.
Because getting everything you want is boring and having to make difficult decisions makes those choices much more meaningful and intriguing. There's a reason that BIFT contains the "F" - nobody is perfect. There's a reason 3e used to have ASIs of +2/-1 instead of all plusses.
This is a play style issue. Neither is a "correct" answer.

In my games (about 15 players overall, with some players only in one game, others in multiple), I have only one player who's interested in customized backgrounds, but they're also interested in customizing everything and are very focused on the math. Everyone else strongly prefers pre-fab options, even if they are otherwise high-crunch and high-customization type players (several of them are Pathfinder 1.0 players and DMs as well).
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Because getting everything you want is boring and having to make difficult decisions makes those choices much more meaningful and intriguing.
You're of the misconception that creating a character to concept is boring or doesn't include difficult decisions just because you don't have to fight the system. That's a false dichotomy. You can absolutely create meaningful and interesting character concepts without metagamey limitations—this happens in other RPGs (and novels) all the time.

There's a reason that BIFT contains the "F" - nobody is perfect. There's a reason 3e used to have ASIs of +2/-1 instead of all plusses.
With experience with other, non-D&D RPGS, I can safely say that no one requires the mechanics to impose artificial restrictions to create flawed or otherwise interesting characters—we just build that as part of the concept (just like the F, along with the others in the BIFT) is a roleplaying consideration, not a mechanical limitation.
 

I'm the lone person who didn't like the "RP focused" background abilities. I felt like they actually detracted from or negated otherwise interesting role-playing opportunities. If you're a sailor you could certainly try to use that background as justification that you could find allies or friends around a port, but you'd likely still need to play it out. There might be complications, like rivals, old debts, or perhaps the you're at a far flung port with different social and cultural rules. With the old backgrounds it just says that it happens and that kind of interesting stuff is transformed into the DM negating a clearly stated PC ability. I don't like published backgrounds dictating world building to us unless it's part of an existing setting.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'm the lone person who didn't like the "RP focused" background abilities. I felt like they actually detracted from or negated otherwise interesting role-playing opportunities. If you're a sailor you could certainly try to use that background as justification that you could find allies or friends around a port, but you'd likely still need to play it out. There might be complications, like rivals, old debts, or perhaps the you're at a far flung port with different social and cultural rules. With the old backgrounds it just says that it happens and that kind of interesting stuff is transformed into the DM negating a clearly stated PC ability. I don't like published backgrounds dictating world building to us unless it's part of an existing setting.
No, you're not the only one. I quickly started thinking to myself "Yadda yadda. Yes, the DM should have NPCs treat your PC as if they are who they are. That's pretty obvious. There's nothing else here but that."

But you have a point, that it can even be detrimental to that idea, when we assume that all those things just happen without much RP and without any conflict.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
So far, in all my 5e campaigns, every player has chosen a premade background. Not one single player has made up their own background. I don't forbid it or anything, that's just how it's worked out so far.

Something about making your own background seems a little to much like "having your cake and eating it too." I've mentioned it in another thread, but I like there to be a little give-and-take in character creation; a little compromise between what we want and what we can live without. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a lot of players will make their own background giving them proficiency in Perception & Stealth and the Lucky feat.
Yeah, honestly I wish more compromise was necessary in character creation. Choosing a custom background feel a little samey and OP to me.

(Cue the villagers with pitchforks and torches come to run me out of town)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
(Cue the villagers with pitchforks and torches come to run me out of town)

Mod Note:
So, being dismissive of people before they've even said anything is self-fulfilling prophecy. You don't have a lot of space to claim being the victim when you are the one to start with the antagonistic stance.
 

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