D&D 5E The "Sealed Envelope" Character Campaign. Would you play?

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
In summary, the idea was not so much about pre-gen characters who might fit the adventure/campaign/whatever. It is more about NOT having the choices for your PC you don't, yourself, have in real life. TBH, I debated a LOT about backgrounds and whether those would be pre-determined or allowing the PC to choose, but IMO race and ability scores are things we have little control over.

🤷‍♂️

race, ability scores, backgrounds all fit these parameters well, and I'd bee happy to commit to excitedly. There are so many characters I'd want to try, I am sure I could make something work.

alignment and personality traits (things we do control in real life) should be left to the players, IMO (I would not want to be told to play an evil character, for example -- that is not the fun I am looking for).
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I think if a player has "stat envy", it's a good chance that there are larger issues at hand.
It wasn’t stat envy, it was option envy.

2Ed Player’s Option rules essentially amounted to a point buy system for choosing opti9ns for your PC. We we’re both playing human clerics, so we started from the same point.

He chose to go with an unarmored martial artist with few weapons, cleric HD & attacks. He had few Domains, but had major access to almost all of them, so he had many spells, plus access to one school of Wizard spells (I forget which, but it was something with significant offensive potential). He kept his Tuning power standard.

I chose a heavily armored caster with edged weapons and fighter HD & attacks. While my PC had access to a lot of Domains, most were restricted to minor access (IOW capped at 3rd-4th level or some such). His Turning became Incite Berserker Rage. Essentially, he was an alt-Paladin. And while he also had access to a Wizard school, it was Abjuration. Of his entire list of potential spells, only 2 did damage (Blade Barrier was one), and almost everything he could ever cast was either healing or a buff- most of which worked better on other PCs.

All he could see is that my character had access to a broader variety of spells than his, while having increased martial prowess by retaining armor and boosting HD & attacks. Nevermind that my PC would never have more than a couple truly powerful spells, ever. Most of my PC’s list of spells would be useless against mid-level or better protection magic.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
It wasn’t stat envy, it was option envy.

2Ed Player’s Option rules essentially amounted to a point buy system for choosing opti9ns for your PC. We we’re both playing human clerics, so we started from the same point.

He chose to go with an unarmored martial artist with few weapons, cleric HD & attacks. He had few Domains, but had major access to almost all of them, so he had many spells, plus access to one school of Wizard spells (I forget which, but it was something with significant offensive potential). He kept his Tuning power standard.

I chose a heavily armored caster with edged weapons and fighter HD & attacks. While my PC had access to a lot of Domains, most were restricted to minor access (IOW capped at 3rd-4th level or some such). His Turning became Incite Berserker Rage. Essentially, he was an alt-Paladin. And while he also had access to a Wizard school, it was Abjuration. Of his entire list of potential spells, only 2 did damage (Blade Barrier was one), and almost everything he could ever cast was either healing or a buff- most of which worked better on other PCs.

All he could see is that my character had access to a broader variety of spells than his, while having increased martial prowess by retaining armor and boosting HD & attacks. Nevermind that my PC would never have more than a couple truly powerful spells, ever. Most of my PC’s list of spells would be useless against mid-level or better protection magic.
That's even stranger! All he had to do was say "DM, I think I messed up, could I redo my character?"
 

So, the question: would you play in such a campaign?
Definitely not.

If it was open choice of a bunch of fully coherent and generally well-designed PCs, sure, I've done that loads of times. But that's not what you're suggesting, your description is of a very messy and confused process (you say you've run it like this before, but have you, actually, with this level of needless randomization, in 5E?).

Maybe if just class/race were semi-randomized as you described. But randomizing alignment and personality traits is pointless and destructive, frankly, and never going to make for a fun game in my 30+ year experience - it just leaves about 30-60% of players frustrated, and those it doesn't are the ones who get least involved with their characters - background isn't great too, because backgrounds aren't intended to be picked from a set (this is a common but serious misapprehension), backgrounds are custom by default - the set ones are optional examples.

I'm less concerned about the death stuff, because realistically once 1-2 PCs die the whole party will wipe soon thereafter unless the DM scales the challenge down (which seems unlikely in this scenario). Or you'll make it to levels where revives are possible.

EDIT - Honestly the multiple layers of randomization are what makes this seem like a trash waste of time to me - if you had two fully-formed and coherent characters in the envelopes it would be vastly less obnoxious.

EDIT EDIT - NM I misread some of this.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
That's even stranger! All he had to do was say "DM, I think I messed up, could I redo my character?"
It happened a while back, and to this day, I don’t understand why he acted like he did. No pun intended, but it seemed very out of character. No behavior like that before or since.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
But that's not what you're suggesting, your description is of a very messy and confused process.
It is perfectly fine if you don't like the concept, but it is not "very messy and confused" by any means. It was rather straight-forward.

But randomizing alignment and personality traits is moronic, frankly
They would not be random. The PCs would be fully developed short of the choice of class, money and equipment.

never going to make for a fun game in my 30+ year experience - it just leaves about 30-60% of players frustrated
Fair enough, but perhaps you could be a bit less vehement about your position as it goes off a bit, well, badly IMO. Thank you.
 

They would not be random. The PCs would be fully developed short of the choice of class, money and equipment.
Oh that makes more sense, I misread - I was under the impression each element was randomized (I dealt with a DM who did this a few decades ago lol and your proposal sounded like how he ran Dark Sun).

So it's character with everything filled in except class?

In that case I probably would, so long as the characters weren't edgelord-y - which based on your posts I doubt that they would be. That's the real killer with pregen PCs - when someone who likes "extreme" PCs does them.
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Oh that makes more sense, I misread - I was under the impression each element was randomized (I dealt with a DM who did this a few decades ago lol and your proposal sounded like how he ran Dark Sun).
Good, I am glad that makes more sense. Your response did catch me a bit off guard....

So it's character with everything filled in except class?
Yes. And equipment, since that depends on class, of course.

I don't think I mentioned it in the OP, but the envelopes would also include brief back stories as well, to ground the PC in the game world.

In that case I probably would, so long as the characters weren't edgelord-y - which based on your posts I doubt that they would be. That's the real killer with pregen PCs - when someone who likes "extreme" PCs does them.
LOL, no, nothing too crazy or anything.
 

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