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Thomasson on character creation

Henrix

Explorer
Chris Thomasson has posted a bit about character creation in 4E on his blog . I'll repost it here as, still, not everyone manages to access Gleemax.

Not that much crunch, but still nice.

WotC_Thomasson said:
I just wanted to follow up quickly on a comment to my post about our first session last week.

We have plans to start talking more about character creation for 4th Edition on Insider in the very near future. In fact, Shelly is going to be talking about her character creation experience in an upcoming column of Confessions of a Full-Time Wizard. We're not going to be able to go into too many specifics yet, because the design team makes tweaks and changes pretty much every day (and all for the better I might add).

In the meantime, I can say this: In 4th Edition, creating a character involves nearly all the things that you're used to picking in 3rd Edition. You pick a race, a class, equipment, skills, and so on. The methods used are slightly different, and you actually have a few more decisions to make. But the biggest difference to me is that in 4th Edition, I was the happiest with my character when I started with the concept I wanted (as in, I want to play a guy who's wicked good with a bow, or I want to play a guy who smites the forces of evil for Bahamaut, or I want to play the guy with a shady side who has a hard time telling the truth when he's stressed), and then made my other decisions from there. I think 4th Edition encourages this approach to character creation more than previous editions, which means in the end, you get a character that's closer to your concept. And I think that's fantastic. I didn't have the square peg/round hole problem I often faced in 3E. I didn't have to try and shoehorn my race and class together with my character concept, because starting with my concept informed my other choices.
 

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Geron Raveneye

Explorer
Wow...I must say, I'm happy for that guy that it made him happy that he got to do character creation in that way with 4E, but...without attempting any snark or anything...I've been doing that kind of character creation (character concept first) for years now, with D&D editions from 2E on, and other games, and it's simply a matter of where you focus your attention on first. it ALWAYS informs the following steps, and enables you to choose the parts of your character that fit best to your concept. All you need is some creative thinking and a willing DM...and I doubt that will change much in 4E. The rest is mechanical tools to express that. If 4E offers better options for that, very fine...but I can't say 3E is lacking in the options department for expressing certain character concepts. :)

So, put me up as "happy for the blogger, but not certain what it has to do with a 4E advantage" for now. :)
 

WhatGravitas

Explorer
Geron Raveneye said:
...and it's simply a matter of where you focus your attention on first.
I guess it's that. The systematic layout of character creation in 3E (Select this, select that) "forced" us into the rules, when I started playing RPGs, back in 2002 with 3E.

Later, we all knew about "concept first - mechanics to match", but the first contact? We looked at the classes and derived a concept then.

Now it seems stupid, that I've started that way, but that was probably connected to the layout of the book - if they basically print that message, concept first - mechanics to match, on the first page (figuratively speaking), then it may help beginners. And with the explicitly explained roles and all that stuff, it seems that 4E tries to make the game more accessible.

Therefore, I approve of this tidbit! :D

Cheers, LT.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
The whole point of a class system is that some character concepts are *not* possible. If you can do anything you want, that's GURPS.
 

YourSwordIsMine

First Post
Doug McCrae said:
The whole point of a class system is that some character concepts are *not* possible. If you can do anything you want, that's GURPS.


I remember when we started playing 3.0 after playing GURPS for 10+ years and not being able to create exactly the characters we wanted because concept was limited by class. I think this is a very good step in the right direction. Level and Class are sacred cows I dont think D&D will ever forgo even with its limitations, but being more open to conceptual character creation is a good thing.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
With all the options in 3E, if you can't make a character to at least closely match your concept, you're really not trying.

Heck, if you include the variants in Uneathed Arcana, there are over 120 base classes for 3.5, not to mention 600+ feats, and over 160 races available as potential PCs.
 

Geron Raveneye

Explorer
Lord Tirian said:
I guess it's that. The systematic layout of character creation in 3E (Select this, select that) "forced" us into the rules, when I started playing RPGs, back in 2002 with 3E.

Later, we all knew about "concept first - mechanics to match", but the first contact? We looked at the classes and derived a concept then.

Now it seems stupid, that I've started that way, but that was probably connected to the layout of the book - if they basically print that message, concept first - mechanics to match, on the first page (figuratively speaking), then it may help beginners. And with the explicitly explained roles and all that stuff, it seems that 4E tries to make the game more accessible.

Therefore, I approve of this tidbit! :D

Cheers, LT.

I'll be bluntly honest here and say that, for a beginner, it is better when he starts with a "class first" angle to character creation...at least in my opinion. And at least when the group per se is relatively new to RPGs. Trying to get the concept of a new player into a rules translation takes at least an experienced DM. For a newbie group, I still recommend to let them try out classes as characters first, play around with each, until they become comfy with them and THEN start to get them to use the mechanics to bring different character concepts into the game. I don't want to sound elitist (even if I probably do now :uhoh: ), but I believe that it is more complicated, and takes some experience with the game in question, and that it is a learning process that can't be easily packaged into a few pages to be read by somebody who is new to RPGs.
But I'm biased, and as such I recomment a good portion of salt to my own opinion on that, since I might be completely wrong. :)
 

Zamkaizer

First Post
While I think the praise may not be entirely warranted, I think he's trying to emphasize that more character concepts will be supported by the rules right out of the gate, without having to purchase Unearthed Arcana and dozens of other sourcebooks. And perhaps, while one might have to do some serial number-filing to truly get your character to adhere to your vision, it will be easier.
 

WhatGravitas

Explorer
Geron Raveneye said:
But I'm biased, and as such I recomment a good portion of salt to my own opinion on that, since I might be completely wrong. :)
But for me, that's the point - RPGs are about imagination, starting with a class first, is somewhat antithetical. But you're right - for a beginner it's easier to take the class first.

But that's the state now.

I see that snippet as indicator, that they have an in-depth explanation, helping a beginner to do it the other way round. As a sign, that's the concept-first version ISN'T too difficult for a beginner any more!

And that's what I like about it!

Cheers, LT.
 


Mkhaiwati

First Post
I guess I am like Geron Raveneye initially. I just don't get it. Look at the examples he provides.

"I want to play a guy who's wicked with a bow" ... okay, fighter or possibly ranger. Maybe even a level of mage for something special in the PCs, depends on where your concept goes.

"I want to play a guy who smites the forces of evil for Bahamut" ... okay, how about paladin.

"I want to play the guy with a shady side who has a hard time telling the truth when he's stressed" ... okay, you really don't need a class for this... it is called role-playing.

I just don't understand this blog.
 

fuindordm

First Post
Idle speculation:

In third edition it wasn't hard to find a class or multiclass that came close to your concept, but the choice nearly always came with excess baggage (class abilities). This was annoying, but hopefully you had a nice DM who would allow you to swap class features (in effect creating your own class).

It sounds like 4th edition is making almost all class abilities a matter of player choice, which I heartily approve. There's no 'square peg' problem because you can change the shape of the peg as you level up.

So to those who say "meh" to this post... Just because you've been living with this annoying feature of class-based systems doesn't mean that you won't be relieved when it goes away. I know I will be.
 

My last couple of characters I had to struggle with to make the mechanics match the concept in 3E, and not for lack of imagination or ability to bend the rules. One in particular was a former priest turned gunslinger (Gunmage from Iron Kingdoms), so I had one level of cleric and all the rest gunmage. Due to the horrible multiclassing rules for spellcasters in 3E, I basically considered it a sacrifice of one level for the sake of the concept. So yeah, technically, the mechanics lined up chronologically with the character idea, but I had to make some subpar choices to do it (being subpar was not part of the concept.)

Another was a dwarven guerrilla fighting against the forces of a dragon that ruled his homeland. I essentially wanted a ranger with no spellcasting and no animal companion, but without balanced replacements for these class features, he'd once again be mechanically subpar. And trying to figure out what constituted a balanced replacement was somewhat of a chore. (This was before the Skirmisher calss in Complete Adventurer was available, and I immediately started multiclassing into that when it was.)

So I'm glad it seems 4E will offer more options to distinguish PCs right out of the gate.
 

FireLance

Legend
fuindordm said:
Idle speculation:

In third edition it wasn't hard to find a class or multiclass that came close to your concept, but the choice nearly always came with excess baggage (class abilities). This was annoying, but hopefully you had a nice DM who would allow you to swap class features (in effect creating your own class).

It sounds like 4th edition is making almost all class abilities a matter of player choice, which I heartily approve. There's no 'square peg' problem because you can change the shape of the peg as you level up.
Even more support for the speculation that there will be talent trees or something similar in 4e, then.
 

WhatGravitas

Explorer
Geron Raveneye said:
I'm simply going to take your perspective on it, and say that I'd like that as well. So...one thing that might be good about 4E again. :)
:lol:

But to be honest, my opinion is also pretty biased - by hope, because I want 4E to good. Therefore, I'm inclined to interpret stuff in a positive way, so don't put too much faith into my interpretation!

Cheers, LT.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
Sir Brennen said:
One in particular was a former priest turned gunslinger (Gunmage from Iron Kingdoms), so I had one level of cleric and all the rest gunmage. Due to the horrible multiclassing rules for spellcasters in 3E, I basically considered it a sacrifice of one level for the sake of the concept.
You don't need a level of cleric to have been a priest. Go full gunmage with a couple ranks in Know (Religion).
I essentially wanted a ranger with no spellcasting and no animal companion, but without balanced replacements for these class features, he'd once again be mechanically subpar.
Barbarian, barbarian/rogue or wilderness rogue from Unearthed Arcana.
 

Irda Ranger

First Post
FireLance said:
Even more support for the speculation that there will be talent trees or something similar in 4e, then.
This is what I was thinking. Enough diversity in the Talent Trees could turn the 8 base classes into dozens of classes, but because you first choose the class and then the Tree (and not just choose one of 64 classes) you aren't paralyzed by choice either.

This is where I think Silos are good. It allows a lot choices in stuff (e.g., 8 classes, 5 trees per class, 1 feat every two levels, etc.) means 400 different combinations - but you don't have to balance all 400 options against each other, and you don't have to weigh all 400 options before making your first choice; just choose your class.

But yeah, this blog post was pretty "Eh." As others said, this is D&D, not GURPS; and saying D&D (any editions) allows for "concept first, rules second" is like Henry Ford saying "You have the Model T in any color, as long as it's black."

"You can have any character concept you want, as long as its one of our 128 Class/Race/Talent combos."

"You pick a race, a class, equipment, skills, and so on."

No "feats" on that list.
 

Irda Ranger

First Post
Doug McCrae said:
You don't need a level of cleric to have been a priest. Go full gunmage with a couple ranks in Know (Religion).
I guess it's a campaign decision as to whether only clerics can be priests. Most people would probably think that a non-cleric Priest would have to have levels in Adept or Expert; which is one of the reasons I hate NPC classes.

Doug McCrae said:
Barbarian, barbarian/rogue or wilderness rogue from Unearthed Arcana.
A ranger that goes berserk? A ranger that has a lousy BAB?

You could also play an Eagle Warrior from Arcana Evolved, but than you've got that whole bird theme to deal with.

Face it; D&D ain't GURPS.
 


Henry

Autoexreginated
Irda Ranger said:
"You pick a race, a class, equipment, skills, and so on."

No "feats" on that list.

Based on other tidbits, feats are still there - it's just a sin of omission.
 

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