D&D General Which do you prefer, character build or fixed growth?

Which do you prefer, building your character over levels or fixed development?

  • Character Building - Pick new options like feats and subclasses while leveling, pick class levels

    Votes: 56 72.7%
  • Fixed Growth - Make character choices (like multiclasses, kits, specialized classes) during creation

    Votes: 10 13.0%
  • Lemon Curry

    Votes: 11 14.3%

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Just kind of curious after reading a couple of different thread topics.

Do you prefer building your character as you level? Making feats and ASI choices, picking subclasses, picking powers and spells, maybe even picking what class to level up whenever you gain a new level. Basically, WotC-era D&D.

Or do you prefer having your character grow on a fixed template, like in TSR-era D&D? You might make more choices during character generation, like choosing to multiclass. There might be more class options available to pick from. You might have features like kits or Skills & Powers-like point-buy to shape your character's growth. But once you make your choices, that's how the character develops.

With the knowledge that there are some discrepancies within this model (dual-classing is a mid-game choice, characters in 5e are pretty fixed if feats and MC aren't allowed and subclass is chosen), which do you prefer? Pick the one that's closer to your preferred ideal even if there's some variance.
 

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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Huh, I always see the term "build" used to mean planned out from level 1 as to what one will take each level for the life of the character. Which I can't stand.

I like both options as described above, though. Prefer the fixed template for quick starts and one shots, but need it to be flexible enough so leveling is interesting.
Interesting. I always think of "build" as in you're building the character over time, like each level you attach a new piece onto the structure.

But it sounds like you prefer being able to make choices while leveling for longer games.
 

Esker

Hero
I tend to preplan my "build", but rarely stick to exactly what I plan. I like getting to make decisions about my characters' mechanical development at more than one or two points, and wish 5e had more granularity in this respect (e.g., break up feats into smaller features and pick them more often).
 

Aldarc

Legend
Probably character advancement with choices, since you can adjust your character's options alongside the campaign. Even PbtA games often include multiclass-like options for their playbooks, such as taking Advancements from other playbooks.

However, I have been pondering whether I would actually prefer advancement to be vertical (e.g., bigger numbers) or horizontal (e.g., you can do more but not necessarily better) or both, but then flatten the verticality of the curve.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Even in systems where I pick options each level I preplan it before I start playing so it might as well be fixed growth.
I know people do that, but I just don't see it at my table and as a DM I don't get it. What is the value to you in planning everything out from level 1?
 

The Old Crow

Explorer
Interesting. I always think of "build" as in you're building the character over time, like each level you attach a new piece onto the structure.

But it sounds like you prefer being able to make choices while leveling for longer games.

I always thought of "build" that way too, until 3e ruined it. Seemed everyone started using "build" to mean planned out leveling from 1 to 20. I never had a 3e character take a prestige class, for example, because by the time one seemed organically relevant to my character's growth, turns out I needed to take some obscure feat or skill 7 levels ago. Ugh.

I think having some options available while leveling is good, and the ability to switch class.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I know people do that, but I just don't see it at my table and as a DM I don't get it. What is the value to you in planning everything out from level 1?
For me, it's about making sure that the choices I make this level don't come back to bite me later on. Whatever concept I have for my character, I want to be sure that the PC I build can actually deliver on that concept throughout the campaign, and that takes some planning.

(Note that "throughout the campaign" does not mean "at level 20." I see a lot of builds that are designed to be OMGAMAZING at level 20 and no consideration for the other 19 levels, and I just... don't get it. Even if your campaign does run all the way to the top, which most don't, most of the campaign will take place at lower levels, so why focus exclusively on the very end? I generally want my builds to start doing their thing by level 3, and hit on all cylinders by level 6, and I don't really care what happens past level 12 or so.)
 

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