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%

  • Total voters
    77

Tonguez

Hero
I prefer characters developing through narrative so that they gain skills, feats, abilities and quirks over the course of their story (even though it was driven by dice, I liked Travellers Character creation system, which is kinda reflected in Backgrounds)

so the closest for this poll would be Character Building
 
I think the sun has set on completely fixed character advancement. I have fond memories of it from back in the day, but no desire to go back. I voted lemon curry because I'm mostly trending away from games that are even as rigid and crunchy as 5e D&D when it comes to things like class and level. I love D&D, always will, but I love it despite it's faults, not because of them.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
3E prestige classes would have been so much better if they didn't have any requirements other than "Must be X level".
I'm going to totally disagree on that one. They were at their best when they required a bit of focused development or a specific campaign event/connection to attain.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
I'm going to totally disagree on that one. They were at their best when they required a bit of focused development or a specific campaign event/connection to attain.
That's exactly the sort of thing that having no mechanical prerequisites would enable! I mean, there's an implicit prerequisite to removing the mechanical restriction that there's an addition of narratively gated restrictions so that the PrCs aren't purely character build tools.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
I prefer characters developing through narrative so that they gain skills, feats, abilities and quirks over the course of their story (even though it was driven by dice, I liked Travellers Character creation system, which is kinda reflected in Backgrounds)

so the closest for this poll would be Character Building
Me too, which is one of the things I've been thinking on that inspired this poll. My next game has a concept of simple 1st level characters with no build choices, but more impactful abilities gained through play, not purely by leveling.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
That's exactly the sort of thing that having no mechanical prerequisites would enable! I mean, there's an implicit prerequisite to removing the mechanical restriction that there's an addition of narratively gated restrictions so that the PrCs aren't purely character build tools.
So "3E prestige classes would have been so much better if they didn't have any requirements other than "Must be X level"." means something along the lines of "double secret" implicit? Are you having a Dean Wormer moment?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Hmm, I think I opened up a slightly divergent topic. I was interested in the time of decision-making as primarily a rule-driven concept (in AD&D, you had to make your choices at character creation, the option to change them later simply wasn't possible, since it impacted your XP table). But, a lot of people are viewing "planning" your character build to achieve a certain endpoint as a different playstyle as picking organically at level-up, whereas I was viewing them as the same (as sticking with your "build" is still a choice you make at level-up).

Interesting perspectives!
Oh no, planning your build in as advance is is in my opinion the worst of both worlds (I suppose to someone else it might be the best of both.) You have to make all the same build choices as you would in the character building style, but they’re all front-loaded and locked-in once made as in the fixed growth style. Where to me the advantage of fixed growth is its ease of use thanks to very few decision points, and the advantage of character building is getting to tweak your chars as you go in response to in-game developments you didn’t anticipate during character creation.

To answer the question though, I prefer character building - as long as you have the ability to make those build choices as you go without risking screwing yourself over.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
So "3E prestige classes would have been so much better if they didn't have any requirements other than "Must be X level"." means something along the lines of "double secret" implicit? Are you having a Dean Wormer moment?
Sorry, fusing multiple threads of conversation together. My intent was to convey that removing mechanical restrictions on PrCs allowed them to become more structured narrative objects, but that was something I was discussing with someone else and I forgot that element hadn't been conveyed in this thread. Mea culpa.

EDIT: Also, I'm assuming a Dean Wormer moment is a bad thing, but if it was actually complimentary, then I'm even more confused. LOL.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Oh no, planning your build in as advance is is in my opinion the worst of both worlds (I suppose to someone else it might be the best of both.) You have to make all the same build choices as you would in the character building style, but they’re all front-loaded and locked-in once made as in the fixed growth style. Where to me the advantage of fixed growth is its ease of use thanks to very few decision points, and the advantage of character building is getting to tweak your chars as you go in response to in-game developments you didn’t anticipate during character creation.

To answer the question though, I prefer character building - as long as you have the ability to make those build choices as you go without risking screwing yourself over.
It's interesting...most people seem to espouse a kind of dynamism, where the character can be shaped according to the needs of the narrative; but D&D maintains the 20 level paradigm of classes which is almost directly opposed to that need.

Being able to make choices within a class stricture seems to point towards a narrative of "you can bend your destiny but you can't re-invent or break out of it", which does seem in line with lots of fantasy tropes.
 
While I'm fine with a few choices after character creation, in general I prefer a more linear progression. This is why our group normally starts at level 3, since everyone has their sub-class. The only choices after that are feats, multi-class (if desired) and spell selection (if applicable). I'm fine with feats and spells, but I really wish there was a multi-class option at creation, like AD&D had.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's interesting...most people seem to espouse a kind of dynamism, where the character can be shaped according to the needs of the narrative; but D&D maintains the 20 level paradigm of classes which is almost directly opposed to that need.
"Directly opposed" seems a bit strong. I mean, a persons' real life is shaped by the needs they experience, but... our lives are generally not infinitely malleable. A 50 year old man can't decide, "Well, that's it, I'm going to be an astronaut now."

Being able to make choices within a class stricture seems to point towards a narrative of "you can bend your destiny but you can't re-invent or break out of it", which does seem in line with lots of fantasy tropes.
And somewhat real life, as seen above. You can reinvent yourself to a degree, but there are limitations and bounds most of the time.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
And somewhat real life, as seen above. You can reinvent yourself to a degree, but there are limitations and bounds most of the time.
That's interesting; are you arguing that a class system serves broadly simulationist needs?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It's interesting...most people seem to espouse a kind of dynamism, where the character can be shaped according to the needs of the narrative; but D&D maintains the 20 level paradigm of classes which is almost directly opposed to that need.

Being able to make choices within a class stricture seems to point towards a narrative of "you can bend your destiny but you can't re-invent or break out of it", which does seem in line with lots of fantasy tropes.
I mean, if you’re arguing in favor of adopting a classless system, you’ll get no disagreement from me.
 

Saelorn

Hero
I really wish there was a game where you could level up and make an interesting choice or two, but realistically, if you have advanced knowledge of the options then your choices are all made at level one.

Like, I wish I could play a fighter for three or four levels, and then choose to pick up a little arcane or divine magic as the campaign evolves; but if I really wanted to do that, then I should have been planning for it all along, or else I probably don't have the right stats or synergy. It's hypothetically an option (if it's allowed in the game), but in practice, any option that severely hinders your efficacy is not really an option.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
I mean, if you’re arguing in favor of adopting a classless system, you’ll get no disagreement from me.
I tend to favor class systems, personally, although I have no problem with very freeform character creation.

It's just an interesting juxtaposition; people are voting predominantly in favor of organic, loosely defined character growth, but I don't think most people would vote in favor of a classless system. So there must be a distinct benefit to a system that uses class as a character building tool, but I'm not exactly sure I'd define that benefit.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I tend to favor class systems, personally, although I have no problem with very freeform character creation.

It's just an interesting juxtaposition; people are voting predominantly in favor of organic, loosely defined character growth, but I don't think most people would vote in favor of a classless system. So there must be a distinct benefit to a system that uses class as a character building tool, but I'm not exactly sure I'd define that benefit.
Classes help in character building by giving you a baseline from which to customize. Instead of making your build totally from scratch, you can say “I’m a wizard” with your build choices being what makes you stand out from every other wizard.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
I really wish there was a game where you could level up and make an interesting choice or two, but realistically, if you have advanced knowledge of the options then your choices are all made at level one.

Like, I wish I could play a fighter for three or four levels, and then choose to pick up a little arcane or divine magic as the campaign evolves; but if I really wanted to do that, then I should have been planning for it all along, or else I probably don't have the right stats or synergy. It's hypothetically an option (if it's allowed in the game), but in practice, any option that severely hinders your efficacy is not really an option.
I think it's possible, but I don't know if it's possible to do so while assimilating all of D&D's tropes. Like, you could do it by magic being purely an external focus, it's something you acquire as opposed to something you develop skill at. Like you learn fire magic by doing a ritual that binds a fire elemental to your soul, and the elemental actually casts the magic. Then your ability at magic isn't gated by your stats at all, it's simply a function of how much effort you spend to master its abilities (which is represented by level or character resources spent on the skill).
 

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