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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Creating a character you and your friends will love! Part one: Considerations

Dallas Kasaboski
This was my first blog post on D4sign, a game review blog about Dungeons and Dragons! For more info, and to look at other related topics, please go here: D4sign: A Dungeons and Dragons game design blog

Whether you're familiar with D&D and character creation or not, this guide will attempt to provide some helpful tips and suggestions for making a character you will enjoy playing, and one which your friends will remember for years to come! Obviously, as the game changes over time, and different editions are added, the way you create your character can drastically change. But, this is 4e, so that's where we'll be putting our focus.

So, where to get started?

Sometimes, there are so many choices and options that it can be overwhelming. Let's look at potential first steps.

The entire creation of a character should, for obvious reasons, collaborate with the DM and possibly the other players. The DM (Dungeon Master) knows their world better than anyone and would be best suited to giving options, warning of limitations, and providing motivations and considerations for your character. Nothing is worse than making a character you really want to play to only find out it doesn't quite fit into the DM's world. The DMG (Dungeon Master's Guide) suggests that a good DM never says no, but when you want to play a divine character and the setting is Dark Sun, well, it might prove difficult to bridge that gap.

Also, discuss your thoughts with the other players. Ideas are contagious, and sometimes, the greatest ideas are a team effort. Additionally, knowing what the other players are planning can help settle some debates concerning your character. While some make their characters to almost stand alone, creating a team of stand alone characters can be difficult and might challenge party cohesion. I like to find out what the other players are doing, what the DM thinks they might need or what might be missing, and try to fill that role, sometimes literally. "Oh, you need a healer? Done!" "What's that? You already have a defender...hmm, okay, maybe I'll go striker."

Obviously, you can do whatever you want as long as it isn't disruptive, and having 2 defenders is almost never a bad idea, but it gives you a sense of belonging and importance to fit yourself into a group and, at the same time, distinguish your character. This doesn't just apply to role, it can also apply to backstory.

I played in Dominic Matte's campaign, Ravenshore, but came into the fray a little later than the other players. I wasn't sure what to do as the other players had already established a bond, and their roles seemed filled. Working with Dominic, we came up with the idea that I would play a character who had lived in the city for years before the others arrived. This opened up so many options for both my character, and the DM. Sometimes, a Dungeon Master can put so much work into a world, only to have his characters not take that left door, or choose not to explore the northern part of a city at all. Playing a character with a different backstory set me apart, but also allowed me to feel important as the DM would give me information which I could then use to help the other players. Additionally, the DM was able to make use of my character to flesh out the world a little more. It was such a successful choice, that Dominic decided that the next time he ran Ravenshore, he would ask ahead of time for one of the players to choose to be from the city, rather than one of the refugees.

And that concludes this introduction. For the short version, simply consider these thoughts when thinking about a character:
  • What kind of world will my character be in?
  • What are the other players doing?
  • Is there something the DM might need or not want?
  • Does my idea work with everyone, or if it doesn't, will that make things fun and interesting?
Next time, we will look at personal details, and how to go about becoming your character.

-Thanks for reading!

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