Saturday, February 9, 2013

Character Creation III-Part 2 - 2 Examples

Continuing on my last post, here are two examples of character creation. I worked through creating two PCs in order to apply many of my ideas from that post...

  • Becky - Human Knight - Kara Torres

    • Our first player, Becky, brand new to the game thinks about her favorite fictional characters and decides to base her new D&D PC on a cross between Starbuck in the new BSG and Zoe from Firefly.  Becky wants her PC to be a warrior woman and a stalwart companion to her party mates and she’ll use Starbuck and Zoe as inspiration for her PCs personality.
    • She looks at the Weaponmaster, the Cavalier and the Slayer, but decides that she wants to play a Knight with its focus on defending allies without the piety of the Cavalier or the complexity of a Weaponmaster.
    • Then Becky chooses Human so that she feels like she has a grasp on the race of her first character without trying to portray another alien culture.
    • Decides on the name Kara Torres, mixing Starbuck’s first name with the last name of the actress who played Zoe to hide her source material a little.
    • Looking over the alignments, Becky decides on Good, as she wants to be a hero who is willing to bend laws when the greater good calls for it.
    • Not knowing what Background might be best, Becky takes the advice of a more seasoned player to pick that later.  She also skips Deity, waiting to see if the group picks a common patron deity.
    • For her personality traits, she consults the PHB and picks some that seem to fit the Zoe/Starbuck style persona she wants to portray, she decides Kara
      • is Witty in social interactions
      • possesses a Self-assured sense of optimism but
      • is Skeptical as opposed to outright trusting new people.
    • Though she knows it might be a stretch for her as a player, Becky decides that Kara is:
      • Commanding when the group arrives at a decision point.  She thinks that this will be more from her sense of Right and Wrong and battlefield leadership than from serving as the groups overall leader.
      • Furthermore, she decides that Kara is Pragmatic about following rules and that
      • she has a very Protective sense of empathy.  Becky thinks that Kara, much like Starbuck and Zoe who she’s based on, is very protective of her comrades and the people close to her.
    • Thinking about how Kara reacts during Dire Straits, Becky decides that she:
      • has a Steady sense of courage in dire straits.
      • That she’s Bold when faced by setbacks, just as Zoe and Starbuck often were bold when their backs were against the wall and finally that
      • Kara has a Calm when others get nerves from a dire situation.
    • Seeing the Mannerisms heading in the PHB just below the Personality descriptors, Becky already knows one mannerism she wants for Kara, the habit of smoking a cigar to relax and celebrate, just as Starbuck did in BSG.
    • Now Becky is ready to really become a D&D player and roll d6s to determine her ability scores as instructed by her DM.  With the help of her DM and an experienced player, she slots her rolls into abilities that will support her class and the character she’s trying to portray.  Putting high scores into STR, CON and WIS, medium scores into DEX and INT and letting her low score go into CHA.  Becky’s ok with Kara not being the most charismatic character, much like Starbuck in BSG, she figures Kara will use force of will rather than beguiling looks or polished oratory.
    • Looking at her options for skills, Becky chooses Athletics, Endurance, Heal and Intimidate.  Skills are, unfortunately, an often overlooked tool in character creation, as they let you choose some things that your PC is good at outside of combat.
    • Because she’s a Knight, one of the Essentials classes, most of Kara’s powers are already chosen for Becky, but she does get to pick to Knight Stances which will represent her two most common strategies in a fight, looking them over, she picks:
      • Hammer Hands: as she likes the idea of the force of Kara’s blows driving her enemies back and
      • Cleaving Assault: as she thinks it will be handy to be able to deal damage to more than one enemy at a time if she needs to.
    • Now faced with the overwhelming list of feats to choose from, and getting to choose two because Kara is a human, Becky is taken aback.  Consulting with a wily and seasoned player, Becky is advised to choose an Expertise Feat.
      • I recommend that every character take an Expertise feat by 4th level, they give a +1 to attacks with a chosen weapon group and usually another feature (Handy Tip: If the expertise feat you’re looking at only gives the attack bonus and nothing else, keep looking, there’s almost always another similar one that will give you the +1 and something else). It’s kind of dumb that to keep a decent chance of Hitting (and it’s no fun to always miss with attacks) that players are best served by limiting themselves to one weapon or implement group, but them’s the shakes.
      • Looking at the expertise feats, Becky picks the Bludgeon Expertise as it will help make her Hammer Hands stance even more effective by letting her push enemies even further when she hits them.
      • For her second feat, Becky wants something that helps her allies, and with some searching in the Compendium and the help of her DM and a player-mentor she chooses Duty’s Virtue, which lets her aid bloodied allies and also gives her a bonus to initiative, which isn’t half bad.
    • Now all that’s left is to go back and pick a background, buy equipment and for Becky to flesh Kara out more fully.
      • Her player mentor advises her that her background should give her a bonus to a skill she wants to make sure that Kara is good at.  Looking at her skills as they are Becky notices that her Perception is a little low and she thinks that Kara should be alert, especially on the battlefield.  With a little digging, she finds the Sentry (Occupation) background which she thinks fits, she decides that at some point in the past Kara was part of an army or city watch and got used to keeping guard.
      • For equipment, Becky picks out a Warhammer, a one handed hammer that will get her Bludgeon expertise bonus and leave a free hand for Kara to hold a shield.  She also gets several Throwing Hammers which also get the Bludgeon Expertise bonus and will serve as Kara’s ranged weapon.  
        • (Pro-Tip:  Battles are won and lost by having a Ranged Weapon.  Your barbarian may not seem to need a Ranged weapon in most fights as you charge to and fro at whichever monster needs ass-kicking, but then an evil wizard immobilizes you and you find yourself doing nothing for several turns as you fail saves and the giggling DM has the monsters stay just outside of your reach...)
      • Becky gets Kara some Scale Armor, a heavy shield and an adventurer’s kit and her sheet is all done.  Now all she has to do is think about Kara’s background and motivation.
    • Since the party is going in search of a Legendary Treasure, Becky decides that Kara is going to find a legendary hammer, wielded by a great Hero long ago.  She and the DM decide that they can come up with more about the Hammer and the Hero as the game goes on.  Becky also decides that Kara suffered a tragedy in her past that she’s using adventuring to flee from/forget, just as with the hammer, she and the DM decide that seed is enough for character creation and that they’ll flesh it out as the campaign continues.

  • Matt - Hengeyokai Scoundral - Jody Springlegs

    • Our second player, Matt, comes to the character creation session with nothing in mind.  As the other players start to talk about their ideas, Matt realizes that no one is talking about playing a thief-y, sneaky character.
    • He takes a look at his options,not quite satisfied with Rogue, not wanting to go as dark as Assassin, he chooses Scoundrel, so that he’ll have plenty of options to craft exactly the kind of Rogue he wants.  In the back of his mind, he starts thinking that his PC is after the Legendary Treasure to prove he is the greatest Thief in history by defeating the fiendish traps that are sure to guard such a treasure.
      • Looking at the available builds he picks Aerialist Rogue, licking the idea of his character tumbling across the battlefield.
    • Looking at the race options, Hengeyokai catches his eyes.  Matt decides that his PC will be a wild trickster, and for his animal form he picks Hare, which inspires him to pick a name for his PC, Jody Springlegs.
    • Taking a gander at the alignments, Matt is tempted by Unaligned, but ultimately decides to go with Good.  Matt is going to play Jody as a prankster with little regard for law and order, but decides that Jody is good at heart and not malicious.
      • Tip: Playing an Unaligned character is tougher than it sounds, freedom from morality or a very flexible morality sounds like it should be easy to portray, but it can be tricky even for experienced players.  Unfortunately, being “Unaligned” can often just be used as an excuse for your PC to indulge in Selfish Prickdom, especially if you don’t share goals and relationships with the other party members.  In a heroic D&D game it’s easiest for all the PCs to know they can count on each other.  When the Mummy Lord has the party pinned down the rest of the party needs to know that your PC has their back and that you’ll give your all along with the rest of them.  There are games where intra-party politics and selfish goals work well, but in my opinion D&D shines when teamwork lets the party beat obstacles that the individual PCs could never overcome.  This isn’t to say that Unaligned or even Evil characters or campaigns can’t be run, but the default alignment is Good and much of the classic flavor of the game is built around heroes wandering the world, doing Good.
    • Now it’s time for Matt to take a look at the personality traits.  Unlike Becky who had a specific personality in mind, Matt is winging it with Jody so this will be a good chance for him to start to shape the personality he wants to portray.
      • Looking at the Social Interaction descriptors listed in the PHB, Matt doesn’t quite feel any fit exactly the way he wants.  He decides to describe Jody’s social interactions as Roguish, thinking that he’ll play a good hearted rogue in the vein of Han Solo.
        • Pro-tip: Don’t feel constrained by the descriptors contained in the PHB if you don’t feel that they fit.  Like many of the best things in D&D and RPG rulebooks, they’re suggestions, not limitations.
      • Matt decides that Jody will have an Enthusiastic sense of Optimism, after all, he’s convinced he’s the greatest thief in the world.
      • Jody will be Gullible, since Matt thinks it will be fun to play a character so convinced of his own greatness that he takes everything at face value.  His DM also suggests that as a Fey creature Jody would not be used to human(ish) civilization.
    • Continuing on with the Decision Points Matt continues to shape Jody’s personality:
      • Jody will be Impatient at decision points.
      • As a Fey he’ll be Wild and unused to following rules.
      • But for Empathy, Matt decides to go with Jody being Kind.  Matt is starting to realize that Jody has the potential to be a disruptive force in the party and will often be dragging the others into trouble with his impatience, gullibility and enthusiasm.  By reminding himself to have Jody also be Kind, Matt hopes to make sure that Jody is liked by the rest of the party.
    • Now Matt is ready to define how Jody reacts in Dire Straits, he decides that:
      • Jody is courageously Reckless.
      • He’s Happy-go-lucky when faced by setbacks.
      • He’s Impulsive.
    • Without knowing at all what kind of character he wanted to play, Matt has now shaped a clear idea of the motivation and personality of his PC.  With the tough stuff down, he quickly chooses his skills, feats and powers.
    • Matt chooses his powers, taking the advice of an experienced player and taking Acrobat’s Blade Trick for his encounter power, which is a Burst 1, that will let him attack all adjacent enemies once per encounter.  He chooses, Acrobatic Strike for one of his at-wills which will let him maneuver around the battlefield.
      • Pro-tip: It’s always nice to have at least one burst or blast power, even if it’s only usable once an encounter or once a day.  When your PC is surrounded by foes it’s a nice thing to have in your back pocket.
    • For his feats, Matt takes Red Blade Student, a feat which adds an additional effect to one of his At-Will attacks, Riposte Strike when using a Short Sword.
      • Pro-Tip: Since you’ll be using At-Will attacks in every combat it is well worth investing a feat into adding some pizazz to them to make their use more satisfying.
    • Matt chooses equipment, making sure to take a set of Thieves Tools, and finishes his sheet off.  He has plenty to think about, but has a good start and a definite goal for Jody to follow, to show that he’s the best thief in the world by helping his party get past all the traps and monsters that stand between them and the Legendary Treasure.

1 comment:

  1. Shit in a HAT Zack, this is just beyond words perfect. You sir are amazing. REQUIRED reading!


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