Friday, September 16, 2011

Discussion: Character Creation Process

Yesterday's post about Character Creation Time got me to thinking. How do you make your characters?

Most of the RPG books have the same, effectively three step, process they use. Step 1 is concept; step 2 is mechanics; and step 3 is spark of life, with spark of life including everything from description (if not chosen by mechanics) and character history. However, I know some people don't follow that process, and they have good results on it.

So, do you tend to make your character history/narratively first and then make your mechanics to fit? Or do you do the mechanics and then fit the history to that?

Personally, I tend towards the latter. Then again, I also tend to make/choose my character last so that I can fill any gaps in the group's current make up. For some games this isn't as big a deal and I can just make a character, but I tend to make my mechanics, and then fit the character around that starting with "What kind of person would have these skills, and why?"

How about you?


  1. My process involves a bit of back and forth. I decide on a concept, make a set of mechanics, define the history, re tweak the mechanics to fit that better, and then more fully define the history. In practice I usually go back and forth a few times on that.

  2. If I have a cool concept in mind, I work my mechanics around that concept (which is usually the case); otherwise, if I just enjoy the character creation process--like I do with 4ED&D--I'll make a mechanical character and build a concept around it or while I make it.

    My process usually includes finding a character I like in a movie/book/video game/etc and making that into a game character using the mechanics. Other times, I'll conceptualize what I want to make (a barbarian, a wizard, etc) and I'll find a picture of that kind of character and build my story and mechanics around that picture.

    I don't usually make the mechanics until last. My friend does what you do and makes his character last. That's his excuse for always playing a defender (paladin almost exclusively), because "nobody ever picks a defender class, so I guess I have to be it." So, the last time I ran, I made him play anything but a defender, and we got some really good and fun results.

    Honestly, I don't think one yields any different results than the other, since you get a fully fleshed out character no matter in which order you do the steps or how you come up with your concept. And, I couldn't say that one step is any more important than another since the mechanics are just as much a part of the game as the spark of life.

  3. I usually GM but in the campaign where I'm a player, it started with a drawing I made. The drawing itself was based on a class from Warhammer Online, but it turned out to be so different I started to wonder what the char would be like to play. And so my PC was born. :)

    After that, I selected a class and feats - the mechanics parts - and lastly I wrote the background weaving everything together.

    This was actually quite different from my usual process, I tend to start with what the party needs (like a spellcaster) but as that fell flat twice I decided to take a different route.

  4. Our current method is mechanics first. We roll up stats, then figure out where they fit in the group as far as what job they can do with those stats and then fill in details about the character. The character's stories are usually filled in during play and I'm the only artist in the group so pictures don't usually happen.