Character building options are very important to a game. While some GM’s are able to run a game with any character build, most can not. So having a character options sheet or list can help the players to focus in on the feel that the GM is aiming for in their campaign. Some player may feel that this is heavy handed on the part of the GM but it helps to make characters that fit into the theme better.
Here are the points to consider when getting ready to have players start character generation.
- Background: Character backgrounds are important not only because they give GM’s hooks to build stories from, and in some systems they give actual mechanical advantages to the character. Also the world has enough orphans in gaming.
- Race/Class: These can be the place that most problems spring from. Everyone wants to be a unique magical snowflake. Sometimes it helps to set the mood by removing so many options.
- Skills: In most games this is not a place that much tinkering really needs to go. Some gentle direction can go far. So if you are doing an exploration campaign and none of the characters have those type of skills play it up. having them get lost at the drop of a hat or they have no way to get food in this place and are always hungry.
- Gear: Here again is a place that can use very little. But if you don’t like guns in your fantasy let the players know that. So they don’t come to the game session with a wild west gunslinger idea.
- Character Linkage: Character linkage is how characters know each other. Characters should have a substantial link to at least half the party. Even if the character doesn’t know it outright.
Character Build Best Practices
- Relevant: Make the information relevant to building characters only.
- Clear: The layout should be neat and easy to read.
- Concise: Make it short sweet and to the point in all regards. It doesn’t need to be a poetic edda.
- Updated: Update it regularly. Nothing is as annoying as building a character and finding out there there new options that the GM has added.
- Printed copies: Most people rely on email nowadays to stay up to date about things. Most people will not take the time to read anything long, they will skim it once and forget it. Make sure you have printed copies for each player with their copy of the campaign primer.
Inspiration for this article from Creighton Broadhurst.