Gaming Tonic

Character Generation Is Harder Than I Remember


I don’t get to play in a lot of games on a regular basis.  That is because by choice I am the DM, GM, Watcher, Storyteller, etc. when my regular group gets together.  My players in my group are extremely varied in their rpg tastes and it challenges my skills to put a game together in any system to satisfy them all.  When another member of the group does run a game it's usually not a fantasy game.  Now I have an opportunity to play in a Pathfinder game that another member of our gaming group is going to run.

I am finding it difficult to sink my teeth into any one character to satisfy all of my gaming needs.  How do I decide on a character for the game and what will influence my final decision is the question I feel I have to answer.  The DM will be running the Reign of Winter Adventure Path and I read over the players guide to get a feel for what the tone of the game will be.  I will keep this in mind as I make choices for my character.  The DM has said to select from the core races and that a character will benefit from a good ability array more than one high ability, some average abilities and a dump stat.  I will keep this in mind as I proceed.

I have been playing rpgs for more than 30 years and have played a lot of fantasy, especially when I was younger.  As I grew older and gained experience with rpgs I wanted to be the one who was the chief storyteller.  Now that I would only be in control of my character’s actions I feel the need to make sure that I get a lot of chances to have actions.  That means skills.  Ranger, rogue, bard, and inquisitor all have decent skill points to spend.  I've always enjoyed playing a character with a fair amount of skills.  In my mind the more you can interact with your environment the more you can be involved in the game.

Ranger, bard, and inquisitor all have spell casting in some form.  The ability to cast spells gives me more options in the game.  This means my character gets more chance for interaction with the environment.  Since I wasn’t really thinking much about spell casting in my character from the beginning I am not sure how much I want to deal with it, especially in the beginning of the game I think but something I wouldn’t mind adding on the option later.  This makes ranger the best class for me this time around.

Now that I had decided that the ranger was the class that interested me most, I moved on to what race had the most interest for me.  That is a pretty big part of the character generation process so I should tackle it early in my thought process.  I've played a whole lot of dwarves over the years, and it's safe to say that they are my favorite race whether we played Basic D&D, 4E, Pathfinder, etc.  I guess I had worked that out of my system with my long term 4E dwarf fighter I played in the Scales of War Adventure Path.  He was pretty mean and ferocious and I got to play him for a good long time.

Since no other race stands out as a must play as I look over my choice of options, I decide to be human.  Humans are the default and I've always thought that if you are choosing your race based on mechanics than the race probably won’t come through in role-playing.  It would be hard for me to fail at role-playing a human and the flexibility in stat bump, and extra feat are nice.  Plus the extra skill point helps me with my first priority, skill points.

I think I need to define what type of ranger I plan on playing so I can decide on what ability array would work the best.  Going along with wanting to have a big impact on the world around my character I decide I want to be able to fight well at range or in melee.  Since the combat style feat doesn’t require the character to meet any prerequisites, I should choose a style that uses the lower of my Dexterity and Strength scores.  I decide that going with a higher Dexterity is more my taste.  So I decide that I will take Two-Weapon Fighting with my Combat Style feat at 2nd level.

With that in mind it is easy to select my two feats.  With my character feat I get at 1st level I will choose Point Blank Shot.  With my feat for being a human I choose Precise Shot.  Now I can shoot my bow into melee combat and with greater accuracy at close range.  These feats will benefit from the high Dexterity as well.  I'll also be effective at range from 1st level.  Much more effective than a spell caster especially in a fight that lasts more than a couple rounds.  My character will be useful in combat and that will gain the favor of the other players who will give my character’s opinion more sway.  That will allow me to have more influence on party decisions.  Well that is what I am hoping happens anyway.

Now I have to select traits.  This is where I once again recall the Reign of Winter Players Handbook and the advice of the DM.  See I think traits should really represent the character and not be selected for a mechanical advantage.  If you can manage to do both, then by all means do that.  Northern Ancestry is a Campaign Trait listed in the guide and would tie my character directly to the story.  The more your character can fit in the story the more the DM will be able to include your character.  Fortitude is one of my characters strong saves so the +1 to Fort saves is cool but not optimal.  The cold resistance 2 will come in handy and is a neat role-playing device.  Cliff Jumper seems to fit in the game and character theme.  A +1 to Climb, a class skill is good.  A +1 to Acrobatics, which is not a class skill for ranger, is excellent.  The +1 to Reflex saves to avoid falling might help me look a bit cooler once or twice, nothing wrong with that.

Now I had to come up with a name, and some background details and distinctions.  These choices will flush the character out and help the DM, other players, and myself to visualize and realize my character.  These will include a vocal distinction, perhaps a gesture, and a couple of beliefs, superstitions, psychological limitations, etc.  That is another blog.  The easy part of character generation is over and I am already exhausted.

I hope everyone thinks about what is the best character for the game during the generation process.  You should consider what you want to play and the reasons for it.  That will help you to create the right character for the game.  This will make your game better and the DM can save his creative juices for highlights for your character in the story, and not how to fit your character in the story.  That goes for mechanics as well as character back story.  Until next time, Roll Hard!