I have played a lot of Role Playing Games. I have created and been in charge of quite a few as well. As such, I have noticed trends and common problems. I intend to discuss some of those from time to time.
Let’s face it, character creation is simultaneously one of the most entertaining and daunting aspects of picking up a new RPG. At any given time, players have a myriad of questions they need to ask themselves while diving in. Afterall, excluding any unfortunate Owlbear maulings, this will be the character you are ultimately stuck with for a majority of the campaign, if not the whole darn thing. Thus, let’s talk about some of the woes and stressors that can rear their ugly little heads during this time.
I think one of the most common things individuals struggle with is what style of play they should work toward. Do I pick a combat heavy character, or perhaps a more subtle character with focus on social skills and subterfuge? What about a magic based character, or one that relies more heavily on skills and/or abilities?
How do I decide when I have all these options and possible builds?
Game Masters I’ve spoken two typically stand in one of two camps.
- Players should choose a character that matches their play style in previous RPGs or other similar games. I.e. if you typically take a very aggro strategy in games, pick a very aggro character/class. This supposedly helps the game progress better because you will be better at playing that type of character.
- Players should pick a play style they aren’t inherently used to or haven’t played much/ever/recently. This will increase the surprise and challenge. Also, people who play the same thing every time are boring.
So which should you do? Should you reference previous games and build a character that matches your habits and generally stick to one or a few archetypes? Or should you branch out, experience a different life, walk in different robes?
You do you, boo boo.
Listen, these are Role Playing GAMES, not Role Playing careers (which are completely different things and probably pay considerably more than what you make right now, but can certainly get….weird). They should be about two main things: narrative intrigue and FUN. You shouldn’t feel confined by any choice. You need to focus on how you want to play and not how others feel you should.
Don’t view deciding a playstyle as “should I branch out or stay the same” and instead ask “how will I have more fun?” If you never play magic characters and that seems like it could be intriguing to you, do it. However, if you just yearn for the simple pleasure of bashing some faces with a club, then Barbarian away, you sick orcish bastard you! Stick with your gut instinct early in game development, whether you feel it when you first sit down to build a character or even way back when the game is first proposed. At some point, you will feel a pull toward a specific class/race/archetype/etc. Follow that pull and decide what it is about that character that intrigues you. If you don’t pick the specific class that initially jumped out, you should be able to at least discern some other class/race/archetype/etc that you like even better.
Ultimately, decide how you want to do something and don’t let the group or even your GM pressure you to play a way you don’t want (if you have a GM that is promoting their own agenda over player fun, find a new GM, but this might be a topic for another day). Everyone has a different opinion of what fun is, and that is where the decision lies.
If you play the same thing every time, you are not boring.
If you try something new, you are not hurting your group dynamic.
So get out there and go nuts!
Play 45 different Wizards throughout 45 different campaigns!
Sit down and say “today I’d like to try being a Oread Bard” and damn the eye rolls!
Your GM got a problem with your choice?
Slap them in their smug face.*
*WARNING: Don’t slap GMs…. Unless you like firey hell pits filled with dragons as your level 1 campaign…