Creation Issues

Second set of characters for August Play test. This group is a little less experienced than the first, but they have all played at least one 3.5 game (some WoD and 4e players as well). Interestingly, character creation was cumbersome and hectic. Two strong factors were the time (quite late and we were all a bit sleepy) and the Character Sheet. I like the setup for the character sheet, but these players said that it was not intuitive (without a real “place” for ability modifiers or attack formula). Personally I always felt insulted to label every box on a character sheet, but these players wanted that back.

The Good: Backgrounds. Everybody really got into backgrounds, and they turned into the defining character features. We had 3 characters make ‘unique’ backgrounds, as follows

Mercenary—Spot, Survival and Intimidate. Trait: Blade for hire—you can take on temporary jobs from organized military, militia and guards.

Hunter of Darkness—Insight, Forbidden Lore and Spot. Trait: Cursed—you have dedicated your life to hunting down creatures of the night. As a result, those creatures know your reputation and constantly hunt you wherever you go.

The Prey—Bluff, Survival and Insight. Trait: Wanted—Due to your history (criminal or otherwise), you are wanted as bounty. As such you have spent your life finding safe places to lay low, even in dangerous environments. You can find places of shelter or provisions in urban or wild locations.

The Bad: Fighters. I was as surprised as I’m sure you are. We had one min/maxer see the possibility of, and I quote “all the damages” and rolled a dwarf fighter. We had one player who said, and I quote “I want an easy character, I’ll make a fighter.” After looking through the combat maneuvers she said (quote again) “This is ******* complicated.” She chose a duelist because she likes the word “swashbuckler.”

The Ugly: Specialties. We had two players pick “duel wielder” because they like the flavor. They felt like there was great potential for specialties, but they mostly felt shoehorned to take what worked for their class. That being said, a couple of them will likely pick-&-choose all their feats, giving them the style that they actually want without any house rules.

We ran a game yesterday and went through character generation from scratch, also. We found that it took a long time (around 90 minutes for 6 characters) but I'm not sure we were as focused as we could have been, either.

Variant terminology seemed to slow us down (e.g. having to find a background for skills, etc.) just because we kept forgetting which things we had done and which we hadn't. I think this process will go a lot faster with practice, however, as most of us had downloaded rules but not done our "homework" to read them. We had to keep asking the DM what came next...

I like the way it shaped up, though. Nice to have several layers of options. Not as cool when those options had only one choice, such as the Sorcerer having to be of dragon blooded ancestory. I'm certain there will be more options when the final rules are ready.

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

Yeah, I really like the feel and how it works and I think with a couple of pages at the front of the PH or DMG on "how to read the stats blocks and what everything means" will make the whole thing a breeze when the game launches.

I might be in the minority but I also hope that each sub-class gets streamlined a bit, starting with letting fighters gain CS dice and abilities slower. I also very much hope to see an even simpler set of rules without sub-classes and sub-races. I know a lot of people like to run a "Level 0" game to flush out characters, and that might be where the 'ultra-simple' version of the game should reside.

As a note: The player who made the "Prey" background is playing a sorcerer. We changed the flavor of the origin to be Phoenix. Mechanically it plays like a red dragon, just a simple bit of flavor. 
Those are cool backgrounds! *swipe* When I made a test-character it took about half an hour. Printed sheets are my preference, so I didn't have to scroll through anything, just flip pages and speed-read. When I handed the binder over to my players, I had placed sticky tabs marking the sections and relevant information. Cut it to 15 minutes, all are veteran gamers and came to the table with character concepts in mind, just having to negotiate how to make things fit since we're running a post-apocalyptic world. Yeah, the minotaur is a frustrated football player. His horns kept him from being allowed on the team. (+1 to STR, cut the gore attacks to d6s, natural direction sense.)

As for the character sheet, I didn't like having mathematical formulae across the sheet. I'd rather work that out on scrap paper and just fill in the result. My group is mixed on that. We are unanimous that there needs to be more space for weapons. Most of the guys carry two regular weapons, a smaller "hold out" weapon, and want their unarmed stats listed as well. Weapons that can be thrown or used melee need two lines. It takes up the alotted lines rather quickly.
I'm glad you like the backgrounds. As you can tell the traits are just variations of what are in the backgrounds right now, and the skill selection is preference. In every game I run I usually give an extra bonus to each player based on their background (extra trained skill, +1 to hit/save, ect). That became painfully difficult in a 4e game where we printed off DDI sheets and they had to make scratch notes on their nice sheets. Background traits now really do that work for me and let each character feel unique.

Interesting note about character sheets, it might be nice (especially if they try and keep sheets to 1 or 2 pages) to have a "new players sheet" and an "experienced players sheet" in the back back of the PHB. I don't much like having 3 different formats of character sheets at a table, but the last PF game I ran had 2 class specific sheets, 2 regular sheets and one home-made-cut-&-paste-landscape character sheet. So variety is nice and each player was comfortable with their User Interface.
My players are not happy with the specialities, they feel that they locked them into a progression for their feat choices.

The backgrounds are ok, and a unique background was easy enough to work up on the spot.

However we would prefer an open list of feats and skills with relevant information and descriptions.

Regarding character sheets, they did have some trouble finding some of the boxes for certain things. 
My first group loved specialities, and the presented packages worked really well for their characters. I love the idea of packaged feats for quick character creation and thematic purpose. Two of my players wouldn't be happy if a specific bundle exsisted that was exactly their idea simply because they don't like bundles. However, with the requirements presented on feats they will have no problem going through and choosing each one. It would be nice in the final product to have a list at the back of the book for alphabetical feats without the specialties listed. The 'modularity' is great, the format is not.
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