D&D Next packet test - Character creation process

Hi

I've not played D&D in a looong time our group were hardcore AD&D 2nd Edition revised players who used to bath in its light for a minimum of 12 hours oft times moving into 24 hour sessions; fueled by coke, chips and coffee. Of course we were all unemployed bums back then

So enough about me.

I've just downloaded the latest playtest package and am in the process of creating a few characters, when I hit backgrounds and specialties. The process according to the guidelines is

Stats
Race
Class
Background
Specialty

Now after reading through the specialties I tend to view them as "Pathway" to a players "Background" which in turn gives reason to why the PC chose its "Class".

eg

Specialty - Healer
As a young Mountain Dwarf I found that I had a strong empathy towards the sick and injured, the local healer; whom I assisted, began to teach me the ways of healing through the use of local herbs. We found that I had a natural skill for healing and soon I surpassed my teacher, they then suggested I should perhaps think about becoming a priest and dedicating myself to a diety.

Background - Priest
With my teachers advise I entered into the "Divine order of Light's" service and as with my skills in Healing I found that I was very quick and;to my surprise, worked my way to the top of the order. After a few years my orders Head suggested that I should not waiste my talents here at the temple and that my skill would be of better use as a Cleric.

Class - Cleric
You get the idea by now

Of course for the specialty you may have tried the Healer but found that you weren't cut out for it and moved into a different background from there, but still retained the skills from the specialty.

So my order of character creation would be something like this

Race
Specialise - "Pathway"
Background
Class
Stats

My 2 cents... so far...
Every player ends up with their own path through that creation process. Some will already know that they are a dwarven wizard. Others start with the idea that they want to be some sort of ranger, so they start with "fighter", then add "Archer" and a Background that matches their idea of their character, then possibly choose their race.

Where stats are in that sequence depends a bit on the stat creation process. Standard array? That's fairly limited. Dice-roll? Hopefully not get too unlucky.

I've added a method to the ones in RAW, and replaced dice-roll with a modified version.  The added method is 19-point buy (that's what the standard array comes out as). The modified dice-roll is to have every player in the campaign roll 24/number-of-players dice (rounded up), then throw out the 6 or 7 lowest so you end up with 18 dice. So, for example, with 5 players, everyone would roll 5d6, and we toss out the lowest 7.
Those 18 dice can then be combined in any way the players like, as long as every stat gets exactly three dice.

I did not come up with that system. I like it, because it:
- Puts everyone on the same footing, just like a standard array or a point buy does
- Has an element of randomness that can lead to "uneven" stats so that first stat-raise really feels meaningful when you get it
- Has more flexibility than the 4d6-drop-lowest system, because you can combine individual die results 

It's a bit of a cross between the flexibility of a point-buy, and the interest of a die roll.
 
I think the intended philosophy is that background is what you were before taking up adventuring, while specialty is more how you tend to approach problems as an adventurer. But as Gumba says, do whatever works for you and your group and don't worry overmuch about whether you're "doing it right". If it works for you and results in a legal character, you're doing it right.

The one thing where I would actively avoid doing the process by the book, rather than just not worry too much about it, is stat generation - you're supposed to roll them up first but assign them to specific scores, if memory serves, fourth. This is stupid. There is absolutely no point in separating those two steps. Just do them together, at whatever point in the process seems most logical to you.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011