The Paradigm of Player Characters

Dice on a book

When considering a new campaign I need to consider how to characters will fit. I have decided on three key factors that will influence character construction, and that I need to factor into the development of my campaign. Not everyone would be considering this so early, but I am deciding to post based purely on what has me thinking at the moment.

1. Rolling up a character.

There are many ways to roll up the stats for a character. In the campaign this year I did an allocated spread of rolls. Meaning everyone began with one 8 and one 16 and then rolled the other 4 stats, each time rolling 4d6 and taking the highest 3. They then could choose where to place their roles in their Ability totals. The players had already designed and selected their type of character, so the rolls were placed in the abilities that best served their character archetype and class.

For the new campaign they will be doing a systematic allocation. They will write out in order the 6 Abilities (in the order of the sheet: STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA). They will roll again 4d6 taking the highest 3, but they will do this for each Ability and that will then be their Ability score. For example, beginning with Strength everyone will roll their 4d6, take out the lowest, add them together and write that result onto their character sheet under Strength. I will preface this in advance that they should come with personalities in mind but not playable characters.

Box and dice for game.

So why am I doing this?

Firstly, I have a very relaxed group of players who are mostly happy to try new things so I know they will be happy to do this. I have no alpha players or Minmaxers so they won’t be worried about this. Also they have been very open to role playing their character personality traits so I know they will let their sheet direct their character. Secondly, I want to encourage the players to play characters they may not have even considered. For example, a player who always wants to Hulk-out may play a rogue or a bard and begin to experience new aspects of the game.

2. Race restriction.

I have already done this in my previous game, as all the characters were fey they could only choose from the main races in the official Players Handbook baring humans. I am going to do this again, but because they will be characters from the Feywild rather than Earth they need to be more unusual characters. I plan to give them the selection either from Volo’s or D&D Wiki.

From Volo’s Guide to Monsters they can select from the Monstrous Adventures on pg. 19:

- Bugbear

- Goblin

- Hobgoblin

- Kobold

- Orc

- Yuan-ti

Or if really wanting to branch out they can select from one of the races identified as belonging to the 5e Fey Races here: of which there are plentiful choices.

So why am I doing this?

Firstly, as it fits the parameters of the campaign: they are kidnapped from the Feywilds and used by humans as miners in a pocket dimension. Secondly, it opens up opportunities for more diverse role playing and general game play opportunities. I’ve had two players express interest in playing “evil” characters, which can be very difficult in a traditional game, while this will give them an opportunity to explore that.

3. Starting at Level 3.

This is an often argued over concept. Most purists believe characters should always begin at Level 1, while others argue that the only real valuable mechanics of classes don’t begin until Level 3. The reason I am doing this is two-fold: firstly in the game we have just played we used the d20 modern system that begins characters with archetypes, meaning they didn’t even get to a traditional class until Level 3. This worked really well in a real world setting, however, it is a little bit of a slog to get to that point. They will only be reaching Level 4 at the end of the game, and this means they have only really played with the D&D classes for a short period of time. As such I don’t want them to feel disappointed to return to very basic characters in the next campaign. The second reason, and main reason, is quite simple: so they don’t die immediately. The campaign setting will be tougher, it is a mine, in another plane of existence, there will be many things that will kill them and I want them to feel that it is a battle to escape, but I also don’t want them to die in the first game because of low HP and limited abilities. As such after selecting their race they will pick their class and this will also help frame their backstory, and their motivations for escaping.