View Full Version : How to choose PCs for your game?

2013-07-02, 06:56 AM
I'm after some advice on how you go about choosing from several excellent applications for a PbP game.

So far I'm juggling the following to try to whittle down 15 PCs to a mere 4:

Party Role: Does the PC fit within a role in the party that they'll need for the game? Meat shield, heal bot, glass canon or skill monkey. Clearly some classes and builds sit across more than one of these or outside of them entirely. That doesn't make them bad, just different.

Alignment: A party has to play well together so alignments shouldn't be that far removed from one another normally. No mixing Lawful Evil PCs with Chaotic Good PCs. Plus evil games in my experience quickly degenerate into secretive plots or even outright threats.

Background: I'm a big fan of the 10 minute background (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4974430&postcount=1) though it is formulaic and well written prose is more interesting it does provide the DM with some excellent raw material to work with. It also shows how well a person can write which is a big deal in a PbP game.

Connections to NPCs: Is there anyone that I, as DM, can use to motivate or direct the PC into an adventure?

Secrets: Something in the PCs past that makes them interesting and something that I can use in play at some point.

Connection to the setting: The DM has gone to a lot of effort to build a town, a city or a world or at least used an existing campaign world with a distinct look and feel. Has the player made an effort to incorporate their character into this world or just statted out their favourite race and class into a PC and left the work of drawing up connections to the DM?

Power level\Tier: The tier system has its faults but it is a good indicator of the versatility of PCs. If most applications are min-maxing then throwing in a halfling monk is going to leave that player with little to do sometimes. Conversely if the party artificer is optimised like crazy then that may leave everyone else feeling left out as they dominate play. Get a good balance for your game. This ties in to the party role.

Questions\Advice: Seriously a player who wants to work with the DM to make an interesting game is worth a hundred players who quibble over rules or play at one-upmanship. A player who offers advice to other players and who does the leg work into helping others to build better characters is worth their weight in gp.

Recommendations: A tip I picked up from another DM is to ask applicants who they would choose for their party if they knew they were going to get in and why they'd make this decision. When I did it I chose two PCs that the DM rejected and one that they accepted and my reasons were pretty much as above. Good background that I could tie in to my character, complementary party role (I was playing an artificer and chose a warforged fighter as one party member), good "vibe" for the player, etc.

So would you add anything or do you just put the names into a hat to pick your PCs?

2013-07-02, 07:13 AM
Good Lord, that's a lot of players.

Anyway, your list looks quite thorough. I'd personally emphasize Background and Connection to the Setting a little more, since a well-made character isn't necessarily the most powerful. A well-made character will avoid sounding contrived, instead being believable in the context of the setting. On the other hand, this means the DM needs a clear, authoritative idea of what his setting looks like and needs to relay this to the players, so it goes both ways.

2013-07-02, 10:16 AM
I'd add writing ability to your list, although it's pretty much going to inform all the other factors anyway. When I've run PbP games, there are usually a few characters that jump out at me for no reason other than because the backgrounds, while not necessarily long or detailed, are well-written and give a clear sense of who the character is. Also, well-written posts are easy to read and can help keep players involved.

Also, I like to choose players who have been active helpful in the recruitment thread. If somebody drops in and posts a character, even a good character, they may or may not stay involved once the game gets started. But the guy who's talking with other players about shared backstories, or who takes the time to make up a list of submitted characters - he's likely to stick with the game. Not that I'd take a bad character on that basis, but it's something to consider.

Where you have so many characters, I suspect you'll have 6-8 that you'd be perfectly comfortable having in your game. So my suggestion is to eliminate the other 7-9 from consideration, then start nitpicking on the other ones.

2013-07-02, 06:04 PM
The first most important thing to look at when picking PCs is how well their backstory is written.
The second most important thing to look at when picking PCs is how creative their backstory is.
The third most important thing to look at when picking PCs is how well their backstory meshes with the setting/story.
Reliability is also important. Other than that, everything else is tripe. Power level, party composition- these things can be changed. You can throw a weak party member a bone, you can tell someone too strong to tone it down, you can give the party magic items or NPCs to cover unfilled roles, or worst comes to worst ask a player to change their build.
But you can't ask someone to be more creative, or a more talented writer.

2013-07-02, 06:30 PM
Another thought - you're evaluating the players at least as much as you're evaluating the characters. A good player might not develop a great character, but they're going to be reliable and fun to have in your game. Whereas a problem player is a problem player, even if they start out with what looks like a great character concept. It can be hard to get a feel for a person based on a few posts, but I think it's completely fair to look beyond the character sheet when you're choosing your players.

2013-07-03, 12:36 AM
Great advice, thanks everyone.

2013-07-03, 02:41 AM
I like to pick characters that best fit the setting. I also don't pick players that don't read the big 16. If I post that the setting is low magic than players come with a wizard; that person probably won't play.