View Full Version : [Pregens] Yay or nay?

2007-03-10, 08:31 PM
I fully appreciate that you will get more engagement from a player if they make their own character. Also that in any system with time-intensive chargen, pregens mean more preparatory work for the GM (though less for the group on startup). Furthermore than one person making characters is less likely to get a varied mix compared to lots of people doing so.

Context makes a difference too. For a one-shot (especially at cons) pregens might save a lot of time, and ensure there are genre-appropriate characters. If everyone else is making their own characters and one player asks for a pregen, that's the GM having to spend real session time on making a character (possibly excluding their ability to assist others).

I've also attached a poll on your general stance on pregens.

If anyone is interested, I've also got some specific questions:

Do you agree with pregens in principle? Would/have you ever use them? Is the (preparation) time it takes to generate the characters a concern?

If you were making pregens, how many would you try to come up with? Does system make a difference to that?

How about the variety or scope of concepts - does it feel limited if you're doing them alone (as the person making all the pregens), rather than lots of people coming up with their own ideas?

How would you feel about a player asking you for one at chargen? Would it make a difference if they gave you notice before the game?

If the whole group wanted them for a one-shot or experimental game, would you have a problem with making some?

Would you run a game with a mixture of pregens and those players made themselves?

The Valiant Turtle
2007-03-10, 09:43 PM
I rarely GM, but if I start a new game with the current group of players I will probably ask them what they want and make it for them. Leaving them to their own devices they tend to end up with a major power imbalance. Most of them will be underpowered and one or two will be (usually unintentionally) overpowered. One of them has even mentioned that he needs to take character creation lessons from me. I think they all trust me enough to do this, and probably know that they'll probably end up both with stronger/better characters and a better balanced party. It's also a lot easeir to work them into the world that way.

2007-03-10, 10:58 PM
For any kind of continuing campaign, I'd want the players to get invested in the characters, which is much easier if they build and play what they want. I wouldn't want to be stuick with a pregenerated character that wasn't my concept.

I do use point buy, since I've dealt with the party of average roll PCs and insane high roll PCs and it's murder trying to challeng one without killing the other, and I watch wealth and items carefully. So long as the DM is upfront about what's allowed or banned (Core races only, no Paladins, whatever) then the players should have no reason to complain and still be able to design the character they want to play.

2007-03-10, 11:37 PM
Since I usually play low level campaigns, I like pregens to start with. You don't lose a lot of 'getting to know a character' if you pregen a lvl 1.

Usually I make a fighter, wizard, rogue, and cleric. I leave the weapons blank and let them choose.

Then they are required to level up as they see appropriate.

2007-03-10, 11:40 PM
Since I usually play low level campaigns, I like pregens to start with. You don't lose a lot of 'getting to know a character' if you pregen a lvl 1.

Usually I make a fighter, wizard, rogue, and cleric. I leave the weapons blank and let them choose.

Then they are required to level up as they see appropriate.

See, to me, Feat selection for the Fighter, skill point distribution for the Rogue, or spell selection for the Wizard really determine the concept of the character. I'd want to choose that myself. And at 1st level, it really doesn't take very long to make up a character. I say let 'em do it, just limit the sources to what you're comfortable with.

2007-03-11, 06:56 AM
I've used them for one-offs, but I never liked them that much. Making and customising characters is half the fun of the game.

- Saph

2007-03-11, 08:25 AM
I always have a number of pregenerated characters on hand for Players to use if they want or to use as NPCs as the situation requires.

2007-03-11, 09:13 AM
For the first game I DMed, the players were all completely new, so I used pregens which were slowly replaced as they got more into the game. Since my players (although I no longer DM, for the time being, as we cycle DMs) are still quite new I usually help them build semidecent characters. We have a character creation session before the game, in which I advise them on how to make chars.

2007-03-11, 12:51 PM
I never make pregens for players. Our group enjoys character creation nearly as much as playing and having to play a character I made for them would feel cheap and boring.

If I was starting out with a new player, I would certainly help them, and even make some decisions for them if they wanted, but it would be more of a guiding process than a "here's the character you are going to play".

2007-03-11, 12:53 PM
That's why you create multiple pregenerated characters and give them the choice of whether to take one or make their own. It's a lot easier to guide character creation when you have some examples on hand.

A lot depends on time constraints, though. If you only have four hours to play and somebody doesn't have a character it's convenient to have a pregenerated character on hand.

2007-03-11, 12:56 PM
That's not a bad idea. I've got plenty of character sheets from many campaigns over the years. I don't know if I would just give them one to play, but it might at least show them the various options and directions their character could take.

I don't often have new players, so the issue doesn't come up very often.

2007-03-11, 09:13 PM
I just finished running a weekend-long one-shot. I used pre-gens (including a few paragraphs on the character's personality and reactions to the other characters), and had the players choose based on minis that matched the characters.

Several times throughout the game, the players said that they really appreciated the pre-gens. In addition to the time not spent on character creation, the party was complete (all roles were filled), cohesive (we didn't have to spend any time getting them to cooperate), and balanced (no one character outshone any other, and the party was challenged appropriately by the encounters).

Also, one of the players got a character type that she'd never played before and had no interest in playing, but by the end of the session she was saying how fun the characters was. She took her character sheet with her when she left. Getting a player to consider a new concept is, for me, a tally in the DM's 'win' column.

Another player, who occasionally DM's for little siblings and cousins and friends and such, says that he'll do pregens for the next time he runs such a game, so that the game doesn't get bogged down before it even starts.

From my experience, I'd say that pre-gens are worth it for a one-shot, especially with inexperienced players, and especially at higher levels. With experienced players at low levels, character creation can take just minutes... but it can take a lot longer if the players don't know what they want to play.

In an actual campaign, though, I would never do pre-gens. When I start a new campaign, I usually devote the first session to character creation. For a campaign, I want to make sure that everyone gets exactly what they've payed for, in every way. Pregens would ruin that in many ways.

2007-03-12, 01:16 AM
Are you guys kidding me? I would _never_ take a pregen character. Its my character, its a facet of my imagination and personality. Thats my part of the world. now, giving it over to DM inspection and ultimate rulings, of course, that goes without saying. But its really just... no, its just not the DM's job to make your character for you. That goes against the soul of the game.

2007-03-12, 02:06 AM
I think it is a good idea to make a few pregens before starting a long campaign, even if no one takes them.
One reason I think so might just be bias from how I started, but I recall fondly the old cut out cards from the DragonLance Saga which was my first experience with D&D. I don't know why exactly I aquired the book of the first three adventures, as I didn't have any other AD&D stuff to look at it through, but I loved those character cards with a passion, trying to figure out their places in the world and what they do, and how they interact with each other.
Another fun thing about pregens is that characters can have hard built ties to the world without the player and DM negotiating or spending lots of time working it out beforehand. This can help the DM give information about the world out without making a pamphlet or giving a long winded speech that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. It also gives the group a good excuse to be co-workers and around at the same time that sometimes seem a little awkward being set up with player made characters.
Lastly, I think it can really help players who just can't optimize to save their butts. My fiance can't handle optimizing her priest in WoW. She would just get terribly frustrated with all the options in D&D. If I were to run a game with her, I would either need to hold her hand through the whole process, or just make 3-4 types I think she would like from what I know of her preferences, and let her pick. Essentially that is what I would be doing anyway if I helped her build a character, only without the stress of her trying to figure out just what sort of caster she wants to be based on the tremendous amount of options.

2007-03-12, 02:34 AM
I think pregens are a decent idea, and they do have their place - personally, as a DM, I would never force a group into them, but I'm more than happy to provide them if requested.

On the other hand, now my creative juices are running, and I'm curious, wanting to play a game with a DM who does run pregen characters. Might be fun!

PnP Fan
2007-03-12, 07:54 AM
About the only time I use pregens is if I'm running a game at a convention. I've never had players that were so new that they needed a character made for them. And even if I did, I wouldn't do it. I would probably help the player, maybe ask them to come over early so we could do the paperwork. But part of the fun is the creation of a character, and I'd hate to rob someone of that. I've led enough groups of people through chargen for systems they were entirely unfamiliar with that it doesn't bother me any more. I also have a standing clause in my games, that when I run a system for the first time that players are allowed to tweek for the first 2-3 sessions. This includes new versions of the system (moving from 3.0 to 3.5, for example) and games with significant variation from a base system (moving from D&D to Star Wars d20) as well as the more obvious changes (d20 to WoD).

2007-03-12, 07:57 AM
They certainly serve a purpose. One- or few-shots, con games, etc. A person I know actually prefers them for long campaign games, too; she enjoys the challenge of getting into a character she didn't create.

2007-03-12, 08:10 AM
For ongoing campaigns: Never.

One-offs: sure. As long as the DM knew what he was doing and doesn't make one or more "joke" characters for "comedy value". One DM did this:

DM: Here you go. You're playing Thorgar the noble half-dragon barbarian. He specialises in using a greatclub, which is the chosen weapon of his tribe.
Player 1: Cool.
DM: And you're Elias, stealthy gnome rogue. Uses twin daggers and is as nimble as they get.
Player 2: OK.
DM: You're Carmine the human cleric of Pelor. Strong in arm and bold in spirit. An excellent healer, and feared by necromancers across the region.
Player 3: Sounds good.
DM: And you're Gladys, the transexual half-orc bard. He/she uses bongos to inspire courage in his/her teammates. He/she is proficient with his/her shortsword, but prefers to use his/her natural charms to try and talk his/her way out of any fights.
Player 4: Uhh... what?

2007-03-12, 08:15 AM
I think well balanced pre-mades are a good thing.
They require more player skill though (IMHO) to find the character within yourself. One of the most challanging characters I've ever played has been taken over from a leaving player, getting a smooth handover took a lot of thought. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I like to play characters with dramatically different outlooks to my own however, and I guess its not for everyone.
I am in the process of teaching my son to play, and I just tried to guide him through the character generation process, rather than use pre-mades. I think it is easier to play a character you have designed yourself when you start out, it's easier to balance the encounters differently for new players, than to drop them into the deep end of characterisation.

2007-03-12, 08:16 PM
For one offs, yeah, especially at CONs where it's just too much hassle to do it any other way. I'd never join an ongoing campaign which used pregens, though. I just have a hard time playing characters that I didn't make. For one thing, I obviously am going to know a character mechanically a lot better if I built it. For another, the preliminary developement of the characters personality and mannerisms go hand in hand with character creation. I work on both together as I go along, and to be cut off from that whole process makes me uncomortable.

2007-03-12, 08:56 PM
They've got their place-- for one thing, they guarantee that the characters are suited to the campaign. Hate to be a rogue who threw many starting skill points into Open Locks and Disable Device, when the DM has no interest in using traps and locks as obstacles.
After that, character development's all to the player...who presumably has a good idea what's going on by the time levelling time comes around.

2007-03-13, 09:53 AM
For ongoing campaigns: rarely to never. One-off campaigns are an exception; but even there I'd still prefer player-made characters.

Preparation time isn't a concern; I can whip up a generic 1st-level character in about 5 minutes. The issue is how engaged the players will be with the character. If it's not theirs, it's a lot harder for them to focus in on what their character is doing.

If I were making pregens, I'd make about two or three more than the number of people in the group. Nobody should get stuck with the "bad" character.

I wouldn't want to come up with all of the ideas. I'd vastly prefer it if the players had some idea of what they wanted to play.

If a player asked me for a pregen, I wouldn't be all that keen on it. For a new player, making a character is a great way to familiarize yourself with the options you have available. For an experienced character, I it's hard to see why they'd want a pregenerated character except for their own laziness. If they wanted a chance to practice acting skills, or honestly couldn't figure out what they wanted to play, that'd be a different story. If we talked it out, and they gave me a couple days' notice, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

For a one-shot or an experimental game, sure, as long as all the players want it and know what they're doing.

Mixture of pregens and player-created? Only if everybody's okay with it.