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Idea Man
2007-11-20, 11:51 PM
Has anyone made a character with a backstory, then let the game shape his build from there? Obviously, planning for a chosen prestige class has power advantages, but if power wasn't neccesary, would you drop the plan?

Or am I just insane? :smalltongue: Meh, probably.

Right now, I've got a 3rd level rogue with sailor skills and a rich-kid background in a pirate town. I've got the improved feint trick to keep me competetive, but no prestige plan of any kind. Our current adventure path may prompt me to take a level of fighter, wizard, or just stay with rogue. It's kind of liberating, actually.

Anybody else doing this? With any luck? Has it made for an unexpected class combo you weren't expecting?

Sornas
2007-11-21, 12:11 AM
I like the idea, and would love to play in a game that it worked for.

But that's the thing, this sort of thing is highly dependant on DM/Party members. Because DnD is such a stat based game, it can be difficult for the DM to set up appropriate challenges, as the CR system generally assumes that the players are statistically competent at their roles. (That wasn't a jab at you, honest @[email protected] You know what I mean.)

That being said, if you have a DM who is good at judging power levels, and a party that isn't stat-obsessed, it can be a ton of fun to let your character evolve naturally.

One more thing to note is that if you are in a game like this, PrC restrictions could probably be thrown out in favor of RP requirements. (Again, with a DM that is good with power balance) ^_^

Serpentine
2007-11-21, 12:15 AM
Goff's rogue has, I think, more or less gone like this. I think the only thing he's really done any planning for was moving into Thief Acrobat, but that was pretty a natural transition anyway that I don't think involved him having to go out of his way at all. He picks out feats that look fun and suit the character, not ones that will maximise his abilities at all. A side effect of this is that as a result he's almost impossible to hit :smallsigh:

Zincorium
2007-11-21, 12:21 AM
Going by your descriptions, ALL of my characters have been organic in nature.

While I generally have some sort of path I've picked out in advance, whether it's a character archetype or a particular prestige class selection, that path will change as I become familiar with the setting and type of game that I'm playing. Usually I'll wait to get any distinctly un-optimized feats or skill prerequisites until I can be sure the prestige class I'm thinking of is available to me.

Regarding a completely free-form character, that seems like it's a lot of uncertainty for a result that you can get just as easily through adaptive planning. As a character, it's extremely rare that you'd knowingly make a poor decision. "I'm going to stop practicing swordplay so much and dust off these tomes so I can cast a magic missile or two" might make sense at low levels, but after a while it should be obvious to any character with an interest in the arcane arts that magic missile just isn't going to cut it.

TheLogman
2007-11-21, 12:27 AM
For campaigns that are solid and structured, like the Horror Story Halloween Campaign story, where you are in a world with a theme ( in that case, TONS of Undead(, and all adventures involve that theme, an organic Character Creation works great. However, if you go to a Haunted Area, and take a level in Cleric, but never see Undead again, you could have made a big mistake. What if after a short sea story, where you take levels in Swashbuckeler, and ranks in Pirate, but never set foot on a boat again?

Feralgeist
2007-11-21, 12:38 AM
alot of pirate abilities work outside of boats, that's a bad example.

Yami
2007-11-21, 02:02 AM
Well, I've something of a character going on like that at the moment.

A friend of mine recently got back into town and offered to DM for me (^_^ huzzah being a PC again!). We started level one, with the premise of the campaign being 'Somehow Demons have been flooding into the Material plane. Your level 1. Go!'

So, I made myself a goblin, cuz really, demons?! The whole gobliniod humaniod bloodbath can be shelved, and I love the little underdogs. Backstory was that he trained for almost a full year under a wandering swordsage he met after his clan's overruning. But due to a bit of ego and impatience, left after he had 'mastered' the few manouvers he'd been learning.

So, we start out in a little villa that would like the local area cleaned. we do so, have a close call, and get back almost leveled. We didn't find the reward enough to our liking, so we took off.

I forgot to buy rations.

So for the next 3 days we have no random encounters, and I spent all my time running about the planes trying to leap on coneys so I can eat. We finally fight another nasty and I sit back to look at my character. I honestly hardly used my manouvers, just scouted, and then rushed from hinding for the stabbity. But I was a two-weapon fighter, so this seemed subpar.

So, barbarian with pounce. DM allowed it ingame considering, and I got to put ranks in survival. All were happy, and my goblin was fed!

Level three comes along and my tactics haven't changed. Make my listen checks, hide and ambush. Barbarian does not seem to fit this too well. Too much hiding. Perhaps rouge? The sneak attack would help, I inform my party, when one of them suggests the scout, as I had been bemoaning the loss of my loved +10ft movement (still worth it for pounce.)

So I go scout, thinking maybe to take rouge. The DM steps in and informs me I was all over the place, no one can have more than three non presteige classes. I really can't blame him.

Worst part? We're now exploring the catacombs under some temple to the goddess of vainity and magic and what do we keep running into? Locked doors. Sadly I've been forced into using my stock of alchemist fire in lue of lock picking skills. Ah well, now I'm fourth level with the last another scout. I'm thinking tempest, found whilest contemplating spring attack.

nerulean
2007-11-21, 07:28 AM
We're sort of doing this in the campaign I'm in at the moment. I say sort of, because we are all planning our characters in advance, but we're planning them out meticulously to match the concepts of the characters, taking into account everything that's going on with them in the world and adjusting the characters accordingly. We've ended up with a wizard with a bow he can't shoot, a fighter who wants to be a paladin and a bard who almost has less hit points than her little bogun friend, who coincidentally has the highest wisdom score of anyone in the party. We're horribly sub-par optimisation wise to the extent where I can't survive two rounds toe-to-toe with some CR 1 creatures at ECL 8, but I've never had more fun in any campaign.

Mr. Friendly
2007-11-21, 07:28 AM
That sounds like most of my characters. I have a certain directioon I want to go, but as events unfold... who knows.

F.L.
2007-11-21, 08:44 AM
Oh, I thought this thread was about making characters that'd be healthy for a monster to eat.

Gungnir
2007-11-21, 08:54 AM
My last character didn't really change much as the game went on, but he slowly got more cynical as time went on. Then when everyone lost all their gear, he pretty much went on a one way trip to angry-town. He wanted his wicked armor to turn into one of those family heirloom-ifacts that starts new plotlines. He was a bit too genre savvy.

Tyger
2007-11-21, 09:52 AM
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” - Burns.

This is almost my mantra for characters. I always start with these great plans of where the character is going, and what their progression will be all the way to level 20 (not that I've ever reached that, but you gotta dream!). Then, something happens. Maybe its a battle gone horribly wrong. Maybe its a innocent civilian dying in a terrible way. Maybe its a bit of writing I did that brought out a facet of the character that I hadn't previously anticipated. But something happens, and the next thing I know, we're off on a tangent that I never anticipated, taking skills/feats/classes previously undreamed of.

The sad part? When that happens, I immediately revise my level 20 plans again. Spending hours pouring over the various ideas and finally settling on where I must go next. Until the next "something" happens. :)

Green Bean
2007-11-21, 09:59 AM
Obviously, Warforged are right out... :smalltongue:

Reinboom
2007-11-21, 10:01 AM
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” - Burns.

This is almost my mantra for characters. I always start with these great plans of where the character is going, and what their progression will be all the way to level 20 (not that I've ever reached that, but you gotta dream!). Then, something happens. Maybe its a battle gone horribly wrong. Maybe its a innocent civilian dying in a terrible way. Maybe its a bit of writing I did that brought out a facet of the character that I hadn't previously anticipated. But something happens, and the next thing I know, we're off on a tangent that I never anticipated, taking skills/feats/classes previously undreamed of.

The sad part? When that happens, I immediately revise my level 20 plans again. Spending hours pouring over the various ideas and finally settling on where I must go next. Until the next "something" happens. :)

I also do this. I excessively plan and build and draw out where my character is going and what it's going to do.
Then in the middle of playing, realize "hmm.. this is no longer what the character would do..." and change the route.
The issue with this, however, is that I can't really do this if retraining isn't allowed. There are few classes that you can 'organically' mold into without nerfing yourself. It would be viable if everyone in the group did it... but... that's rare.

I wonder how a game would run if you built a character, then the DM 'molded' your character for you as you leveled. Hmm.

Tyger
2007-11-21, 10:05 AM
You'd have to have one hell of a trusting relationship with that DM. Most players are far too wrapped up in free will (and rightly so) to turn over something as fundamental as character progression to the DM.

That said, its an interesting idea, and I may just pitch it to my group for our next campaign.

Satyr
2007-11-21, 10:13 AM
The problem is that this kind of character development is limited by a class and level system. You have, effectively, only 20 steps of character development, and mixing them is normally punished by the rules - a non focussed character has sometimes difficulties to be en par with the Challenge Rating that is recommended for his level.
Take good old Conan the Cimmerian as an example: He was born as a barbarian, and participated in border skirmishes and clan wars in the high north. Then he went southwards and worked several years as a thief, visiting the tower of the elephant etc. From an organic character creation perspective, this probably means he takes one to three levels as a Rogue. After some assassinations Conan goes north again to sell his sword as a mercenary. Fighting in closed battle lines, wears armor, learns more about warfare. Which is translated into: Multiclasses into fighter. He also becomes a pirate (as far as I know there is no real Pirate class, but for the sake of this example, let’s assume there is), a commander of mercenaries and barbarians from the southern jungles, a kozak and after a lot of fighting, king (which is probably a very exclusive prestige class). As a D&D Character he would probably look like Barbarian 5/Rogue 2/Fighter 3/Pirate 2/Marshal 3 King 3. With feats like Weapon Focus, Leadership and Mounted Warrior. Even with his superior ability scores, that's not really an optimized (or even a good) build.
This can be avoided by using gestalt rules, but that offers other problems.
From my experience, non-abused gestalt characters are much more interesting and multi-facetted than the often and compulsory very stereotype standard characters. (Abused gestalt characters are just as stereotype and one dimensional, just more powerful).

AKA_Bait
2007-11-21, 10:40 AM
Well, frankly, I'd always thought of this, or at least adaptive planning, as the way character development was supposed to go anyway. If my character isn't shaped both mechanically and in RP by the circumstances I've always felt that I'm metagaming. That's not to say that the character can't have a general plan but there should be plenty of wiggle room in the plan for the character to become whatever the plot makes more likley and reasonable.

For example, the same Rogue character could end up a shadowdancer (if they are around and he has a reason to take perform: dance) or an Arcane Trickster (if dabbling in sorcery seems like a good idea for some reason). He's still on a roguish path but it's a wide rather than narrow one.

Reinboom
2007-11-21, 11:13 AM
-snip-
This can be avoided by using gestalt rules, but that offers other problems.
From my experience, non-abused gestalt characters are much more interesting and multi-facetted than the often and compulsory very stereotype standard characters. (Abused gestalt characters are just as stereotype and one dimensional, just more powerful).


You'd have to have one hell of a trusting relationship with that DM. Most players are far too wrapped up in free will (and rightly so) to turn over something as fundamental as character progression to the DM.

That said, its an interesting idea, and I may just pitch it to my group for our next campaign.


Hmm... this gives me a different idea.
You build one half of your character. The DM builds the other half of your gestalt based on your actions.