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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default How do you build your characters?

    Now, I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've realized that my method of character building has changed since I first started playing. When I was playing originally, I'd look at the capstone abilities for things, and aim for that - and I realized that I wouldn't really be happy with the build until I got them, at which point I really had nothing to look forward to.

    More recently, I've started looking less at the crunch, and more of the fluff - I do still look ahead slightly so that I don't gimp myself right now, but only a few levels or so, typically three, possibly more if it's a clearly defined character. Instead, I tend to look at what options are open to me, like with the Rogue I'm building in one game, I had the options of TWF, Stealthy, or Alertness as likely. And in a single game, I found that getting feebleminded then charmed sucks a big one, and my character refocussed his efforts on ensuring that didn't happen again (AKA took Iron Will).

    I'm curious, how do all of you build your characters? Do you tend to look at what you want them to be capable of in 6, 9, 12 levels? Or look maybe a couple levels ahead, but base things on what feels right, right now? Or is there another possibility out there that hasn't occurred to me?
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Zincorium's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    A lot more balanced than any of the options you give. If a prestige class that I think is needed to give my character certain abilities has massive prerequisites, then I'll plot out a way to get there within a reasonable time frame. Prestige classes with few odd requirements and flexible fluff may well be taken on a whim, my dwarven battlerager went into bear warrior because as I was reading the complete warrior, I noticed I met the prerequisites, it fit with the character, and I was up for another level. I then asked my DM about taking it.

    I've always put at least a little thought into late game, since there's always the possibility the campaign will go well and your character will get there. Usually it's just a general idea of what the character as it stands should look like at that point, and I'll update it whenever it seems like it no longer fits well.

    Lastly, I don't generally look at capstone abilities nearly as much as whether the PrC is worth it if I only am able to take a few levels or something else is a more appropriate option. Dervish is good at this, the capstone ability is nice, but taking one or two levels still gives some nifty stuff.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Dhavaer's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    D&D: I go for an ability/idea that sounds awesome, and built around that. Example: A Hexblade with a Winter Wolf mount/familiar.

    Modern: Same thing, but I'll more frequently go for a concept than a single ability. Example: 'Rose Tattoo could kill anything.' somehow became a character who was almost guaranteed to force a massive damage save on most opponents with throwing knives.
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    Dhavaer, your ideas are like candy from the sky, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I used to look at things like capstone abilities, and how powerful my character would be at levels 15-20, until I realised that 95% of D&D games never get that far.

    Nowadays I just focus on what my character can do now or next level, two levels ahead at the most. I've learned that by the time you get to the higher levels, things have always changed so drastically that your earlier plans will probably be irrelevant anyway.

    Besides, looking ahead too much can spoil your enjoyment of where you are right now. Stop and smell the flowers. :)

    - Saph

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Telonius's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I always work out my feat progression to level 15, and plan my skill points for the first three levels. That way I have a general plan for the future, but leave the specifics (which items to purchase, etc) for later. This has been a pretty flexible way of doing things for me. I have the big picture, but can make minor tweaks and changes if the need arises. Say, for example, that the party Rogue doesn't put anything into Diplomacy, and the campaign is heavy on the social interaction. My Cleric would be able to shift a few skill points over that way without too big of a problem. Or if it becomes obvious that we really need somebody with special ability x, which can be gotten with a feat. I'll be able to bump forward my feat progression and pick up that feat, without completely wrecking the build.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I generally produce a character whenever I get a new book, then I reread the book, then I produce another, then I decide that one's a little powerful for my group, and that I'm sick of playing standard races, so I slap a ECL level on there, and voila! All done.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I seldom look more than 1-2 levels ahead, and plan my character primarily around being effective now. I try to avoid "dead-end" builds (that is, builds that sacrifice a lot of effectiveness down the road to get a boost in the short term), but otherwise I don't pay much attention to the future of my build. Partly that's because I don't want to feel like I'm running a treadmill; I like making decisions and choices each time I level up. And partly it's because there's a good chance the character won't get a chance to level up more than 1 or 2 times, either because the campaign dies or because the character does.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
     
    ElfMonkGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Generally, I start with a basic character concept, though sometimes that concept can be mechanical and sometimes it can be creative.

    For instance, the last character I made had the concept of a guy who really couldn't dedicate himself to one thing, he liked new experiences and was really interested in many different abilities. So I pumped his intelligence and made him into a Rogue/Ranger/Scout. Then, I tossed in the secondary concept of, "Ooh, he can do sneak attack/skirmish attacks with wands!" and that helped to dictate his skill distribution; for instance, he maxed UMD.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    InfiniteMiller's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I come up with a class I'd like to try and then give the stereotype of that class some kind of twist for that particular character. For example, the paladin I'll be playing soon is still wet behind the ears and kind of shy and nervous, and often isn't taken seriously by those he has sworn to help (because of his young age). Kinda different from the Miko-style paladins, right?

    I try not to look too far ahead in the interest of roleplaying. I know that even by the time I get to choose my next feat, my paladin will likely have undergone some kind of character development that changes his priorities or something. I don't want to plan too far ahead because I'm counting on my DM to throw Shaky McPallypants (not real name) a few curveballs that will change the way he develops.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Sence the Warlock alignment has to be chaotic, or evil. I like to roleplay a human warlock who was simply born with eldrich talent but was raised in a society where people who had talents like his were burned at the stake, it makes for an intresting combination, someone who embraces eldrich power while at the same time trying to throw off all the evil superstition
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I usually figure out some interesting character concept, RP-wise, and then put it together. I'll tweak it a little to be more optimized (still not very optimized, just a little) but not at the expense of the concept.

    Examples:
    Paladin/Monk of Pelor, emphasis on healing and diplomacy, helping other people.

    Feral Bear Totem Barbarian/Bear Warrior, wearing specifically picked items that give him scent, +listen, uses unarmed strike when not a bear.

    a "know-it-all" wizard, diviner who speaks as many languages as possible, lots of points in knowledge skills, arcane thesis, not actually that useful except at learning things

    i originally just thought of a kindly wandering monk, wildman who turns into a bear (like Beorn in The Hobbit), and a character who knows all languages without using Comprehend Languages or Tongues

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Most of the characters, I make for fun. I decided arbitrarily on 11th level and now have around 40 characters of about that level. But when I make characters I like to think on how cool they are then, were in recent levels or will be in one or two levels yet to come. But when it comes down to it, I want it to be something really cool, both crunch and fluffwise...also, it needs to be drawable, as is my style.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krimm_Blackleaf View Post
    Most of the characters, I make for fun. I decided arbitrarily on 11th level and now have around 40 characters of about that level. But when I make characters I like to think on how cool they are then, were in recent levels or will be in one or two levels yet to come. But when it comes down to it, I want it to be something really cool, both crunch and fluffwise...also, it needs to be drawable, as is my style.
    I tend to do the same, and some of them are moonlighting as NPC's in a campaign I am slowly making.

    For inspiration, I usually see some class or prestige class that has a nifty ability that I like, and design the character with that in mind. This isn't to say that I am 100% crunch, more that I tend to like PRC that have huge requirements that aren't always easy to meet(Ranger/Shadowdancer anyone?), and so they take time to build up. Usually, I only concern myself with builds up to 15 level, partly because my DM's like higher level starts, like around level 9, and partly because I usually have the Prc at least met by then, so my character would be set for a while.

    Usually, the nifty ability is chosen because it matches something I had on my mind (the ranger is the head of special ops in his country, so I wanted a combat capable stealth specialist). He was going to be the Pc's boss/higher up, and it makes sense that he doesn't take out the threats instead of them because he is busy and they are trainees, and need to get some experience.
    Last edited by MeklorIlavator; 2007-04-18 at 07:02 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    i pick a class, race, and alignment, all the important crunch stuf, then i roll stats, and if i feel the need i'll change class or race to fit the idea better.

    so build a fluf from a basic core crunch, then build more crunch around that?
    that actuially sounds like an atractive icecream treat idea.
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  15. - Top - End - #15
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    During character creation I first think up a character concept on a basic level (a down home country boy archery ranger, a good elven wizard at philosophical odds with the good kingdom he grew up in) then build the crunch around that, taking care to emphasize the core of the character. In terms of min-maxing I do tend to try and make strong builds, but only if the combination makes sense for the character.

    After character creation I have a basic path planned out but tend to let the character grow organically on the specifics, for example my two handed hit-stuff Bear Totem orcish Barbarian had great respect for a samurai-ish fighter and she trained him to take a class level of fighter and Improved initiative, later on after the character had fought dragons on two seperate occasions and one of his friends had been captured by a powerful dragon he started training towards a Dragonslayer PRC. He kept to the core concept of a good-hearted but simple minded orc who was mechanically massively strong and high damage dealing character, but he was shaped by the in-game events that occured after character creation.
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I pick a party role (or multiple roles I want to fill) or a class that I like. Then I get a vague personality for the character.

    I decide on what I want him to beable to do, and pick my stats to be able to do it. From there, I define the personality further and play.

    Generally my first session with a character involves a lot of expermintation with personality based around my first principles.

    As far as looking ahead, if there is a PrC or feat I want, I look to be able to get it, other than that, I just play in the moment with stats and focus on character goals (which are sometimes set by Prc, sometimes not).
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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I usually have some ideas about Characters I would like to play. Then I wait what the other players choose and take a concept which fits in and a class which fills gaps.

    Then I am bored and start to optimise the character. Depending on how much time I have before the most important decisions are already done (and the first levels played and taken), I will make a real maxmin or just an average character.

    There were times where I looked mainly at the long run powers. Today I try to build the character in a way, in which it gets the basic features asap and only some advancement later on. Ofcourse, there exists an idea of a build till level 20.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Depends. I'm a pretty visual person, so if I see something that looks cool, I'll try to find a way to do it and do it well. Sometimes that means fluff first, sometimes crunch. Sometimes it means both build up off each other.

    So long as my characters are Doing Something Cool, I'm happy with 'em.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Diggorian's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    First question is, what do we have in the party already? I've been playing so long, I've got no specific preference. With a role in mind, I'll usually pick a new class I've just learned off to experiment with it.

    Roll my stats, place based on my class strengths. My mental stats help me form a personality. The personality and class informs my skill selection. My skills and abilities inform my feats taken. Everything so far determines the equipment I get.

    Hmm, just realized my lawful PCs often get soap, and my Chaotic ones almost always have alcohol.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Da Beast's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Usually I'll be reading a bit of text (crunch or fluff but usually crunch) and a vague idea will just pop into my head. From there I flesh the idea out until a personality emerges and then a whole character.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Interesting... I'm somewhat surprised, somewhat not. Seems most people tend to be guided during gameplay into choices they might not otherwise expect (the above dragonslayer/half-orc/etc being a neat story to read), which, given the tendency to "Build to 20" when running optimization exercises, wasn't entirely expected.

    Perhaps it's a result of the fact that many of us are seasoned players, and have gotten used to the fact that this character, starting at 1, or 5, or whatever, just MIGHT NOT reach level 15+?
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Ravyn's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    First step: see if anyone's already chosen anything. The last time I went first, I ended up with half the party on my toes, and besides, sometimes it helps me narrow down concepts.

    Second: Using what I know of the extant group layout, go through my list of concepts waiting to be used and see if anything leaps out at me. If successful, skip to 4.

    Third: If step 2 fails, read or otherwise immerse myself in potentially inspiring media until concept comes up and hits me in the nose.

    Fourth: Fluff a little, crunch a little, fluff a little, crunch a little, think think think, fluff a lot, crunch a little more... and (GM permitting), go into my usual "All right, let's see what kind of fitting magical item I come up with" sidethinking, story out a little more.... basically, I usually have a vague idea where the character wants to go, but it has a tendency to change. (Which explains, among other things, the delicate spymaster who somehow ended up making a hobby of recruiting armies as they came marching down on her.)
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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Fluff (background, appearance, style) is first.
    Crunch (appropriate feats, skills, atts, etc. )to back it up.
    Sometimes I'll do a 20 level build, sometimes not, depends on DM, campaign structure, etc.. . though I never expect to actually reach 20th.
    When looking at new crunch, or crunch that isn't innately part of the fluff, I tend to look for benefits now instead of later, but that's because it's not likely in my neck of the woods to actually see long term benefits of long term builds. We also tend to build at mid levels (5-7th, sometimes higher).
    Every once in a while crunch on the character sheet is inspired by a dramatic event in-game. (Had a paladin looking for levels in Kensai swear alegance to the Symbul once. Talked my DM into allowing me to convert my Paladin Levels into the Mystra-Paladin in Faiths of Faerun.)
    The first person who mentions "maturity" while we are discussing a complex game of "pretend" . . . loses.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Diggorian's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quietus View Post
    Perhaps it's a result of the fact that many of us are seasoned players, and have gotten used to the fact that this character, starting at 1, or 5, or whatever, just MIGHT NOT reach level 15+?
    For me it's a creative thing. I cant committ to a 20th level build in a campaign.

    My DM-made Raptoran Barbarian/scout was sucking so I made the cool concept of a Hobgoblin samurai-style fighter. Then I thought to become a Kensai which requires a monk or paladin dip. Before my next level ToB entered our group's allowed sources and my love affair with the Warblade began. It blended so well with my fighter levels I'm gonna see what it's like to have equal levels in both.

    The highest level characters I've had in D&D were a 14th level druid and a 20th level cleric. Both faced challenging, tough, or extreme encounters for their respective levels -- being high level just meant more feats, items, and spells to keep up with. The faster and higher up the levels I go the harder it is to ward off disbelief.

    What's the rush? I say.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Viscount Einstrauss's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Step One: I make a completely gut decision on what kind of character I want to play.
    Ex.- I'm totally hankering for a paladin today!
    Step Two: I get an image in my head of how I want this guy to look.
    Ex.- He's got two swords! Two is better than one! Awesome!
    Step Three: Backstory time. I need to explain why the character is what he/she is.
    Ex.- He was raised by monks after being abandoned by his father at a monastery. He was always destined to leave them, as he received a paladin's calling from the gods young in his life. The monks thus tried to teach the young paladin as best they could for the harsh realities of the outside world by explaining the duality of man, and how this duality was a necessity for balance. Thus, he carries twin swords to symbolize this duality- a humble recognizing that he himself has the same duality.
    Step Four: Crunch time. I now optimize as much as possible within the confines of the previous steps, usually up to level 20.
    Ex.- Yes, I realize THF "pwnz" TWF. But this dude is a TWF, so bite me. Now where can I find some good TWF tactical feats?
    Step Five: Revised backstory. Now that I've optimized, there might be some odd choices I made during crunch that could actually further the backstory in some way.
    Ex.- Yeah, the monks taught him this secret fighting style while he was there that he's spent the last few adventures honing. Pretty cool, huh?
    Step Six: ???
    Step Seven: Play the game!
    Last edited by Viscount Einstrauss; 2007-04-18 at 10:45 PM.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Matthew's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Nowadays I just focus on what my character can do now or next level, two levels ahead at the most. I've learned that by the time you get to the higher levels, things have always changed so drastically that your earlier plans will probably be irrelevant anyway.

    Besides, looking ahead too much can spoil your enjoyment of where you are right now. Stop and smell the flowers. :)
    Mechanics wise, I am on board with this view, and mechanics do matter when translating character concept to game character. Character Concept comes first, though it only applies to the starting level.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2007-04-18 at 11:03 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    MethodicalMeat's Avatar

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I've always looked for a defining feature or gimmick for my character then built form there, I rarely build "optomized" characters, kind of ruins the game for me.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    I typically think of a concept; the central idea or set of ideas behind the character. Then, I think of rules and abilities that can get me what I want. Then, I start with a base class. I then choose the race. By defualt I go with human; if I find a race that may augment the idea better, I can sac a level for adjustment (I NEVER play a race with more than a +1 LA. It's just a waste of time). Then, I choose feats for the first few levels and augment what I want to do with the character. Then I roll stats and figure HP's and Skill points. The last thing I do is get a PrC; I typically stick with one PrC, unless if it's a 3, 5, or 7 level PrC. Then, I name the character and go get random equipment.
    Funny, I always figured I'd be killed by a paladin.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    The Golden Rule:

    Screw power. Maximize enjoyable OOC playing time.

    I arrived at this rule after I made the barbarian/orc paragon/fighter who was -so dumb- I had to be intentionally oblivious to what the party was doing just to play his ignorance right.
    Of the Core classes, Bard is the best. It optimizes the most important resource of them all: play time.

    Grieve not greatly if thou be touched a-light, for an after-stroke is better if thou dare him smite.
    The Play with the Two-Hand Sword in Verse, circa 1430. British Museum manuscript #3542, ff 82-85.

    Current avatar: Sascha Kincaid, a lost country girl in a big city. Aldhaven: Vicious Betrayals

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Re: How do you build your characters?

    It varies, for me. I usually take a concept, which sometimes is based on a prestige class and sometimes is based off my first image of a character. (Sadly, some images aren't really workable, yet they're still floating around in the back of my head.)

    Ex. 1: I decide I'd like to play a dervish. Or a crusader. They look neat. Okay. Now I make him. Personality usually comes while I'm doing the crunch.

    Ex. 2: I come up with a rogue whose specialty is breaking and entering, with an attitude like he's a businessman rather than a crook. Probably dresses well. I go ahead and make him (he was a rogue with a level of wizard, using that variant that gets you fighter bonus feats in place of sneak attack).

    Ex. 3: Wait. I didn't go up to three. To distract you...

    Hmm, just realized my lawful PCs often get soap, and my Chaotic ones almost always have alcohol.
    ...You know how Good has holy water and evil has unholy water?

    Well, now we have lawful and chaotic equivalents. Hooray, the slaad hordes and formian legions can be turned back!
    Avatar by GryffonDurime. Thanks!

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