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Character creation is typically the first step taken by the players (as opposed to the gamemaster) in preparation for a game. The result of character creation is a direct characterization that is recorded on a character sheet. In its most comprehensive form it includes not only a game-specific representation of the character's physical, mental, psychological and social properties in terms of statistics, but also often less formal descriptions of the character’s physical appearance, personality, personal back-story (“background”) and possessions.

Character advancement refers to the improvement of a character’s statistics later in the game. The player will modify existing stats and add new ones, usually by spending experience points or when gaining a new experience level. Character advancement typically uses similar rules as character creation.

The term character development is, in some contexts, used interchangeably with character advancement (in a sense similar to professional development or Human Development), whereas elsewhere character development refers instead to the player’s indirect characterization of the character through role-playing (in a sense similar to film developing).

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