Is there a way to better piece together characters without leaving anything out and without taking a overly long time to do so?
You see, any way this can be answered is with OUR definition of 'an overly long time' , which others may mention; is a matter of perspective. With that in mind, here are my suggestions on swift character building from my perspective of 'a long time' .
First, time = effort, and effort = great characters more often than not. This does not go to say that experienced adventurers can't roll up a fresh character with a complete history and backstory and personality quirks in about an hour, but that comes with time and experience. That being said, I don't think your worry should be 'How do I speed up character creation during a session?'
Suggestions may include having pre generated characters, and that's great for some people, but most will think why use a pregen when you can make your own unique character? My best advice is to scout out potential new players and introduce them to your campaign BEFORE the next session, never during. The campaign I take part in does this process beforehand and it works very efficiently. The focus should be on introducing them to the setting, getting them a handbook or a PDF of it if this is a game you play in person, and going over character creation.
Efficient Character Creation
- Have a concept/archetypal character in mind
If someone wants to be the stealthy criminal thief who stabs people in the back from the shadows and steals from the wealthy and.... keeps it all for himself? There's a place for that. Character creation goes much more swiftly with an ideal in mind beforehand.
While the rest are in no particular order, if your new player has no idea where to start as a basis? Reading the lore entry in the Players Hand Book for each race might offer great ideas. If your player is someone who likes to min/max character stats and abilities? This is also a good start. Write the ability score bonuses and any proficiency, language, and feats/abilities they might gain.
This will the basis of what role they play in the game, both in and out of combat, and is an important choice. If the new character is below level 3? Go no farther than choosing the base class. Worrying about the 'specialty' , the archetype or school of magic or type of druid they want to be for later will eat up more time than required if they aren't the requisite level for that to yet matter. After you have chosen a class, don't worry about it's list of proficiencies just yet, we can come back to this after the next step.
The background is one of the most important choices and impacts how the character fits into the world, why, and how the player will roleplay or otherwise behave as this character, and shouldn't be rushed. To speed through the background process? Have them roll randomly on each of the Bond, Flaws, Traits type tables and take the first roll. The background choice also grants you bonus proficiency and skills that you'll want to add to the character sheet before you choose from the class choices, to make sure you don't potentially select one your background already gives you for free.
This is the stage where you can return to the pages dealing with your class selection, roll your ability scores, and assign them appropriately taking the printed recommendation for primary stats for each class into consideration; adding any bonuses from your racial choice where applicable. Select your proficient skills to add to what your background granted you, and then select your starting package (or roll for gold and buy equipment and items).
Viola. All that's left is to transfer the relevant list of skills, abilities, and/or spells the character knows for it's current level into the character sheet and you're finished. Whether or not you are building this character in session or not, I recommend following the same steps. More time will grant your new player more focus on character building, but if your only option is to make a character during the session in question? This is the swiftest way to do so without leaving anything out and without having to go back to reference pages you were already looking at.
After the player has sat in for a session or 2 of non character building, and start to have the hang of the game, then they can pick out possible feats, their class specialty, and look in to abilities that will become relevant later as they level up without slowing down initial character creation.