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I am starting out as a DM in my third D&D game (first as a DM), and during my time making a world and an adventurer I found out that the characters playing your game (ingame characters of the players) can make or break your game because of their personality.

And since 3 out of 5 players will be new to this whole thing, I am wondering if I should let them decide their characters or rather create one for them (based on what I know about their personality of course).

I don't want to restrict them but I am also afraid of having some of the new players creating some kind of boring character that maybe would decrease the fun / immersion of the game ?

So I'm stuck at what I can do between ,

  • Restrict the players y giving them a set of adventurers and letting them choose who wants to be who
  • don't restrict the players at all
  • Let them make characters but tell them I need to approve them first
  • tell them we need at least one type A character and one type B character
  • prohibit them from creating (for example) a depressive character with self-loathing

(not that any of them are depressed)

What do people usually do when playing with new players (about character creation)

Also: could I just let them create generic characters and let them develop a personality in game while we play (i.e. over multiple games)

ps.: These characters will be used (if all goes well) for multiple adventures so they can level up and gain subclasses etc etc..

I am sorry if this question is wrongly aske, I am still fairly new to this forum, please tell me if I would need to change anything and i'll do so :)

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closed as unclear what you're asking by SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '16 at 14:30

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What edition are you playing? (You can add that as a tag.) It kind of matters for this more than you might expect. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jun 20 '16 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, this needs to say which game is being asked about. An answer for (e.g.) D&D 4e could be wildly different from an answer for (e.g.) B/X D&D. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '16 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honesly guys, sorry if I asked a wrong question, I have no idea what edition we will end up playing, I am figuring out a whole lot of things as I go and once in a while when I have something I don't really find an answer to, I check for a solution by asking here.... \$\endgroup\$ – Rafael Lambelin Jun 22 '16 at 6:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear this is my first D&D game as DM and my third in total, so not 100 ready with all the decisions.. \$\endgroup\$ – Rafael Lambelin Jun 22 '16 at 6:08
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I would recommend you to to monitor the creation of PCs while discussing the choices taken by the players and explaining the expectations of the game. Try to explain issues instead of simply barring anything that you see as possibly problematic. Overall, the effect you want is not "urgh, that nasty GM told me I couldn't play a pacifist barbarian half-drow, what a jerk" but rather "thank heavens our GM told me how my character concept could be improved to make the game more fun for everyone, me included".

I'm going to address two dimensions of this: the fiction/drama side (personalities, backgrounds etc) and the mechanical (class choices, roles etc).

Fiction and drama

Restricting player characters in terms of their motivations and personalities is perfectly normal and is used to weed out some known problematic combinations. One thing I tend to do is blast the players with some expectations for their characters up-front:

Since this is a co-operative game, you'll have to have a reason to stick together. No one's playing a Chaotic Evil trickster who screws stuff up simply because they can.

Or

Since we're trying to have an adventure here, create a character who has a reason to be adventuring. Don't create edgy anti-heroes who will have to be constantly coaxed to do anything.

Or

This is going to be a combat oriented game. Your character shouldn't be a strict pacifist.

Or

This is going to be a serious game, don't create a joke character.

Tailored to whatever suits your game, of course. The style of the game should match your players' expectations, but some things might be more mechanically hard to change. For example DnD 4e works quite well for both serious campaigns and silly ones, but far better for combat-heavy campaigns than more drama-oriented ones.

This stuff is good to do, because it helps people understand what's expected of their characters and avoids future conflicts (often caused by My Guy Syndrome). However, take the time to explain why anything you'd bar is problematic. Your players will understand.

Mechanics

It'd also be wise to go through expectations mechanics-wise. For example, in DnD, classes tend to have quite well-defined roles in the party: clerics heal, barbarians smash, paladins protect, etc. It's the best to be open and up-front about this to your party too - especially new roleplayers might not be aware how rigid this structure can occasionally be.

Trying to uphold a "one of each type" rule may come naturally after the realization, as the players realize it's smart to have characters of each type, but if it doesn't, many lacking archetypes in class choices can be worked around by the GM. For example, if the party lacks a character capable of healing, you can tag along an NPC healer or give them easier access to healing potions or charms.

Another important concept in some DnD editions is class tiers (for introduction, see What are "tiers", and what tier is each class?). In short, the best tiers tend to be both very versatile and powerful, often able to dominate a lower-tier character even in things the lower-tier class specializes in.

You'll want to avoid pairing a powerful and versatile class with a party of mostly weaker classes, because that makes it harder for other players to get their share of success and will likely make the game feel pointless to them. This is harder to work around, so if you're playing an edition where significant power disparity exists between classes, it might be wise to openly ask players to reconsider if they pick characters of vastly different tiers.

EDIT: However, as pointed out in the comments to this answer, class tiers tend to kick in at later levels of play only. So while a high-level wizard might be able to outdo any other member of their party, this is not likely to be a concern for a long while.

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Having this conversation is a good thing. If you say "don't create a chaotic evil trickster that just wants to go around screwing things up" and three of your party reply "but that's the sort of game I want!" then maybe you should run something else, or someone else should DM. \$\endgroup\$ – timje Jun 20 '16 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @timje Yep, that's the point where you'll throw up your hands, smile, and say "Well, we'll try having a chaotic evil trickster game then" ;) \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Jun 20 '16 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @timje I think that's important enough to be part of the answer, actually. As the DM, you should be saying "we're going to be playing this kind of game" and making sure the players keep to it, but when you do, it should be because you know that that sort of game is the kind that you'll all get the most fun out of. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Jun 20 '16 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quick note on tiers: I've found that they only really come into play somewhat later in the game. At lower levels (say <= 6th for sure), the casters don't have as much versatility (notably because they don't have much money to get scrolls/wands/...), there's not many flying foes, ... so the dumb smashing hulking brute works well (in combat). Oh; and avoid healing in combat if possible. The healing/damage mechanics are tilted in favor of damages; so healing is a subpar action. It's something that might surprise players used to other games. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jun 20 '16 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Matthieu, I second that. Plenty of campaigns never get past level 6, and IME with players who take what they're given, the wizard is the burniest, fighter's the toughest, rogue is the sneakiest, etc., as one might expect. I wouldn't worry about that nearly as much as playing a class that looks like it'll support the kind of thing you find fun. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Jun 20 '16 at 12:47
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This is going to be all about how you present the issue to your players.

Presenting interdictions and constraints will be frustrating for all players, both new and experimented.

Instead, provide guidelines to character creation, focus on what you player can be rather than what they can't be. This will allow for more consistency among the party (and may be a good way to create bond between characters).

e.g. all characters should have an outlaw past, etc.

For your new players, you can prepare a few pregen characters. Even if no one want to use them, they can still work at examples for the kind of character you want in your game.

On a not-so-unrelated note, you can also make all the players create their character together so everyone is on the same page (and the experimented can help the other).

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I recommend you not to create pre-gen character, because it will be counterproductive. When you give to a player a character sheet, you don't give him exactly what is on your mind, you just give him clues on how to play the character. That is a good thing, otherwise the game would be pretty boring, but it means also that the way the PC will act will not be the way you imagined it.

However, that doesn't mean you can't control which PC the players are creating. Let them explain who their character his, why he is interesting, and ask for modifications if you see something that will not fit in your game. You don't have to justify, but you should let players do what they want unless you have a good reason to think it will ruin the game. For example, a psychopath on a game about moral dilemmas can be vetoed, but one who is afraid of spiders should not just because you think being afraid of spiders is not cool.

After all this, you still can modify their character by adding details to their background. That player told nothing about his father, ask him if it bothers him if his father is actually a famous bard, or whatever ! It is easier than it looks to make a character more interesting just by giving him an interesting background.

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