Dungeons & Dragons Next Will Emphasize Fast, Easy Character Creation

Dungeons & Dragons Next Will Emphasize Fast, Easy Character Creation

Equipment can be easily chosen from quick lists that map to class and background.

In a piece about selecting equipment for new characters, Dungeons & Dragons Next designer Mike Mearls has revealed that a "fundamental philosophy" in designing D&D Next has been a desire to make fast, pick up play of D&D a realistic possibility. "Long setup times are no longer the norm," wrote Mearls, "and gamers want to get into actual play as quickly as possible." Alongside this, Mearls described a system whereby players could choose their equipment as quickly as possible "from a short list of options" delineated by Class, background, and skill set. He stressed that this was different than the package sets of gear provided by past editions and wouldn't limit players one premade option per class.

"With D&D, we've always had the option for long, intricate, character creation sessions," said Merals. "However, the game hasn't supported truly quick character generation in many years." The sentiment is a familiar one for anyone in recent tabletop RPGs, stemming from some old school revival in indie RPG players' insistence that modern tabletop roleplaying games took too long to set up and play.

Dungeons & Dragons' Fifth Edition will release later this year.

Source: Wizards of the Coast

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Actually, with the Character Creator they had for 4E, it was pretty quick and easy to build a character, already.

It gives you the list of abilities & feats you can choose and nicely points out what kind of weapons and armour your class is skilled in. You can even deselect the supplements so that stuff from for example Divine Power doesnt show up in the lists, if I remember correctly.

So basically, they just managed to convert that to text form instead of a stand alone program?

Sounds good to me. Me and a few friends just started a little D&D group, but nobody except for me and DM had played before (and it had been a while since I'd played, so I wasn't familiar with anything unique to 4e), so guiding them through the rules and character creation took a while, even using the standard array. Streamlining that process sounds like a good idea.

Character creation? It wasn't that long to make a character. Just roll some dice, check some stuff, in a good 10 to 20 minutes you're ready to go...wait...that does take a bit of time actually...

In all honesty, I don't care about the character creation, just make combat back to where a rabbit could kill you at level 1. If I wanted to start out a powerhouse, I'd play something like WoW, I want to actually feel like I'm in a world playing D&D, and just starting out capable of taking on massive amounts of mobs is kind of bullshit.

Well as long as intricate and complex character creation is still an option, I'll be satisfied.

The character creation options in 4th edition were already a bit bare-boned to me, though the problem wasn't so much a lack of options as it was a wealth of options that were all virtually the same.

From my limited Pen&Paper experience, the fast character creation options like in Shadowrun 4, for example, were very lacking because the resulting power levels were very different from normally created characters (and because it wasn't that much faster to begin with, at least compared to the inofficial and cease&desisted SR4 char generator).

If the lists aren't too long, maybe it'd be good to move into a playing card style generation where you basically have 10 or so cards (each with 1 big or a few smaller items/skills) and choose one of them for a few categories, combine the cards and got a roughly balanced character.

I personally love creating new characters, even when they are just experimental and I'll never play them. It makes me read up certain aspects of the game's lore and rules and is quite enjoyable. However, it is certainly too complicated for new people and takes a lot of time.

klaynexas3:
In all honesty, I don't care about the character creation, just make combat back to where a rabbit could kill you at level 1. If I wanted to start out a powerhouse, I'd play something like WoW, I want to actually feel like I'm in a world playing D&D, and just starting out capable of taking on massive amounts of mobs is kind of bullshit.

My group's favorite first encounter is a small clowder of cats. It's fun to play into their innate cuteness and then sick 'em on the bard (since I've yet to meet a cat that doesn't hate musical instruments).

OT: As long as simplicity is optional, I have no issue. Hell, it WOULD be nice to whip these out in minutes, but I've had some great times making characters, some times more fun than the actual game.

I don't like this. I appreciate the need to pull casuals into the fold, to garner support for a dying game, but let's be honest. Casuals have to get over the "D&D is weird and for losers" stigma, WAAAAY before they get over the "Character creation is hard" stigma. Easy does not equate with attractive.

Keep D&D hard, because that's the wonderful thing about D&D! There is no cookie cutter builds that automatically equal win. I literally just created a Bardbarian warlord. He has a giant electric metal guitar made of skulls, with a giant hammer on the end. His name? MC HAMMER. He functions fine. Want to make a Thief/Warlock? Awesome. Gnomish Assassin/Fighter? Gonna be hard but go for it Hoss.

I don't want the game to pick my character for me. That is NOT D&D.

Just my $1.05.

It's worth noting in this thread that Mike Mearls isn't talking about taking away options for detailed, long-form character creation down to the last copper piece, but is saying that he wants to more thoroughly support fast play.

Item lists? I've already been using stuff like that for years. In any of my friends games, we can buy Basic Adventuring Pack and Deluxe Adventuring Pack. The basic pack has everything that would be in a basic adventuring, and the deluxe obviously has a much better variety of tools.

klaynexas3:
Character creation? It wasn't that long to make a character. Just roll some dice, check some stuff, in a good 10 to 20 minutes you're ready to go...wait...that does take a bit of time actually...

In all honesty, I don't care about the character creation, just make combat back to where a rabbit could kill you at level 1. If I wanted to start out a powerhouse, I'd play something like WoW, I want to actually feel like I'm in a world playing D&D, and just starting out capable of taking on massive amounts of mobs is kind of bullshit.

Reminds me of my first time ever to play D&D on pen and paper. Spent hours setting shit up, learning about the game, etc. And after the traditional hearing of a mysterious cave from a local pub, we set out for said cave. Traveling to the cave, we were set upon by rats that were gnawing on a corpse. Cakewalk, right? Except these rats somehow knew tactics, fuck you DM, and went straight past the rogue and the fighter to attack me, the wizard with 4 goddamn HP. Dead in the first round of combat. Yay.

Denamic:

klaynexas3:
Character creation? It wasn't that long to make a character. Just roll some dice, check some stuff, in a good 10 to 20 minutes you're ready to go...wait...that does take a bit of time actually...

In all honesty, I don't care about the character creation, just make combat back to where a rabbit could kill you at level 1. If I wanted to start out a powerhouse, I'd play something like WoW, I want to actually feel like I'm in a world playing D&D, and just starting out capable of taking on massive amounts of mobs is kind of bullshit.

Reminds me of my first time ever to play D&D on pen and paper. Spent hours setting shit up, learning about the game, etc. And after the traditional hearing of a mysterious cave from a local pub, we set out for said cave. Traveling to the cave, we were set upon by rats that were gnawing on a corpse. Cakewalk, right? Except these rats somehow knew tactics, fuck you DM, and went straight past the rogue and the fighter to attack me, the wizard with 4 goddamn HP. Dead in the first round of combat. Yay.

I really hate it when a DM doesnt rollplay the intelligence of monsters in combat. Like how does a beserking Orc and a rat have the same tactical decisions in the heat of combat as a trained guardsmen or a pack of wolves?

OT: I dont know what to make of this. I mean when ever i try out a new system it takes me a while to set up my first character, but when it comes to my second character (assuming the new char is low level) I can then make it in a few minutes.
I havnt played this system so i dont know how it works really (seems to be more similar to 2nd edition, can someone verify?) but if this is just the layout of the Player's Hand Book then they have my full support.

This sounds like garbage. Gear packages? When has picking equipment ever been a major hurdle towards getting a character up and running? How much hand waving are they going to do? Some of the appeal at times to making a good character is creating a well defined and detailed equipment list. Sure, there has always been incompetent fools who never buy the right gear or even bother with gear at all but canned, pre-packaged gear lists based on classes? Yay. Wash out any an all flavor remaining in the game.

I've always hated how there's not a more formal program/app for putting together a character. Walk me through each step of stat distribution, ask me what kind of character I wanna create morality wise/performance wise/endgame goal/life dream wise. And then once I've gotten through the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. like tutorial for character creation, let everything at the end be one giant character sheet with drop down menus and can be tweaked/edited to my leisure.

I've met ONE DM who was CLOSE to making Character Creation be only 15-30 minutes and that was over Skype and I had MULTIPLE people explaining things to me. Once we actually got playing, it was a total blast. The DM allowed us to 'save' and reload our saves and we actually managed to complete the entire event by escaping through a means he hadn't developed a counter response to. It's pretty awesome when you manage to outwit the DM in a way he's legitimately surprised and totally impressed by, because everyone walks away from the experience pretty satisfied.

But character creation and set up can really impede that whole experience if the right person(s) aren't handling it.

tehroc:
Item lists? I've already been using stuff like that for years. In any of my friends games, we can buy Basic Adventuring Pack and Deluxe Adventuring Pack. The basic pack has everything that would be in a basic adventuring, and the deluxe obviously has a much better variety of tools.

Yeah, from the full article it really seems like this is trying to fix a problem they already solved. I ran 4E Encounters for years (the program designed to get people into D&D who have never played before), and it was very rare that anyone had a problem with equipment selection, because they had the most bare-bones system possible:

1) Get a weapon. Sword/Axe for fighters, staff for wizards, whatever. All of three seconds to decide.
2) Get armour. Usually you just get the heaviest thing your class can wear, so again it's not really a difficult choice.
3) Get the Adventurer's Kit. It was a premade thing (15 gp, IIRC) that had all the basics: rope, bedroll, waterskin, torches, etc.
4) The specifics. If the person was playing a thief, I'd recommend the thieves tools, or a holy symbol for clerics. If the campaign was going to be a lot of outdoor climbing and exploring, I'd suggest a climber's kit. Again, very swift.

Picking equipment was usually the fastest thing by far in character creation, and the player had a bit of pocket change left over if there was anything else they decided the character needed, or if they just wanted spending money.

OT:
Mearls says that they will provide packs that "...are designed to focus on different skill sets, and include choices for dungeoneers and wilderness explorers, diplomats and entertainers, burglars, priests, and scholars." Sounds nifty, but not really necessary for most campaigns (certainly not the average starting campaign of D&D, where you would expect people to need help with something as simple as picking gear), or something that needs to be baked into the rules as the default for choosing gear.

My desire for D&D Next is constantly waxing and waning. I like some of the things, like bonded accuracy keeping monsters relevant for many levels, but a lot of the character design seems to be going through flowcharts of picking pre-selected groups of stuff(class->Race->Background->Skill Set->Equipment), and while they promise freedom and flexibility a lot of people are going to rely on what the company provides and presents rather than feeling free to explore the options.

New rules with quicker setup shouldn't threaten anyone who wants a long, granular and detailed character creation - there are plenty of games like that out there, whether it's prior editions of D&D or really crunchy stuff like Hero System and GURPS.

I don't know how interested I am in D&D Next, but that's because I'm already happy with d20 3.5 and now Pathfinder. However, anything that helps strip away some of the unavoidable tedium in getting people started and into the game is a worthy experiment. I thought 4e did that quite well, even though I ultimately decided it wasn't my cup of tea. However, if I was tasked with getting new people into gaming I would almost certainly go to my D&D Essentials books on my shelf behind me, rather than try and teach them Pathfinder.

I think a lot of tabletop veterans need to take a few steps back and realize that just because we can whip out a character from a half dozen systems and be ready to play in mere minutes it doesn't mean that such a task isn't time consuming and even intimidating to new folks.

Blaine Houle:
This sounds like garbage. Gear packages? When has picking equipment ever been a major hurdle towards getting a character up and running? How much hand waving are they going to do? Some of the appeal at times to making a good character is creating a well defined and detailed equipment list. Sure, there has always been incompetent fools who never buy the right gear or even bother with gear at all but canned, pre-packaged gear lists based on classes? Yay. Wash out any an all flavor remaining in the game.

Meanwhile, in Fate Core...

Frankly, I always thought the mundane equipment micromanagement fetish some people have in D&D was rather silly. Why on earth would anyone carry a 10 ft wooden pole? Where are they carrying it? Gear packages for starting adventurers just makes sense to me for the vast majorities of play styles. The only real exception I can see would be the gritty wilderness hex-crawl. And if you're playing that way, it's likely you have all the equipment you would carry memorized anyway and don't need a book to tell you that you need flint and tender to light fires.

Hmm, I wonder why it always took so long to create a character. Could it be because we had a lot of options to choose from? I suppose if you dumb it down and limit what choices there are than you do end up with a faster process.

But hey, go ahead, its not like D&D is a RPG or anything, not like we need a lot of choice and customization to be able to create the characters we want to play right?

I worry about "streamlining" the process to making characters in an RPG like D&D. It seems to only benefit people who don't care about the roll-playing aspect at all. I feel like making the character in the long form is an important step in being able to get yourself in their shoes. There was something to poring over the books to find the right balance between flavor and effect that brought your character to life in your eyes. I don't feel like it's possible to really get into the head of a character thrown together in under twenty minutes. How are you supposed to have a realized personality for a character in such a short time period. I find with all of my characters they evolve and become unique over the process of picking feats, skills, and weapons. How could that happen if you can spit a character out that quickly? I agree that making characters can be tedious, but I don't see any way to get at the heart of a role-playing experience without characters crafted with time and care.

I don't have too much of a problem with streamlined character creation, provided it doesn't take the place of the option to plug the details back in should you so wish. I haven't kept up on D&D Next, so I have little idea of what's going on with it currently, but IIRC that was the design philosophy they were going for - layers of complexity that can be plugged in or taken out without too much difficulty.

Still doesn't really flip my coin. Mind you, I don't have anything against this edition. It's probably perfectly serviceable and fun to play. It just doesn't grab my interest that strongly.

Meh. I'll probably just stick with Pathfinder.

So... templates?

The thing I love about RPGs is coming up with interesting characters within a stereotype, giving them a background and a goal to try and achieve.

VoidWanderer:
So... templates?

The thing I love about RPGs is coming up with interesting characters within a stereotype, giving them a background and a goal to try and achieve.

I've always thought that's the way to go. When I create a character, the nuts and bolts numbers, abilities and skills, and equipment and money... that's the easy part. I play several different systems and I don't consider any of them (well, maybe Palladium) to have character creations that are too long. The fun part is background, personality, goals, and skeletons in the closet. I always give the GM something that he can use in my characters backstory. Usually not to my benefit (they generally use it to screw with me, but when I GM I do the same,) but it creates a more personal adventure for me AND my comrades.

Deadlands (my favorite pnp game) has a great character creation process. It's class and level-less with plenty of character type "templates" to give new players an idea of what a type of character may need. A gunfighter will have fairly different skills than a mad scientist or a priest, but then again there's no reason a preacher can't be fast with with a .45. You just might have to sacrifice a couple of other things for the skills. But where Deadlands shines in character creation in 3 sections. First is a section called Edges and Hinderances where you can beat your character up with flaws to boost other abilities. Edges help you, and properly role-playing Hindrances is worth xp. Second, in drawing for ability scores (a deck of cards is used) some of the cards worth the best scores come with random problems of their own (a more powerful starting character may wind up with a dangerous supernatural foe, or a mysterious unlucky streak... etc.) And thirdly, each character sheet has a section called "My Worst Nightmare." That's EXACTLY what it sounds like and any good GM makes it manditory.

But the best part about roleplaying games is character creation O.O

I must admit that I never played D&D. Back in the day the go-to fantasy pen & paper RPG was The Dark Eye / Realms of Arkania and I stuck with it - particularly it's 3rd edition - since then. Stopped getting new supplements when they completely revamped the thing for the 4th - one of the changes was, by the way, a streamlined character creation.

ZamielTheHunter:
I worry about "streamlining" the process to making characters in an RPG like D&D. It seems to only benefit people who don't care about the roll-playing aspect at all. I feel like making the character in the long form is an important step in being able to get yourself in their shoes. There was something to poring over the books to find the right balance between flavor and effect that brought your character to life in your eyes. I don't feel like it's possible to really get into the head of a character thrown together in under twenty minutes. How are you supposed to have a realized personality for a character in such a short time period. I find with all of my characters they evolve and become unique over the process of picking feats, skills, and weapons. How could that happen if you can spit a character out that quickly? I agree that making characters can be tedious, but I don't see any way to get at the heart of a role-playing experience without characters crafted with time and care.

You see and I find it to be exactly the opposite. The more niggling little details you have to choose for your character the more it just becomes a pile of numbers, this has always been my issue with Pathfinder/3.5. Making characters in those systems takes so much combing through books and weighing feats and gear against each other that it can take hours by the end of which you have to remind yourself who the hell you were in the first place. Give me a game like Fate or Numenera with a sparse handful of mechanical choices to make and a lot of room for whatever personality and back story you want to bring to it any day of the week.

Valderis:
Hmm, I wonder why it always took so long to create a character. Could it be because we had a lot of options to choose from? I suppose if you dumb it down and limit what choices there are than you do end up with a faster process.

But hey, go ahead, its not like D&D is a RPG or anything, not like we need a lot of choice and customization to be able to create the characters we want to play right?

If every choice you made for your character was a feat, skill or piece of gear, I can't say you are much of a role player.

NOT ON MY WATCH.

Just kidding. It wouldn't hurt, I've DM'd several D&D campaigns and specially with new players, it was a pain. Often it took the whole first session just to create the sheets, which frankly isn't that appealing to convince the players to come a second time.

I just hope this won't mean generic chars like it did on 4th, for what I've heard. Aaaaand well if it does, who's gonna love my 3.5 books, if not me?

Scars Unseen:

Frankly, I always thought the mundane equipment micromanagement fetish some people have in D&D was rather silly. Why on earth would anyone carry a 10 ft wooden pole? Where are they carrying it? Gear packages for starting adventurers just makes sense to me for the vast majorities of play styles. The only real exception I can see would be the gritty wilderness hex-crawl. And if you're playing that way, it's likely you have all the equipment you would carry memorized anyway and don't need a book to tell you that you need flint and tender to light fires.

You kidding? One of the most hilarious sessions I've had DM'ing D&D was this one when I started going over every single item aviable for purchase in the general goods of the D&D player book. They started fighting over what and who should buy every little piece of crap that seemed remotely useful.

They ended up with, among maaaany many others, a mule, a wagon, and several barrels full of ale.

That, and of course the mythical 10ft wooden pole, which for some reason somebody buys every single campaign (playing with different people).

 

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