A Beginner’s guide to Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games Part 4 – Getting ready to play your first game :Tips for creating your first character.

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Congratulations, I bet you that by now you have had a good look over your new RPG purchases and flipped through the manuals a few times. I also hope that because of your research you have made a few connections with the gaming community in your area and now you want to sit down and try and get in some serious Roleplaying gaming time like any any bad ass level 1 Barbarian should.

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    What I would like to do in this segment of a Beginner’s Guide to Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games is slowly get you set up for your first big game as a player. (A quick note on here about GMing/DMing: we will be discussing the role of Game/Dungeon mastering in a later post because I truly feel you should play as a character for a bit to get a real feel for the game mechanics and overview of the game before you move forward as this is the most logical progression of game play.) Another good piece of advice is that I would recommend playing with a lot of different GM’s when you first start out, so you get a good over view of the different styles and personalities of GM’s/DM’s,that way you know what will feel comfortable for you and you can find a GM that fits your style of play as you are slowly progressing with the game.

Let’s begin now with the character creation process for you first PC (Player Character). more than likely you have flipped through either the core rule book or the Player’s handbook when you got your new RPG game home. (If not now is the time to get it out and crack it open.) The first thing I would like you to do is to flip to the section on character creation. Now if this looks really daunting, and believe me at times it can be, I highly recommend you looking for a premade character or a character prototype and come back to this post later on when you feel more comfortable, no one will hold it against you.

Pathfinder_1037Players Handbook 3GURPS_Characters (Some of the Core manuals and Players Handbooks)

One of the things I truly believe is that character creation is one of the biggest and one of the most underrated things that you have to do in roleplaying games.What you need to think of creating a character is really like creating an extension of yourself. You are the author and basically you are writing your own heroic novel. Within the rules of play, you can create basically any kind of character to your liking. For instance I love playing Monks, Taoist sages and other cool wuxia heroes that are reminiscent of my favourite kung fu and wuxia films and novels. You on the other hand may want to create an elven ranger like Legolas from Lord of the Rings ( Man Orlando Bloom kicked ass in that film, it practically made his career) or James Bond if you are playing a spy themed or universal style of game campaign. Karen for instance loves ninjas, so when we are playing  Pathfinder or any Asian inspired themes you can bet your  bottom dollar that a bad ass ninja will be present. The choice is endless so really think what you would really want to play as.

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When white Gandalf reveals himself to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas

Hopefully now you got the chapter to character creation open in your manual. Also you had some time to think what you would really like to play. Now the first thing I would like you to do is find the character sheet (template) and go and photocopy it. Better yet look on line for for personalized blank character sheets because a lot of times the homemade sheets are 10 times better than what comes in the book or in my case box. I had bought the Dungeons and & Dragons starter kit, (the new red box) and I found that their character sheets were the worst to fill out because they don’t allow you to fill out the complete information, like feats, powers and magic items. I found that out the hard way in an embarrassing situation playing my first 4e game. Because I had no feats or power stats, I had to keep looking them up and it slowed down the game considerably and was a frustration to every one playing including me. If you are really crafty you can come up with some really ingenious designs and create characters that both look cool and function well. To also make your life easier I am also going to leave you with some links to some websites that have some really cool and useful character sheets.

AD&DDownloads – Excellent assortment of character sheets for all versions of Dungeons and Dragons

Pathfinder database – A wide assortment of pathfinder character sheets

SJGamesGURPS character sheets (Official)

Evil Hat Productions – Downloadable Character sheets for the new and really cool game Fate(when you get a chance check it out.

Pinnacle Entertainment group – Character sheets and other goodies for Savage Worlds

RPG Drive thru and RPG Now – Two really great sources for indie character sheets and the works. Can’t find what you are looking for check out these two great sites they will probably have what you need.

Another thing that I would also highly recommend is online character generators, (although I do feel that you should really learn the basics of character creation first. just because characters generators make it easier to create characters doesn’t mean that it can’t become a crutch. For instance having to roll up a character in front of the GM using only dice and a book or having no internet connection which some generators rely on.) because they are extremely handy in creating your characters. They take the guess work and math of all the modifiers and stats out which really saves time and future headaches. Kind of like having a really good tax program at tax time, so you are not scratching your head in vain. Look for good character generators by reading reviews from other players. also check game developers like Wizards of the Coast who have a official up to date character generator for Dungeons and Dragons. Be forewarned though some of these generators you must pay a monthly subscription for. here are some links that I found to some really useful character generators (some of which are free).

Javascript Dungeons and Dragons character generator for 4E- You must be connected to the internet to use this generator but let me tell you for a free 4e generator this is one of the best hands down. (this is my 4E generator that I use).

Here is the Javascript 3.5 version character generator for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5E

PCGen– A downloadable free interactive character generator for Pathfinder, which can be used offline. I use it as my pathfinder go to generator, and a ton of my pathfinder campaign mates use it, highly recommended.

Hero lab – Yes it costs a subscription and for obtaining different modules, but if you are like me and play a wide variety of different pen and paper roleplaying games (especially in the D20 variety) this is a worthy investment. Check out the trial version to see if it suites you as the trial is free.

GURPS character sheet – an interactive program for creating characters to play in GURPS

But what if I don’t want to use a character generator but still want to have the ease of character creation with out using a pre generated character you ask. I would probably suggest to you what is called a character build. It is a self guideline for creating certain classes by listing what stats should be highest and what skills,feats,powers,items,magic that your character should have. it takes all the guess work out of what you need to create a fully formed optimized character. Some Players manuals like Dungeons and Dragons have them, also look online for personalized custom builds and tips in creating your character. Remember though that personalized builds online were created for that player and that players style might be completely different than you. Here is a good example of that for you, that player might use his character for aggressive out front attacks. You on the other hand are more comfortable at the back or within the group itself than being a walking tank. So that character that you seen online might not be optimized for your needs as you are more of a defensive personality.  Remember also that builds are merely guidelines. If you want to fight with an war axe instead of a sword, or prefer monkey style to dragon style go for it. As long as you are complying with the basic rules the sky is the limit.

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Posted on December 5, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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