First time character creation summary - liked options, struggled with ability gen

Creating a Character

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

We sat down to our first playtest session last night, creating characters and just getting started in Doomsday Dawn. I lost TWO players due to family issues (such is life when you're middle aged) so my remaining two players created two characters each (Primus the Human Cleric, Secundus the Human (Half-Elf) Rogue, Tertius the Dwarf Fighter, and Drax the Goblin Sorcerer). On the upside, each player creating two characters gave them some extra experience and ability to experience how different classes were generated.

Overall we liked:
- The number of options characters had between ancestry, background, and classes. The players felt it easy to reflect a clear, specific concept at first level. (With the exception that since we were playing Doomsday Dawn, the choices of Background were extremely limited. _I_ as GM didn't like limiting them to that and it made their choices based on the available ability scores limited.)

- The choices for class feats, that helped define the character's role more.

Overall we struggled with:
- The circular nature of ability score generation. We used the default method in the book, and got very frustrated that you sort of need to know your ability scores before you flesh out your character (especially WRT saves, skills, etc.) and class, but you also can't fully generate your ability scores UNTIL you pick your ancestry, background, and class. This leads to a lot of flipping and rechecking and lengthened the amount of time it takes to create a character. We almost almost skipped the step of choosing four free boosts because we were also flipping around so much to check other abilities, etc. I can see it going faster as you get used to the system, but experience won't make the process any less circular.

- The idea of "ABC." It is pointless because you really do need to pick your class first, take note of your key ability, and then go through the other stuff afterward and pick your ability scores.

- Equipment selection -- all of the new descriptors/traits that weapons have in particular are new and overwhelming. Some of the descriptions were puzzling/confusingly written (my player who picked a glaive--deity's favored weapon--was having trouble understanding what its traits meant at first), and it forced a lot of cross referencing just to generate an equipment list. Ultimately, as we were anxious to get some adventuring in, we actually just picked some typical adventuring equipment we agreed everyone should have without looking too much at cost). We agreed it would be nice to have a pre-assembled "adventurer kit" of a backpack, bedroll, rations, waterskin, light source, and rope. (Not separate class kits like in UE, which felt extraneous and had random stuff like metal pots and a billion candles in them. Just one very simple adventuring package, and then buy specific "class feature items" separately).

- One player complained that his lower-Dex dwarf fighter in Medium armor had the same AC as the human rogue with good Dex in light armor for a much lower equipment cost. I personally don't have a problem with it--it's just different ways different "striker" roles achieve the same level of protection--but he did so I am pointing it out here. I think his main issue is that low Dex=higher equipment costs. (But again, I think that's a tradeoff for other things, and he wasn't accounting for how consistent his damage was compared to the rogue's).

- After a couple characters, the players were expecting EVERY class got a class feat at first level and got thrown when they realized they all didn't. This isn't a complaint, just something to note that they developed a consistent expectation quickly that then needed correcting.

- We all agreed crowbar being level 2 felt unfair, especially since it just provides a +1 bonus to Break attempts.

- The player using the official character sheet struggled a great deal with where to put what on his character sheet, especially as the character sheet sort of isn't in "order of creation" as it were. He was not using the guidelines in the rulebook itself because he had to flip back and forth so much in other sections already. (The other player was vision impaired and was just typing his stats into his laptop.) I think the player using the sheet would have had an easier time writing things down on a plain piece of paper (but he wanted to use the shiny new character sheet). This isn't a character creation problem per se more than it is a comment on sheet layout.

- Coming from decades of D&D/Pathfinder experience, the player making the human with the half-elf feat had trouble still grasping that effectively his character was still human and used human bases for hit points, movement, etc. We also all observed that of the four choices of ability the half-elf gets, two are easily optimal (low-light vision and boosted movement speed) and two are easily suboptimal (elven language and Trained in Diplomacy, which is easy to achieve otherwise, especially since humans get any one free bonus language anyway). I would suggest combining Elven Language and Trained in Diplomacy as ONE single option and adding one additional choice, like perhaps a free training in one elven weapon.

They were happy (so far) with the end results of their characters, but the learning curve, especially for experienced gamers, felt high--and indeed, ironically I think their being experienced PF1 and D&D players made them more prone to being confused, having to try to drop prior assumptions (which is easier said than done) and start from scratch.

Notes on Group Makeup I and the two players are all experienced gamers of at least a couple decades or more each. All of us have played multiple editions of D&D and Pathfinder 1e, among various other systems. I have GMed for about 10 years using 3.x and Pathfinder 1e. I am an experienced 1e player and have edited 1e as an independent contractor. We all had looked at the rules but this was our first time really reading and learning them. This was very much a learn-the-system-as-you-go session.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

You're echoing some of the same comments I had.

I did, eventually, figure out how to handle stats:

Draw a grid, 6 across and 4 down (or vice versa, one's stats, the other is which step of chargen: A, B, C, and F (standing for the "4 Free" boosts)). Only one mark can go in any cell and each row dictates how many marks go in that row.

Then add it up, 2 points each per mark (don't worry about the rule of 18: there's only 4 rows, so its mathematically impossible to go over).

My digital excel sheet handles it quite nicely, including the 4-free from level 5, 10, 15, and 20 the same way and in the same spot ("Flaw" ends up being its own row to make data entry and parsing uniform).

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Nice,that's a very good idea. Being a able to visualize it like that helps.

As I didn't think about it when I was posting earlier, here's what it looks like on the sheet (200% zoom, but still readable at 100%)

Attribute Boost Grid

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Player Rules / Creating a Character / First time character creation summary - liked options, struggled with ability gen All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Creating a Character