Thursday, April 23, 2009

Character Creation Theory

We often argue around the table about how good certain classes are and why some suck. The hottest arguments always seem to develop around the bard. So today I'm going to explain what makes for a good* character (in my opinion).

*By good I don't mean fun, I mean effective

1. Spells. Most classes that can cast spells are better then those that cannot. With the right selection of spells you can accomplish just about any task. Wizards are the best example. By 5th level +, wizards are walking swiss army knives that have the ability to solve just about any problem. Can they do it all? No, but if they can't fix a problem today they can usually come back tommorrow and fix it.

2. Specialization. A careful balance has to be achieved here. Over specialize and your character will have glaring weakness or won't be usefull 80% of the time. The biggest divide is combat vs non-combat. Ideally your character won't be completely useless in either scenario (especially combat which chews up the majority of game time). The trick is to pick something and make your character really good at it. Spells need high DCs to be effective and melee characters need a to be able to hit to do damage. Ideally an adventuring party are all really good at different things.

3. Synergy. I am a sorceror and my Cha is really high. Great! now look around for other things that play off your charisma. Pick up some talky skills, pick up feats that allow you to add your Cha bonus to saves. These things require some research can can have a huge payoff.

4. Flexibility. As I mentioned in Specialization, having one trick is good, having many is better. The game is designed to require a wide variety of solutions and if you can only do one thing you'll find yourself standing in the back twiddling your thumbs often.

Now I admit playing a wizard all of the times gets a little boring and sometimes its fun to slum it with "lesser classes" but some of the same rules still apply. If you are going to do something you might as well do it well. If you want to be an archer, don't pick a bard (ranger, fighter, and yes even cleric are all better choices). If you want to be a blaster don't pick a warmage. Sure they can blast alright but a sorceror can do it almost as well and still has a massive spell list letting them teleport around, scry, conjure monsters, etc. Warmages are over specialized with no flexibility. Bards are the opposite. They can a little bit of everything but don't do anything particularly well. They are good buffers but if all you want to do is hide in the back and sing then why bother playing? Other classes can buff just as well and still be very good at other things.

I'm sure lots of people won't fully agree with this post and I welcome any comments.

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