bakho
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Sun 6 Dec 2020
at 23:53
Premade character concepts
Oh collective wisdom of RPoL, what do you think about campaigns with premade character concepts?
nauthiz
 subscriber, 688 posts
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 00:33
Premade character concepts
Pre-gens (of some variety or another) are fine, as long as the GM is up front about things, especially why they're choosing to use them.  There's lots of reasons to go that route and it's always better if everybody starts on the same page and knows what goals are trying to be achieved.

If there's some room for customization, all the better.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:34, Mon 07 Dec 2020.

facemaker329
 member, 7289 posts
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 01:25
Premade character concepts
Depends on the situation...but if I know, in advance, that I'm taking a pre-made character when I start in on a campaign, I'm fine with that.  It's when/if I want to join a game, they say yes, and THEN say, "Oh, by the way, you have to choose one of THESE characters to play," it's off-putting (especially if there's no options to customize anything about the character.)

But some of my favorite gaming experiences have involved playing pre-gen characters, either here on RPOL or at a convention.
silentmouse
 member, 15 posts
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 01:41
Premade character concepts
I can see it being helpful for new players that might not know how to set up a character as well. It would give them a chance to understand how to make one with the example.
Greymist
 member, 6 posts
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 03:58
Premade character concepts
As a player I wouldn't mind with some caveats:
  • cosmetic changes should be allowed; e.g. gender, personality, etc.
  • all the players get pre-gens not just some
  • everyone plays the pre-gen as written (mechanics); no letting the whiner make mechanical changes

bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 11:19
Premade character concepts
It seems that a lot of appeal of a new game is in coming up with a new concept, whether mechanically or with their backstory, or both.

I'm asking because I started a new game with premade concepts (so the characters are not stated out yet, there are just some rough pointers about that), and I seem to be getting quite a few comments that offering premade concepts makes it look like I don't "trust new players". To me, that's such a weird formulation. It's not about trust at all. I have a clear idea about the campaign arc and the themes I'd like to explore with the game, and the characters involved are a big part of that. Leaving it to the creativity of applicants, I'd get a very different game.
Imladir
 member, 48 posts
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 13:07
Premade character concepts
Thing is, in your first recruitment post, you talk about "premade characters", not "premade concepts".

While I don't think anyone would have any issue with the latter (after all, everyone expects a group to cover a wide array of skills/abilities, no matter the game), the former implies that the characters are set in stone. Saying "I want a wizard specializing in transmutation coming from Breland, a TWF fighter from the Deneith and an orc cleric of the knowledge domains" is not the same thing at all as "here's your wizard, your fighter and your cleric". In essence, it all depends on the level of customization offered. Some will want all or nothing, some will be fine with (well made) premade, the important thing is that everyone is clear on what's happening exactly, particularly what you're willing to negotiate and what's set in stone.

From what I see of your game, while system-wise the characters only have their classes defined, background, appearance and psychology are pretty much set. To a lot of people that'd be just fine. For myself, I wouldn't want it: I don't really care about system details (I mean, if you want that spell instead of that one, meh ok, whatev') but if I don't define the background, the appearance and the psychology, I feel like I'm not playing my character but someone else's.

tl;dr: as long as everything is clear from the beginning, there shouldn't be any problem whatsoever.
bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 15:17
Premade character concepts
Yeah, you're right. They're not really premade characters, just defined concepts.
evileeyore
 member, 423 posts
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 17:42
Re: Premade character concepts
bakho:
Yeah, you're right. They're not really premade characters, just defined concepts.

What do you mean by "concepts"?  Like, battlefield controller, healer, tank, damage dealer... or like Wizard, Warrior, Wastrel... or like "Naive Farmbot', 'Pragmatic Princeling', 'Underhanded Smuckler'?

Because the first lets you manage group 'combat expectations', the second gives you a loose idea of future battlefield/social encounter expectations but gives the Players more control, and the last one takes an awful lot of "roleplaying possibility" out of the Player's hands.

All three are fine by me as a Player, but you'll get very different results depending on what you mean.

And as noted, even Completely Premade Characters will get you people who will show up to play, just ignore all the "Don't you trust your Players?" questions.  Because if you do go the Completely Premade route, no, clearly you don't trust the Players to make what you need for the campaign.  If they don't like it (and many won't) there are plenty of games out there for them and still plenty of Players for you (just the Completely Premade route does have less enthusiasts, so instead turnign away droves once you've filled the roster, you might only turn away a few people).
bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 17:54
Re: Premade character concepts
The last. I basically have a one page concept for the character, which includes a descriptor in a few words (e.g. your 'Pragmatic Princeling'), a few paragraphs on how they fit in the campaign, and one hook and one quirk of the character; and a picture for visual inspiration.

I don't mind the question about trust, I'm just surprised by it because I never thought about premade character concepts in that way. For me, the concepts do a few things. First, and most importantly, they set the theme for the campaign because I have full control over what kind of characters are considered. For example, the campaign is set in an institute of magical learning in Eberron, and I want all characters to come from a similar perspective on magic (what I call the Galifaran schools), so that they can explore different magical traditions from the same baseline. This is pretty important for the theme. Second, I'm explicitly interested in recruiting the kinds of players who are interested in storytelling, character development and exploring the fantasy setting. Now, you can get such players in "normal" games (nothing premade), but with premade concepts, I'm trying to encourage them to join the game by engaging with a set framework. More like method acting (writing?), less like wish or interest fulfilment.

And third, not so important for the players, I'd like to write up the game as an adventure module. The module would be written around those character concepts, which the DM could then offer his players or fit to characters that the players come up with themselves. I just like the idea of a campaign being written around character concepts, and not a storyline (what I like to think as guided sandbox, instead of railroading after a quest).
bigbadron
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:01
Re: Premade character concepts
I've run Traveller games with pregens.

I wanted the crew of a starship, so needed a set of characters with specific skills.  I generated six characters for each crew position, but left name and gender blank, along with a handful of skills that weren't crucial to the character - for example the Pilot needs various ship based skills, but Carousing, Gun Combat, and Admin aren't so critical.  So the player picks the role, and selects one of the pregens, filling in the name, gender, homeworld, description, and a handful of non-critical skills.

That way I get all required roles filled with characters who can do their jobs, and the players get to personalise those characters.

This message was last edited by the user at 18:05, Mon 07 Dec 2020.

Starchaser
 member, 786 posts
 Shoda mo tsumoreba taibok
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:04
Re: Premade character concepts
Personally I still see two line concepts such as "Pragmatic Princeling" as very broad and still with plenty of scope for making the character ones own and personal interest / wish fulfilment.

To me a restrictive pre-made character would be one where their entire background and personality are already created and also possibly their description. The two line example is more a 'role' for the character to play rather than their actual personality or description or how they are played. Even the word 'Pragmatic' is open to interpretation there.
bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:08
Re: Premade character concepts
In reply to bigbadron (msg # 11):

I might actually revert to something like that for this game, when I write it up. I originally made more fleshed out concepts for my tabletop group as an intro to the setting. Might have been too restrictive for a game on RPoL.
bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:12
Re: Premade character concepts
In reply to Starchaser (msg # 12):

Yeah, my concepts are a bit more elaborate. Is it against rules to post an example here?
facemaker329
 member, 7290 posts
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:19
Re: Premade character concepts
I guess, coming out of a theater background, I see premade characters a little differently than many people.  They're just a different type of role to be cast.  When you audition for a show, there's usually a relatively clear expectation of what the character is supposed to be.  If you audition for Wait Until Dark, you know the character of Rote is supposed to be calculating, ruthless, and menacing, a consciousness criminal who will manipulate every situation to get what he wants.  So getting a pro-gun character with some defined parameters of background and personality is an intriguing challenge.  I'm not going to enjoy it if the GM is constantly telling me I'm playing it wrong, though...but I'm also not going to ignore the defined parameters.

Not everyone likes that approach, though, and I definitely prefer building my own character, or at least starting with a template that lays out the basics and lets me customize it from there (one of the things I loved about using the WEG Star Wars system to introduce people to role-playing).
bakho
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Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 18:23
Re: Premade character concepts
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 15):

Right, I think that's a really good comparison. To getting a role that you need to develop and flesh out based on a template, instead of writing it up from scratch. I guess it just goes to say that we have different notions of what a premade char/predefined concepts are, and it bears to explain it beforehand so we're on the same page. I don't have a theater background, but I was thinking along those lines you describe. I guess some players don't (which is okay, they don't have to play in that particular game, I just find the difference in itself interesting).
Greymist
 member, 7 posts
Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 01:07
Re: Premade character concepts
Hey bakho,

I am revoking my previous 'OK with caveats'! :-)

After you explained what you meant by pre-made concept, I would be far more hesitant to join. I appreciate facemaker's analogy to taking on an acting role, in fact that made me think about my change of mind.

But in the end, playing in an RPG is not the same as taking on a role in a show where the beginning, middle, and end is already written. I see playing as a collaboration between the GM and players. The story is NOT written, only the location/encounter is prepared, what happens in each scene depends on the players.

Not to say that your idea will not fly, you just should be very clear about what you have laid out (and it sounds like you were) ahead of time.

Good luck with it!
Naechtweard
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 The sky is full
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Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 01:39
Re: Premade character concepts
Greymist:
But in the end, playing in an RPG is not the same as taking on a role in a show where the beginning, middle, and end is already written. I see playing as a collaboration between the GM and players. The story is NOT written, only the location/encounter is prepared, what happens in each scene depends on the players.


I think that's a (large!) bridge beyond what Bakho pitched. He provided a one paragraph pitch, a hook, a name, and a class for nine different characters. Four of those were tapped by players to play. The backgrounds are loose enough that there is a fair bit of wiggle room.

Really, it feels only a small step beyond what some of the published 5e modules do in terms of saying "a PC with this background had this thing happen and knows this or that NPC."

It's definitely different from the set-ups I'm used to, but to say that it's not collaborative is hurling oneself down the slippery slope. :)
facemaker329
 member, 7291 posts
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Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 02:06
Re: Premade character concepts
Not everyone is willing to accept a pre-made character...not even just a character outline that they can fill in how they will.  That's fine.  Not every GM wants to use pre-gen characters, and those players can join those games.

There's no wrong or right to it.  It's a choice.  If the GM makes the choice to run with pre-gen characters or preset character outlines, there's nothing wrong with that.  He should, of course, let prospective players know that decision has been made, so they can opt in or out as they will, but again, that's a choice to be made, and there isn't a right or wrong answer to it as long as everyone knows the context.

I can think of a lot of contexts in which I'd say, "Yeah, sure, sign me up for one."  I can even think of a couple of games I've joined on here that would probably have been better off it the GM had pre-gen characters, because it's hard to enjoy a game where the first two months are spent just building characters since nobody is familiar with the system.  I've played through modules and had the GM say, afterwards, "You know, this would be really interesting if the party didn't have this or this character in it," and it's only a short hop from there to "I want to run this module with ONLY these types of characters in it."

Do it or don't do it, as you will.  Just be aware that opting to do it will turn some players off to your game, no matter how awesome it may otherwise be.
Greymist
 member, 8 posts
Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 05:21
Re: Premade character concepts
Naechtweard:
to say that it's not collaborative is hurling oneself down the slippery slope

Good point! I didn't mean to come across as a snobby roleplayer snob, and yet  I did!

My point is more along the lines that typically the players want to create most of the role playing facets of their character.

But in any given circumstance, I'm sure there would be people who want to give a different style a go!
Naechtweard
 member, 9 posts
 The sky is full
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Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 18:53
Re: Premade character concepts
I didn't think it was intentional, and certainly not meant to be exclusionary. We're all totally at our most thoughtful and measured when commenting on the internet. ;)

For me (and if it's not obvious, I'm playing in the game in question), the information is almost like a snapshot...or like a still from a film. We see a moment (and a few fragments)--that's what the GM has handed us. The collaboration comes in figuring out how the character got to that moment and where they're going after.

Definitely not for everybody, and a different experience than building a fictional being from scratch, but...not crazy. :)
Hunter
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Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 22:32
Premade character concepts
In reply to bakho (msg # 1):

Personally, I prefer to have creative input on the character that I'll be playing.   Pre-gens tend to feel like someone else's character, at least for me.
bakho
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Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 23:36
Re: Premade character concepts
In reply to Naechtweard (msg # 21):

A really nice way of putting it. I'm interested what's going to come out of this process, it's pretty exciting. The tabletop group playing it are having a blast, but then, we know each other pretty well so I wasn't sure how this would translate in a context with less information. For now, it works quite well with the players that applied.

If I do end up turning it into a module, I think I'll have an introduction exactly about this process and what to do with the concept prompts (and I think I'll stop calling them premades, because that's not what they are really, in what the term connotes).
Brianna
 member, 2229 posts
Wed 9 Dec 2020
at 00:33
Re: Premade character concepts
I've been used to premade characters because I've played in a lot of tournaments at places like GenCon.  Since there you only have effectively 3-3 1/2 hours to play an entire module/game, premades are really the only way to go.  I did run into a few where the GM hadn't made them, but in general that just meant they also hadn't well prepared the rest either.  Some GMs allowed changes, usually minor, there may or may not have been backgrounds covering personality or not.  Sometimes you got to pick a character (as long as everyone didn't want the same one), sometimes they were assigned, either directly by the GM or by die roll.  One of the games I remember, with a GM we knew well, handed my daughter and me two brothers, one with an 18 (max) wisdom, the other with 18 intelligence, and low scores in the other stat.  LOL  We had a lot of fun with those!