My earlier post, How to Create a Character in any System, goes over a more conceptual way to create a character. But I wanted to continue this into the more Technical way of creating using a ‘job’ or ‘role’ before filling out the ‘who’ of a character. The difficulty in this is that it changes from system to system due to the rules of each game. So to break it up, I will start with Dungeons and Dragons which has dominated my character postings so far (I hope to resolve this soon enough). Each edition has it’s own challenges due to the vast amount of rules and features of each so I will be starting off with 3.5 Ed. As with most this series, these are guides to help and not rules as everyone has a different way of making a character.
The largest difficulty when it comes to D&D 3.5 isn’t it’s complex rules or math but the sheer number of books available. There are many hidden gems of feats or abilities hidden in one book or another. You can choose to go book diving for ideas but here are a few quick search tools to help find things in what book (Warning, not updated since 2007): Wiki Race List (meh) – Class Index – Prestige Class Index – Feat Index – Spell Index
The core of 3.5 (and most D&D games) is your Class and there are so many available to play. There also are too many variations of how groups are put together but general ‘roles’ can help narrow down your search. These are my own definitions and they don’t cover everything: Divine Caster (support, healing, offense), Arcane Caster (support, offense, defense), Front Liner (defensive, dexterous, offensive), Ranged Combat (Sniper, Point Blank, Tricks), Mele Support (Stealthy, Special Attacks, Trickster). You can also combine roles and sometimes it’s needed to reach requirements for Prestige Classes. You don’t have to pick a Role but it’s a nice way to narrow down your ‘scope’ of searching.
Looking through the classes, you can then pick out a few that might fit your ideas on what role or just play style you like. Before settling on which one, there is an important matter of Planning Ahead. Look through what Prestige Classes might interest you or even just what feats/abilities you would like. They will usually have requirements that you need to meet and that should already give you a good idea what to build from. If you still have choices, then start weighing which Skills and Features might work better or just interest you more. IF your DM allows it, there are alternate class rules that can be used to modify base classes. They are scattered around in the books but Players Handbook II is one place to look.
Now with that bit out of the way, it comes down to delving for Feats. I do this first before getting a Race because you might find racial feats or abilities that compliment or are required for your build. There are plenty of books and options, so take your time to filter through them all. I generally have a notepad open writing interesting ones down with their book name and page number. I can narrow them down from there to fit how many I have available and also make a list of ones to pick up as the game progresses. Note that if you really need more Feats, there might be a race with that feat or just pick Human to get the bonus feat from there.
Finally yes, pick your Race. This should be the ‘easy’ step at this point if you want to keep it simple. The biggest thing to do is ask your DM what races beyond base book are available and which are ‘accepted’ in the area/game your in. While they might let you play a Lizardfolk, that doesn’t mean people won’t be prejudiced against a scaled creature in their town. A nice Hat of Disguise might help this but it is still a plot point to be aware of. Once you know whats available, you can then pick out one that suits your class the best. Generally by the stat boosts, extra features that they give or even just for humor/story value.
All that’s left is some of the extra details like skills, spells and gear. Skills are important to round out your group and give you an edge both in and out of combat. There are also Skill Tricks available in Complete Scoundrel which can be helpful for any class (not just the roguish types). Mostly these are simple to pick out and spread skills around. Just make sure not to miss ‘core’ ones like Concentration/Spellcasting for Casters as an example. Spell wise, it really depends on what kind of caster you are but just make sure to get some variety to cover a variety of situations. Gear could have it’s own post dedicated to it but it is more a compliment to the character at this point than it’s defining factor. Though there are some classes who focus on gear over abilities.
With a Name, Alignment and Personality, you have a completed character. Hopefully this has helped organize the crazy amount of books and reading that might be needed to make a character. Not everyone has the time to go through them all and make crazy builds like some crazy blog writers.