I rarely play as a PC. Like, honestly. I’ve played in 2 games, but DMed over 60 at time of writing. It’s not because I haven’t been asked, it’s just my personal preference. I love running the story, bouncing between NPCs, and watching what my players come up with to react to the situation. Because of that, I often forget what they need to know when I set up a game. I therefore made a list of questions that players tend to ask me because I’ve forgotten to make this information clear.
Things to consider when asking players to create characters
- What level are the characters going to be starting at?
- How are stats going to be chosen? Standard array; Point Buy, Dice rolls?
- If using dice rolls, how do you want that to be evidenced?
- Are there any class or race restrictions? Are homebrew races or classes allowed? How about multiclassing?
- Where is the campaign going to be set? Forgotten Realms? A homebrew world? If in a homebrew world, give a brief summary of the world, to aid in backstory creation. Are there any backstory elements you’re going to allow or disallow for your PCs?
- For classes such as Paladin or Cleric, is there a specific pantheon of Gods that the player should be drawing from? What patrons are Warlocks allowed?
- How serious do you want the PCs to be? Will it be proper RP characters only, or would you allow Randy the Savage, Barbarian Wrestler Extraordinaire?
- What level of min-maxing are you going to allow your players to undertake, if at all? Would you prefer them to make flawed characters to add depth to the story, or are you happy for them to make killing machines?
- Which variant rules are you going to allow? Are you going to let your players take feats?
If you are recruiting for a game, it might be worth trying to incorporate as many answers to these questions as possible in your recruitment post, to make it simpler for people to submit applications. If you already have players, perhaps a handout with these answers will help players to get on with character creation, without too much back and forth waiting for responses to questions on either side.
If you don’t feel comfortable and confident with things such as a homebrew class, or letting people roll for stats, tell them. If you are running the game, you get to make this decision, because you are going to be controlling the world they are playing in. Yes, players may argue, complain, or try to persuade you, but if they really want to play, then they will accept your decisions. In my games, I flat out refused to let any homebrew classes to start with, and I am not letting my players multiclass until they hit level 6, because I felt this was too complicated for me starting out, and I was still learning how to balance the game. To be honest, I still am. I throw combat at them that is meant to be deadly on the CR, and they breeze through it, and content that is supposed to be simple sometimes knocks party members out. You can never gauge how the dice will fall or the tactics your players will take - but how to work those situations is a topic for another day.
I hope this article was useful in helping you consider a few aspects of your world that you need to establish as well as for helping your players to create a character for your world.
Once again, thank you to Frank for reading over the article before posting, and also for contributing several points to the list.