I’ve been making characters in my spare time lately and I’ve gotten around to thinking about the two different styles of making characters. Some of the most optimized characters I’ve seen are from players who usually take to character creation from a rules perspective first, relying on economizing points (if it’s a point-based system) or generally trying to get the most bang for their buck.
It’s only after coming up with the stats and character sheet that these players sit back and trying to create a story that justifies the stats on the sheet, and how their characters came to be the way that they are based on min-maxing stats.
The other camp, where I belong, tend to make character concepts first, before I make the first mark on my character sheet. I find that it’s easier for me to fill in the details of a character after I’ve given some thought to the character’s backstory and abilities. While this sometimes means that I won’t be able to optimize appropriately because I throw the odd point or three into things that flesh out a character more than improve it’s advantage, I still feel that it’s a point of pride to come up with someone that could reasonably exist outside of the strictures of rules.
In these two camps, I think it’s really an issue of what the players value more: the rules or the story. Rules gamers tend to insure that their characters have the maximum survivability and usually have stellar stats that would render them all some form of status as a prodigy in their given field. Story focused gamers tend to be more lax, producing characters with a broader range of abilities rather than the specialization common in the other camp.
Neither is more correct, of course, but it’s still interesting to see how people take to a game and make their characters. In a way, it shows the priorities of the player to the GM and provides clues to him as to what kind of game the players are after, even if they don’t say it out loud.
How do you guys make you characters? Concept first or stats? I’m curious to hear about why you build characters in a certain way.