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Underachiever599

How far ahead do you plan your characters?

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When you're doing character creation for a game, how far ahead do you plan the character for after the game starts? Do you typically just build the base character and add on to it as you see fit while the game progresses, or do you typically map out where you'd like the character to go as you're building them, and adjust accordingly to the story? I'm genuinely kind of curious how people go about planning the future of their characters in terms of skills, talents, and powers. Personally, I love to build a character out to a level that they'll almost certainly never reach. In D&D, I plan out my character to level 20, even if I'm starting at level 1. For my Star Wars games, I like to build the base character, and then plan how I'll spend XP all the way up to 1,000 XP (In 150 XP chunks for the most part. Where I want them to be at 150 XP, where I want them to be at 300 XP, ect.). Naturally, I adjust these characters as the game progresses, but it's fun to have a general idea of how I intend the character's path to go.

Edited by Underachiever599

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I do this for fun with characters I don't play. I have a spreadsheet with dozens of level 20 builds for Saga Edition broken down by level. And my character list in OggDude's character generator is full of high-level PCs that I've experimented with. It's fun to geek out over builds.

But for characters that see the table, I will start from scratch with only a basic idea of where I want to go from there. I will usually optimize to some degree (I want my character to be good at his role in a party and to be interesting to play), but I optimize for where the character is, not where I want the character to be in 300 or 1000 XP. 

I've never actually played to "level 20." Campaigns for me usually disband after several sessions—schedules change, people get disinterested, GMs flake out. The longest running campaigns I've experienced are there ones that I've run as GM :) so for that reason, more than others, I try to play characters that I can enjoy playing from whatever experience level we start at.

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I have an general concept of what I want to reach (so that the char becomes as I imagine it) once I reached that "level" I think about the next steps, but never to far ahead since it can become quite depressing if you aim seems  unreachable (happens one of my SC every time since he thinks his character will start to function and be as he imagined on 2-4 k exp... which he will most likely never reach in my campaign... we are at 750 Exp after 1 year of playing and I think we will reach the big showdown with in the next 2-300 exp...)

Then again I am mostly the GM (since others tend to being not able to make more time to prepare or are unable to adapt to unexpected offrailing of the players) I was player in this game for 3 sessions (and one time was a one shot to help a friend GM of mine on a con to find his way into the rules more faster...) so I don't really know how it feels for the players to reach any XP goals in this game ^^" ... (happy enought that I also have an Shadowrun group where I and another GM change the seat more often so that I can also be one of the good...ehmm heroes... ehmm one of the guys that are allowed to kill enemys without gaining all the grudge since it isn't a TPK when I/we win a battle ^^)

Edited by Nightone

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I plan it out a bit, and always change. For example in a current game I went Artisan for Intuitive Improvements, but whilst I can buy it any time, have so far not done so for story reasons. And we're nearing 400 xp!

One thing I got wrong initially, I think, which is worth thinking about, is to make sure you have directions to take the character which don't all rely on getting money or training or other resource, and that can specialise or broaden the character's skills, depending on where the campaign and other players go.

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I generally have an idea in my head but adapt it to the story and party once play begins. I created a thief/scoundrel type in one campaign with the idea of being a con man face type only to discover once we started that the jedi wannabe was ultimately a better face than i was, so i diversified and became the Pilot.

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As a min maxer I usually have a firm plan

however in this case I've got some ideas of where I'm going but the character is evolving rather than min maxing

for example - I've just gained my lightsaber but as a dualist have zero access to reflect

however this will not be changing any time soon as growing into those areas doesn't suit the character yet

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For me, it depends on both the system and the GM.  

Some systems have very little flexibility in how you advance (efficiently, anyway).  D&D is one of these.  Those I usually have a fairly firm plan on how I want to proceed.

The more skill/talent based games, I tend to have shorter horizons, and they change dramatically once I see how a GM runs.  For example, some GM's make knowledge skills not worth much, but in others they are king.  I have found that when I run, perception skills are used very heavily, and most players don't recognize that until after the game starts, so they scramble to pick up a few ranks/talents.

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As a player; I usually plan out my characters motivations years in game in advance. I know roughly where he will be around the time the death star opens up, and his broad plans between those periods in time.

 

Player wise? I didn't even name my own father in my own backstory. I picked a theme of a gunslinger (Gadgeteer) and planned to go into assassin at some point. He had a history in a family of speeder repair and custom gunsmithing, which is why his intellect was 4. Not optimal for a bounty hunter, but he could basically break most locks. i only went force emergant after handling a lightsaber inhabited by a evil spirit for some time and boom 3 years down the line I'm a 2000 exp character who is the best artisian in the land and one of the biggest non-names in assassination. Needless to say; I don't tend to plan my development as far as talents go greatly.

 

That being said, I usually do make plans based on how my development is going.

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Only about 50 XP ahead, really, and even that is fluid depending on how circumstances in game change. I do, however, have an idealized version of my first F&D character now that more source books are out that is loosely mapped out up to about 200 XP.

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I have plans for my PCs that potentially extend hundreds of XP in the future. I don't often use that end strategy, but it helps me figure out where I am headed as a character.

That sounds weird, but hear me out. Characters have dreams and desires, goals, things that they strive for and are learning about. My monster with Reflect 9 across 3 specs isn't necessarily what I expect my PC to become, but a daydream of a character who wants to turn away all enemy fire. My Droid Tech may dream about becoming a DT/Scientist/Outlaw Tech that is fluent enough in Binary that he can basically program droids with his voice (7 ranks of Speaks Binary for 7 boost dice to all his droids). But as the characters progress, they may make compromises, or they might change their dreams. The DT finds that the party captures a large vessel and starts using droids to operate it, then goes into Rigger because he is now operating the ship as his own. 

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I always try to only plan forward as far as it makes sense for my character to know about. 

If I was rping in the rebellion era for example I don't think they'd know about lightning or using the force to make illusions. 

However in legends in the SWTOR era I think that they would likely know of several powers that they might see as basic. 

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I usually have an overall goal of progression for my characters.  I'll have a "final concept" that I want to see realized, but can't pay for with starting resources.   For example, a Sage concept I had that was all about using Battle Meditation and Foresee.  He didn't fight directly, but he augmented his allies when danger arose.    So that was the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" kind of goal.  In the interim though, I bought him into a separate career/spec tree, because he started doing lots of computer based stuff, so I figured I'd give him Slicer to play around with while his Force related things improved.

So it's a mix of both for me.  A long term goal, that will likely be deviated from time to time, based on in game events.

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9 hours ago, KungFuFerret said:

I usually have an overall goal of progression for my characters.  I'll have a "final concept" that I want to see realized, but can't pay for with starting resources.   For example, a Sage concept I had that was all about using Battle Meditation and Foresee.  He didn't fight directly, but he augmented his allies when danger arose.    So that was the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" kind of goal.  In the interim though, I bought him into a separate career/spec tree, because he started doing lots of computer based stuff, so I figured I'd give him Slicer to play around with while his Force related things improved.

So it's a mix of both for me.  A long term goal, that will likely be deviated from time to time, based on in game events.

I don't mind having a concept. It's nice to imagine your galactic hero level character. 

However I do not believe in progression for the sake of hitting a build. That takes the role play out of it for me.

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7 minutes ago, Luahk said:

I don't mind having a concept. It's nice to imagine your galactic hero level character. 

However I do not believe in progression for the sake of hitting a build. That takes the role play out of it for me.

Really?  You don't know anyone that has a goal in their life?  "I want to be a doctor!"  "I want to be an explorer!"  "I want to be a slicer!"  etc.   That's what I'm talking about.   Very few people just drift through life without a long term plan for themselves, and their life.  They have Career plans, and those plans require a path.  You have to take the necessary classes to earn the degrees to be qualified to be a Doctor.  You have to spend years coding and fiddling with computer stuff to be a good hacker/slicer.  This doesn't just randomly happen.   How is that any different than someone having a Career path in a game that leads them to a specific goal, aka, build?

 

And you seem to have overlooked where I said that the goal was frequently sidetracked by the in game events.  I dual spec'd him as Sage/Slicer, and that was definitely not in the plans at generation.  But it did develop through play.  But that doesn't mean he didn't want to continue to explore the depths of Force knowledge (translate learn the Sage talents that give you bonuses to Knowledge checks), and thus become more learned in ancient wisdom.

Edited by KungFuFerret

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PpThe second point is a clarification. Nothing to do with what you said.

But... Since we went there.. Let's discuss/expand for the sake of it.

My character at current had the simple initial goal of becoming "Sith" not a warrior/shii cho knight. Quite simply a Sith. Whatever skills he took up along the way he picked up in order to achieve that goal. 

After, based on what had worked for him during his tests and training, he opted to maximise the effectiveness of what he perceived as his gifts. 

What I dislike is players who from the outset aim to be a specific type of person before they've even created their character. 

They like the idea of a certain build.. Play style based on a spec on the spreadsheets. That goes too far away from the role play aspect of the role play for my personal taste. 

The two are separate. 

Putting it in this era and being like.. I want to be a jedi! When you'd have such a limited understanding of what that is.. Is similar to in real life wanting to be  a "doctor" without ever being to a hospital or practice. 

What people do is from the drop decide they want to be a dual saber wielding niman specialist who dabbles in force lightning. They work towards that with the Out Of Character goal of becoming that. 

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8 minutes ago, Luahk said:

My character at current had the simple initial goal of becoming "Sith" not a warrior/shii cho knight. Quite simply a Sith. Whatever skills he took up along the way he picked up in order to achieve that goal. 

Well since Sith isn't a spec or career, that's a pretty easy "nebulous" goal to achieve, as it has zero to do with any career path published.


 

9 minutes ago, Luahk said:

They like the idea of a certain build.. Play style based on a spec on the spreadsheets. That goes too far away from the role play aspect of the role play for my personal taste. 

The two are separate. 

I don't see why they have to be.  I get ideas for character concepts and backgrounds based on various combinations of powers and abilities.  Heck that's the number 1 source of my character inspiration.   I have a vague idea of a character that would be fun to play from a mechanical side, like "Ooh! This wizard is lightning focused as an elemental mage, that sounds fun!  Now what would that guy be like to make him decide to devote his life to the study of Storms and the elemental forces of Wind and Thunder?"  And then poof, I have a background.   Not everyone works that way, but that's how mine works.  

For example, I am currently running an Iktotchi Seer, who focuses heavily on Foresee, since it synchs so nicely with his natural ability, as well as the Seer skill tree.   But that very idea, is what informed his background.   He's a character constantly beset by visions of the future.  If you've ever read Dune, or the Alex Verus book series (which is awesome by the way), you have an idea of the kind of mindset my Seer's going to have.    

So the meta can easily inform the role, and vice versa.   The meta is simply the real world reflection of the in game reality of that person's existence.  The fact that I, the player, have an idea on where I want the PC to go, doesn't mean he doesn't have other things to deal with.

 

 

15 minutes ago, Luahk said:

Putting it in this era and being like.. I want to be a jedi! When you'd have such a limited understanding of what that is.. Is similar to in real life wanting to be  a "doctor" without ever being to a hospital or practice. 

 

But that's exactly what Luke did.  He had no clue what a Jedi really was, but he has one encounter with an old guy in the desert, who winds him up with some mystical story about Guardians of Peace in the Old Republic, and poof, Luke's all "I want to be a Jedi like my father."    And then what does he do?  He goes about training, based on instruction from other people, to become a Jedi.  It was his goal, his direction in life.   And in a game, that would translate to the player, buying talents in some of the Force related careers.   

17 minutes ago, Luahk said:

What people do is from the drop decide they want to be a dual saber wielding niman specialist who dabbles in force lightning. They work towards that with the Out Of Character goal of becoming that. 

So you never have any basic idea of a character?  They are all tabula rasas?   When you make a bounty hunter, you aren't doing that very thing by making him be good with guns, because you picked a gun related class?    Is it any more meta if you play a cleric type character, and make the choice to improve his healing related abilities, instead of doing something like giving him heavy guns and explosives training?   I mean, I just really don't understand where your line in the sand is about this, or why. 

The two feed each other.  

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OK the whole first bit is precisely what I'm on about. I will respond to the rest but you hit the nail on the head with the very first paragraph. 

Being sith is the goal. It's vague and misunderstood from the point of view of my noob char. It has nothing to do with specs or career paths because that's the games rules to make it structured and playable but from the point of view of character building its the very last priority of functionality not personality and its, for me, the least important. 

OK with the second bit about your seer? 100% back you there. It absolutely makes sense for a character of that race to have those specs/abilities because they reflect the basis of what the race is said to be capable of. In that case it comes - after- the story and so is always acceptable in my view. In that we're aligned. 

 

Then you lost me. 

Luke.. Skywalker.. Is not only someone who the force flows very very plot armour strongly through but he gets two jedi teachers.. One of whom is a former grand master. He has no clue how to learn any of those things. He is taught them by some people who understand - exactly- what it means to be jedi. So from seeing yoda pick up the x wing for example that gives him a power..to actually aim for. 

That is not the same as aiming for force lighting at the start without having a clue that it exists. However if you've served the emperor and perhaps seen him, for some reason, use his power upon someone that is - very- different. You now could plan this and it'd even make sense for your character to see that as a mark of progress or a long term aim. 

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To simply answer the question again. 

I try to plan ahead only as far as it is realistic for my character to imagine. If I've been taxed or unable to draw on enough power to move a small person (without using ds pips) I try not to have him/her planning to move buses.

I use the games specs to see what would make sense with that. 

I play the game in order to experience and explore the star wars universe with my friends. 

We aren't using the star wars universe as an excuse to play the game. So I try to discourage spec building min maxing and other such things that are more focused on the system and not the role play aspect. 

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8 hours ago, Luahk said:

To simply answer the question again. 

I try to plan ahead only as far as it is realistic for my character to imagine. If I've been taxed or unable to draw on enough power to move a small person (without using ds pips) I try not to have him/her planning to move buses.

I use the games specs to see what would make sense with that. 

I play the game in order to experience and explore the star wars universe with my friends. 

We aren't using the star wars universe as an excuse to play the game. So I try to discourage spec building min maxing and other such things that are more focused on the system and not the role play aspect. 

Ok you clearly aren't getting my point, so nevermind.  You do you, I'll do me, I don't feel like debating this any further.

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