So The GM Who Gets Us Into Everything is going to be running us a D&D Next playtest on Wednesday. Fair enough, and hey, I might even find something I react strongly enough to to make breaking system neutrality worth it. I look at the sample characters, I look at the basic rules, and the first thing I have to do is figure out….
…what, no chargen? At all? Just pick from one of five D&D cliché possibilities and go?
All right. From my own experiences in system design, I can understand this; you don’t want to give the whole thing away from the get-go, otherwise nobody will actually buy anything. And given my legendary dislike of character generation, you’d think this would be a bonus and I’d be celebrating being able to just get started. Pick the lesser of five annoyances and run with it, what’s not to like?
To judge from the fact that trying to hack these sample characters into something a bit more interesting has taken priority over tonight’s originally scheduled post-blogging entertainment, not to mention nearly taking priority over tonight’s previously scheduled blog posting, I think it’s safe to say that as far as I’m concerned, there’s something. I don’t think I’ve been bugged this much by the absence of something since I realized that San Jose State University’s library science program app process didn’t require me to write an essay.
How did that happen? It’s not like this is the first time I’ve been handed a set of pregen characters and asked to pick one. Heck, I spent several months playing a character who’d been entirely prebuilt by my GM, full build and a little bit of history. I’ve never resented it quite this much, though.
I think what bugs me is that we aren’t even getting to pretend to have any sort of choice in the matter—every group is testing this with an assortment of four of the same five characters. One choice per class (unless you’re dealing with clerics), complete with race, background, theme, and they’re not even particularly unusual choices. In both of the other cases, there wasn’t much choice, but they were designed specifically for us; even in the one where I was given one specific character and no option to change, the character had been designed with me in mind, and I’d had a (very) small amount of input. I don’t know if it would be much of an improvement if there were two flavors for each class, but it might help a bit—and certainly I wouldn’t spend as much time wondering what they hope to accomplish.
Ah, well. I have a day off; I may as well challenge myself with it.