D&D Convention Character Gen

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Bohnhoff
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D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by Bohnhoff »

A group of friends and I are running all the RPGs at a local anime con. We pitched our games and were asked to run more D&D. I drew the short straw so I'm replacing my Dread game with 5e. That's not to say I have anything against D&D. 5e is a good game. But it's not my game and I'm not super familiar with it.

I have a standard 4 hour slot. I suspect (based on running at the same con last year) that most of my players will have no experience with table top RPGs.

I'd really like to lead them through character generation at the table, letting their choices flesh out the setting and adventure. But I'd also like to keep it to 30 minutes or less of character gen.

How do I do that? Any advice on speeding up character creation? Maybe I can provide half-made characters? If so, what bits do I leave blank?
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GMGERRYMANDER
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Re: D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by GMGERRYMANDER »

30 minutes or less with inexperienced players is probably not going to work.

I've been at cons (and home games) where just basic character gen is a 2-4 hour slot for 5e. And that was just with the core PHB.

Unless your players are hyperfocused on what they want to play before they sit down, or unless you limit the options, there are too many options to make 5e Char Gen a quick thing.

You have:

Stats
Species
Sub Species
Class
Class Details
Background

And then they have to figure out Proficiencies and spells.

Any one of those can take the group 10 minutes or more. Depending on the indecisiveness of the players. (In one of my home groups, we have a player that always over-thinks options when given more than two choices. Lots of players are like that.)

On top of that, if you are not super familiar with DD5E, running it at a con for an unknown group of characters adds additional problems.

I would recommend creating a dozen pre gens that fit the adventure you want to run.

You can even give each a 3-4 sentence backstory to get them partially hooked. (and you can use that to create simple friendships and rivalries within the group for more roleplaying).
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Jared Rascher
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Re: D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by Jared Rascher »

Bohnhoff wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:17 pm A group of friends and I are running all the RPGs at a local anime con. We pitched our games and were asked to run more D&D. I drew the short straw so I'm replacing my Dread game with 5e. That's not to say I have anything against D&D. 5e is a good game. But it's not my game and I'm not super familiar with it.

I have a standard 4 hour slot. I suspect (based on running at the same con last year) that most of my players will have no experience with table top RPGs.

I'd really like to lead them through character generation at the table, letting their choices flesh out the setting and adventure. But I'd also like to keep it to 30 minutes or less of character gen.

How do I do that? Any advice on speeding up character creation? Maybe I can provide half-made characters? If so, what bits do I leave blank?
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/22 ... y+flourish

It may seem excessive, but included in the adventure is one of the best set of pregens I've seen.

You pick out your traits, and a few pieces of equipment, and the rest is predetermined. The individual characters are statted up from level 1 through 5.
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Bohnhoff
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Re: D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by Bohnhoff »

Talking about this with a bunch of people in a bunch of different places (sidenote: I miss G+) I've come to the conclusion that I can't make D&D do what I want to do here. Oh well. I revise my plans and use pregens. *sigh*

But I think the interesting discussions that I ended up having illuminated why it won't work. It's not just that character generation in D&D takes too long (although that's definitely a thing), it's that I want the choices the characters make during character gen to be important to the story and D&D has some basic assumptions in its design that rub against that. Namely, it expects that combat will be central to the game, that a party of characters will fill certain combat roles, and that the characters will all be of similar power level. 5e in particular is streamlined to provide this very narrow experience consistently. In doing this, it can't really accommodate that wide a variety of possible characters. Players can make an interesting character with a complex backstory but that's all tacked on top of the mechanical structure pf the character, not baked into it in interesting ways. The fun of D&D is in the adventures that get played out, not deep complex characters that enter into the game.

I'm going to qualify that assertion in two ways. First, this narrow focus of the design is to D&D's credit, I'm not bagging on it. It's good that D&D realizes what it wants to be and is well designed to provide that. Second, clever GMs can do things well outside that narrow scope. They frequently do and they can do it well.

Ultimately, if players are coming to me at this con wanting to play D&D, I should probably just give them D&D not D&D adapted to do what I wish D&D would do.
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GMGERRYMANDER
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Re: D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by GMGERRYMANDER »

Dungeon World would handle that better, based on what you are looking for.

I think [mention]Senda[/mention] and [mention]AndiFox[/mention] might have some good suggestions for that sort of thing.

OR

Give them Pre Gens with a few options (pick one of the following backgrounds, etc.) and then ask some leading questions.
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Bohnhoff
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Re: D&D Convention Character Gen

Post by Bohnhoff »

Dungeon World is off limits. The con wants D&D 5e very specifically (though I did wonder if anyone would notice or get in trouble if I advertised 5e and then just ran DW).

Yeah, I think the best I'm going to get is pre-gens and then spending the first 45 minutes or so with leading questions and light RP as a warm-up.
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