Pregenerating Player Characters

You have a great idea for a game, and you want to round up a group of players to play it. But you don’t know who you’ll end up with at the table and if they will have a good enough feel for your game to make a character in time.

This is a problem a lot of GMs face when they’re building out their first games. Even veteran GMs are faced with this issue. They do not want to limit the creativity of their players but they are also not sure if what they want to do will mesh with their players’ ideas and concepts.

The solution is making characters for your players. Pregenerating your characters is time consuming, considering you’re also writing your adventure, making maps, creating the non-player characters, setting up the game venue, scheduling, and a million other things. There’s a lot of work here. But there are shortcuts. Let’s look at what you can use to speed up the process.

Published Characters

Most games have characters in the rulebook that can be used in any games you write, and generally are balanced with fleshed out backgrounds and personalities. You can photocopy or print the pages, then you’re ready to run. Before you being, take notes about the characters so you know some information about them. Besides that this is the fastest preparation method.

Characters from Books, TV, or Movies

The marines from Aliens, the Scoobies from Buffy, and the Avengers are all great characters that can be applied to almost any game, and your players will have seen enough of them to know how to play them. Even if you change some information on who your templates are, the structure is still present and you know what to expect. This is especially great for theme games, where the story aligns with where the characters come from.

Friends and Family

This is not necessarily making people you know into characters, but taking an exaggerated version of them and translating that into your world. If you had a teacher who loved traveling maybe they were a spy. Or a friend who wore a trench coat all the time is a time-traveling cop. It’s more important that you have a clear image in your mind of the individual that you perceive than who they really are, then convey that to your players.

Once you have your characters written, be sure to have them printed on character sheets, and give your players time to read them over. Having handwritten sheets or ones not printed on a character sheet makes it harder for players to reference what they need quickly.

Finally, have at least two or three extras on hand. Players are fussy and they may not want to play the six you picked out, preferring another option. Something you may think was a bad idea a player may love. The goal is for your players to have fun, and giving them more characters to choose from is better than limiting their choices.

About Mike G

Mike co-founded MAMS Gaming in 2012 to provide a great gaming experience for players and GMs at Gen Con. This has led to organizing GMs and networking to provide a great play experience.
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