Tag Archives: advice

Under the Influence

In his article “The GM’s Influence on Character” in Kobold Quarterly #22, famous actor Monte Cook jumps right on out there and says:

Past a certain point, the more influence a player has on character creation, the more boring the resulting character will be.

Heresy! What does an actor know about roleplaying games, anyway? Why I—oh, oh wait. The threatening e-mail the Stargazer has left in my inbox tells me I may not be entirely informed. Let’s try that again, shall we?

In his article in KQ #22, noted game designer Monte Cook says that the more a player influences the creation of a character, the more boring that character shall be.

Specifically, he is writing about the idea of the character build. You know, the one where your Pathfinder DM says “We are playing a level 12 campaign” and so you always give your paladin a holy avenger. Or at least you would, but you’re not playing a paladin because druids are way better.[citation not needed because it is true]

I’m aware it is a matter of personal taste, but I’ve always enjoyed 1st-level campaigns precisely for this reason. Over the course of a few levels I will inevitably make choices that are anything but optimal for my character’s combat abilities, skill rolls, or any other aspect. I tend to choose things because they are either cool, or they are useful at that particular moment in time. My characters acquire abilities like a tree acquires rings. Somewhere in that process, a story emerges. Continue reading Under the Influence