Ask the Game Master: The GM won’t let us create our own characters

Got a gaming question? Ask the Game Master to make a ruling, provide advice or referee your gaming troubles. Send your questions to critforbrains@gmail.com. This week, we’re talking about working with your GM’s rules for character creation.


I’m joining a new campaign, and our GM wants us to use his pre-made characters. I don’t know how I feel about it. I know he has a specific direction for his campaign, but it also takes the fun out of making my own character. I don’t feel much of a bond between me and my character. What should I do?

For starters, you have to find the right gaming group. If the GM just isn’t running the type of game you want to play, maybe you should find another one that fits what you had in mind. (I know that’s not always possible. Sometimes it’s your only option to play.)

As you said, this GM has a specific direction and ideas for his campaign, and presenting you with pre-made characters is his way of further influencing the direction of the story. That could be cool depending on how he plans for the campaign to unravel.

But it begs the question: Is he going to be flexible at all? Or will he be ramming your characters through a rigid storyline? Will you even have choices in how the game progresses?

Ideally, RPGs are a collaborative story told by both the GM and the players. The GM provides the setting and the world, and the players decide what to do with it.

That’s not to say a more focused campaign couldn’t be fun. But railroading can certainly frustrate people.

My advice to GMs is to provide clear rules to players when they create characters, and sometimes that absolutely involves limiting classes, races, alignments or even the books used to create characters.

If the GM wanted to have a specific set of classes in a party, he could offer those as options and let the players decide and then flesh out their characters. Or he could say he wanted the player characters to be dwarfs only. Or perhaps the players need to stick to the Player’s Handbook only and not any of the expanded races, classes or spells.

In my Curse of Strahd campaign, I didn’t want any evil PCs since the whole point is to battle an evil vampire.

But it sounds like your GM isn’t doing any of that.

So here’s a question for you: How in-depth are his pre-made characters? Is it a set of stats with room for you to fill in the background details? Or are they fully fleshed out?

If they are totally fleshed out with backstories and everything, maybe you can tweak some details (weapons or armor, perhaps) to suit your play style. Best of all, it’s your character, so you can decide how to roleplay him.

But if the GM is just giving you a character sheet with the numbers filled in, take his original stats and pick a name, backstory, equipment, alignment and characterization all your own. It’s one thing to play the human paladin and another entirely to play Harad, holy crusader of Pelor, who took up a sword after his wife and children were sacrificed in a ritual to please Tharizdun.

Make it your own in any way you can, and you can put your own stamp on the character.

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