Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What Wizards' 'My Characters' means for character creation

Wizards of the Coast has now implemented a feature on their site where users can add their characters to their profiles.

The company said in a recent broadcast: "We've set up a new software option that's available on your profile page. The “My Characters” module lets you display mini-profiles of your D&D characters in your Wizards Community profile, for others to browse, critique, and admire. You can import details directly from the D&D Character Builder or manually type them into a form."

In roleplaying there's an unwritten rule that you don't talk about your characters, but it looks like Wizards is trying to change that - but how will this affect play?

It's interesting that they have used the word 'critique' in there, insinuating that people will be offering advice on how to make someone's character better or explaining what is wrong (or right) with it. In my opinion, people should play the characters they want to play, not the character who is most optimised for combat - but I can see min/max-ers getting some use out of this feature.

What worries me is that players may be forced to rethink their perfectly good character just because other people say it's not the best it can be, which could change not only the dynamic of that PC and the overall dynamic of the game. 

I'm not saying that everyone is going to ditch their characters, but I can see this new feature as a catalyst for some to revamp their characters. Sure, this could be ok - after all, I have always stood by the principal of making sure the players are enjoying themselves, and if that means changing some powers or even a whole character then I'm ok with it. 

However, in an effort to impress online onlookers, it could be a temptation to optimise every character and not do anything just for 'character' or 'flavour'. Some people like to add powers that enhance their character's roleplaying opportunities rather than picking the best min/max power, which is a factor that can make a campaign incredibly interesting. 'My Characters' could do away with that mindset for some players.

I'm not going to rail against the feature completely, but maybe it's something that we should be aware of. I will be interested to see how it goes and to hear your thoughts on the matter. Drop me a comment below or a tweet @scottmalt.