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This is my first post so please go easy on me.

Quick Summary of Character Creation of some well known games:

Witcher: Character Geralt - has a pre-established history/background being pulled from books. No input from player for creating Geralt

Mass Effect: Character Commander Shepard - player can choose from
3 Pre-Service Histories: Spacer, Earthborn, Colonist
3 Psychological Profiles: Sole Survivor, War Hero, Ruthless
6 classes: Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Infiltrator, Sentinel, Vanguard

Dragon Age Origins: Character The Warden/Hero of Ferelden - player can choose from
3 Races: Human, Elf or Dwarf
3 Classes: Warrior, Rogue or Mage (mage class is unavailable to dwarves)
1 or 2 Backgrounds out of 6 depending on the chosen race/class combination:
Human Noble for human warriors/rogues, Dalish Elf or City Elf for elven warriors/rogues, Dwarf Commoner or Dwarf Noble for all dwarves; Circle Magi for elven and human mages

Elder Scrolls: Character Nerevarine, Hero of Kvatch, Last Dragonborn - player can choose from
10 Races: Altmer, Argonian, Breton, Bosmer, Dunmer, Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Redguard, Orcs

Baldur’s Gate: Character Gorion's Ward - player can choose from
4 Class Groups: warrior, priest, mage and rogue (10-14ish kits depending on game and edition)
7 Races: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Half-orc, Halfling, Human

DOS2: Origin Characters - Sebille, Ifan Ben-Mezd, The Red Prince, Lohse, Beast, Fane
Custom Characters: Players can choose from
5 Races: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Lizard, Undead
2 of 7 Tags: Barbarian, Jester, Mystic, Noble, Outlaw, Scholar, Soldier

Now that we have briefly summarized the character creation of these 6 games I’d like to look at how much a game defines a character vs how much a player defines a character.


Game defined

Witcher
DOS2 Origin
Mass Effect
DA:O
BG
DOS2 custom
TES

Player defined


Let's start with the Witcher. In the Witcher you play as Geralt. He is human, male, a witcher, has white hair etc. You the player have no say in this. Additionally he comes with his own canonical history prior to the game. Like all games in this list you can choose how to play him during the game but you can’t choose how to build him.

Next we’ll look at the DOS2 origin characters. While their backstory is not as extensive as Geralt’s they have a little introduction video that sets up their background. The player can customize the origin character's appearance to an extent as well as skills/talents but tags are locked. So more freedom than the Witcher but still little control over pre-game role play customization.

Mass Effect is where we really start to see some proper role play choices in character creation. Though with an arguably minor impact to the actual story, Mass Effect gives the player options for a Pre-Service History and Psychological Profile. Additionally players have the option to play with a male or female Shepard which was not an option with the Witcher or DOS2 origin characters.

In Dragon Age Origins your choice of Race/Class determines what your background or “Origin” story will be. While you later come to be defined as the Warden, who you start out as is up to you. Want to play as a dwarf noble rogue? Go for it! A city elf warrior? The choice is yours. With the exception of Mage your choice of class doesn’t matter as much as your origin which is more dependent on race.

Next up is the original Baldur’s Gate. Here you have the choice of race and class. With only a textbox in character creation that allows you to define your character's background/history, it's up to the player’s imagination to determine what kind of character they are playing. However the player will always be Gorion's Ward.

DOS2 custom and TES are both pretty similar so I’ll be talking about both of them at the same time. In both games you choose your race but start out as a nebulous prisoner. DOS2 does have the tag system however it was woefully underutilized while TES offers no way to establish who your character was prior to being put in chains. For the most part, defining your character is left almost entirely to your imagination.


Now as we know everyone preferences are different, so I’m sure that each one of these approaches will appeal to someone. For my part I'm not a very creative person so I appreciate having at the very least the template/skeleton that DA:O offers. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy playing BG and TES, it's just that from a role playing perspective I wasn’t able to enjoy my characters as much as when I was playing Witcher or Mass Effect. In those games I got to BE Geralt or Shepard. While in BG and TES I was just a half-orc berserker or a wood elf sneaky thief. I’m sure other people might have the opposite reaction to me in that they felt Forced to play as Geralt or Shepard and would have preferred more choice. This is why I really liked the DA:O approach because it gives some freedom while also providing a good bit of support.

DOS2 and BG3 are in weird spots because they seem to be trying to combine multiple approaches. On the one hand custom characters using the tag system seems like it could work as a slimmed down version of the DA:O origin system with some decent world reactively. And then the fully fledged origin characters offer something more along the lines of a Geralt or Shepard. While I don’t have an issue with this necessarily, what I have to say next might be a little controversial. I don’t think companions should be origin characters and I don’t think non chosen origin characters should be companions. Not sure how to articulate this point very well so I’ll just end this post like this and anyone wants to chip in why I’m wrong or right or expand on something I said please have at it.

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You haven’t provided any reasons why companions shouldn’t be origin characters and origin character shouldn’t be companions, so there is a lot to debate.

From a game design perspective this is quite cost effective. Every companion has a person quest which you can participate in as a custom character. By making companions playable you can add a little extra content from the character’s perspective you can turn companion quests into personal player quests. This alone justifies the choice.

I love making custom characters, but I’m very much looking forward to playing Minsc, and I think I might give Wyll a try as well.

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You're completely right. I have no reasons and yours make complete sense! My only reasoning for it is my lack of creativity and inability to role play other characters. As an example I thinking of when BG3 finally allows us to play origin characters. Having already played as custom character in the EA we have come to learn about these characters as companions. If I were to try and play say Shadowheart as my player character, it would be hard for me to reconcile how I want to play her with how I know her as a companion. I would have much preferred if Shadowheart was just a companion or just a origin, so I wouldn't have any predefined notions of how she should be roleplayed. For another example if I'm playing Astarion and I have a choice of being selfish or selfless knowing that as a companion he tends towards selfishness, it would be weird if I took the selfless choice even if that's the one I want to make. For most people this is probably a non issue.

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I think to help out people with your issue they should add some generic character templates (for example, Tiefling Rogue Urchin, Wood Elf Ranger Hermit) which would be somewhat predefined like the games you mentioned. Maybe modders will be able to do this at some point. Also a suggestion, whenever they add more companions, try to avoid playing with them in your party during EA if you want to play them as Origins. smile

For me, I prefer the full custom system we have now, it gives me more replay value because I can come up with hundreds of character concepts. I haven't played everything you mentioned but for the ME trilogy I played only once and for DA 1 and 2 I played each only twice. DA:I I never finished but it would have been the same. Since the characters were predefined, by that time I had seen it all and had no need to replay anything, although I enjoyed them. Bethesda games I come back to a lot because I have different character concepts to try, although I use alternate start mods for greater freedom.

I like that they have Origin characters, it makes them more fleshed out and interesting to have in the party. I most likely won't play as any of them myself, but having the option is nice because it may help to explain them more if you play as one. Also I can see some people wanting this option just to play them the opposite of how they play themselves, which could be interesting.

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BG1 and 2 your race and class had almost no impact at story unless you used mods which corrected it said you were half-orc mage? They treated you the same as if you were a human mage

DA:O was the best game in the cursed trilogy your origin and class made a huge impact on the story for example you could enter the fade by yourself and made a deal with the demon either by teaching you the blood magic, having a good fuck (ikr) or giving you additional skill points alternatively you could fight her or when you were human noble fighting one said noble near-end was personal for you. DA:2 butchered character creation so your origins and race were always the same only class made difference in the story and DA:I tried to mimic DA:O but your origins were almost the same and only your race and skills made small changes to how the story went.

Witcher games were sequels to the books and even then they've done it well your race made a huge impact on the story.

TES is complicated and depends on which game you are talking about but in general, races had always small impacts on how the story went your class didn't matter that much as you could be anything.

In Mass Effect your origins made small changes your class had big changes.
I haven't played Divinity games but I have them in my steam games collection as I couldn't afford the time to play them all.

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What I would really love is a for the combination of Race and Class to feed into a template system in combination with an Pillars of Eternity storybook like sequence where you are given list of choices that help define your character. It wouldn't have to be as expansive or expensive as DA:O but if would help give the fully custom characters more weight.

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Interesting post.

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Originally Posted by Cr4zydav3
What I would really love is a for the combination of Race and Class to feed into a template system in combination with an Pillars of Eternity storybook like sequence where you are given list of choices that help define your character. It wouldn't have to be as expansive or expensive as DA:O but if would help give the fully custom characters more weight.

This should be an additional option rather than a replacement system.

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"This should be an additional option rather than a replacement system."

I'm 100% on board with this. My previous point about removing companion characters as playable characters was a little cheeky I'd admit. Its just outside of DOS2 it hasn't been done for (to my knowledge) and it just was a little weird to think about. I was trying to imagine myself Playing DA:O from the point of Morrigan or Mass Effect from the point of Garrus. And in my head it just doesn't work, because those games are about the main character that the player created/shaped, The Warden or Shepard. If you made Morrigan playable as the player character then you remove her interactions as a companion which seems like such a shame since I love her interactions with Alistair. I not saying it couldn't work its simply difficult for me to imagine haha.

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Originally Posted by Cr4zydav3
"This should be an additional option rather than a replacement system."

I'm 100% on board with this. My previous point about removing companion characters as playable characters was a little cheeky I'd admit. Its just outside of DOS2 it hasn't been done for (to my knowledge) and it just was a little weird to think about. I was trying to imagine myself Playing DA:O from the point of Morrigan or Mass Effect from the point of Garrus. And in my head it just doesn't work, because those games are about the main character that the player created/shaped, The Warden or Shepard. If you made Morrigan playable as the player character then you remove her interactions as a companion which seems like such a shame since I love her interactions with Alistair. I not saying it couldn't work its simply difficult for me to imagine haha.


Removal of Origin companions would be very good for the game.
The problem with the current system is that the custom character gets the least amount of content of all possible options. The origin characters also drive the main story, the same way as a custom character + get their own unique questline.
In all non-Larian RPGs the main story is driven by the custom character only and all NPCs are just along for the ride and only have their side story.

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"Interesting post."

Thanks! It mostly started as a way for me to try and sort out what I like to see in RPG's in terms of character creation and reactivity to choices made in character creation. I can't remember if it was you or someone else that started the Build vs Character thread but I'm very much in the Build side. I like to create builds then be presented options on how my character is reacted to in the world. Having a template to work within help me workshop my character without being completely free or restricted.

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Originally Posted by Ixal

Removal of Origin companions would be very good for the game.
The problem with the current system is that the custom character gets the least amount of content of all possible options. The origin characters also drive the main story, the same way as a custom character + get their own unique questline.
In all non-Larian RPGs the main story is driven by the custom character only and all NPCs are just along for the ride and only have their side story.

I see 6 potential replays. One for each origin story and a final one with a completely custom character. I actually fear that the game might take too much of my time, so I petition Larian to remove most/all the content to make it less of an issue.

Last edited by Choosen of KEK; 09/12/20 03:28 AM.
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I think the orders when creating a new character is not great, I end up jumping back and forth a lot between those tabs.
I’d love to see a more linier process, like choose a race first, then look, then profession, origin and skills and attribute are linked so I’d like to see them grouped together and provide more tool tips on how they affect each other.


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