Adapting Keep on the Shadowfell: The Players

As the majority of the group was new to Dungeons and Dragons we chose to go with the pre-generated characters provided with the module. This has the disadvantage of the characters having not much back story or pre-determined personality, but did seem advantageous for new players being able to get “into the game” right away without a session spent on character creation and the trails of skill selection and point allocation that go along with that.

The Players:

  • Mercado the Half-Elf Cleric
  • Full-Ling the Halfling Rogue
  • Rockbottom the Dwaren Fighter
  • Magical Trevor the Human Wizard
  • Liraka the Dragonborn Paladin

I think that being able to start right away was important; some of the player had not bought into the concept as much as others, and the potential tedium of character creation seemed like a major roadblock on the way to the “fun” part of the game. The downside was that it took a while for much to emerge in the way of personality for the characters. Magical Trevor did take form more or less immediately as an  of an exuberant singing wizard with the personality of an over caffeinated twelve year old. Other characters are still establishing their personalities, by the time we started our forth session I made the conscience effort to only refer to people in game by their character names.

Another advantage of the prebuilt characters was that the character sheets created for these are for more readable than the generic D&D sheets. There’s just too much noise on the page and it isn’t well organized. The prebuilt character sheets may be a bit over simplified, but they do a good job of organizing the necessary information for beginner players. When we had a new player join us for the forth session with a new character I actually chose to create a custom character sheet based on the design of the prebuilt character sheets.

Things to consider:

  • What context does one need to provide for the characters knowing each other before the start of the adventure?
  • Character creation can be a barrier for getting started, but can new player be coached to create back stories?
  • Even if using pre-gen character without backstories, can choosing character names and referring to players by those names help ease players into roleplaying?

One interesting aspect to using the pre-genned characters is that everyone selected characters based upon what they could do, and then decided to keep the sex of their character in the image. Among the pre-genned characters, only one was female and was taken by a guy, and two girls took male characters. Unfortunately the one female character was the one who ended up leaving the party, and the new player picked male, so the party is now all male characters. But giving pre-genned characters a sex does potentially have implications for the sexual banter that sometimes crops up in D&D campaigns.