Ever since Shane showed me how to create my own races in Pathfinder, I’ve been mildly obsessed with creating concepts for characters.
It goes far beyond conceptualizing races, which is a bit of a phase I went through with my teindkin and Lympasi. It’s extended into full-out character creation either using my created races, or by using standard races and adding extra features to make up the 20 racial points we’re allowed.
Then, when that became familiar enough to me, I turned to creating complex cross-class combinations that were incredibly far from vanilla Pathfinder characters.
The most complex so far is my Dragonsong build, but that didn’t at all stop me from trying to top it.
After a while, I did start to feel bad. I mean, here I was creating all these epic characters, giving them names and stories and traits and flaws just so they could tuck away into the Inactive section of my D&D binder. Who knew if they’d ever see the light of day?
It felt pretty wasteful.
But lately, I’ve been learning why it’s maybe not such a bad idea to have so many great players waiting on the metaphorical bench.
Introducing Shea: The first side-story
A few months ago, just after I’d come up with two different concepts for shifters, we introduced one of Shane’s work buddies to D&D.
He got thrown into the deep end a little bit; we typically introduce new players through one-shots or smaller campaigns, but he got tossed into our existing Kingmaker game right as we were engaging in some interesting tactics to defeat guards at a river camp.
Yep, his first impression ever was watching a mind-controlling witch and an enthusiastic dragon bard convince a pair of guards to let us tie them up while the poor paladin facepalmed himself into last Tuesday.
Somewhere in that enlightening session, he learned that we all had backstories we’d written for our characters, and decided he wanted one too—but instead of writing, he wanted to do a small campaign for it. The witch’s player offered to DM a mini-campaign to do that for him, and suddenly, it was back to character creation for the rest of us.
Usually, in a situation like that, I’d try to come up with a character that would work best with the group. It’s probably not really how I should come up with characters, but well, someone has to bite the bullet and be the healer, right?
But because I had so many characters ready, instead, all I had to do was pull one off the bench—and as Shea the ifrit shifter made her debut, our party was much more organic, much less planned.
And that wasn’t the only time my backups came in handy.
Just this past weekend, our group had planned for a full afternoon game on Sunday. People were going to show up at our apartment around 1:30 p.m., so we could hopefully get through the new player’s backstory and get back to Kingmaker.
At 11 a.m., I got a message from the DM that she and her husband couldn’t come—which left us with no DM for the smaller campaign, and much too small a party to tackle Kingmaker.
So to save the day, Shane decided he’d run a one-shot we’d done previously with another group and invite another friend of his who was interested in trying it out. We’d all have to create completely new characters, but that along with an NPC he had stashed away meant we could still have game.
That was when Alanna the half-elf bard-slash-summoner came out to play, complete with separate character sheet for her eidolon. And because I was ready, I could help the other players—neither of whom had ever actually created a character themselves—fill in their sheets.
Which really just meant that instead of spending half the day making Pathfinder characters, we were ready to play a whole lot sooner.
In both situations, having a few extra characters was a good thing—first because I couldn’t use player knowledge to make a well-rounded party, and then because I could try to help newer players with what little I know about Pathfinder.
So I guess now it just means I need to create a few more backups!