power gaming

Build vs. Create a D&D Character: What’s the Difference?

Hey guys, this is Kenneth Woody coming at you with another helpful bit of insight. Today I’d like to talk with you all about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons as well as two concepts a lot of D&D players blur together. What are these concepts you may ask? Glad you asked, today we’re going to be talking about what it means to build a character versus creating a character. So, without further ado, let’s get into it eh?

D&D build create
Whether you build a character, create one of anything in between, the possibilities are endless in D&D. [Art by Wayne Reynolds]

What does it mean to build a character?

Simply put, building a character comes more into play with power gaming a situation than anything else. And yes, you can absolutely power game and build for roleplaying! A quick example of this is the Oath of Ancients paladin 10/Phoenix Soul sorcerer 10 multiclass option a friend of mine built for being probably the most effective magic tank. So in other words, this character was built for a specific purpose.

Now that we have an example of building a character for a specific task…

Defining character creation

Character creation is still the same as it’s ever been. D&D is very different from a lot of other RPGs – in D&D you have to in a way forge your character(s), by giving them a life of their own, with backstories, wants, needs, ambitions, etc. Character creation often gets blurred into building the character considering how the archetypes work in 5E D&D. For example, let’s look at how I go about creating a character in this video:

But overall it really doesn’t matter a whole awful lot. If you genuinely like thinking over character creation, and really getting into out-of-the ordinary multiclass builds then by all means keep doing what you like. D&D is still just a game at the end of the day. But If you don’t care as much about optimization, then by all means continue creating interesting characters. (Because they are incredibly fun to play.)

Benefits of power gaming character creation

Like it says, we’re gonna be talking about one of the (depending on who you ask) dreaded types of players in D&D. And yes, I’m a power gamer at the end of the day #StraightUpSorcerer. Whatever a group’s reasons for not liking a power gamer at the table isn’t the concern at the moment. What is the concern, is players saying that power gamers are ruining the game. In fact power gamers actually bring a lot more players into the hobby. Again, back to the point at hand. Sometimes, when building a character it can be fun to have a power game concept in mind. A prime example of this being the Eldritch Sniper detailed in an earlier post and this video:

Again, the reason why this is a prime example of power gaming to make a fun build is because the Eldritch Sniper is hampered by being amazing at one thing – being able to have a 1200 ft. range on eldritch blast! However, if you don’t have any sniper missions, you still have a functional character, which is actually weaker than other character builds overall. And because of how this build works, you are just spamming eldritch blast for days, which again doesn’t change much in terms of how casters play. (In fact an arguably better build for this is sorcerer 10 /warlock 4 /Path of the Totem barbarian 6.)

But like I said earlier, at the end of the day, with D&D just play what you like to play plain and simple.

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