I tend to get inspired by various things into creating characters, like videogames I play, music I listen to, reading, talking with other people - and of course from games I play or DM. Actually, I would say music is my main source of inspiration. Whenever I listen to music, I start thinking of chararacters that work with this song or theme, sometimes these characters are ones that already exist, sometimes these characters are new ones that I then start building.
Once I have settled on a concept, I will work out the build on the mechanical side. What classes I should take, which spells and feats, what race will work the best. I also like to reflavor stuff that works well mechanically for the character I have in mind, but comes with ill-fitting flavor text. What I want is a character that is thematic, efficient, versatile and works well. Theme and flavor is indeed quite important for me, I do not like builds that have just the sole goal of being powerful.
When I work out a character’s build, I often toy around with it, playtesting it (sometimes playtesting a homebrewed monster ends up being a playtest for builds too), imagining various scenarious (particularly in combat) and what the character could do to deal with them. For example, massive melee damage potential does not help when the character only rarely gets into melee range to actually deal that damage and/or is easy to shut down by difficult terrain and restraining effects.
Basically, character creation for me typically goes as follows:
- Something inspires me, I have a character concept that I want to play.
- I think about who the character is in terms of character traits and how they would appear and fight - is the character a martial, a caster, a gish, is he/she more focused on buffing, crowd control or damage…?
- Then I will try to craft a build for that character, a build that allows me to play the character as I imagine him/her, with whatever resources - stats, starting items, sourcebooks - I have (shoutouts to certain belts, gauntlets and headbands )
- Once I have the build, I will think of strategies with that build, consider what weaknesses they have and if I can play around them, and do small refinements like swapping out spells until I am happy (or the game starts).
If I build a character for a campaign or a specific oneshot, another important consideration is what the party already consists of and what is still needed. I like being the last one to build their character to ensure that I can fill whatever roles are left. Also, if stats are rolled, I always roll first and decide on my build once I see my stats. I want to make use of well-rolled stats for difficult to achieve builds with high stat requirements like a bladesinger/paladin or bard/cleric multiclass, but on the other hand I do not want to make overly stat-reliant builds with weak stat rolls.
If I like a character I created, I tend to keep them around, developing rather extensive backstories and places of origin for them, which in some cases was the inspiration for major parts of my homebrew setting.
In addition, I like using D&D characters as player characters in games like Baldur’s Game 3 or Skyrim, roleplaying them and seeing how they fare in that world and scenario - whether that is them smiting evil, bringing light to cursed lands, consuming brain worms, giving in to certain urges or something different.
Also, I am a big fan of bringing my characters to life by creating detailed heroforge miniatures and/or commissioning artworks of them.