Regarding Pregenerated PC's

Back in the day I created a handful of Hall of Fame modules (Some Distant Shore, Shadow from a Soul on Fire, to name a couple). But then my home was robbed and my computer stolen - including all my NWN files. So I had been away from the NWN community for some time. But in the years in between I thought up a number of different ideas for modules that I wanted to try.

I decided to once again experiment with making modules. But this time, with the value of experience, I committed myself to build modules that use pregenerated PC’s. I know not many people like pregenerated PC’s. But there are multiple reasons for this. And I feel compelled to explain them.

1. Inappropriate PC’s

Despite the fact that I would clearly label a module something like: “For good aligned characters, levels 6-8” I would repeatedly get comments such as:

“This module was much too difficult for my 1st level Wizard!”
“This module was far too easy for my 16th level Ranger!”
“There were no appropriate dialogue choices for my Chaotic Evil Assassin!”

Granted most players did follow the guidelines. Still this kind of thing happened multiple times and with regular frequency. It was all the more frustrating because the few guidelines included were clear, simple, and broad.

2. Inappropriate Equipment

A related issue was PC’s who brought with them into the modules equipment that was very out of place. I remember in one module the characters were supposed to be mobbed by a horde of zombies, forcing them to seek shelter in a nearby castle. Except a player had picked up a Scroll of Sunbeam in a previous module. One incantation later, the entire zombie horde had been blasted into ashes and the module broken.

Another module was supposed to end in a climatic dragon battle. Except a player just happened to have an Arrow of Dragon Slaying from the last module. A single shot and the dragon lay dead - and the big finale completely ruined.

At the other extreme was when players brought little to no equipment with them. For example, for an epic level module, they’d generate a new 1st level PC, level it up to the right level, but then just keep the default, starting equipment. So you’d have some Ranger of legendary ability, running around wearing ordinary leather armor and wielding a plain, old longsword trying to fight epic level monsters.

3. Too Many Variables

There are so many different possible combinations of class, race, alignment, skills, feats, abilities, magic items, and spells. And as the characters go up in level, this all grows exponentially worse. And by the time they reach epic level, trying to anticipate them all becomes an exercise in futility. I remember when I was working on “Some Distant Shore” I was so overwhelmed at all the possibilities PC’s could have. Out of desperation I came up with what I called the “scattershot approach.” Which was basically throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the players and hoping there might be something they’d find challenging.

At least when DMing pen & paper D&D you were able to look over new PC’s ahead of time and make appropriate modifications as you went along. Whereas with NWN you are going in completely blind.

4. More of the Same

When NWN first came out, fantasy RPG video games were few and far between. Now, thankfully, there are so many to pick from. But, as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. At this point I’ve played so many high fantasy games, that they are all starting to blur together. It has left me with a jaded appetite. I’m tired of generic fantasy games where a group of generic fantasy heroes in a generic fantasy world perform generic fantasy quests. I wanted to try to do something at least a little bit different from the same-old-same-old D&D. Which also meant that most regular D&D PC’s wouldn’t fit in.

5. When Everything is Special, Then Nothing Is

The thing about modules that allow for a wide range of different PC’s is that the setting also has to be wide enough to accommodate all those diverse kinds of PC’s. Considering a PC might be a LN Gnome Wizard or a CG Dwarf Cleric or a N Elf Thief or a CE Half-Orc Ranger and so on. Then the world itself has to be one where elves, dwarves, gnomes, half-orcs, thieves, wizards, rangers, and clerics and all the rest regularly rub shoulders with each other. Where fantasy elements have become so conventional that they’ve lost what makes them special - and magic is as common as mud.

6. Sword & Sorcery

Personally I’ve always preferred old school Sword & Sorcery over modern high fantasy. Adventures that appeal to me are ones where heroes, who are quite human, confront the supernatural. Where magic and monsters are all considered intrusive threats to the natural world. With a semi-realistic setting that helps to ground everything and give contrast to the fantastic.

The vast majority of player generated PC’s would be completely out of place in this kind of setting.

7. Role-playing vs. playing a role

Role-playing involves creating a new character from scratch and then playing and developing them over the course of many adventures, involving many hours of play, and a wide variety of enriching experiences. When done right it can be very fun and very rewarding.

However, what I’m doing is creating short, stand alone, story driven modules. These are one offs, never meant to be part of a larger role-playing tapestry.

8. The Right PC for the Right Module

As I said before, I’m trying to make modules that are a little bit different from the routine. For example, my latest published module, “To Us Unseen,” is a Call of Cthulhu style adventure. The fundamental approach in CoC is that in the real world, ordinary men and women go about their banal lives in a placid sea of ignorance. Meanwhile, at the fringes, exists a secret, sinister cabal of mad sorcerers, fanatical cultists, and a host of eldritch abominations conspiring in the shadows to call forth some Elder God across vast gulfs of time and space and bring about Armageddon.

Now consider what type of PC works in this module:

*Its a humans only setting. So the PC’s race has to be human.

*Most of the enemies are super powerful. So the PC has to be someone who avoids combat and instead uses guile and skill to accomplish their goals. Therefore the class has to be a Rogue.

*The PC has to be a low level, so that they are always threatened. This is meant to be a horror module, after all. But still requires high enough skills so that they can accomplish their goals. That means the handful of skills that they do have need to match the skills used during the module. For example, if instead they had a high traps setting skill and a low stealth skill - then the traps skill has little use in this adventure. While not being able to hide from enemies is a death sentence. And if you increase the PC’s level to allow more flexibility and range of abilities, then the whole module stops being survival horror and instead becomes just another by-the-numbers quest.

*The setting in this module is analogous to the renaissance. This is to represent a developed civilization, rich in art, science, law, and reason - as a way to contrast with the primal chaos and cosmic horror embodied by the Cthuloid enemies. But this also means, for the sake of simplicity, the appearance of the PC has to pretty much be male and white.

*I wanted to subvert the whole “Noble hero saves the world” trope. So the PC was meant to be a self-centered career criminal who is forced to save the world simply because if he does nothing then the apocalypse happens. So he’s not Good. But neither is he Evil. He’s comfortably Neutral.

As can be seen, only a very narrow defined type of character can function within this module. Letting a player use a different PC - say a mid-level NE Drow Elf female Druid with high Craft Armor skills and no Stealth skills - would not work in the least.

9. I’m Just One Man

And finally I like to point out that I (like so many other module builders) am just one person. In no way am I compensated for any of my work. Building even a small module takes considerable time. And I’m only able to work on building in what few spare moments that are available to me. Making modules that take in consideration a wide range of characters and offers meaningful choices for all of them involves a level of detail and complexity that I simply don’t have the time for.

If my modules appeal to others, all the better. But to invest the time that I do means I make modules that first must appeal to me personally.


These are all great points. For myself, there are two paths to designing modules:
1 - Designing for specific players
2 - Designing for the community
Most of the modules I build are for specific people and I don’t post here. Some of the interesting parts which I think I can adapt for the community at large I do bring here.

If you want players to have specific characters in your public modules, you can build a “firewall” in your opening area that will only let characters that fit your specific criteria into the rest of the module. But many people find that a nuisance, too. While it is your creation, if you choose to release it to the community, people are going to offer their opinion - it is like any other art form. Once created and given to others, whatever your intent, the creation becomes something else to others.


First: i’m sorry about the robbery. I really dislike thieves myself, that’s why i never make a rogue character.
To Mannast: In fact he did that, he created a firewall that kicks out any other character. Very bad idea.
All his points can be valid, but the more important thing that he does not consider is: the hell do you care?
To Hartunga: I mean: you author make a module with a certain type of character in mind, you specify in the description, and even supply players with a template of character. That’s it. Players are dummies and they don’t read description or want to do things their own way and they don’t get through it as intended? Their loss. You already made quite work, you can’t simply babysitting each player.
But that doesn’t mean forcing a player to play what you decided, becouse at this point it wouldn’t be a ‘roleplay game’ but an adventure game. Besides, consider this, you make the pregenerated character the class you intended, then player when levels up can choose another one, and in the end you didn’t solve that much anyway.

Yep -
Those that can - Do
Those that can’t (or can’t be bothered) - Criticise

@John_Barleycorn You are labouring under a misapprehension here. That is the one that goes - the player is in charge. Nope. The builder is. If they decide that certain things are not allowed, then for that module they are not allowed. For example, a builder can decide you can’t rest until you have the Doohickey of Doom, then for that module you won’t be allowed to rest until you have it.

Do you have to like it? Not at all. If the module builder tells you up-front that on the project page that certain rules apply that you disagree with, don’t try to play that module. Complaining that you didn’t read the warning firmly puts the ball in your court not the builders. Had they not warned you, you would have had something to complain about and to leave a vote reflecting that.

In the wider scheme of computer games there are oodles of games that require you to play as a specific character. Heck, there are even pen and paper D&D modules that require this. For example the old TSR Dragonlance module “DLT1 - New Tales the Land Reborn” requires that the party has both Tika Waylan and Caramon Majere as player characters while very strongly suggesting that the remaining players take on the roles of other surviving (it takes place after the War of the Lance) heroes of the lance, all of whom have their stats provided.

So no, I see nothing wrong in a builder requiring a player to follow their house rules as long as they warn you beforehand. (But I still hate resting restrictions when they are illogical)



Yes, on one thing you are surely right. Why I should bother. Those who can’t do can only criticize right?
Usually when i give a vote and explain the reason of it (especially if like on this case the author himself asks for an explanation), i do becouse i would like to help the author making his work getting even better, especially if there’s potential. But yeah, how many times men can put aside their own ego and really listen to others? You just demonstrated that. So yeah, thanks for the reminder, from now on i won’t bother ever again. It isn’t worth it.
And for the record: as i already said, there’s a lot of modules that tell you that you should play with the given character, but if you don’t, you don’t get a game over, simply the npcs will keep referring to your character as the one intended. That wouldn’t bother me, but -as i said- a firewall that prevents you directly to play it is quite annoying, as also Mannast here already stated.
And on a D&D game is niether the DM or the players in charge but a bit of both.

“The Ghost Tower of Inverness” is considered one of the greatest D&D modules of all time. It was originally a tournament module. And players had to use the pregenerated characters that were given to them.

Even when it was published, the pregenerated characters were included. And it was strongly suggested that players use them since the module was created with those characters specifically in mind.

I do appreciate the feedback. And especially taking the time to explain the reason behind it.

But not all modules are meant to be the typical D&D affair where the hero enters the Temple of Terror to fight the Mephit Horde in order to retrieve the Dragon’s Eye Opal. Where you can play as Orthuk the half-orc bard or Ileana the elfin cleric - or any other character you so choose. Because whatever character you play - it doesn’t make a lick of difference overall.

And that’s precisely why I avoid making those types of modules.

If a module is designed with a specific character in mind and instead you play a different character - then that means the story is not going to make much sense, the balance is going to be off, and the emotional beats are going to be lost.

All the time, effort, and thought that I put into that module will be ruined.

The fact that you tried to ignore the House Rules that I clearly stated and tried to deliberately play an inappropriate PC - just shows why the firewall was needed.

I still encourage you to leave feedback. It does help and is appreciated.

Sorry, i know that you did not consider mine some sort of bully criticism, but what can you do, there’s always some moralist that walz in a exchange of opinions and reprehend one of the two for his behavior. That usually pisses off people, but what can you do.
Honestly what i like of roleplay game is the freedom on making the kind of character you like and decide your course of actions each step. If an author prevents me to do something like that, then there is no point on playing a roleplay game, i would simply play with an action game. But i suppose those are points of view.
As i said, i did not vote much less just for that, which i could understand, but for the forced thing.
The time and effort you put on a module should be for making something nice, and that people could like, but you have to leave that people like it in their own style. Otherwise you could be some kind of dictator that impose people to be happy the way he is happy. Doesn’t work that way. (although sometimes we ALL would like to).
But enough, you -of course- will do as you deem fit, now that i know, i will avoid yours modules in future and very likely giving votes and feedbacks -at least in nwn1-. (this last fact don’t take it persoanlly of course)

I personally hate pregenerated PCs, but have no trouble playing along the module’s rules. If I don’t accept that, I just skip the module altogether. Builders rarely change their creation based on player’s input for other reasons than bug reports.

Almost no player reads guidelines, etc. Sturgeon’s law applies to everything that is human.

That’s what item/level strips are for. Players complaining about them can be safely ignored.

A middle ground approach is to prevent the inappropriate character for continuing unless player signs an in-game disclaimer they understand that. I.e. “type MY CHARACTER SUCKS FOR THIS MODULE in the chatbar to continue”.

I’m not 100% sure what you mean, but it is not customary here to vote on modules we don’t play or on content we don’t use. You may always edit such module to add more variety for specific characters and submit a patch to its author.

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Uh? Why would i vote a module which i haven’t played with?
About builders changing their creations based on player’s input, yes there are, and i even met one or two. (one is Udasu for example)
All depends on how much control one has on his own ego. If you find someone which is more interested on making a masterpiece “objectively” they listen to players opinions, otherwise they use the classic “if you don’t like it, move on”.
Then, for the last time, I DID read the description, but as many other modules here, you find the pregenerated character, not a firewall blocker. If he wrote “you simply can’t play otherwise” i surely wouldn’t even bother.
Anyway before i simply meant i won’t give more feedbacks or votes to nwn1/ee modules.

Oh, last thing: To Taroth Redhand: if from now on you will simply won’t even bother to read (and answer, of course) to any of my comments i would consider it a personal favor.

As a moderator on here (Hint, that is what the little shield next to my username means), I simply cannot do that. It is my job to read all posts and to comment where I think it appropriate. BTW, there is no “h” in my username.


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Noted. Well but if there aren’t ‘moderating’ issues, i don’t think there are problems on do not mind me.

In regards to not using the provided pre generated character, I do it all the time. If i have a negative experience I blame only myself. I’ve been kicking around the same old ranger character ( which a pretty much just a copy of my old PnP character from when i first started playing DnD table top )that I finished the NWN 1 OC from back in the day because it’s fun to find new items and stories and hang on to them to remember the fun I had. I even went so far as to make my own little module that is just a cabin that i store Items I have found.
I always just accept that whatever the module is, is the vision of what the creator had at the time.


Parts of this discussion feel too personal for me to want to get involved, as if there was a history with some tension here. But the OP was an interesting read, thanks.

I will usually go along with whatever the module author deems best for the experience, if it does not put me off from trying the adventure in the first place (which pregenerated PCs wouldn’t). When it comes to my personal preferences though, as long as the PC is not a clearly defined character (think Geralt of The Witcher) I still like some wiggle room and illusion of roleplay which makes it easier for me as a player to connect with the PC. In this ideal scenario, a module author would warn that the PC e.g. has to be a human male rogue with high DEX and stealth skills, but I would still be able to choose name, portrait, appearance and a few minor stat and skill things that aren’t as important for succeeding, and the pregenerated PC would be an optional example of a working character, for those players who prefer to jump right into the game instead of creating their own version.

That being said, as an author, of course you’d want an audience, but I think it’s also worth noting that the toolset is part of the entertainment that NWN has to offer and that everyone investing time in creating adventures does it for free and mostly for their own enjoyment or education. We can’t treat this the same way as a product we pay for, we should be grateful for anyone sacrificing their free time and sharing something that we can enjoy at least in parts, without making any demands, and by always trying to stay constructive and friendly. I also think it’s fair (and wise in order to keep the motivation) if authors create the modules they would enjoy themselves instead of catering to other players’ preferences that they don’t share themselves. And since you can’t please everyone anyway, as a module author I wouldn’t do anything just to avoid certain types of inappropriate comments, because there is no guarantee that it will prevent other types of inappropriate comments. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Just do your thing and hope that someone else will like it, too.


I agree its best giving the player the option to use their own character when they can. But there comes a point where the demands of the module are so narrow that it becomes somewhat meaningless.

In the example I gave above - to fit all the requirements of the module - the PC needs to be a 3rd level human male neutral rogue with high dexterity and strong skills in bluff, disable trap, heal, hide, listen, move silently, open lock, pick pocket, and search.

Or you could just use the PC provided. :wink:

That still leaves his outward appearance and voice as customizable though. :innocent:

But yes, I see your point. I’m just a sucker for cosmetic customization. :sunglasses:

EDIT: To be completely honest, when I created a mini-module myself, ages ago, IIRC it also came with a pregenerated character. :sweat_smile:


In the example I gave above - to fit all the requirements of the module - the PC needs to be a 3rd level human male neutral rogue with high dexterity and strong skills in bluff, disable trap, heal, hide, listen, move silently, open lock, pick pocket, and search.

And this PC needs “weapon finesse” for sure, just in case the final battle went not as expected … and I would happiely sacriface the “dirty fighting” for that (which is, as you told us, just a detail of the personality of the pregen char). And why must it be a male PC? The given recommendations leave some room for own thoughts and the concrete personality … well, it isn’t exactly what I have in mind.

Sorry for the ranting, but I simply can’t resist. :innocent:

Agreed that the choice of Weapon Finesse or Dirty Fighting would have been nice to give to the players. But considering that 95% of the PC had to otherwise be set to fit the needs of the module, it does seem rather pointless overall.

As to why the PC had to be male - the setting is meant to be somewhat historical and realistic. That means that male is the default. Of course a female could have done the same. But in that case you’d have to explain that this is exceptional. And that exposition would have been clunky and been a drag on the flow of the narrative.

But the biggest reason the PC has to be male is that the module starts off in a prison. It would have been absurd to have a single female prisoner in the middle of a male prison surrounded by men.

Of course, if this was a professional made module the developers would have created two different openings - one with a male prison and the other with a female prison. Then they would program in a gender check when the module was started shunting the PC to the appropriate area.

All of which would have been very complex and taken a great deal of time, effort, and programming skills.

While I am just an amateur working alone in my spare time. So you get what you get. :upside_down_face:

There’s another facet that I feel I should point out. I need the PC playing the module to start off having some particular equipment - and not having other particular equipment.

Now I could do what I’ve sometimes seen in other modules. Begin the module in a generic blank area, with the PC stripped of everything. And nearby there is a chest with the required equipment. Which is a very ungainly opening - and immediately ruins any sense of immersion.

Or I could have the pregenerated PC already possessing the required items.

I agree with your points from storytelling and practical point of view. No problem with pregenerated characters (not that I’ve had time to play much lately anyway…).

I just had a technical comment on this last part. If you can strip the PC you can certainly give and equip the desired stuff too. You would not need to have the player do it It could be pretty transparent and not ungainly.

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