Regarding Pregenerated PC's

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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Tarot_Redhand does not have an “h”? It may be silent but I think I see it there :slight_smile:

Yes, I’m pretty sure I have seen this in other modules, a lot even. You don’t need an OOC room for it.

(Of course, many modules also resolve it in-character, e.g. the module starting with the PC waking up in their bedroom or a prison cell undressed and needing to retrieve their equipment from somewhere nearby.)

I meant at the end of the Tarot part. Too sleepy when I posted.


While it is technically possible - that doesn’t mean its easy. :grin:

Again, I’m only an amateur at this - with no particular programming skills. So just having an NPC walk up and talk to the PC is - for me at least - a programming achievement.

The simplest solutions are usually the best ones.

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Item and level strips are pretty common and actually quite easy to do. I’d call them the simplest solution as it equalizes PCs in terms of everything except looks in one go.

You just set XP to 0 and unceremoniously destroy all items in the equipment and the inventory. Then you spawn back (and equip) fresh skin and whatever starting stuff you need. You can do it even in OnClientEnter(), so the player can be brought right into the story without OOC events.

It also makes a decent scripting skill sharpening experience - worth trying.

Not only would you have to strip everything from the PC, you’d then have to provide them with the required items in their inventory. And not just that - since situations are rare where you would want the PC to start off butt-naked - you would also need to program it so that the PC immediately equips the items, at the very least the clothes/armor.

All in all a rather involved bit of programming.

And getting back to the subject of playing with your own established PC - I’ve never liked it when modules forcefully took my items away from me. I’ve spent all these adventures fighting, collecting, finding in odd treasures chests, buying, selling, stealing, and crafting a whole collection of weapons, armor, potions, rings, amulets, and assorted other equipment.

And then I start a new module and the builder takes them all away from me.

As to permanently stripping an established PC of experience - I’ve never had that happened. And if it did - I would be furious at builder for it. It is one thing to take away a player’s hard earned items. But now you are deliberately changing their own character at a fundamental level.

It is just so much simpler and more effective using a pregenerated PC in a module that genuinely has need of it.

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I’ve never quite understood players getting furious about this though, since neither the items nor the experience is actually lost for good - only on the current version of the character. You still have your other saved version(s) of the character from before. So this would only be a problem if you wanted to play through a series of different modules using the same character and the same items even though the modules are not balanced for them. But if that’s the case, you would just move on to another module without item strip, no need to get furious about it.

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One important aspect of role playing is taking your character and having them grow and develop over the course of a series of adventures. Collectively this becomes their life’s story. Fundamentally altering their statistics or jumping about willy-nilly with their experience level violates the integrity of their character.

Outside of NWN I can’t think of a way of playing D&D that enables one to use assorted game saves to play completely different adventures with the same character as they were at various levels. Even in other video game versions of D&D, like Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment, you might have to option to go back to a previous save. But you are still playing a single, overarching campaign where the development of your PC is linear and unified.

Certainly in pen & paper D&D that kind of approach would be unthinkable. What happens to your PC is irrevocable.

I’m remember one incident that happened in my old gaming group. We’d all take turns being the DM and designing adventures. At this time everyone in our party was 4-5 level. One guy was rather inexperienced. He created this Monty Haul dungeon where at the end we found a literal abandoned dragon’s horde.

That was far more gold and treasure than anyone at our level should have. It was like winning the lottery. We could buy pretty much anything we wanted. It completely threw off the balance of the game.

With the adventure after that everything was so skewed and unbalanced. Our gaming group had to have an emergency meeting to decide how we were going to fix this. One of the guys suggested we invalidate the last two adventures and start back over from where we were before. Everyone hated that idea, You can’t go back, only forward.

The next guy in rotation to be DM created an adventure where us spending all that gold had drawn unwanted attention. And we ended up losing the bulk of the gold and treasure.

But that whole arc was a wild ride! :grinning:


I understand this reasoning for pen and paper campaigns, maybe multiplayer groups in NWN, too, or if you got really attached to one character due to a long and memorable adventure you went through. But personally I’ve created so many characters in NWN and played so many (often short) modules - that required me to build specific types of characters - , that often I don’t have a clear background history in my mind anymore for each and every character.

If you’d want to go through with using the same character for different modules from different authors, equipment and levels wouldn’t be your only problems. In fact, from a roleplaying perspective I might find it much easier to imagine why my character got a bit rusty in between the current and the last adventure, or why they didn’t bring all their treasures with them this time, than to explain why they are suddenly in a totally different setting (unless everything is compatible to official Forgotten Realms lore which many NWN modules aren’t) or why their personality changed so much (because someone else wrote their obligatory lines now).

In any case, if reloading an old save game in Baldur’s Gate is okay, why would it not be possible to clear a character’s history of that little memory when all items were stripped from them and you immediately quit the module to find a more suitable one for the unstripped version of your PC? :wink: Still nothing to be mad about, IMO.

But again, an interesting read. I imagine it was quite a bit of fun to solve that problem via storytelling. :slight_smile:

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OP is really interesting and I have lots of thoughts on it, which I’ll ramble about below, but in case you lack the time or inclination for that I will put my conclusion up front:

I think you’re entirely reasonable, and I second the sentiment that’s been expressed here several times, that the deal is the author makes the module they want to make and players can take it or leave it.

Now I don’t know if I would get around to playing your module, personally, because over twenty years on and off playing NWN I’ve discovered that by far my favourite way to engage is to make a character and run them through a series of self-contained, unrelated modules by different authors. The modules themselves don’t share an overarching story, but I get the experience of an overarching story that is simply the story of that character’s adventuring career. There are some great epic saga series on the Vault, but I always ultimately have fun stringing together smaller, less epic modules. I think NWN at its core is just really suited to that picaresque style where the player takes on the role of fantasy Clint Eastwood/Yojimbo/etc.

It is interesting that you mention your module being a smaller, self-contained experience - it sounds like the difference is yours is self-contained to the point where it wouldn’t make sense to have the same character doing this dark and weird cthuloid investigation one day, and hacking their way through hordes of gnolls to rescue a princess the next. That’s entirely fair, although if I do play your module there is a good chance I would use your pregen character and then take that character on to play other random modules like I usually do. I’m at a point where the sheer fun of doing the picaresque sequence outweighs any inconsistency of tone, setting, genre etc between the different modules. In fact I kind of like the inconsistencies.

Along the same lines, if a player is doing what I do and leaning in to the “eclectic module sequence” experience then some of the things which are problems from your point of view may become fantastic moments from theirs. For example, that climactic dragon fight that the player short-circuited because they had an arrow of dragon-slaying? Sure, viewing your module as entirely self-contained, it undermines the experience you’re aiming to create. But for that player it might feel like “oh my god, the arrow of dragon slaying that the old hermit gave me back in the Sword Mountains when I was caught up in that whole business with the dragon cult! I knew I was saving this for a reason!” And then they shoot it and it works and that could be an immensely satisfying moment.

But if you are committed to crafting an experience that has its own tone and style, and is intended to be played alone and siloed off from the rest of the NWN experience, then fair enough. I would be aware that you are pushing at the limits of what NWN is though. It does have a default setting, Forgotten Realms, and all the assumptions that come with that - like elves, gnomes, clerics and sorcerers all rubbing shoulders for example, and the meta level assumption that players get to make their own characters and transport them between modules. I’m not saying this is inherently better - in fact my favourite games of all time are the golden age Final Fantasy games, which give you a predetermined set of characters because that’s integral to what those games are. But NWN is a very different thing.

In a way this is the same as the point about players respecting the author’s vision and taking the module on its own terms. As authors we also need to recognise that NWN itself has a particular vision and like it or not we are going to be constrained to some extent by that.

That said, again, there’s nothing wrong with pushing at those restraints and seeing what unexpected stuff you can make with the toolset, and it sounds like that’s what you’re inspired to do. “Follow your bliss” as they say. So to end up where I began, yeah go for it!

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Well I’m sure when that player managed to kill the dragon with a single shot - he had a moment of exhilaration. Still there is a deeper satisfaction from confronting an enemy -then, after a great struggle, defeating it. Rather than achieving a cheap, easy victory from dumb, blind luck.

My modules are often commended for being very atmospheric. And I do spend a great deal of thought and effort trying to make them that way. Building and maintaining the proper atmosphere can be quite fragile. But if a player deliberately breaks the rules of module, then they will destroy that sense of atmosphere. They will ruin all the work that I put into the module. Not only that, they will spoil the play of the module for themselves.

Back in the early 80’s - when D&D started to gain popularity and I began to play it (I know, I’m old) - there was a different approach towards the ruleset. Basically the attitude was: here are bunch of different colored paints and brushes and a blank canvas. Now paint whatever you like.

But nowadays the Forgotten Realms is the automatic default. And if you’re not playing the Forgotten Realms - then it is assumed you’re playing something very much like it.

Now don’t get me wrong - I’ve had a lot of fun playing around in the Forgotten Realms and similar settings. The thing is - fantasy can be so much more than a Halfling Barbarian, Dwarf Bard, and Half-Orc Cleric traveling together into the Wyvern Hills to rescue the Elf Princess from the Goblin King. And thinking in just typical D&D terms is limiting - both to the designers and the players.


Well, they won’t actually ruin the work you put into it, just miss out on your vision for it, which is their loss, not yours. And whether they spoil the experience for themselves or not depends on whether they share your vision and tastes or find enjoyment in completely different things. As author you just have to live with the fact that you have no direct control over how your work is consumed and perceived, you can only hope that some appreciate it the way you imagined they would or should.

I agree, NWN would only be half as much fun if authors never tried to think outside the box and just created canon FR modules all the time. :+1:


Well yeah, they miss out on your intended experience. But I wasn’t talking about the cheap thrill of an easy victory. I meant the fact that they, by chance, had just the right item from a previous module and used it to triumph against difficult odds. To me that’s the kind of unexpected, organic moment that adds its own kind of depth. It’s an element that wasn’t put there by either module author, but emerged in the player’s experience.

That said, I can fully understand why you would want people to have the experience you intended, and it’s certainly fine for some modules to say “this is intended as a standalone module”. And I agree it is good to experiment too.

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