Card Based Character Creation for 4th E.

*edit* I forgot the Will/Reflex/Endurance defenses.

I ran across this on twitter a few days ago and it got me thinking about how to use cards in character creation for 4th edition D&D.

As part of the 4.0 line up, WotC published several sets of boxed power cards. They represent all of the powers available to a given core class from level 1 to level 20. Of course by the time they came out, people had already posted their own versions online then the DDi Character Builder allowed you to print similar card with the actual numbers your character used, and they lacked the powers granted by assorted feats, so at the end of the day, they weren’t a particularly good product. But they got printed for all of the Player’s Handbooks (blue boxes) and the assorted power source books (purple boxes)

My FLGS had a stack of them on their discount table, so I bought all of the blue boxes they had (Sorcerer, Warden, Avenger, and Shaman) I also bought the Martial Power: Warlord box in hopes that it would help me fill out some gaps. It turns out that these aren’t the absolute best decks to use to test the “deck based character creation” idea, but they’ll work. The goal is to add a significant aspect of randomness to character creation without entirely squashing player input. This should be done as a group and the DM can construct decks to encourage specific themes. Ideally you will have at least one deck per player, and you will want to have them represent all of the combat roles. If you want, you can also use 4 different colors of opaque backed card sleeves, but that is strictly optional.
Before your players get there, separate all of the first level cards out from each deck. Then separate those cards into stacks: Class Feature, At Will, Encounter, and Daily powers. When you are done, you will have sorted all of your decks into 4 piles. (plus all of the higher level cards you aren’t using right now.Since each class’s cards has a different back, this is where the optional card protectors come in.

Drawing Cards
Any Time I say to draw a card, follow this method.
Your players will each draw their class features, at will powers, encounter powers, daily power, and utility powers. To draw a power you shuffle the appropriate deck and the player draws three cards. They select one card to give their character.

If you pick a class feature from a class that has other associated features not on the cards, you may select one of those features for your character. You will want to make that decision after selecting your other powers, in order to best choose features that complement your choices. If a power requires a feature that is not represented by a card you may take that feature as well.

Now we are ready to begin character creation.

1. Choose Race. Do this as you usually would. If your racial ability allows you to select a power from a different class, you may select this power from the book after you are done selecting powers from the deck.
2. Have each player rank the following things in order of decreasing importance (1 to 5):
Number of Class Features
Healing Surges
Weapon Selection
For each category their selection determines what the character can get
Class Features The higher they rank class features the more features they get to draw from the features deck.
1 Draw from the features deck 3 times.
2-3 Draw from the features deck 2 times
4 Draw from the features deck 1 time
5 No class features.

1-2 15+ Constitution HP +6/level gained
3-4 12+ Constitution HP +5/level gained
5 10 + Constitution HP + 4/level gained.

Healing Surges
1 10+ Constitution Modifier/Day
2 9+ Constitution Modifier/Day
3-5 6+ Constitution Modifier/Day

Armor Proficiencies
1 Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chainmail, Scale, Plate Mail, Light Shield, Heavy Shield
2 Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chainmail, Scale, Light Shield, Heavy Shield
3 Cloth,Leather, Hide, Chainmail, Light Shield
4 Cloth, Leather, Hide
5 Cloth

Weapon Proficiencies
1 Simple Melee, Military Melee, Simple Ranged, Military Ranged
2 Simple Melee, Military Melee, Simple Ranged
3 Simple Melee, Simple Ranged
4 Dagger, Hand Crossbow, Shuriken, Sling, Short Sword
5 Dagger, Quarterstaff

3. Draw Class Features
First thing to do is decide if different characters will be able to have the same features and powers.
If so, each player can select their powers in turn, returning all drawn cards to the deck after they have finished drawing. If not, the players must draw a single feature then pass the deck along to the next player. They hang on to their selected card but return the rejected ones to the deck. In either case, start with those players who have the fewest choices to make and go to those with the most choices.
If a class feature modifies a different class feature, then treat it as the next less frequent type of power (thus at will becomes encounter, and encounter becomes daily. Daily stays daily) unless you also draw and select the requisite class feature.

4 Draw At Will Powers
Each Character gets to draw two at will powers from the 1st level at will power deck following the same method as the Class Features Draw.

5. Draw Encounter Powers
Each Character gets to draw a single encounter power from the first level encounter power deck.

6. Daily Powers
Each character gets to draw a single daily power from the first level daily power deck.

7. Determine Ability Scores
Do this as usual per the PHB.

8. Choose your defense bonus.
You may take a +2 bonus to any one of your non-AC defenses or you may take a +1 to all of them.

9. Choose Skills Select Three Skills to be trained in. You may wish to use your selected class features as a guideline for skill selection.

10. Select Feats
You can pick any feat you have the requsite skills or abilities for. If a feat requires only that you be of a given class then you count as all of the classes you have drawn feature cards from. If you have no feature cards then you must select a single class to count as your class. You must have at least one power from this class.

11. Choose Equipment
Do this as normal.

12 Fill in the Numbers
This is the mathy bit. There is likely more math in this than in the general game, but it is the same math.

13. Fill out role playing aspects of your chracter. Now it is time to paint a coherant whole out of this pc.

14. Leveling
Gain new powers drawing from the appropriate level deck of a given power type per the Powers by Class Level chart on pg 143 of the DMG. I suggest allowing a character to switch one power out for another power of the same level (drawn randomly) every three levels. Paragon powers

Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies require a little more interaction with the dm and more dm judgement than in the standard game, but they should present no major problem.

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