Why Character Creation is an Essential Role in Fantasy RPGs in Recent Years

The hype around the newly released Baldur’s Gate 3 has gotten everyone talking about fantasy RPGs again. But since the game is so vast and so extensive, critics are only able to post about the starting points. That’s fine with the rest of us because the first thing they have to do is create their characters, and that’s always fun. Why is even watching someone create their fantasy RPG character so engaging? We explore here.

People want to see themselves represented

The most obvious reason why people might love a more detailed character creation system is obvious when you’re scrolling through TikTok or YouTube and hearing about all the different options the recently released Baldur’s Gate 3 game has: people want to see themselves.

Sure, this version of themselves might be a little more badass, might be a troll, might have charisma we can only wish for, but it has their eyes, their skin, and their features that society tends to perceive as flaws. Baldur’s Gate 3, for example, allows you to add scars, vitiligo, a body type that won’t affect stats, a wide variety of hair options that might have once caused someone to lose out at a job interview, and far more. People like seeing themselves. For example, the race options in Baldur’s Gate 3 cover dwarves, elves, gnomes, and more but also a human whose skin colour ranges the everyday spectrum and the entire rainbow. Even your name can be custom. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, try a free fantasy name generator.

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It’s closing the gap between people who play tabletop RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons because there’s no limit to imagination, with console players who are rapidly gaining a lot more options.

A group of cards

It allows for a richer narrative

Famed role playing games of the past like the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises, The Witcher and Disco Elysium, have gotten where they are due to their dedication to the role playing element. The player’s character is determined by their actions, but often in all of these examples, the character customisation is limited or not there at all. In Disco Elysium for example, you’re a drunk cop. There’s no changing that. But are you a drunk cop with a redemption arc or a cold fascist by the end? That comes down to your actions.

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Mostly that’s due to a lack of technology. Baldur’s Gate 3 has put a lot of time and technology into their character creation, but it means you truly can be the character you want to be. Your actions are not only backed up by your appearance but by your stats. The other half of character creation is making sure you have the skills needed to handle any given situation. If you’re someone who talks their way out of problems, you’re going to need the stats to back it. If you’re a pacifist who doesn’t want to use weapons, you can arm yourself in other ways.

This is the player carving out their own narrative within the game, and the best part of it is that it means no two playthroughs are going to be the same. You won’t be “on rails”, like a lot of games, having the same experience as every other player. You’re you and you have the characteristics to back up your decisions.

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It’s a little addictive

If you’ve been on social media listening to the hype around Baldur’s Gate 3, you might have seen the same narrative or heard the same phrase repeated in a shocked voice: “I’ve been at this for hours now”. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a massive RPG fantasy world with acts to its narrative. It’s that extensive, and yet, people are still spending hours getting the character just right.

Are we all perfectionists? Or is there some fun in the simple act of creating your character?