Are you frequently finding yourself day-dreaming about other builds when you’re supposed to be playing your current character? You may be an alt-oholic. In this issue of Dear DovahQueen, we discuss the reasons we indulge in alt-oholism and discuss some options from freeing ourselves from our alts.
Dear DovahQueen: As I play through different PathFinder APs I’m finding that I feel deep FOMO when it comes to my character and how I built them. Any advice on how to turn my FOMO around and build the character of my dreams?— FOM-Over It
Dear MOFO: So, I’ve had about 100 hundred different characters in Skyrim, but I’ve only actually beat it like 3 times. In WOW, I had 8 different alts or so and none of them ever hit the max level. My PFS roster is more than I can count on two hands and not a one of them has hit level 12. Baldur’s Gate series and the digital Kingmaker? Too many to count. What I’m saying is, I get you. I think that “fear of missing out” is the driving force behind my being an alt-oholic; I’m just always drawn to a playstyle that I’m not currently using. Frankly, there’s not a ton of stuff you can do about it. Being a creative person has its ups and downs—that FOMO has got to be both.
One thing I’d like to mention first is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Never being able to settle on one build, or one character, is something that I believe is a sign of creativity. There’s absolutely 100% nothing wrong with someone being comfortable with one character or a simple build, but for folks like us, it ain’t cutting it amirite? That FOMO about what other characters you could be writing and playing can fuel your creative endeavors. If you’re someone who draws or paints or sketches or writes stories, you can ply your artist talent to some of the characters you see in your head. Granted, if you’re pining for crunch stuff like builds, classes, and feats, that isn’t gonna do the trick.
In that case, are you able to GM? Being a gamemaster is basically the magic bullet to this problem. Have a neat build in mind? Cool, that’s the next boss encounter. Really wanna play that orc-bard that you’ve been thinking about? Guess who’s trying to make some coin in the local tavern right now. If you’re kinda worried about GMing, don’t do the worry. “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”—Jake the Dog. Like, just having the kind of creativity in the first place to yearn for making all kinds of characters is exactly the character trait that makes a great GM. Just take some of your favorite builds, assign personalities; levels; and ranks to them, and then try to imagine their ploys in a world for the PCs to interact with. If your players are capable of writing great backstories, the game’s plot can kinda write itself. Interesting characters drive a story, and between you and your players, you’ll have interesting characters in spades.
If you simply can’t GM because it’s just not in the cards for whatever reason, consider this. It’s a little uncouth but try handing a slew of characters you wrote over to the GM for use as NPCs. It’s not idyllic, right, but it does do a little to scratch that itch. In the same vein, maybe you have a handful of B-team characters? You could send you main away on a side mission or something while you run a one your B-listers. I’m personally a big fan of these kinds of things because it allows for some interesting developments to the plot and setting as a whole. Bonus points if all the players write other characters and yall actually do run the B-team for a session. Those are always really interesting side missions that both change the pace and further develop the story.
Lastly, this feels like a cheap answer because it’s kinda an easy thing to say, but have you considered PFS or Adventurer’s League? Multiple characters are kinda the point of these systems. Between PFS and simply being in a lot of different campaigns, really helped me a lot to get new builds off my mind.
Ok, I said “lastly,” but I changed my mind; I wanna give you something else. You did specifically mention building the character of your dreams. This is kinda a longshot though, but it’s personally the single most important thing to me. How unique are the characters you’re making? Like, I don’t mean build here, but more how interesting are they as people that live in a fictitious world? When I think of any character from a work of fiction that I really like, it’s kinda hard to pin down what class they’d be 100%. I mean, we can try to do it, but you can’t always know for sure. Granted, Conan is “The Barbarian.” Sure, but what is Gordan Freeman, John Marston, or Ganondorf? Hell, what even is Link!? (That’s a debate that’s been going forever, but I am personally certain that Link is a Ranger with the sword and shield style!) What I’m getting at here is that interesting, deep characters are easier to get invested in. Being fully immersed in a character kinda helps put the blinders on FOMO. “Write better characters” isn’t exactly good advice though; that’s why I was hesitant to mention it. And honestly, it’d take me a whole series to talk about my process which isn’t even for everyone since it’s such a subjective topic. Let’s just leave it as “food for thought?” Just…always be mindful of what more you could be adding to the story of your character without getting ridiculous (unless you’re into that kinda thing).
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