It's times such as these that make rules-lite games a complete godsend. In Risus, for example, an entire character can fit on a Post-it note. Old school D&D is not far behind in its brevity. But even for such bare-bones systems, players can still get bogged down with their choices. I've seen players waffle over that last damn cliche for Risus and selecting equipment for D&D (or the spells/feats/powers of recent editions) can feel like doing your taxes. Don't even get me started about point-buy games like Gurps.
Well, there is an easy way to get characters into the action faster than you can order pizza. It's called Just-In-Time Character Generation and I've used it successfully in two recent one-shots.
The idea is simple:
- You only need to determine the absolute minimum before jumping into play.
- Selection of secondary or non-critical traits can be delayed until they are needed in game.
- Once a trait is used, it is fixed until regular advancement.
In D&D, I would require a name, race, class, ability scores, hit points, and starting wealth. But almost everything else is fair game for this technique. I think it's especially useful for equipment selection. Characters could use their starting gold to "purchase" adventuring gear as they needed it (even while exploring a dungeon!), so long as doing so would not violate continuity.
You might be thinking that this "define it when I need it" approach gives players an advantage. The answer is that, yes, it does. But it's an acceptable advantage that quickly goes away once the character becomes fully fleshed out.