Since I’m hopelessly behind, I’m going to combine WISH 86:
What can the GM or other players do to help “midwife” the character creation process?
And WISH 85:
What inspires you to create characters? Do you have partially-developed characters in mind for use when you get into a new campaign? Do you shop characters around, or do you come up with new characters when you get into a campaign? Why? If you GM, are you bothered by receiving a solicitation for a “generic” character, or does it enthuse you to get a solid proposal even if it’s not closely tailored to your game?
And just ramble a lot.
I tend to go in cycles for my characters. I did a couple of travel-oriented characters in Reese and Cian, which I think is finished; I have a cycle of flippant competent noble Guy Gavriel Kay-esque characters which may or may not be complete. Probably not, since I think Mr. Wellstone was drawn from that model. Geoff Heortson is a recycled version of the character I came up with for the Arcana Unearthed game. And so on.
Sometimes I come up with completely new ideas, though. The PC I have in mind for the wuxia Charnel Gods game doesn’t match anything I’ve done recently. He may be the start of a new cycle, but I don’t think so — he’s too much a product of the background for the game. Stick was unique too, although he was generated for another abortive campaign a long time ago. But I won’t likely play him again.
So yeah, it really just depends. I do what catches my interest.
I tend to try and figure out where my character will find spotlight time. Competence is not necessary; hooks are. I always throw in hooks if I can. It’s OK if the GM doesn’t abuse them — if nothing else they’re a signal that I don’t mind hooks, after all.
As a GM, I could care less if someone recycles a character. I prefer to fit my world around the characters. This is my own personal style, of course; I don’t mind making a character closely tailored to someone else’s campaign. But if someone hands me a character that’s not tailored for my world, I see that as an indication of what the player wants out of the campaign, and I like trying to provide whatever’s wanted.
One player in my DoSS campaign was leery of writing up his PC’s Disadvantages, on the grounds that it would force me to put those elements into my plots. No! That’s the whole point of Disadvantages as far as I’m concerned: telling the GM what kinds of elements you want to see. But that’s me.
This is a hint as to what I think a GM (or other players) can do to midwife character creation. It’s a matter of listening to the quirks that a player puts into the characters, and building upon them. Kill Puppies For Satan has some very good material on this: during character creation, the GM goes around the room and says, to each player in turn, “OK, how do you know so-and-so?” So-and-so being the previous player’s PC, if I recall correctly. I think that’s great advice, and I think it could be adapted and made deeper. Perhaps having the players fill out a PC relationship map, in the strict Edwards style — only relatives and lovers get connections?