Character creation, also called character generation or sometimes abbreviated to chargen, is the process of imagining a new character (generally a player character) and giving them the traits and statistics necessary to exist in and interact fully with the game world according to the system of a role-playing game.
Creating player characters for play
In most campaigns, players create their own characters before the first session, either individually (away from the table) or collectively at session zero. The group may also go through party creation at the same time, which may influence choices made relating to individual characters. In other campaigns or one-shots, the GM will create characters for the player in the form of pre-generated characters.
Character creation may also include developing a character's personality and backstory (develop at start), but this is not always the case. Sometimes these parts of a character can be developed during play.
Creating non-player characters
Steps in Character Creation
Different games and systems have character creation processes of vastly different complexity. Some require very little work, merely a concept and a name, whereas others can require hours of effort to create a suitable character, especially games with crunchy rules and a wide selection of character options. The steps in character creation are roughly
Appropriate traits are selected for the character, according to whatever system is used.
The character is assessed for suitability. In point-based character creation, the character's total points must add up to the right number. The GM and other players may be involved in agreeing the character is suitable for play.