When I rolled up my first ever HackMaster PC in Fourth Edition, I looked at Face and asked "What should I take?" Meaning what skills, talents, proficiencies--what should I be?
I had already decided to be a cleric. I liked the idea of clerics. They could fight and cast spells and had a purpose beyond finding treasure and fighting monsters. Beyond that, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Of all the choices in front of me, what made the perfect PC?
As a new player, I got a lot of advice. Crunch the numbers. Get the most bang for your buck. In Fourth Edition, your PC was determined largely by stats. It was possible to tweak them a bit--spend a few Building Points until you got what you wanted--but the ability to swap stats into preferred attributes is part of the new HackMaster.
When I learned Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, our DM let us pick our own stats. And I was fine with that. That was our DM's call. He also made it clear that if we did something dumb like make everything an 18, there would be fallout. Every bad guy in the world would be lining up to challenge the He-Man clone. ;) I found it interesting that even when I had the ability to make up my stats, my PC was still pretty average. I think I gave her a high Dex because I like to be fast.
Today I saw a thread about rolling stats for HackMaster PCs and what to do if one character has results lower than others in the group. And I thought about my first HackMaster PC. "What should I take?" Well, take anything! The new system allows for swapping stats and using building points in multiple ways to create the character you want, so why not? In response to all of the advice--crunching numbers, doing the math, running through all of the possible scenarios available to this set of numbers--I think the important thing is to play what you want. There are a lot of GMs willing to show players what they think they should do. That's fine. Knowing the numbers isn't a bad thing. In my experience, though, the characters I like to play the most are not necessarily the ones with the biggest stats. They are the characters with the biggest personalities. HackMaster allows for customization--it is possible to have a Dwarven mage--so why not go for it?
When deciding how best to turn a page of numbers into a HackMaster--or any system--character, my advice is not to leave the decision entirely up to the numbers. A fighter can start his career with a 7 Strength and a 15 Wisdom. Those numbers are not a deal breaker. They are just the beginning of the character's story. And guess who is in charge of that story? Not the GM, not the guy telling you what the numbers mean, but YOU, the player. It's your character.
So, what should you take? ;)