Party 'Building' (= Immersion Breaking?)
With particular reference to D&D, but probably applies to other systems as well.
Something I come across with depressing regularity when trawling various gaming forums is the concept of a 'party build' being discussed.
As something of an old-school RP'er, this is really an alien idea to me. In the bad old days (we're talking late 70's here), the way we always put together a party for an adventure was simple. Every player would roll up a character and without reference to what anyone else was doing, they would try to work out an interesting character concept, for themselves to play. You could easily end up with a party full of fighters without any other classes involved. In fact, this rarely happened because every player had different ideas for what sort of character they wanted to play anyway. But it wouldn't be unusual to have no cleric, for instance.
This principle lives on in the campaign I am running now. Every player has multiple characters, all of whom have differing abilities, motivations and personality traits. The PCs form a loose network of associations. Not every PC has even met or heard of every other PC.
Parties for adventures are never constructed based on metagaming arguments. They tend to include characters based on who 'receives' the adventure lead, and who else they decide to invite (which is as likely to be based on whether they personally like them as anything else - and whether they happen to be in their locale at the time). Certainly, sometimes they will say 'we need so-and-so for this job' but the point is that the decision is largely based in-game. Character levels are not a major consideration and the party can end up as a crazy heterogenous mix. Sometimes the adventure turns out to be more than they can handle (I don't build encounters based on some dumb formula that matches the challenge to the party, I build them based on in-game rationales), and they wind up running with their tails between their legs, and yes, sometimes even carrying the corpses of their fallen comrades.
I gather that this is an unusual way of doing things in this 'enlightened' (ahem) age. But let me tell you it's a heck of a lot more fun than working to some tiresome party build checklist.
So how do other gamegreners out there decide who gets to go on the adventure?