1.what do folks think about then removing the ability to rename characters and NPCs? Basically, no nicknames. An NPC has a name that you can't change, and once your character is "born" they are stuck with whatever you called them until they die. My thought is that if you have more flexibility in the first place, the need for the renaming stuff goes away.
2. I'm now leaning a bit more against the "lots of customization" thing. It's true, this would just encourage players to specialize less, and to try and recreate the same character repeatedly. Which, while attachment to ones' character is good, the former is actually detrimental to gameplay so that's not so hot.
4. Penalty for death is something that can't really be nailed down until how the whole character-creation stuff works settles down. It's like building a house, you have to have the foundation before the roof. Permadeath consequences are of lesser importance to me than the other stuff here, so those get decided on last. Same thing with boss drops. As we start including more and more spellscrolls, it may be that bosses simply drop spellscrolls.
5. Customizing NPCs that you find is definitely flat-out-no. That really makes it feel completely wrong in my opinion: this is somebody you met, not somebody you designed.
6. That said, having a stable of characters in your settlement that are all useful and that you can switch between sounds really good to me. My thought is that there would be some sort of "retirement" scroll that you could get. Using that in a settlement would abandon your character but leave them alive and in the settlement, with a profession of "Retired Glyphbearer." So you couldn't use this to game the system and get NPCs of other professions. But you could use it to retire one character and create/choose another one, then later swap between the two of them.
7. Clearly there's a desire for more customization than we now have, and also the fact that you have to collect upgrade stones at all is an annoying grind at first and then pointless. So that needs to be solved either way. But there also seems to be a strong desire for some randomization and for the game to make you have to play outside your comfort zone, which I also am frankly a little relieved to see.
8. Perhaps, therefore, the past idea of just having a "re-roll characters" button that you can click is a better thing. And then it gives you something like 3 choices always, completely at random. And you get to choose a name for them, and allocate some extra stat points to them rather than having the upgrade stone business (so, still a new character selection screen, but not build-from-scratch).
9. It strikes me that if people can't play as their favorite time period, there's going to be some problems because they may have their enchants and spell unlocks built around something that is then inaccessible. IE, if they are geared to a high-mana strategy and cannot get anyone with high enough mana that could be enormous trouble as they are then basically stuck.
1) HATE this. I often rename NPCs to something catchy. I think of it as a nickname instead of you "Changing their name". It's not uncommon for me to name the Lumbermancer "Woody", the Aquamancer "Drip", and similar cheesy things that somehow make the settlement feel like you customized it.
2) This is kinda pointless. If people don't get the character they want, they're going to just keep killing characters until they do. That's why I liked the idea of your drop-down menu, where you get to choose your character type. If I'm not able to pick the character I want, I can and will continue to give unfit characters lava baths until I get a decent one.
4) A simple thing to make death mean something is to give characters some sort up upgrades after they do something. Not a significant amount, but maybe 3-5 upgrades. If the character dies, the next one will have to earn the upgrades. The upgrades would be called "Rank" or "Experience Level" and would be given titles, such as "Novice", "Journeyman", "Adept", "Veteran", and "Master". Each rank would give a free upgrade level and you could increase your rank by doing things like completing a mission, getting a certain amount of resources, killing a lieutenant, crafting a spell, ect.
This would mean that even though you can "Re-create" your character of the same type, it really benefits you to keep yourself alive.
5) See #1.
6) This would be a decent way to handle multiple characters that you swap between. Coupled with the upgrades idea above, it'd also give good incentive to let each one complete some missions to get upgraded...and to keep them alive! Still no excuse to take away the ability to rename NPCs.
A good way to execute this would be to have "Seek Glyphbearer" scrolls appear as mission rewards. To use these, you would have to go to the green Illari Stone in the settlement (This makes sure you're IN the settlement when you use it!). Using it would make your character become an NPC with the profession of "Glyphbearer Chosen" or something similar, and would start the creation of a new character like it would if you had died. This way, the scroll is basically the Illari calling a glyphbearer from somewhere to come to the settlement.
7) To balance out the rewards of randomness vs the benefits of customization, perhaps let a "Randomized" character start out upgraded by a rank or two (See above), as if they'd completed some missions already. This could be explained as the glyph finding an experienced survivor instead of an inexperienced one.
This would mean that you can get back up to "Full power" faster by randomizing your character. For a random character, there would be a Random button (With some text that explains the pros and cons of randomization). Clicking this (Possibly requiring confirmation to be sure) would immediately pop up a list of several potential characters. You MUST take one of them, though you can still apply upgrades as you wish. Defaulting these random characters to random names (Let the players rename them later if they really want to) would make the randomness be more pronounced.
This would still result in new characters taking lava baths until the one you want shows up.
9) This is why that option to select your character is a good idea. If you don't get the character type with at least the general stats you want/need to play the way you've built up to, characters are going to end up in lava baths.
All-in-all, I think Upgrade Stones should go away as they currently are. There needs to be some customization at character creation, but something beyond that in the long-term, to further advance a character you're sticking with for a long time, is still needed. Gaining Ranks (That each grant an additional upgrade) from doing various things would be a solution to this...but you have to make sure it doesn't become grindy.