Gamers, like people, are as different as leaves on a tree. We may all come from a similar set of "game tree" roots, but the branches go all over and the leaves grow out from there. In other words, I think we are all sort of similar but through our own experiences, likes and dislikes, we kind of branch out.
From the outset then, whatever I like + do is different from you and how you do it..and frankly that's great. So, in advance, my goal is not to say if you like GAME X and not mine you suck. That's never me nor do I to get strident about stuff like that. Please like what you like and ignore the stuff you don't.
With that preamble out of the way, let me talk about characters in HOW/BLADES and B/X fits here too. The rules of these games are a framework and guideline, giving you a basic understanding of how to create a character, play the game and provides the necessary core elements to build a game from. The basic information needed for both Players and Referee are contained in one book. (Yes the Black Magic (wizard/spells) portion of BBM is still in work.)
Second these rule sets are slim. I have talked before about my dislike of the college text book "standard" size now of multiple rule books now that seldom excite me. Why? There is little creative imagination needed or required. Every element is now hyper detailed to create an assortment of rule breaks/ game advantages just for your character. Through all the backgrounds, special abilities, birth order, homelands and clans you have a detailed and developed character with a big back story.
It has turned character creation into its own "pre-adventure" session needing an hour or two to get everyone done. Additionally, after investing that much time into making 1 character, you probably have an expectation that it will be nigh invulnerable! The Referee in these games (in a separate book mind you) is instructed how to make fights and threats even or fair to insure characters survive. I think of this all as something akin to a Disney ride. You get in and while it may feel dangerous here and there, you are totally safe.
That's not true for HOW/BBM/BECMI. I may have a dwarf fighter and he will have a couple abilities or skills in HOW or BECMI. Probably take about 20 or 30 minutes to create at most. Then its up to me as the player to make that character come to life! The character sheet provides the basic mechanical framework for what the character can do and how well they can mechanically do it in the game system, nothing more. Only through play and adventures do I as the Player begin to develop the character, create a personality and create an attachment. Frankly, because these games are lethal, I may not have too long to be attached anyway!
Also, since these characters can fit all relevant information on a notecard or a bookmark, it is kind of understood this character's life may be nasty, brutish and short. There is no sense, nor expectations, that a fight or experience will be fair in HOW/BBM/BECMI. Pick a fight with an ogre? Go traipsing down the dark and overgrown steps of the mad kings tomb? Enter an ancient wizards laboratory hidden in Mount Charon? You are likely to get stomped.
That is how it should be! The reason now one else has gone in to tackle the ogre stealing the town's goats, nor go to loot the mad king's tomb, nor gone to fetch the wizard crown out of Mount Charon is because it IS dangerous, likely to fail and likely to get you STOMPED. Your character is one of the brave (or foolhardy or greedy or insane) to have a go.
Ladies and gentlemen, going out to loot forbidden vampire tombs, conquering kingdoms and slaying dragons should be dangerous as hell and likely to lead to an early grave. Otherwise EVERYONE would be out doing it!
Now do you need a 400 page player guide covering every potential skill, feat, advantage or disadvantage possible to min/max your character build to take on these threats? Negative ghost rider. (I mean if you do really NEED that? Cool, there are a dozen games out there to meet your need!) All you really need are the mechanical basics to try things in game and an understanding of how difficult your choices may be.
For example in HOW, if I a Player's dwarf wants to slam dunk a boulder on dour ogre's head? I allow Players to make a nigh impossible roll (must roll a 3 on 3d6) IF they can explain HOW they intend to do it! No fancy feats or advantages, just explain it and let the dice decide.
What this all boils down to is: the fewer structured rules, the more sense of wonder, freedom and possibility a game can provide to your the Referee and to the Players.
I think often the massive tomes and ranges of feats, advantages and disadvantages--in their wish/drive to try and help you create unique or wondrous characters--they actually end up creating tiny little ivory towers. These make you within the tower "feel special" but actually it walls you off and removes you from the game. Instead of starting out fairly similar (A fighter is similar except stats/weapons/skills) and then during play creating a unique nature for your character that comes from those near misses, foes conquered and tombs looted.
Those are the things, the adventures undertaken and battles survived that make a character more than a handful of stats and skills on a page. Random creation charts and multi-page character sheets to be filled out can't do that, the play is the thing.