Some people take very little time with character gen. Roll some stats, pick a class, probably go with one of the "starter packages" DnD 3.0 so helpfully includes: Boom! Out pops a character.
For others, it's going to take a while. Maybe a whole session. For them, making a character is half the fun of the game - it is, after all, role playing. They do it all from scratch, fully customizing everything they can and then writing a life story.
It took Kitty and I three nights.
Now, most of this is because I'm relearning as we go, and she's new to RPGs period. So of course there was going to be some head scratching, plenty of flipping around the book, lots of "What the fuck does that mean?" and a general wish Wizards of the Coast had paid someone to make a decent index.
But the real problem is that she chose a cleric, which means spells, and magic is the most eye-popping, aneurysm-inducing, over-complicated crap in all of DnD. Seriously. What the hell? She has to pray once a day, then pick a small amount of spells from the larger amount she knows, so long as they are the right level to fill available slots, and also she gets two granted powers of which she can pick one, and also Turn Undead, but this, and that, but but and but AHHHHHHHHHHH.
Thank god she's not a wizard.
It's just... I'm used to you having, I don't know, points. And each spell costs some points. Not enough points, can't cast the spell. Simple, effective, and because of this you see it all over RPGs and video games.
Can you image playing, I don't know, Elder World of Ever Diablo Gate Fantasy XXI and every so often it asks you "What spells would you like to be able to cast for the next 24 hours?"
I was ready to house-rule this shit out of existence, but Kitty stopped me. Actually, I was prepared to house-rule a lot of things (Druids refuse to use bows? Wha-huh?), but Kitty stayed my fiery, rule-breaking hand. I think she wants to play it straight as she can, so when we play with others that already know the game it won't be a big shock. I hate to tell her no two DMs run it the same.
But we slogged through, Kitty actually got a little excited, and an elven woodland-worshiping cleric was born.
To teach her the basics, I ran your classic "omen" scenario. Wake up some place weird, attacked by baddies (skeletons, in this case) fight them off (she did very well with the use of Turn Undead) and discover it was all a dream, a warning that something bad is coming. But she enjoyed it.
Success! Next goal - running a full scenario that counts, with the possibility of death.