The player is essentially you in the world of Calradia.
In early versions of native, the player was always from the city-state of Zendar, along with tournament fighters Xerina, Dranton, and Kradus. However, in the current lore of Calradia, Zendar was sacked and razed by Sea Raiders and the player is always a foreigner.
The first thing that must be decided about the player's character is his/her appearance. Many facial features of the player's character can be adjusted to each individual players liking such as hair, eyes, and nose as well as cheek/jaw bones.
When you create your character, you must answer a number of questions about the character's early life. While these will affect your starting Skills, Attributes and Proficiencies, they have no long-term effect on the game. You must also choose your name. The only part of the character's life which is decided for them is the fact that they came to Calradia from another land. This does not occur in With Fire & Sword, as all you must choose is your appearance and skills.
After the player arrives in Calradia, you gain direct control over them, and you have a huge number of options about what to do next. Select a starting faction and off you go to make your mark on the world.
Considerations for the player
As "The Player" you are the de facto leader of your group. Your companions can use the skill points they earn when they level up to augment the group, but a few skills are unique to you, the leader. Looting and Leadership are two traits you may want to pick up, since looting is the one secondary skill that no companions start with, and leadership because that skill only comes into play when the leader has it. Another is inventory management. The only player that benefits from that skill is the leader, so putting Katrin in your party with her 7 skill in inventory management won't do you any good.
You begin the game with the following statistics before you make any choices about your past (as part of Character creation).
In With Fire & Sword, you have a different skill-set, as you get fewer choices on startup. Your attributes all start at 7 with 4 points to allocate, your proficiencies all start 52 with 10 points to allocate, and your Skills start with various points pre-allocated, and with 8 points to choose yourself.