Differing Methods of Character Generation

Over the last few years I’ve come to appreciate different methods of character generation. I’m not especially keen on point allocation systems due to concerns that they are unrealistic because a) not everyone is equal and b) they’re prone to abuse by min-maxing. (I find the latter to be more evident in games where you have hundreds of points and points give traits which different advantages and yes I am pointing the fingers straight at Champions even more than anything here).

I did however opt for point allocation systems for all of my games so far (with some minor exceptions in the generations, most notable in Testament/Creed and Zombi).

I really don’t like random generation – even though my randomly generated character in kinnygraham’s Delta Green scored lowest in his stat rolls and yet is arguably the most stoic player character (the other two being dead and mad).

An idea which I love is mentioned today on Collective Endeavour. Character generation by interrogation – which fits in well with the “1984” theme of his game.

Which is best? Heck, I don’t know.

What I do know is that in the 20-odd years I’ve been a roleplayer I’ve spent far too much time generating characters (including hours and hours spent making characters for MERP for games that were never played).

We played Zombi at the local TTN meeting because it allowed us to have character generation done within 10 minutes of sitting down.

Amber! Now there’s a game. I never got to play it due to not having any players but I loved READING the character generation system even if, having never read the books, it was a bit beyond me.

My personal favourite was the generation system in HeroWars. I loved the idea of writing a short paragraph about a character and then underlining the bits that could be used as traits.

Rayden Kauppinnen was born in the Northern Reaches of Volyvia. He was apprenticed to Master-Jarl Tuppenijk and on his 19th birthday became a Journeyman in the Lore. During his Challenge of Certainty, he was given a Return Thread as a gratitude from the village of Chernetzy. These days he travels the roads as a Lore Mendicant with only his wits and a piebald pony with a stern temperament for company.

Oh….just writing that makes me want to play it…whatever the game is???

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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One Response to Differing Methods of Character Generation

  1. Melody says:

    I’m all for a kinder and gentler method of char-gen that quantifies well enough for dice but doesn’t leave you setting appointments for people to come over and work on their characters (something I’ve been known to do in order to give characters proper attention and do some background roleplaying to get people more cozy with IC). Generally, I partner up more experienced rpers with less experienced rpers and let them mentor them through it using guidelines I’ve already laid out. Email has helped in recent years, as I can tell people to think up a paragraph background (as you wrote above) and all of that can be done before trying to translate it onto paper. But char-gen still takes too damn long, IMO.

    I’m in agreement that the points allocation methods tend to equalize too much and aren’t very realistic. I’ve done a randomly rolled “extra point” pool to help differentiate the results, but you always seem to have that one person who whines that it isn’t fair.

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