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Alternate character generation methods


Chao

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Hi all,

The question of how to generate stats came into my head pretty much as soon as I started playing Runequest, and pops up like a thorn every time I've gotta run someone through character creation. I prefer not to use the base "roll the required die for each of your stats" because of how little agency it gives to the player, but finding a good alternative has proven quite difficult.

Currently my approach is to roll five sets of 3D6, and choose which of STR, DEX, CON, POW, CHA those go into, then roll two sets of 6+2D6 and split those between INT and SIZ. This works okay, but it does create some weird situations when a player rolls really high on one of their 2D6 rolls, and they then have to make the decision of whether they want to be really smart or really big.

Another idea I've tried in the past is to roll a baseline 1d6 for everything other than INT and SIZ, and then roll 7 sets of 2D6 to add to that, with INT and SIZ getting their baseline of 6. This is all also only accounting for human players, I haven't even started to think about what I'd do if someone wanted to play a non human character.

If anyone has already figured all this out, and found the perfect, simple and elegant way of generating player stats, I'd love to hear about it. Simplifications of other aspects of character creation are also welcome, any tips and tricks to shorten character creation times would be greatly appreciated.

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I get people to roll an extra die for each set of characteristics and choose which rolls to use, also I get them to roll an extra set of Characteristics, so they can discard the one they don't want.

So, for humans, RQG uses 3D6 for STR, CON, DEX, POW and CHA, and 2D6+6 for SIZ and INT. I would allow the Players to roll 6 lots of 3D6, using 4D6/Best 3, and 3 lots of 2D6+6, using 3D6+6/Best 2, and discarding what they don't want, then allocating the rolls as required.

As an example, they could roll:

  1. 3D6: 1,4,3,5, Discard the 1 to get 12
  2. 3D6: 2,4,6,6, Discard the 2 to get 14
  3. 3D6: 3,4,4,5, Discard the 3 to get 13
  4. 3D6: 4,6,6,5, Discard the 4 to get 17
  5. 3D6: 2,2,4,5, Discard one of the 2s to get 11
  6. 3D6: 4,6,5,6, Discard the 4 to get 17
  7. 2D6+6: 3,4,5, Discard the 3 to get 9, for a score of 15
  8. 2D6+6: 2,3,4, Discard the 2 to get 7, for a score of 13
  9. 2D6+6: 1,6,6, Discard the 1 to get 12, for a score of 18

The Player want to have a Warrior, so discards roll (5) and roll (8), being the smallest, giving 3D6 rolls of 12, 14, 13, 17 and 17, and 2D6+6 rolls of 15 and 18.allocates the following:

  • STR: 17
  • CON: 14
  • SIZ: 18
  • INT: 15
  • POW: 12
  • DEX: 17
  • CHA: 13

Alternatively, the Player wants a musician, so discards roll (5) and roll (7), giving 3D6 rolls of 12, 14, 13, 17 and 17, and 2D6+6 rolls of 13 and 18. allocates the following:

  • STR: 12
  • CON: 13
  • SIZ: 13
  • INT: 18
  • POW: 14
  • DEX: 17
  • CHA: 17

So, with the same rolls, we have two different Adventurers.

 

Edited by soltakss
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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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56 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I would allow the Players to roll 6 lots of 3D6, using 4D6/Best 3, and 3 lots of 2D6+6, using 3D6+6/Best 2, and discarding what they don't want, then allocating the rolls as required.

I've generally used the roll 4D6 (drop low die) and 3d6+6 (drop low die) as well.  I also allow for any totals below 95, to distribute the difference between the total across characteristics and 95 to whichever characteristics they desire.

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3 hours ago, Chao said:

.... This works okay, but it does create some weird situations when a player rolls really high on one of their 2D6 rolls, and they then have to make the decision of whether they want to be really smart or really big...

That's the player agency you said you wanted.

 

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I've kept away from the 4D6 drop lowest result for Runequest just to try and stay in line with the rules as written, but perhaps I should try it out. I really like the, roll more 3D6 groups than you need and drop lowest of those idea, especially to make the 2D6 roll a little more varied.

17 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

That's the player agency you said you wanted.

 

True. It does feel a little weird though, as it implies a world where everyone is either large, or smart. Statistically I don't think this is actually true, the two 2D6 dice rolls are still totally independent, but the decision definitely feels that way.

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Ohhh yeah, a points buy system would be nice. I'm hesitant to have it be straight 1 to 1 though, I'm not sure if I want to deal with 18 STR 18 SIZ fighters walking around. If you've had success with it though I might try it out.

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5 hours ago, Chao said:

I've kept away from the 4D6 drop lowest result for Runequest just to try and stay in line with the rules as written, but perhaps I should try it out. I really like the, roll more 3D6 groups than you need and drop lowest of those idea, especially to make the 2D6 roll a little more varied.

Problem with the 3D6 (2D6+6) only rolls is... One will be rejecting a lot of characters. 3D6 most common result will be 10.5 average (2D6+6 most likely result is 13). That makes the typical rolled character 5x10.5 + 2x13 => 52.5 + 26 => 78.5 characteristic points, well below the 92 points mentioned on page 53

Quote

Roll 3D6 for STR, DEX, CON, POW, and CHA, and 2D6+6 for SIZ and INT. If the total of all these results is 92 or less, you may allot up to 3 more points to your adventurer’s characteristics, as desired

Allot 3 more points? Great, the typical character is now up to 81.5 points. That brings us to the sidebar

Quote

Discard an adventurer whose characteristics average 12 or less.

Okay, that brings us up to a minimum of 85 points (as 7x12 is 84, and one would discard the character).

The practice of best N out of N+1 easily falls into

Quote

Use some other combination of dice and choice, at the gamemaster’s discretion

and tends to get closer to the 92 point on average (I think I still generated one or two characters that got the "allocate 3 points" addition).

 

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I use a quite simple point allocation so players get the character they want. They have a guaranteed 17 (before homeland and runes) and three pairs (their choice what are the pairs) that must add to 26. Before we had straight distribute 95 points, but the pairs mean the minimum for unloved stats is 8 rather than 3. The only weird effect so far is that except for tanks many people tend to be smallish, though none are really small, and of course a lot of 13s, but that was intended.

Powerful characters but in Runequest not really unbalanced, as all stats are necessary.

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54 minutes ago, Chao said:

Ohhh yeah, a points buy system would be nice. I'm hesitant to have it be straight 1 to 1 though, I'm not sure if I want to deal with 18 STR 18 SIZ fighters walking around. If you've had success with it though I might try it out.

the point is the total amount you gm give to the player

ok this one will choose 18str 18siz and then ? 8 INT ? 6 DEX ? etc...

and what about part of scenario where you have social relationship, knowledge, magic or agility tests,etc.. Will dumb & dumber be efficient ? 🙂

 

there are three ways in my opinion.

- a lot of experienced players are cautious, they will focus on what they risk to lose : [you will not be able] or [ it will be very difficult ] to bargain / seduce / resist magic / become runelord etc ... if you have not enough  points in xxx. Any characteristic lower than 12 is, in my opinion, something to explain what would happen, what would be lost,etc...

 

- help your player (if few experience) to build something efficient. Probably have +1d4bonus damage, enough STR and DEX to manipulate the needed weapons. Enough POW and CHA for the magic. then you will see that a lot of the amount is already spent. Let the rest "open"

 

 

- the "wish list" of what they want to do with their warrior :

CON is important when you are the "bull / tank", DEX is so much important to hit. what a fighter without POW ? ok big damage but confused 80% of the time ? What about magic if your even not able to cast protection 2 or bladesharp 1 ?

Do they want to lead others in battle ? INT and CHA should be usefull too

 

 

Of course there will be low characterstics. The point is how low will it be, is the loss important or not for this player ? etc.. Then if you have a storm bull bison 21/20 unable to do anything except kill and drink, that is fine but I m pretty sure that a lot of players will be more reasonable.

 

so at the end of the day your "fighting players" would choose different archetypes or no archetype, just their way, and those who choose to maximize STR/SIZ are only those who will be usefull to open a closed door

 

5 minutes ago, JRE said:

Powerful characters but in Runequest not really unbalanced, as all stats are necessary.

so true

 

 

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Consider making several "equivalent" or "comparable" sets of "standard array" characteristics.
Let the player choose which array, arrange them however they want.

Example (4 arrays):

98 points -- 14 / 14 / 14 / 14 / 14 / 14 / 14 --  Kind of boring, honestly.  But it's the epitome of "well rounded!"

96 points -- 15 / 15 / 14 / 14 / 13 / 13 / 12 -- a bit of variation, here.  Lose a couple of points off the total, to get a couple of higher scores

94 points -- 17 / 15 / 14 / 14 / 12 / 11 / 11  -(OR)-  16 / 16 / 14 / 14 / 12 / 11 / 11 -- even-higher scores, lose another 2 points.
(arrays are identical, except for the two highest being 17/15 -vs- 16/16)

n.b. I have explicitly ignored the "breakpoints" where characteristics give +5% & higher bonus.  Started with 7 identical scores, modified from there

Adjust these arrays -- or invent your own, based on your own criteria -- and then let the players choose and arrange.

Edited by g33k
typo
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We are quite aware that 13 is much better than 12, or 17 better than 16, although there are some breakpints at 16, but I allow the players to optimize that way. So most of our pairs are 17/9 or 13/13. I expected most characters to go for DEX SR 0 (water affinity) but actually only the Duck did.

By the way, the duck used the same system, but his racial modifiers were -3 STR, -6 SIZ, +2 DEX, +2 CON, but respecting species maximum and minimum. That allowed him to be DEX 19 without Water as the primary rune.

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If you have enough D6, then how about this:

  • Roll dice in order and line them up under the characteristics, i.e. the first three go under STR, etc.
  • Roll X extra dice, decide among the group what X is. I suggest at least 7.
  • Choose two dice to swap over, Y times. Again, pick Y according to taste.

Needs some playtesting to decide what X and Y are, and whether or not a sum total threshold should also be applied.

Eh, can't delete the box below on my mobile...

Spoiler

 

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21 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Problem with the 3D6 (2D6+6) only rolls is... One will be rejecting a lot of characters. 3D6 most common result will be 10.5 average (2D6+6 most likely result is 13). That makes the typical rolled character 5x10.5 + 2x13 => 52.5 + 26 => 78.5 characteristic points, well below the 92 points mentioned on page 53

Mmm, I've also not been using that section. I haven't noticed any huge problems with low power characters though, but perhaps I'll try throwing some stronger characters into the mix and see what difference it makes.

21 hours ago, JRE said:

The only weird effect so far is that except for tanks many people tend to be smallish, though none are really small, and of course a lot of 13s, but that was intended.

That is an interesting side effect. I've found that my players tend to like big characters, if they're planning on doing any kind of melee fighting. I'm also curious what you're referring to when you say a tank, I wouldn't have expected that archetype to work in Runequest, for a variety of reasons.

 

21 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

ok this one will choose 18str 18siz and then ? 8 INT ? 6 DEX ? etc...

It definitely is more sensible to have a broader spread of characteristics, but many of my players are unable to resist the urge to run dumb gimmicks :). One or two characters with ridiculously low stats is fun, but a party full of them can be an issue.

It is for this reason that I try and stay away from points buy systems. I find the experience of rolling characteristics to also be really fun in general, definitely more so than just selecting numbers anyway.

2 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

If you have enough D6, then how about this:

  • Roll dice in order and line them up under the characteristics, i.e. the first three go under STR, etc.
  • Roll X extra dice, decide among the group what X is. I suggest at least 7.
  • Choose two dice to swap over, Y times. Again, pick Y according to taste.

Needs some playtesting to decide what X and Y are, and whether or not a sum total threshold should also be applied.

I really like this, and luckily I have enough d6 lying around to try it out. Gonna be creating a new character on Sunday, might try this out.

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1 hour ago, Chao said:

It definitely is more sensible to have a broader spread of characteristics, but many of my players are unable to resist the urge to run dumb gimmicks :). One or two characters with ridiculously low stats is fun, but a party full of them can be an issue.

yeah I understand and ... sympathize 😛

in that case I would say that @g33k and @JRE methods are fine too (i prefer to be totally free, but freedom implies, for me, responsability, so at the end of the days that's the same)

 

however if

1 hour ago, Chao said:

I find the experience of rolling characteristics to also be really fun in general, definitely more so than just selecting numbers anyway.

 

that is absolutly not my taste but I understand other ways 🙂 . when my rolls are bad I m frustrated, when they are too good (I had once 106 or something like that)... I m a little bit embarassed. I prefer to "build" than to "gamble" (I hope there is no negative connotation with this word)

but yes the world is full of different people and sensibilities, and that's the wealth of humankind

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38 minutes ago, Chao said:

That is an interesting side effect. I've found that my players tend to like big characters, if they're planning on doing any kind of melee fighting. I'm also curious what you're referring to when you say a tank, I wouldn't have expected that archetype to work in Runequest, for a variety of reasons.

There are two factors here. My games tend to be light in straightforward combat, and the players know it. Also, the system makes it that if you have STR 13, optimum use of points of SIZ is 13, to get +1 HP, +1d4 damage bonus-5% stealth. 15 would improve your SR, but to do that for 2 points is a bit expensive. STR is a good stat to go over the breakpoint, as ENC is quite critical, and less SIZ means a strealth bonus. So STR 15 SIZ 10 would work, specially for Orlanthi that are happy with their CHA, as they get +2 STR, so 13+2. The other stat that does not confirm to breakpoints is CON, as more HP is always good and no skill modifier depend on CON. SIZ 13 gives you +1 HP, but those 3 points give you 3 HP if applied to CON... And better stealth.

So a Vingan, former Ernaldan picked STR13+2 CON 16+1 SIZ 10 INT 13 POW 13 DEX 17 CHA 13

Issaries trader  STR13 CON 13 SIZ 13 INT 13 POW 17+1 DEX 9 CHA 17+2

Storm Bull STR 15+2 CON 17 SIZ 17 INT 9 POW 13 DEX 13 CHA 11+1

Duck Humakti STR 13-3+2 CON 15+2 SIZ 13-6 INT 13 POW 13+1 DEX 17+2 CHA 11

Lhankhor Mhy philosopher STR 8+1 CON 13 SIZ 9 INT 18+2 POW 17 DEX 13 CHA 17

As for Tank, they may be more fragile than in other games, but if you can get 8-9 AP, normal opponents will not hurt you much even if you do not parry except with special / critical, and with many HP, you may not need healing every round. 

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I just wanted to mention this online character generator (https://rqwiki.chaosium.com/adventurers/) with some limited choices, created because the RQ starter set lacked character generation rules. It uses the following array of characteristics (including Rune bonuses):

19 (= 17+2), 17 (= 16+1), 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

This gives a sum of 101 (with bonuses) or 98 (without bonuses) which seems comparable to most of the pregenerated starting characters but a little too high compared to the normal rules.

 

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When players created characters for my campaign, I used:

  • Roll an extra die (D6 for humans, but could be other for non-humans), drop lowest
  • Roll your stats from top to bottom, no switching about
  • You're allowed to re-roll a complete statline that's still below racial average
  • Roll two sets of this, choose one
  • Players do get a chance to argue that something is just too boring, like if you roll all 12s
Edited by Akhôrahil
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On 7/25/2022 at 5:02 PM, JRE said:

Powerful characters but in Runequest not really unbalanced, as all stats are necessary.

Yeah, it’s great that unlike in D&D, there aren’t any dump stats. STR and SIZ for non-melee guys is probably what comes closest. And a low:ish POW is usually alright, but only because that means it’s easily raisable.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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I’ve generally gone with an array that players can distribute: 18/16/16/14/14/12/12. It does create fairly powerful adventurers, but there’s a fair bit of that in the character creation process generally in terms of the large number of skill points that get handed out.

Plus I’ve kind of gotten used to balancing fights against higher power adventurers, so it works well enough for me. 🙂

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22 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

but yes the world is full of different people and sensibilities, and that's the wealth of humankind

Well said.

21 hours ago, JRE said:

As for Tank, they may be more fragile than in other games, but if you can get 8-9 AP, normal opponents will not hurt you much even if you do not parry except with special / critical, and with many HP, you may not need healing every round. 

Mmm, I was thinking more that pretty much any character that wants to do melee should be a tank, since it's so easy to get instantly killed in Runequest. I guess you could draw some distinction between someone who defends themselves with parry/evasion and someone who just can take hits.

17 hours ago, Ludo Bagman said:

I just wanted to mention this online character generator (https://rqwiki.chaosium.com/adventurers/) with some limited choices, created because the RQ starter set lacked character generation rules. It uses the following array of characteristics (including Rune bonuses):

Hey, that's actually a really nice character creator, this is definitely a lot simpler and more approachable than the full character creation process.

Kind of pivoting onto a different topic, but I've been looking for ways to speed up character creation in general, especially all the cultural and occupation skills. Just from a new player experience perspective, it kind of sucks to have one of the first things you do be, copy a bunch of percentages down. It'd be nice to defer some of it, maybe only fill in the starting skill percentage the first time they use it or something, so the character gets gradually filled in as the game continues. If anyone's experimented with systems like this in the past, it'd be great to hear about them.

 

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As for myself, I like having a mix between random and points allocation in my BRP.

  • roll 1d6 for each characteristics, in order,
  • add a static value for each characteristics(based on the species average value for that characteristics)
  • spread X points among all characteristics. The 5 first points alloted to each characteristic gives 1 point. Beyond that threashold, 2 points are needed for each characteristic point. X may be fixed, or based on the total value rolled on the d6s in first step.

For instance :

Step 1 roll 1d6 7 times

STR 3
CON 2
SIZ 1
INT 4
POW 5
DEX 2
CHA 6

Step 2, add 7 to 2d6+6 stats and 4 to 3d6 stats

STR 3 +4 = 7
CON 2 +4 = 6
SIZ 1 +7 = 8
INT 4 +7 = 11
POW 5 +4 = 9
DEX 2 +4 = 6
CHA 6 +4 = 10

Step 3, spend X=21 points

STR 7 +1 = 8
CON 6 +3 = 9
SIZ 8 +3 = 11
INT 11 +5 = 16
POW 9 +4 = 13
DEX 6 +3 = 9
CHA 10 +2 = 12

 

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28 minutes ago, Chao said:

Just from a new player experience perspective, it kind of sucks to have one of the first things you do be, copy a bunch of percentages down. It'd be nice to defer some of it, maybe only fill in the starting skill percentage the first time they use it or something, so the character gets gradually filled in as the game continues. If anyone's experimented with systems like this in the past, it'd be great to hear about them.

that's true character generation is an issue when you want to play quickly. Runequest is focused on skills more than characteristics. So to know what their character can do, the players should have a view of their skills. But it took time.

I see some risks if you fill gradually / when needed :

1) there are a lot of choice during all the creation process that player has to do: what are the cult and occupation skills (weapons, etc..) she gains. If they choose when they need ...

2) it will break your narrative / play time : you will need several minutes to check what is the creation process then explain players what they can do, pickup, add, etc..

3) you will have to track the different personal bonus: player A will add +25 the first time when player B add +10 and C and  D nothing. Hard to do it in addition of your GM role.

 

some ideas from someone who loves to spend days and night to build his characters (background + stats) so of course not tested 🙂

1) start the adventure with more or less pregen character. It could be those published  but you can do your own process , you may ask your players what they want to play (if a warrior what kind of weapon, just a little background, or maybe... all your pc are from the same clan, much easier), build the skills without the characteristic modifiers. Then you let your players roll/define their characteristics, calculate their modifiers and let them put the last % They will be happy to find their skills and see them raise. At the end of the process they just add their +25 / +10 personal bonus (or you already did it for them)

 

2) start the adventure before initiation: they have no occupation skills only cultural (you have already prepared the figures like 1) then ask them for the personal bonus and it is done. If the players are happy after the first scenario and want to continue with their characters, let they put their occupation and cult % and add some years to the characters.

 

3) give them x% and let them distribute it: max two skills at 90% and <100%. Don't care what is the base, the modifier, etc. They want 90% in climb ? they spend 90 (not a munchkin, right ?), they want to have 90 in dragon lore, they spend 90 ( just a minmaxer !). The skills without any figure will be calculate when needed (they are just base + modifier). Or even simplier / faster, define an array (90 90 75 75 75 60 60 60 40 40 40 40 40 something like that, maybe more I have not simulated it)

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