Sneak Peek: Alternate method of Character Creation
My last entry here featured something I wrote that will not be in DT&T. This time I want to give you a sneak peek of something that will be there. Years ago I got tired of the farmboy approach to character creation in rpgs, and have advocated for a long time, the idea of just starting with the character you really want to play. This isn’t a license for power gaming, because if you come in with Thoth-Amon, the world’s greatest wizard who can do anything by simply blinking, no sane GM will allow you to play in his game, but if you’re reasonable, and say you want to come in with a mid-level character who has been adventuring for years and has achieved certain things–like good armor, good weapons, and money in his pocket, then I feel that sort of thing should be allowed. Down below you will see the official take on alternate character creation–namely my chaos tempered by Liz’s ideas of game balance.
Elaborations: A Better Method of Character Creation
Some people have expressed dissatisfaction with the current random method of character creation. When you think about it, it really doesn’t make much sense to say your new character is fresh off the farm with his life savings, and he/she is now going to buy the best equipment she can afford, and then go into some hole in the ground with a bunch of strangers. It makes a lot more sense to say that your new warrior, wizard, or rogue has spent years of training in order to get where he is now, and is as fully equipped as those years have made possible.
There are two ways for you, the player, to make a new character: random or imaginative. In the imaginative way, you simply draw up the character with the attributes and equipment that you want him/her to have and narrate a brief history of how this character came to be, and if the GM accepts it, you’re in business.
The random way is more fun from a gaming point of view. First let us see how old your character is when we first meet her/him. Roll 5D6. Total it. If there are any doubles or triples or multiple instances of the same number coming up, pull those aside, and roll them again. Keep doing that until no multiples appear. I rolled 5D6 and got 6, 5, 4, 4, 1 for a total of 20; then I took the double 4s and rolled them again, getting 3, 1. Now my total is 24, and I’m done. My new character is 24 years old.
If you wind up with a number less than 16, the character is a child, and should not be played unless you want a child in your game. Children are assumed to have no significant weapons training or spell knowledge, and should be played as Citizens . Players are not advised to use children for player characters.
Most of the time 5D6 will give you a total in the 20s or 30s when rolled in this fashion. That’s adult and fully time for the character to have received whatever training it would have gotten–enough time to make it a wizard, warrior, or rogue, or if you got lucky on your dice rolling, a specialist or paragon. The character could be just a citizen, if you wish, but that is a poor choice to make for an adventurer. (I tried this to see how it would work and got ages of 51, 21, 20, 25, 32, 35, 18, 27, 43 and 15 in ten dice rolls.)
Then roll 3D6 using both DARO and TARO and give your character that many adventure points to start. The adventure points show that the character is not starting from scratch, has lived and done other things in the past. If the GM allows it, the player may spend those adventure points to increase an attribute if he has enough, but that probably won’t happen.
If you haven’t rolled for attributes, do so now. The totals you get represent what the character has developed into at the age that you have rolled.
The next thing to determine is how the world is treating this character at the time when the current adventure begins. At this point the Game Master may set the stage if she wishes to. If the adventure requires the characters to start with nothing but a loin-cloth and a sharp rock, the GM can so state, and that’s the way it begins. Or, the characters might all be well-equipped members of the royal guard, complete with armor, weapons, and a reasonable amount of spending money. The Game Master can always set the stage for the start of his adventure.
But, if the G.M. does not have any particular starting conditions in mind, then the player should roll the dice to see how well equipped his character is.
1 very poor–character has no money or equipment
2 poor–character has 1 weapon of his choice and 3D6 gold pieces
3 ready to start over–3D6 X 10 gold pieces
4-6 fully equipped–character has equipment of choice & 100 gold pieces
(on a roll of 4, 5, or 6 the player may give the character whatever equipment he wishes from the tables in the rules, as long as it’s reasonable. No character would have more than 2 sets of the same stuff–2 swords, 2 shields, 2 horses, etc. No character would own everything. If a player tries to abuse this generosity, it is up to the GM to say NO.)
Character level is determined by highest attribute. Warriors get their level bonuses in combat. Wizards and rogues get spells. Because the wizard has been in training for years, give the wizard all the spells up through her level. For humans, this should only be first level unless the character is a specialist with an attribute of 20 or more. Specialist mages may know more than level 1 spells in their specialty (healing, combat, conjuring, etc.), but only in that specialty. Nonhumans may do better in such cases. Rogue humans also start without much magic–1 spell of the player’s choice per character level.
Play nonhumans by the same rules except for age. As a general rule, nonhumans do not age at the same rate as human. Elves, dwarves, ogres, trolls, and some other kindreds live much longer than humans. Goblins, uruks, and fairies have shorter lives on average. Roll for age as shown above, but use the following table to determne starting age for nonhumans.
Kindred Age Multiplier
Human x 1
Elf x 10
Dwarf x 5
Ogre x 7
Troll x 20
Goblin x 1/3
Uruk x 2/3
Fairy x 1/4
These are only the most common nonhumans. For the many dozens of other sentient races a player could choose, let the player simply set whatever age seems reasonable to him or her. It will not affect the attributes, and the attributes determine level and possible starting advantages.
Regardless of the kindred, you may give the player who uses a nonhuman the same starting conditions as humans in terms of physical wealth, with the same proviso that the equipment chosen be reasonable in game terms for such a creature. Because some nonhumans are likely to have much higher attributes than a human would, they will start at higher levels. Elves or dwarves might easily start at levels 2 or 3; trolls will probably range between levels 3 and 5, and so forth. Thus, if the player chooses to use an elven wizard, it could easily start with second or third level spells. It is only logical. The elf has lived longer, and has had a greater opportunity to learn and advance than a human would have had.
This alternate method of character creation will eliminate the logical improbability of every new character starting with just 3D6 X 10 gold pieces to buy equipment and start the adventure.
As you can see this method of character creation still gives you a randomly created new player character, but it eliminates the wild improbability of all new characters wandering into town with nothing but the clothes on their back and a pocket full of gold to buy equipment with.