Random vs Non-Random Char-Gen

Paragon

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Yes. I'm also skeptical of any discussion of balance that doesn't come with some very clear ideas about the specific game and playstyle being balanced. To start with, the term balance these days tends to be used to mean, "equally useful in combat". But what if the game isn't combat focused? How do you "balance" a hacker, a cop and a nurse? So much depends on the nature of an individual table or even session.

At least in those cases the venue of their operations are different enough they're going to be not having much comparison to each other. But yes, a lot of games are going to look at how characters compare in combat, because its one of the few places everyone is expected to participate (usually because it takes up more gametime than making a couple of medicine rolls). But it can absolutely apply in other areas (if you've got a campaign all about intrusion, being substandard in those skills is going to feel pretty terrible (and sometimes actively like its dragging the group down) if its notably worse than other people too, unless your other skills are so necessary its just accepted).

Basically, as someone put upthread, as far as I'm concerned, people should get to pick where their characters are weak, not have it forced on them by the dice.
 

sharps54

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I think perhaps this is a difference in play style and the way people approach the game. Neither way is wrong in my opinion, some people like the challenge of playing random characters and non optimized characters and others don’t. It all depends what you want from the game, neither is bad/wrong fun to me.
 

sharps54

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One trend I have seen in some of the circles I move in for games with random generation is to have everyone to roll stats, the group pick one of the sets of rolls to be the “stat array” everyone has to use for their character. It’s a feel good technique to offset the perceived unfairness of random rolls. It isn’t one I like but I submit it for those that may like it.
 

ffilz

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One trend I have seen in some of the circles I move in for games with random generation is to have everyone to roll stats, the group pick one of the sets of rolls to be the “stat array” everyone has to use for their character. It’s a feel good technique to offset the perceived unfairness of random rolls. It isn’t one I like but I submit it for those that may like it.
An interesting variant would be to allow the players to pick from any of the rolled arrays. One player might want a single 18 and not care much about the other attributes, while another player might prefer the array with two 16s, a 15, and is OK with the 3, while the third player prefers the array with no below average rolls, but only one 16, the rest are 11-13. It keeps a high element of randomness while allowing a fair amount of choice.
 

ffilz

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So here's another thought on build versus random. I very much enjoy both RuneQuest and Cold Iron, but both have design points that make point buy of attributes problematic. The problem is changing the system to remove the problematic issues changes the system and puts it at risk of breaking.
 

Simlasa

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It’s a feel good technique to offset the perceived unfairness of random rolls. It isn’t one I like but I submit it for those that may like it.
I guess I've never had any feeling of things being 'unfair' when comparing my PC to another... which goes along with my lack of concern about balance between PCs.
Much more of a concern is an imbalance of personalities at the table... with one or two running loud and proud over the rest.
 

chuckdee

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I'll repeat what I said in the other thread. Point-buy IMO is superior to random.
I'll agree on this point. It's too easy to get hobbled characters starting off. The only one I sort of like is Rolemaster with the potential stats eventually getting the character to a better footing, but even with that, the difference between a well rolled character and someone with bad luck can be astronomical.
 

ffilz

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I guess I've never had any feeling of things being 'unfair' when comparing my PC to another... which goes along with my lack of concern about balance between PCs.
Much more of a concern is an imbalance of personalities at the table... with one or two running loud and proud over the rest.
Yes, and that actually touches on what I think is actually more important. The people around the table. If the people around the table make running a character with poor rolls not fun then it's a people problem not the random rolls. Now one way for the people to make it more fun is to be OK with discarding a set of poor rolls or other machinations to turn around a set of poor rolls as part of the character generation. But it can also mean doing something in play. And by the way, this applies to bringing in replacement PCs. It was common in my early gaming for the high level characters to "escort" the new PC on an experience hunting session or two or three. Later I would allow replacement characters to come in closer to the current PCs in power (or even equal - but THAT failed, in combination with build you could basically bring in the same PC that just died, and suddenly dying was meaningless).
 

Lofgeornost

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Or later on in-game... ways to change your stats through training, ways to learn/train new skills.
Yeah; I was surprised that The Nightmares Underneath RAW requires rolling stats in order and taking what you get--but then I noticed that every time you gain a level you have a chance to improve your stats, and that the lower they are the more likely they are to improve (and in bigger jumps).
I dunno, man; it still seems like random-gen systems are much more prone (at least these days, I think someone brought up Hero which used to be a strong counter-example and is still a moderate one) to having strong breakpointing that will create problems when made non-random. At the very least you're going to want to use arrays or some such.

See, I kind of see overly strong hammering of breakpoints with the accompanying similarity of stats to be a bit of a problem. If most of a stat range isn't going to be used, it might as well not be there (its the biggest single complaint I used to have with Hero).
I guess I just don't see it as much of a problem. It doesn't seem very different from using stat arrays to generate characters--by which I mean a predetermined set of values you distribute to the stats as you see fit.

Also, in the games I looked through at least, most systems which involved rolling for basic stats have a wider range of possible values (2-12, 3-18, 1-20 being most common) than systems in which players simply choose or buy their basic statistics. There a common default seems to be 0 or 1 to 4, 5, or 6. So basic stats in these non-random systems are also going to be quite 'samey' for many characters, because there are just not that many possible values.

As to the final issue, 'why have stat values that no-one will ever choose' there are two considerations:
  1. The statistic system will be used for NPCs as well, which may well be generated randomly. So, for example, even if all Mythras characters created with a 'buy your stats' approach will probably be designed with the right numbers to get 3 action points, that won't be true of NPCs.
  2. In the context we're considering--can you relatively easily convert random generation of basic stats to some sort of non-random system--having some values that nobody will pick is, IMO, at most an aesthetic flaw. It won't affect game-play significantly. If you are designing a system to be nonrandom first of all, then it is more of an issue, though again mainly on a 'mental tidiness' level.
That said, I don't like "compensation for bad rolls" as a concept. If you're needing to apply fixes like that to your random character creation system, then you are acknowledging that your system is inherently flawed and not providing the sorts of results you actually want; may as well fix your actual problem by changing or removing the randomness.
I disagree. People can both want randomness for the unpredictability and ease it offers and want starting characters to be balanced in power or whatever. Since many char-gen approaches mix random and non-random elements, it seems to me quite reasonable to create a system where (for example) the total number of points you get to spend on skills, or talents, or whatever you 'buy' is modified based on your rolls for basic stats. In many point-buy systems you would have that explicit choice, after all--putting more points into stats would give you fewer for other things.

As for 'inherent flaws'--all systems are imperfect compromises, IME. And the pursuit of intellectual elegance in a system, though attractive to designers, often leads to games that work less well at the table. YMMV, etc.
Basically, as someone put upthread, as far as I'm concerned, people should get to pick where their characters are weak, not have it forced on them by the dice.
I think that's quite reasonable. But most of the games I looked at that include random generation of basic statistics also allowed players to choose which of the values they rolled were allotted to each of the stats--or offered even more choice, like an alternative point-buy system.
 
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Bunch

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I'll just say I think sometimes people should try playing hobbled characters. If only to find out what life is like when you just don't give a damn.

One of my most memorable characters was a low stat roll, low HP character I was so convinced would be dead in rolled his name randomly. Jygo. He had 1 hp. He was insane in fights running full speed into combat to kill, or more hopefully for me at the time, to be killed. He survived first level. Rolled decent for 2nd level hps. Had enough coin for better armor and went on to be a productive 8th level fighter by the time that campaign ended.
Sometimes,Not all the times, it's good to try something you wouldn't. How else would you be sure you hate sushi.
 

sharps54

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I guess I've never had any feeling of things being 'unfair' when comparing my PC to another... which goes along with my lack of concern about balance between PCs.
Much more of a concern is an imbalance of personalities at the table... with one or two running loud and proud over the rest.
100% on your last point!
 

VisionStorm

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One trend I have seen in some of the circles I move in for games with random generation is to have everyone to roll stats, the group pick one of the sets of rolls to be the “stat array” everyone has to use for their character. It’s a feel good technique to offset the perceived unfairness of random rolls. It isn’t one I like but I submit it for those that may like it.

I just tend to simplify my life and in a game like D&D, I tend to go with maybe something like a default array of 16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 10 for "heroic" characters (maybe a 2-6 points less for more "realistic" campaigns). Then let players subtract 2 points from one stat to add to another three times max (or any number of times for specific concepts) to mix things up and customize their stats how they wish, with a max starting score of 18. No silly math, like higher stats costing more or anything, just simple straightforward -2/+2 math, ignoring odd scores that give no modifiers, to keep things moving.

That way all characters have one main high stat by default, a couple of secondary stats, and the rest are mediocre ones (which is what most concepts tend to be built around). Then if players want something more specific they can just fiddle with their scores a bit. If they want to add a random element, they can set their scores rolling 1d6 (1-Str, 2-Dex, 3-Con, 4-Int, 5-Wis, 6- Cha) to pick a stat for each.
 

sharps54

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I just tend to simplify my life and in a game like D&D, I tend to go with maybe something like a default array of 16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 10 for "heroic" characters (maybe a 2-6 points less for more "realistic" campaigns). Then let players subtract 2 points from one stat to add to another three times max (or any number of times for specific concepts) to mix things up and customize their stats how they wish, with a max starting score of 18. No silly math, like higher stats costing more or anything, just simple straightforward -2/+2 math, ignoring odd scores that give no modifiers, to keep things moving.

That way all characters have one main high stat by default, a couple of secondary stats, and the rest are mediocre ones (which is what most concepts tend to be built around). Then if players want something more specific they can just fiddle with their scores a bit. If they want to add a random element, they can set their scores rolling 1d6 (1-Str, 2-Dex, 3-Con, 4-Int, 5-Wis, 6- Cha) to pick a stat for each.
Seems like a lot more work than roll 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste but if your group(s) are good with it I don’t see sensible reason not to do it your way.
 

robiswrong

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I'll repeat what I said in the other thread. Point-buy IMO is superior to random.

With purely rolled characters you always get a big difference in ability between the people who rolled well and the people who rolled badly. For the unlucky players, it is not much fun being Blop the Potato Peasant among a party of capable adventurers. Neither is it necessarily fun, if you rolled well, to be a shining demigod in a party of average joes- unless you have a serious case of main character syndrome. And the GM needs to do extra work to balance encounters for a party with a wide range of abilities. It's just suckitude all round.

I suppose more old-school games where life is cheap, scenarios brutal, and narrative comparatively less important, rolling for stats makes more sense.
Random rolling historically has had that property, yes. But it's not inherent.

For instance, imagine a D&D-like game where stats start at 8 or something. You then roll a number of d6s. Each d6 result indicates what stat gets a +1 - for stats over 18 (or whatever), those dice get re-rolled until everything gets assigned to a stat less than 18.

This would be random, but would not result in the common "all high stats vs. all low stats" results.

Also note that older versions of D&D had a bit less emphasis on stats than WotC editions.
 

VisionStorm

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Seems like a lot more work than roll 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste but if your group(s) are good with it I don’t see sensible reason not to do it your way.

Not sure how rolling 4d6 and dropping lowest six times is less work than getting six decent scores from the get go without having to roll them. Even if you try adjusting stats afterwards, that part is optional and dropping one or two scores 2 points and adding them to something else (which is probably all you'll need) is faster than roll six scores.

I once had a player roll 4d6 drop lowest, cuz he wanted to try random generation out (it was his first time) and thought he could do better going random. And when he rolled worse two times in a row he ended up going with the array and assigning it in seconds. No adjustments, since the array was already optimized to have decent scores in multiple areas he needed.
 

sharps54

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Not sure how rolling 4d6 and dropping lowest six times is less work than getting six decent scores from the get go without having to roll them. Even if you try adjusting stats afterwards, that part is optional and dropping one or two scores 2 points and adding them to something else (which is probably all you'll need) is faster than roll six scores.

I once had a player roll 4d6 drop lowest, cuz he wanted to try random generation out (it was his first time) and thought he could do better going random. And when he rolled worse two times in a row he ended up going with the array and assigning it in seconds. No adjustments, since the array was already optimized to have decent scores in multiple areas he needed.
No adjusting stats afterwards, 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste is the default for AD&D 1E, the main D&D game I played growing up.

edit to add I think those with strong preferences on this will just need to agree to disagree, I like making what chance gives me work, it’s a challenge and I don’t mind being the Don Knotts of the group. That doesn’t appeal to everyone and that’s ok too.
 

Paragon

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An interesting variant would be to allow the players to pick from any of the rolled arrays. One player might want a single 18 and not care much about the other attributes, while another player might prefer the array with two 16s, a 15, and is OK with the 3, while the third player prefers the array with no below average rolls, but only one 16, the rest are 11-13. It keeps a high element of randomness while allowing a fair amount of choice.

Though the sets chosen will define the feel of the campaign to some extent, and of course if you're got a group that isn't entirely on board the way the system chooses to generate the stats, there will probably be a tendency to use which ever set did best. Which may or may not be a problem depending on the POV of the beholder.
 

Paragon

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So here's another thought on build versus random. I very much enjoy both RuneQuest and Cold Iron, but both have design points that make point buy of attributes problematic. The problem is changing the system to remove the problematic issues changes the system and puts it at risk of breaking.

Absolutely. I had distinct problems with this when I ran Mythras, as I've noted.
 

Paragon

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Yes, and that actually touches on what I think is actually more important. The people around the table. If the people around the table make running a character with poor rolls not fun then it's a people problem not the random rolls.

I think as common a feeling as that is, that's a little dismissive. It doesn't have to be anything anyone is deliberately doing, just the sense that your character is substandard. No one else would have to do a thing for an RQ character with no damage bonus and a worse strike rank value to feel that way, just for them to be halfway paying attention in combat.
 

sharps54

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I think as common a feeling as that is, that's a little dismissive. It doesn't have to be anything anyone is deliberately doing, just the sense that your character is substandard. No one else would have to do a thing for an RQ character with no damage bonus and a worse strike rank value to feel that way, just for them to be halfway paying attention in combat.
That probably depends on what you want out of a game though. I’m a social gamer, I don’t care if my character is a combat monster although I’m happy to play them as well. If one of the main criteria for your group is that everyone is good in combat than I agree random generation is not a good fit for that group. Maybe just giving everyone a strong stat array would be better so everyone feels good and is successful in the game. That is totally valid if that’s what you want out of the game.

I prefer games where there is leeway for player skill. Even if you have crap stats if you can articulate a good plan or course of action that makes sense it should have a good chance of success. For example a game should support times when my PC happens to be not so good at combat but can attack from ambush or use cover or support someone else that is good in combat.

edited because my intent was not to offend and I could see how it could have been read that way.
 

Paragon

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Yeah; I was surprised that The Nightmares Underneath RAW requires rolling stats in order and taking what you get--but then I noticed that every time you gain a level you have a chance to improve your stats, and that the lower they are the more likely they are to improve (and in bigger jumps).

I guess I just don't see it as much of a problem. It doesn't seem very different from using stat arrays to generate characters--by which I mean a predetermined set of values you distribute to the stats as you see fit.

I think there's a big difference between "everyone will have a 13 somewhere in their stats" (which is what happens with an array) and "everyone will have a 13 in this stat" (which can happen with strong breakpoints). This can be extremely pronounced when there's a break on an important figured attribute that's slightly above average, but the next break on it is significantly higher, but would make it impossible to hit a different breakpoint on another attribute. There are often enough synergies few people will take the hit to get the higher breakpoint on the first one unless its so overwhelming that it outweighs everything else.

Also, in the games I looked through at least, most systems which involved rolling for basic stats have a wider range of possible values (2-12, 3-18, 1-20 being most common) than systems in which players simply choose or buy their basic statistics. There a common default seems to be 0 or 1 to 4, 5, or 6. So basic stats in these non-random systems are also going to be quite 'samey' for many characters, because there are just not that many possible values.

I think you must not have seen enough. While there can definitely be games like that (games evolved off of die pools often have a compressed scale because they're effectively cutting out the middle-man and just having you buy the breakpoints in the first place), there are plenty of games that still use closer to a traditional D&D/RQ style value.

And even in the ones that have a range of, say, 1-5--at least everyone is unlikely to have Attribute X at 3. Yeah, there's not going to be a wide numerical range in general, but that's because all the attributes actually mean something, and they'll at least vary within the attribute.

As to the final issue, 'why have stat values that no-one will ever choose' there are two considerations:
  1. The statistic system will be used for NPCs as well, which may well be generated randomly. So, for example, even if all Mythras characters created with a 'buy your stats' approach will probably be designed with the right numbers to get 3 action points, that won't be true of NPCs.

That doesn't seem much of an answer. Again, what difference does it make what they're attribute is if its still within the range that would produce the same output? That seems to be a case of just having a different number for having a different number that will mean nothing. (Mythras is not actually an example of this as almost every attribute value has a small impact because of how skills are calculated, but that difference can be pretty invisible in play; almost no one is going to notice the difference between someone with a 45% skill and a 43% most of the time, on any side of the table).

  1. In the context we're considering--can you relatively easily convert random generation of basic stats to some sort of non-random system--having some values that nobody will pick is, IMO, at most an aesthetic flaw. It won't affect game-play significantly. If you are designing a system to be nonrandom first of all, then it is more of an issue, though again mainly on a 'mental tidiness' level.

Your "aesthetic flaw" is my "mostly pointless numeric element". The only reason to do it at all is if a system has a lot of different calculated values that use attributes in different ways (as Mythras, in fact, does). Otherwise the "dead" areas (where two attributes are theoretically different but don't actually do anything that has any different impact on the game world--the way D&D 3e era odd attribute values did) is simply an illusion that does not seem to serve any purpose to me.

I disagree. People can both want randomness for the unpredictability and ease it offers and want starting characters to be balanced in power or whatever. Since many char-gen approaches mix random and non-random elements, it seems to me quite reasonable to create a system where (for example) the total number of points you get to spend on skills, or talents, or whatever you 'buy' is modified based on your rolls for basic stats. In many point-buy systems you would have that explicit choice, after all--putting more points into stats would give you fewer for other things.

This assumes, however, that one pool is of the same value the other is. While this isn't impossible, my observation is its rarely the case (among other things, most games make it far easier to improve skills than attributes).

As for 'inherent flaws'--all systems are imperfect compromises, IME. And the pursuit of intellectual elegance in a system, though attractive to designers, often leads to games that work less well at the table. YMMV, etc.

That said, patching over a flaw can end up just moving the problem around where actually addressing it doesn't.

I think that's quite reasonable. But most of the games I looked at that include random generation of basic statistics also allowed players to choose which of the values they rolled were allotted to each of the stats--or offered even more choice, like an alternative point-buy system.

Well, my incomplete thought was that included in deciding where one's character is weak should include "nowhere". That may not suit everyone's aesthetic on this, but in the end if it can be a result for anyone (that is to say your random system can produce a character with no real weak spots) then being demanding that other people be stuck with it if they're not so lucky seems more than a little off. As an example, you can end up with various patch-and-fill random systems that produce some characters that are not extremely varied but still have an above average attribute or two, and some that are actually overall about the same in total numbers, but have very visible strengths and weaknesses. Having someone who wants one of these but is stuck with the other does not seem to be something a game system should be forcing.

Of course there are various ways to put your thumb on the scale to avoid all the problems that can come up in this regard with random generation; but at some point the process gets baroque enough you have to ask whether any benefit to randomness is worth it?

I mean, as an example, let's say I have an attribute system with a build system that gives you 60 points to distribute among five attributes with a maximum of 20 and a minimum of 6. Someone who didn't want to decide these could do a number of random assignment rolls to place these (2D8+4 comes to mind), then adjusting the attributes up and down to hit the totals (so if you ended up with only 55 points you'd go back and add 1 to each). That's not any more baroque than some true random gen methods, and doesn't force it on anyone who doesn't care about the surprises.
 

Paragon

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I'll just say I think sometimes people should try playing hobbled characters. If only to find out what life is like when you just don't give a damn.

Been there, done that, had enough of it 35 years ago.
 

Paragon

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Random rolling historically has had that property, yes. But it's not inherent.

For instance, imagine a D&D-like game where stats start at 8 or something. You then roll a number of d6s. Each d6 result indicates what stat gets a +1 - for stats over 18 (or whatever), those dice get re-rolled until everything gets assigned to a stat less than 18.

This would be random, but would not result in the common "all high stats vs. all low stats" results.

Also note that older versions of D&D had a bit less emphasis on stats than WotC editions.

Its true that with a more compressed stat range and/or stats that have less impact, the power imbalance is less of an issue. Of course that's not the only reason for people to not want to deal with random ones (though when the stats have too little impact, one has to wonder why one bothers other than for descriptive color, in which case forcing randomness seems even more pointless).
 

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No adjusting stats afterwards, 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste is the default for AD&D 1E, the main D&D game I played growing up.

That's how I tend to roll stats when going random since way back. I only started trying arrays years later, cuz players kept trying to cheat or reroll, or get concessions here or there to reroll a single crap stat and would end up with a bunch of high scores. Then I had to do it for everyone else who ended up with lower scores and it would just get out of hand. Plus a lot of times people had specific concepts and the rolls worked against them. So I decided to just go with an array (plus optional adjustments to allow variety) to give everyone more control and avoid the silliness.

edit to add I think those with strong preferences on this will just need to agree to disagree, I like making what chance gives me work, it’s a challenge and I don’t mind being the Don Knotts of the group. That doesn’t appeal to everyone and that’s ok too.

I don't disagree with this. I just thought you thinking that rolling stats was more work than using an array was odd.
 

sharps54

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I wonder how much easier this conversation would be if we were actually naming games as opposed to talking in generalities.

It seems like P Paragon is saying there are some games that if you don’t have good stats are not worth playing, I would like to know what games those are so I can avoid them.
 

Paragon

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That probably depends on what you want out of a game though.

Of course it is, but its still not at all an uncommon feeling. Most people want the sense that their characters are good at what they feel like they should be good at, and if everyone else in the group is better, they just don't get that feeling.

I’m a social gamer, I don’t care if my character is a combat monster although I’m happy to play them as well. If one of the main criteria for your group is that everyone is good in combat than I agree random generation is not a good fit for that group.

As I've noted, its not just a combat thing; that's just the place where its most visible. In a game with any sort of heavy attribute influence, a set of really bad rolls can make you feel substandard at whatever it is your character is supposed to be good at. Its not like being bad at being the group's technician or medic is going to feel all that much better than being bad in a fight.

Maybe just giving everyone a strong stat array would be better so everyone feels good and is successful in the game. That is totally valid if that’s what you want out of the game.

I've mentioned that as a valid altenative to point distribution for those who don't like the minmax potential in the latter.

I prefer games where there is leeway for player skill. Even if you have crap stats if you can articulate a good plan or course of action that makes sense it should have a good chance of success. For example a game should support times when my PC happens to be not so good at combat but can attack from ambush or use cover or support someone else that is good in combat.

Sure. Now how reliably will that work? How often? And as you get into areas people feel they have less a grasp on, how good are they going to be at providing a plan that seems credible?

edited because my intent was not to offend and I could see how it could have been read that way.

For what its worth, you've been fine. This is one of those discussions that can be fraught as people tend to feel somewhat strongly about it.
 

sharps54

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V VisionStorm to be honest if we had someone that really wanted to play something they didn’t qualify for we would have them assign their rolled stats the best they could and bump them up to the required minimum for a Paladin or Ranger or Monk or whatever.

edit I don’t think we ever had anyone do a dual class human back in the day so that never came up and we used the Bard out of Best of Dragon 3, I think that’s where is was, not the one in the appendix.
 

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I wonder how much easier this conversation would be if we were actually naming games as opposed to talking in generalities.

It seems like P Paragon is saying there are some games that if you don’t have good stats are not worth playing, I would like to know what games those are so I can avoid them.

"Not worth playing" is doing some heavy lifting in this sentence. What's "not worth playing" is going to be in the eye of the beholder.

But there are absolutely games where your sense of competence can be heavily impacted by your attributes and either their direct contribution, or the figured values they give.

To give a fairly strong example, classic RuneQuest was a system where you had seven attributes, rolled 3D6 straight. Strength and Size impacted your damage bonus (in relatively large jumps--it wasn't hard to come in with no damage bonus, nor to come in with +1D4, in a system with fixed, relatively low hit points and where armor absorbed damage), Size and Con generated your hit points (weakly and strongly respectively), Dex (and for melee, Size) impacted your strike rank (how quickly you could land a blow in combat).

And both in and out of combat, a number of attribute breakpoints directly added percentages to your skills (in 5%) jumps. Especially if you didn't start with a lot of training in a particular skill, a 10% difference could be pretty noticeable.

While RQ was pretty extreme in this respect (and later editions and incarnations flatted out some of these effects significantly), its not alone. Its just an easy example I'm familiar with (since I avoid purely random games, there are few modern ones I know as well that are based around that--though I should note that you could get some massive swings in initial capabilitiy in 3e era D&D too if you used random gen--a character with a 7 attribute had a four point difference on a roll compared to a character with a 16 in the same attribute).

Whether that sort of thing makes a game "not worth playing" is going to depend on what someone wants out of the game, but it absolutely matters to a rather large number of people.
 

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Been there, done that, had enough of it 35 years ago.
Did it 35 years ago as well. Went to where I really loved heavily customized characters. Came back to liking quick chargen. Would still play detailed chargen games I just have less time for it these days. Simple ones are more appealing but it depends on how much system mastery is required.
 

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Did it 35 years ago as well. Went to where I really loved heavily customized characters. Came back to liking quick chargen. Would still play detailed chargen games I just have less time for it these days. Simple ones are more appealing but it depends on how much system mastery is required.

Well, as I said, if you don't want the time consumption of a build system (though how time consuming that is often depends more on decisiveness of the person doing it and the overall complexity of the system than the fact its a build system), as I said, though I'm fussier about the specifics I want in a lot of games (but then, I'm not prone to being fond of simple games in the first place), an array solves my issues here. I just was noting that "not wanting to play a hobbled character" doesn't mean you've never done it. I have. Didn't enjoy it then, don't want to do it now.
 

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There have to be better ways to do random creation than just flat rolling attributes. In fact, I find I it hard to think of a worse approach.

Even if I was rolling for D&D, I'd come up with a range of interesting attribute distributions (not necessary finely mechanically balanced but all 'viable' and interesting in at least some way - nothing boring like all 6-8s or 15-18s.) and put them on a chart and let someone roll on that chart.

The key here is to have a random system that doesn't 'fail' a significant proportion of the time.
 
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TJS

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Well, as I said, if you don't want the time consumption of a build system (though how time consuming that is often depends more on decisiveness of the person doing it and the overall complexity of the system than the fact its a build system), as I said, though I'm fussier about the specifics I want in a lot of games (but then, I'm not prone to being fond of simple games in the first place), an array solves my issues here. I just was noting that "not wanting to play a hobbled character" doesn't mean you've never done it. I have. Didn't enjoy it then, don't want to do it now.
Some of that can be addressed with technological aids too. Eg, a point buy system where each point of something costs a different escalating cost can be time consuming for some players to do by hand, but a simple spreadsheet that does the maths can do that pretty easily (And really, any game these days that has the budget for a big glossy hardback should have some kind of character gen app too).
 
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Some of that can be addressed with technological aids too. Eg, a point buy system where each point of something costs a different escalating cost can be time consuming for some players to do buy hand, but a simple spreadsheet that does the maths can do that pretty easily (And really, any game these days that has the budget for a big glossy hardback should have some kind of character gen app too).
I feel like Rolemaster with a good chargen app, with suggestions, and automated combat could make a case for it to comeback.
 
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There have to be better ways to do random creation than just flat rolling attributes. In fact, I find I it hard to think of a worse approach.

Even if I was rolling for D&D, I'd come up with a range of interesting attribute distributions (not necessary finely mechanically balanced but all 'viable' and interesting in at least some way - nothing boring like all 6-8s or 15-18s.) and put them on a chart and let someone roll on that chart.

The key here is to have a random system that doesn't 'fail' a significant proportion of the time.
That just tells me that someone who doesn't like random systems probably isn't who you should typically ask to design such a system.

Personally, I've found "roll five sets in order, discard two, the remainder are your starting set and first two backups" works quite well. It's fast and gives interesting, useable results.

For AD&D, I'd go with 4d6 drop one, for OD&D or BX 3d6.

Rolling on a table of pre-determined results is fine and all, but it seems to me it is really designed to eliminate a number of the reasons you'd use random chargen in the first place. It's really a compromise system, not a system that assumes random has some inherent value.
 

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I feel like Rolemaster with a good chargen app, with suggestions, and automated combat could make a case for it to comeback.
The most complex spreadsheet I've made was for Rolemaster. Among other things, it allowed me to use the full RMSS spell casting system with all the relevant modifiers for the first time, thanks to radio buttons and the like.

Edit: By complex, I'm referring to the back-end. The whole point was to simplfiy for the actual players.
 

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There have to be better ways to do random creation than just flat rolling attributes. In fact, I find I it hard to think of a worse approach.

Even if I was rolling for D&D, I'd come up with a range of interesting attribute distributions (not necessary finely mechanically balanced but all 'viable' and interesting in at least some way - nothing boring like all 6-8s or 15-18s.) and put them on a chart and let someone roll on that chart.

The key here is to have a random system that doesn't 'fail' a significant proportion of the time.

You could do a sort of "rolled array" thing where you have a selection of die roll ranges you pick each time for the attribute of choice (say, use a typical 3-18 range) one 15-18, two 12-14, two 9-12, and one 6-8).
 

Paragon

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Some of that can be addressed with technological aids too. Eg, a point buy system where each point of something costs a different escalating cost can be time consuming for some players to do by hand, but a simple spreadsheet that does the maths can do that pretty easily (And really, any game these days that has the budget for a big glossy hardback should have some kind of character gen app too).

Certainly, though honestly, I still think the biggest time consumer most of the time is decision paralysis (and I'm not going to try and claim that isn't a thing). This is why I say build systems have been unnecessarily resistant about doing templates for people who don't want to do the lifting as much. You can even do this with superhero games to a degree.

(I know they take up space, but some of it is honestly that a lot of build system fans have a kind of weird aversion to templates and archetypes that doesn't seem to serve good purposes).
 

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Certainly, though honestly, I still think the biggest time consumer most of the time is decision paralysis (and I'm not going to try and claim that isn't a thing). This is why I say build systems have been unnecessarily resistant about doing templates for people who don't want to do the lifting as much. You can even do this with superhero games to a degree.

(I know they take up space, but some of it is honestly that a lot of build system fans have a kind of weird aversion to templates and archetypes that doesn't seem to serve good purposes).
Templates were a godsend for Champions in Champions III. It gave newbies a starting point for what's normal

In RPGs I think standard equipment packs are a real timesaver. Giving people coin and saying look at a long list is a recipe for decision paralysis
 

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Certainly, though honestly, I still think the biggest time consumer most of the time is decision paralysis (and I'm not going to try and claim that isn't a thing). This is why I say build systems have been unnecessarily resistant about doing templates for people who don't want to do the lifting as much. You can even do this with superhero games to a degree.

(I know they take up space, but some of it is honestly that a lot of build system fans have a kind of weird aversion to templates and archetypes that doesn't seem to serve good purposes).
Yes. Although even there, if they have a visual aid that can easily do the maths while they try different combinations out, I think it can speed such players along.

But to my mind if I was designing a system with a lot of points to spend these days, I'd probably add some kind of template or lifepath system to take the bulk of the decision making out of it - except for finishing touches.

Edit: You can also just break things into chunks. "You start with 1 skill at 5, 2 at 4, 3 at 3, and 4 at 2". Now here's some extra XP to tweak.
 
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TJS

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Templates were a godsend for Champions in Champions III. It gave newbies a starting point for what's normal

In RPGs I think standard equipment packs are a real timesaver. Giving people coin and saying look at a long list is a recipe for decision paralysis
I've always been lazy about purchasing equipment. I've lost several characters in Cyberpunk because I couldn't be bothered getting any Cyberwear.
 
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