Random vs Non-Random Char-Gen

Bunch

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I've always been lazy about purchasing equipment. I've lost several characters in Cyberpunk because I couldn't be bothered getting any Cyberwear.
I just about lost in in Lejendary Adventures when I got to the starting EQ section. It's long. Randomish and not particularly useful.
 

Sable Wyvern

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This talk of equipment has reminded me how much I love ACKS templates. Either select the default, or roll, and the result gives you both your starting proficiencies and starting equipment. Other than greatly speeding up character gen and providing some optional flavour, it also helps stop players from going into "build" mode and trying to treat proficiencies like D&D feats.
 

Sharrow

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For a sort of random option, how about having a point budget for stats, and rolling half the stats then buying the rest out of what's left of the budget, and you don't get to adjust the rolled values (unless they are so good/bad they force you outside the budget)? You'll probably be able to buy a stat high if that's what you want, but exactly how the other stats once out won't be exactly under your control.
 

Altheus

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The problem with random character generation is that you may end up with a completely useless character.

There has to be some mechanism to get that character to basic competence in at least the core skill that they are supposed to have.
 

VisionStorm

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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).

Definitely agree that templates are the way to go with point buy systems. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, point buy systems only give you so many points to build your character anyways, and there is only a finite number of ways you can spend those points to make a competent character. Combat focused warrior types are always gonna need certain skills, same for sneaky types, diplomats, techies, etc. So making players build their characters from scratch only to end up with some variation of common archetypes is a waste of time. Better to give them templates, plus a handful of extra points to round out their characters and build them up from that.
 
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Lofgeornost

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The problem with random character generation is that you may end up with a completely useless character.

There has to be some mechanism to get that character to basic competence in at least the core skill that they are supposed to have.
This is true for absolutely random systems. But, as noted upthread, systems like that are actually rare. To limit the discussion to just the basic character attributes (since that's one part of char-gen that's likely to be random, if a system is random at all), it's more common to have a mix of random generation of values that players then assign to the attributes they choose, maybe with an additional option to raise some at the cost of lowering others, or a stipulation that at least one attribute must have a minimum high-ish value, on the grounds that a character should be good at something (I think for Kevin Crawford's games like WWN, etc. the minimum is usually 14, on the 3-18 range).
 

Vidgrip

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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.
Yes, that works fine for some groups. I used a variation on this in my last campaign and it worked well. Players rolled four sets of stats, straight in order. They chose their favorite set to play. The other three sets represented siblings that also lived in the game world. Their low stats explained why they didn't choose a more adventurous life and also became plot-hooks. That brother with a 5 constitution is sickly and needs healing herbs from the dangerous forest. That sister with a wisdom of 6 has run off with charming villain and might need a rescue. When players died, I gave them the option of continuing as a sibling or rolling a new character.
 

robiswrong

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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).

Well there's lots of reasons people might not like random stats.

I was addressing "they're inherently wrong because broken character" argument (and you glossed over where I outlined an easy way to have balanced, random stats. Randomized arrays would be another).

Another factor would be that in old school D&D, character survival was not guaranteed, and level was more important than stats, and parties often were not of people all the same level. That de-emphasizes individual balance to a certain extent in comparison to a game where it's the same characters and they are presumed to level together.

Again, it's totally fine to dislike random characters, but the character imbalance reason is fairly solvable.
 

Nobby-W

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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.
As a beginner character, there is a lot of weight at the ends of the stat range - 90% for +10, 95 for +15, 98 for +20, 100 for +25 etc. There's a low chance of getting a very big bonus. Without the stat bonuses, low level characters are going to have pretty lacklustre skills.
 

Nobby-W

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Have you seen management at some companies?

Cries into contract. Now we have some consultants from PWC throwing their weight around - and they're not the sharpest tools in the drawer. The project is a three ring circus being run by the monkeys already and they've just added some clowns into the mix.
 

Paragon

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

That's probably part of the problem in some people's eyes, especially in superhero games; they don't agree with the basic assumptions the template does. This is often part of what bites people about sample characters (the other being that for reasons they're often incorrectly built).

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

Yeah. I don't actually need to spend a bunch of time picking out all the bits anymore; let me pick my armor and weapons if relevant and move on.
 

Paragon

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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.

It is, I just question by how much given how long I've seen some people take on it.

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.

Yup. I've noted that there's a lot of options other than pure point-distribution out there that are still not random roll.
 

Bunch

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Cries into contract. Now we have some consultants from PWC throwing their weight around - and they're not the sharpest tools in the drawer. The project is a three ring circus being run by the monkeys already and they've just added some clowns into the mix.
Maybe this is the solution. If your stats are crap you get extra money and influence.
 

Paragon

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Definitely agree that templates are the way to go with point buy systems. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, point buy systems only give you so many points to build your character anyways, and there is only a finite number of ways you can spend those points to make a competent character. Combat focused warrior types are always gonna need certain skills, same for sneaky types, diplomats, techies, etc. So making players build their characters from scratch only to end up with some variation of common archetypes is a waste of time. Better to give them templates, plus a handful of extra points to round out their characters and build them up from that.

Well, I don't think its terrible to have the option of build from the ground up--maybe someone really wants to try to make a hybrid type work, and would rather decide which areas they can do without themselves. But as you say, there's no reason people need to do the heavy lifting for a basic technician or combat specialist every time if that's what they're trying for anyway.
 

chuckdee

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As a beginner character, there is a lot of weight at the ends of the stat range - 90% for +10, 95 for +15, 98 for +20, 100 for +25 etc. There's a low chance of getting a very big bonus. Without the stat bonuses, low level characters are going to have pretty lacklustre skills.
That hasn't been my experience, especially with your two primary stats starting out at 90 no matter what. So if we rolled terribly, we'd put our lowest stats in our primaries. With potentials being based on primaries as a start, we did pretty good.
 

Paragon

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Well there's lots of reasons people might not like random stats.

I was addressing "they're inherently wrong because broken character" argument (and you glossed over where I outlined an easy way to have balanced, random stats. Randomized arrays would be another).

Another factor would be that in old school D&D, character survival was not guaranteed, and level was more important than stats, and parties often were not of people all the same level. That de-emphasizes individual balance to a certain extent in comparison to a game where it's the same characters and they are presumed to level together.

Again, it's totally fine to dislike random characters, but the character imbalance reason is fairly solvable.

As I've noted, that only worked with OD&D because the attributes had so little impact though (after Greyhawk, it was pretty easy for more extreme stat results to matter as much as a level's difference, maybe more for fighters on the offense; a first level fighter with 18(00) Strength was distinctly more dangerous than a third level fighter with a 12) and that could be relevant to some spellcasters too (it didn't matter you were a fifth level spellcaster if you couldn't use any spells above second level).

But as I noted, not all games are class-and-level games. A not uncommon pattern is games where skills are Attribute+Skill, and there the impact of different levels of Attribute in your areas of specialty are often pretty stark.
 

VisionStorm

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Well, I don't think its terrible to have the option of build from the ground up--maybe someone really wants to try to make a hybrid type work, and would rather decide which areas they can do without themselves. But as you say, there's no reason people need to do the heavy lifting for a basic technician or combat specialist every time if that's what they're trying for anyway.

The thing about hybrid types is that in my experience, point buy systems don't give you enough points to build those characters and make them work out of the gate. Even to the extend some degree of hybridization might be possible you're gonna have to make sacrifices and often start out with one core archetype as a base, then sprinkle stuff from the other archetype as an "extra" so you can start competent in at least something (like maybe pick a warrior type as a base, then pick up a few magic tricks you can build up later to start). Which leads us back to starting out with a template and building up from it, cuz you're always gonna need a base set of core abilities to be competent at something regardless. Otherwise you're always gonna end up gimping yourself out inevitably if you try spreading your points all over the place.

EDIT/PS: Also, you could always add a few hybrid archetypes as templates to the extend they might be viable in any given game.
 

sharps54

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Random didn’t only work for OD&D, maybe you are saying it only works that way for you, because it works for a lot of people for a lot of games.
 

ffilz

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"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.
So RQ is one of the games I run and very much like. So this is what I do to mitigate the "sucky character" possibilities:

For each attribute, roll an extra die, pick the N you prefer (note that RQ non-humans may have attributes that are rolled on something other than 3d6).

I use the rule from Trollpak where INT for humans (and some non-humans) is rolled on 2d6+6 (which means you roll 3d6k3+6 for my campaign). This helps with how important INT is to the game (a 13 INT adds 5% to most skills, a 7 INT subtracts 5%).

If you roll a sucky character, I let you roll another set of attributes. We have one or two PCs that were rolled in a one on one session with the now longest serving player where he rolled up several characters and picked one (or two) that he liked (I forget if his primary PC came out of that, I think actually it was rolled previously as a replacement for a PC that died).

Yes, STR, SIZ, and CON are very important for combat. We have some PCs that aren't that great in combat. They have other ways to contribute.

I use the previous experience rules (I run RQ1 - so they are rather random). Some character types get some really nice starting skills out of that (the infamous elf, who rolled almost perfect stats, so got +15% to most skills due to high INT who also was a rich noble ended up almost immediately qualifying for Rune Priest, and was a few adventures off from qualifying for Rune Lord - that character reminded me WHY I had stopped allowing elf PCs, their INT is just too good - fortunately the player turned very unreliable and we evicted him, though he was also coming close to eviction for poor sportsmanship - throwing tantrums AND crowing about his power). During the time of the elf overlord PC, ONE player rage quit the campaign (same player had ALSO rage quit my OD&D play by post game some years before... something I realized JUST BEFORE commenting about said earlier rage quit in front of the player...). Other folks were annoyed, but no one felt their character didn't matter. While combat IS a lot of my campaign, the non-combat stuff IS important also. The second longest playing player probably has the worst combatant (no combat skills break 50%) but he has several perception skills in the 70-85% range, a couple stealth skills at 60%, and he's one of the better orators of the campaign. Oh and that player who rage quit, his PC actually was just fine, he was playing a dwarf so he also had unique and very useful special vision. He was just pissed with the "imbalance" of the elf. Yea, the elf was a super character. AND the elf really was about to get shuffled off. Congratulations, you "won" now you need to go do stuff Aldrya wants you to do, not slum about with these humans. Other PCs had way more standing in the world.

I am absolutely sympathetic to the "balance" problems that can come out of a game like RuneQuest but they can be addressed.
 

ffilz

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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.
As I mentioned in response to the post above where each player rolling an array and then letting people choose which array to use, I think this is a wonderful idea.

What's maybe too bad is arrays don't work with RQ - because of the different rolls for different attributes (with my use of 2d6+6 for INT NO race gets 3d6 down the line). And even if you used humans only with 3d6 down the line, most players would put their two highest rolls into SIZ and INT and then if you use my rules that STR, CON, and DEX also can't be increased above 1.5 * original value (round up) try to maximize your STR, CON and DEX potential. And then put the worst roll in CHA (in some ways the easiest attribute to increase in RQ).

But for something like D&D, a set of arrays to pick from (choice or randomly) would be a great idea. I could do that with Cold Iron too - though in Cold Iron MOST fighters want to sort STR, DEX, CON values from highest to lowest in that order (hmm, and a BIT more flexibility could be given if Magic Points was rolled on 8d6k6 at which point you add TWO more rolls to the array, pick two of them to add together for MP). INT and WIS are almost dump stats if you aren't a magic user or cleric (though some non-combat skills benefit from at least INT, I still need to do more work on non-combat skills, there should be some where WIS is good).
 

ffilz

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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.
Oh sure, it's not perfect. But given than an array was seen as a good solution for D&D 3.x, the idea of the table rolling a set of arrays and choosing one or more is a cool way to make not every game (or every PC) use the same array. And I guess in something like D&D 3.x, I'd put the standard array into the list (the GM's contribution if you like... though hey, why not let the GM have some die rolling fun and roll an array to contribute to the list and leave the standard array as the publisher's contribution).

I really need to remember this idea to use for my next D&D campaign...
 

ffilz

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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.
Sorry if that came off as dismissive. I agree that the dissatisfaction could be something simmering below the surface and so doesn't get voiced and allow the other players to show their colors by either being hard nosed about it or being sympathetic and offering options to change the situation. But I also think that a player that isn't having fun really should be telling the table or at least the GM. Suffering in silence can lead to passive aggressive behavior that can be more detrimental to the game than just getting the dissatisfaction out on the table.

And I would point out that the type of player that suffers in silence can also easily be the player who built a sub-standard PC in a build system and is unhappy with it, but won't say anything there either...

Players who are unhappy with something and won't talk about it are not good for campaigns.
 

ffilz

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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.
Absolutely. And note that a player who has a crap character in all ways can STILL offer ideas (unless you play with one of those GMs who insist you play your 3 INT.. At least with one of those GMs you will soon be rolling a new PC...).
 

sharps54

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If competent characters are needed just do 12+1d6 and of Uber competent ones are needed start everyone with 18 in everything. Problem solved!
 

SavAce

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The problem with random character generation is that you may end up with a completely useless character.

There has to be some mechanism to get that character to basic competence in at least the core skill that they are supposed to have.
I get how this is true for a certain kind of play, but saying it like this... seems to show a complete unawareness of other styles of play where this statement doesn't make any sense and is almost confusing.

For example: Today I've been reading through Boot Hill 2e. Pretty much all of the rules are about gunfights and punching folks, with a small bit about larger scale movement, and prices for things. A character's mechanical stats are broadly just about that stuff. One of the things tracked is how many gunfights you've been in, and gunfights are dangerous, and the stats for "famous people of the Old West" mostly has them having killed a handful of people at most. The experience chart for gunfights tops out at "You've survived 11 or more gunfights." If you want, you can just roll up characters and play a minis game where you play out gunfight scenarios. But... then the game describes campaign play.

In campaign play, you can set up campaigns in different ways, but one is that basically you have a region full of folks, towns, etc. You have your ranchers, the railways, saloon owner, guy who runs the general store, that gal who is a teacher because the town just built a school, a sheriff... whatever you can think of. Players roll up their character's stats, then decide who their character is. Now, almost none of the rules are about what a character does and how good they are at it. You just roleplay that shit. It is not even assumed that players will play their characters in each session, or even necessarily know each other. The suggestion is that you have orders for what your character is up to each week (and each other player is doing likewise). Life is happening out in the territory. Where relevant, these actions can drop into in-person RP, with other players often taking on the role of playing "NPCs" in another character's situation. Over time relationships develop and interesting conflicts can pop up. If it gets real hot, you might get a gunfight, or a brawl, or you gotta track down some cattle rustlers, etc.

Anyways... what is a completely useless character in a game like that? Like, are Kitty or Doc Adams useless in Gunsmoke? In a way, I suppose you can say those characters have at least basic competence in the "core skill they are supposed to have", in that a referee will assume a character can do what they'd reasonably be able to do given who they are. It's a kind of RP that doesn't mechanize a lot of things many RPers have become used to a game mechanizing.
 

Paragon

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The thing about hybrid types is that in my experience, point buy systems don't give you enough points to build those characters and make them work out of the gate.

I'd argue "it depends". You can't clearly do the full job of the specialist (well, you can sometimes manage a very stripped down version of two specialists) but you can sometimes manage to cover part of the specialists job (say, in a game where you can build a broad technician, you can afford to build someone who's good at dealing with alarms and other security systems while not covering the full ground).

Even to the extend some degree of hybridization might be possible you're gonna have to make sacrifices and often start out with one core archetype as a base, then sprinkle stuff from the other archetype as an "extra" so you can start competent in at least something (like maybe pick a warrior type as a base, then pick up a few magic tricks you can build up later to start). Which leads us back to starting out with a template and building up from it, cuz you're always gonna need a base set of core abilities to be competent at something regardless. Otherwise you're always gonna end up gimping yourself out inevitably if you try spreading your points all over the place.

Eh. I still think the stripped down two-prong approach can work in a lot of games. Whether you want to do it is another question (you may end up looking redundant compared to either of the specialists) but unless a group is so small it can't afford it, I think you should be able to do it if you want to try.

EDIT/PS: Also, you could always add a few hybrid archetypes as templates to the extend they might be viable in any given game.

That requires the designer to be clear on that sort of thing, which, frankly, they rarely are.
 

Paragon

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Random didn’t only work for OD&D, maybe you are saying it only works that way for you, because it works for a lot of people for a lot of games.

Anything works for some people. OD&D was one of the few cases where the power imbalance wasn't likely to be much an issue though.
 

Paragon

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So RQ is one of the games I run and very much like. So this is what I do to mitigate the "sucky character" possibilities:

...

I am absolutely sympathetic to the "balance" problems that can come out of a game like RuneQuest but they can be addressed.

They can be mitigated. But again, the balance issue is only half the problem from my POV.
 

Paragon

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Sorry if that came off as dismissive. I agree that the dissatisfaction could be something simmering below the surface and so doesn't get voiced and allow the other players to show their colors by either being hard nosed about it or being sympathetic and offering options to change the situation. But I also think that a player that isn't having fun really should be telling the table or at least the GM. Suffering in silence can lead to passive aggressive behavior that can be more detrimental to the game than just getting the dissatisfaction out on the table.

I entirely agree, but the hobby is full of people who've learned, sometimes honestly, that all expressing dissatisfaction does is get them attitude back, so I'm never going to assume they'll do it.



And I would point out that the type of player that suffers in silence can also easily be the player who built a sub-standard PC in a build system and is unhappy with it, but won't say anything there either...

Players who are unhappy with something and won't talk about it are not good for campaigns.

But the point really wasn't about someone not talking about it, it was just that no one had to be rubbing their nose in it for them to feel that way. All it has to be is them noticing that another character covering the same ground is consistently better at it. And I don't think people noticing that is particularly rare.
 

Paragon

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If competent characters are needed just do 12+1d6 and of Uber competent ones are needed start everyone with 18 in everything. Problem solved!

Its not like in a game where those numbers are meaningful that the difference between a 13 and an 18 aren't usually pretty notable too.
 

sharps54

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Its not like in a game where those numbers are meaningful that the difference between a 13 and an 18 aren't usually pretty notable too.
In that case all 18s all the time, problem solved :thumbsup:
 

Paragon

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I get how this is true for a certain kind of play, but saying it like this... seems to show a complete unawareness of other styles of play where this statement doesn't make any sense and is almost confusing.

Because combat is the easy common-ground to compare, people are overly fixating on combat heavy games in regard to this issue. But that's not the only place it can occur. Any game where attributes actually matter is going to have some field where being substandard is going to feel bad for a lot (I'd argue most) people; all it does is move around where that lands.
 

sharps54

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There are games that don’t have attributes at all, The Troubleshooters and Risus both spring to mind.
 

ffilz

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They can be mitigated. But again, the balance issue is only half the problem from my POV.
OK, beyond balance what are the other issues? You've mentioned a desire to be able to choose character type. That's an area RQ provides reasonable choice in and I can also offer tweaks to make you choice more viable. I've even worked up new previous experience paths to give a player the option they sought (and some just because they made sense to increase the options).
 

ffilz

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I entirely agree, but the hobby is full of people who've learned, sometimes honestly, that all expressing dissatisfaction does is get them attitude back, so I'm never going to assume they'll do it.
That's something we need to change. Maybe GMs need to signal better the flexibility they are willing to offer, but players also need to stop bringing baggage from previous games. For example, I know some of what I call "designed to be done characters" (where the back story produces a character that has already achieved their goals) is in reaction to some crappy GMing. All of this is a people problem not a game mechanics problem.

But the point really wasn't about someone not talking about it, it was just that no one had to be rubbing their nose in it for them to feel that way. All it has to be is them noticing that another character covering the same ground is consistently better at it. And I don't think people noticing that is particularly rare.
Sure, valid point here, and sometimes it may take a while to add up your observations. Some thoughts:

If there are multiple PCs that fill a role (fighter is a great example), either they are mechanically identical, or someone is going to end up being at least marginally better (maybe my weapon choice while being totally point balanced from a purer mechanical standpoint ends up being better because of the mix of opposition the GM presents). Ideally the game provides secondary capabilities or other ways a player may distinguish themselves from the pack such that being the 2nd best fighter is OK because you have some other specialty also. Then the problem is mostly reduced to if there are huge gaps in capability (which sure, those can arise from random attribute rolls). So if we have random generation, the GM can offer some flexibility. We can also put more focus on the secondary roles so maybe you really are several notches down on fighting (but can still hold yourself in a fight), BUT there's some other role you actually are really good at.

We have to recognize that characters with multiple roles may not be the best in any of them. Now yes, this WAS a problem I observed in Cold Iron. In one campaign, I had a pure fighter. My pure fighter was worse than the all the other starting PCs, the rest of which could also cast spells. Solution for my game? I start my characters at higher than 1st level for one thing. So a starting fighter/caster will have a lower fighting level than a pure fighter. I also changed the fighting skills so a caster gets fewer points per fighter level to spend on fighting skills. NOW a caster has to have massively better attributes to be a better fighter. Now with re-rolls to get there, the fighter/caster has to roll awesome attributes across the board. Re-rolls or even just attribute swapping easily makes sure the pure fighter character has at least a good fighter.

Now might a player still find their PC significantly less relevant to the campaign? Sure. But it's more likely to come from player engagement and initiative than mechanical character differences. Die rolling luck in play can also factor. A string of good rolls can make a mediocre fighter the best fighter in a given battle.
 

ffilz

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Because combat is the easy common-ground to compare, people are overly fixating on combat heavy games in regard to this issue. But that's not the only place it can occur. Any game where attributes actually matter is going to have some field where being substandard is going to feel bad for a lot (I'd argue most) people; all it does is move around where that lands.
Yes, that's a valid point. INT in RQ can make quite a difference, though with 2d6+6 INT, you can only get a penalty from low INT by rolling snake eyes (and if you do 3d6k2+6 you now only have a 1 in 216 chance of winding up with an 8 INT). So now mostly we're talking about a +0, +5%, or +10% to skills. Significant, but not totally a loss. And having a better DEX may make up for lower INT for a good portion of skills. But having some previous experience that increases skill enough that even a +10% is not so significant would do a lot to mitigate that. And again, re-rolls of some kind or tweaking things can smooth out even those rough patches. I think the key here is to make sure that choice of role can actually matter more than the attributes rolled, and to have enough choice of role that other than for fighters (which tend to be needed in multiples and have less opportunity for distinction) that a player can find a niche for their character.

Of course what that is pointing out is that getting to build significant parts of your character is important, so the question is more no randomization at all, or some (how much)?

Now when encouraging folks to use the online character generator for Classic Traveller, without setting some options, a player will get a totally random character. But the ease of roll up several and pick one brings a choice back in. I'm also happy to allow certain options to "pick" a few aspects of the character.
 

SavAce

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Because combat is the easy common-ground to compare, people are overly fixating on combat heavy games in regard to this issue. But that's not the only place it can occur. Any game where attributes actually matter is going to have some field where being substandard is going to feel bad for a lot (I'd argue most) people; all it does is move around where that lands.
I'm not sure what in my comment you are actually replying to? I mean, incidentally, I think disagree with statement about game attributes, but it really hinges on what we mean by "actually matter".
 
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