Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tinkering with Random Character Generation

I'm aching to game again, but I've been a bit system picky. Right now I've accumulated a lot of notes on random character generation.

Currently I'm wondering what part of the character should be rolled up first? Its as much a philosophical exercise as a game design one. One thing it communicates to the player is how the designers see one's lot in life and the color of the world around them.

I typically use 3d6.

Which comes first: Social Status Background or Ethnic background? To me the skin or race we are born in are something not subject to change. In one of my settings elves are the ruling class. Everything people associate with the wonders of civilization is attributed to Elves: beauty, manners, architecture, art, music, fighting styles, perfect, and pretty much in a pedestal (the way Elf-lovers are assumed to see elves). A human can't be an elf, dwarf, orc, goblin etc...

3d6 (Ethnicity)
18 Elf
16-17 Half-Elf
13-15 Dwarf
10-12 Human
8-9 Human, Barbarian
6-7 Half-Orc
4-5 Orc
3 Half-Ogre/ Half-Giant

After determining Ethnicity (which is more politically and scientifically correct than Race), we look at all the modifiers it generates for the succeeding rolls. Each ethnicity has a modifiers to all the other rolls.

Social Status: +8
Vis +2
Hrng +2
App: +2
Lang +2
Music +1
Awe +1
Cha +1
Voice +2

Social Status: Ignore and Reroll 1s and 2s
Vis +1
Hrng +1
App: +1
Lang +1
Music +1
Awe +1
Cha +1
Voice +1

Social Status: Reroll 6s
Build -1
Strength +2
Con: Ignore and Reroll 1s and 2s
App -1


Human Barbarian
Social Status: -1
Lang -1
Build +1
Con: Ignore and Reroll 1s
Lang -1

Social Status: Ignore and Reroll 6s
Build +1
Constitution: Reroll 1s
Music -1
Lang -1

Social Status: -1
Build +2
Con: Reroll 1s and 2s
Smell +1
Music -2
Awe -1
Lang -1

Half Giant/Ogre
Social Status: -10
Build +3
Smell +1
Awe -2
Lang -2
Music -2

Social Status is the next roll, followed by a roll for Family. Details of social status apply what kind of work, education or skills the character will have opportunity to develop. Family determines finer details because contrary to idealism broken and dysfunctional families are as much a part of history as they are a common occurrence (hence the Ideal!). Not to mention, family peculiarities provides a RICH mine for psychological traits and quirks.

18+ (status 3) Noble / Aristocrat
16-17 (status 2) Gentry/ Ruling family of Tribe
13-15(status 1) Freeman/ Ruling Family of a Clan
8-12(status 0) Peasant/ Villein/ Commoner/ Tribesman
6-7 (status -1) Serf / Slave / Bonded Servant
5 and Below (status -2) Outsider/ Criminal / Exiled / Outcast
Social status and Family affect opportunities like profession, education, and skills. although before that is settled, character roll on their natural abilities. Characters are assumed to survive childhood, because it is a waste of time having a character die in Character creation despite how "fatal" it may make the system be.

Legitimacy - if the family is outside wedlock, shunned by society (like incestuous marriage), differing ethnicity, race or religion. Roll Basic Attribute Modifier from below (-3 to +3). the good score means an Advantageous marriage or parentage. A character could have been loved child of a powerful individual.
Birth Rank - How many siblings, half-siblings or where the character falls in his family's pecking order. This affects the character resources or education. Roll Basic Attribute Modifier again, to determine how much of the family resources the character was able to get.

Education - Still roll a 3d6 (modified by Status, Legitimacy, and Birth-rank)
18+ Master's Private Tutelage (3d6 x50 study credits)
16-17 Schooling (3d6 x30 study credits)
14-15 Private Tutor (3d6 x20 study credits)
10-13 Apprenticeship to a Tradesman (3d6 x15 study credits)
8-9 Family Trade (3d6 x10 study credits)
5-7 skilled Servitude (3d6 x7 study credits)
Below 4 Unskilled Servitude (3d6 x5 study credits)

Next is mapping out Physical and Mental genetic dispositions. Here one rolls the traits people are born with. Not all Stats are meant to be rolled as skill modifiers. Although, they can be used to check if people happen to Like how the person looks or sounds, or for just purely for comparison.

the context of this roll is in the Default Starting Area, which is the fringe most City. the table may be different based on where and what the World Builder feels is reasonable.

All Stats are Averaged at 10.
3d6 Basic Attribute Modifier
18 +3 Extraordinary
16-17 +2 Remarkable
13-15 +1 Good
8-12 +0 Normal
6-7 -1 Poor
4-5 -2 Handicapped
3 -3 Near-Disabled

Build: which affects Height and Weight. Height, Weight, and Physical Condition affects Strength. We are not born with muscle - an court bound aristocrat can be 6'5" but never having worked on it can be 300lbs of fat. A well-to do farmer, woodsman, mason, can be 5'6" but ripped.

Physical Stats:
Eye-Sight (Vis). Thankfully there is a scientific way to rate vision. Visual Acuity is a great way for a Game designer to describe and translate how good eyesight. Average person will have 20/20 with the highest end for human being 20/8 (being able to see details at 20 feet where most people will only see at 8!). A stat of 10 is 20/20, a stat of 13 is 20/8, but a stat of 7 would be 20/200.
Hearing (Hrng). Hearing can be done at the same kind of standardization. Hearing things most people hear at a specified volume and distance. heck you just use the same details 20/20, 20/8 and 20/50+.
Smell/Taste (Smell). taste and smell goes together. useful in determining where someone came from: rain, passed through the slums, among smokers, incense, if they are hiding another scent etc. Great for cooking, checking for freshness and tasting dishes.
Manual Dexterity/Touch (Dex). These Fine manual dexterity goes with the touch sensitivity. This counts also as kinesthetic intelligence.
Agility/Balance (Agl). Good footwork also means having a good sense of balance. This also means the character is sensitive when the ground beneath him is moving. This counts also as kinesthetic intelligence.
Constitution (Con). Is the basic attribute considering the physical predisposition against disease or the character's immunity. Constitution affects Endurance, which is a fitness condition and Vitality a condition of adequate satisfaction of physical and metabolic needs.
Appearance (App). Is the character's aesthetic appearance which is also modified by Vitality and Charisma. A good stat increases the odds of people liking how the character looks, thats all it means.
Voice (Voice). Roll for the aesthetics of the character's voice. Rolling here is just meant to see if people happens to like that voice.

Intelligence (Int) is Logic/Mathematical intelligence. This is the most common and most appreciated intelligence.
Wisdom (Wis) is Emotional Intelligence (Intra-personal Intelligence). this is a common kind of Wisdom. This makes wisdom essential in dealing with psychological quirks (rolling to control, redirect or manage them).
Awareness (Awe). This refers to Visual and Spatial. Drawing, Measuring by Vision, Imagining 3d Spaces
Musical Ability (Music). Yes, its an important enough stat to roll for. Even just to bring up or down Memory. A good musical ability affects memory which affects all the other skills.
Charisma (Cha). Is the sum of many of the character's social skills, disposition and their intro-personal Intelligence. All social skills default to charisma.
Languages and Literacy (Lang). This is Linguistic Intelligence. there is a stat for it,

Memory (Memory). Memory is the Average all Intelligences instead of 10 plus the Roll Modifier! Now this is particularly interesting. Brain plasticity, meaning our ability to make our other specialized brain parts temporarily give up their roles on other tasks has a lot to do with memory. The funny thing I'm learning about memory is that when people say its a muscle, its eerily works so much like a muscle so you can't just assign a natural born trait to it. The way it takes work to build a muscle, so does memory. Like Build, there is a predisposition, but it all depends in how much a person gets to use all the other parts for other tasks.

So actually having a Well rounded background, does wonders regarding Memory Muscle compared to specializing and keeping one self in a small comfortable niche!

What game system is this for? Since all these stat are valued from 5 to 15, its a simply leap to just use a basic roll below stat with a 3d6 system like in GURPS. GDW system works with this also (Although recalibrate for 3d6). Target Number System or D20 can be used for this to, of course remove the 10 and all the stats are just pure modifiers.

How about the Skills? Measuring Work that Goes into study can be can be done by getting Credit/Unit Hours. 1 unit is 24 classroom hours, which is expected to be matched by x1 to x6 work hours (x 1d6 minus -appropriate Intelligence modifier; minimum x1). The character rolls for the number of Study Credits He Has and the GM rolls how many each skill will cost. Purely Self Studied skills cost Double the Study Credits! The random work involved can mean the character had distractions: like other classmates, a bad teacher, had to work part time etc.

ex. Musical -1, and the character rolls 4 for a 1 unit skill (4 minus negative 1 musical = 5; 5x 1 credit). The character will take 5 credits to be able to sing. A character who has Lang +3 can learn a language in (1d6 minus 3; times 3 unit Basic Language).

Bad rolls means, the character has a bad set of experiences that make him learn the skill slower... good roll means the experience circumstance has given him/her allowed him to learn the skill quickly.

A bachelor degree is 124 x 1d6 study hours. Some Skills range from 1-3 credits or several 3 credit subjects. You can use the same terminology to describe the level of proficiency: Basic (+0), Intermediate (+1 to +2), Advance (+3 to +5), Master (+6 and up).

Looking at it this way, breaking down the work to the most productive hours and exercise can high light one's own progress towards mastery. Strangely looking up at what I just wrote, i might as well apply it to stat a real person out.

As for genetic diseases, scars, experiences all these imperfections and details should be left for the player. Using the same Basic Attribute Modifier roll, he/she can just roll and arbitrarily determine bad or good quirks that make up the character. A scar, susceptibility to a particular sickness or allergy, common or uncommon quirks or perks.

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