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D&D 3E
An alternate idea for character generation.... 
2nd-Oct-2006 01:31 pm
Here's a thought I had today. I'm doing certain things to create a background for my characters to discover how they grew from their beginnings...

here's something I thought of. What would you think of this.

I have each character roll ability scores and put them in various stats. I then have everyone pass their character sheet one seat to the left.

This would create a sort of nature handing you what you were given and you making the best of it kind of thing.

Tell me, is this a terrible idea, or could it be interesting?
2nd-Oct-2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
There's the potential for much unhappiness if somebody happens to roll suckily. If I roll bad numbers for my own character, I can get over that. If somebody else rolls badly for me, that's a sore point.

I've abandoned die rolling for everything except hit points for my current campaign, and I'm seriously considering abandoning that for the next one.
2nd-Oct-2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
It could be fun, but I would warn the players beforehand -- it would stink if I had this great idea for a Wizard, then had to hand away my high-Inteiigence stats for ones that would work better for a Fighter. I'd also make it a short run to start out -- see if people are having fun, then give them the option to continue. On one hand, it forces people to change the type of characters they normally play. On the other, it could be they don't play those kind of characters for a reason.
2nd-Oct-2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
One question: Why?

This has a chance of making someone's day or ruining it. For a short term game or a one shot, sure. Sounds like fun.

But If I've been playing the Armored Band-Aid for the last campaign, and someone hands me a high-Wis, low-cha, low-int, low-str, low-dex character, I'm going to be very non-plused. Similar if I've been the arcane caster and i get a high-int/Cha, low Str/wis/dex character or the melee type, and I get high-str/dex, low int-cha-wis.

Yeah, there is the chance to play against type, or other custom builds, but it seems as bad as 'roll for this stat, and take it'. Or if I know joe wants to play a melee type, I can distribute his rolls to what I think would be a neat build.

But long term, I'd rather make my own choices. If its a long term campaign, I want to play a character of my own design, with my choices. Dice add some randomness, but in the end I want it to be my fantasy avatar, not someone else's.

If you want balance, go with a point buy (by the DMG, or a flat point buy. Whatever) or fixed set of stats.

2nd-Oct-2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
The goal was to see how players deal with what they are given, rather than creating a carefully tailored background that they can play easily. It would be challenging in some respects.

I admit however that it does take away somewhat from the escapist philosophy of gaming...

I'm torn really.
(Deleted comment)
2nd-Oct-2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I got that. It was just a thought.

My group likes challenges, but you and everyone else are right, that's a bad way to go about it.

I have some other ideas that still lead to creative uses of what is given, such as the 100 things that happened to you as a kid thing I mentioned in my last post (that hardly anyone responded to).

Thanks for the reinforcement however. Sometimes an idea seems great until you look at it from the outside.
2nd-Oct-2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
I would definitely warn the players beforehand. I know I tend to be a lot more receptive to "I think this could be interesting and I'd like to try it" if told in advance. You could also allow people to switch one stat number with one other stat of their choice when handed the new sheet. It keeps to the spirit of your idea, but gives the players more options. You might also consider starting it as a "one-off" kind of thing. If you're planning a campaign, you could give people the option of either keeping this character, or creating a new one at the end of the session. A lot really depends on your players; some people might really like this idea, others would really hate it.
2nd-Oct-2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
Here's an idea... What about having them roll their own scores, but keep them where they fall in the order they're rolled.. Or roll each one seperately, but keep them where they fall.

For example. Okay, you want to roll Wisdom first, that's fine. Roll. You got a 15, that's your wisdom. Now you want to do dex? Okay. 12. Okay.. next...

Would that be fair and still interesting?

I should realy discuss this with my players first I suppose.
2nd-Oct-2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
Would that be fair and still interesting?

Horses for courses, and all that of course.

You might call it fair if you wish - although if you're going for fair, you don't get any fairer than point buy. As for interesting, the word I'd be looking for is more in the line of annoying. I think it's It's been hinted at by previous commenters. But I'm going to be blunt.

This is one of those things that just don't add anything to the game for a lot of people, well unless you count a source of annoyance and an excuse to leave that campaign.

There are those that enjoy this sort of stuff, together with rolling randomly to see which class your character starts at, race, gender, hair colour and number of toes, plus of course random encounter tables, critical fumble tables, weather tables, and all other random tables someone's demented mind can dream up. And there are those of us that despise this sort of rolling for the sake of rolling alone.

So, yes. I should realy discuss this with my players first I suppose. Sounds like a very good idea.
2nd-Oct-2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
I like this better than your initial idea; it gives the players at least somewhat more control over their characters. The way I see it is roughly that the DM controls a lot of things about the game: what adventures are run, in what setting, what NPCs, monsters, and other challenges the PCs encounter. The players control only their characters, and so as a DM I am reluctant to interfere with that beyond a certain point. My character creation rules are as follows:

1) No evil alignments.
2) I can be convinced to allow Chaotic Neutral, but you need a better reason than "I really want to play evil, but this is as close as I can get."
3) Core races and classes only - that means no Drow, but the PHB2 is ok.
4) I will evaluate feats from non-core books, but I may or may not choose to allow it.

However, my players can roll up to 4 sets of stats and arrange them as they like - roll 4d6, ignore the low die. And, occasionally, if someone has had really bad rolls, I'll let them roll a couple more sets.

I do think a DM needs to think long and carefully about restrictions on character creation - not that there shouldn't be some, as I think the above illustrates. But, I think you should talk with the players about this. Maybe see if they'll agree to try this for a session or two as an experiment? Most people might, I think, agree to that much. But, if they don't enjoy playing these characters, then it might be good to allow them to create a new character. So, for those couple of sessions, maybe try running a couple of short adventures without a lot of long-term significance, just so that character switches can be made with a minimum of disruption.
2nd-Oct-2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
If you want to challenge them:

Let them roll the way they usually roll characters. But require that each character's highest attribute is not the base attribute for the class. Rogues may not have Dexterity as their highest attribute, for example.

It makes the characters a little less min-max powerful, but it encourages a wider variety. High-Charisma barbarians, high-Strength clerics and the like.
2nd-Oct-2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
1) What's wrong with letting player's run the types of characters they want to in the first place?

2) What's stopping people from looking around them and, judging by who that person is, allocating the stats in a way they would have anyway?
2nd-Oct-2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
Well, Im a minority here, but I like the idea. I'll explain why in a minute.

On the rolling issue: Don't do it. I use a straight up point system (80 or 85 depending, one for one buy)that allows chars to have mostly decent stats, with only one being very high (two could be if they min another stat, but I dont allow chars to min on stats) Not saying this is a way for you to run your game, but it allows chars to know that at least they will get a sheet with somewhat decent scores, instead of a 10 str and a 17 wis and you wanted to play the meat sheild.

I like the idea simply because it creates a challenge. I personally like RP challenges and find them to be a puzzle to be worked with. Is it true that the idea of a char I had would be altered by the stats I get. Sure, but in the same way that my char could be altered over the course of a game ( I add to chars stats and take away from char stats in a game..work cutting trees or in a mine for a couple months, your STR goes up 1 and on the other side, if you are scarred horribly from a fire or fight, your CHAR will drop)

Yes there is a potential for unhappiness. As commented, it forces people out of their comfort zone and makes them look at something in a different way. It has the possibility of working out wonderfully or crappy for you, depending on how you introduce it, play it and use it.
2nd-Oct-2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
Well really it's not our opinions that matter, but those of your players. If they think it would be fun, then do it. If they don't then don't.

Personally, I think there are better ways to have the "deal with whatever you get" scenario. The most common is just to roll the stats in order. Indeed, until 3e that's how it was supposed to be done. I think having the players pick each others stats defeats the purpose. It'll be like "what kind of character do you want to play?" Or, in the worse case senario, people start spiting each other and practically forcing characters which their friends don't want to play. Just roll the stats in order. You get the same effect, but don't have to deal with any other social issues. And again, make sure your players are into that. You might have to come up with some kind of alternative for that guy who has been waiting months for a new campaign so he could play a spellcaster and then comes up with a low intelligence, wisdom and charisma.
3rd-Oct-2006 08:46 am (UTC)
I remember that was almost murder in the 2e days of class stat minimums. I had a character become a cleric since wisdom and charisma were the only stats he had in double digits. He talked his way out of maybe two or three problems ever, but they didn't really have social skills back then.
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