Monday, April 25, 2011

On Character Generation and Character Creation

Some game systems have character generation mechanisms -- random elements are used over choice for certain aspects of the process of putting together a character. For the classic D&D systems, this includes random die rolls for stats (which, if done with a 3d6, in-sequence approach, ends up narrowing your choices for your character class as well). For classic Traveller, it determined whether or not you survived that extra tour of duty that would have given you another rank in a skill you were after.

Some game systems have character creation mechanisms -- usually point-buying attributes, skills, and special abilities. GURPS and HERO are the most well-known ones in this arena, given their 'universal' approach to different settings and genres. Less well known are other point-buy systems like EABA, and the incredibly fast choose a template and add 6 dice to skills approach of the West End Games D6 Star Wars RPG.

I like both of these, but now I'm also looking at systems like HeroQuest which I seem to approach character creation as a sort of 'broadstrokes' character definition approach, and then performing some character refinement during play. It is a more narrative-oriented approach, but it does allow for quick character creation in addition to being able to having some wiggle room to give a character something he should already have (but we forgot to buy it) and to allow a character to break the stereotypes and molds that they sometimes fall into.

The main reason I'm doing this: curiosity.

While character generation forced players to sort of adapt to whatever good or bad luck they experienced and character creation forced players to really think about all the capabilities of their character (and possibly be disappointed when they either run of points, or discover that the system doesn't quite reflect their character as effectively as it should) -- what will a character definition / character refinement approach do?

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.