The Joy of Random

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16 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    I love 3d6 in order, but characters done that way in 4e would be at a big disadvantage. Take a look at monster stats- they are no where near average.

    • Thanks for reminding me how bat-shit crazy the TMNT character gen system was. And you forget to mention that in Traveller, you could die in character gen with a bad dice role.

      Like you, I love random in character generation. I start with no fixed idea of what the character is about see what the dice say to me.

    • greywulf says:

      Mike, that’s kinda my point. Roll 3d6 for stats and 4e D&D combat becomes much more dangerous, resulting in a grittier, more deadly game.

    • d7 says:

      What I dislike about 4e (okay, one of the many things) is that players feel like it’s safe to hurl their characters into every encounter they, uh, encounter. That’s one of the big things that makes it feel like “not D&D” to me.

      3d6 in order would, as you say, put the characters at a disadvantage compared to the monsters. To my eye though, this would merely take away the undeserved advantage that 4e has given players and bring things back into balance. I like a game where the question isn’t “how long will this fight take?”, because asking “what are you willing to risk your life for?” is much more interesting.

      • Elda King says:

        In my 4E games, players learn to avoid fights the hard way… There’s no such a thing as “easy system” when even playing by the rules (and the DM does not need so) you can make your encounters 4 levels higher than the group.

        Back to the topic, I don’t really like random character creation. I could have fun with it once in a while, but wouldn’t choose it for a long-term campaign. I like characters with strong concepts, carefully designed backstories and a character sheets made to perfectly reflect those. For me and my group, character creation simply takes too long for us to do it during gaming sessions.

      • Tourq says:

        @ d7

        It’s only safe for players to hurl themselves at encounters because the DM has not set the right tone (deadly/gritty/whatever). Should he throw out the concept of “encounter levels” things might just get hairy again.


        • d7 says:

          Frankly, as someone who has a lot of games on my shelf which don’t say “D&D”, throwing out the parts of a system that underpin much of its functionality doesn’t make much sense to me when I can just run something else that already works as written.

          I mean, yes, you can change 4e to make it work in ways other than how it was designed, no argument there. But as a counterargument it doesn’t have much weight with a gamer who owns more systems than they can ever play.

  2. Random is what our old games of Villains & Vigilantes so awesome. Without random there would be no “Acrobatic Flea” – that’s what’s gotten me so jazzed for ICONS!

    It’s also the perfect mechanic for GMs to introduce gaming to new recruits – rather than dumping a massive tome in front of them, saying “So, what sort of character do you want to play” and seeing their heads explode Scanner-style from the infodump overload.

  3. Nice post. One of my favorite things about the old Call of Cthulhu game is that they encouraged you not to throw away characters if they happened to roll dismal stats. As they said, “someone has to answer the telephone and the doorbell.” I just loved that.

  4. Andrew Modro says:

    I don’t have nearly the fond regard for random chargen you do, my friend. I’ll do it once in a while for a lark, but I don’t want to be told what I’m playing. Still, I won’t begrudge other people their fun.

  5. BlUsKrEEm says:

    I’m a big fan of the Marvel superheroes clone: 4C

  6. everloss says:

    TMNT was/is awesome – the first RPG I ever really played. I still play Heroes Unlimited which uses random character generation and just like TMNT, can make a character extremely random.

  7. x-humed says:

    Yeah, Random games were brill. Polar bear ninjas, Psionic harlequins with gambling debts and bisexual cyberpunk druig dealers. However my desire to roll up random characters was taken away by deadEarth. I think I’d have to lock myself in a cuboard with traveller to get the need back.

  8. by_the_sword says:

    If you want random super hero power generation, consider Villains and Vigilantes, if you can find a copy.

  9. DarkTouch says:

    I remember back in 9th grade having tons of fun rolling up character after character with Palladium’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness RPG. I had notebooks (That should have been dedicated to school notes) filled with animals of all types ready for battle.

    I’ve been having the same fun just rolling up characters with ICONS. I’m on vacation right now or I’m sure it would be my work notebooks filled up with superheroes.
    .-= DarkTouch´s last blog ..Doing Bad Bad things to the PCs =-.

  10. Demonezade says:

    I feel I should point out one cannot know true random generation table joy until one has read or played Maid: The RPG.

    It’s a Japanese tabletop RPG with random die-roll tables for EVERYTHING. Absolutely everything, from the color and style of your maid’s hair to how transparent her uniform is to the presentation of her disfiguring scars (or if she has cat ears intead). The random item table is worth the cost of the book by itself– it has everything from a +1 Maid Headband to the Tardis. There are tables for how many skill points you lose as you undress and whether the Master of the house liked the cake you baked for him.

    It is beautiful and brilliant.

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