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Creating character templates - How's this?

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Right, I'm new to the forums, despite registering well over a year ago. But I'm sitting with my character sheets for my game in my lap, and I just wanted to exchange some information with those who have more experience then me.

Background is this, I've created seven templates for classes for characters for my boardgame (theme/design is secret for now) and need some feeback on my method on how I created them. Each class has six diffrent attributes (sp?) and those determine how that class is being played. The class attributes look like this, ignore the numbers in the brackets for now.

Example of "Scout" class

Strength (-6)
Speed (+6)
Faith (-6)
Agility (-2)
Spirit (+3)
Perception (+5)

As you can see, all numbers equal up to zero. The reason to this is that I felt that it would make all classes, equal to a certain degree. As each class has one or two distinct advantages, as well as "suffering" a penalty for this. So, in the end, the classes ends up at zero. On top of these numbers (in the brackets), each player rolls two T6 dice to determine how their character "excels" over the set class template. Each attribute also means diffrent advantages on the board as well. Such as combat bonus, view distance etc etc.

I think it's a good system, but if anyone has some sort of feedback on it. I'd be glad to hear it.

IngredientX's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Re: Creating character templates - How's this?

Hi skalmanxl... and welcome in from the cold of lurking! :)

It sounds like your game is a dungeon-crawl/D&D type of game, like Talisman or the like. Even if it's not set in a fantasy universe, I'd imagine the basic premise is similar (players control characters with attributes and skills, collect equipment, improve themselves through experience gained through combat and quests, in order to achieve a campaign goal).

With that assumption in place, the first thing I'd look at in your system is the die roll that adds points to a character's attributes. I understand your desire for randomization, but it really winds up being "roll high, do better." From what I know of RPG-style games, upgrading attributes through experience points is usually quite an ordeal, so rolling low can be especially disasterous.

I think you'd be well-served by implementing one of the following alternatives...

a) Players can roll three times, and select the best roll.

b) Instead of rolling, players always add the same number of points, say, six points.

c) Like b) above, except that some character classes do not add up to zero. The classes that add up to less than zero offer more points for the player to add, and the classes that add up to more than zero offer less. So a human would add up to, say, -3 points, but the player can allocate 9 points. And an orc would add up to 3 points, but the player can allocate only 3 points.

d) If you have skills in the game, or some stat other than attributes, the player still rolls the dice to determine the extra allocation points. He then subtracts his roll from 12, and the result is the amount of points he can spend on skills (or money, or mana, or whatever other attributes you have in this game). This way, a low roll doesn't tank the game for the player; it just opens the door to a different way of playing.

Hope this helps!

Creating character templates - How's this?

It sounds like you are mixing the randomness of character generation from a RPG with a board game. Without knowing exactly how the classes will be played in the game it is hard to give you specific feedback as to whether the system will work.

Is there a lot of dice rolling to determine outcomes in the game that will be modified by the attributes?

Why do you want to further modify the attributes with the dice rolls? Seems to me that if this is a board game you want to spend as little time in setting up the game, and rolling dice to add to an attribute for a class will slow down the game. Why not just say that each class has these attributes, so using your example of a scout class:

Strength -6
Speed 6
Faith -6
Agility -2
Spirit 3
Perception 5

Not sure how this would work with your game without knowing more about it. But this still makes each class unique and allows for faster play. Not sure if it works from a mechanic POV though.

Trying to balance the classes seems like a good idea, but maybe you want to give an edge in one attribute to one class. Depending on how the rest of the game is balanced as far as play and victory conditions, then how you play the game would be dependent on the class you played. Do the players select a class by choice, by draw, or at random? How they select will effect how the attributes come into play. Here's where being balanced is a good thing as it allows a player the chance to win the game even if they play a character they don't like since there is no 'bad' character.

If are willing to supply us with some more information about the game we might be able to help you with its mechanics better.

Just my two pence.
- Geoff

Creating character templates - How's this?

The easy explanation would be that I'm mixing fixed templates from, for example Hero Quest, and lets characters roll to add stats to those fixed numbers. The whole game is actually very inspired from Hero Quest.

The reason to why I'd like to further add number to the existing stats, is that I'd like the characters to excel over their own fixed stats, and not be too crippled by the stats from the beginning. These stats are then used in the game, for instance in combat, and on top of these numbers, the characters always rolls two D6 to see how many points he/she ends up with.

Giving examples, the scout is not meant to do much combat, hence the low agility and strenght, and faith is used for magic and such. Not much use for a scout. Instead the scout is meant to just, scout the board. This means going ahead of the combat team, so speed is used for going further on the board and perception lets the scout see further as well. Spirit is used to resist certain attacks from the enemies.

I have been thinking about letting the players do 2-3 rolls to for the whole sheet (meaning, you roll once for all stats, write up the stats and then roll two more times and select the result they are most happy with) to get some dynamics in it. I've also thought of a fixed number of points, but since some classes have very low stats (like -6) they would need to up these stats properly. But I haven't given it that much thought.

All character selection is done by the player, the player also chooses a special skill at the start (extra skills is "bought" between missions).

Both of you have some really good ideas, I'm gonna sit down tonight and think about a smoother way to get those numbers up. Thanks guys, any further ideas is much welcomed.

Choice, not chance.

As an RPG gamer I have never liked the "roll your stats" rule.

If your game has the players compeating against each other, then the player who rolls the lowest score for their stats will feel that the reson that they lost was because they rolled low in the character creation, and not because they made the wrong choices. They will become disapointed in your game system.

Needless to say this is not a good emotion to create in your players.

If you use a preset number of improvment points in the character creation (say 7 - highest probability on 2 X 6 sided dice) then the players have control over their character, and are not fighting the "system".

This "roll your stats" was used in computer RPGs until the designers realised that the players would keep rolling the characters stats untill they got the best score. The "Roll your stats" method is now rarely used and almost never in big budget titles, computer game designers consider this method out dated.

Computer games now use a fixed point system, simply because the players would rather play the game, than roll character stats. This in turn gives more sales.

Creating character templates - How's this?

You do prove a interesting point Nautilus. Removing the rolls to the character creation would also eliminate some of the "luck" factor. I'll sit down tomorrow (when I'm off work for once) to do a real thinker about it.

Re: Creating character templates - How's this?

skalmanxl wrote:
I've created seven templates for classes for characters for my boardgame (theme/design is secret for now) and need some feeback on my method on how I created them. Each class has six diffrent attributes (sp?) and those determine how that class is being played. The class attributes look like this, ignore the numbers in the brackets for now.

Believe me when I'm telling you that I'm not trying to be a punk, but have you though about dropping the 'classes' all together? Any time I go down this road I think of GURPS which elegantly solves all of these problems by effectively and efficiently removing class from the equation.

Interestingly, now that I'm thinking about it, GURPS also elegantly removes the whole randomness angle from character creation as well. Of course, all of that really depends on what the game is and how you want it to play.

Creating character templates - How's this?

Sounds like a cool game!

As an occasional RPG player, I have to say that Nautilus hit it on the head! The most successful systems I have seen is when everyone has the same number of improvement points as Nautilus mentioned. Then each player can allocate them into whatever abilities they see fit. If you do want SOME randomness to it, give everybody a set number of improvement points plus 2d6. For example, if there are 6 abilities, give everyone 25 +2d6 improvement points to distribute how they want.

Creating character templates - How's this?

Rolling is too random, as already stated. One mechanic I've allways really liked was used in the old Amber Diceless RPG ... when players were creating their characters, they all had to bid on their stats.

Each player has a certain number of points to make their character, and they use those points to bid in a [blind] auction for each stat. Whoever bids the highest is the strongest in that stat, and next highest is next strongest, etc. I thought the process was really fun. A simplified version for a board game might be cool.

Amber also allowed players to bid more points than they actually had. This caused them to accumulate "Bad Stuff", which negatively impacted them during play. And if they had points left over, they had "Good Stuff" which positively impacted them during play ....

Joined: 04/23/2013
Quick analysis

One of the problems with RPGs in general, is that they are way too random. You roll for *everything*.

So if you're rolling for character stat improvements, and hit points, and also for combat, and encounters, saving throws, etc all you get is a big dicefest. My suggestion to you is to try and find a method to reduce the randomness to one or two factors at the most. As others have stated, you just don't feel like you have any control over the game. If you ever played Dungeonquest, you realize you really have very little real control over the game, and DQ even has a lot of the randomness of most RPG board games already reduced.

If you're going to have in depth character stats, you really must use a fine toothed comb when designing the game and make sure that each of the stats weighs equally throughout the game. For example, if after a few plays, I discover that strengh is the most used stat in the game, well then I will ignore most of the other stats and concentrate only on strength. Also I second the recommendation about using templates either stock or giving players the same # (or a balanced #) of points with which to improve their character. As with any board game, balance is the key.
Scrap the rolling for hit points too. Either make it equal across the board or properly weight and balance it along with the other stats. When players go to choose their characters at the beginning of the game, you want them to make the choose based upon their current mood or because they like to play a certain character class, not because they know one character is numerically superior to another.

Again, if you want to make a successful board version of a RPG, reduce the randomness. Remember that character choice alone represents a huge random factor in how well a player's character will do throughout the game. For instance, I may have chosen the thief, but what if I don't encounter any opportunities to pick locks or rob purses? Already I'm at a huge disadvantage just due to the nature of character selection and the inherit randomness of events in the game. Heck, if you could even remove dice rolling from combat and/or action resolution it would be a GIANT step forward in my book.

Just my 2 pence.

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