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Default Rampant Games - Rolling vs Building Characters

May 21st, 2014, 17:11
Jay Barnson writes about how RPGs have moved from 'rolling' a character, which usually resulted in being strong in some and weak in other stats, into building your character by assigning stat points, which resulted in characters being somewhat average.

Back in the old days of D&D, that was how your character was created. 3D6 created ability scores, from a range of 3-18, with 10 being defined as “average.” In the most hardcore tradition, you rolled six sets of scores and assigned them to your character in the order in which they appeared, giving you a completely random character. Then you’d pick a class your character might qualify for (with a ‘fighter’ — or ‘fighting-man’ — really having no qualifications necessary) and off you go. If your character was truly pathetic, you might hope to have ‘em die quickly so you could create another character. Creating a new character in old-school D&D took only a few minutes, so it wasn’t a big deal.

At some point, people decided that those who took the adventuring lifestyle ought to be at least somewhat better than your average pig-keeper (never mind that heroic fantasy does have a place for even assistant pig-keepers), and opted for more generous probabilities, and the ability for a player to choose which scores went to which abilities. In the AD&D days, the preferred method was to roll four six-sided dice for each score, but to ignore the value of the lowest die. This still yielded scores in the 3-18 range, but with a higher average, and it was still possible to get a really weak score in one or two abilities.

D&D – and most other game systems – eventually moved away from randomized stats in favor of “point buy” systems. Players no longer needed to fear a bad set of dice rolls! While it sounds great on the surface, the problem is that player characters all end up with very similar sets of stats, min-maxed for their chosen specialty or class (and if it’s a classless system, it’s even worse).
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May 21st, 2014, 17:11
Well… having a character with stats optimized for their particular class is not actually a problem. That's just modelling a better-than-average individual with no glaring weaknesses who has moved into a profession for which they are best suited.
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May 21st, 2014, 17:49
There's a thought model / discussion going on among TDE pülayers about

- Bauern-gaming (Bauer = Faremer)
- Heldenspiel (Held = hero, Spiel = game)

and I persomnally got the impression as if this was like Mac vs. Linux or so. Or Windows vs. Linux. In short : Both play styles are more or less incompatible with one another.

Some just like starting ith a real low-level character (like my Ithorian farm worker in the pen & paper Star Wars RPG in the 90s), meanwhile others prefer to play min-maxed real heroes ( with sometimes having a tendency towards super-heroes ).

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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May 21st, 2014, 21:01
The problem I found running pen and paper games is that those players who rolled
poorly often felt jealous of those who rolled well. When everyone built characters
using a point system noone felt disadvantaged. I have no real preference as far as which system exists in a single player CRPG.
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May 21st, 2014, 21:30
It is a lost cause: players of so called RPGs play to grow more powerful. They want that ascension from bottom to the very top.

The starting point is on one side. It does not exclude that later on, players will be affected by disadvantages (like consequences from an unrecovered injury etc, an idea that existed in the start of RPGs, with potentially crippled character etc…)

This pattern is also reviled and rejected by players as it goes against their quest for power. They do not want it.

Rolling was forcing a larger scope of gameplay on players who prefer a limited scope to gameplay: quest for power.
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May 21st, 2014, 21:40
I absolutely love, love, love rolling characters and I miss it.
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May 21st, 2014, 21:52
This is a pointless discussion because in the old days everyone rerolled until the desired values appeared anyway.

blackcanopus:
Steam is out of question. It's not convenient, it's not easy to use, it's not simple and fast. It's terrible.
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May 21st, 2014, 22:06
I'm forever disgusted by any type of initial gambling.
Give me a fixed pool of points to distribute where I want them and go away.

Oh I ignored a stat, for example dexterity? I'm guilty and should be shot at the spot.
The rules that don't use something everywhere but just in a few skills (rolls) are so holy and it's me who suck.

On the other hand, if you're a person who can't live without dice, sure, let dice make your life, I honestly don't care. Just don't take away my possibility to strategize without gambling. Pretty please.

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May 22nd, 2014, 01:01
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
This is a pointless discussion because in the old days everyone rerolled until the desired values appeared anyway.
In a CRPG yes. This was called, by a technical term, "cheating". Its also why the DM insisted he watch you roll.

Another system Jay doesn't mention is the "Point Sell" system where you give up two points in one ability to buy one in your preferred." I think this is outlined in the AD&D DM's Guide.

Some of the most fun you could have in a game is role playing your useless stats.

The point buy system is egalitarian, while rolling your stats marks the randomness that nature gives you. And its a variable that makes characters much more interesting.

There are two problems with any system though: one, the ability to increase abilities over time was difficult so items that did this were invaluable; and two, more importantly, some abilities are/were absolutely useless to your class. You could lower them to your heart's content and it would have no affect on your game.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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May 22nd, 2014, 02:55
point-system all the way. A DM may be able to say 'you roll one character and one character only', but in a computer game where you can reroll as many times as you want, that's not possible, so the game is either balanced so that an average character/party can win (and then those who rerolled until getting high stats complain that the game lacks challenge) or you balance expecting characters to have high numbers and then those who didn't spend 30 minutes per character re-rolling will have a rough going, specially with bosses.

With point based system, game can be balanced and provide an adequate challenge.

Another solution is for starting stats not mattering in the long run, so if you reroll to high stats you can have an easier start, but then level-up stat increases plus equipment should make the initial bonuses trivial at around mid-game.
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May 22nd, 2014, 05:05
Some games released early by TSR involved the use of pre-rolled characters. The player was handed a role to play. This was not unlike acting but after The Rogues Gallery supplement was put out it looks like just a cash grab to sell whatever material they have handy.

There's another method too: Ultima 4's question and answer interview. It was re-used in Morrowind but ultimately you could ignore it. In U4 you have the start of the pre-rolled party idea, where the player rolls only one character and picks up the rest. This proved pretty useful especially in BG.

This all leads to an idea I've recently had in not telling the player what their stats were until they were pretty invested in the game. Their actions dictating where they go from there.

Another idea was to start everyone at 10 and acquire points as they level. I had considered that for Wizard's Grave at one point.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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May 22nd, 2014, 06:41
If this was acting, it might be fun playing characters who couldn't survive a fight - or do any job well. But since it's not acting, I prefer a guarentee that my character can perform reasonably well at the job he's assigned to do.

Then again, I'm strange - as I don't enjoy inevitable failure.

Getting a limited amount of points but being able to assign them manually was one of the best things that ever happened to D&D.

If you enjoy gimped characters, you can manually decide to play one - instead of letting RNG decide.
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May 22nd, 2014, 08:34
I prefer rolling system. It was actually quite useful for classes that requires several different stats (e.g. paladin) for a chance to roll more points. Also, sometimes you feel like fooling around or just roleplay with whatever stat you get for your character. When I'm not in a mood to muck around I can roll until I get enough points I want/need.

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May 22nd, 2014, 08:36
Originally Posted by purpleblob View Post
I prefer rolling system. It was actually quite useful for classes that requires several different stats (e.g. paladin) for a chance to roll more points. Also, sometimes you feel like fooling around or just roleplay with whatever stat you get for your character. When I'm not in a mood to muck around I can roll until I get enough points I want/need.
What if your rolls couldn't support a Paladin?

Then you'd be forced into something you might not want to play.

That's fun? Ok - to each his own.

The point assignment system is balanced around making classes viable, so there's no way you'd be making a bad Paladin unless you didn't know what you were doing.

Nah, I'm having a hard time seeing the advantage, really.
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May 22nd, 2014, 10:41
I prefer rolling system. It was actually quite useful for classes that requires several different stats (e.g. paladin) for a chance to roll more points. Also, sometimes you feel like fooling aroundor just roleplay with whatever stat you get for your character. When I'm not in a mood to muck around I can roll until I get enough points I want/need.
look at the bold texts. Also, I said prefer. I'm not picky, I'm fine with both.

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May 22nd, 2014, 10:47
Originally Posted by purpleblob View Post
look at the bold texts. Also, I said prefer. I'm not picky, I'm fine with both.
Yeah, I'm just curious as to WHY - as it doesn't really make sense.

But that's a-ok with me

It's trivial, though, so let's forget it.
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May 22nd, 2014, 13:28
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What if your rolls couldn't support a Paladin?

Then you'd be forced into something you might not want to play.

That's fun? Ok - to each his own.

The point assignment system is balanced around making classes viable, so there's no way you'd be making a bad Paladin unless you didn't know what you were doing.

Nah, I'm having a hard time seeing the advantage, really.
The advantage, in my mind at least. Is that when rolling you can build any kind of character you want.

If I want six overpowered guys I can roll until I have that. If I just want fate to decide I can just roll once and go with it. If I enjoyed the point buy system I could even roll until I get the same points that offers.

Rolling simply gives me as much or little control as I want. Also in CRPG's you usually have the option to redistribute your points after you roll so in that case not being able to make a paladin would rarely if ever happen.

That's my reasoning anyway.
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May 22nd, 2014, 13:38
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
The advantage, in my mind at least. Is that when rolling you can build any kind of character you want.

If I want six overpowered guys I can roll until I have that. If I just want fate to decide I can just roll once and go with it. If I enjoyed the point buy system I could even roll until I get the same points that offers.

Rolling simply gives me as much or little control as I want. Also in CRPG's you usually have the option to redistribute your points after you roll so in that case not being able to make a paladin would rarely if ever happen.

That's my reasoning anyway.
It doesn't seem a bit silly to keep rolling the dice instead of simply assigning points?

The rolling system wasn't meant to be abused. Well, not as far as I know. It was meant to balance characters, and that's where it fails, because RNG is simply not up to that task.

If you want to cheat, then simply assigning more points than the normal amount would seem to be quite a bit more rational and time-efficient
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May 22nd, 2014, 13:59
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It doesn't seem a bit silly to keep rolling the dice instead of simply assigning points?

The rolling system wasn't meant to be abused. Well, not as far as I know. It was meant to balance characters, and that's where it fails, because RNG is simply not up to that task.

If you want to cheat, then simply assigning more points than the normal amount would seem to be quite a bit more rational and time-efficient
Nah, if cheating was my motivation I'd just download an editor and max out my stats.

I like the control and options rolling provides or doesn't provide depending on how I choose to use the system.

I usually replay these types of games several times so it's nice to be able to build different characters provided by higher or lower rolls even if by end game they all end up pretty much the same.If it was a point buy system I'd start with the same stats every time.
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May 22nd, 2014, 14:13
The dice is a direct translation from the pen and paepr version; but when you play pen/paper you havea DM who can adjust things as needed and quite honestly I found some 'advantages' to a gimp character when playing with a decent DM (hint it is called RP).
-
With the computer the game is 'static' and the only thing a gimp'ed character does it make things more difficult.
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