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Default Rampant Games - Character Creation: What's Your Pleasure?

October 8th, 2009, 00:40
A guest post at Tales of the Rampant Coyote by Greg Tedder talks about his love of character creation and then some favourite games and why creating characters was so fun:
This post may read a bit like a review, but the games here are not in review, their rules engines are. I have trouble playing an RPG and not wondering how exactly each stat effects each one of my actions. It adds an intriguing element, makes me want to try things, tweak, and try again. I have been playing Realms of Arcania lately and loving it again. I spent around 2 to 2 1/2 hours just creating my party. Just to further put myself in perspective, I very rarely get an opportunity to play PnP but when I am waiting on my wife at the book store I enjoy thumbing through the rule books to see how each one works. Interesting stuff. So I want to go through several RPG’s and point out the points that made the rule system fun for me.
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October 8th, 2009, 00:40
He only took 2 1/2 hours to create a party in Realms of Arkania. He must have rushed it since it usually took me at least twice as long to create a party.
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October 8th, 2009, 01:34
With games like that, I always roughed out a party before hand, so In Game char creation would take less time.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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October 8th, 2009, 01:55
With dice-and-paper games, I often really enjoy the character creation process. I usually don't feel that way with CRPGs - but I enjoyed Greg's approach in this article.

I guess it's the anticipation thing. When I'm making a character for tabletop, I know the game isn't starting until everybody's ready (and we usually do it days in advance). With a cRPG, I've got that whole anticipation of the "real" game bugging me…
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October 8th, 2009, 02:33
With a cRPG, I've got that whole anticipation of the "real" game bugging me…
That's how I feel too. With all due respect to the olde school games I played (from the times when PC games came in clear hard plastic cases), I prefer the modern trend of allowing you to develop your character as you play. As I've gotten more and more ancient, I seem to have less and less patience for parts of the game that don't quite fall under "playing".

Further, the more complex the character development system, the less sense it makes for the player to try and fathom it all on his own. It's like reinventing the wheel trying to figure out what's the most effective party since GameFaqs and forums have all that info out there, and the chances are no matter how much time you spend reading the manual, you're not going to be able to suss out which choices do best in the mid or end game. Of course, there's much to be said for having the freedom to make lots of flavor choices and put together a thoroughly sub-optimal party. But I don't know about the notion of being rewarded for spending a whole lot of time figuring things out before you play, just you and the rulebook.
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October 8th, 2009, 06:52
That's a pretty big issue. I remember creating Twilight: 2000 characters, going over the rules in the manual, only to see in the addendum page that a third of the skills weren't actually implemented in the game.

Yeah, can we say, "Rushed to market?"

But that's just a pretty extreme case (I don't know if you could actually put points into those unused skills in the actual game) of a common problem. Even if the text descriptions are accurate and complete, they won't tell you the relative importance level of the skill in the game. Remember "Detect Traps" in EverQuest? The game was out a couple of years before the skill did anything even remotely useful. Technically, it worked as described —- there were something like four traps in the entire game, but none of them worked, so detecting them didn't do much good.
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October 8th, 2009, 15:20
I love complex stat systems on character creation, to me that's like 25% of the game (not only because of the time I spend thinking of a party, but once I'm playing the game, I'm always wondering what party composition to have for my 2nd playthrough, though I rarely get to actually play the game again).
I hate RPGs that don't have some sort of character creation, that's big part of the reason why I don't like Gothic/Risen style games. Gives me a bad feeling when I start the game and I don't know what I am. I want to be a wizard from the start, not wait 5-10 hours into the game when I finally find the first magic trainer.
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October 8th, 2009, 20:53
There are a whole slew of pen and paper systems for which the only thing I've done is generate characters. I never got around to getting a group together for playing. It's hard enough to find a good D&D group much less something a little less mainstream like Earthdawn or Star Frontiers. That said, I always enjoyed the heck out of that process.

I get the same fun out of doing so in cRPGs if, and only if, the depth of character creation is there and impacts the game. That doesn't mean that I want it to be time consuming, of course. But it doesn't bother me if it is. The oh so many hours I'd spend rolling characters for MegaTraveler 2 were lots of fun as was the significantly shorter, but even more engaging, time it took to create my Fallout characters.

I admit, though, I prefer the "spend X points" systems rather than a lot of randomness from die rolls. Although the latter is crucial for some systems, like Traveler.
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October 9th, 2009, 15:01
Originally Posted by Guhndahb View Post
I admit, though, I prefer the "spend X points" systems rather than a lot of randomness from die rolls. Although the latter is crucial for some systems, like Traveler.
I don't like randomness either (in character creation), specially in cRPGs, which basically translates in clicking on the reroll 1000 times until something acceptable comes up. Just give me the points and I'll spread them out as I see fit!
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October 9th, 2009, 15:59
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
I don't like randomness either (in character creation), specially in cRPGs, which basically translates in clicking on the reroll 1000 times until something acceptable comes up. Just give me the points and I'll spread them out as I see fit!
For me the rule with rollable stats is:
Roleplayer -> roll and accept what you get
munchkin -> re-roll until you get best stats (=cheating)

However I also prefer character building without randomness.

Edit: And I prefer building the character while playing, not before playing.
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October 10th, 2009, 00:09
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post

Edit: And I prefer building the character while playing, not before playing.
I would *if* they let me play the type of character I want from the start. Problem is, most games in this category start you out as a nobody (melee), so if you want to play a caster, you usually have to play as a meleer for several hours before you can even get to cast the most basic spells
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October 17th, 2009, 12:55
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
That's a pretty big issue. I remember creating Twilight: 2000 characters, going over the rules in the manual, only to see in the addendum page that a third of the skills weren't actually implemented in the game.

Yeah, can we say, "Rushed to market?"
Realms Of Arcania generated a similat "WTF ?" effect, sadly.

The game would have been costing double or even triple efforts if *everything* had been implemented the rules allowed.

Nowadays, it's even worse: The rules not only allow even more (in p&p, that is), but they are also much, much more complex !

“ 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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October 17th, 2009, 18:03
MegaTraveller 2 had that as well. Although most of the "there-but-not-implemented" skills were RP skills and not really applicable to cRPGs. They explained, and I accepted, that it was meant so that one could use the same characters between the game and P&P.
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