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Allen Park
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I prefer to design characters (ho surprise to anyone who knows Hero is my favorite system).

I'm fine with a limited tyranny of dice. I don't mind rolling up stats as long as I'm allowed to put them where I want. Not moving them could wind up with a group where all the characters have the same high stat and that's not something I'm interested in.

One advantage of designing is you wind up with characters that are more fair -- we have on guy in our group who won't play a D&D character unless he has at least three scores of 15+. There's nothing quite as annoying as finding out that the cleric is also smarter than your wizard or stronger than your fighter every single time.
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Chris L
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I'm okay with a lifepath. That can be interesting.

Six stats in order, no thanks.

But it's been several years since I've actually used a system where the question is at all relevant.
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Douglas Bailey
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I like both. Sometimes I know what I want; sometimes I'm happier to discover something I hadn't anticipated.

I particularly like the WFRP 4e character-creation approach, which generalises to "gain an XP bonus for accepting a purely random roll, or a smaller XP bonus if you roll a second time and choose one of the two random options, or no bonus if you choose something else." So you can have as much randomness or as much choice as you like, but you get a little something extra for going with random results; a nice mix of old- and new-school mechanics.
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Jamie Hardy
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I think the question leaves out a lot of possibilities that are important to keep in mind.

First, it depends on the type of game. If I am playing real D&D (TSR-era) then I should roll dice. Why? Because part of the game experience is taking a character and trying to keep it alive. Random dice rolls are part of that.

Second, just because you roll dice does not mean you have no say. For example, you may generate some numbers, but you have a choice as to how to arrange them.

Third, what are you rolling dice for? For example, you could have a point based system for attributes, but then, random dice rolls for character background.

In other words, it is possible that some aspects of building a character are random and other parts not random. As to my preference, a significant part depends on the type of game I am playing.

Overall, in a very generic way, I would pick a game to play that would use a point-based system without random elements.
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Chuck Dee
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Definitely prefer to design, and I prefer to make the character that I want to play, rather than be dictated to by the random winds of chance.
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Bruce McGeorge
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Give me tyranny!

I enjoy randomness. I often overthink when I have control.

I also like the Feng Shui "pick your template and go" style.
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DMSamuel
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I already answered this, but this thought has also occurred to me:

The thing I like about random character generation in early D&D games is that all it determined were stats and maybe what spells a magic user knows - but everything else about a character was discover-able through play. So while stats were determined randomly, the player was able to play out the backstory, the alignment, and maybe even the bad stats of the PC (or perhaps why they had such a low INT stat - get kicked in the head two years ago?). THAT did make for some very fun D&D sessions back in my youth.

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Christian Leonhard
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Depends heavily on the game. For a high-lethality game like DCC, why waste time hand-crafting a char who’s just going to get impaled 10 minutes into their first adventure? Roll up a quick replacement and get back into the game! You can grow attached to them later, once they’ve survived and actually become interesting through play.
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Mixu Lauronen
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I prefer rolling. You cannot choose your stats when you're born. It is all genetics. What you do after that is choosable.

So, I usually have a certain type of character in mind. Then I roll the stats and try to make best use of them. A muscular thief or a quick-thinking warrior are very interesting to play.
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Club Squirrel
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Character creation is my least favourite part of the game, except for Gamma World (4th Edition).

I feel that a character gets designed as the game is played. I especially don't like characters with a detailed background as it gives the GM less room to mold the character into the campaign.

Give me a pre-gen, I'll add my own name, and get playing.
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3rik de πrik
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dysjunct wrote:
3rik wrote:
I have no preference, though char gen ideally shouldn't take very long.


This is me, exactly. Just get to playing already!

That being said, random char gen does prevent certain players from creating special snowflake characters, strategic min-maxing or "slightly basing their character off [insert media franchise]".
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Mark Wilson
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brumcg wrote:
Give me tyranny!



"Give me tyranny!"
- Bruce, 2019
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Paul Unwin
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"Tyranny." Cripes.

In my current preferred game, one makes ones characters, by assigning ability scores, and everything else about the character.

I'm willing to participate in character creation that is as random as the GM wants, as long as either there's no such thing as a "bad" character in the system, i.e. a character can contribute more or less equally usefully, regardless of makeup; or, in the case of a system in which one's survivability depends on those random numbers, character replacement is quick and easy.

If there's a reasonable chance that I could have a thoroughly incapable character, or that I might be ejected from the game for a long period after losing a fragile character, I'd rather not play in that game. However, I find that GMs are often not willing themselves to submit to randomness, so I rarely feel the need to make such a choice.
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Chris Tannhauser
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LET THE UNIVERSE DECIDE WHO'S LIFE I WILL RUIN
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Chris Tannhauser
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pdzoch wrote:

"You got 18/00? Me too!"
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William Hostman
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pdzoch wrote:
A question suggested by

Roger Hobden
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Do you prefer to design your own characters, or are you willing to submit to the tyranny of random dice rolls?

Why do you prefer one over the other?


Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3


I prefer Lifepath systems. I don't mind if they're entirely picked, or mixed roll and pick. Pure roll is second tier.

For non-lifepath, it better be mostly choice.
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Harry Lee
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There are examples of both methods that I’m quite fond of, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with random generation. I really like being asked to work with unexpected strengths/flaws/utter disasters in my characters.
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Paul Dale
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When will the die stop rolling? What face finishes showing?
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Dice rolls all the way.

Random rubbish stats force roleplaying.
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Art Gorski
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Graewulf wrote:
I prefer to design my own characters. Some of that may be random, of course, like rolling attributes, but I like having control over the rest. I'm the one who has to play the character, so yeah, I'd like a heavy hand in creating the character.

That being said, I've had a lot of fun creating a couple of Traveller characters (the first one died during the game, not during character creation!) and it was really cool to see how the character developed through the creation process (which is definitely submitting to the tyranny of random dice rolls!). However, most games don't have the kind of character creation depth Traveller does.

This. There's a lot of choices to make during Traveller's life path character creation process, and having the random rolls twist things up just enough lets you adjust your choices as you continue.
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Alain Curato
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Just saying (since the debate is loose already):

We chose to play rpg.
We chose to play THIS rpg. Not Lowlife - The rpg, but DnD or, worse, Exalted.
We chose THIS setting (and land, and era, if the setting has several lands and eras).
The gm announced a few personal tweaks to the rules and setting, and we all agreed to a satisfying consensus.
I chose to play THIS sort of character (Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Aasimar, Shingouz, Gelatinous Cube zombierobotarrrh) and the gm allowed it.
Depending on the game, I am able to buy my skill bonuses and feats and equipment pretty much as I like, and to design my character's name, family, gender, psychology, personal history, relationships and goals.
Also, I expect the gm to let me make a lot of choices as we play, instead of forcing us down unwanted ways. For example, I expect the gm to add useful magical items for my own class, interesting masters my character could learn from, and quest givers that fit my character's beliefs.
I also trust the gm not to cripple my character so much that I have to take a new route that I will not enjoy (unless that was part of the overall contract).
Overall, I, as a player, already get lots of influence over the game, in the name of Fun. The drawback being that the gm will give me equally big challenges, and, if I get too cocky, the gm is allowed to chastise me.

... But designing my stats myself, within the limits of a budget, means I have too much control?
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Benj Davis
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Design.
I'm okay with the sort of rolling used in Reign, where your choices are random but equally useful.
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Mike D.
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I tend to game less with people that get aggravated when you're character is lowering the damage curve of the party.

I can go either way, if I have a concept in mind I prefer to be able to craft the character myself. If I'm not sure what to play I'll roll randomly and see what happens and figure out what I've got as I play.

These days I play games that reward how well you get into your character rather than punish you for making a "weak" character.
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Peter Robben
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I design my PCs. No randomness if I can at all help it.
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Joe D
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I LOVE games that use character creation that is largely randomized like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Zweihander, Warhammer, Traveller, etc. It doesn't sound great until you actually roll up a character. The awesome things are that 1. It's fun 2. It takes you out of your "comfort zone" 3. It encourages some good roleplaying because the characters all likely have flaws or weaknesses 4. It gets rid of mix-maxing.

My first time playing Dungeon Crawl Classics I was initially briefly annoyed because I rolled up a character type I don't care for much and never play (a Dwarf... the first time I've EVER played a Dwarf in ANY RPG ever). When he died really quickly in the game (DCC is pretty lethal) and I rolled up a new one, the dice chose Dwarf again, and it seemed like destiny that this must be the first Dwarf's cousin who left the Dwarf halls to try and rescue his kin.

It got a bit crazy because the 2nd Dwarf rolled a super low intelligence score, which reduced my known languages to ONLY Dwarven, no common tongue. It seemed like it was going to be a nightmare, but wow it was a blast. Only one other character spoke Dwarvish, so they acted as my interpreter to the rest of the group. If they got incapacitated or something, my character had to wave his hands around charades-style to get his idea across. Ended up being a really, really fun time with me out of my comfort zone and having to really roleplay.

In games with no randomization (like D&D if using point-buy) every character ends up being pretty much perfectly optimized clones that feel the same. Nothing wrong with that necessarily but it's a bit dull.
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Joe D
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trystero11 wrote:
I like both. Sometimes I know what I want; sometimes I'm happier to discover something I hadn't anticipated.

I particularly like the WFRP 4e character-creation approach, which generalises to "gain an XP bonus for accepting a purely random roll, or a smaller XP bonus if you roll a second time and choose one of the two random options, or no bonus if you choose something else." So you can have as much randomness or as much choice as you like, but you get a little something extra for going with random results; a nice mix of old- and new-school mechanics.


Yes! I haven't played Warhammer 4th edition yet, but I perused the character creation and thought that was a brilliant idea. Really the best of both worlds; let the player choose, or give a little bonus incentive if the player is willing to leave things to chance.

As an aside, I do think randomization is even more suited to grim/low fantasy like Warhammer, Zweihander, etc. Since those games are less heroic/power-fantasy than games like D&D, it just feels right to have some rough rolls that could start the character as a dirt-poor beggar or something similar.

P.S. if you ever run or come across a WFRP 4e PbF game on here or anywhere, let me know.
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