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From the start, when I started playing RPGs in the 80's, I never liked rolling for my characteristics.

Thirty years later, I still don't.

I prefer either to use pre-determined numbers (e.g., 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10), or use a point pool, to be able to design my characters to my liking.

As a GM, I give my players total freedom to create characters as strong or as weak as they like, with the characteristics, attributes and skills that they want, within reasonable limits (GM fiat).

They will all die or go insane anyway. devil
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Mallet wrote:


From the start, when I started playing RPGs in the 80's, I never liked rolling for my characteristics.

Thirty years later, I still don't.

I prefer either to use pre-determined numbers (e.g., 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10), or use a point pool, to be able to design my characters to my liking.

As a GM, I give my players total freedom to create characters as strong or as weak as they like, with the characteristics, attributes and skills that they want, within reasonable limits (GM fiat).

They will all die or go insane anyway. devil


There is certainly something to be said about having a vision for your character and then being able to build it to match your vision.

My main issue is that my Circle of the Land Druid will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, and my Fighter/Samurai will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, etc. We'll all optimize the characters to some degree, which will make them largely the same with only minor mechanical differences (plus some cosmetic differences).

That all being said, both ways have their advantages and disadvantages.
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Magellan1 wrote:
My main issue is that my Circle of the Land Druid will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, and my Fighter/Samurai will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, etc. We'll all optimize the characters to some degree, which will make them largely the same with only minor mechanical differences (plus some cosmetic differences).

That's generally overstated, and if one doesn't want their constructed character to be similar to those of others, it's generally pretty easy to make different choices in order to stand out. It depends on the game system of course, and on how punished the player will be for not optimizing, but generally it's the player's choice how similar their character is to other characters of that type.

If one doesn't make an effort to make one's character mechanically distinctive, then that's one's choice of priorities. More than likely one can distinguish it in other ways. Maybe a random system would help one be different, but using (or agreeing to use) a random system is a also a choice.
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enduran wrote:
Magellan1 wrote:
My main issue is that my Circle of the Land Druid will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, and my Fighter/Samurai will be VERY similar to yours and everybody else's, etc. We'll all optimize the characters to some degree, which will make them largely the same with only minor mechanical differences (plus some cosmetic differences).

That's generally overstated, and if one doesn't want their constructed character to be similar to those of others, it's generally pretty easy to make different choices in order to stand out. It depends on the game system of course, and on how punished the player will be for not optimizing, but generally it's the player's choice how similar their character is to other characters of that type.

If one doesn't make an effort to make one's character mechanically distinctive, then that's one's choice of priorities. More than likely one can distinguish it in other ways. Maybe a random system would help one be different, but using (or agreeing to use) a random system is a also a choice.


Agreed, it depends on the system. I was thinking of D&D 5e as my example (which I play and really like by the way, I'm not hating on it).
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I prefer a mix of both! I like to create a character background, then have random rolls to determine the actual stats. I have created some wonderful characters that way, some of which were utterly inept at their jobs, but it was what they wanted to do in life, so who is to stop them?

However, I greatly prefer random rolls to point-buy - I truly dislike point-buy systems.

And in my experience, low stats create great roleplaying opportunities.
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Usually when I build the character "I want to play" the character (and experience) turns out more-or-less as I'd anticipated.

Usually when I "submit to the tyranny of random dice rolls" and get a weird character that I would never generate on my own, the character (and experience) turns out to be a novel experience that's a lot of fun to explore.

Either way, all you get is "Square 1"; the rest of the game is guided development.
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adularia25 wrote:
so who is to stop them?


The teacher.

YOU! SHALL! NOT PASS! WITH! THESE! GRADES! angry
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I prefer a character creation system where the weight of the game play is proportional to the work spent on the character. Light game? Light generation.
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Well, if I have an idea for a character to start with, I'd rather design a character. As a GM, a lot of time lately the whole campaign is very specific to the character(s), so random wouldn't work as well.

I find some random generation a lot of fun, but NOT D&D type randomization, which I really dislike. To me, "rolling stats" doesn't tell you much interesting - are you terrible or awesome? That's not a fun question. Games like Marvel Super Heroes, where 'rolling up' a character gives you a unique and interesting set of background and powers, that's way more fun.

I also really prefer balance in character creation, which D&D type random systems don't have at all. I'd rather roll for which stat array to use than roll for stats.

Random stat anecdote:
At some point we decided to play a game of D&D with specifically powerful characters. So for character generation, we rolled 5D6 and picked the highest 3. The best stat we came up with was a 14. One character had all single digit stats, and we had two 3s. And we remembered why we never randomly generate characters.
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Oh yeah, I just remembered.

Back when I was one of the prefects in a dormitory for guys aged 10-16, I saw two of them who had decided to play rpg on their own, without asking me (by that time everybody knew I was into games, I had handed out a few L5R samurais to pupils who had asked).

I looked on and saw that one of the two was getting consistently bashed and raging at it.

Turned out their characters had only three stats - Attack, Defense, Counterattack - and they had rolled each stat with a single D20. One guy had gotten 12, 17 and 18, the other had 4, 9 and 13.

I told them that statistically speaking they could not have a fair fight. They were astonished because "don't you always have to roll characters?".
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I generally prefer to design my own. The point-buy system in the 5e D&D rules allows for the creation of decent 1st level characters.

In the case of Traveller, I will submit to the tyranny because the chargen is fairly fun on its own.
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pdzoch wrote:
A question suggested by

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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


Either way is fine. I don't really have a preference.
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I prefer creating my own by a large margin. Random gen is generally a turn off.

Now, that's not to say I always get exactly what I want when I create my own. Sometimes there just aren't enough character build resources or I'm forced into prereqs I don't care about. Sometimes there are annoying structures (eg: Fate skill pyramid) in my way. But I'll take that over random rolls every time. It's not about min-maxing, which I'll do sometimes if needed to achieve what I want, but it's about having what I want. I'll choose underwhelming stuff because it fits my idea as often as I'll forge something with razor sharpness.

This isn't also to say that all random gen is awful. Most of it is, I have real craptastic luck. I'll roll (especially lifepath, because it's basically game sanctioned dreadful results that most GMs would disallow if you made it up on your own) if I don't care about the character and sometimes that's entertaining even if it still results in a character I don't care about. I've had some pretty horrendous characters with random gen. I had a Traveler character, Charlie Donut, who had pretty much the bare minimum in everything over a long life path (I kept going and going hoping to die... didn't happen). He had a large selection of abilities which basically made him... not a jack of all trades, maybe like a 3 of clubs of all trades. His primary accomplishment was he divided up the bad guys' gunfire by 1, making things safer for the others.

I've also seen too many people roll up dozens and dozens of characters so they could pick the best one from all the legit rolled up options. Sheesh. Just write down what you want if you're going to do that.
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We have a sort of Hybrid.

In D&D or Pathfinder we take a handful of different standard arrays (point buys that add up to the appropriate value) almost all have one stat below average (because that's more fun). You get assigned an array by random. The numbers then get assigned to a random attribute. You can then make 2 swaps, but the rest stay.

I like it because we had a problem with powergamers that would just keep rolling characters until they had everything 15+. Now everyone has an equal footing so to speak. I also allow them to create characters at home because now they can't "cheat" -- "I rolled all 18s.. I swear!"

It also provides some unexpected randomness that forces a player to deal with something they may not have chosen.
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Design, unless it is Traveller. And even then, you need to roll enough characters to have a viable party and fill various roles.

Design is fun, and vision fitting. But, I could be persuaded into a light, high death rate, randomly & quickly rolled character.
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I think endlessly re-rolling for perfect stats in Baldur's Gate years before I started role-playing at a physical table conditioned me to not do that in real life. But the main theme still plays in my head whenever I pick up a blank character sheet:



On top of that, I've repeatedly found myself spending ages on an initial character image and elaborate backstory, only to find my characters' personalities developing in unexpected ways once they hit the table and interact with the rest of the party. What's more, I've liked these developments a heck of a lot more than what I originally came up with.

That's taught me that I don't have to agonise over everything in the beginning, because something good is going to develop anyway - so why not let the dice fall where they may? I might have the dice decide what class I play, or I might go in knowing at least that I want to play a paladin this time around; but beyond that I'll roll with whatever.
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The game I most play is a point buy system so I've found I really enjoy the couple that are randomly generated. It's like a bit of cake after dinner, not all the time, but a little is amazing.

If rolling I do prefer "the roll however many times and assign in any order" method which helps mitigate being rolled out of a character concept.

And some systems (Traveler) I thoroughly enjoy, I find the life-path system really adds a lot of flavor to my character from session 1.
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I want to build my characters not roll them up.

Part of why HERO has been a go to system for me for over 30 years. No randomness in character generation.
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Lord_Mhoram wrote:
I want to build my characters not roll them up.

Part of why HERO has been a go to system for me for over 30 years. No randomness in character generation.


ISTR 3rd had an optional system for randomizing builds...
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Jethreal wrote:
The game I most play is a point buy system so I've found I really enjoy the couple that are randomly generated. It's like a bit of cake after dinner, not all the time, but a little is amazing.

If rolling I do prefer "the roll however many times and assign in any order" method which helps mitigate being rolled out of a character concept.

I can get why people would prefer that, but for me personally rolling and then assigning stats is generally even worse than rolling in order. At least rolling in order can tell you something interesting about the character; rolling and assigning, you are only determining how ineffective/effective the character is.
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aramis wrote:
Lord_Mhoram wrote:
I want to build my characters not roll them up.

Part of why HERO has been a go to system for me for over 30 years. No randomness in character generation.


ISTR 3rd had an optional system for randomizing builds...


yes, but it was a pretty sad effort. Almost as bad as the Faserip random method for Marvel Supers. So I had driven it out of my mind.
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Lord_Mhoram wrote:
aramis wrote:
Lord_Mhoram wrote:
I want to build my characters not roll them up.

Part of why HERO has been a go to system for me for over 30 years. No randomness in character generation.


ISTR 3rd had an optional system for randomizing builds...


yes, but it was a pretty sad effort. Almost as bad as the Faserip random method for Marvel Supers. So I had driven it out of my mind.
It suffered most from being only partial generation. you then had to finish out the character.

as for FASERIP - I love the random gen. Works great.
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Lord_Mhoram wrote:
aramis wrote:
Lord_Mhoram wrote:
I want to build my characters not roll them up.

Part of why HERO has been a go to system for me for over 30 years. No randomness in character generation.


ISTR 3rd had an optional system for randomizing builds...


yes, but it was a pretty sad effort. Almost as bad as the Faserip random method for Marvel Supers. So I had driven it out of my mind.


Wait...as BAD as FASERIP? That's one of the random systems I actually thought was a lot of fun. Could have stood more balance though.
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