April 13, 2011

A character generation outline

Today I want to spend some thoughts on an outline for character generation in Gaia Gamma. Doing so early in the design process usually gets me moving much faster with the real content sections as it becomes clearer which parts I need to finish to be able to build example characters. Since I would like to introduce a regular series with randomly created characters to this blog, I need to get moving :-) (artwork used under the royality free license of www.dreamstime.com and copyright by Luca Oleastri).
Here's the first outline for a character generation process:

The following steps are required to create a character. If you are a new player you probably should take them in the described order, assisted by the Mutant Master. With more experience you can vary the steps to customize your PC even more. The individual steps are:

  1. Select a genotype. For sentient animals and sentient plants you also need to select a subspecies. The Mutant Master must approve the choice. Select special abilities for the genotype as indicated in the description.
  2. Roll attributes. The roll procedure differs depending on the selected genotype. 
  3. Roll for mutations if applicable. 
  4. Determine your background and upbringing.
  5. Determine your skills.
  6. Determine starting wealth and buy equipment. 
  7. Name the PC and describe his background in two to three sentences.
The actual roll procedure currently according to my thinking will be handled like this:

a. Pure strain humans roll 4d6-L for each attribute and distribute them as wanted. 
b. Mutated humans roll 3d6 in order.
c. Sentient animals roll dice as in-dicated by their subspecies.
d. Sentient plants  roll 3d6 for each attribute and distribute the scores as wanted. Toughness is increased by 2d6-L.
And a couple of modifiers will be thrown into the mix.

Some other observations:
  • The Game Master is called the Mutant Master. Kind of cheesy but I think I will keep the name. Although there are moments I ted towards the more traditional Game Master. We'll see. Opinions welcome.
  • I yet have no idea how to handle robots and androids. Sometimes I doubt I even want to have them as PC races, at other times (Wally!) I'd like nothing more. We'll see.
  • The are no classes. Yes. I'm pretty sure about that. What I hated most about Gamma World 4th edition were the limiting classes. Thus Gaia Gamma will allow you to prioritize certain skill areas creating the feel of classes (e.g. Sciences, Wilderness, Combat). More on that will be explained in a later post.
  • Attribute scores can be pretty tough on the player. Which IMHO befits a game with a certain chaotic feel. And will be balanced by the opportunity to raise one attribute score by one point whenever the character advances a level (something taken from my Hexer & Helden design and inspired by D&D 3rd edition - I just like the game to be less static as gaining levels IMHO should be something you are not going to do every session in an old school game).
  • I will have to take particular care to keep the character generation process speedy. Nothing like destroying the old school feel of the game by requiring an hour or more for character generation. 10 minutes (for someone who has done this once or twice) should be the maximum.


    1. Curious as to the advantages gained from mutations will balance out the obvious huge stat advantage pure humans will have. Higher average stats (~2.5 per stat?) AND the ability to customize their order seems a significant difference.

    2. I have to say that I actually enjoy character generation immensly, especially in a non-class based game. Skill selections and can vary a lot if you are not limited to class ones, and srategizing with other party members could take some time (though it is immensly ejoyable).

    3. @werewombat Nice to see another wombat on here. ; ) I'm not sure humans will have such a stat boost... is 4d6-L really going to average out to 2.5 higher than a 3d6? Did you remember to remove the lowest die roll in your calculations?

      Re: Mutant Master vs. Game Master ... I like it (that or Master Mutant). : )

    4. Yes; according to some old data I had accumulated during a system design, 3d6 avg was ~10.5, and 4d6-L was ~13.

      Mutant Overlord?