HomeGates & GlamoursHow Much Character Design Crunch is Too Much?

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How Much Character Design Crunch is Too Much? — 6 Comments

  1. I've taken a shine to the Tekumelani method of putting freshly rolled characters through the solo adventures that then provide background, adding/improving skills, and often scarring the characters –instant experience.
    –It doesn't optimise the characters through anything more volitional than the track one takes in the adventure, but it does leave one with a sense that the character exists as an organic component of a living world.

    With my 'Grand Tour' (post-Ability-score-rolling), I've endeavoured to accomplish much of the same thing in far less time, albeit with less immersion (no actual solo-play), but several tables upon which one *may* roll (or choose, or outright ignore, depending on the Referee's style) to make the character distinct from others of their initial entry-angle into the milieu.

    Some folks seem to pride themselves on not even naming their characters in D&D until they've reached or surpassed 3rd level, but that's just not my cup of tea…

  2. "This makes the game designer in me wonder how much (and what types) of mechanical variety for characters one can add to the basics of "old-school" D&D before min-maxing and character builds suck all the fun out of the game for those not into such things"

    Infinity. My 4e party would probably get blown out of the water in three rounds by even a half-decent group of min-maxers, because every last feat any of those characters has came from the question, "How can I best represent my character concept?" Our warlock has an exotic weapon proficiency in a pistol (post-apoc game) he hardly ever uses, because it fits his character. Our druid is multiclassed shaman, because it fits his character.

    It's the DM, the group, and the playstyle. Nothing to do with the system.

    By the way, you should really consider enabling name/url commenting. I'm sure you'll get more comments.

  3. Timeshadows: Which of the many Tekumel RPGs used that character generation system? I vaguely remember one that had several solo type books for character generation from the late 1980s/early 1990s (?) but I only got a brief glance at one of the books.

    Demonillusionist: I agree that not all groups min-max even in games with rules that strongly enable it, but there seems to be a point where it switches from being a minority that do to a majority that do.

    "By the way, you should really consider enabling name/url commenting. I'm sure you'll get more comments."

    I'm not sure what you mean here, I have this blog set on the least restrictive setting for comments that does not allow anonymous posters — as the blog is flooded with spam comments when I allow posts by folks without some type of trackable account. As my time for dealing with spam is zero, I'd rather have fewer comments and very little/no spam than more comments and more spam.

  4. Hmm. I’m not sure that is so much “how much” as “what kind”. For example, see RA’s skill categories from this Dragonsfoot thread: http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5237&hilit=skills

    On another axis: The feats in 3e tie heavily into the fighter class and the combat system. A feat can give a character a significant advantage. I don’t have it any more, but I once came up with a list of things like 3e feats to add to classic D&D. Mine, however, tended to be more of an add-on or extra flavor rather than game-changing like so many of the 3e feats. If that makes an sense.

  5. I think a big part of controlling min-maxing is exemplified by your example of the middle ground: 2nd edition kits. You aren't actually picking a lot in that system, just one extra piece: the kit. The kit, however, does add in a lot of fiddly bits.

    I think that's a great design choice. It's basically a huge set of subclasses which gives you a lot of variety. However, once you pick one just like your main character class you're done. That's the package of goods.

    Contrast that to wide open games like D&D3 or Rolemaster where you can literally pick anything. Because you're building the kit yourself there is the chance to find strange interactions in hopes of a boost.

    The point is it's not the number or granularity of powers but the granularity of the picking of them that supports min-maxing.