Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rolling or designing

I have been thinking a bit about how I experience the characters I play. I have said before that I am a firm believer in rolling the dice and see what I get. But, in some games it's not even an option.

There is one game I'm playing in right now, and I am not totally satisfied with it. Some of it is the GM style of our GM, which don't suite me very well. I think he is not as much of a referee as I would like, but there's also the issue with my character.

When I have to design a character I usually have a hard time coming up with something, and when I do it usually result in a "one trick pony". I think I have begun to understand why. Designing a whole persona I will think of personality traits I want to emphasize, some core skills and then turn that into game mechanics.

My problem is that after doing this I act out those traits, use that skill and then it's over. Even worse. I might sit there waiting for my meticulously designed character to get spot light and focus in a way that make just those abilities come alive. Sometimes it wont even happen, and I'll be bored.

On the other hand, if I roll for my character this wont happen. When I bring some dice to the table they will provide me with something far more multi-faceted. At all times I will roll with the punches and try at every moment in the game to look at my character sheet and think "do I have anything I can twist to fit here?" Basically, the dice will "design" more posibilities that I can.

What is a die? More than one choice, and improv creation. That's how I roll.


  1. Intriguing thought process.

    I hope things improve in that game.
    --Perhaps you can 'secretly' roll for whatever numbers you'd normally design?


  2. Nice idea. I might try to do something like that. I have talked about that system, Unisystem, before and I think I have some new perspectives. Rolling dice 'in secret' sounds cool.

  3. Ah, Unisystem.
    --That helps me with my investigation.

    I remember it a bit from an Age of Sail/Colonial supplement.
    --It seemed interesting, but yes, I can see what you mean.

  4. If you design your character, you must already know enough about the game system and world to make informed decisions. If you 'roll' your character, you learn as you play and play quicker.

  5. @Hogscape: True, but often blindly, going only on half-accurate assumptions about the system and how one's character interfaces with it. This often leads a first time player to feel like they are only mechanically present to roll the dice and have the GM dictate which course they experience, rather than having a sense of 'ownership' of their character's destiny.
    --I've noted that this frequently is the first and last session that non-dedicated players will run in such a game, while returning to games in which they better understand the implications of their actions in the game/system. This is perhaps more true of female players who are more often interested in the 'whys' rather than the 'hows' of rules and settings.

  6. In my case this is me experiencing it as a first timer.

  7. > nodding <
    --My 'wisdom' (lol) comes with no iron-clad warranties. ;D

  8. I have a female majority in my group. If I were to announce that the first session was to be one of 'getting to know the game, the world and your character', the lights would go out around the table to the sound of groans and sighs.

    It's probably worth noting however that I don't play in one of those groups where the players buy and read their own RPG materials. As GM I'm the only one who buys and reads the material and it's one of my roles to relate that information to the players. If I can do this during play, all the better.

    I think that both I and my players are at a stage in life where the gaming session is just too short to devote to cooking up the perfect character - certainly if there's a real chance that Mister or Miss Right will collapse in a heap of blood and deadness during the first encounter.

    It's always been my experience that a character who's history has developed through play is far superior to a back story that the player created because the rule book said he or she had to.

    One of my players loves to 'do' an accent for her characters. She might go through 3 accents before arriving with the one that fits her randomly created character. In my opinion, that's a great way to grow into your character and I'm not just talking about voices; it can be anything to do with your character.

    Last week we played Dragon Age which has an excellent random character generation routine (still takes a while though). Towards the end of the session, the Mage player announced he was unahappy with one particular spell in his library 'it didn't do what he thought it would'. No probs, change it.



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