Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chainmail Character Generation

Put the dice down, son
Alright, I'm about to commit a few major blasphemies. You've been warned. In this post I will propose generating characters:
  • Whose stats are bonuses rather than traditional 3-18 stats
  • Who do not have a Wisdom stat
  • Who are generated with a point-buy (gasp!)
The first two shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone that's read my ramblings. The third one, maybe a little surprising. It's definitely not old school, and I'll be the first to admit, I don't really like point-buy. In my opinion it either takes too long as the player tries to hit on the right combination, or it is over too fast because the player already knows what he wants to do and didn't give any thought to this particular character.

However, in this particular set of circumstances, it is the right tool for the job. Hopefully, that will be clear by the time I get done. By the way, this post only covers stats.

The Stats

There are still six: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma, Intelligence, and Wizardry. The first five are as we all remember them. Wizardry is concerned with spell casting and other attempted manipulations of magical energy.

Starting stats range from -1 to +2. Players have 5 points with which to purchase their beginning stats. A +1 bonus costs 1 point, a +2 costs an additional 2 points, for a total of 3 points. You may take a -1 to one stat to garner another point to be spent elsewhere. This may only be done once. No stat may start higher than +2.


STR is used on the combat table. I don't want to go into detail now, because the term "Hit Dice" is can be as confusing in this set as the term "level" was for all of us in 1975.

CON essentially makes the character more durable.

DEX can make the character more difficult to hit, provided he isn't burdened with too much armor.

CHAR provides a morale/reaction modifier.

INT is used by wizards to expand their access to spells.

WIZ is also used by wizards, as a bonus to magical operations.

Those are the most obvious uses, but players are encouraged to always look for a way to use their character's strengths and abilities to overcome challenges and face difficult situations.

So, that's the gist of it. I'm thinking that there will be options to increase stats as the character progresses, but not more than 2 or 3 points, total. I am also thinking that, barring some powerful magic, stats will cap at +3 no matter how developed the character is.

Design Notes

I went with point-buy because I knew I wanted the stats to be the bonus with no number being generated in order to determine the stat. I also knew I wanted the stats relatively low, since so many of the player-related subsystems are based on 2d6. It was just too tricky to randomize such relatively low numbers and have a viable range, so it just made more sense to me to set a standard purchase pool and go point-buy.

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