Alternate Ability Score Generations

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Alternate Ability Score Generations

Postby Brokensoul » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:29 am

First, I like the current system.

Second, my players (and long time friends) are a bunch of spoiled, "My character is a hero and needs to be heroic, I don't want to roleplay someone who is weaker in an area then me." people.

They like using 4d6 re-rolling 1's and 2's in all versions of D&D as an example.

So I already know that as presented I will have an uphill battle on my hands to have them use the rules as written, and take 3d6 in order and switch one.

Alternate method 1.

Simple you have 9 points to distribute between the 8 ability scores, and taking a negative modifier will give you that many extra points.

Alternate method 2.

Pick your class first, those three characteristics you get to re-role 1's on the normal 3d6 roll. I will still let them make one switch to better make the desired character though.
This skews the average of those three ability scores to 2, while also making a negative not possible, and making a 4 more so. I am not well versed in how re-rolling changes the math but I think it is close to 4.5 average on each die instead of 3.5.

Method 3.

Put my foot down and use the rules as written.

I do so want to use #3 but I also want them to have a good first impression of the game and start with them in a good mood not in a disgruntled one.
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Postby Caomgen » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:10 am

If you think the entire mood of the night will be spoiled by #3, then don't use it.

My favorite one is method 1, being a recent convert to the glory of point-buy and all. But method 2 is certainly an acceptable random alternative.

But if your players are mature enough that they can get over their stats from chargen, then just put your foot down. They'll get over it and everybody will have an experimentally good time.
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Postby Divyr Cousland » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:23 am

They sound like children. I'd find new players.
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Postby Brokensoul » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:47 am

I will start with talking to them about playing the game as written without changing anything and how it is supposed to capture the old Red Box D&D feel. I do want alternatives at the ready though because these are my players and long time friends, one I have known for over 20 years and another is his wife.

I am wondering though if either option seems overpowered because as I want them to be happy I also don't want to "break" the game.
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Postby FCWesel » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:58 am

Well, simply allowing them to roll the dice as normal and instead of placing them in the order they roll, allow them to place the rolls however they want them.

Alternatively, let them roll NINE sets and pick the best eight. They can choose where TWO of the eight go and then have to put the next six in order of descent.
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Postby Radioactive Ape Colin » Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:05 am

Method 1 is the same as I came up with on RPG.net in the thread where I'm going through DARPG section-by-section HERE.

Based on the percentages I showed folks, 2 abilities will be below average, 3 will be average, and 3 will be above average. Assuming typical rolls you therefore have 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2: 9 points total. So, here's the rule:

Point-Based Ability Generation

All Abilities start at 1 (Average). You have 1 extra point to assign to any single Ability. You can increase Abilities by decreasing others on a 1-for-1 basis.

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Postby Dr. Halflight » Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:46 am

If its a dealbreaker, you could let them roll D&D method they're used to...just remember to add some points to or do the same for the opposition.

Personally, I'd find a compromise, but if their a good group for you, just find a way to play.
Chuck Norris can divide by zero.
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Postby don tzu » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:03 am

Personally, I like the assigning ability score method you have. Nine points seem well-rounded, I may use that. I have always preferred the assigning method, keeps the party even and makes it easier to build encounters.

I also know all too well the type of players you have. I've met D & D players who seriously thought a stat wasn't "decent" until it was at least 16 or 17. Amazing, really.

Fortunately, I have a new troupe I run for. They far less experienced in roleplaying than most groups I have ran for. However they’re happy to just roleplay and have fun, it's refreshing.
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Postby angel_lord » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:57 pm

Both of your alternatives seem like well thought out 'options'.

I am going to try to get my group to play the game as written, and then perhaps migrate to one of these options if the game doesn't work for us using the book methods.
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Postby Zapp » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:53 am

First off, I'm in the "let the player play the character he or she wants", so while I acknowledge the "old school" feel of random chargen, I also realize there is a reason that kind of chargen is old school and not new school.

And I don't really see how one player getting better stats than another makes for a fun game.

That said, I'm sufficiently old guard to find that point buy always smells a tad artificial.

The ideal compromise, then, would be to randomly assign each player with a stat array, but allow the player at least limited flexibility to reassign the stats as he or she pleases, and most importantly make all arrays have the same (or nearly so) total number of points.

This wouldn't necessarily be more complex than the system today - already the core rules feature a conversion table from the 3d6 you roll and the ability score you get.

This idea assumes DA doesn't work like D&D4, where depending on class you are more or less dependent on a primary stat, a secondary stat, and various dump stats. (If you play a Rogue in D&D4, for instance, there's no reason not to start off with an 18 (a +4) in Dexterity - no other ability have a major impact on your character comparable to Dex; being assigned a more broad stat array could work for other character classes, but would be a waste for a Rogue)

Let's take a simple example to make all this clear:

a) Roll 1d6 to get a stat array per below
b) This array is to be placed in order, but you may exchange up to TWO pairs of values

1) 4, 3, 2, 2, 0, 0, -1, -1
2) 2, 2, 4, 0, -1, 0, 3, -1
3) 3, 2, 3, -1, 3, -1, 0, 0
4) 2, -1, -1, 3, 3, 0, 0, 3
5) 2, 0, 2, 0, 2, 2, 0, 2
6) 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 2

This is obviously a simplified example (the full game would benefit from at least double the number of stat arrays). Furthermore, it draws from Radioactive Ape Colin's observation that nine points is the median.

This would result in the following properties, considered positive by some:
* all players would get 9 or 10 point characters (arrays without extremes are given a bonus point; because almost all fantasy games award specialization)
* all players would be able to play characters with strengths in the areas the player wants them
* no player would be able to completely control the stat placement; there remains a significant element of "you have to accept what nature gave you".
* You avoid the biggest issue with point buy - how you're encouraged to dump some stats and concentrate on others
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Postby Radioactive Ape Colin » Fri Dec 11, 2009 11:26 am

Nice suggestion there, Zapp. :)

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Postby Zapp » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:48 am

After thinking about this for a while, and to keep the spirit of simplicity, how about:

1) Pick your class first, before generating ability scores
2) Pick your primary three scores from the following array: 3, 3, 2
3) Pick your secondary five scores from the following array: 3, 1, 0, 0, -1
4) You can increase a primary score at the cost of decreasing both another primary and a secondary score. You can't raise a score above 4 or lower a score below -2 at this stage.

Example: Kate has decided she wants to play a City Elf Rogue. She wants to max out her Dexterity, so she chooses to increase a primary score by modifying her arrays like so [Primary: 4, 3, 1 Secondary: 3, 1, 0, 0, -2]

Then she assigns her scores as she pleases (primary abilities in italics):

Communication 1
Constitution 1
Cunning 3
Dexterity 4 (becomes a 5 when background is applied)
Magic -2
Perception 3
Strength 1
Willpower 0

In other words, I realized having several arrays is just making things needlessly complex. The important thing is that no player gets to play a character with all fours while another rolls all zero's. :)
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Postby angel_lord » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:10 am

my preference would be for your first suggestion, with a series of arrays. But then I believe a player should be capable of making whatever character they want out of the stats they are given. It makes us rely on more than our stat array, which is great, but not for everyone.

picking from a single array and then adding and subtracting numbers from other stats is no more or less complex than rolling a die and taking the array you get.

As for players with all 4's or all zeros, that just isn't going to happen at our table. Heck, on 3d6 it wouldn't happen on any table I've gamed at in the last more than 30 years. The average makes it more likely you'll have a table full of characters with mostly 0's, 1's and 2's.

But we've always rolled our characters together for every game system, and in all that time we've never had multiple 18's rolled at the table.

Good stuff though, just not our style, but still interesting. An interesting way of leveling things out. Perhaps if we want to run a balanced power game in the future I might want to use something like this.

All these ideas coming out are tempting additions - to be sure.
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Postby Kobold Wisdom » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:53 am

Another option (taking it from Hackmaster Basic, please don't mob me) is to encourage players to "play them as they lay" and keep their scores where they land. It can add a lot of character to their, umm, characters. If the player doesn't swap any ability the player gets two extra Focuses. If the player swaps two ability scores the player gets one extra Focus. If the player swaps more than two they get nothing extra but do get to switch their abilities around as much as they want. If you really want to sweeten the pot you could give a player who doesn't swap any abilities to get a free Talent free from class restrictions instead of the two extra Focuses.

It keeps the old school feel a bit but allows for customization. DA is a great mix of old school feel with modern game design (I'm not trying to sound derogatory to old games or their clones, just trying to highlight a difference).

Personally, point buy doesn't really fit for me in this game. Between the classic feel and the way advancement works I don't feel the need for it. But that's just me. I like my characters a little random sometimes.
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Postby 77IM » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:51 pm

Here's how I think I'd do it.

You can assign whatever scores you want, provided:
1) The scores sum to exactly +8.
2) You can have at most one +4 ability and at most one -2.

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Postby 77IM » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:23 pm

FYI, for anyone joining this party late, Pramas has posted the "official" variant here: http://www.greenronin.com/phpBB2/viewto ... 9082#79082

1) Abilities start at 0
2) Distribute 10 points among your abilities
3) Max of +3 in any ability

Insanely simple. I like it.

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Postby Ryngard » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:33 pm

Agreed. It is FAR better than the craziness that is D&D Point Buy! It drives me nuts to have non-sensical tables... I prefer a 1 for 1 system.
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Postby Zapp » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:56 am

Do note this is only a "quickie". Presumably the "real" official rules will be somewhat less simple.
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Postby extrakun » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:20 am

Actually there seems to be a 'semi-official' method to create a character without rolling the dice (at least for the stats), or not choosing any attribute boosts from the background.

I was taking a look at the pre-generated characters and notice a similar pattern in their stats. They seem to be generated from an array of

+4, +3, +2, +2, +1, +1, +1, +0

Some character doesn't follow this array strictly, but there seems to be some way to tweak the score (see the Surface Dwarf warrior).

You can subtract 1 from a score to add to another score, but no more than once (so you can reduce the +0 to -1 to boost a +1 to a +2). With this step, you can generate all the pre-generated characters. And they are much stronger than any characters I have rolled (seriously, all 6 characters having a +4 score!?)
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Postby YourSwordisMine » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:29 am

extrakun wrote: And they are much stronger than any characters I have rolled (seriously, all 6 characters having a +4 score!?)


Dont forget, some of those +4s could be from Background bonuses and not actual +4s.
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Postby Gairten » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:52 pm

I have devised my own attribute generation system that generates the right spread of attributes for my tastes and provides incentives for having most attributes close to 1.

Attribute | Incremental Points (Total Points)

-2 | 0
-1 | 1 (1)
+0 | 2 (3)
+1 | 3 (6)
+2 | 4 (10)
+3 | 5 (15)
+4 | 6 (21)

- You can have a maximum of one attribute at -2 and one at +4
- Starting PCs have 50 points to spend for all 8 attributes in total before background bonuses are added in (this could be changed to 40 or 60 if you wanted to be harsher or more generous, respectively)

Here are some examples of the arrays this generates (I let my PCs assign these to any attributes they wish):
4, 3, 0, 0, 0, 0, -1, -1
4, 2, 1, 1, 0, 0, -1, -2
4, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, -1, -1
3, 3, 1, 1, 0, 0, -1, -1
3, 2, 2, 1, 0, 0, 0, -2
2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0

The totals range from 5 to 8 for these, or 7 to 10 once you add in the two bonus stats*

*In my generation rules, I give them the background attribute and let them choose 1 attribute and 1 focus from the 2d6 list.

Thoughts?
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