Friday, February 10, 2012, 2:51 PM
Now that the palyers have a history and have chosen the type of class they want (fighter, magic-user, cleric, thief) often with discussion amongst the group, it comes to the dreaded "roll of the dice".
This is an important time for the DM to understand something. It is not about pitting the players against the dice - it is getting something reasonable within the rules that the player can use to develop his character. It should not detract from the fun of the game but add to it.
To that, my group employs many different character ability score techniques. I usually let my players decide how they want to create them. Here are just a few:
(1) 6x 4d6 picking best 3 die
(2) 7x 3d6 then choose the 6 they wish to keep (most often chosen method)
(3) 6x 2d6+6 (choose again)
(4) 6x 3d6 re-roll all ones
(5) some base score (like 9) and some base numer of points + some value rolled. Points can be spent then on increasing the ability scores - points can be removed from the base score to be used as well.
The player can organize the scores however they wish. If a player has two or more scores with penalties, they must keep one score but may re-roll the other(s) if they wish to do so.
Different players choose different methods each time but I'll tell you, whatever anyone is doing, they stop to watch (and cheer or bemoan the players luck).
I find that using these methods adds fun and excitement to the character building process and by allowing the player to choose, they can build and identify with the character they create. It generally allows them to be what class they want (or if not, the DM could intervene - it is all about fun after all!).
have a good weekend!
Friday, February 3, 2012, 9:48 AM
Okay - here I am, I have a general world (mine or someone elses - doesn't matter). Before the players get to even think about character creation I figure out where I want to go with the group, where I'm "starting" and what the general outlook on the world currently is. I say currently because I expect things to change.
I have to consider overarching wars, politics and how the characters may affect the outcomes of each of these things. To start, really only local politics and affects are likely needed to be considered.
Why do I do this? It takes time but I like to think that I'm simply gathering my tools for writing a novel of which the characters will play out. I have to know the general tone and atmosphere.
I then let the players decide the sort of character they want to be based on the local environment - that means race and class. Depending on the situation, I may disallow a race and maybe a race/class combination unless the player can give a very strong reason why they could be in that particular place as that race and/or class. I'm reasonably flexible but I dislike "fancy" races and, unless there is strong evidence for a "special" class, I expect my players to simply fit into the world. This may seem very restrictive but I have NEVER had a complaint. While I maybe be tough, I'm not unfair.
Then comes the hardest part of character creation for the players. After some explanation of the current surroundings, local area and politics as well as the general world feel, they have to write a background for their characters. I don't expect high detail, though I often get it after someone has developed several characters over the years. I use this to flesh out my campaign on a personal level for the characters (such as one developing a nemesis or maybe a childhood bully that plays a part in life later) as well as guide the player into making choices that fit his/her character at the start during the creation phase when it comes to picking skills, non-weapon proficiencies, etc.
Characters will evolve in the long run so they may change over time. This sort of play prevents retraining (I dislike this - too MMO based and could not happen in RL anyway). I've never had a complaint by players about this either.
So step one: Create a background/history for your character!
What does everyone else like to do?
Thursday, February 2, 2012, 11:17 AM
Okay, first blog post here.
I've been reading a lot in the forums. How this is better or that is better, listening to both sides slag each other (usually it seems to be 4E vs everyone else).
To tell you the truth, I'm tired of it. There does seem to be a few sane voices in the crowd. Most seem to be DMs or the long time players. People seem to ask "Why even look at the old stuff?" (those are the 4E people) or "The old stuff was better!"
I can't comment on other people's groups. All the groups I've had in the nearly 30 years of playing have had their quirks but I have not really had any poor experiences (well, one at a con once, but we won't talk about that). I found that as the editions progressed, the need for the DM has decreased - i.e. rule 0 seems to be less important. However, no matter what went on, my groups always adhered to rule 0 - the DM is ALWAYS right. Go ahead and look up the rule - doesn't matter. Make your roll, it doesn't matter. What the DM says is how it goes - even if you say "bu the rules say..."
The DM is a human and a referee. Like a referee in any sporting event, they make mistakes on specific rules but overall the DM is more right than wrong. My groups almost always accepted that 100%. Arguing always just took more time and effort others in the group didn't want to hear about.
Therefore, to me, the rules are a general guide anyway. Making too many skills or feats or chances for the players to "use a rule" just detracts from the role-playing experience and makes it more of a "roll-playing" experience.
Having read 4E but not actually played it, it is hard to make strong comments other than it feels very MMOish. It is almost like WOTC decided to try and attract an MMO crowd to a pen and paper game. That will never happen.
4E seems to be about combat not role-playing Everyone seems to talk about 5-6 encounters a day in terms of battle. I bet my groups had 10+ "encounters" a day, but maybe only 3 were combat related. Combat is what drives MMOs - it also seems to be what drives 4E.
That is why I still use the variable XP system. Not everyone gets the same XP. Combat encounters generally come out the same but good role-playing, skill use, etc all play a role in collecting XP as well. I make it clear I'm not penalising anyone but incentivising them to think "outside of the box".
I have other things to post about soon - use of character descriptions, character building, class / race issues, monetary issues of the game, creating and build "adventures" and "worlds", use of game boards and figures, and many others.