Thursday, November 13, 2014

Random character generation

Without a doubt my passion for using random tables and generators also extends to character generation. Over the past several years I have picked up ideas and source material from various OSR bloggers and put together some tables for auto-generating character details. 

I first tried out the concept for a PBP game I was running at the time. Although my players were great in humoring me, I think honestly the reviews were mixed. But now that I am "the player" in the EES, all PCs and NPCs will be auto-generated using different tables. So here is my methodology:

Stats (3d6 in order) - To be honest, the current PCs were generated using 4d6 (drop the lowest) in order. Don't recall why I was so wimpy at the time, but I think for all new characters, I'll man up and go 3d6. Although likely with the caveat that total modifiers (aggregated) have to be -1 or higher. Baby steps…

Hand of Fate table - This is an idea that I lifted from Jeff Rients (I think), with other sources thrown in, I'm sure. This is a d100 table that every PC rolls on with different categories of possible results. These include (with actual table example):

Special Motivation (You are searching for a family heirloom - what is it?)
Random Boon (You have an eagle eye - add +1 to all missile attacks)
Random Bane (You have a headgear obsession - roll on the Random Headgear Table)
Skill (You are a gifted musician, +2 to all reaction rolls while playing your lute in front of others)
Roll on Special Class Ability Table (Thief: Never surprised, unless asleep or drunk)
Magic item (Random Potion)
Roll 2x on the Table

All in all, I think the good items outweigh the bad 2-1 with some neutral thrown in.

Appearance, Quirks, and Skeletons - These are actually three separate tables and each PC rolls on two of them (selected randomly). See example below with the PC description

Name generator - There are many name generators out there, but I borrowed the concept for mine from the supercool MeatShields generator. I basically created two lists of first and second syllables and I roll twice to create a name, e.g. Balork. I also created tables for females as well as having subtables for 'ready-made names', demi-human names, and monikers (1 in 12 chance)

Previous occupation - Self explanatory. I think rat catcher is still my favorite…

So,of course all the current characters (and retainers) in the Ever Expanding Sandbox game were generated using these random tables. Please meet them below.

Balork (Magic-User): Wears a black eyepatch, fascinated by dungeon ecology, and was previously a fisherman. He is searching for something, although we don't yet know what it is. Balork had a random stat increased by +1

Fretta the Dark (Thief): Fretta is an albino, she has an unresolved family vendetta and was formerly an armorer. She is also afraid of the dark. Now, when I rolled that up I could only smile. First I randomly generate Fretta who then hits a 1-120 probability for the moniker 'the Dark'…. Fret-ta the Dark and THEN she has a random bane - fear of the dark. It's awesome when random tables come together like that!

(EDITED - previously had the wrong character!)
Reldari (Cleric): Reldari is an outcast from his family, the illegitimate child of a minor noble. He has very poor teeth and is a voracious reader. Reldari's Strength score was increased by +1

Imorfin (Elf): Imorfin always wants to be the good guy (elf), is also an exile from his homeland (makes more sense for an elf), and is an experienced fisherman. He is also a charmer and gets +1 to all interactions with the opposite sex (humans and elves). Makes sense!

Thowin Four Fingers (Fighter): Has a lame eye and is haunted by a ghost! Was previously a farmer. Thowin also has a signature weapon (two-handed sword) and gets an extra +1 to hit/damage when he uses it

So each PC has some nuggets to play with. Not all of the quirks or skeletons have been explored yet and maybe some PCs won't last long enough to do so, but the idea is to flesh them out through play. Fretta is also already developing additional fears (snakes), so I'm going to keep playing on that.

If you have any links, tips, thoughts on random character generation, hit me up! I'm always looking for more source material!

1 comment:

  1. I know this is an older post, but I'm reading my way through.

    First, thanks for the mentions! I'm really interested to see how this goes for you. Doing a wilderness sandbox is on my "want to do" list, but there's just never enough time for all of the projects.

    Second, you've piqued my curiosity about the Hand of Fate table and the Appearance, Quirks and Skeletons tables. Any chance you could be convinced to share those?