I’ve always loved random character generation. I loved the idea in Traveller (which I promise, I will actually run again one fine day), I love it when I dare to roll 4d6 (drop lowest) in straight order in D&D or a d20 game, and I’m betting I’ll love it in ICONS.
This past weekend, our gaming circle rolled up characters for the old Tri-Tac classic, Stalking The Night Fantastic. We used not only the tables in Night Fantastic, but our GM ported and modified background tables from products such as Beyond the Supernatural and the Epic RPG. What ensued was a group character generation session that was a lot of fun, not least of because there was an anticipation of what the next character element would be, and how it would work into this continuously evolving character concept. Life deals us a varied hand, and I think working those lower cards into a character give it a little bit of depth and believability that may otherwise be missing.
To me, there’s something very exciting and creative in melding together these disparate elements. You’re given these ingredients and are asked to make a meal out of them. What’s always fascinating to me is how you could give two separate gamers the same number of randomly-generated qualities, and get two completely different qualities out of them.
Now, granted, there are people who want the character they want, and cursed be any sort of randomness. I know I’ve made my share of custom character “builds” over the years. And I think (as one of my gamer amigos put it this weekend) “guided random character generation” is more my style—use the random elements, but still have player input on the finished product, rather than true complete randomness. But there’s something refreshing of letting chance determine a life’s path now and again.
Stay out of this, Two-Face.