Special Abilities for starting characters

GM_In_Pain

Mongoose
For my game I wrote up a quick little chart with some random special abilities that players could roll for. It was something I enjoyed from way back when I played Rolemaster. Anyway my version uses a d20 and it's an optional roll for players. There's some bad stuff on the chart but mostly good stuff.

Of course leave it to my players to find the bad stuff. Two out of three players rolled and got the "not so good" abilities. Heh. Well I guess they're not so much abilities as they are "character features" but oh well.

Anyway if anyone wants to take a look and maybe use it for their own games you can download it here:

http://www.idezign.net/gaming/special.pdf

As I say, it was an optional roll, but everyone decided to take a shot. Our group ended up with an alcoholic Barbarian, a superstitious Borderer, and a Noble with the Skill Focus feat for free. Some of the results do require GM judgement though as they don't have actual game mechanics to govern them.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
We use the Task Force Games Central Casting: Heroes of Legend (long out of print), which is almost a hundred pages of endless tables for birth, family, social status, childhood/adolescent/adult events, etc. Since it's rules neutral, it is easily tweaked to any rules set. You can randomly generate all kinds of super-detailed backgrounds (good and bad results that determine your personality/alignment on the fly in as little as 15-30 minutes, or use a quicker version for NPCs. Sometimes the results are nonsensical, but then we just pick something that fits the concept (or pattern rolled so far) or reroll. Usually, it creates fantastic backstories with a few memorable but minor in-game benefits and/or penalties that firmly establish helpful guidelines on how to roleplay the character, as well as give them something to talk about in character (also good for the GM to create adventures and sidequests). They had a sci-fi version, too. They came out before 2nd Edition D&D (maybe 1985-7?) and were written by Paul Jaquays, who you may remember as one of the cooler D&D 1e artists.

As to your table, it reminds me of the infamous "Medical "table in HarnMaster, which also randomly generates special abilities or drawbacks, or the character creation rules in Traveler, where you could die during character generation, LOL. It's very early 80s, random = balance, which is to say, it's not balanced at all. But if you're having fun with it, that's all that matters. I'd probably risk a roll on it myself, because the possible bonuses outweigh the drawbacks, unlike HarnMaster. :wink:
 
I think it's an awesome idea. I [heart] PC differentiation.

I plan on going a bit more extreme with my game. Using Unearthed Arcana as a guide I'm having my players take two Traits (ex.: Suspicious = adds to Spot/Listen, subtracts from Diplomacy/Sense Motive) and one Flaw (Fragile = 1 HP less per hit die) for their PCs. In addition to this they're able to select a Background (much like your chart, helpful doodads only) they want for their character at the cost of one Fate Point.

You are not alone!
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
zero skill LPB said:
In addition to this they're able to select a Background (much like your chart, helpful doodads only) they want for their character at the cost of one Fate Point.

You are not alone!
I'd make it cost them ALL their starting Fate Points, to make it more of a tough decision whether or not to be lucky, or talented.
 
Iron_Chef said:
I'd make it cost them ALL their starting Fate Points, to make it more of a tough decision whether or not to be lucky, or talented.

They're already on the purchase plan. :)

They're starting out with one (1) Fate Point and must earn additional Fate Points by putting time and thought into their characters. Reading "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian" for another point, writing up a background which I can make use of in my campaign for another, etc.

By forcing a Flaw onto PCs and starting them off "in the hole" I think there will be a good amount of differentiation among the PCs. Lazy players get no goodies for their PCs, but can still survive the first bad roll of the dice -- industrious players who help me make the game more engaging and therefore FUN are rewarded with a more central role in the story.
 

GM_In_Pain

Mongoose
Iron_Chef said:
We use the Task Force Games Central Casting: Heroes of Legend (long out of print)

OMG I actually remember Central Casting! I might even have one of the books lying around in a box somewhere. Heheh. That brings back some memories.

As far as balanced...well my chart wasn't really intended to be balanced. We do random attribute generation so I figure my chart is about as balanced as random stat rolls. As you say though, the good does outnumber the bad. I did want the chart to be appealing enough that most of my players would be willing to roll. Heh.

Nobody's complained about the chart, so I consider it a success. It doesn't take much to make me happy these days. :)

Far as I can tell, the players are happy with things so far. Even the barbarian's player who initially didn't like the idea of being an alcoholic took it and ran with it. It does add a little bit of flavor I think. As far as Harnmaster goes, I've never played it. I've heard tales of its alleged brutality though. Traveler rules. Gotta love any system where you can die before even playing. :)

Not that I'd play Traveler as is today though. Very 80's as you say. My tastes are a bit different these days. Conan is a nice meaty, visceral side trek on my usual gaming route though. Gotta love any game that lists prices for slaves in its equipment section. ;)
 

Zen Ken

Mongoose
I have central casting. It is pretty good, although a bit tedious at times, it's great for jumpstarting your imagination if you're in a rut or feeling very uncreative. Some of the rolls got very out there, but with some imagination really worked together, and if it didn't work, reroll!
 
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