Alternate character generation?

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Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
Alternate character generation?

Has anyone given any thought to this? Every time I sit down with my group and try to bring up EP ,character generation is the nail in the coffin every time. I can not say I blame them, while the system itself is easy enough character gen is an unwieldy bear. I have tried some short cuts like per assigning set skill numbers and messing with the point cost but it always is more complex then it really should be. You should not need a spread sheet and a calculator to make a character.

Anyone have any advice or something they have tried to make it less a pain in the ass?

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
The math involved in EP

The math involved in EP character creation is both obtuse and difficult to work around. Word is that Transhuman, the next supplement book, will have an alternative character creation method within. I honestly cannot wait to see how they are going to tackle it, because every time I have approached it the numbers never work and characters come out the other side nowhere near balanced.

As far as I am aware no one has posted a working alternative to what we have at the moment. So my only advise is to wait the few months until the Transhuman public playtest possibly appears.

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Lorsa Lorsa's picture
I don't really have a problem

I don't really have a problem with char generation. I've never used a calculator or a spreadsheet. It's just addition not triple integrals. There are definitely systems out there more complicated than this.

Oh and Codebreaker, what do you mean with balanced? Admittedly I haven't created a ton of characters for large groups so I might not have seen the problem if there is one. The only real issue I have with character creation is that Infolife as background work so much different from others.

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OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Could you explain what is

Could you explain what is unwieldy for your group about EP's CG?

I'm not too sure why people think CG is difficult mechanically. I have watched new players who are unfamiliar with point-buy-everything develop really schizo characters as they loose track of their concept while they wheedle around moving 5 points from one skill to another and "try on" different morphs and warez.

It occurs to me that part of the intimidating effect could come from the 3rd and 4th digits involved in tracking CP. D-20 people are used to two digit numbers. If Skills could be bought up in blocks of 1-10 from a pool of 100 it might seem less daunting but then EP would be a D-20 game and I'd hate it.

I think the only thing needed to make CG simpler are bundled kits of morph and gear that fit the basic archetypes of the game. I suspect that, like me, most players have already done this in thier heads once they've made 4 or 5 characters and the only decision making revolves around which secondary skills to choose.

When compared with Class/Level game systems CG in point buy systems like EP is much easier for me than doing the cost-benefit analysis of fifty fucking class/race combinations that might kinda fit my concept. (yes, I'm looking at You RIFTS!)

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
OK In trying to respond with

OK In trying to respond with a solution to the OP's actual question I just convinced myself that CG is really cumbersome. Honestly it never takes me more than an hour to stat a character I'm going to play or more than 15 minutes to come up with an NPC but in trying to streamline the system just now I think I actually made it more complex.

Here's what I learned about my process though. (maybe this will help)
1. follow the step by step on page 130. The only thing I change about this is choosing motivations at the same time as I'm going through steps 1-3, This helps me keep my concept straight while I'm choosing skills.

2. Dont' screw around with aptitude points. Make everything 15. If you know you have a dumpstat for the character concept then you might cut out 5 and add it to one of your more important aptitudes. It's definitely not a good deal to spend CP on aptitudes.

3. buy moxie and reserve 100 CP for morph and gear but; Do skills first, Do morph last. I build my character as if they were a flat and choose skills at levels that fit my concept before I think about morph and gear. This makes it easy to calculate and ensures that my character will be able to do their "job" somewhat effectively regardless of what morph they happen to be wearing.

4. I always assign Knowledge, Networking and "utility skills" (In order of importance: Perception, Fray, Research, Interfacing, Freerunning/Freefall) first. This gives me a budget for the other MOS and secondary active skills and avoids unintended handicapping of my character.

5. I choose 4-5 specialist skills that fit my archetype (combat, hacking, psi, social etc.) and buy those up to 50 or 60. Then decide which secondary skills I'm going to have. If there's anything left over I'll buy specialist skills above 60 but more often I'll buy specializations. Often I'll end up robbing points from my gear reserve.

take what's left and get a morph and gear that suits the character apply those mods to stats on the sheet and I'm done. Occasionally I'll find a morph/gear combo that raises one of my skills high enough that I feel I can sacrifice some points to another skill but I don't end up spending a lot of time trading skill points around. Leaving gear to the last step ensures that I don't over spend and makes selection quick.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
@ CodeBreaker, I think you

@ CodeBreaker, I think you might be right. I have tried a few times to make it simpler and it never adds up. I do hope they really make it easier.

@ Lorsa, I am glad you have an easy time. If I must I can force myself to muddle though it. However I know about 10 or 11 gamer who took a single look at that chapter and were done. If it was easy for everyone you would not see all the spreadsheets for it. Go take a look at most forums and they will tell you char gen is a bitch and go get the spreadsheets.

@ OneTrikPony, the whole thing. The shear amount of points, the random costs for everything, the changing prices for skills and so forth. Its just a bear and damned complex. As I said to Lorsa, if you have an easy time with it cool. for me its a bit much and for people I try to get to even try the game its a deal breaker.I get your break down, but it really does not solve any of the issues with char gen.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
I'm sad about your group

I'm sad about your group getting blocked by the CG. Can I ask; what games do you usually play? And have you tried selling them on the Pre-gen characters? There are about 30 of them in the main book, sunward, quick start rules. They're pretty solid characters.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

Lilith Lilith's picture
Personally, I agree that

Personally, I agree that character generation is pretty much the most intimidating thing about EP. One of the first things I do when I'm exposed to a new system (after ready the background and such) is try to make a character, which usually gives me a good feel for whether my players will like it or not. Frankly, I don't even see how I could've made a character without Kindalas' spreadsheet, because I'm just too lazy to keep track of all that stuff myself.

For my group, my method was to let them pick out pregens to start, and then later customize them as they like, which I found (a bit) easier, since they're all statted as standard characters would be. It's perhaps not the ideal method, but it certainly helps. Hell, one of my players ended up turning the Martian Ranger into an uplift octopus in a Takko, and he seems fairly happy with it.

Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
We normally do fantasy, which

We normally do fantasy, which I want a break from. As a whole most of my players do not like using pre-gens an i have a few that will refuse to play something they have not built themselves. But its not just my group, its gamers at my Flgs as well. The Char gen is just a game stopper unless you are super excited about the game it seems to me.

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
I think what he meant was,

I think what he meant was, which system are you used to. :) But nevertheless, I wish I could offer my help somehow, like do the characters for / with you where you can tell me what you are aiming for and I could assign points. I guess everyone has their own system though so maybe that wouldn't work very well.

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Pale_Enchantress Pale_Enchantress's picture
I can't really offer any

I can't really offer any assistance beyond ecchoing how easy a spreadsheet makes it. I did generate a character just on scratch paper though and it wasn't too difficult. The biggest problem was losing track of what I spent.

I really like the high point buy system though, it allows such customization. I have a lot of fun with tossing things around until it's just what I want. If I had to though I'm sure I could hammer out a character fairly quickly.

Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
Around here its mostly d20

Around here its mostly d20 stuff sadly. I have broken them into things like shadowrun,dark heresy/rogue trader and savage worlds. But yeah needing s spreadsheet to correctly make a pc is a deal breaker for these guys. And Honestly until you know the system well points are easy to lose track of in char gen. High point systems are simply to much for some people to ever want to deal with.

Pale_Enchantress Pale_Enchantress's picture
So they can't handle

So they can't handle downloading a spreadsheet? I play D&D too but I use online character sheets to track things in it. I suppose some people just insist on doing everything on paper? If that's the case then they are missing out on some nice tools to manage their characters.

However they could just not be interested in EP very much at all and are using character generation as an excuse not to play it.

Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
They are not really

They are not really interested in any system that is not d20. Most however will give anything a shot( I have three that will not but eh, they just seat those games out) As I said it is not simply my group, I even tried getting some interest up at my Flgs, talked them into ordering a few books. However, they Char gen is the nail in the coffin every time I try and recruit new folks. Take a gander at threads on places like RPGnet, EN worlds, even Paizo and pbp sites such as mythweavers. Char gen hurts the game a bit, it is not limited to my small group at all.

Pale_Enchantress Pale_Enchantress's picture
Well I really like the

Well I really like the character creation system. Others are entitle to their opinion but that doesn't mean I can understand it.

Seekerofshadowlight Seekerofshadowlight's picture
I get it, but even I think it

I get it, but even I think it is a bit much. Its one of those things, some folks like it, some do not. It does seems however as they are gonna tackle it they are aware of how much dislike char gen has generated.

Skelshy Skelshy's picture
I hated it

I am naturally suspicious about systems that need tools or a spreadsheet. Play WoD or Fate and you'll know what I mean. In particular, there are too many skills, a lot of them have new, creative names. You need to know what's relevant. You need to keep a running tally to meet the "spend 400 on x" targets. You need to keep another running tally on total points spent. Changing morphs involves revising the entire character sheet. It's a mess. It feels like work. Games should not feel like work.

I'll say it's been quite a deterrent for the more casual players in my group.

Chase-san Chase-san's picture
Well if you want to simplify

Well if you want to simplify the system. You could have 2200 CP. But have no freebies, no skill minimums, no advantages/disadvantages for either backgrounds or factions (they become flavor only). This leaves you with only having to track 3 things, traits, cp and credit.

But it also means someone can make a very gimped character (if they are not careful).

(The actual calculated CP was [2135,2175], but I rounded it up.)

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
The complexity of the chargen

The complexity of the chargen system are threefold;

1) The section just isn't well laid-out. OneTrik really broke it down nicely. Follow that, and you'll be fine. (Well, probably a bit more. For instance, stats for your muse should be included in chargen, as well as what a muse is.)
2) It offers more choices than we need. I don't know why the skill list is as long as it is. Fewer chargen choices would be nice, just so we can blast through and move on already.
3) It involves a lot of concepts very early on. Jumping in with Kinesics, morphs, backgrounds, etc. so early is tough for new people. I don't think there's any solution for this (except perhaps to offer fewer choices).

Less of an issue, but still notable, there are significant 'good choices' and 'bad choices'. It's very easy to make a terrible choices if you don't understand the system. I don't think this is something that should be changed; the game supports playing all sorts of different character types, and some character concepts are in fact useless. I don't think the mechanics need to be balanced, but greater explanation of what's a mechanically good choice would be helpful.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Mechanically good choices

Mechanically good choices depend so much on the GM and the story they're planning on telling. The only safe "Classes" are hackers and spies but even those archetypes can be tits-on-a-snake in the wrong story.

The really great thing about EP is; Generalists will better utility in most scenarios than specialists. And the Really Great thing about having a thousand and one choices at CG is you'll end up with a really unique and compelling generalist. I love EP character generation because I really can't get tired of making characters, (from the core book no less), no other game system has held my attention that way without a billion splat books and typical power creep. (I'm looking at you Shadowrun!)

This may sound like a jackass comment but; Perhaps many of the people who are confused and intimidated by chargen wouldn't really enjoy the setting either. Both are nuanced and complex and light on common tropes. If we have to "de-rez" character generation to please a mass market are we going to have to accept a thick layer of common and comfortable space-opera tropes to please those same people?

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

Chase-san Chase-san's picture
Yeah, that comment is a bit

Yeah, that comment is a bit of the asinus variety. System and setting are really different things. Being poor at one does not mean they cannot enjoy the other. In fact if I recall my biology they even use different parts of the brain. There isn't any reason why someone who doesn't like complex and nuanced rules systems couldn't like complex and nuanced plots/settings.

But that aside, if they system didn't have any merit we would be trying to adapt the setting to another rule system, rather then come up with an alternate character generation. Though I am sure someone has done just that.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
This seems like a nice idea:
Prophet710 Prophet710's picture
my only suggestion would be

my only suggestion would be use a piece of scratch paper and a calculator. I'm not much for fracking with systems that already make sense to me. OneTrikPony has the right idea with bundling certain archetypes though, I kinda like that.

"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Prophet710 wrote:my only

Prophet710 wrote:
my only suggestion would be use a piece of scratch paper and a calculator. I'm not much for fracking with systems that already make sense to me.

Operating words being "make sense to me". You're one type of person. I'd recommend someone like me to read the rules and use kindala's char sheet. But obviously none of us are the type of people who struggle with process, so the advice that works for us isn't what the OP is asking for.

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
My way of doing a character

My way of doing a character would differ slightly from OneTrikPony, I am more prone to buy aptitude points for example. What I would do is the following:

0. Decide a character concept; choose background and faction.

1. Set all aptitudes to 15, if your concept says one should be lower (say SAV for example) then lower it by 5 and increase something else that fits (when in doubt choose WIL).

2. Divide your CP's into three pools. Pool A: 300, Pool B: 300, Pool C: 400.

3. Start with pool A (we will get back to it later as well). Buy 4 moxie for 60 points. Then look at your aptitudes again and see if there is 1 or 2 of them you really want to have higher than 15 for your concept. Some aptitudes are easier to increase than others and some are more "important" than others. Make sure you talk with your GM about what sort of campaign it is. If you are going to do a lot of resleeving, increasing SOM could be good otherwise let SOM stay at 15. High base WIL is always good, so if you don't see another aptitude you want, you can always increase that. By now you should know approximately what your morph will cost (as you know your concept) so if you are going for something very cheap you could increase 3 aptitudes, and for something expensive 1-2 is enough. Reduce your pool A buy 50-150 depending on how many you increase.

4. Go to pool B. Look at knowledge skills and write down any that are of importance. You probably have at least one Academic skill, maybe an Art, maybe an extra Language or two, probably an Interest skill and a Profession skill. Look at the suggestions in the book for ideas but don't forget to think for yourself what is fitting. Once you have them all written down, put in the base score for your aptitudes. Organise them in order of importance for you and decide if you want token (30), decent (40-50) or good (60) rating in them. Raising them past 60 is often not worth it. Buy them to your desired rating in order of importance. If you have any points in pool B left, either increase them even further or look for more skills. Once pool B is at 0 you are done.

5. Now go to pool C. Go through the list of active skills and write down all of interest. Organise them in order of importance. Do the same as above, buy those you want to be good at to 60, decent to 40-50 and token ratings at 30. Move down the list in order of importance (Fray and Perception should be high on that list). Important to note is what skills your MUSE have. That is listed in the gear chapter, never buy LOWER in a skills your muse has. Higher yes, but lower no. If you want a token rating in something your muse has, just skip it altogether. When your pool C points are 0, you are done.

6. Go back to pool A. Check if there are any traits you want. Then check with your GM what sort of campaign it will be. Can you be expected to keep your morph or not? If yes and you are a combat person; buying a Fury with 3 levels of Tough might not be a bad idea. Dur is very important in a fight. Otherwise buy morph + augmentations + gear as is fitting for your characte concept, this should cost somewhere between 40-100 points. If you didn't get any traits then you should have like 40-60 points left. Buy more moxie then increase your rep / get more credits / increase some skill / get a specialty with what is left. Then you're all done!

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towo towo's picture
Going along similar lines of

Going along similar lines of that 'simplified creation' link, I'm currently thinking about a few 'character packages' coming with a basic or specific skill sets, that can just be bought for the necessary CP cost. Currently fiddling with a 'basic Firewall package', for example, which gives you an average Firewall sentinell who can do some finding and has some slots for personal interests, etc.

There's ~200 CP remaining for more skills, traits, morphs and gear - just like what happens after choosing the 'class' in most character generation methods in other systems.