Saturday, March 22, 2014

Creating Random Characters In GURPS

I really don't want to have to carefully design all of the characters in the dynastic game, but GURPS has no random generation method. So, I have to come up with something myself. I'll start by noting that there is just no way to get away from design completely, but I can subsume that into roleplaying to some extent.

The first thing to do is to figure out stats. GURPS has a really narrow range, actually, even though nominally normal humans range from around 7 to about 20. In actuality, a 7 is very unlikely, representing just about the minimum that one can call "able-bodied" (below that represents various bodily deficiencies and handicaps), and a 20 represents just about the human maximum, showing up in perhaps one person, or at most a very few, in the world each generation. For my purposes, I'll figure that it is less than one in a million and leave it at that.

Since I want the stats to cluster very tightly around 10-11, I've decided to start by rolling 3 averaging dice. These are six-sided dice marked 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5. Obviously, the average roll is much more likely with such dice, and the extremes are narrower than with regular six-sided dice marked 1 through 6. To shore up the low results and bring them closer to the range that is appropriate, I will halve the difference between 10 and the result if it is below 10. So, a roll of 6 becomes 8 (4 points lower than 10, halved, makes it 2 points lower than 10, or 8), a roll of 7 or 8 becomes 9, and a roll of 9 becomes 10. I will allow a result of 6 on the dice to explode downward, rolling a regular d6 and reducing the result by 1 on a roll of 6, then rolling again, stopping when the d6 reads 1-5. I will similarly allow a roll to explode upward on a result of 15, increasing it by 1 point on a roll of 6 on a d6 explosively. This makes a result of 20 occur less than once in 1.5 million.

For advantages and disadvantages, other than ones that are related to the character's social position (which are set by the scenario), I have come up with a program that goes through the list of possible advantages and disadvantages and checks the chance of any given member of the population possessing them. It then outputs the results to a file which I can incorporate into my character sheet. It's still a little buggy, but I should have it running smoothly soon. I do, however, reserve the right to reject any result and roll again, so that there will be no characters who have all of the advantages or all of the disadvantages, or whatever else doesn't fit the scenario in my opinion. I still need to work up a set of perks and quirks to randomly select, though perks are pretty closely tied to character concept and so not very easily left to random chance. I'll probably give 1 character in three 1 or 2 randomly chosen perks. I'm also considering rewriting the disadvantages portion to select mental disadvantages based on rolls from Gary Gygax's personality tables in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. I might also adapt the Hârnmaster "Medical" and "Psyche" charts to this program. Those would not be difficult, actually.

Once those are done, I will select a base template for each character, in order to quickly select some baseline skills. This is where I begin roleplaying the characters, choosing a template based on my assessment of what the character would want, what they are allowed to do given their social position, and so forth. I'll give them a number of skill points based on their age and personality (characters who have disadvantages that cause them to spend time doing other things lose out on skill points - though they might simply redirect some of the skill points instead, such as a lecherous character practicing Sex Appeal through self-study). To an extent, I will free-form this, though the guideline of 200 hours of instruction per 1 character point, doubling the time for self-study and halving it for intensive training, will apply (plus, one quarter of time spent at a job counts as study time for appropriate skills). Advantages appropriate to the template might also be acquired in the same way.

This does mean that I will still be spending a certain amount of time on each character, but at least it will be automated to some degree. I really wish that GURPS had chosen to work up a random character generation system, though. It would have saved me a lot of time and effort.


  1. The Boxed GURPS version (1e?) came with random character section in the second book. It was mostly for NPCs, but was adaptable.

    If you start with templates, say the DF 1 or DF 15 templates, you can randomize them. Keep Attributes and Secondary Characteristics, then randomize the advantages (which includes boosts to Attributes etc), disadvantages, and skills.

    For example, if a Template allows for 25 points of Advantages, first make a table for points:
    1 20 + 5
    2 15+ 2x5
    3 10 + 3x5
    4 5x5
    5 5x2 + 10 + 5
    6 5x2 + 15

    Then make random tables for each of the points
    e.g., 20 point Table
    1-2 +1 DX
    3-4 +1 IQ
    5 Weapon Master (one weapon)
    6 ...

    15 point Table
    1 Combat Reflexes
    2 +3 PER
    3 +3 WILL
    4 +3 BS
    5 +3 BM
    6 ...

    1. I vaguely remember something like that in a friend's copy, though I myself didn't start playing until I was shanghaied as a playtester for GURPS Cyberpunk, under 3rd edition. There are some interesting ideas there, which I may incorporate. Thank you.