Character creation is half the fun in playing an RPG. At least, that is for me. Before we begin, let me do a quick rundown of some of my favorite character creations.
Darklands Character Generation Screen
I have not played this game, but watching the let’s play videos on youtube I fell in love with the character generation sequence. Here’s how it works: First you choose a background, which modifies your base stats, and then distribute your stat points. After that, you choose a profession, which further modifies your stats and skill points, and then you get to distribute those points into your skills. This is interesting because it wouldn’t be hard to imagine players spending hours just min/maxing the values. I’m not sure how the background affects the game however. It’d be nice if there are specific plot branches that caters to different backgrounds or professions.
Darksun: Shattered Lands
Darksun Character Generation
While the character creation sequence is pretty typical, where you choose a race, sex, and a few other attributes, it stood out at that time due to the wide variety of interesting races and unique classes to choose from. Gladiators? Psionics? Elemental Clerics? Half-giants? Thri-Kreens?
The system itself is not outstanding, but the theme itself was.
Fallout 1 & 2
Fallout character generation
The first two Fallouts had outstanding character creation mainly due to the SPECIAL system. Since your seven attributes do not improve naturally through the course of the game, you had to make hard decisions even before the game begins. It’s pretty hard to power-game the attributes. Well, that’s until Fallout 2 was released, and then Fallout 3 had to take it to the “next level” where anybody can become a master of every fucking thing.
But back to character creation. After setting your attributes, you get to choose traits. Most traits provided gave both benefits and penalties, which is a brilliant touch. Then you get to tag skills, which doubles their rate of improvement.
So many things to do, so many different kinds of characters to choose from!
As we can see, character creation could be fun in various ways. Darklands was fun because the backgrounds and classes that you chose were not just thematic flavors but had a real impact to your actual stats. Darksun was fun because of the fresh races and classes introduced. And finally, Fallout was amazing because there was so much to do, and none of them confusing at all.
Time to take cues from past masterpieces. Taking into account that our plot revolves around one single character (like Fallout and Baldur’s Gate) and that said character has a surprising background which is gradually revealed to the player (like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment) through the plot, we couldn’t really use Darkland’s backgrounds and professions. And since our stat system has been streamlined to only feature stats where attributes and skills are grouped together in one single term, we had to think out of the box to inject more fun into the character creation process.
This is what we came up with:
First you enter the character’s bios. Name, sex, body, and portrait. The body selection are not just aesthetic options; they have an impact in the game world. Choose to be a fat chick and you won’t expect to charm those who likes skinny girls.
Then you are given a bunch of stat points to distribute amongst the 30 general and specialized stats. Here, you can tag a few of the stats to reduce their stat point cost, which effectively means it can be improved at a much faster rate compared to the rest.
Finally, you get to choose traits, which are divided into two categories: positive and negatives. For every positive trait you choose, you will need to choose a negative trait too to balance it out. Also, traits directly modify your stats. Positive traits will raise certain stats while negative traits will reduce them.
How about that? A combination of Darklands and Fallout.