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Friday, June 8, 2012


Apparently, Monte Cook said something about hating character creation rules and wanting more pregen characters. Not sure he said this recently, but people are talking about it on the forums.

My own thoughts on the matter: I've never bought or played Capes, mainly because I'm not interested in supers, but I did look at the free preview once, and I'd say that Capes has the best character generation system of almost any game. Characters are made up of two "puzzle pieces", basically (I seem to recall this was actually called the Interlock System in the text.) If I remember correctly, the two pieces were overt power and inner motivation/personality, or something like that. Some things in each half depend on a score in the other half. You make a character by picking one of each type of piece, joining them together, and then changing one thing about each piece, like changing fire creation to ice creation.

I'm probably getting a lot of those details wrong, but my point isn't about the specifics of Capes character creation, but that character creation was reduced to three simple steps: pick one from column A, one from column B, and make superficial changes to customize. The hard part for the designer is deciding what parts seem to work and how two pieces should interact. The parts could actually be presented as pregens, so that players could play the game out of the box to learn the rules, then take one part of one pregen, one part of another pregen, make the superficial changes, and wind up with a new character.

If I were doing this with D&D, I'd probably use three parts: Class, Background, and Personality. Class would define hit dice and gold. Background would be a mix of race and social class and would define physical ability scores. Personality would define mental ability scores. Or something like that; I'm just trying to keep the stats separate from class, gold separate from Charisma, and the hit die adjustment separate from hit dice. You'd probably want a little bit more interaction between the pieces: maybe Background determines which and how many spells you can have, if you are a spell caster.


  1. So I've been wanting to do some customization of the ACKS template system; this is farther than I'd have gone, but I wonder if you could?

    Simplified ACKS character creation: roll 3d6x6 for stats, choose a class, roll hp, roll 3d6 one more time for template (replacing the 3d6x10gp starting gold roll). Template gives you your 2 proficiencies, 1-2 spells if relevant, starting equipment, and pocket change, as well as a hint of background.

  2. @Tom: I don't have ACKS, so there are a lot of questions I'd have to answer before I could even get an inkling of how to customize it.

    First off, I'd need a better idea of the goal. Since you say this is farther than you would have gone, I take it you aren't trying to reduce it to three choices? Are you just trying to change the template part to make it more flexible?

    Second: how do the stats, classes, and templates interact? Do the stats act like AD&D stats (lots of bonuses that affect Fighters in particular) or are they toned down to near-LBB level? Can any template be mixed and matched with any class?

    1. ACKS is closest to B/X from the perspective of character creation. Ability score bonuses follow B/X. The major addition is the proficiency system, which is a mix between what would be called skills and feats in other systems.

    2. Templates are limited to a specific class. They are a preselection of proficiencies and equipment that follow a particular idea.

  3. Physical ability scores do not seem like something that should come from background. After all, you can have a strong noble and a strong farmer.

    Surprisingly, I actually think the proto vision of D&D next is really compelling on this score. Class is what you do, background is what you did, and theme is how you do it. Ability scores are orthogonal. Starting possessions are part of background.

    Feats are part of theme (though they are really more like class features), and a loose skill system is part of background (which is sort of a mix between the old idea of secondary skills and preselected starting equipment).

    I really like how the parts are tied more to what the character is (cleric, commoner, lurker) and not so much what the character has (like individual skills and feats are). I'm not super happy with the actual themes we have seen so far, but I think the idea is excellent.