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Death during character creation

Count_Zero

Game Master
Validated User
Okay, I have heard in several threads about games that make it possible to die during character creation. What games are these and how, exactly, do they manage such a... talented feat?
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
Traveller.

You roll to see what happens to your character during the creation process. I think one of the results is death, I know another one is "spend 20 years in prison".
 

Uqbarian

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In some games that use lifepaths as part of chargen, there is a chance of death or injury at certain stages. The classic is Traveller (in the original version -- I don't know if it's like this in T20). In Traveller chargen, the proto-PC starts at age 18 and enters a service (e.g. the Marines or the Navy) for a series of four-year terms; for each term, there are rolls for things like what skills the character can pick up, what kind of missions they were on, what medals they won, and whether they survived. Eventually the character either dies, is discharged or reaches retirement age. Discharged and retired characters become PCs, and the game begins.

Some people hate it, others just ignore the chance of death, and others still find it a fun mini-game in itself that helps to build a believable character.
 

Ben Brown

Crime-Fighting Gorilla
Validated User
The game you're thinking of is the original version of <i>Traveller</i>.

It has a character creation system with a tremendous amount of randomness. You start with a basic series of stats, then fill out skills and such as your embryo character serves four year "terms" in the military or other services. One of the things you roll for is "survival". This is because you're playing a trade-off game. You get more skilled as you serve more terms, but since surviving terms isn't automatic, you might want to stop even before the aging rules kick in if you've got something you like.

Considering that the whole random process takes about two minutes per character, it isn't a big deal. Often, you'll generate a dozen or so characters and then pick the one that's closest to what you want to play.
 

Evil Dr Ganymede

New member
Banned
Classic Traveller, specifically.

In later editions that had random chargen, they changed that to 'gets injured, or some non-fatal calamity happens'

But it remains in the CT rules. It is explicitly OPTIONAL in CT to not die but instead be injured, but this is left to the GM to decide.

I should also point out that CT chargen is about 95% random. You get VERY little choice about what happens to your character. If you want to join a career then you have a chance to do so, but if you fail to get in, then that's that and you have to try something else (or get drafted). Even your skills can't be chosen.

Some people like this. Some people think of this as a 'game within a game' and spend a lot of time just rolling up characters. Personally, I loathe it - I have better things to do with my time than spending ages rolling up characters that either die halfway through or end up being useless cripples or careers that I absolutely don't want to play. YMMV.
 

Evil Dr Ganymede

New member
Banned
Ben Brown said:
Considering that the whole random process takes about two minutes per character, it isn't a big deal. Often, you'll generate a dozen or so characters and then pick the one that's closest to what you want to play.
Of course, if you do that then you may as well just do chargen once and pick whatever you want and screw the randomness :)
 

Ben Brown

Crime-Fighting Gorilla
Validated User
Evil Dr Ganymede said:
Of course, if you do that then you may as well just do chargen once and pick whatever you want and screw the randomness :)

Well, yes. Even D&D has non-randomized options these days.
 

David Johansen

New member
Banned
The problem is that it's such an integral balancing point in Traveller. Got great stats? Well pick a nice safe career and don't press your luck. Got crappy stats? Well the marines will whip you into shape or kill you.

Really it's a vital aspect of the system that prevents a great many (but hardly all) of the really unbalanced characters that can result without it.

Still if you don't want to lose at craps don't play craps...
 

Uqbarian

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Evil Dr Ganymede said:
It is explicitly OPTIONAL in CT to not die but instead be injured, but this is left to the GM to decide.
Our GM never told us that! :( Just as well we enjoyed it as a mini-game, really :)
 

Dead-Air

Universe GM
I always liked the character generation system in Traveller as a little game in itself, complete with the risk of death. It's a solo RPG within a multi-player game. Great fun for what it is.

SPI Universe is my SF game of choice for the way it took the character generation of it's much better known forefather and expanded on it giving the players more control of their character's design, but without removing all randomness the way that points only systems do. To me it's the best combination of the nurture and nature models as a simulation of life. The only thing wrong with it, that Traveller was supperior in, is that it just takes incredibly long to create a character. This has been allieviated in modern times by my friend Jim Goltz's online Univerese character generator which does all the die rolls and math for you and lets you focus on picking what you want to study, what career you want to be in, for how long, and which skills you choose to learn. With it you can generate a few characters and pick the one you like best, which is what Traveller players have usually done since the beginning.

Of course that was one thing that negated the whole "die in generation" Traveller thing, that of course you could keep trying until you eventually got the super-scout you wanted to begin with.
 
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