Friday, October 28, 2016

Chargen By Draft!

OK, so I had this problem/solution for 5th edition D&D:

Everyone always wants to have a mixed party, right? But nobody ever wants to interfere with anyone else's creativity either. So sometimes, you wind up with groups that have characters who share overlapping functions, or don't synergize well. How do you resolve both issues? How do you guarantee a mixed party, without interfering with creativity?

Then it hit me: "5th edition is balanced. You literally can not fuck up chargen in 5th edition D&D. Go ahead, pick any combination of character options. Some may be more effective than others in certain situations, maybe, like a little bit, but ultimately it just boils down to how versatile the character is. You cannot make a truly dysfunctional character in 5th edition. They've top-decked the chargen process so that can't happen, and bounded accuracy means everyone can hit anyone with something sometimes. That means you can actually generate characters at random, and they'd still be playable and fun."

Then I realized something else: "5e character options are elegant in their simplicity. I bet I could fit these things on reference cards, so nobody has to flip through a book any more. Then I could just give newbies a card that has all their basic stuff written down in point form already."

So I started doing that, and then the two ideas collided all at once and I had the solution to the problem: Make up a deck of cards, one for each of the three major character options, and start session 0 by passing each deck around the table, and letting the players choose their option from the deck. When they choose an option, they remove the card and keep it. That way, nobody else can choose that option! Because there's no such thing as a bad build in 5e, you also aren't dooming someone else to failure. (That's what would happen if you did this in any other edition of D&D, BTW) Nobody's truly interfering with each others' creativity, because  creativity starts after they took a card from the deck! The uncertainty of the draft process excludes preplanned character building from the equation!

I've always loved draft games in MTG, there was always that competitive mindgame going on in the background as everyone passed the pack around and picked cards for their makeshift decks. This is kind of the same thing, but way lower stakes, because most D&D groups are, like, 4-5 players, and (if you count each subrace as a racial variant) there are 33 racial options in the official corebooks, from the PHB to the SCAG, and 29 backgrounds to boot. With 5 types of elves to play, I don't foresee anyone being too salty about their friend picking Wood Elf first. In fact, I crunched the numbers, based on just major character options, (ignoring things like gear, feat, and spell selection) there are 48,807 general character builds. That's before multiclassing.

Here's pictures of the prototype character options cards! (The reverse side has just flavor text for newbies who don't know this stuff off by heart. You can't mess it up, so it makes sense to just choose your options based on the flavor you like most. The crunchy side is for play reference.)

Race Cards (each subrace treated as a full racial option)

Background Cards (variants treated as full background options)
Then I ran out of perforated backings to make the cards from. Once I get a new pile of that stuff I can make up the class cards! They'll only have information necessary for first level, obviously, but the purpose of these cards is for character generation anyways.

So, that's what I've traded in my DT in to the crafting activity to make! Off to spend more gp to complete the crafting process! Have fun out there, people!