More realistic character generation discussion (archive)
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Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 13:44:52 -0400
From: Graeme Price

Thought I'd float an idea and see what the rest of you guys think.

Using the standard CoC rules for character generation gives a whole load of variables for stats (I'm thinking of the 3D6 ones like STR, DEX, APP etc.) This means that _in theory_ you can have a chracter with STR 3 and DEX 3 (survival potential: not good) although the averages will be about 11. Now the interview/selection process that the various agencies that DG draws it's agents from will weed out the more "wimpy" applicants, and result in an above average pool of recruits for training. This in turn gives agagents who are slightly superior (in terms of characteristics) than the general population.

I'm trying to work out how best to reflect this for character generation, _without_ unbalancing the game. So far, the options I have come up with are:

1. On stat generation, re-roll any die which turns up a "1".

2. Start base characteristics off as 2d6+6 rather than 3d6.

3. Give players a certain number of "bonus stat points" to work with. These could be added to raise poor stats (although this could be open to abuse). In any case no stat could be raised above human maximum. Alternatively to assign each proto-character a number of stat points to add to base values as they see fit (note that this has the advantage that keepers can vary either the base or the number of points to suit their game).

4. Just be completely arbitrary about it and treat each character as a special case.

Also which stats could be modified like this: Intuitively I would guess STR, CON, DEX (INT and EDU possibly). SIZ, APP and POW I would generate as normal.

My own feeling is that this should also only apply to agents from Federal agencies (particularly the ones requiring a minimum level of fitness). Friendlies from academia or elsewhere shouldn't get the bonuses. This brings in a balance problem however, but that could be remedied by giving them either extra base skill points (iffy) or additional resources (contacts, equipment, labs, cash etc.) so as not to make them less viable that full agents as investigators. After all, considering what we (as keepers) can throw at the poor sods, they need all the help they can get (being devious, it also puts them at a psychological disadvantage: they may think they have "super-characters"… but then, they don't know what the opposition is like!).

Anyway, what do the rest of you think? Comments are welcome.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 15:55:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: The Man in Black

Independant Counsel Graeme Price left no bodily orifice unsearched:

Thought I'd float an idea and see what the rest of you guys think.

[elaborate rules rationale snipped]

I'm trying to work out how best to reflect this for character generation, _without_ unbalancing the game. So far, the options I have come up with are:

[ludicrous power gamer options snipped :)

Anyway, what do the rest of you think? Comments are welcome.

I dunno, I'd probably use GURPS, Storyteller or FUDGE If I ever ran a game of DG. (but not all at once :) Your Ideas would probably work for those gamers who know dice to be the evil plastic menace, faceless numbered assassins of joy and hope.

"The NUMBERS~! THE NUMBERS~! IS THERE NO ESCAPE FROM THE RELENTLESS OMINOUS PROOFS AND SOULLESS LOGICAL GRINDING OF THE NUMBERS~?"

1) You could try assigning all stats at 10 and then granting a limited number of points. Maybe Charging 2 for 1 to buy stats greater than 13-14 (so it would cost 6pts for a stat of 15 and 8pts for a stat of 16), and granting a 2 for 1 fee for stats lower than 10 (so a stat at 8 or two stats at 9 will give you one additional stat point to raise other stats).

STEP TWO would then be derived stats:

10 points of SAN or LUCK will buy you another stat point, instead of just POW and one stat point will buy you 5 points of SAN, LUCK, KNOW or IDEA.

WARNING: NO TRADING THEN RETRADING! NO EXCEPTIONS! POINT WONKERY IS A ONE WAY STREET AND THE PROCEEDURE MUST BE FOLLOWED IN ORDER!

2) Consult your Unearthed Arcana from 1st edition AD&D for some really twonky stat generation (Roll 9d6 and take the best three, roll 8d6 and take the best three, roll 7d6 and take the best three etc. CATCH: you assign dice to each stat, *then* roll, no rearranging).

3) use a game system that better suits your needs.

Math note: The statistical average stat for 2d6+6 is 13.


From: Shane Ivey
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 16:05:29 EDT

Each Keeper will have different tastes when it comes to determining stats. I'm a rules-tinkerer at heart, but I'm kind of a minimalist in practice: if a player has a CIA case officer or an FBI agent with a CON of 7, I'll discuss it with the player and reroll the stat or something unless there's a good reason for the character's health to be that low while he or she continues in duty. Basically I would recommend adopting certain "minimum" stats for certain careers. The simplest way to do it would be to have one set of standards to apply to a broad category of characters.

If you don't feel like picking too many nits, you can apply the same rough standards to U.S. military officers, CIA case officers, and federal law enforcement officers. These should have STR and CON of at least 10 (and that's being generous), reflecting the regular fitness tests that are required for most agents and an EDU of at least 16, reflecting the requirement of a college degree. (Note, however, that some federal law enforcement agencies will recruit police officers or military veterans without a college degree.) Generally such characters ought to have decent INT and POW (POW reflecting willpower and leadership), but I wouldn't make that a hard-and-fast requirement.

Characters from elite military or paramilitary groups should have higher standards. Special Forces, SEALs, HRT, SWAT officers, and so forth, should have minimum STR and CON of at least 13, and should not have any characteristics below average except APP.

As for making it easy to roll such stats without spending too much time on it, you could do any number of things. Easiest is just to reroll if a score doesn't fit the requirement; or you could do 2d6+6 or whatever. I've tried point-allotment systems, and I'm not fond of them, but they work all right as well.

In the end, do whatever makes the game more fun and scary and the characters more believable.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 17:21:04 -0400
From: Graeme Price

I'm trying to work out how best to reflect this for character generation, _without_ unbalancing the game. So far, the options I have come up with are:

[ludicrous power gamer options snipped :)

"Power gamers". Haven't heard that phrase in a while. Over the years I actually made a refereeing career out of leaving mutilated corpses of dead power gamers behind me, whilst simultaneously being one of the worst culprits ever seen in other people's games. Still, at least I did it with some degree of style. (The highlight being when I persuaded one keeper to let me play a museum curator in a Cthulhu Now game - I was actually commended by him for playing such a "Lovecraftian" character. He then (foolishly) made the mistake of not asking which museum (the Imperial War Museum) and allowing me to jack up mechanical repair and chemistry as hobby skills…. Things went rapidly down hill when we stole the decommisioned howitzer to give some cultists a stiff talking to). Anyway, power gamers have never really been a problem for me - set a thief to catch a thief, I guess.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 18:17:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: The Man in Black

Things went rapidly down hill when we stole the decommisioned howitzer to give some cultists a stiff talking to). Anyway, power gamers have never really been a problem for me - set a thief to catch a thief, I guess.

I would allow shelling and artillery barrage of cultists. That sounds like loads of fun. I can see myself knocking on some insane dude's door and when they open it, they are confronted with 88 millimeters of precision German Engineering at point blank range (x2skill :) The potential for Shwartzeneggeresque one-liners is Just 2 SWEEET~!

…The long sphincter-busting prison sentence would be worth it.

My powergaming mostly lies in abuse and rules rape of GURPS Supers. (I buy a magic ring, it can't be stolen, it's magic! Its small and necessary and gives a special effect etc etc (-75% to all the ring's magic powers)

Now I buy Magery 3, and every Magic spell in GURPS Magic and GURPS Grimoire at level 25, and a 100 extra fatigue for Magic only.

TREMBLE before DARKRING~! He who rules them all from the land where shadows lie. :)

Then there was my attempt at playing a CyberPunk CEO in CoC 1920's, Johnathan Conrad Goliath III. Owner and operator of International congolmerate Goliath Weaponry Gmbh. The highlight there is when I wanted a .30 Browning air-cooled, belt fed Machine Gun. I believe the description of the weapon reads : "It is unlikely that any Investigator will ever acquire one of these military weapons unless they are an Arms Manufacturer." :)


Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 07:45:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Jeff Campbell

This would not work for every group, but we started playing in a more or less narrative style, then when everyones character concepts were fleshed out, I handed out character sheets and they filled them out as they wished. (though my power gamers don't tend to try to have big stats, they just tell me that the latest techy gadget they want is available at any Radio Shack for 20$- then every one else concurs. Too many engineer/programmers.)


From: Michael Layne
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 12:28:58 EST

though my power gamers don't tend to try to have big stats, they just tell me that the latest techy gadget they want is available at any Radio Shack for 20$- then every one else concurs. Too many engineer/programmers.)

Hey, it works! :)

Besides Radio Shack, there's some nice gear available from: U.S. Cavalry, Brigade Quartermaster, Ranger Joe's, The Sportsman's Guide, Sharper Image, Gerber Legendary Blades, Willis & Geiger, Cyberguys, and Levenger's!

Most of these places have websites (I can probably get the URLs if anybody's interested), and catalogs (some on line, some hard-copy — the latter are very handy — besides the cost, you've got a picture of that widget you just bought, plus weight and dimensions… ).

One of my characters uses a Gateway color notebook computer — if you ask real nice, Gateway will send you some fairly impressive info on their products!


Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 17:55:44 -0500 (EST)
From: The Man in Black

Most of these places have websites (I can probably get the URLs if anybody's interested), and catalogs (some on line, some hard-copy — the latter are very handy — besides the cost, you've got a picture of that widget you just bought, plus weight and dimensions… ).

An ICE CAVE project if I ever heard one. List of kewl equipment, with photos, a brief description/cost etc, and then the most important part: some anecdote concerning Our Line of Work. (wink wink, nudge nudge ;)

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