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Beefier Starting Characters

Beefier Starting Characters

Last week I started a new Deadlands Reloaded game for my tabletop group and I did something different with the system. I beefed up the starting stats for a savage world character. And to my surprise it worked really, really well.

Normal savage worlds characters start with 5 points for attributes, 15 skill points, and no edges (1 if human). I gave them 7 attribute points, 20 skill points, and 2 starting edges. The result ended up being characters that weren't much more powerful than default starting characters but much more unique. Gone were the characters with straight d6's in attributes (Average Man!) and skills. The characters started out a lot less "samey" and much more unique. And in combat they didn't seem to be overly powerful at all.

I was wondering what other folks thought about this. Given the slow nature of play by post I think I might use this rule in every new game I run. I've played in a few SW games that never actually saw an advance at all, and so I figure my players might like to start out with at least part of a "shtick" already statted out.

Can't speak for that particular game, but I do know that for the games I've been in, experienced players have a tendency to want to skip the "noob" phase of the mechanics. And in PBP, where progression is slower, this tendency is exaggerated.

In general I support giving more too players at game creation as it tends to help luck proof them (No body likes loosing the character they just wrote a five page background for in the battle that was suppose to let him get introduced to the party becuase he rolled a nat 1 on the save. Been there, done that, don't fancy going back.), gives them the ability to already boast of some accomplishments or a background that would leave them better at what there doing then Jo Smoe, and let's them play with concepts that usually require much progression earlier on so that they can enjoy being good at what they do.

I pretty much stick to the 25 xp rule when starting a new game. This gives the players more flexibility character creation. In general

I let the players advance every 2 to 3 sessions.

For Savage Worlds, in my experience, you have to be careful. For lots of players, it helps make their balanced characters look stronger. For others, it makes it so they have even fewer trades to make while they create their d12+1 Shooting combat monster.

Don't know savage worlds but I do have an independent take on this to offer:

There is decided advantages and disadvantages to starting characters with more "stuff".

I do GURPS 4e, so character customization is always a key point when accepting a player, AND knowing how many points to start the character off will drastically effect the game.

Characters in this system will have the problem of being "samey" to a certain extent in that they will all grab most of the same stuff if only given 90 points. Give them 115 to start and you'll have some nice starting heroes, around 300 and you'll have a super and around 500+ epic, but I have learned one major thing in this:

The key to handing out advantages to start is just to meet the characters with appropriate challenges, and as long as you do that it doesn't matter if you start at level 1 or level 100 as long as your players are capable of acting out such roles.

There is one note on this though:
Characters IN PLAY have less options for min/maxing, so adding in other characters later needs to be done carefully.

Say I make a GURPS char. with 115 points. He's a typical mage with fireball, etc. He then adventures and picks up certain skills that I didn't think the character would ever need at character creation such as leadership, public speaking and intelligence analysis. Stuff that a starting character usually won't pick, or if they do, will pick last and not dump a lot of points in. Instead they'll focus on charging up that fireball to disproportionate levels.

Now as the game goes on, my character now has 165 points and is very well rounded, has lots of back story and is overall a very involved and in depth character heavily invested into the plot. Then we add a new character. He maxes out his fireball, and also buys some magic armor trinkets and pretty makes my character, only better because he's min/maxed from the get go, while I'm a more balanced character that has weathered certain challenges his character should have faced in maturing but simply didn't. He also now shows up my character as a matter of routine as he's just generally more capable, albeit more specialized and can continue to overspecialize because I'm already picking up the slack in all the secondary areas, but am functionally there to play second fiddle, right up until someone ads in a min maxed character that is a specialized diplomat, and now I'm second string entirely.

As a result we need to consider carefully how we add in new characters with exagerated power levels.

I know that's a bit out of the original scope, but I think it's entirely relevant.

With that level of extra starting point, for SW, it shouldn't throw things too far out of kilter. PbP games often suffer from the fact that, without the GM stepping up the advancement rate a lot, the character you start with is the character you will have. There is no, or very, very little evolution and/or advancement of the character. In point buy games you will see similar builds when things start out. Character generation can to be very anemic in a lot of game systems and leads to a lot of the same sort of characters because you need essentially the same things to survive. So I'd be in the camp of letting the characters start with just a little extra in the build to start off, especially in PbP.


I would say the claim you make about not advancing truly depends on the GM and play group.

I know the players in my game and in the games I play have gone through many alterations, although I will agree that it takes place over a longer stretch of time than table top.

For example, in my game, we've played out about 2 intense weeks in character, when this has really taken us about 3 years to post.

I also agree that planning for that is a must as well.

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