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Old 09-02-2013, 10:39 AM   #1
joppeknol
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Default Automatic computer assisted character generation

After glossing over call of cthulhu's source book, I realized that one of the advantages of random creation is that it takes much less time. Character creation in GURPS is complicated because you have so many choices. Randomly selecting them would make GURPS more suited for one night casual events without resorting to pregenerated characters.

A problem here is that randomly rolling statistics and skills makes very unbalanced characters.

A solution might be to use templates and lenses to structure the character generation. You choose or roll a template, fill it in a random way, apply some randomly selected lenses (things like: 'heroic, wealthy, 'social', 'expert', etc), fill them in a random way et voila: One randomly generated character that makes sense. The player can invent a story that fits the characteristics and he's good to go.

The above is still a lot of work. However, that process can be fully automated with some software. It would give GURPS the option of quickly creating a full-fledged character.

A a proof of concept, I wrote some python scripts that can do this. More information and the zip-file with source code can be found at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5159392/readme.txt.
Basically, there are two main files that demonstrate the idea

createknight.py creates random knights based upon a lightly simplified version of the knight-errant template in Banestorm.

createlady.py creates potential brides for King Conall (caithness, banestorm). It selects randomly from a set of primary, secondary, and background skills, but doesn't try to balance point totals. The primary stats are also randomly chosen (within a certain range). Also, the amount of points put in each skill is done according to a random distribution that has a reasonable average but on the right side to infinity. Thus, there is a very small chance to have a princess that is the world best dancer, or horse rider.

Disclaimers
A lot of situations are not covered right now. Also, the scripts were made while exploring the problem and will need to be rewritten if this turns to be useful.

I must also admit that I cannot commit myself to the further implementation of this idea. If anyone else wants to pick it up and create some nice software, feel free to do so. I might work further on this but I cannot promise anything due to limited time.

Questions for the hive mind:
Is this a useful idea? Would you use it if it were available in a more user-friendly form?

What would be a useful user interface for this program? Most user interfaces restrict the choices that are available. What basic functions should the user interface have. Only the generation within templates? Some randomisation in stats and skills? There are tons of ways to do this. Can there be a concensus?

How to deal with copyright? Unless sjgames develops this idea, we cannot simply put every template in the program. Create the templates ourselves? (we do need to create a set of lenses.). Spread the program without the templates?

What kind of implementation would fit best? A desktop application, server-side web application, or maybe something completely in Javascript?
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:33 AM   #2
Armin
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

The method I selected to implement for the next version of GCA is simply based on, and limited by, templates: it randomly selects options that fulfill the needs of the template, and that is all. So you can get a randomly generated template-based character, but it won't currently randomize anything else (such as randomized attributes or variations in points spent on skills).

To me, this made the most sense, as folks could create templates with greater randomness if they wished, or could create templates that randomly selected other templates, and so forth.

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Old 09-02-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
joppeknol
 
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

Ah, I didn't know gca already did a part of this. Too bad I can't run it on my computer.
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:16 PM   #4
Armin
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by joppeknol View Post
Ah, I didn't know gca already did a part of this. Too bad I can't run it on my computer.
To be clear, the currently available version of GCA can't do it. This is something I've added for a future release.
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:19 PM   #5
safisher
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armin View Post
To be clear, the currently available version of GCA can't do it. This is something I've added for a future release.
I'd love to see this. One could then, presumably, put all of these variants on a GM control sheet. Instant party of brigands, orcs, etc. Armin will it handle equipment, too? That would be really helpful!
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:43 PM   #6
Armin
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

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Originally Posted by safisher View Post
I'd love to see this. One could then, presumably, put all of these variants on a GM control sheet. Instant party of brigands, orcs, etc.
That's the thinking, yes. It'll just take templates with the options you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by safisher View Post
Armin will it handle equipment, too? That would be really helpful!
Yes, templates can add equipment just fine.

It'll take a bit more work to have the template be capable of giving a sword if a sword skill was generated; otherwise what you'd get (as it is right now) would be a random weapon skill paired with a random weapon. But I'm trying to ensure the tools will exist so templates can adjust things based on previous picks.
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:48 PM   #7
Langy
 
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armin View Post
That's the thinking, yes. It'll just take templates with the options you want.



Yes, templates can add equipment just fine.

It'll take a bit more work to have the template be capable of giving a sword if a sword skill was generated; otherwise what you'd get (as it is right now) would be a random weapon skill paired with a random weapon. But I'm trying to ensure the tools will exist so templates can adjust things based on previous picks.
Awesome, Armin;)

joppeknol: I had similar ideas before - mainly for fast NPC creation rather than character creation, but it could work for that as well, I suppose. Still, definitely something I'd be interested in.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:50 PM   #8
dripton
 
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

FWIW, I have a random DF character generator up at https://github.com/dripton/dfrandom (It's just a command-line Python program; I haven't bothered with a fancy user interface.) Handles almost everything in DF1; I haven't got around to the other books.

Random characters aren't usually very good, because their abilities aren't really chosen to work together. But if you have no idea what you want to play, you could start from a random character then tweak stuff.
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:29 AM   #9
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

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Originally Posted by dripton View Post
Random characters aren't usually very good, because their abilities aren't really chosen to work together. But if you have no idea what you want to play, you could start from a random character then tweak stuff.
That is indeed a likely problem with random skill selection. Lack of internal synergy.

If all you want is a random DF character, it may be best to just roll 1d11 for character class, then roll 1d3 for sub-template, then write up the 33 sub-templates. IIRC some of them are already right there in DF1, with exact spell selection for the Wizard and so forth, while in other cases it's only guidelines and suggestions for which skills an assassin sub-template Thief should select, without being specific about CP amounts.

One semi-random way to handle sub-templates, is to start by assigning 1 CP to each specified skill. After that you distribute the remaining CP randomly, 1 at a time, with each specified skill having an equal chance of getting chosen. That will produce odd CP amounts, with some characters having 3, 5 or sometimes 6 or 7 CP in a skill, but that's a temporary problem. It also has the benefit of being agnostic as to the amount of CP being distrubted (you just run the alghorithm until they're all distributed) meaning it's not a problem if there are a bit fewer CP than usual becaues a random species[1] template was chosen.

Each sub-template in DF1 also has guidelines about which Advantages to buy, but randomizing that isn't as trivial as skills.

[1] For species, I think it's best to use a random-nested table, with maybe 35% chance of Human, 50% chance of a fairly normal non-Human species, and 15% chance of an exotic species.
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:09 PM   #10
dripton
 
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Default Re: Automatic computer assisted character generation

Using the sub-templates might be a good idea, but I didn't bother. Too little variety, and they don't cover all the possible traits.

Wizard spell prereqs are by far the most annoying part of the problem. Every time you think you've found all the special cases, another one appears.
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