Friday, February 19, 2010

Speeding up Character Generation: Equipment Packs (an excerpt from 1e)

One of the things that can often bog down character creation for an extended period of time is starting inventory. Now don't get me wrong, inventory is important. But its often pointless, as if the players need some specific piece of equipment for their journey they can just buy it later. To allow for easier integration with quick start-up, I've implemented a "Starting EQ pack" set up.

Generating a starting set of equipment can take a fair amount of time if you wish full control over each individual item. It is instead suggested that all characters take a starting pack of equipment. Some customization is still required within a ‘pack’ as characters must specify what type of weapons, or what kinds of clothes are included. Below is a listing of sample packs.

Pack: Wanderer
Contents: A wanderer’s pack contains very little. It has a staff or walking stick and a single tool. This tool could be a set of lock picks, a holy symbol or a wizard’s grimoire. Choosing the wanderer’s pack also gives the character 2 fate points.

Pack: Explorer
Contents: An explorer’s pack contains a large number of useful items. It contains a rope and grapnel, a set of light armour, a backpack with two weeks of food, a full wineskin, a set of flint and steel, a piece of navigational equipment (often a map or lantern), 2 militia weapons (or weapons that double for non-military purposes) and one small weapon (a dagger or small sword).

Pack: Wealthy
Contents: A wealthy person’s pack contains very little of immediate use. It contains a set of fancy clothes, a fine fur cape or cloak, an expensive hat, an ornate and high quality personal weapon such as a sword or dagger, 1 tool (such as lock picks or a holy symbol), 3 pieces of jewelry worth $500 or more each, and $1,000 in coins.

Pack: Military
Contents: A military pack contains equipment needed for frontline combat. It contains a helmet, a set of mail, a shield, 1 militia weapon, 1 small weapon and 1 weapon of choice.

Pack: Merchant
Contents: A Merchant’s pack contains a beast of burden and a wagon, or a riding animal. It also contains a backpack with two weeks of food, a full wineskin, a navigational tool (such as a lantern or map) 1 self-defense weapon, a set of light armour and $1,000 in coins or a single tradable good.

Pack: Nomad
Contents: A Nomad’s pack contains a bow or set of throwing weapons, a backpack with two weeks of food, a full water skin, a hunting animal and a tool (Lock picks, a holy symbol, a grimoire etc).

These are merely sample packs, and your are encouraged to think of your own starting packs that fit with the flavour of your game world.

Why is this good? One of the things I strive to ensure is that character creation should allow a new character to be fully created inside of 10 minutes, with Schrodinger's Character this allows a near instantaneous ability to jump into the thick of things. The gear rules simply add to the effect.

Why is this bad? This does trample on the ability to have the kind of very finite control over starting resources some people truly enjoy.


  1. This is really good - I'm very tempted to make something similar for our game (different genre).

    My only suggestion is that you might want to provide some examples of Militia weapons (Spear? Club? Quarterstaff?)

  2. May well borrow this and adapt for 1e AD&D. I use the Dragonsfoot Character Generator which is all well and good (even rolls your money dice for you) but it really needs a second page where you can buy stuff with that cash. This will quicken the character generation so that I can anticipate the roll-up will take perhaps a quarter of an hour max.

    Many thanks!

  3. I think its a great idea. There are templates for character types so why not templates for equipment. Especially in a convention situation or just a pick up game. Well done.

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  5. Great idea and worthy of further investigation!

  6. Good idea! I do something similar with 'Day Packs', which my characters buy and represent all of the disposable equipment that goes into dungeoneering. Included in a day pack is food, arrows, oil/torches, chalk--basically the mundane consumables. Now, a player could probably micromanage their gear and stretch their gold a bit more (the day pack has pretty high margins), but most of them are grateful for the ability to adventure rather than worrying about running out of space on the character card to mark used up arrows.

    By the way, this is the first time I've seen your blog. It's a good read!

  7. 4e includes a pack of basic adventuring gear that covers the basics - backpack, rope, food, light, etc. I also don't worry about mundane equipment (within reason) once the party is of moderate level (i.e. bags of hefty capacity are common). I assume they have standard and reasonable gear and make them roll for less common items.

  8. If they have all of "the basics" you are removing a lot of adventuring options. Sometimes the most fun is when a party isn't prepared for every eventuallity and has to improvise.