Friday, October 28, 2011

Character Calculation

Let's tackle this big table.  This is one that definitely needs some work by me, which I am putting off because I must tell you this table is a persnickity bitch and I don't enjoy working on it very much.  Still, the results are good and I like what it does for the campaign.

Incidentally, this is called 'Chararacter Calculation' because there are files on my drive called 'Character Generation' and 'Character Background' and 'Background' and so on already.  This is the last of a long line of similar attempts, and all the good names have been taken.  I'm just about ready to throw out all the past work, but for some reason I keep holding onto it.

All right, here's the idea.  You input the race, the class, the stats and the gender, and the table pumps out a background, a secondary skill learned from the father (and possibly the mother, too), age, weight, birthday, starting capital, your credit rating (17th century world, remember) and some special things about your character.  It is all calculated on random rolls based on the player's stats, and it is all neatly meant to be packaged on the 'Display' tab so that it can be printed when the character is rolled up.

At the moment the copy you have has the Display tab updated for Strength, Intelligence and Wisdom.  I am in the middle of working on Constitution, and could do it in an hour or two.  Dexterity wouldn't take long after that, but at the moment Charisma is a virtual nightmare.  I have been avoiding this because I know that creating a character appearance that matches the charisma is going to be just hell.

Hey, I procrastinate.  I did at one time join Procrastinator's Anonymous, but for some reason I just couldn't get out to the meetings.

If you want to muck around with it, putting in some stats and hitting F9 several times, you can see the results will change fairly widely.  Certain aspects, such as family, not much.  I don't promise there isn't a glitch somewhere - I find them from time to time, and fix as I do.  There's a lot of calculations going on to make this table.

Starting with the 'Str' tab, the first one I did, you can see it is in two parts.  Part 1 covers columns A through M, and Part 2 columns O through V.  The orientation is different, because I tried this first one way, and then the other.  I liked the second way better, and kept that for the rest of the file; eventually I may take the time to reformat the first part of the Str tab, but for now I don't care.

Strength affects two aspects: genetic background and physicality.  A d20 is rolled against strength, and the difference determines the result.  This is really nothing more than making this table (or this earlier version) automatic.

What is extremely pleasant about this set up is that if something new occurs to you to add to the table, you just create another window and set up a random generator.  If you look at the cells P10 through U10, you can see that I've done this, making one result occur on a roll of 1 in 6, and the other 5 in 6.  Extending this with a little imagination could make hundreds of possible results for each roll, without having to write the table from scratch - making the excel file infinitely better than a stiff table.

If you don't know excel, this is going to seem like gobbledygook to you.  If you're a programmer, you're going to scratch your head and wonder what the hell I was on ... since my knowledge of excel is imperfect and I've had to create workarounds that use aspects of excel that I understand.  A programmer could have a field day streamlining this, I'm certain.

Nevertheless, I've tried to make a lot of determinations automatic.  When you lose a hand, it determines which hand; if you have a sibling, it determines whether its a brother or a sister.  One thing it does not do is determine if you're the oldest or the youngest sibling ... it could do that, but the trouble isn't worth it.  If anyone cares, I can roll that out with dice.

Throughout the file, I try to use yellow highlighting to show final results.  Orange highlighting is usually a temporary crucial results, light tan is for description, blue for principle random results and gray for secondary random results, green for die rolls ... but believe me I break this rule as much as I use it.  I tried to include a lot of description for what this die means and that, but I'm afraid I was more interested in producing results than copying them.  But if you need me to tell you what something particular means, give me the cell and the tab and I'll try to answer it.

You'll note the father's table (the 'F' tab) is a random generator for character skills.  It selects from your stats the background of your father, and if you stat is less than 11 your father will begin from some other stat.  If all your stats are less than 11, you won't have a profession.  Your father determines your starting capital (though it is modified by certain events that might occur as a result of your intelligence and your wisdom) or your credit ... if you father is a banker you can borrow tons of money.  It is possible to be nobility or royalty.  That is worked out too, along with how much land you own or if you're in charge of it (you might not be the eldest sibling in the family after all, or your parents might still be alive), or how big a country your family runs.  I leave which country up to the DM - not all worlds are the same.

Hitting F9 on this page will show the random descriptions change; there's quite a number of possible options, and of course more can be added.

There's a chance on the Intelligence table of having both learned a father's profession and a mother's, and so the father's table is duplicated on the 'M' tab - M for Mother - so that a completely different result can be generated.

It's possible to start with men-at-arms, so these are generated on the 'Men-at-Arms'  table.

If you constitution is low, or through a bad roll, you could have between a mild and a severe chronic disease ... this is determined on the 'Conditions' table.  These include blindness and deafness, but those aren't likely.  Color confusion or a low tolerance for spirits is more probable.  Conditions can modify your height and weight, which are themselves calculated on the 'Biology' tab.

Here is a long bit of calculations that determines the height and weight for your race and your gender, according to the tables in the DMG - but again, made automatic.  It adjusts your height/weight for other variables in the table.  Columns AR through BB calculate your age, and also your birthday ... with a rejoiner that if you're born on February 29, that's the birthday that counts.  I could have made a lot of programming to make this automatic, but it struck me as a huge pain in the neck, for something that would happen so rarely, so I didn't bother.

What is really a pain about this table is that something on this tab affects something on that tab, and that each modifier requires more programming and more fixing and so on, with all the inter-relationships piling up and getting difficult in the long run.  But then, that's what makes the results interesting, as they actually have something to do with one another, and are not simply random collections of tables giving unrelated results.  Everything is hinged to your character's base stats, race, gender and class, so things tend to group together to form logical characters.

But I don't pity anyone trying to go through this and decipher it.  You do so at your peril.  If you intend to make changes, I would suggest saving two copies, so you can change one and refer to the other.

Meanwhile, I'll push myself to keep working on this and getting it done sometime ... soon?

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