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Design Philosophy

Design Philosophy Entry #1

I want to explain how it is that I build a character, and make decisions regarding those characters. I’ll cover that in some basic detail here, and explain further with other entries in detail.

My first step is choose a base point for the group of characters, to use an example, the Looney Tunes, I’ll pick Bugs Bunny as my base point. What I do then is decide how good I wanted Bugs to be at any given set of skills, attacks, or saves and then base all of the other characters around his starting point. This of course can cause problems later if I wanted to keep Aragorn or Gaius Baltar (from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica) to the same scale as Bugs Bunny. I made the simple decision not to and simply create a different scale for each series, TV show, movie or book. This gives me the distinct benefit to create a wide range of power levels within in each subset of characters without having to ensure that they all work with each other. In some ways this gives me far more freedom since I don’t know worry about each group working with other groups. Within comic books where it is objectively clear that Superman is stronger than Batman, and Batman is smarter than the Flash (no debates). For me all I need to worry about is that Aragorn is a better swordsman than Frodo, or that Bugs Bunny has a better Bluff than Elmer Fudd. I don’t need to worry that Bugs Bunny can Bluff the pants off of the Kurgan, because I specifically didn’t design the characters to interact with each other. That being said in Looney Tunes the Kurgan would just be Yosemite Sam with a sword.

Power levels however a very different thing, or at least different enough to warrant an explanation separate from the above. One of the first things I think about is how effectively do I want the character to be able to hit and how much damage should they be able to do, or converesly take and avoid damage. From there I’ll decide if on a general trade off for damage and attack bonus, or the toughness and defense. To use Aragorn as an example the fist thing I would do is decide that he has is better on defense that he is on toughness. That set me for his defense over toughness trade. From that I’ll usually pick how high value of the two will be, in Aragorn’s case I feel that a +14 defense is best to represent the fact that he rarely is struck in combat. With that number in mind I can decide on how extreme I want my trade-off to be, and thus my PL. For Aragorn it wasn’t an extreme trade-off so I ended up with a PL 12 character.

Finally, when I design a character my goal is not usually point efficiency. I tend towards fairly straight forward builds that I would use for an NPC as opposed to a PC build. Though I’ve been known to keep an eye on the point totals, mainly because it presents me with a specific challenge, and the PL point suggestions tend to be enough points to build what I’m working on. I prefer blunt instruments over fine tools if you’ll excuse the comparison. When I do exceed the point total its almost always by a great deal, in some ways its me saying “Hang the suggested point total, I’m going for broke!”. In other instances I don’t really have a choice in the matter so I don’t even bother looking at the points until I’m done.

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