Six Rolls In Search of a Character


Sometimes, dice hate me.  I’ll roll way more than I actually need in one instance, then fail with snake eyes the next. There’s never a happy medium of consistently average rolls.  Yes, I know about probability and how my odds are the same every single time.  And I saw take your logic and your mathematics away because there is clearly sorcery at work here.

Usually though, it’s once the game has started that the dice conspire against me.  Tonight, they got me during character creation.  Because our next game is Traveller, and Traveller hates players the way dice hate me.  Most role-playing games have you start off with a shiny new character.  Oh, you have a background, maybe some skills, even a backstory, but you’re not exactly experienced.  Traveller has you go through several years of your life while you’re creating your character.  You begin as a wide-eyed eighteen-year old, and can progress through any number of careers until you decide you’re ready to go adventuring.  All of this is guided by rolls of the dice, and based on my previous statements, you can probably see where this is going.

My first attempt tonight ended up with a character who couldn’t hold down a steady job as a criminal.  A CRIMINAL.  I didn’t even know they had hiring practices.  I couldn’t even make the roll to join a pirate crew.  I ended up as a vagabond, which is a nice way of saying wandering bum.  And of course, the more careers you have, the harder it is to start a new one.  “It’s like life,” my friends said.  You know, the thing I play games to get away from?  In vain pursuit of a successful career, I aged Character A to fifty before deciding his Dickensian tale of woe was just too much to bear and walked him out the nearest airlock.

For my second try, I figured I’d go the military route.  Get drafted, work my way up through the ranks.  I managed to get promoted … then immediately rolled a result in which a vindictive superior officer had me drummed out of the service.  This was followed by a stint as a salvager which ended with me receiving near fatal injuries after successfully avoiding a space battle.  Yes, only I could evade vast fleets of starships hurling atomic death at each other, then nearly die anyway.  Most of this misfortune was due to getting the worst possible roll at the worst possible time.  In one instance, I had two rolls on a table whose worst outcome came from rolling a one.  Guess what I got on both rolls?  The kicker is, this is the toned down version of Traveller.  In the original edition, your character could actually die during creation.  Which may have been preferable to the two tales of woe I came up with.

A good part of my frustration is that I’m used to character creation where you have an idea, then use the system to create something that matches that idea.  Here, you have to adapt on the fly.  Only I wasn’t getting anything I really wanted to adapt to.  I envisioned a space pirate streaking through the stars, and instead got someone who couldn’t make a living as a hitchhiker.  Yes, the various mishaps offered up plenty of story ideas, but they were story ideas for sad, broken down middle-aged men.  And I don’t need a role-playing game to see what that’s like.

Our GM said to wait a few days for the dice to forget their grudge against me and try it again.  Now that I know what to expect, I’ll hopefully have better luck.  Or at least be better prepared when I don’t.

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