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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    rezplz's Avatar

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    Default Advice for playing as yourselves

    So one of my friends has decided when one of our current campaigns ends, he wants to DM a campaign where we're all (minus him) playing ourselves.

    While I'm interested and excited for this idea, I know that there are a lot of possible problems and complications when you play a campaign where the players are all playing ourselves. So I've started to give some advice based on what I've heard of people do when they do such a campaign, but since I've never done it myself I don't have much to draw on. So I would like to know what advice/recommendations you guys have.

    Advice I've given him so far is:
    Start us out as commoners with a negative amount of experience - once we reach 0, we switch our commoner class level with our first level.
    Do it as a point buy - that prevents people from being offended if they have a lower point buy than others in the party.
    Have a session mostly devoted to working out what our stats/classes would be before we get down to actually playing.
    I also wrote a quick guide to help people accurately stat themselves, and then use point buy from there to judge scores appropriately.

    Other than that, I don't have a whole lot to go off of. If any of you have done this before, what worked and what didn't? One big thing I'm worried about is if people are playing in character as themselves, there is a higher chance of people taking something personally. And, if one of us dies... what then? What are things to avoid? Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Somewhat depends on system, but I do have one suggestion...

    If people are making themselves, let them have the stats they think they have. Nothing is more likely to engender bad feelings than the conversation "Really, Bob? You're giving yourself an 18 Intelligence AND a 15 Charisma?"

    Point buy may be the order of the day.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Roleplaying yourself can be difficult to keep from devolving into RP-less metagaming. If everyone in the group has a good sense of humor (and a solid ego), it might be good if everyone were to play an exaggerated caricature of themselves. Discuss with each other not only what class/alignment you would be in the campaign world, but also what personality traits you have that would be fun to exaggerate.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    I can see the draw of this concept, as long as everyone is on the same page. When it comes to RP, playing yourself should be the easiest thing in the world. When it comes to builds, agree on a point buy.

    Let's face it, most of us are level 1 or 2 NPC classes with 15-16 point buy.

    Another idea would be to have them do more like idealized versions of themselves. Do a regular 25 point buy and expand on their own strengths and abilities with PC classes.
    Settings: Weird West
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by rezplz View Post
    And, if one of us dies... what then?
    Reroll as your identical twin brother.

    Stats
    For stats, it depends on the generation method. If it's rolled, then have people rank their IRL stats in order of highest to lowest, then assign the rolls accordingly. If it's point-buy, let people assign scores as appropriate.

    Levels
    After first level, you can retrain your Commoner level and start building into an "idealized" version of yourself. That is, exaggerating your perceived strengths into the appropriate PC class. You can restrict people to non-magical classes if that works better for the intent.


    I find this whole exercise strange, since IRL, I would never take the kinds of risks which PCs do in dnd, and am generally risk-averse and not adventurous (making me an awful hero for an adventure story ).

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    My advice is to make equivalents of yourself, rather than trying to be completely faithful to reality. That way, you don't have to have any pointless arguments about each others' ability scores and whether, say, Joe Schmoe would be better represented as a commoner or a swordsage.

    You're already playing a D&D game so it shouldn't be too much of a leap to imagine versions of yourself in such a world being somewhat different than you actually are - focus on the personalities rather than the mechanics.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    If you want to be at all playable, don't take the realistic approach, which would make you all commoners, experts, warriors, or possibly rogues or factotums at a push.

    Instead, consider your course of study and/or career path, and translate that into the fantasy world equivalent. Lawyer? You're clearly cut out to be a rogue or bard. Engineer? Wizard. Security guard? Warblade. Security officer sitting behind a desk monitoring live video feeds? Some caster of caster with a speciality in divination spells. Medical professional? Cleric of a life/healing deity. Food services? Cleric of a harvest/agriculture deity. If you're low level office admins, consider what your company does as well. A bank clerk would clearly be a rogue or a priest of a merchant-oriented deity. Personnel officers would get to be clerics of a knowledge or community-focused deity maybe. You get the idea.


    More ideas: If you are very active in sports or outdoor activities, that's good for a level or three in a martial class. Being a member of the police forces is probably good for levels in a knight or paladin style class (possibly a grey guard type class if you're cynical about it). Active soldiers are probably good for martial classes, or even rogue (sneak attack = ambush?) or scout. If you're in sales, that probably translates into bard or beguiler levels.

    Technically, we're all (I assume) human, but the obvious tropes based on physique exist.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2012-10-16 at 08:00 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Thanks for all of the advice so far. We're definitely sticking with point buy - hopefully not too low, since when we were brainstorming we agreed my personal point buy works out to somewhere between 17 and 21 - and playing off of the equivalent of "identical twins" I recommended that there be "echoes" of ourselves in this world we're getting shunted to. Basically ourselves, but they had been in this DnD world their whole lives. Aaand it turns out he was already planning on doing that exact idea. So It seems that he's planned a little further ahead than I thought.

    I recommended that we just let people stat themselves up, but even if they were pumping everyone up to a point buy they wanted it to be more accurate, if not realistic. (It IS DnD, after all.) The idea that he has right now is to do a blind survey, where everybody assigns everyone elses stats, gives them to him, and he'll take the averages, with allowances to make everyone at the same point buy. So hopefully that will allow for nobody getting offended - but there was only ever one or two that I was worried about for that in the first place.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by rezplz View Post
    The idea that he has right now is to do a blind survey, where everybody assigns everyone elses stats, gives them to him, and he'll take the averages, with allowances to make everyone at the same point buy. So hopefully that will allow for nobody getting offended
    Really? What happens when someone's average intelligence is 8, as voted on by the group? Or charisma 4? This sounds like a recipe for disaster. If you're going to do it this way, I would let the player also assign his own stats and include those in the average.

    If you want to get really "accurate," here's what I recommend:
    Strength - go to the gym as a group. Everyone does 2 exercises: clean and jerk and deadlift. Compare this to "lift over head" and "lift off ground" for a strength score.
    Dexterity - Reflex test, like the dropped ruler or the "click when the color changes." You can find these online, as well as the average results. Compare, remember that 10.5 is average Dex.
    Constitution - Hold your breath for as long as possible and divide seconds by 12 to get your Con score. This will, on average, be skewed slightly high for those holding their breath more than 120 seconds, but is still reasonable.
    The mental stats are more difficult to quantify.
    Intelligence - How many languages does each player know? If only 1, their Int score is not over 11. Have the players do an IQ test (even a crappy online one) and divide the result by 10. Not ideal and doesn't quite fit the curves, but close enough for your purposes.
    Wisdom - Watch a video clip, then have 18 questions about what they just saw and heard to gauge perception. Wis = number of questions you answer correctly.
    Charisma - Send the players out with a camera each for an hour or so, with instructions to get photos with as many strangers as possible. Not really sure how you would calculate this, though. Maybe take the distribution and normalize it.
    Settings: Weird West
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Intelligence - How many languages does each player know? If only 1, their Int score is not over 11. Have the players do an IQ test (even a crappy online one) and divide the result by 10. Not ideal and doesn't quite fit the curves, but close enough for your purposes.
    So... No überwizard in the group, I guess.
    Most of them should get 10, with maybe the occasionnal polyglot getting 14 or 15.

    http://www.sq.4mg.com/NationIQ.htm
    http://www.iqtestforfree.net/average-IQ-by-country.html
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ed...ion-average-iq
    http://www.iqtest-center.com/iq-scores.php

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Intelligence - How many languages does each player know? If only 1, their Int score is not over 11. Have the players do an IQ test (even a crappy online one) and divide the result by 10. Not ideal and doesn't quite fit the curves, but close enough for your purposes.
    This thread (Post #2 in particular) contains conversion. Basically converts standard deviation from IQ to 3d6. Post #2 is a much more cleaned-up and usable version.


    Woohoo! I have 15 Int! I could be a viable Wizard!... I really need to assign those bonus languages...
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2012-10-16 at 10:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Intelligence - How many languages does each player know? If only 1, their Int score is not over 11.
    No. Just because you're smart enough to know another language doesn't mean you do; it only really makes sense as 'if you tried to learn another language and failed your intelligence is not over 11', and even so some people are naturally linguistically talented without being geniuses.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    I'd say throw considerations of accuracy out the window, as they will crush considerations of playability and fun if you aren't careful. Point buy should be fine for the stats.

    If anything, the biggest hurdle of RPing yourself is going to be getting out of the game mindset. As someone pointed out, very few of us would do the risky, stupid stuff that D&D PCs usually do. You could however still make an interesting game out of a group of characters who actually respond to risk realistically (so long as there is also a pressing need that makes it so they can't just run and stick their heads in the sand or let the king's guard deal with it or whatever).

    Basically, accept and embrace your natural response to risk - act like you really cannot afford for this character to die, but do that in a campaign environment where each of you personally will die or suffer if you do not act. The plot has to be chosen carefully to enable this - it doesn't work so well to say 'you are dropped in Faerun, now go!'. Instead its better if its something like 'you are not supposed to be here but got here anyhow - something about your existence or your otherworldly knowledge poses a threat to this world and its gods, and so the gods are sending their servants to destroy you. Perhaps its not even because your a threat, but because some of them hate you for what you and your world represent. For whatever reason, you are immune to their direct wrath and even their divination, so now you must somehow survive and resolve this issue.'

    Or even something like 'while this new world has strengthened you in many ways, something about it is causing a slow degeneration that will eventually lead to your death in a year. You must find the cause of this and resolve it before you die.' Then after you've done so, you've probably had enough exposure to danger (and exposure to the idiosyncracies of D&D personal durability) to start to justify the riskier behavior again.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Really? What happens when someone's average intelligence is 8, as voted on by the group? Or charisma 4? This sounds like a recipe for disaster. If you're going to do it this way, I would let the player also assign his own stats and include those in the average.
    Now see, this is exactly what I'm worried about. However, he doesn't want to listen to me for the time being, so I decided to not press the issue. If we get closer to actuallydoing his campaign I'll try to bring it up again. Because really, I don't see how it would negatively impact the game if everyone just stats themselves up - as long as we're doing point buy, we'll all be pretty equal. Sigh.

    While I don't like the example for INT (After all, it represents your ability to learn more than what you've actually learned) the others are all pretty good. But my goal is to make it more simple and fun, rather than making everyone seem like they're going through some rigorous exercise. When talking to people about ability scores, I used the lifting capacities and breath holding as examples, however.

    Slipperychicken: That's pretty brilliant, actually. Probably more accurate than what I was doing (using standardized testing, and the percentile you fell in) as an example. Either way though, looks like I'm a 16 INT.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    This thread (Post #2 in particular) contains conversion. Basically converts standard deviation from IQ to 3d6. Post #2 is a much more cleaned-up and usable version.


    Woohoo! I have 15 Int! I could be a viable Wizard!... I really need to assign those bonus languages...
    Yep, I actually worked out the numbers myself a year or two ago and posted in a thread on the playground as well. I can't seem to find the thread now, but on first blush those look very similar.

    Using a valid IQ test is also important, and online tests... generally aren't that valid or reliable. The last one I took, I scored 154, which isn't even on this chart, putting me around a 21 Int score. Somehow I doubt that.

    And I only know one language!

    Quote Originally Posted by Exediron View Post
    No. Just because you're smart enough to know another language doesn't mean you do; it only really makes sense as 'if you tried to learn another language and failed your intelligence is not over 11', and even so some people are naturally linguistically talented without being geniuses.
    Incorrect. Your intelligence modifier determines "The number of languages your character knows at the start of the game" as stated in the SRD. Remember we're doing conversions here. If you know only 1 language, you have an Int score of no greater than 11.
    Settings: Weird West
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Incorrect. Your intelligence modifier determines "The number of languages your character knows at the start of the game" as stated in the SRD. Remember we're doing conversions here. If you know only 1 language, you have an Int score of no greater than 11.
    When doing conversions from real life to D&D, this should be tempered by opportunity and need.

    Otherwise, the average American would be quite dumb compared to the average European, who would in turn appear quite dumb to the average African.

    Given the demographics of the USA, Americans simply have no reason to (and in some cases, no effective opportunity to) learn a foreign language. That doesn't reflect on their intelligence.

    Also, I understood the thread to be not about playing the person, but about playing a translation of the person into D&D. Otherwise, ya'll commoners now, y'hear me?
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2012-10-17 at 03:25 PM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    ya'll commoners now, y'hear me?
    I disagree, the d&d universe is one of exaggeration. Right down to walking speed (which is 0.5'/second faster than an adult male of average height). So when trying to squeeze your real self into a fantasy character you need to likewise exaggerate your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore very few people are actually commoners. I've never heard of anyone IRL succumbing to the terrors of the fiendish house cat That is to say, in a world where magic is plentiful and house cats are deadly it's less of a stretch to say that a person would have studied magic or some other fantastic ability than it is to say they died of stubbed toe.(haha I just remembered that's how Jack Daniels went. IRL commoner with maxed out profession brewer?) Although, how many of us are past level one is another story...
    Last edited by lucky9; 2012-10-17 at 02:34 PM. Reason: can't.. stop.. coming back... to this post
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    My proposed solution is to use an array. That way, you don't have to work out the specifics of what your ability scores are - you just have to prioritize them from best to worst based on your own opinion of your traits. That way the discussion becomes more along the lines of "Am I stronger or more dextrous?" and less "Exactly how strong am I?"

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    Otherwise, the average American would be quite dumb compared to the average European, who would in turn appear quite dumb to the average African.
    I could see that representing Africans and Europeans seeing the need to put ranks into Speak Language, if we removed "bonus languages for Int score".


    How many languages did Einstein and Hawking speak, respectively?

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    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Stephen Hawking has a use-activated item of Tongues, though I don't know if it has translation software.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    Otherwise, the average American would be quite dumb compared to the average European, who would in turn appear quite dumb to the average African.
    Unfortunately, languages known can only tell us the maximum Int score, not minimum. If you know only 1, you can't have an Int above 11, but you could still buy ranks in Speak Language.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    How many languages did Einstein and Hawking speak, respectively?
    Einstein: English, German, likely French, maybe some Italian.
    Hawking: No idea.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    I could see that representing Africans and Europeans seeing the need to put ranks into Speak Language, if we removed "bonus languages for Int score".


    How many languages did Einstein and Hawking speak, respectively?
    Trick question, he doesn't speak any.

    That aside, when I was playing as myself, I just kept in mind, it's a bloody game. Play yourself up as your biggest, most badass wish fulfillment fantasy self that you can manage with your own personality and skills as the general background. Scale it back just enough that the DM doesn't get too uppity about it. It's no fun just thinking of your character as a carbon copy of yourself, you want that, you can just go out there and punch wolves or something.

    Disclaimer: I in no way endorse punching wolves.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    In a very early edition of the Dragon, there was an article on how to measure each component. It was absurd in many ways, but I approved of their method for finding Wisdom. Your Wisdom, according to the article, was 20 minus the number of hours per week you spend playing (or fiddling with) D&D.

    When the article came out, I had a Wisdom of about -4.

    We discussed it at length in our group. We concluded that the average D&D player has a very poor understanding of his* own physical skills, and that letting somebody determine his own stats was basically penalizing self-awareness and honesty.

    I remember proposing that if any D&D player managed to convince the DM that he had an 18 Strength, the 18 Strength should be annulled, but he would get an 18 for his Charisma score.

    *Yes, "his". It was 1975, and D&D was still pretty much a boy's club.

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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    All I can say is ... beware the DMPC.
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimers View Post
    All I can say is ... beware the DMPC.
    I disagree. If he insists he can kick your ass, you can fact check.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by prufock View Post
    Unfortunately, languages known can only tell us the maximum Int score, not minimum. If you know only 1, you can't have an Int above 11, but you could still buy ranks in Speak Language.


    Einstein: English, German, likely French, maybe some Italian.
    Hawking: No idea.
    Intelligence only affects your languages known at character generation, though. In D&D-world, people just spontaneously pop out of nowhere knowing Int+1 languages, and can learn as many as they want with skill ranks, sometimes becoming fluent in foreign tongues overnight. In the real world, you're born, and develop languages through exposure and/or study - i.e., the Speak Language skill. The number of people with more than one 'native' language are vanishingly few, so by this logic, no human being in the world has more than 11 Int.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Mostly? Don't.

    "Hey guys. If anything, I am going to be playing an idealized, more capable version of myself, or a person who has access to the sorts of things I know, but can do more things, and follows a few patterns of my personality. I won't be able to play myself. Not accurately, not for a roleplaying game, and not to have fun."

    And just say, if you are doing this for D&D, say something like this:

    Tell me what class and abilities and capability, gender, race, etc. an idealized version of yourself would be like, if you know the system. If you don't know that sort of stuff, I can help you figure it out. If you were in a room and were allowed to choose from any LA+0/0RHD race, and any base D&D class, and an array of ability scores from a particular point buy that must be similar to how you view as most important to yourself and such, and your relative capabilities... what would you choose?


    Like me? Translated in a D&D world? Ideally?

    Fox Hengeyokai Spell to Power Erudite.

    Of course I'd go for power. Cause, yaknow. Dying sucks. Also, innate shapeshifting, cause shapeshifting is cool.
    Last edited by Gavinfoxx; 2012-10-17 at 10:22 PM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    I played one game of GURPS in which the GM designed a character which was you, as he saw you.

    The main observation from that experience is that it was very nice that he had an unfairly high estimate of my abilities. (But I'm not sure the other players were as happy with it.)

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Intelligence only affects your languages known at character generation, though. In D&D-world, people just spontaneously pop out of nowhere knowing Int+1 languages, and can learn as many as they want with skill ranks, sometimes becoming fluent in foreign tongues overnight. In the real world, you're born, and develop languages through exposure and/or study - i.e., the Speak Language skill. The number of people with more than one 'native' language are vanishingly few, so by this logic, no human being in the world has more than 11 Int.
    There are minimum starting ages for characters, so the starting languages are the number of languages you know at that age. Yes, it still means few people have an Int score over 11.
    Settings: Weird West
    Work in Progress: Fulcrum

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Below sea level
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Advice for playing as yourselves

    I'd say leave the stats up for grabs and go for defining features and personality quirks. Smart in school? high int. Socially awkward? low cha. never ill? High con. gymnast? high dex. American football (or better: rugby) player? High str.

    or

    let each player build another player. though you'd need good friends for this, else it becomes a bashfest
    Warlock Poetry?
    Or ways to use me in game?
    Better grab a drink...

    Currently ruining Strahd's day - Avatar by the Outstanding Smuchsmuch

    First Ordained Jr. Tormlet by LoyalPaladin

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