Making RPG Character Creation Quick and Easy

Three fantasy characters.

As a teenage RPG fan, I often wondered why tabletop roleplaying games weren’t more popular. I loved the personal creativity involved in creating and playing a character.  I loved the freedom to do anything from creating a 5-story anvil out of thin air for crushing enemy fortifications to creating a fast-food empire staffed by tireless skeleton minions.  Most of all, I loved the collaboration: creating a rich story with friends that was greater than any one of us.

Now that I’ve introduced many friends to RPGs and have had lots of experience at work user testing products, I’ve come to understand better why so few people play them.  Roleplaying games, as a product, are extremely difficult to use.  Each game requires a game master who has mastered at least one, large tome of rules and created an imaginary world. Even for non-game masters, the process of looking up charts and lists for hours to create a character is a huge barrier.

While video games don’t offer as much interpersonal interaction, freedom, or creative control of the game as tabletop RPGs do, video games are designed so that the average player can dive in without reading a manual.  The game guides you through the steps of character creation, allowing players to fiddle with values and observe the results directly, getting in-game help and support when experimentation alone is not sufficient. Wouldn’t it be nice if tabletop RPGs learned a thing or two from video games?

Making Character Creation More Like a Video Game

Varza games has just released the prototype Legendary Character Generator to email list members. The Legendary Character Generator borrows a few simple ideas from video games to make the process of character creation easier and faster:

  • Instead of looking up lists of stats, select a stat from a drop down menu and instantly see the relevant description.
  • Each section has in-detail help text to give context on how stats are used.
  • A “conditions” box that describes the impact of a character’s current damage or Tox level, helping you keep track of your character’s current status.
  • Basic validation to prevent mistakes.

Interested in trying it out?

Join the Legendary Email List.

Future Features

While I’ve seen the above features cut character creation time by as much as two thirds, we have several more features for ease of use planned:

  • Saving across browsers and devices.
  • Support for inventory and equipment.
  • A step-by-step character creation wizard.
  • Templates for common character types.
  • In-app dice rolling: click a stat and roll!
  • Streamlined print version—let’s try to keep it to one page, front and back.
  • Character avatars + improved visual design.

For Techies: How I Built Legendary Character Generator

The Legendary Character Generator has been a fun, quick-and-dirty project.  It takes advantage of two excellent frameworks: Angular and Twitter Bootstrap. In order to actually make the character persist, I added an Angular plugin for saving data to local storage. Using local storage removed the need for a server and cut development time in half, for the time being, but it does mean your characters may disappear if you clear your cache.  Be careful!

Character design image by David Revoy / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Legendary Roleplaying Game: Epic Powers, Epic Fun

Friends enjoying a roleplaying game.

Character: You, comfortable in your nerdiness, looking for a creative outlet, and looking to connect with other self-actualized nerds.  Intelligence high, social skills anywhere on the spectrum, and +5 boredom because you finished all the good movies from your Netflix queue.

Scene: Your swanky living room, dungeonous basement, favorite cafe, or local gaming store.

Challenge: How do you connect with friends, scratch your creative itch, and escape to the world of your favorite shows or books?

Resolution: You find the mysterious, long-lost Legendary Roleplaying Game!

A Simple & highly customizable roleplaying game

Legendary has simple game mechanics that can be themed and customized to your hearts content.  Create your own, character-driven powers, in any setting including fantasy, horror, comic-book superhero, and sci-fi.

Built for dramatic, character-driven stories

Story tellers across genres have always known that the most compelling stories about larger-than-life heroes also include the heroes’ epic weaknesses: the side-effects of magic, the toll technology takes on humanity, the esoteric weakness of arcane beings, or the overlooked the Achilles heel. Craft compelling stories like these with your friends and the help of Legendary Roleplaying Game.

In Legendary, each use of a character’s powers feeds the character’s unique weakness. Linking powers and weaknesses makes it easier for players to develop rich, multidimensional characters.  It presents characters with interesting choices around when to use their powers, and when to avoid using them.  Also, the power-weakness link gives game masters additional story hooks and heightens drama, making it easier craft memorable stories.

In development—Wait, what?

Legendary Roleplaying Game has already been through several rounds of feedback, testing, and revision, and it’s going to have plenty more.  Varza Games is currently planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign for Legendary production in the summer of 2016.  Until then, join our email list to hear about progress, play testing opportunities, and other chances to give feedback—leave your mark on the game!

Play Legendary