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Point Buy Totals for Non-Human races

posted Dec 16, 2012 01:43:58 by benjamindbrooks

Just got a quick question, I'm fairly new to GM'ing and have some players who want to roll up non-human characters. I was wondering how point-buy totals are worked out for character creation, is it just a case of taking the ratio of the human point buy (80) to human max-roll (126) and applying it to the non-human max-rolls? or is there some convention for doing it that I'm unaware of?

I'm sorry if this question has already been answered somewhere but I couldn't find it in the forum. Thanks for any help you can give!
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8 replies
bluefenix42 said Dec 16, 2012 01:54:44
I believe that you should get points equal to the average of the race's rolled stats.

So, for humans, there are 5 stats of 3d6 (10.5 average) and 2 of 2d6+6 (13 average). 10.5 * 5 + 13 * 2 = 78.5. The authors decided to round that up to a nice 80 points for the sake of simplicity.

Just add up the non-human race's average stats, give the player that many points to work with, and make sure you enforce the race's min and max stats (so if some race has STR of 3d6+6, the player should not be able to choose a STR less than 9 or greater than 24).

Also, make sure you're aware that non-human races are not "balanced" compared to Humans, nor do they need to be as long as the GM and players all accept that.
benjamindbrooks said Dec 16, 2012 02:03:24
Thanks for the advice bluefenix42,

Also, make sure you're aware that non-human races are not "balanced" compared to Humans, nor do they need to be as long as the GM and players all accept that.

I had been wondering about this as a possible problem, especially as while some races (dwarves or goblins for example) come with built in stat disadvantages there appear to be others (elves and centaurs say) where the only disadvantages seem to be "in game" such as language difficulties or in the case of elves; naive personality/outlook. Looking around for an explanation all I got from any of the RQ fora was "RQ has never been balanced; deal with it" which is fine for me but one of my players takes the attitude of "well why would anyone play a human then...". I doubt there's any way of getting around that but it is definitely something I'll have to find a solution to, as I don't want to restrict my players to humanity and lose some of the fun.
bluefenix42 said Dec 16, 2012 02:29:50
The thing is, the basic rules of RQ assume all players are Humans. This is a very different attitude from D&D, where Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and so on not only are all playable, but are often portrayed as living together in cities and settlements with few problems interacting, as if they were all just humans with slightly different appearances and stat bonuses.

In the setting RQ was originally based on, Glorantha, Dwarves are made of metal and believe they need to "fix the world machine", while Elves are literally plant-people who don't really see eye-to-eye with anyone who would cut down a tree to build a home. Encounters with non-Human races were supposed to be strange, challenging, and even dangerous.

This does not mean you shouldn't allow non-Human player characters. If your setting is one where dwarves, elves, and humans all get along, great! If your players feel that playing non-Humans is a key part of the game, you have several options to deal with the potential balance issues:

1) Just ignore it. RQ is not a game that requires everyone to be equally powerful. A character with the Farmer background is simply not going to be as good a combatant as someone from the Warrior career, and neither is going to have the reality-warping powers of a Mystic or Sorcerer. Yet you don't see anyone trying to make all careers, all weapons, all combat styles, or all spells perfectly balanced. As long as the players are having fun, and no one gets all bent out of shape because they aren't exactly as powerful as another player, everything will be fine.

2) Have the players be only Humans, but give them other tools to differentiate themselves. This is the option I chose. In my game, players have a significant number of different cultures, cults, and careers to choose from that I've written up. Additionally, if a player has an idea for something I haven't written, I'll work with them to develop an appropriate culture, cult, combat style, or whatever it takes. This allows every player to feel very unique and have a special place in the world, while getting away from the balance issues that different species create.

3) Re-write the base attribute scores of various species to get a balance you prefer. Simply change the minimums and maximums in a way that leaves most player-character species with the same 80 or 90 points to spend, instead of wildly different values. This is essentially the D&D approach, where all races are roughly equal overall, but simply excel in different areas.

4) Give humans something special. This could be additional attribute points (90 instead of 80, perhaps), additional skill points, access to magic that other races don't get (maybe Folk Magic is a Common skill for humans instead of Professional? Maybe Humans are the only race that understands Mysticism?), or some other balancing factor to make Humans more attractive. This is also a very D&D-ish way of doing things.

5) Really really emphasize the disadvantages of non-human races. Centaurs are not going to be able to handle ladders in dungeons at all, and may have a hard time with stairs. Large creatures will not fit easily into small areas. A race that is used to living on the open plains may have to make Willpower checks to not freak out when going underground. Races that speak non-human languages natively will have to spend skill points at character creation to be able to communicate with other party members. The Customs skill only applies to traditions of your own species or homeland, so cultural misunderstandings will happen more frequently. Species-ism may be quite common - if you're a human king looking for adventurers to rescue your kidnapped daughter, are you really going to trust a Centaur whose tribe is known for raiding local farms, stealing cattle, and fighting with your citizens? Are you going to trust a haughty Elf not to beguile you with their strange magics? Or a greedy Dwarf not to try to steal your jeweled crown the minute you turn your back? Even if these attitudes are not based in fact, there will still be people who believe the stereotypes.
benjamindbrooks said Dec 16, 2012 02:31:57
OK, Just in case this will save time for other people, here's what I work it out as including both methods above, oddly the max rolled version proves to be "more balanced" so perhaps more useful in groups where stat-envy is an issue?

RQ6 Human Point Buy to Max Roll Ratio = 80:126 = 0.64

Race------------Max Roll (MR)------------Point Buy (MR x.64)-----Avg.Roll Point Buy
Goblin/ Orc------114/hobgoblin-122---73/79------------------------76/78

(N.B. I've rounded up wherever I got decimalised numbers)

I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts on this. I hope I haven't balls'd up royally.

(edited to try and improve tabulation)
[Last edited Dec 16, 2012 03:00:30]
benjamindbrooks said Dec 16, 2012 02:35:35
woops... forum doesn't like tabulation...

Thanks for the detailed reply bluefenix42, I'll take these options to my players and see what we can agree on!
PatHenry said Dec 16, 2012 02:48:30
it is definitely something I'll have to find a solution to, as I don't want to restrict my players to humanity and lose some of the fun.

I think this is something you'll want to stay on top of, else players may too readily abandon the ordinary for the exotic and you'll either suffer some tricky game balance issues or your game world-logic could get really silly really quickly.* My advice would be to discourage "humans in funny costumes," in other words exotic non-humans played in a mundane human fashion, and you may want to adjust certain skills to reflect this oddness. Consider using Passions to help tailor motivations and possibly cap certain abilities, certainly to reflect certain racial tendencies.

And I generally find the Cults and their operations are useful to help or hinder certain PC "excesses" that begin to spin out of hand.

* Could be fun, IF you're prepared for it.

ADD: And what bluefenix42 said @ #5
TomGriffith said Dec 16, 2012 13:02:07
What I have done is to let anyone who wants to play an Non-Human Character go ahead and roll up his PC as written in the Core Rulebook, i.e. a Dwarf rolls 2d6+9 for Strength. To counterbalance that, Humans get to roll their attributes as a group, and assign them wherever they want to (SZ and INT only interchangeable between the two). This accounts for the "variety" humans are supposed to be blessed with.

Does this allow unbalanced characters? Sure...statwise. But do you REALLY want to play an Iqari, especialy if there is a dungeon involved. Go a Troll or a Minotaur...just gives the Games Master a great reason to mess with your character in social situations, or if your Minotaur (who can barely speak the HUman tongue) tries to shout out a warning in combat or make a deal with a human culture.

Non-Human characters come with enough "baggage" that may or may not make playing them worthwhile, depending on the creativity and flexibility of your GM.

Skoll said Dec 17, 2012 11:21:35
My approach has been to encourage playing human, especially to less experiences players. I have allowed certain non-human races, but I have told, that I require "more" roleplaying and richer background stories from them. On the other hand there are numerous different culture and cult options available for humans, so there's no risk of creating two similar characters. In the recent campaign I started, everybody created a human.

That again, this all depends a lot on the setting. We play in Glorantha. If somebody wants to play a Mostali (dwarf) or Aldryami (elf) I expect them to do some serious reading on their race and come up with a very good reason why their character has left their home.

Also, I don't think that The Design Mechanism meant that all the monsters marked as "playable" were to be offered as options to all the players in every game. I would say it's expected that the GM does limit the options to suite the campaign/setting.

The best advice I can give you is to use a rich setting, where it's easier to play the social aspects related to non-human races.
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