Development Report (02/09/17 – 02/24/17)

(Character Creation) Part 1 – 

What is a fair start?


I’ve made a big deal in the past about how challenge will foster competition. It’s important now that were closing in on Beta to define that  challenge and identify it’s strengths and weaknesses. 

(Scroll to the bottom of the page for a full list of all updates to Deathroll since 02/08/17.)

When I first began development on Deathroll I started by setting the base for how players would roll. This naturally lead to the early focus on Character Creation . Looking back on it now, I shouldn’t have focused so much on how the players acquired these stats they were rolling with, at least not that early.

However, I knew then, as I do now, that an emphasis needed to be placed on Character Creation. Deathroll is meant to be a fleeting experience. What I mean by that is, survivor either are killed off quickly, they must be dismissed once a campaign is over, and the role of the GM is constantly being tossed around. Much in the same vein as a board game, Deahtroll is meant to be “taken apart” and “set back up” over and over again with endless replayability.

This immediately made me think of a Character Creation system that was challenging, one that could, and likely would, kill your character during it. Without getting too much into this concept and how it has evolved over the last year and a half, let’s get into this Character Creation system as it currently exists.


The first 4 things you’ll need to determine are each of your core Abilities : Intellect, Perception, Strength, and Agility when you begin Character Creation. Oddly enough, this is done without needing to roll any dice. All you’ll need is a hand of Exertion Cards as shown bellow.

Your Ace will represent a ‘1’ as it normally does and the King and Queen will represent  the ‘K’ and ‘Q’ Abilities respectively.

These two are considered Specialized Abilities  and they will generally be one of the factors a player will consider when deciding to choose a Character Class . With a hand of Exertion Cards, the player will shuffle them face-down, then deal the top 4 cards into separate piles, flipping them face-up. These 4 stacks represent your 4 Abilities, and their initial values.

If either the ‘K’ or ‘Q’ was flipped, you now know the location of 1 or more of your Specialized Abilities. In this example, the Solider’s Character Class has a ‘K’ Ability of Strength and a ‘Q’ Ability of Perception. From the 3 remanning cards in your hand, you may now place them face-down onto one of the four stacks, flipping them face-up as you do. This will increase the value of each of these Abilities.

No more than 2 cards can be placed in a stack, leaving one of the Abilities without an added boost of a second card.

However, the ‘K’ Ability acquires a +2 to it’s value and the ‘Q’ Ability acquires a +1. This means that the King and Queen cards not only represent specific abilities but the values of 2 and 1 respectively as well.

If this were the final results of this process, we would have a Strength of 6, a Perception of 2, and then the option to make our Intellect a 7 and our Agility a 3, or vice-versa.

The only instance where a player is restricted in how they place these final 3 cards is when only the ‘K’ or ‘Q’ have been placed in a initial stack or neither of them have been placed yet.

Since each of these two cards represent an Ability, they cannot be placed on-top of one another. To ensure this does not happen, a card may not be placed onto a ‘K’ or ‘Q’ until both appear in separate stacks.


One of the biggest complaints I got from playtesters after going through old versions of Character Creation was how lopsided the outcomes would tend to be. There would typically be one player who had a terrible survivor while the others managed to generate decent ones. I considered this to be a challenge of overcoming bad luck on their part, but it didn’t feel like a challenge to overcome for them, they just felt like it was a unfair problem.

I’ve been considering since then how to address the meaning of “fairness”.

What I hope I’ve illustrated above with this introduction to Character Creation is a way in which bad luck can be manipulated into positive results with a little intuition on the player’s part. As an example, it takes two seconds to realize what your last 3 cards are, even if you can’t see them. If you’ve deduced that they are the ‘4’, ‘K’, and ‘1’ cards, then you have a 1-3 chance to drop your ‘K’ on the ‘5’ card already in play. At the very least you have a 2-3 chance of either dropping the ‘4’ or ‘K’ card on the ‘5’, both being great outcomes.

The major difference between a player feeling like they’ve been cheated and one who has simply failed to fall lost a bet is giving them just an ounce of agency in the matter. This is the difference between blindly betting at a game like roulette and placing your bets based on logic. Blindly choosing the largest payout for example is also the least likely to happen. When one person wins in this way and the other does not, they feel like they’ve been selected by fate to lose or win, not by any knowledge of the game.

I know this seems like a-lot to think about in the context of just determining your 4 Abilities initial values, but it goes a long way. From the jump, players should know exactly what they’re getting into and how the rest of Character Creation is possibly going to be played as well.

That’s where will stop for now. Unfortunately, Character Creation is such a complicated process that it had to be split into multiple parts.

More on Character Creation in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!


  • Removed [Bands].
  • Removed [Band Resources].
  • Removed [Fame].
  • Removed [Notoriety & Acclaim].
  • Removed [Perks & Quirks].
  • Finished the [Solider  Character Creation Table].
  • Added [Motivators].
  • Added [Motivator Transitions].
  • Finished [Skills].
  • Redesigned [Talents].
  • Nearly… finished [Character Creation].
  • Added [Exertion Card] recover system].
  • Begun redesigning [Adventure Creation].
  • Added a random select [GM] system.
  • Removed [Aspect] purchasing system.
  • Begun work on a [Skill-to-Aspect] system.

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