Character Creation by Design

Once long ago in the dawning of the world, when bird and beast and flower were one with man and death was but a dream, it was usual to create characters by rolling dice to generate random stats. A player would then take these stats and make the best of them.

Over the years this has gradually given way to designing characters using points to buy stats. This approach is exemplified by games like GURPS, White Wolf's World of Darkness games like Vampire and Werewolf, and Savage Worlds. There is a basic problem with games like this: they let power-gamers win.

In a group of role-players, there will usually be players of varying types. Some players will be power-gamers, and others will be more like real role-players. When designing characters, the real role-players will put their points into a realistic spread of abilities, creating characters which seem like normal people. The power-gamers will max their characters out, putting all their points into combat abilities and creating overpowered monstrosities of characters. This results in the power-gamers having more powerful charcaters. The power-gamers end up winning at their evil game.

Savage Worlds makes this even worse than most. A skill in Savage Worlds is a die, D4, D6, D8, D10, or D12. If you put no points into a skill, you get D4-2. But player characters, unlike most NPCs, have the unfair privilege of a Wild Die, which means that they roll their skill die and a D6, and choose the higher result. This means that buying a skill up to D4 or D6 level is largely a waste of time. I created my first character with a wide spread of different skills mostly at D4 level, and then once I started playing I realised that I had just wasted my points buying them. Savage Worlds bribes you to max your character out.