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D&D 5E Character Creation- How to Apply Auction Techniques

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
If you're a fan of various fantasy sports, you probably know that one of the biggest revolutions is the change from "drafting" players (often with a snake draft) to the more challenging and interesting "auction" technique. Basically, every participant is allotted some amount of fake* currency ($100) with which to buy players for their team. That way, you can choose how much to spend on certain desirable players- you can have a team with a few superstars, but isn't very "deep," or a very deep team without any superstars, or any variation.

*Or real, depending on your level of seriousness.

Anyway, I've toyed with using this method for starting a D&D campaign. Here's the basic idea behind it ... a lot of tables have moved from randomized (3d6, 4d6k1, etc.) abilities to using point buy, or standard array. Which is great, but often ends up with a certain samey-ness (at least to me). So why not turn the "chargen mini-game" into ... well, a real game? Why not incorporate a real auction process?

As I see it, there would be two ways to go about doing this- the weak and strong auction techniques.

Weak- a set of ability scores that players can bid on.

Strong- a set of EVERYTHING (ability scores, classes, backgrounds, races/lineages, starting gold, a few magic items, etc.) that players bid on.

The weak version, to me, isn't very interesting. It's not that different than some methods people are used to already where there is a collection of ability scores that people pick from. But the strong method? That would be ... fun.

Here's my initial take-

Every player starts with $100 (fake currency).
Players draw lots to determine bid order (who goes first, second, third, etc.).
Player 1 chooses the first item to bid, and the amount ("I'll start with the Paladin and $1.)
Bidding goes around in order- if you don't increase the bid, you pass (and cannot bid again). Highest bid wins.

Now, the items are selected as follows, with the assumption of a 5-player table.

There are 30 numbers for ability scores (PlayersX6): Example- 20, 19, 18, 16, 3x15, 3x14 3x13, 3x12, 2x11, 3x10, 2x9, 3x8, 7, 6, 5, 4

There are 5 classes

There are 5 backgrounds.

There are 5 races/lineages.

There are 20 items (ranging from cruddy regular gear, to really good magic items).

There are 5 default gold piece starting (from 0 to wealthy).

...Players do not otherwise start with default equipment or items.

The advantage of this system is it could be fun, and produce some unexpected choices. Obviously, people will be bidding most of the money on the high ability scores (and that may need to be tuned down). This also might work better for higher-level one-shots.


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If you have bidding on scores that can be an area for discrepancy in character power between players.

This also seems like a lot of circumscribed choice, five classes for five players, five backgrounds for five players. This seems to be just restrictions and not for themes like an all dwarf clan or all thieves guild game.

It also starts everyone off against each other for resources.

There will be those who don't find auctions fun or will come to regret their choices of where they spent their money.

Probably best for one shots to see what you can come up with for different strategies or to just see how things turn out.

I don't think I would find it fun but I am not a fan of auctions.


Possibly a Idiot.
1: This seems like a great way to get the players to hate the other players before the game even starts. Nothing like artificial scarcity and competition for resources to make people claw at each other's throats. Which is on-theme for shopping this week, and perhaps even desirable if you want to sow the seeds of resentment for the sake of drama and/or have a PvP game.

2: So, what happens to the $77 I have left over from taking mid everything from the start? Can I cash that out somehow? I have some shopping to do this season, if I can even make it past the doors this year.

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Similar, but not exactly like the Stat Draft method I use (and am currently doing a sample version of on the boards). My suggestion is to add one more choice than the number of players. So five players? Six choices for each category. I do this in my method in the form of "Wild" numbers players can place in any ability score, though they tend to be slightly lower than the ascribed scores.

I originally had it as six classes, backgrounds, etc. But thought it might be too confusing. I didn't see you had posted a similar drafting method- but I've been toying with the auction idea for some time.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
No thanks. This seems to complicate the chargen process and session zero for little benefit. (n)

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
It also starts everyone off against each other for resources.

There will be those who don't find auctions fun or will come to regret their choices of where they spent their money.
I don't think I would find it fun but I am not a fan of auctions.

Yes. I mean, that's the whole point of it!

People often refer to the chargen game- well, this makes it an actual, fun game. Depending on what you find fun, of course. :)


Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I know there's an old thread where some similar ideas were floating a few year back, I'm going to see if I can dig it up.


Mod Squad
Staff member

Auction styles work well enough when the people involved are in competition. It is just a sort of pre-competition.

Adding a competitive element on the front end of what is supposed to be a cooperative game seems... ill-advised, to me.

Find a scheme where there's a minigame in which players help each other make great characters, rather than compete to have the best character, and you might get my interest.

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