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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.


Thoughts?
 

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Voadam

Legend
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.
 


Leatherhead

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.
 


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. :)
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Thoughts?

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.
 



TwoSix

Unserious gamer
A little hard to follow, but yeah, that's exactly it!
I'm participating in @el-remmen's thread with a fantasy draft, and I have to say it's really fun, enough so that I want to adapt it for my next game, but fuse it with some of the ideas from the older thread.

I'm thinking of having something like (players*7) choices. All stats start at 8. About 2/3 of the choices will be stuff like "Str 15" or "Con 12" or things like that, but the remaining third will be some different choices like "Str is 6, but you get free gauntlets of ogre strength" or "+4 to any one stat, but your Con cannot be higher than 10".
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The Amber Diceless Roleplay system used bidding to determine rank of the four attributes, and then any left over points could be used for other perks. In the Amber books the princes and princesses of Amber pretty much knew who was the best fighter, the one with the most stamina, etc. So you were ranked 1-4, with 4 meaning "you're in the pack". And it was bidding among the players for the various positions.

I remember playing in a group during a week long camp out where we had 9 players, so the GM changed the bidding slightly. Basically everyone bid secretly (which I think is how the game does it), but then once the top four were determined the y had a second round of bidding where they could up their bids. Though the plan of sinking one attribute and judicious bidding, I was the #1 rank in everything else.

Which as a late teen seemed cool. But to my current RP self kind of turns the stomach at how much of a spotlight hog it could turn into.

Instead of an actual bidding process, where long term I am causing distress to fellow players at my table at not being able to play what they want, I'd rather see something like the old Shadowrun priority system. I might rank ability scores #1, connections #2, gear #3 (which gets me an uncommon-max item not picked by those with ranks #1 or #2), and wealth #4. Or however I want to do them. This was I'm not denying anything to anyone else, and you still have it all on the table.
 

MGibster

Legend
The Amber Diceless Roleplay system used bidding to determine rank of the four attributes, and then any left over points could be used for other perks. In the Amber books the princes and princesses of Amber pretty much knew who was the best fighter, the one with the most stamina, etc. So you were ranked 1-4, with 4 meaning "you're in the pack". And it was bidding among the players for the various positions.
I once participated in an Amber campaign where four other players all wanted the highest Psyche and I was happy with my Zero. This resulted in me being #1 in Strength, Endurance, and Warfare. We ended up not playing that campaign after character generation.

I don't know if I'd want to bid for stats in D&D. It's kind of an interesting idea....but I don't if the benefits of such a system is worth the complexity.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
The Amber RPG has an auction for the 4 stats; it is a game that encourages competition between the players. It is also a dice-less game and the ranking of the stats is extremely important.
 

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