As you may know, I have been struggling through the process of World of Synnibarr character creation for the last couple of posts. A video recording of the second stage of my progress can be found below.
Well, maybe. But although the character creation is taking me a hell of a long time, I'm not sure World of Synnibarr is really all that slow. There's certainly a lot of stuff, but part of it is that I'm unfamiliar with the terms and part of it is that I'm learning the setting as I go. So, for instance, I spent a good couple of minutes just learning what a Shadow Warrior was in the first place.
Consider another game from around the same time, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, which came out in 1992. The first time I create a new character, assuming it's a werewolf and not something else, I need to:
- Choose my Nature and Demeanour from a big list.
- Prioritise and buy stats.
- Prioritise and buy skills.
- Choose a Breed.
- Choose an Auspice (which means learning what they are).
- Choose a Tribe (from a dozen or so, which again I need to learn).
- Select some Gifts.
- Assign Gnosis, Rage and Willpower.
- Take Merits and Flaws (from a great big list).
- Explore some of the other Merits in more detail (e.g. Rites, Fetishes)
Is there anything else? I guess equipment if I have any, though that's a less important part of the game.
I don't think it would surprise me if that took a good hour or hour and a half the first time I did it.
The big difference is that the Synnibarr character creation process is much less interesting. When I am creating my Werewolf character, I'm making choices every step of the way. I decide what skills to buy, what Gifts to take, and so on. I'm choosing what I have. In the Synnibarr character creation process, I'm just looking shit up on tables or rolling randomly for it. From the moment I choose my class to the moment I go shopping -- which must be about 30-40 minutes at least -- I don't make a single decision, I just find stuff out and write it down. It's the kind of process you could automate.
Now, there are successful games that have character creation systems where there is a ton of randomness -- classic versions of D&D are the most obvious example -- but by contrast, their character creation processes are relatively quick. I rolled up my first AD&D 1st ed character in probably less than 20 minutes, of which easily 10 minutes was shopping. I do like shopping.
I guess what I'm saying is:
- Next time (hah!) it will probably go faster, but
- It's not so much that this process is slow as that it's not very engaging.
Shoping might be more fun, though -- I haven't done that yet!