Making characters Unique — an Overview

As Paul touched on in his recent review, Seven Dragon Saga allows players to create their entire six man party. We chose this to give the player far more control over how they balance their party, and creatively build their team without the pressure to drag an NPC specialist with them that they are not fond of. However, we also intend to take some steps to give personality to the individual characters, preventing them from becoming simply “Thief toolbox” and “High damage dealer”.

Our first effort to make the characters feel unique is the Race, Class, Specialty selection system, which provides distinctive weapon and ability optimizations. These choices create different looks and different feels in combat. At this stage of development, we are taking rough cuts at keeping the choices both distinct and balanced. Each ability has its own point cost, and we have to watch for combinations which might provide too much synergy.

As the player creates each character, the game prompts them to choose a Goal for that character. Goals then provide the natural inclination and motivating force for that character. During play, various quests will allow multiple methods for successful completion. However, if the player chooses a solution which matches the Goal of one or more characters, those characters gain rewards such as bonus build points – used to improve and customize that character.

For instance, if a bandit chief offered a payment to leave the area, rather than surrender. The player could accept or decline and subsequently force a surrender, or find another way to resolve things. Getting a payment appeals to the Greed Goal, and characters with that Goal would benefit from accepting it (along with the payment). Taking the chief in for trial could fulfill the Honor Goal, and benefit different characters.

The player would have to decide whether to align all the characters to the same Goal, so a positive choice benefits all evenly. Or choose a variety of Goals, allowing benefits to accrue to some characters in a wider variety of quests. Each quest will NOT have solutions which benefit every Goal. Of course, the player should choose Goals compatible with his play style as there is no “right” way to play.

To choose a Goal for a character, the player makes four choices. First, the game asks a question about the character’s youth, based on the Race chosen, with two possible results. Then comes a question about the character’s upbringing, based on their Class, and one about their early adventuring days, based off of Specialty. Finally, the player choose which of those three possible Goals now dominates this character.

All of this should provide a shorthand for the background and personality of each character which shouldn’t handcuff player style. We’ll be going over other topics as time goes along. If there’s something you particularly want to hear about, let us know.


  1. Interesting system. Reminds me of Expeditions: Conquistador, where characters had traits like racist, pious, pacifist, married, etc…

    However, In E:C it was a matter of choice: “that num is racist, so she’ll complain if I recruit natives to my party – but she’s really good companion, so it’s worth it.” Not sure how that will work out when you create your party members… What’s stopping the player from making everyone “greedy” and get bonus points + gold from always playing for profit?

    • Not every quest finishes up with a success option appropriate to the greedy character. The solutions could revolve around blood lust vs. honor. So, if all the characters had ‘greedy’ none could benefit from resolving the issue.

      And some greedy options may have more negative ramifications related to the story. Some players are of the ‘me first, rest damned’ philosophy, so they don’t care. Those with an interest in some of the longer term story elements, will hesitate to alienate a particular faction, or kill off someone useful, just for the money and build points. Depends on how you roll.

      It obviously falls to our designers to provide a wide range of quests, to keep all choices roughly balanced. As you say, if greed is the best, only non-optimizers are otherwise.

  2. Some communication advice:

    You should enable reading of stuff without logging in. You want to make a Kickstarter soon? You need all the publicity and word of mouth you can get. I do have a login here, because I posted one message about my Pool of Radiance -> Pools of Darkness mega-Let’s Play in the forum, but I was really annoyed that reading this post required me to log in. (BTW, is the link available now? The forum software stripped out the link from my post.)

    It would also be better if you used your personal names to post, instead of “Design1” and “TSI”. Most developers, including RPG develepers are not afraid of attaching a name to their opinions, be it David Gaider’s Twitter (BioWare) or Josh Sawyer’s tumblr (Obsidian). People like when they can talk to names and faces, rather than abstact entities.

    Endrosz, an old Gold Box fan

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