So a discussion over on RPG.Net
got me thinking about random character generation. Specifically wondering about how to make it an effective part of a system, particularly all your fancy story game type games.
In D&D, random character generation determine a baseline for how effective your character is versus other characters. In a fight between guy with all 18s and a dude with 6s and 7s the guy with bigger numbers wins.
This is one of those parts of the system that was pretty quickly abandoned in mainstream rpgs, for better "balance". And I like the results of that shift, but wonder where else we could take the idea of random elements during character creation. Lots of games use random elements during play, so it's not just the dice getting in the way of creativity. Or is it? Why not use dice in character design?
What I'm thinking right now for how to make this sort of thing work is twofold:
1) The dice don't determine your effectiveness. Whatever is being decided between by the dice, it isn't "Is my character good at what he does (yes or no)?" or "How much control will I have over the game?" Whatver you roll, your character will be efective and competent: it just is telling you something about how or why your character is competent.
2) The dice inspire
the player's creativity. They present elements to introduce into your character you may not have put there on your own, but aren't dictating or limiting what your character is or does.
I'm not sure exactly how to achieve these goals, or what other elements you'd need in a game to make random elements in chargen work. how would you do it?