Headline:Building the Cast of the Iliad - d20 style
Date:Friday, April 12, 2019
Posted By:Plaid Hatter Games

My past few weeks haven't completely been sucked up in Tcl distribution drama. I have been working on populating the Iliad with a crew.

While I'm a somewhat creative soul, I know that for the entire story line of the Iliad, I can't pull a Star Trek and slap a uniform on a random person from Central casting and give them a few lines. Everyone who enters the ship from a womb. Everyone exits in a pine box. And being a stickler for detail, I want a ship full of nameless faceless constructs. I also don't want to commit myself to having to craft the life story for a small city.

I picked a vessel on the smaller side of sensible for the sort of space exploration mission something like the Iliad would be designed for. Partly to keep the database small. Partly to make the ship's company from getting too unwieldy for the player to keep track of. But mostly because I don't want to commit myself to having to craft the life story for a small city.

The magic number was supposed to be 250. It's now more like 400. And the problem comes down to random selection and how you can't rely on it for everything.

In my fictional world, getting a slot on one of these ships is a random lottery. The concept being that formal systems tend to do a terrible job about picking people, especially when the rules and expectations aren't known. The vessel is designed to mimic normal living conditions, so you don't need to screen for much as far as health. (Though it skews younger because getting off of Earth still requires withstanding 3gs.) They don't control for intelligence because all measures of intelligence are pretty subjective. There is no control for blood type, or everything except the most debilitating (and expressed) genetic disorders because you frankly don't know if those will turn out to be helpful on another world.

In the end, you want every ship to be a representative sample of humanity.

A ship that size has a lot of jobs to do. And a crew that size needs crew to take care of the people taking care of the ship. So there is plenty to do for people with any personality, any personal drive (or lack thereof), analytical minds, artistic minds, completely empty minds, space needs them all.

So I put together a model in Excel to generate characters more or less the way one would batch generate NPCs in Dungeons and Dragons. In addition to the normal character stats (which I put on similar scale to IQ instead of 3d6), I also rolled a Myers-Briggs personality profile for each crew member. And I based all of the statistics on what the best research tells us the distribution would be.

And that's when I ran into trouble. There were a lot more jobs that required a specific personality than what my initial batch of 250 people produced. The hardest spots to fill were not engineers, nor scientists, it was physicians. I had no idea they were an ENTJ personality type. (No wonder I was miserable in Engineering school. I'm an ENTJ as well.) ENTJs are veritable unicorns. I hand to expand my population generator out to 400 people to get a sample size large enough to fill a minimum rotation for a decent frontier medical center.

Attached is my work in progress spreadsheet. I have all of the positions mapped out, and I'm now picking through my list of people to find folks who have the minimum qualifications (for, say, intelligence or dexterity) while having a compatible personality type. Nowhere near complete, but I figure it is fun to see my approach.

Even the names are randomly sourced, btw. Once I know the gender I take a raw probability score and then hunt down the list to see what the probability index yields on a frequency table of first names and last names.

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