A recent thread in the Hobby Shop Dungeon facebook group contained a discussion of randomness in chargen. Essentially the OP contrasted point buy systems with dice rolling for attributes and asked, "If you like rolling stats randomly, how would you feel about other aspects of your character - race, class, etc. - being generated randomly too?"
Without getting bogged down in pro- or anti-point buy arguments, let's concentrate here on the random factor. What, if any, aspects of player characters would you be happy to determine via the oracular power of dice
Of course I realise it depends on the game and the Referee's vision of his or her campaign. Early editions of the Stormbringer RPG call for rolls on random tables for Nationality (effectively "race") and Class. No matter what your initial attribute rolls, you might end up playing a Melnibonean sorcerer, a merchant from the Island of Purple Towns, or a beggar from Nadsokor afflicted with missing limbs, hemophilia, etc. Your skill levels are largely determined by your Class. You have very little choice in the matter. The dice decide. Creating a character is fast and fun and full of surprises, some pleasant, some less so.
Many years ago, when I started converting Skyrealms of Jorune to a BRP/D100-style system, I used Stormbringer as a model. I made a table to determine a character's species. I based the probabilities on the Jorune encounter tables. You roll for your character's species first, then roll different combinations of dice for stats depending on the species you rolled. I let players pick their occupation (i.e., class), though. See here
for more details.
When I'm running Stonehell Dungeon using B/X D&D, I always allow my players to roll for random headgear
. (Heck, I don't allow them; they insist.) Just a bit of fun at first, but one consequence I've noticed is that it takes some of the the sting out of losing a character when the player knows they're soon going to be getting some kind of fancy new hat!
In my Ruins of Ebidoria campaign, I have a "Birth Gifts" table based on the random Character Gifts tables in the old AD&D 2e historical sourcebooks (the Vikings and Celts ones, anyway). Players don't have to roll on it, but if they choose to do so they must abide by the result. Some results are good (high status, good luck, elf or troll ancestry with associated stat bonuses, second sight, etc.) and a few are bad (low status, ill luck, ugly).
So, what else? Background? Equipment? Does anyone make players roll for their race? Class? Gender? (I'm thinking of Jeff Rients's Cascosa chargen supplement
now.) Alignment? Mutations? Psionics?