D&D General How Do You Feel About Randomness?

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
What I think D&D should be is a site-exploration, loot-based roguelike with tons of randomization in encounters and character growth opportunities, but with a deep system to create mechanically differentiated, bespoke characters with no starting randomness.

I'm OK with more random character creation in a game with interesting randomized character concepts, along the lines of games like Beyond the Wall, Electric Bastionland, or Troika!. I'm not a fan of "I rolled an 8 Str, and my best stat is 14 Int, so I guess I'll play a wizard."
See I actually really like that. Most of my characters back in the day and now (with a big gap in the middle) are chosen based on how my stat rolls went. Then I make them my own.

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Li Shenron

So, how do you feel about the various kinds of randomness in D&D? What do you use, and what do you reject? Do you think differently about it based on which version of the game you are playing, or what kind of campaign you are playing within a specific edition? If you are a GM, do you use random encounters, random hex or dungeon generation, or things like reactions and morale?
I love randomness.

In recent years I have run almost always published adventures, but when I design homebrew adventures I like to roll random stuff in many places, from monsters/NPCs to dungeon/terrain features and so on. As a player, I have sometimes generated my own PCs randomly (in some cases, completely random in every single detail), for some reason I like the challenge of playing difficult PCs with odd combinations.

OTOH, when I am DMing a game, I actually do not keep asking the players to roll to resolve everything, I use "rule zero" to make them often succeed/fail authomatically, and leave the dice to determine results in uncertain situations (plus combat, of course). I prefer the game when outcomes are a bit more consistent than what D&D rules usually imply, so that characters that are good at something succeed often, and those who aren't good but want to try succeed only when they're lucky. The randomness I need to enjoy the game (as in, not knowing the outcome of the story until it unfolds), is provided during playing already by players' behaviour: I don't know how the story will go because I don't know what choices the players will make.


"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
See I actually really like that. Most of my characters back in the day and now (with a big gap in the middle) are chosen based on how my stat rolls went. Then I make them my own.
I think psychology plays a big role here, which is why there's no one good system for everyone. At my core, I don't like gambling; losing makes me much more unhappy than winning makes me happy, so I just don't do it.

I don't mind randomness if it's just to be random without stakes, I would happily roll a d100 to pick between 100 different, balanced arrays, for example.


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B/X Known World
I love randomness and random generators. It saves mental energy. You can spend an hour making a few good random charts and that will save you dozens or hundred of hours designing bespoke rooms, encounters, or adventures. But the randomness is only the start. The referee still has to make it work at the table, massage the results, make them fit, make them make sense, interpret them, etc. It's almost never as simple as "roll, check the chart, drop into play as is."

I also like randomness as a player. For the longest time I hated randomness in character creation. But I've since embraced it. I've been playing RPGs for almost 40 years. I've already found, destroyed, rediscovered, etc all my typical characters, types, tropes, etc. I'll just play more of the same in more of the same ways if left to my own devices. A randomly generated character will break me out of my comfort zone and get me thinking. I much prefer that.
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I dislike random stats. Or HP. Been on the end of lucky rolls, unlucky, misaligned stats for concept, cheaters... the good doesn't outweigh the bad imho.

Random encounter? The DM needs to prep either way. As a player, don't care.

Attack/damage/skill/save rolls are just the game.

Wild magic is fun.

Random treasure sucks if you don't have any alternative. Random tables absolutely are biased, and if you dont play into the bias, chances are you get nothing.
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