D&D General How Do You Feel About Randomness?


Not a fan.

Random char gen just creates an atmosphere of unfairness, not just for the ones that 'lost' the gamble, but for the more empathetic ones who got lucky and are now just clearly better than the rest of the table.

Random encounters, to me, are usually just a waste of time to reach some attrition quota and I already hate attrition-based design, so no thanks.

Random treasure is just 'making it clear magi marts are 100% necessary with extra steps'. Oh great, another thing I find uninteresting I can't use.

Voluntary randomness on a character is... fine? Provided everyone is okay that their character isn't going to be helpful most of the time.

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I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I will add I dont mind randomness in a game like Dungeon Crawl Classics. I also dont play DCC when I want an overarching plot with detailed character growth and political intrigue as I expect from most modern experiences. With DCC, its pure skill play for an evening or two for love of old school.


The positives of randomness is that it forces people to act and react in ways they are not expecting-- thereby producing results that are different and varied from what everyone has experienced previously. And that leads to new creativity.

The negatives of randomness is that we humans like order and expect order in a great many things. And if that order gets disrupted in a way that "breaks our reality"-- usually because an element of randomness was too random / chaotic and doesn't "make sense" in what is going on-- it can reduce our interest in the thing. We are willing to suspend our disbelief only so far before we just stop. And once we lose it, it's exceedingly hard to be willing to give it another go.

So we want randomness... up to a point. Just enough to keep us on our toes and trigger our creative synapses... but still within the reality of what we are doing. So for me... since all RPGs are about producing interesting and compelling stories for us all at the table, randomness should be used to redirect us in an interesting direction we weren't expecting to go, but not be so chaotic that we lose complete interest in the story because it no longer makes sense. The better the DM, the better chance they have to spin even outrageous random events into staying within the reality, but there always is that risk.


For character generation and hitpoints on leveling it feels like it is an issue of balance vs. uniqueness.
I wonder how many of the people who like the uniqueness of different character stats (the chance to play something they wouldn't have, the old timey thing of the challenge of succeeding with something subpar) keep literally any stats they generate and go with it (are there no hopeless characters?). I also wonder if this varies a lot based on campaign lethality and whether it is an edition that gates lots of powers and advancement behind abilities.
(I vote no to randomness here).

For monster hitpoints it feels like it is an issue of ease of use vs. uniqueness.
I can quickly write down all of the hit points when they are the same. If it started entering the game that (oh, it's an ogre, three hits should do it) then I might randomize it.
(I vote usually no to randomness here).

For random monsters and other encounters and reaction rolls it feels like it is an issue of ease of use vs. seeming control.
If I leave it up to chance it gets away from the idea the DM is writing the story. I am a big fan of a "luck roll" on a d12 if the players want to try for something or hope for a coincidence I didn't have written in. I will tell them (that is going to take a high roll, or don't get a low #, or.... as appropriate). I don't usually use random encounters, but I can see them having some appeal for that reason.
(I vote usually yes to randomness here).


I love Randomness and use it a lot in my games.

For anything, I will roll on a couple hundred tables to see what I get. So the gate guard is a Fire Gnome brute with a big hammer or an insectare fighter with whips or nearly anything else. I like to keep everything mixed up all the time.

I don't let the dice go "too crazy", as I will keep everything with the plot and story.....but that still allows for a huge range of things to be encountered. The evil wizard will get most of his spells from the Evil Arcane Spell Tables.

Nearly anytime I as a DM need to create something, I will do it randomly. If a PC walks up to the human gate guard...I'll make a dozen or so rolls to get the gate guards personality. Though too, I often do this before the game and write down the result.

I very much enjoy having 11 gate guards, each unique, that the characters can encounter. I like the feel of I can have any two of the gate guards at random on duty at any time...and how that random pair will react to the PCs.

I roll for random events often, and for Campaigns I will roll for background events.

I do also love the Wild Roll. That one roll that is something big, strange, uncanny, or more. I love that crazy element that can pop into a story plot. The player fights a goblin and finds the goblin had an artifact or a million gold diamond.

Of course...I also do the other side of the dice too......where by random rolls...the Dragon Sky Lord has NO treasure....or like a collection of odd shaped rocks.


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 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.

Do you have any guard rails on what is rolled when generating characters? (If there are a few sub-sixes and the max is 12 do you go with it?)


B/X Known World
Do you have any guard rails on what is rolled when generating characters?
(If there are a few sub-sixes and the max is 12 do you go with it?)

PCs stats are rolled with 4d6, drop the lowest. Otherwise it’s the luck of the dice.

If players want guardrails I’ll add them, but they’d apply to both low and high rolls. If you’re okay with that 18, but will complain about that 3… there’s a problem. There’s no such thing as an “unplayable” character, only a player who refuses to make the most of a few bad die rolls, which is to say a bad sport.

You have to be able to take the good with the bad. It’s a game with randomness.

I’ve seen “worthless” characters survive epic campaigns and “godlike” characters die to a good crit in the first round of the first combat of the campaign. Some stories are short, some are long. Some stories are about superheroes dying in stupid ways, some are about how Bob the Incompetent Gongfarmer became a king. shrug
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