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D&D General How Do You "Roll Up" Ability Scores?

How Do You Roll Up Ability Scores in D&D?

  • 3d6 in order, no modification

    Votes: 5 4.0%
  • 3d6 in order, can trade points between stats

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • 3d6 placed, no modifications

    Votes: 3 2.4%
  • 3d6 placed, can trade points between stats

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4d6 drop the lowest in order

    Votes: 4 3.2%
  • 4d6 drop the lowest placed

    Votes: 35 28.0%
  • Some other stat rolling system, in order

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • Some other stat rolling system, placed

    Votes: 3 2.4%
  • A predetermined array of stat values

    Votes: 22 17.6%
  • Some sort of point buy

    Votes: 37 29.6%
  • Literally just decide what the stats for the PC should be

    Votes: 1 0.8%
  • Other

    Votes: 11 8.8%

Jagga Spikes

Explorer
I'm ok with point buy.
I also like card draws: 4 of suits 6 to 3, and 2 of suit 2. draw 3 per attribute. arrange per taste.
I'm not that fond of straight 3d6 in order, especially with B/X modifier distribution. At the moment, I'm running OSE variant with character rolling two sets, choose either set, free raise to 6 if lower, and one swap of two. We'll see how it goes.
 

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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Oh, yeah that's perfectly fine then. Kinda surprised, tbh. That's better than the elite array, and I would have zero problems playing that.
The other 2 arrays were 17-16-15-11-10-7 and 17-17-16-12-9-5, for comparison. I like negative values for texture (which is totally a personal preference), but I'm still a powergamer at heart, even when I DM. :) I give my players the values I'd like to see if I was playing.
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I guess you could do that, if you wanted to make it more of a rogue-lite, but generally no. You want to start over every time, because the challenge is in getting as far as you can with each run, trying to beat your own personal best. Maybe you have some elements carry over between runs, like by having your character leave their treasure and magic items to your next character in their will. And resurrection spells can act as a safety net to bring back a character you’ve been running really hot with and don’t want to give up yet.
That's certainly a reason a player might like to roll their stats, but it's far from the only one.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I guess you could do that, if you wanted to make it more of a rogue-lite, but generally no. You want to start over every time, because the challenge is in getting as far as you can with each run, trying to beat your own personal best. Maybe you have some elements carry over between runs, like by having your character leave their treasure and magic items to your next character in their will. And resurrection spells can act as a safety net to bring back a character you’ve been running really hot with and don’t want to give up yet.
I feel like some player-side metagame progression would be advisable, even if not strictly necessary. In a hard rogue-like, you as a player are generally trying to master a specific dungeon or a specific area. In a more classic style high-lethality game, you'll generally have at least one player survive to move the party to a new dungeon. Since so much of roguelike progression is the player, not the character, mastering the skillset to defeat the environment, a lot of that progression will be lost in a classic style game where the dungeon changes every few sessions, and the learned skill set might not be as applicable.

As a total aside, populating low-level dungeons with magic items that primarily benefit low stat characters would be an interesting way to balance high-randomness, high-lethality dungeon crawl systems. Like elixirs of permanent +1d4 Strength, max of 14, or a headband of mental acuity, which grants an Int 13 to anyone with lower than 13 Int.
 

Generally, when I want randomness (and I don’t always), yes, the possibility of some characters being significantly better or worse than others is part of the point. But, it should be noted, the appeal is to be able to get significantly better or worse stats than your own past characters. Different players getting characters with significantly better or worse stats than other players’ characters in the same party is not specifically desirable.

I think it really can’t be over-emphasized how important high lethality is to this type of play. Also, randomized treasure, and potentially randomized dungeons are huge boons to this type of play. The point is to make the game into sort of a roguelike. You’re not lovingly crafting the perfect character to play out their story over the course of a lengthy campaign. You’re generating an avatar for your next run into the dungeon, with the goal of making it as far as you can before the run eventually, inevitably, ends. Then you go again and try to get a little further. Less Baldur’s Gate III, more Binding of Isaac. In that context, if you roll up really low stats, that’s a bummer, but the worst that happens is the character sucks for a few sessions before they die, and you get another shot at a new character with better stats. If you roll up really high stats, that’s exciting, but it’s far from a guarantee of survival.
I guess this makes some. I have zero interest in this type of a game.
 

Generally, when I want randomness (and I don’t always), yes, the possibility of some characters being significantly better or worse than others is part of the point. But, it should be noted, the appeal is to be able to get significantly better or worse stats than your own past characters. Different players getting characters with significantly better or worse stats than other players’ characters in the same party is not specifically desirable.

I think it really can’t be over-emphasized how important high lethality is to this type of play. Also, randomized treasure, and potentially randomized dungeons are huge boons to this type of play. The point is to make the game into sort of a roguelike. You’re not lovingly crafting the perfect character to play out their story over the course of a lengthy campaign. You’re generating an avatar for your next run into the dungeon, with the goal of making it as far as you can before the run eventually, inevitably, ends. Then you go again and try to get a little further. Less Baldur’s Gate III, more Binding of Isaac. In that context, if you roll up really low stats, that’s a bummer, but the worst that happens is the character sucks for a few sessions before they die, and you get another shot at a new character with better stats. If you roll up really high stats, that’s exciting, but it’s far from a guarantee of survival.
Yes. I find in group balance is more important the more survivable the campaign is. If people die left and right then balance doesn't matter because you're not going to be stuck with whatever character you're playing for long anyway. Such systems can afford to have very imbalanced classes too, because the impact of that imbalance matters less.

When the system favours low-lethality and long stable campaigns, however, balance is much more important.
 

nevin

Hero
The part where I found that offensive, and finally gave up on it, was when someone rolled an "okay" character and was forced to keep it, and another player rolled a "garbage" character (like highest stat 11 or something) and then got to reroll and wound up with a powerhouse. How is that fair to the guy stuck with the "meh but fine" character?
How is that different than the other players playing with that lucky person who rolled the powerhouse right off the bat.? I don't see a difference. The problem has always been that most players would rather play the lotto than just take the sensible point buy. I just let the players decide as a group how they want to do it.
 

Edgar Ironpelt

Adventurer
As I've mentioned before, I use my own house-rule random/point buy hybrid system:

Roll 3d6 for each ability score, in order, to set the minimum scores. Characters can then increase those scores until the total of the six reach a campaign-specific value (85 for my Brotherhood of Rangers game), with 18 being the maximum for any score. Racial adjustments get applied after this.

I'll note that I belong to the old school of "no 18 equals no fun" and so am willing to hand out what many would consider very high ability scores. Although the "Brotherhood of Rangers" game is on the high side even by my standards with average scores of 14-1/6.

What I see as advantages of this system are

  • Players can get an 18 in a desired ability score if they want, due to the high scores overall. Alternatively, they can (usually) take above-average scores overall, without a very high one.
  • Players might be able to get a dump stat if they desire one, but it's not either required or guaranteed that they do so. I dislike "Every character has a dump stat" and this allows dump stats sometimes while keeping them from being ubiquitous.
  • Players will sometimes be "stuck" with an unexpected and possibly undesired high ability score. If the player wants to play a Barbarian, and rolls a 17 for INT, then the character can be a Barbarian with a 17 INT.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'll note that I belong to the old school of "no 18 equals no fun"
I find it amusing that this is considered "Old School" - to me "Old School" is viscous mockery of "Munchkins" and "Power Gamers" (of which anyone with an 18 in anything is usually considered). While I certainly knew that people played that way, IME the community derided them.

I didn't see that attitude show up until 3.x, which I suppose now is relatively "old", but still not what I would call "old school".

I do not mean to mock you now, of course! Now is when we all accept that there are many ways to play the game.

That's fair. Though if they felt more competent in newer editions, that does seem to imply that there was a gain--which would then mean that going in the reverse direction would be a loss.

There was a gain in competence, but it isn't necessarily always a gain in fun. Not directly. This relates to how sometimes you'll see old gamers complain that modern D&D characters feel like "superheroes". They are very, very competent - often to the point of laughing in the face of dangers that "ought" to be scary. RPing a person living in a dangerous world can ALSO be fun.

I feel mixed. I like both.

How is that different than the other players playing with that lucky person who rolled the powerhouse right off the bat.? I don't see a difference. The problem has always been that most players would rather play the lotto than just take the sensible point buy. I just let the players decide as a group how they want to do it.

I'm WAY past the point where I want to discus this side-tangent further (it was only meant to be a quick aside about a small thing that I disliked about allowing rerolls), but I'll answer you for clarity: It's only different in that it is one step worse. I think it has to do with perceived legitimacy. It's bad enough when someone rolls a powerhouse character compared to your average joe, but when they did it because they got to reroll? I think it sucks. Not in a big whiney I'm gonna complain about it way, but it put me off. That's all.
 

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