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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%

ichabod

Legned
What amazes me about these threads is the variety. I have cataloged over 130 different ways to roll abilities in D&D, and every time one of these threads comes up I find some new ones.
 

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Edgar Ironpelt

Adventurer
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.
There was more than one Old School, and partisans of "player characters need very high stats" existed well before 3.x. In fact, we were around back in the 1e days.

The revolt against the best-known, DM-centric, munchkin- and power-gamer-crushing Old School didn't appear out of nowhere.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
There was more than one Old School, and partisans of "player characters need very high stats" existed well before 3.x. In fact, we were around back in the 1e days.

The revolt against the best-known, DM-centric, munchkin- and power-gamer-crushing Old School didn't appear out of nowhere.
Oh I know! I just find it amusing when it is described as "old school" as if it is STANDARD for "old school" players. My point was that MY experience of "old school" was the OPPOSITE of that. I certainly knew it existed. Power gamers, (again IME) just became more the "norm" with 3.x. By 4e having an 18 in your classes prime stat was built right into the math.
 

Iosue

Legend
Oh I know! I just find it amusing when it is described as "old school" as if it is STANDARD for "old school" players. My point was that MY experience of "old school" was the OPPOSITE of that. I certainly knew it existed. Power gamers, (again IME) just became more the "norm" with 3.x. By 4e having an 18 in your classes prime stat was built right into the math.
OD&D and B/X used 3d6 in order, and that was also the default of 2e. But 1e specifically noted that it was not appropriate for AD&D, and gave a number of methods aimed at providing high scores, the most conservative of which was 4d6 drop lowest. Unearthed Arcana doubled down with a system that all but guaranteed an 18 in your Prime Requisite, and probably another somewhere else. So you have two contemporary “old schools” through the 80s.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Or high turnover in other ways, and even moderate lethality is enough IME.
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.
Yes! At last, someone finally gets it! :)

The dungeons and treasure don't have to be fully randomized. That they are designed/placed without regard to which specific characters will be involved is enough. All you need is a vague idea of what their average level will be, and in some editions you can even miss this by a few and still have a playable fun dungeon.

And the joy of playing a roguelike is when that one character finally does break through and stick. Same in D&D: the original party starts with six characters of whom one might go on to become a superstar, a couple of others might hang on for a few adventures, and the rest will fall. Those who fall are replaced, and sometimes the replacements become the superstars in time. There's just no way to know.

I far prefer this type of game to one where a character's place is already reserved in the Hall of Heroes before it even enters play.
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.
Kind of a mix, actually - you could be lovingly creating the perfect character, but in full knowledge that its career might (or might not) be very short.

More importantly, what happens is the focus of play becomes playing out the story of the (ever-evolving) party rather than that of any one character. In the later stages of the campaign, once the character lineup has stabilized some (IME this happens at about the point where characters become rich enough to afford to have NPCs cast revival spells), then sometimes character stories become more front-and-center.
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.
The last point is very relevant. High starting stats are no guarantee of long-term survival, and I've run numbers in my own games that back this up. They showed that as the average starting stats went higher (divided into brackets) there was a tiny and very inconsistent increase in career length; I'm not statistician enough to know whether this increase would even count as "statistically significant" but I suspect it would not.

Far, far more important was to survive your first two adventures regardless of what level the game is currently at. Most characters, if they're going to permanently die off, do it fairly quickly.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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 have it that new characters come in either a level below the party average or at a "floor" that I set as parties advance. There are a few exceptions:

If the party's average level is still 1st then you come in at 1st.
If this is your FIRST character in this campaign (i.e. you're just now joining in as a player) then it comes in at the party average.
If you're cycling in an existing character from the same campaign, it retains whatever level it had when last seen.

The reason I set the floor is to prevent parties backsliding too much in level average as characters die and are replaced.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It breaks the balance between the characters.
And this literally doesn't matter unless it does. If your group becomes envious if someone rolls better, then use point buy or array to keep things even. If your players don't care if others have better or worse stats, then rolling works out just fine. All the groups I've played in for the last 40 years roll stats. All of them.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
But not significantly. If I have a 14 and you have an 18, that +2 more that you have will hardly be noticed and you absolutely will not outshine my PC based on that difference. That even holds true if you have a 20.

Bounded accuracy has greatly reduced the impact of stat bonuses.
And because there are 6 attributes, and usually 4-5 party mwmbers...this usually means that each PC has their space to ve the star.

Picking a lock and sneaking past a guard? Rogue gettheiri moment in the Sun.

Arm wrestling contest to gain the respect of a barbarian chiwften to learn some vital information? Fighter gets to shine.

Need to eat in the wilderness? Ranger got you.

Need to interpret an ancient text? Wizard up to the plate.

Need to convince two kings to not start a war? Bard can keep the peace.

Balance comes from each character being different.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I was reading the new Pathfinder 2E Remaster Player Core book, and I have to say that the build stats during chargen seems a lot better. But, if you wanted some variability, you could roll a d6 every time you get a "free" boost.
 

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