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D&D General What Method(s) did you use to roll ability score when you first started D&D?


When you first started D&D what was the ability score generation methods you used as DM and/or player?

When I was in my mid teens, myself and my best friend were invited to join a college group that had lost several of its players do to RL stuff. The DM had us use method IV out of the 1e DMG (roll stats for 12 characters using 3d6 in order) but if none of the sets had 2 15's you rolled again. Then he also had some extra ways he liked to use to help the starting characters to gain a bit more in ability increases and other special stuff. He used several of the charts from Arduin Grimiore such as class special abilities and body type, as well as used to age ability mods from the 1e DMG. This did help get a fighter to the high % in str more often as well as caster int/wis to high teens, higher dex etc. I guess Nathan liked his players to 'cool' characters.

So what methods did you use? And as DM did you help your players get 'cool' characters?

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Goblin Queen
I started with 4d6 drop lowest, arrange as you like. Of course, one guy somehow always seemed to roll multiple 16s-18s, and everyone else complained until the DM let us re-roll. Rinse and repeat until we got a set of stats comparable to the “lucky” guy.


3E. We rolled 4d6 drop the lowest, arrange how you like. One player got really good stats. Another got just barely passable stats and had a more MAD class. We played for a while that way, but then I ended up buffing the character with the lower stats. Next game we used pointbuy.


Technically, none - the first time I played D&D, my cousins (who had been playing for a year or so) brought pregenerated characters and we chose from a group of potential PCs. The thing is, their stats all pretty much sucked. Later, I found out they had generated the ability scores by having a computer randomly generate a number between 3 and 18, so the results weren't on a bell curve.

That Christmas, when my two brothers and I jointly received the three core rulebooks for AD&D 1st edition, we went to 4d6, drop lowest, arrange as desired.

And that's the method I've used up until today. Today is an outlier: I've been asked to teach D&D to a family of six (the mom is my boss at work) and given the occasional arguing among the kids, I opted to create their initial PCs myself after they chose what they wanted to run from the 7 races and 11 classes. I used the elite array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) for each PC, and made sure that even with racial bonuses nobody ended up with a score higher than 15. Hopefully that will put them all on an even keel out the gate so they can spend more time learning about the game than arguing about whose stats are better.



I am the same as everyone else, but I remember something about being able to drop 2 points from one thing to raise 1 in another to help get the PC you want. Back then, you rolled first and chose the class after looking at what you had. I remember mostly switching to 4d6 and arrange as you like. 3e/4e I just picked the stats I wanted.

Now, I tend to like the standard array, but miss the feel of rolling and not knowing what I would get.


3d6 in order, with the modification: if you didn't like a roll, the DM would roll (3d6) and you had to take THAT result.


3d6 in order, per the AD&D 2nd edition rules. Had lots of terrible characters, and took a while before we figured out that was a bad method. Changed it in 3rd edition.


I am the same as everyone else, but I remember something about being able to drop 2 points from one thing to raise 1 in another to help get the PC you want. .

Moldvay's basic had that rule. But it was a bit more complex. You could lower 2 and raise one, but had a bunch of conditions.

Strength could only be lowered by magic users in order to get INT, and clerics to get WIS

INT could be lowered by fighters, dwarves, halflings, thieves, and clerics to raise their prime requisite

WIS could be lowered by magic users, fighters, dwarves, elves, halflings, and thieves in order to raise prime req

DEX couldn't be lowered, but could be raised

CON and CHA couldn't be adjusted at all

And you couldn't lower beyond 9


Stuck in the 90s
We too used 3d6, an array of 6 to assign as you saw fit, with a caveat: you didn't start counting your rolls until you got a 15 or higher. Then the next 5 were purely random. Made sure everyone had at least one decent stat (AD&D 2E) for their character design, but still a whole lot of random.

... and if you were lucky enough for that first roll over 14 to be an 18, you were the DM's b**ch for the first few sessions (playfully of course, he was a good guy - I miss Mr. D).


Small God of the Dozens
3d6 in order, repeat as necessary,;) I was 12, I didn't have any time for those crappy characters with low stats. Sheesh. When I was a little older my group went with 4d6, pick three, in order, with -2/+1 slight and favor if you wanted.


My first game I was using someone else's AD&D thief so I don't know what method was used.

First PCs I made were using Moldvay basic so 3d6 with a few options to drop certain stats by 2 to raise class stats by 1. I only remember 3d6 in order and it not being a huge deal in basic with the +3 max adjustments compared to the bigger impact of high stats in later AD&D, particularly with percentile strength.

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