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


Hobbit on Quest
I started with the Holmes Basic set and used 3d6 in order for my first characters.

That was supplanted soon afterward for our first long campaign by 4d6 drop lowest, arrange as desired. And that's the usual basic method for everything else.

Other variations:
One DM had us roll 4d6 drop low but if we got a 4 of a kind, we kept all 4 (whether all 6s or all 1s)
One DM had us roll 4d6 drop low until we got at least a 16 and then we kept that and the next 5 rolls.
One DM had us roll 4d6 drop low six times and then a seventh - we could either swap that 7th for one of the six or reroll all six and take whatever resulted.
I often have players roll the 4d6 drop low into 2 sets of 6, then pick the set they like best.
I have also had each player roll 4d6 drop low, recorded everyone's result, and allow each player to take anybody's set. A couple of arrays got dominated by others so the players had 3 sets to pick from - but at least everyone got to benefit from any single player's luck.

I've done point buy for organized play and online games, but I avoid it on the tabletop.

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We used 3d6 down the line, allowing you to adjust a score in your "prime requisite" on a 2-to-1 basis with another stat (i.e. subtract 2 from the stat to add 1 to your "prime requisite" score). If you got less than a 9 in all of your stats, you rolled up a new character. Later we went with 3d6, assign them however you want.

Of course, we were playing Basic/Expert D&D so stats barely mattered at all - mostly I think you got an XP bonus that we basically ignored in practice because we forgot about it. There weren't classes like the paladin or the ranger where you were "gated out" from taking them because of high stat requirements - the "demihuman classes" of elf, dwarf and halfling had requirements, but they were just a 9+ so you were usually okay if you really wanted to play that halfling (especially with the "if all of your stats are below 9, reroll the whole thing" rule in effect - which I'm pretty sure was a house rule).


I started with 3.5 and our DM wanted rather heroic characters, so we used 4d6, drop the lowest, reroll 1 and 2, arrange as you like
now we do 4d6, drop the lowest, arrange as you like

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
I must be the odd one out here: when I first started we used 5d6 drop-lowest-two* six times, then arrange to suit. If no stat is higher than 13, start again. (which in 1e where bonuses start at 15 works pretty well

"First Edition" we did 5d6 drop 2. But we also rerolled all 1s and 2s. Unless you got five of a kind, in which case it was 18 plus face value (19 for all 1s, 24 for all 6s.) Arrange as desired.

Using this method, the DM also cheated when creating his characters. The penalty for accusing the DM of cheating was grounding for a month.

David Howery

way back in 1E days, my group basically did 'roll 3d6 6 times, apply the numbers to whichever stat you want'. That way, you could at least get something in the class you want to run. The main problem I remember with 'roll 3d6, apply in order' was that you could sometimes get PCs who could not qualify for any character class (possible if you roll enough 3-5s), or a whole group who could all only qualify to be weak fighters or thieves, etc. (tough running first level parties without a cleric or mage)…

The very first time I played, back in high school, the DM sat me down in front of some computer program and told me to hit the "roll" button until I was happy with the numbers and their placements.

Seem to remember it was 3d6 but we all seemed to roll alot of 18s plus the percentile strength got a lot of 90s and 00s.

Soon became 4d6 drop one place as you want but I always had one player who rolled in order.


Morkus from Orkus
Other variations:
One DM had us roll 4d6 drop low but if we got a 4 of a kind, we kept all 4 (whether all 6s or all 1s)

Wow! That reminded me about something I had completely forgotten. I did play with one DM who would give you a 19 if you rolled 4 6s.


Goblin Queen
I think if I was ever to go back to rolling stats, I would do 4d6 drop lowest, 7 times, arrange the 6 best how you like. But really, point buy has always been my preference. Or array, for those who don’t care for futzing with the points.


An automatic 18 in your core stat, and then 1d8+10 for your other stats, arange to taste.

Unless it was Dark Sun, then 1d10+10.

IIRC, absolute first was a pre-gen character. 4d6 drop lowest, arrange as wanted, was the norm after that. Since then point buy for experienced players or DM generated for noobs have been the standard options.


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

I started playing in the 80s. That was before the advancement of different methods to generate ability scores. We did 3d6 in order. Then 3d6, arrange. Then graduated onto 4d6 drop the lowest, arrange.

In AD&D 2ed a long-time DM had an alternate metghod, which was roll three sets of 4d6 drop the lowest in order. Then pick which set. So you didn't have "perfect" stats, but you usually had stats to play what you wanted that were interesting. For example I had a bard with an 18 CON - back then CON max bonus was at a 16 unless you were a Fighter type, so it wouldn't be something you'd do intentionally. But I ended up being able to drink people under the table and it became part of my character - more organic.

I really like the randomness of rolling, but with 5e's Faustian choice of ASI or feat I find that I enjoy point buy more as both player and DM.

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