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


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The 1e DMG lists 4 different rolling methods.

And I started with Red Box basic. I was introduced to the game by people at day camp who played. They played AD&D, but suggested I start with Basic to learn it.

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Yes in AD&D there were 5 Methods of rolling characters:

Method 0:

3d6 in order

Method I:

4d6 drop the lowest, arrange how you like

Method II:

3d6 rolled 12 times, keep the 6 highest and arrange how you like

Method III:

3d6 are rolled 6 times for each ability scored, keep the highest roll for each

Method IV:

Basically Method 0, but roll 12 characters and keep the one you like best.

The most common Method we used was Method I.

Joshua Randall

3d6 in order + cheating.
3d6 in order, over and over and over again (often at school), then select the best array.
3d6, arrange to suit (+ cheat, +arrays as above).

We switched to 4d6 drop lowest as soon as we heard about it.


Yes in AD&D there were 5 Methods of rolling characters:

Method 0:

3d6 in order

I mean, "Method 0" in the sense that IIRC Gygax explicitly pleaded with the reader to NOT USE THIS METHOD to generate characters because it's just terrible for AD&D.

3d6 in order works fine for OD&D, where there were a handful of basic classes and stats mostly gave some minor bonuses (though truly awful stats in your class prime requisite would mean that you had to earn a lot more XP to advance than everyone else, and excellent stats in the same meant you were advancing much faster). Once the ideas of stat minimums to playing certain types of characters and bundling all kinds of extra goodies into the stats were introduced, 3d6 down the line became the absolute worst. Especially because so many of those gates required above average stats (it wasn't quite so bad in Basic/Expert where the Elf, Dwarf and Halfling were gated behind a stat requirement of 9+).

To this day I'm not certain where the love for 3d6 down the line comes from - I don't know if it's because so many of us "actually" played Basic D&D and added in AD&D stuff as we went, or if it's because a lot of folks cut their teeth on AD&D 2e rather than 1e (where IIRC 3d6 down the line was not as explicitly called out as a horrible thing to do as Gygax did in 1e, though my books aren't handy so I can't check). Either way, I was so happy when the idea of point buy and later stat arrays became the defacto norm for D&D.

Joshua Randall

In the AD&D 1e DMG Gygax talks about the bell curve generated by 3d6 and even has a diagram. So that could be where some of the love for 3d6 comes from.

There's also something appealing about "you don't choose what character to play; the dice do" from the "in order" part of the recipe. But, that appeal only works for certain people or at certain times. Sometimes you just wanna play a [-]rogue[/-] thief gorramit and then you need a high Dex but the dice gave you nothin'.

= = =

I neglected to mention a method we used as soon as personal computers became semi-affordable:

Dice rolling programs!

At the touch of a button you could spit out an arbitrarily large number of stat arrays and then pick just the right one. And much like infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters, we were always hoping the pRNG would spit out the elusive 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18. (Never happened AFAIR.)

In my entire gaming career, I’ve only know one person that had the chutzpah to show up claiming they had rolled all 18s during character generation.

This was back in 2e, and rather than do the proper, mature thing and tell him “no, please roll again for your stats, in front of me” I let him play the character. And proceeded to torment him, adventure after adventure. He was playing a paladin, and I think I pulled out all the stops – stripping him of his paladinship, level-draining, rust monsters, you name it. In my defense, I was all of 14 or 15 at the time.

And much like infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters, we were always hoping the pRNG would spit out the elusive 18, 18, 18, 18, 18, 18. (Never happened AFAIR.)


3d6 in order a few times, IIRC, then 4d6 best 3 in any order for most of my gaming time.

I now use 2d6 plus 4. You establish an order for the bility scores (usually Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Chr) You roll 2d6 6 times. You add 4 to each 2d6 result. That gives you a range from 6 to 16 for each roll. If you take them in order and apply them straight down the ability score list, I give you a minor side benefit (a mini-feat). If you want to move them around, you can, but no side benefit. This is the most recent revision of this plan. You can also opt to use 27 point buy.


In the dark ages (1974) it was roll 3D6 in order. When 1E dropped we went with 4D6 drop the lowest number, in order. Since 3.x it's been 4D6 drop the lowest and arrange to suit. Getting soft in my old age :)

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