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D&D General Why I Love Rolling Up Characters

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Great post!

....needs more words.

My only comment is that the point I agree with (and identify with) most strongly is the idea that rolled characters, especially when you are doing some type of traditional "roll stats in order" format, really can get the creative juices flowing.

Sure, it can be great to completely design a character. But there is nothing quite like seeing the abilities, and then trying to make sense of them with a character concept. That's ... well, it's magic.

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Victoria Rules
To quote the OP, I guess I was to some extent "born with a heart of pure randomness".

D&D has always come across to me as, in effect, a very elaborate game of chance where in some situations you get to massage the odds a bit and in others you maybe don't. In other words, it's gambling; where the stakes change from moment to moment and some of those gambles can - win or lose - have long-lasting consequences. Initial roll-up is one such. Rolling background elements* is another; rolling hit points each level is a third.

If it wasn't a game of chance, it wouldn't use dice.

* - in my game I have it that you can choose from a list of basic backgrounds that give no real inherent benefits e.g. farmer, labourer, sailor, etc.; or you can binding-roll on a table that has those plus some more exotic ones that do come with potential benefits e.g. nobility, engineer, gemsmith, translator, secret agent, and so on.


Nice. Ultimate Campaign did something similar for PF1. The bonus is you can still have random elements while not having to do random stats.
They go real deep, too, like family of origin andmajor life events. the Exandria one even broaching the question of the characters favorite food.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
They go real deep, too, like family of origin andmajor life events. the Exandria one even broaching the question of the characters favorite food.
Also, nice. Do you happen to know if Level Up A5E does anything of this nature? I heard it expands backgrounds but have no real experience with it.


Also, nice. Do you happen to know if Level Up A5E does anything of this nature? I heard it expands backgrounds but have no real experience with it.
I do not, though I tend to suspect not: Level Up is more about going the other direction, playstyle wise, from. What I can see, into a more 3E/PF build-y sort of approach.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I also like discovering my characters by seeing what the dice give me.

There are a few other things I like about rolling stats:
6. Each stat value is an independent variable
Each individual roll is independent of the other stat rolls. In other words, I'm not deliberately dumping a stat value to get a higher one. My highest rolls don't have to draw compensation from other rolls, and by the same token, I'm not rewarded with a higher stat by accepting a lower one.
For broad point buy systems like GURPS, Champions, and Mutants and Masterminds, I don't mind paying for stats, investing higher in some and having fewer to invest in others, because I'm using points for everything, including abilities that aren't main stats. D&D only has 6 stats that get bought with points and I find that too few.

7. I believe the game balances better overall with rolled stats
This was something I noticed first in 3e, but I think you get a better balance between offense and defense and between SAD and MAD characters with rolled stats. With point buy, you get a lot of SAD characters with maxed out prime stats that then go on to govern their offensive abilities, meanwhile they're stuck with one or more dumped stats that undermine their defenses to pay for it. With rolled stats, you get more clustering at moderate values for both offense and defense and SAD character stand out less compared to their MAD peers who have a harder time buying their multiple prime stats under point buy.


I like the way you see the rolling of stats. The Rolled stat is still the official way in the 5ed PHB, and I see nothing in the playtest that let suspect a change.
One of two ways given side by side in the player handbook, anyway. I prefer the other, standard array, because I like everyone starting with the same resources, and also because I work with a lot of beginners, and inequity leads to trouble amongst teenagers. That said, I agree with many of the OP's points - rolling characters is basically a kind of gambling, which can be fun in itself if you are that way inclined, and trying to figure out the character based on some random roles can be inspiring (though we used to let the player assign the rolls, so there was a lot less of that).

I had never heard the argument that players would be less attached to rolled characters. Seems odd.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I really like rolling, but prefer not to do it for 5e.

Let me unpack.

While I started back with Moldvey's Red Box Basic, where I think I really matured as a roleplayer was a decade long intertwined series of campaigns a friend ran in AD&D 2nd. And back there we rolled three sets in order and picked one. In front of the DM.

You didn't get the class you wanted often. As a matter of fact, Paladin had a minimum CHR (that's CHA to more recent folks) of 17, so even having the option to play one was very rare.

And what you got from ability scores also varied by class. Unless you were a fighter or one of it's subclasses like ranger, barbarian or cavalier (yeah, different world), once you had a 16 CON you didn't get more HPs per level for having a 17 or higher. Fighter types with an 18 strength could also get a percentile which was like a whole extra range in there - a 18 to 19 STR was like 18 to 24 STR now.

Anyway, it gave me organic characters that I had to figure out what I wanted to do with. Also consider that multiclassing (only open to demihumans - that is non-human races) had to be set at character creation.

I remember playing a bard with an 18 CON. Which meant nothing more than a 16 in most ways. But the DM let me drink a lot before getting intoxicated. He could drink others under the table, except the dwarves, and they at least would appreciate that he tried. It became a point of the character.

But for 5e, I really don't like rolling and strongly prefer point buy, or baring that standard array. Yes, I'd rather have standard array than rolling in 5e, after talking about how much I love rolling.

First, there's a large gap between whomever rolls the best and whomever rolls the worst. (BTW, I'm generally talking about character's best few ability scores - D&D has always favored specialization. Anyone who looks at the average of all six just misses the point.) And with bounded accuracy, that gap is felt even more since there's so few ways to make it up. And then ASIs become math catch up for some, and cool new toys (feats) or pulling further ahead for others.

And that really is my second point. The Faustian choice of ASI vs. feat is only a meaningful choice when you want both aproximately equally. If you have great ability scores, bringing up your 3rd best by a +1 modifier doesn't hold a candle to a feat - it's no longer an interesting choice because only one side has real worth. And meaningful choices are what help define our character. How do you grow is a real question, and deserves a meaningful answer with your particular pick from among many valid picks.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
I've removed the + designation on this thread. It's not intended as a way to post an opinion that nobody is allowed to disagree with, but to facilitate collaborative discussion where the premise is accepted.

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