So my players just fell in love with oldschool ability generation...


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It all started when we began playing an intermediate adventure between campaigns, because I still need time prepping and gathering my thoughts. I went with Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde as a module because it way lying around on my shelf and I wanted to see if I can turn it into a halfway decent sandbox (because it's pretty terrible as-written)

Now, when we began character creation after I read the introduction blurb, I suggested that instead of the usual Point-Buy we use 4d6 drop lowest, just for s@@#s and giggles. This was met with great enthusiasm, much to my surprise. I then, only jokingly, also suggested everyone should roll dice oldschool, in order of the attributes, and not assign values at will afterwards.

Imagine my utter surprise when people began practically fighting each other about who should roll first. Everyone became very invested, and all in all they had amazing luck with the rolls, I think at least 3 out of 4 characters had an 18 or better as an ability score after racial adjustments. They had a hard time mulling over possible classes and what their characters should look like with those random stats, and I think this helped improve the entire atmosphere at our table.

Yesterday, when we played again, the group suffered almost a total party wipe and only one guy survived without any gear or reward. This happened after the group had cleared out the Slaughtergarde laboratory and collected a rather nice pile of loot. It was decided that instead of starting a new adventure, the lone survivor would try to enact some revenge with new friends from the next town.

When the players without characters started to roll up new characters, again with 4d6 drop lowest in order, I was given the offhand comment that "From now on, we wanna do it like this every time."

Consider me utterly blown away.


I have a player like this too. The others, not so much.


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4d6-drop-one is my group's customary method of stat generation (although we usually go into character preparation with an idea of what we want to play already in place, so rolling in order wouldn't work for us most of the time). We actually have more people passionately against point buy than passionately for point buy.

Personally, I like rolling in order if I don't already know what I want/need to play - it's a good way to generate ideas and trigger creativity. But most of the time I'm building a character to fill role gaps in a group, so I've got somewhat narrow parameters, which means rolling in order is a bit too risky.


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No accounting for taste I guess.


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I love rolling in order - it feels more authentic to me for characters and avoids cookie-cutter concepts.

That being said, I've seen people fiercely argue against rolling stats, and rolling in order they rank up there with criminal behavior.

Sounds like you have a good group of players.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Welcome to the fold, that's how we... roll.

It's okay, I'll show myself out. :-)


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Tormsskull wrote:

I love rolling in order - it feels more authentic to me for characters and avoids cookie-cutter concepts.

That being said, I've seen people fiercely argue against rolling stats, and rolling in order they rank up there with criminal behavior.

Sounds like you have a good group of players.

I wouldn't rank it with criminal behavior, but I've had some pretty bad experiences with it. Wild power disparities. Pushed into classes (or concepts at least) that I had little to no interest in playing.

I do wonder how much his group's love for the concept is tied to their "amazing luck with the rolls". Will it fall apart when they don't have such luck in later games? Or when a couple have such luck and a couple don't?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

See, we've been doing this for years now, and we've never had those issues.


thejeff wrote:
I wouldn't rank it with criminal behavior, but I've had some pretty bad experiences with it. Wild power disparities. Pushed into classes (or concepts at least) that I had little to no interest in playing.

Wild power disparities have never been a problem with the groups I've had, but most GMs I play with take the view that it is the GM's responsibility to maintain a loose balance between all PCs.

So if one player has way better stats or spends twenty hours researching and creating the perfect character, the benefit they get above and beyond other players is fairly minimal.

Beyond that even, I've never had a problem when another PC in the group is stronger than my PC, I just do my thing and let them do theirs.

Lastly, I find being pushed into a character concept can result in really interesting characters. Some of my favorite characters were created in that way.

In the end it all comes down to preference.


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I always give three options.
-elite stat array
-4d6 drop lowest arranged in the order rolled
-15 point buy (no points given for buy downs)

There are a few who prefer rolled stats. Certain people tend to be afraid of rolling poorly and stay away from rolls. But in the end everyone has fun. Rolled in order is like opening a surprise gift sometimes you get a brand new game console other times you get socks. But if getting socks doesn't send you into a RAGE of "why can't I be the best" and you can have fun with the poor rolls as much as you can with the awesome ones then this IS the best method for you.


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We're here to roll dice and have a good time.

If I want point buy, it's time to play white wolf.

Scarab Sages

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That's quite a story - and it may say a great deal about why gaming's gone in some of the directions it has, even if I'd rather that not be the case.

I like semi-random ability generation best (and more power than '4d6, drop 1'); there's some stat arrays I just don't want to play.

On a related note, I determined a while back that, whatever else one does, the ideal dice formula for rolling abilities is in fact 1d12+6 - that guarantees a wholly equal chance of all possible scores from 7 to 18, whereas the more common "roll Xd6, maybe drop a few" setup has an annoyingly strong tendency toward middling scores.

One thing I've seen people do that I like is rolling 'suites' - you roll multiple sets of six scores, and pick which set of six you like best (but all those sets of six are a discrete "item," so you can't just cherry-pick the best scores freely).


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I do 6+2d6 myself.


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

That's quite a story - and it may say a great deal about why gaming's gone in some of the directions it has, even if I'd rather that not be the case.

I like semi-random ability generation best (and more power than '4d6, drop 1'); there's some stat arrays I just don't want to play.

On a related note, I determined a while back that, whatever else one does, the ideal dice formula for rolling abilities is in fact 1d12+6 - that guarantees a wholly equal chance of all possible scores from 7 to 18, whereas the more common "roll Xd6, maybe drop a few" setup has an annoyingly strong tendency toward middling scores.

One thing I've seen people do that I like is rolling 'suites' - you roll multiple sets of six scores, and pick which set of six you like best (but all those sets of six are a discrete "item," so you can't just cherry-pick the best scores freely).

My preference for that is everyone rolls a set and then every one uses whichever of those sets they like.

Keeps some of the randomness, but also the balance.

Scarab Sages

thejeff wrote:

My preference for that is everyone rolls a set and then every one uses whichever of those sets they like.

Keeps some of the randomness, but also the balance.

Help me understand - you're saying "6 players, 6 suites, pool and distribute?"

If I'm not mistaken, that does seem a little like the sort of setup that can lead to players bidding Quatloos against each other....


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IMO, people are going to prioritize about 3 stats anyway, so roll and keep doesn't imbalance general play.

I usually use 4d6 Reroll 1's drop lowest, assign where you like.


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
thejeff wrote:

My preference for that is everyone rolls a set and then every one uses whichever of those sets they like.

Keeps some of the randomness, but also the balance.

Help me understand - you're saying "6 players, 6 suites, pool and distribute?"

If I'm not mistaken, that does seem a little like the sort of setup that can lead to players bidding Quatloos against each other....

Nah. they can all use the same one if they want. That was actually the original approach - six sets, pick the best for everyone to use. Then we decided someone might want a more MAD array and someone else might want the SAD one.


I have never done the roll in order method, though I have wanted to try it, preferrably with everyone in the group doing it that way. But finding an entire group who is willing is rather tough. Hell, finding a group that is willing to even just roll the scores is a bit tough. Just once, I would like to try out a game where each person rolls 3d6 in order. Start it out as a "one-shot" or mini "campaign" that lasts a month (playing once a week), and see how it goes from there.

Back when I had a group to play with (sure, it was just my sister, me, and her husband), we would always go for 4d6 drop lowest and reroll 1s. I do like the "Each player (maybe even the DM too) rolls a set of 6 scores, each set is put into a pool, and each person picks the set they want to use, and multiple people can pick the same one". But again, finding a group that is willing to roll instead of doing the point buy is pretty tough.


thejeff wrote:
Nah. they can all use the same one if they want. That was actually the original approach - six sets, pick the best for everyone to use. Then we decided someone might want a more MAD array and someone else might want the SAD one.

Rolling six sets will almost guarantee one set is really good. That's the equivalent of allowing an individual to roll six times and take whichever they want. Basically removes the possibility of average or below average stats.

Personally, I don't like to know the other PC' stats, and I don't like them to know my PC's. Adds an element of mystery and removes the "My stats are bad by comparison" argument.


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Interesting comments!

I agree that I'm probably blessed with a rather good group of players... we have all sorts of personalities and playstyles at the table, but we get along fine and there's never been any bad blood whatsoever (a few heated RAW discussions with one of my players (who is very into playing by the rules) aside).

I figure that the sudden enthusiasm for 4d6 drop lowest, in order, may come from a) inserting more randomness into a game that by its nature is very binary for the most part. Also, it speeds up the process of character generation and I think at least 2 of my players don't enjoy that part as much as actually playing their characters.

The funny thing is that I planned to introduce random rolling for abilities in the upcoming Dark Sun campaign, and the thought probably lingered in the back of my mind when we started this intermediate adventure. Now I wish I'd tried out that idea earlier, but what do you know...

As for multiple rolled sets vs. assign in order or randomly, I think in the future I'll always offer my players to either roll 2 sets and select one, or assign as they like. If they still wanna go with roll in order, then I obivously I won't step in the way of them having fun, but in case someone really wants to play a certain class/type and the rolls don't support that, there should be an option to compensate.


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thejeff wrote:


I do wonder how much his group's love for the concept is tied to their "amazing luck with the rolls". Will it fall apart when they don't have such luck in later games? Or when a couple have such luck and a couple don't?

That's actually a very good question... I think they all rolled really well on average, nobody having more than one ability below 10 (before racial adjustments), and that might have distorted their perception a bit.

I've read that some GMs like to set a limit to how low the sum of all abilities can be before it's declared unfit for play, like a sum of 65 or something like that. That might help mitigate really crappy rolls, should they ever happen.


Tormsskull wrote:

I love rolling in order - it feels more authentic to me for characters and avoids cookie-cutter concepts.

That being said, I've seen people fiercely argue against rolling stats, and rolling in order they rank up there with criminal behavior.

Sounds like you have a good group of players.

I don't equate rolling stats with criminal behavior -- it just seems that I have problems with criminal dice. If I roll d6s and I DON'T roll to cheat by spin-stabilizing (which doesn't have to look as obvious as it sounds), it seems I get an awful lot of 1s and 2s . . To the point that one DM actually said that maybe I should spin-stabilize.


What is this.....I dont even.....


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Antariuk wrote:
thejeff wrote:


I do wonder how much his group's love for the concept is tied to their "amazing luck with the rolls". Will it fall apart when they don't have such luck in later games? Or when a couple have such luck and a couple don't?

That's actually a very good question... I think they all rolled really well on average, nobody having more than one ability below 10 (before racial adjustments), and that might have distorted their perception a bit.

I've read that some GMs like to set a limit to how low the sum of all abilities can be before it's declared unfit for play, like a sum of 65 or something like that. That might help mitigate really crappy rolls, should they ever happen.

Most of the "mitigate really crappy rolls" approaches I've seen tend to be more "Give me another chance for a really good roll".

Rather than rerolling if it's "unfit", give theme a baseline array. Rather then reroll 1's, treat ones as twos. Mitigate the problem rolls without turning them into another shot for a high stat.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Meh, it's all just a matter of playstyle preferences.

Rolling in order shifts character creation from "preparation" to "gameplay" by offering a challenge in the form of a "puzzle" to be solved by figuring out what you can make with the stats you get. Thus, folks who prioritize engaging gameplay will have lots of fun rolling up a set of stats and trying to work with it.

By contrast, point-buy allows you the chance to invent any type of character you want and faithfully represent it in the game, which is something that rolled stats work against (for example, you can't play the "feeble wizard" trope if you roll a 15 STR). Thus, folks who prioritize roleplay will have lots of fun using point-buy (or in my games, simply picking whatever stats they want) as a means of faithfully realizing their character concepts.

So basically, rolling stats (particularly in order) is the more gaming-oriented approach, while point-buy/selection is the more roleplay-oriented approach. Of course, some players could have fun either way, and thus might jump at the chance to do whichever one they haven't done in a while.

All in all, I don't really find the OP surprising in the least.


Tormsskull wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Nah. they can all use the same one if they want. That was actually the original approach - six sets, pick the best for everyone to use. Then we decided someone might want a more MAD array and someone else might want the SAD one.

Rolling six sets will almost guarantee one set is really good. That's the equivalent of allowing an individual to roll six times and take whichever they want. Basically removes the possibility of average or below average stats.

Personally, I don't like to know the other PC' stats, and I don't like them to know my PC's. Adds an element of mystery and removes the "My stats are bad by comparison" argument.

If you're rolling 6 sets, you can use a lower rolling method. I've done it with 3d6 and we usually get something decent, but not extreme.

But yes, that's exactly the point of it for me. Some randomness, but nobody gets stuck with a lousy roll or one that's way above the rest of the table.
If that's not what you want, don't go that way.

I'm fine without knowing everyone's stats. If the differences are extreme, it usually gets obvious really fast unless you go to great lengths to hide the rolls & modifiers & even final values during play.


Jiggy wrote:
Thus, folks who prioritize roleplay will have lots of fun using point-buy (or in my games, simply picking whatever stats they want) as a means of faithfully realizing their character concepts.

I don't think that's prioritizing role-play, that's prioritizing being able to build the kind of character you envision rather than building the kind of character the dice encourage.

It's really an issue of control - some players want to be able to control their stat set, others prefer a random stat set.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Explain "gamist" Jiggy, you can edit, but I saw you refer to "gamists"

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captain yesterday wrote:
Explain "gamist"

Actually, I decided to edit that out of my post, lest the term carry any sort of baggage I might not be aware of and alter the meaning of my post.

EDIT: Ninja'd by your edit about my edit.

Liberty's Edge

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I always enjoyed the Traveler system... where, in addition to skills/abilities, you roll for your character's background. Including the possibility that you have already died. :]

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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captain yesterday wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Explain "gamist"

Actually, I decided to edit that out of my post, lest the term carry any sort of baggage I might not be aware of and alter the meaning of my post.

like derogatory.

Yes, that's the type of thing I was worried about. I "built" the term in my head while I was typing, just to mean someone whose focus is on fun and engaging gameplay, then afterwards I was like "Wait, I think I've heard that term used before, and I think it might have been something bad." So I removed it.


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Jiggy wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Explain "gamist"

Actually, I decided to edit that out of my post, lest the term carry any sort of baggage I might not be aware of and alter the meaning of my post.

EDIT: Ninja'd by your edit about my edit.

It did sound somewhat derogatory, thanks, much better now. :-)


I see my ninja skillz are as scattershot as always....


We're definitely a point-buy group here. Several people left D&D long ago because of the vagaries of random character generation in terms of point buy. They only came in when I assured them that this was gone. In fact, we do average HP past level 1.


Jiggy wrote:

Meh, it's all just a matter of playstyle preferences.

Rolling in order shifts character creation from "preparation" to "gameplay" by offering a challenge in the form of a "puzzle" to be solved by figuring out what you can make with the stats you get. Thus, folks who prioritize engaging gameplay will have lots of fun rolling up a set of stats and trying to work with it.

By contrast, point-buy allows you the chance to invent any type of character you want and faithfully represent it in the game, which is something that rolled stats work against (for example, you can't play the "feeble wizard" trope if you roll a 15 STR). Thus, folks who prioritize roleplay will have lots of fun using point-buy (or in my games, simply picking whatever stats they want) as a means of faithfully realizing their character concepts.

So basically, rolling stats (particularly in order) is the more "gamist" or gaming-oriented approach, while point-buy/selection is the more roleplay-oriented approach. Of course, some players could have fun either way, and thus might jump at the chance to do whichever one they haven't done in a while.

All in all, I don't really find the OP surprising in the least.

OTOH, you could argue that point-buy is the more "gamist" approach, since it gives you more control over the character design and lets your skill at building have more effect on the challenge. While roll in order gives the roleplayers a chance to improvise character around a random set of numbers. The challenge of making someone coherent and memorable on the fly.

IOW, I don't really think it's a gamist/roleplay thing. A different kind of preference. Just how you like to develop - blank slate vs improv around existing data maybe?

Edit: Started this before Jiggy's edit then got interrupted. For the record, I didn't take and didn't intend gamist as negative. I'm used to thinking of it in the old threefold GNS usage.

Grand Lodge

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Sundakan wrote:
No accounting for taste I guess.

Yeah, pretty much. My groups have had super powered rolling methods and now we're going to pointbuy,

Liberty's Edge

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Aranna wrote:

I always give three options.

-elite stat array
-4d6 drop lowest arranged in the order rolled
-15 point buy (no points given for buy downs)

There are a few who prefer rolled stats. Certain people tend to be afraid of rolling poorly and stay away from rolls. But in the end everyone has fun. Rolled in order is like opening a surprise gift sometimes you get a brand new game console other times you get socks. But if getting socks doesn't send you into a RAGE of "why can't I be the best" and you can have fun with the poor rolls as much as you can with the awesome ones then this IS the best method for you.

Rolling 4d6, drop the lowest, any order, averages out to a 20 pt. buy much of the time. Only a fool would take option 1. or 3. if they understood that. ;-)


houstonderek wrote:
Aranna wrote:

I always give three options.

-elite stat array
-4d6 drop lowest arranged in the order rolled
-15 point buy (no points given for buy downs)

There are a few who prefer rolled stats. Certain people tend to be afraid of rolling poorly and stay away from rolls. But in the end everyone has fun. Rolled in order is like opening a surprise gift sometimes you get a brand new game console other times you get socks. But if getting socks doesn't send you into a RAGE of "why can't I be the best" and you can have fun with the poor rolls as much as you can with the awesome ones then this IS the best method for you.

Rolling 4d6, drop the lowest, any order, averages out to a 20 pt. buy much of the time. Only a fool would take option 1. or 3. if they understood that. ;-)

Except that you don't play an average roll.

Nor will that 4d6 in order always give you something you're interested in playing.

Even not in order, rolled stats that come out to X point buy tend to be worth less than an actual X point buy, since you can't optimize them.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I've started letting my players just pick their stats out of thin air. Nothing's gone wrong with it yet. :)

Grand Lodge

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You know, I should do that next time. My players already have their stats for Shackled City, so maybe next time. Man, this would have been the perfect group to start with.


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When I ran Top Secret/S.I. there was choices for random rolling or point buy, everyone always reached for their dice and began rolling. Its the only way I've played D&D and prefer it. Though in both cases, we arrange rolls to the ability scores of your choice to help meet any character concept one might have.

I think it puts the game back into the game when it comes to character generation, throws a fun factor in there for people rather than making it just an exercise in paperwork.

I've met players that were passionate about rolling up characters and others that absolutely dread the paperwork necessary to complete the task. Everyone is different.


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Jiggy wrote:

Meh, it's all just a matter of playstyle preferences.

Rolling in order shifts character creation from "preparation" to "gameplay" by offering a challenge in the form of a "puzzle" to be solved by figuring out what you can make with the stats you get. Thus, folks who prioritize engaging gameplay will have lots of fun rolling up a set of stats and trying to work with it.

By contrast, point-buy allows you the chance to invent any type of character you want and faithfully represent it in the game, which is something that rolled stats work against (for example, you can't play the "feeble wizard" trope if you roll a 15 STR). Thus, folks who prioritize roleplay will have lots of fun using point-buy (or in my games, simply picking whatever stats they want) as a means of faithfully realizing their character concepts.

So basically, rolling stats (particularly in order) is the more gaming-oriented approach, while point-buy/selection is the more roleplay-oriented approach. Of course, some players could have fun either way, and thus might jump at the chance to do whichever one they haven't done in a while.

All in all, I don't really find the OP surprising in the least.

prithee, sir, what mayhaps be this "playstyle privillage" mystery thou speakest of? Surely there is but one true way that we must all play by.

jk

See, for me, and I don't disagree with Jiggy in principle, but for me, I've always been drawn to the random nature of playing D&D (or Pathfinder). I'm even a huge fan of playing random dungeons, and randomly generating ability scores, for me, in my games, always meant that the players would have to "come up with something" to do with those roles.

While I imagine there are many, many different styles of play, and all of them are valid for the people who play in the style that they enjoy, for me, I dislike it when players come to my table determined to create a character that they have already planned out, already know exactly how it is going to work, already have an expectation of what they need those ability scores to be. I'd rather start every adventure with players who create characters based on randomly generated ability scores, and who want to use their imaginations to find a way to make those ability into a never before seen hero.

But that's just me


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Jiggy wrote:
I've started letting my players just pick their stats out of thin air. Nothing's gone wrong with it yet. :)

That is what my Legion game did too, it worked just fine as there were checks in balances put in place. Of coarse not all super-heroes are equal but people liked this concept quite a bit I found.


I remember, wish I was with my books right now, that when I started we used the Blue Book, and there were these bizarre rules for trading some points in ability scores for other ability scores in a completely non-making-sense sort of way, with different rules for Fighting men, Magic users, and the rest...

I'm going to go back and take a look at those rules again.

Dag'nabbit now I want to start a Basic D&D game again...stooped, stooped me


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Terquem wrote:

I remember, wish I was with my books right now, that when I started we used the Blue Book, and there were these bizarre rules for trading some points in ability scores for other ability scores in a completely non-making-sense sort of way, with different rules for Fighting men, Magic users, and the rest...

I can't remember the edition, but at one point there was a subtract 2 points from a score to add 1 point to a different score rule floating around.

It definitely put a premium on getting the scores you want.

I think that's one of my biggest dislikes of PB - If someone rolls an 18 I feel like they earned it, if someone buys an 18 it cheapens the value of an 18 IMO.

Shadow Lodge

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Tormsskull wrote:
If someone rolls an 18 I feel like they earned it, if someone buys an 18 it cheapens the value of an 18 IMO.

I can't for the life of me understand such a view.


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TOZ wrote:
Tormsskull wrote:
If someone rolls an 18 I feel like they earned it, if someone buys an 18 it cheapens the value of an 18 IMO.
I can't for the life of me understand such a view.

I can kind of understand such a view, but it doesn't appeal to me at all.

I wonder if it's linked to the "Must start at first level and earn your way up" thing. While I'm just as happy starting at a higher level, if that's better for that campaign.


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TOZ wrote:
I can't for the life of me understand such a view.

It's probably due to starting with Basic D&D and roll 3d6 in order stat gen method.

In that method, rolling an 18 was very rare. Even when it switched to 4d6b3, an 18 was still fairly rare. So having an 18 put a character in an imaginary little elite club.

When people started using PB and buying an 18, that imaginary little elite club became a free-for-all that anyone and everyone could enter.

People use to tell stories about that one time Bob rolled an 18 - it was an event. No one tells stories about that time Bob bought an 18.


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In the first "campaign" I played in, we rolled 3d6 in order, but were allowed to roll three complete sets for each character and had to choose one set to use.

Character generation took five minutes.

We played that way for at least a year.


Tormsskull wrote:
Terquem wrote:

I remember, wish I was with my books right now, that when I started we used the Blue Book, and there were these bizarre rules for trading some points in ability scores for other ability scores in a completely non-making-sense sort of way, with different rules for Fighting men, Magic users, and the rest...

I can't remember the edition, but at one point there was a subtract 2 points from a score to add 1 point to a different score rule floating around.

It definitely put a premium on getting the scores you want.

I think that's one of my biggest dislikes of PB - If someone rolls an 18 I feel like they earned it, if someone buys an 18 it cheapens the value of an 18 IMO.

That was Basic D&D, all right. Fighting Men could trade 2 points of Intelligence to get 1 point of Strength, or 3 points of Wisdom to get 1 point of Strength.

I also remember the (slightly later) AD&D 1st Edition rule of rolling for Exceptional Strength if you got an 18 Strength (but if I remember correctly, only if you were a Fighter or subclass thereof -- need to dig out the actual books some time to check for sure). This was a percentile dice roll, and had the weird effect that a Fighter couldn't wind up with a Strength of exactly 18. It also made the Strength table look really weird later in 1st Edition days when Strength range 19 - 25 was added above 18/00.

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