Stat distribution "play it where it lies"


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So after 5 min of googling at nearly 4 am, I decided to just post here.

Our group is about 3 books into our current campaign so naturally we are starting to think about the next one.

It was pitched to me that we should try making our characters under "play it where it lies" rules.

As in, rather then assigning your rolls, you roll each stat individually and make due with what you get.

I was curious if anyone had any experiences with this?

I'll be running the game, so I'm just trying to get ahead of the bus here and head off some problems before they occur.

Off to bed I go, Thanks for any help folks!


My only advice would be to keep your mind open before you roll. Try not to have a particular class/build in mind, either. Roll the dice and let the gods decide!

Other than that? Have fun!


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I haven't done this kind of thing in a long time (a loooooong time), but I've thought about it recently.

I thought it could be fun to roll 7 sets, and discard one set. You have to take the sets you have left in the order they were rolled (respectively), but you can delete whichever set you like. This gives a little more flexibility, and also might give incentive for someone to delete a set that isn't their lowest stat.

(If that wasn't clear let me know and I'll post it more comprehensively later.)


Are your players familiar enough with the game to be able to take say 'high-Wis, nothing else special' and make anything other than a cleric? If they aren't then expect a fair bit of moaning about being forced into some class or another.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The big down-side to this is that if someone rolls well, or if someone rolls poorly, they're (probably) stuck that way for a couple years of play.

It's one thing to play a module for a few sessions where you got really unlucky with dice, and entirely another to watch your best friend's "I rolled all 18s" character stomp things while your "I rolled all 10s" character suck every week without fail.

Random distribution of ability is fine for random games, in my opinion. Mathematically fair distribution is best for over long-term.


Anguish wrote:

The big down-side to this is that if someone rolls well, or if someone rolls poorly, they're (probably) stuck that way for a couple years of play.

It's one thing to play a module for a few sessions where you got really unlucky with dice, and entirely another to watch your best friend's "I rolled all 18s" character stomp things while your "I rolled all 10s" character suck every week without fail.

Random distribution of ability is fine for random games, in my opinion. Mathematically fair distribution is best for over long-term.

One option to counter this is to set a minimum value that must be reach before adding any modifier (from race, age, etc.).

Let's say the minimum the GM decides is 72 (which would be equal to someone rolling all 12s). Anyone that roll under this value could elect to keep or reroll his stats, anything equal or above is kept.

Still offers a lot of range (as the max you can possibly roll is 108 (all 18s)) but help mitigate the risk of a below average character.


I've done it. (3d6 for every stat, rolled in order, no modifications.)
The problems are the ones already mentioned: (1) A player might want to play a particular class and be unable. (2) A player might have stats that aren't good for any class.

So, find out if everyone would be OK with that.


Be prepared for a huge variance between the characters. This can often lead to godlike characters in the same party as a useless character. There is probably a higher chance of a useless character than a godlike character. Even with one good roll the character may end up useless. Let say someone rolled very well for STR, but his CON was 6 or lower, and the rest of the stats were in the 9-11 range. What are you going to build with that?

The other thing that is likely to happen is that many classes may be unplayable. The distribution the classes are going to be completely random. You may end up with a party of all casters, or no casters.


I've played like this.

As others have said, there will be strong differences in characters. One way I've found this to work is by being a deadly game master rules-wise, survival of the fittest. When one dies, one rerolls. Little attachment to characters, grimdark Warhammer-style.

After a bit of natural culling, the characters with low rolls are phased out and those left are by essence those with better survivability.

For the first few levels, unless one rolls well, one shouldn't expect to keep his character for long.

It makes for a good game.


I recommend a system borrowed from the World of Warcraft RPG (3.5 base). For each stat, roll 4d6 and discard the lowest die rolled.

It would then be a hybrid where stats have to be rolled in order but there is a better chance of getting numbers that can be worked with.

Otherwise. Yeah. Players are going to grumble about the possibility of being forced into one type of character or another. But I personally think it would be a good experience and reminder of how things used to be thereby putting more emphasis on play.


Talcrion wrote:

So after 5 min of googling at nearly 4 am, I decided to just post here.

Our group is about 3 books into our current campaign so naturally we are starting to think about the next one.

It was pitched to me that we should try making our characters under "play it where it lies" rules.

As in, rather then assigning your rolls, you roll each stat individually and make due with what you get.

I was curious if anyone had any experiences with this?

I'll be running the game, so I'm just trying to get ahead of the bus here and head off some problems before they occur.

Off to bed I go, Thanks for any help folks!

Personally, this is the sort of thing I could tolerate for a 1 shot. Where you might make goofy characters, but you don't have to be worried about saddling yourself with a character that will be unfun to play long term. It can be fun to play a character that's an ineffective screw up comic relief character...for a session or two.

Playing it long term would be unacceptable for me.

I would talk to everybody in your group individually and ask their personal opinions. If anyone doesn't seem to really buy in, I wouldn't do it.


I'd use it only if everyone was onboard and willing to accept the results. It will lend itself to quite a bit of variance in stats across the group. Biased against MAD characters. Players could find themselves running a character type they don't enjoy i.e. the guy who likes Fighter/melee types rolling stats notably better for wizard or cleric characters.

The part about it from both a player and DM standpoint I'd really not like is the diversity of stats generated. I personally really dislike it when a character is stuck with scores significantly worse than the other characters in the group. I much prefer a level playing field in that respect. I have no problem with "weaker" stats as long as the group as a whole also has weaker stats.


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

This stat-creation method is inherited from the original D&D rules from the mid-70s. IMHO it is not appropraite for PF. At all. Here's why.

Back then, you didn't need to take on hour or more to create your character. There were no traits, feats or special class abilities to speak of. Aside from buying equipment, you could be ready to go with a new character within minutes of rolling for stats. Even then, kind DMs would often allow you to reroll it all if the end result was too mediocre. Also, everyone started at 1st level, further limiting the complexity of the whole thing.

These days, it takes an hour or two to generate a first-level character, and that's even assuming you don't have to look up multiple wildly different ideas about class choices, archetype choices and so on. So you really don't want to invest all that time creating a character around sub-optimal stats.

I'm assuming that anyone who suggested this "play it where it lies" rule is either an old grognard like me who started playing in the mid-70s, or else they learned RPGs playing with an old grognard who clung to outmoded practices long past their sell-by date.

It *might* work, if everyone is very, very knowledgeable about PF and its myriad character races, classes, traits, feats and so on, or if you play with a very restrictive set of those options (say, CRB only, or similar). But as pointed out above, you're nearly certain to get a disparity between lucky-assed (or cheating) players and unluckly honest players that could create hard feelings as your campaign progresses.

In my last DD3.5 campaign, we used rolled stats but still allowed them to be assigned as desired. I rolled a 13 as my highest stat, and played that character for 5 years. It was the only PC to make it through 5 years of playing without dying. And yes, it sucked. But I sucked it up and continued playing the character. That's the kind of attitude that all the players will need if you choose this option.


One option that could help to even things between players a bit, and allow you as a GM to fairly challenge everyone, would be that each player rolls their stats in order. However, these rolls would be used to generate stat arrays, and anyone could select any stat array that was rolled.

While it wont necessarily let everyone play the class they want, it does eliminate the possibility of one player with all 18s and one with all 10s. By reducing the player disparity to essentially 0 (due to stats) you as a GM can better prepare encounters for the party so that regardless of how strong the party is you can (theoretically) challenge everyone equally.

If you made that sort of change I think it would be something I'd be willing to play.*

*I get very annoyed at player power level disparity. I hate being a sidekick to someone else, so if I rolled very poorly there would be a high chance of me ultimately walking away from the game and making up excuses not to be there (before I finally admit that I'm not having fun and leave).


Additional to what I said above: after a while we got annoyed at how weak our characters were, and the GM let us raise them to 15 point buy (without changing the stats too much).

Wheldrake wrote:
Back then, you didn't need to take on hour or more to create your character. There were no traits, feats or special class abilities to speak of. Aside from buying equipment, you could be ready to go with a new character within minutes of rolling for stats.

Also, in AD&D you could play a Magic User with Int of 9 or a Fighter with a Strength and Dexterity of 8 and still be moderately effective.


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I started a campaign recently and we kind of did this (I'm the GM).

1. We did a character funnel. So each player had 4 characters. Character race and background were determined randomly (2 characters were on one limited chart, 2 characters on a super open chart). Roll 3d6 in order.

2. During the adventure, the PLAYER earned tokens. Once the adventure was done, they chose one surviving character to be their character for the campaign. They chose their class. Then they could spend the tokens to increase stats. They earned the tokens by doing heroic things, critical successes, and generally participating in the game. Spending the tokens on lower stats had more impact than higher ones (like a 7 or lower got to add 1d4+1, while a 14 or higher added a single +1).

Players ended up with cool combos they wouldn't have otherwise, and have enjoyed their characters so far.


One of my favorite 2E characters was a sha'ir rolled this way. Had two ability scores of 3, and her highest was a 9. Not sure how that would pan out in Pathfinder, though.


I'm fairly sure about how well it would pan out.

Almost every skill check - failed
Almost every attack roll - missed
Almost every saving throw - failed
Almost every spell targeted against an opponent - saved against

Is there some weird corner case build out there that could work it? Probably.
Could someone of the right disposition enjoy it? I'm sure they could.

Would any standard build? No.
Would most people enjoy is? No.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Almost every skill check - failed

Almost every attack roll - missed
Almost every saving throw - failed
Almost every spell targeted against an opponent - saved against

Just because people have to pick a class to match their stats rather than rearranging their stats for a chosen class?

Are you assuming 3d6 for every stat instead of something more normal like 4d6 drop lowest?

Even then, the chance of getting at least one good stat is fairly high. My character had Charisma of 15, so I put my +2 for being Human in that, made a Sorcerer and carefully targeted weak saves. Another PC had high Strength so could successfully land hits as a Barbarian. Failing that, anything with an animal companion/eidolon/bardic performance is still going to be fairly useful.

One possible problem is that if you end up with a Constitution of 6, random death awaits you around every corner. But, hey, the more you die, the more chances you have of rolling a decent character!


I assume Chromantic Durgon <3 was referring to my "highest was a 9" array. They're right--I'd miss most rolls. I'd still have fun, but it'd be a very short tenure.

Rather than a sha'ir (the Pathfinder equivalent just wouldn't work), I'd probably play a hunter (or paladin, or cavalier, or the amazing spell-less druid) and let the animal companion do pretty much everything.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:

Just because people have to pick a class to match their stats rather than rearranging their stats for a chosen class?

Are you assuming 3d6 for every stat instead of something more normal like 4d6 drop lowest?

Chromantic Durgon <3 is replying to the post from blahpers directly above, where a character is talked about with two stats at 3 and the highest a 9.


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For a one-shot it's moderate fun. Need a lot of system mastery to do anything useful with some rolls but there's always the old standby of Fighter (named "Bait"). It works much better with a campaign you can easily replace characters in. Skull and Shackles maybe? I don't know how often you put into port (get downtime in town) and how much fancy gear is given out (that you might want continuity for). You could also roll up multiple characters and let the party pick who to recruit for the ship (at low levels anyway).

The one time I did it for a full campaign was for Way of the Wicked, which gives you an 18, an 8, and 1d10+8 straight down. Some people got great rolls (average of 16, one was the Wizard, the other the Fighter). The Cleric didn't get above a 12... but was already planning to be a summoner. The last person got mediocre rolls, died, got better rolls, died, and is currently alive (but with worse rolls than the dead ones, weirdly enough).

Every other time someone says 3d6 or rolls in place and then one player gets somewhere between 12 and 14 for everything, another's best roll is a 6, and one guy is rocking two 16s and a 15. So we reroll, or the bad ones point buy, or some other change. I just rolled, got 9/8/10/12/8/6. Second round, 10/7/10/9/9/9. Sweet, finally got positive Str and Con! 13/9/14/8/12/11. Try it yourself.

Basicallly, most people don't actually want to roll dice for stats. They want to get good stats and don't know how math works. Or they do and think they're lucky/have lucky dice/have loaded dice/are just optimistic. Gamblers love to roll... rarely like keeping the rolls though.


It's fundamentally a gimmick and might result in people playing characters or in ways which they would not prefer or would normally. do Whether or not this is fun is subjective, but most gimmicks are not as much fun long term than things that enable people to play exactly the character they want.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Almost every skill check - failed

Almost every attack roll - missed
Almost every saving throw - failed
Almost every spell targeted against an opponent - saved against

Just because people have to pick a class to match their stats rather than rearranging their stats for a chosen class?

Are you assuming 3d6 for every stat instead of something more normal like 4d6 drop lowest?

Even then, the chance of getting at least one good stat is fairly high. My character had Charisma of 15, so I put my +2 for being Human in that, made a Sorcerer and carefully targeted weak saves. Another PC had high Strength so could successfully land hits as a Barbarian. Failing that, anything with an animal companion/eidolon/bardic performance is still going to be fairly useful.

One possible problem is that if you end up with a Constitution of 6, random death awaits you around every corner. But, hey, the more you die, the more chances you have of rolling a decent character!

No I'm responding to the post above my post.

But to respond to part of your point. A never ending conveyor belt of terrible characters sounds like the epitome of spirit crushing creativity sapping, narrative demolishing misery. But maybe thats just me.


blahpers wrote:

I assume Chromantic Durgon <3 was referring to my "highest was a 9" array. They're right--I'd miss most rolls. I'd still have fun, but it'd be a very short tenure.

Rather than a sha'ir (the Pathfinder equivalent just wouldn't work), I'd probably play a hunter (or paladin, or cavalier, or the amazing spell-less druid) and let the animal companion do pretty much everything.

what would you do with a pally?


I see a lot of strong negative reactions here, and while I understand them they're basically about why YOU don't want to play this. It's a perfectly fine method of playing, but you will have to change your expectations somewhat.

1. Everyone has to be ok playing a sidekick ... EVERYONE! If you have 3 out of 4 players who don't mind playing second fiddle, and then the 4th player rolls up a dud ... you're going to have a bad time. Really make sure everyone at the table is fine being a "role-player" and not a "roll-player", since they might not get a choice.

2. Be ready to choose your characters based on stats. Really you'll all have to go in with an open mind, ready to taylor your class and power-level to fit your rolls. You might be fine taking any class, but if you roll nothing but 10s you may find that none of your character concepts work. Going in with no expectations will help you adapt to whatever happens.

3. Create as a team. If you can't work out what to do with your stats, ask the other players. Likewise if someone else is having trouble coming up with a character concept you should think of what you'd be happy to play with their stats.

4. Be ready to scale the encounters to meet the characters' abilities. This one is for the GM. Its likely to mean scaling them back, but you might have to scale them up - it all depends on the rolls.

5. Everyone has to be ok playing a sidekick ... EVERYONE! I put this one in twice because it's twice as important. You all have to be ready to treat this more like an acting role than a dice game, because chances are that this will be someone's reality. If everyone's not on board then it's not going to work.


Wow lots of responses,

I'm seeing a lot of things that matched my initial hesitance.

Character imbalance towards each other, characters being forced to play things they don't want to.

The biggest pro and the reason one of my players pitched this was to try to get characters that are a little more diverse then your standard fighter with dumped charisma or low str mages.

would help increase variety of characters.

We also considered applying additional bonus's based on stats to help balance things out (under a certain point value maybe gets a bonus couple of d6's to pass around) to create more of a balanced group bell curve.

Thanks for all your input folks.


On the flip side, it is quite possible to play a character with extremely poor stats effectively, so long as you focus on characters whose abilities aren't based on their stat rolls.

A summoner with a focus on pimping out their eidolon, a druid focused on buffing their animal companion and using summon nature's ally, or any 9th level spellcaster that uses the summon monster spells can effectively contribute to a combat encounter even with very poor initial stats.

In essence, if your own stats are poor, borrow something else's stats instead.


Talcrion wrote:

Wow lots of responses,

I'm seeing a lot of things that matched my initial hesitance.

Character imbalance towards each other, characters being forced to play things they don't want to.

The biggest pro and the reason one of my players pitched this was to try to get characters that are a little more diverse then your standard fighter with dumped charisma or low str mages.

would help increase variety of characters.

We also considered applying additional bonus's based on stats to help balance things out (under a certain point value maybe gets a bonus couple of d6's to pass around) to create more of a balanced group bell curve.

Thanks for all your input folks.

If you goal is to encourage build diversity I've personally found the "exact opposite of rolling" to be the most effective at doing so.

And by that I mean you give ability score arrays and let players choose.

Personally I made this rule for games I GM:

Quote:
Everyone gets a stat array of 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 as base to be modified by race as normal.

*Which to clarifies allows you to select those values to be assigned to stats as you choose, and then be modified by race.

It doesn't allow for bleeding edge optimization (you're basically capped at starting at 18, unless your race gives a +4) but the high values encourage MAD classes and open up the possibility of diversity.

Rolling in order actually is the most likely to produce class builds that are as monostat dependent as possible (because you're unlikely to have multiple good stats where you want them) so you end up with a lot of the regular builds (because people tend to naturally optimize around SAD classes because its easier).


From all the notes above, one key takeaway is that the system you use for rolling the stats is pretty important. Simple 3d6 x 6 can be absolutely brutal. 4d6 drop lowest does pretty well (I think but can't be sure it approximates a 20-point buy). There are plenty of other options to take the sting out, such as 2d6+6, d10+8, or adding rerolls for 1s and 2s.

But suppose you're going with 3d6 only. Enough feats are tied to ability scores that I'd certainly think twice about playing an entire AP with a significantly substandard character. But hey, if your players are cool with it, have a ball!


Smallfoot wrote:
4d6 drop lowest does pretty well (I think but can't be sure it approximates a 20-point buy).

Mean average is around 20-Point Buy, median average around 18-Point Buy. Typically less powerful than 20-Point Buy, since you lose the ability to optimize the precise balance of stats you want.


I'm in favor of buying your stats. You are not going to be a spell caster with an ability of 9. Even with an ability of 10 or 11, things are going to be rough.

That said, maybe the odd one shot with characters whose stats were randomly generated might be interesting. However, I wouldn't expect to play such characters for many sessions.

I do recall that there was an article in a Dragon magazine covering characters with low ability scores. A character with a low strength score aught to try using a big melee weapon so they have a chance of dealing damage. A character with low dex should wear armor. A character with a low con should try to max AC. Thats all I can remember right now.


So I had a funny experience with this yesterday; my group is going to do a small one-off dungeon romp while the larger campaign we're doing is on pause. For this module it was decided we would roll for stats - a decision I was outvoted on because I hate this method.

After the dice settled I had rolled a 16 or higher on every score that matters and every other party member had failed to get higher than a 15 on anything. The group decided to do a 25 point buy instead at this point.


I want to reinforce all the suggestions that it can be very cool if everyone is on board and very uncool if not everyone (including the GM) is willing to put up with a little give and take.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
blahpers wrote:

I assume Chromantic Durgon <3 was referring to my "highest was a 9" array. They're right--I'd miss most rolls. I'd still have fun, but it'd be a very short tenure.

Rather than a sha'ir (the Pathfinder equivalent just wouldn't work), I'd probably play a hunter (or paladin, or cavalier, or the amazing spell-less druid) and let the animal companion do pretty much everything.

what would you do with a pally?

Probably not survive until 5th level unless there's an archetype that gets their murderhorse sooner, but if I made it that far then murderhorse murderhorse murderhorse.

Just to be clear, I'd never impose this sort of thing on anybody who didn't share my, ah, lackadaisical manner on the subject.


My group uses a grid. 6x6, normally 4d6 drop the lowest, and you can select a row or column.

It gives it a bit more fairness over each player just rolling their own stats, but it gives casters a major benefit. It seems there is always a 16-18 somewhere for Int, Wis, and Cha, but never a good martial spread (except for the one time there was with an 18/16/18 Str/dex/con and the GM changed it)

Shadow Lodge

I used to do this playing with my friends as a kid in ad&d2. Everyone would roll, then we would chose characters based on our stat distribution. This worked fine for then because 1) we never stuck with one game for long and 2) the stats didn't matter as much in those rules.

In pathfinder, it could be fun, but I'd only use it for a short campaign. One where everyone sits down together, whips up some quick characters, and plays for a handful of sessions or even just a one off.

Dark Archive

I've given my players the option of 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste for my last AP run, with the caveat that they can reroll if the net bonus is less than +3 or they can just do 20 point buy. It's worked quite well. Having done a lot of PFS the limitations of 20 point buy on character design were fun to lift off, since if you roll well you can build a solid character who is more MAD. My players showed restraint as one of them rolled something like a 30+ point buy equivalent and he just built a caster which did not highlight the stat disparity. It is fair to say that some system mastery is required to do so well, but the chaos of randomly chosen stats can be a very fun inspiration. I'm kind of tempted now to do something like everyone rolls for say Giant Slayer or another more traditional AP to see what folks can come up with.


OmniMage wrote:

I'm in favor of buying your stats. You are not going to be a spell caster with an ability of 9. Even with an ability of 10 or 11, things are going to be rough.

That said, maybe the odd one shot with characters whose stats were randomly generated might be interesting. However, I wouldn't expect to play such characters for many sessions.

I do recall that there was an article in a Dragon magazine covering characters with low ability scores. A character with a low strength score aught to try using a big melee weapon so they have a chance of dealing damage. A character with low dex should wear armor. A character with a low con should try to max AC. Thats all I can remember right now.

Rough barely begins to describe it in my opinion.

CRB, Getting Started wrote:
A wizard gains bonus spells based on his Intelligence score. The minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the spell's level.

Your wizard with 10 Int is going to have lots of slots filled with cantrips. At least there's plenty to do with Metamagic ... an utter master with Ray of Frost. Forget about a 9 Int. It will similarly hamper any spell caster who, umm, relies on spells AFAIK they all base it on their ability score. Your fighter can at least manage to swing most weapons unless they've got a truly low score.

Edit: I do suppose with a +6 item and 4+ inherent bonus if they do survive somehow they will eventually gain the ability to use 9th level spells. Might even manage 3rd level spells by the time 6th level rolls around.


A wizard with a 10 Int can pick a race that gets that score up to 12 and focus on spells that don't allow for a saving throw. A Wizard that can't get enemies to fail a save is a lot more useful than a Fighter that never hits anything.


Roll stats in order really forces a lot of builds is all it does.

Basically you just need one good mental ability to play any of the full casting classes, which are generally the ones people complain about for being too powerful.

And, since there are options for switching up your primary casting stat within the classes (I'm pretty sure sorcerers can use any mental ability with the right bloodline) what rolling straight hurts the most is pretty much any ability to build a martial character. You're unlikely to have what you need (typical either dex or strength focus, a little dex if strength, a little con, and typically one mental stat). All those hybrid type classes are basically gone because the chances of getting stats to line up right for them are low.


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I would modify it a bit.

1. Everyone would roll an array
2. Choose one of the arrays (through whatever method, including throwing out god-like arrays)
3. Randomize which Ability Score goes with which roll result within that array.

Combines the random score allocation with a more-consistent power level within the party.


Claxon wrote:
Roll stats in order really forces a lot of builds is all it does.

Yep, could you survive and eventually have a strong caster or martial build yes. But your choices tend to get strongly focused on overcoming those weakness or working around them. Instead of increasing diversity it risks decreasing it. And likely the DM has more work making sure they don't TPK the party with a single spell or effect or creature that normally could be handled by a party of a given level.

@Arachnofiend:
I was assuming that was the final ability score during creation. Even so I think a Martial type would be easier to buff back to reasonable especially if their score was in the 10+ to start. There aren't really any buffs that'll give the spell caster back his missing spell levels. He'd still be short Dispel Magic or what not at a level where he is expected to have them by a designed adventure. Hard to use spells that don't allow saves if you can't even cast them (hello Wands). Claxon does point out at least a number of ways to mitigate the rolls. And I didn't say impossible I just think rough is a tad bit of an understatement if your final adjusted starting score is that low for a caster.


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Talcrion wrote:

The biggest pro and the reason one of my players pitched this was to try to get characters that are a little more diverse then your standard fighter with dumped charisma or low str mages.

would help increase variety of characters.

I recognize this. What they actually meant was "my Han Solo knockoff should have 18 Cha but I don't want to spend any points on it". Rolling doesn't really lead to diversity. It mostly leads to casters (because you only got one good stat) or reckless disregard for life (since your Dex and Con sucked).

Talcrion wrote:

We also considered applying additional bonus's based on stats to help balance things out (under a certain point value maybe gets a bonus couple of d6's to pass around) to create more of a balanced group bell curve.

Thanks for all your input folks.

If you don't want the dice to be the final arbiter then don't roll dice. You can make all the fiddly modifications you want, there's always going to be disparity. That's what dice do.

Honestly, the best way I've seen to do diverse characters is simple. Let them pick their stats. Anything between 8 and 18. Lower if they really want it. Just pick a number you think fits the character. I think you'd be surprised what people make (except for the all 18 person, nobody is surprised by them).


My group's system is everyone rolls one set of stats (4d6 select 3), then each person can select any of those sets of stats to use and to order as they wish. There's usually one best set but sometimes one person will want a different set, and it does look more natural/organic than a point buy.

Dark Archive

A more or less pure support Bard could be quite playable and useful with pretty low stats to start.


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Allow me to offer a method:


  • Create an array, maybe a few
  • Arrange the 6 ability scores in a numbered list (e.g. Str... Cha)
  • Have each player roll a D6, the result they get on the list is assigned the highest ability score from the array they chose
  • Allow each player to select another ability score of theirs to exclude
  • Have each player roll a D4, the result they get on the list is assigned the lowest ability score from the array they chose, skipping over the ability they previously rolled and the one they excluded
  • Allow each player to assign the remaining ability scores of their array

This allows players to roll for a random primary ability, pick a secondary ability they don't want to dump (e.g. "Got Str as my main ability, I don't want to have weak Con"), and then to roll for their random lowest ability.

It creates variety, but the arrays keep it from being overly lopsided.


Talcrion wrote:

So after 5 min of googling at nearly 4 am, I decided to just post here.

Our group is about 3 books into our current campaign so naturally we are starting to think about the next one.

It was pitched to me that we should try making our characters under "play it where it lies" rules.

As in, rather then assigning your rolls, you roll each stat individually and make due with what you get.

I was curious if anyone had any experiences with this?

I'll be running the game, so I'm just trying to get ahead of the bus here and head off some problems before they occur.

Off to bed I go, Thanks for any help folks!

what you're describing is the rolling method utilized in the original edition of D&D.

D&D 2nd Edition wrote:

Creating a Character

Prior to the character selection by players it is necessary
to roll three six-sided dice in order to rate each as
to various abilities, and thus aid in selecting a role.
Categories of ability are: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom,
Constitution, Dexterity, and Charisma. Each
player notes his appropriate scores, obtains a similar
roll of three dice to determine the number of Gold
Pieces (Dice score x 10) he starts with, and then opts
for a role.

I've played this way before and there are some quirks to it that over time become so problematic that each table would develop their own adjustments to this. Common changes were:

*Letting players assign stats instead of rolling in order
*Letting players roll multiple "sets" of stats and picking one
*Letting players roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die
*Letting players re-roll 1s

there are more but those were the most common house rules, which some tables would adopt 1 or more of. Sure there are plenty of other variations but they were less common and were more specific to a particular DM and/or group.

There are some reasons why these variations were chosen.

1. Player Agency. As a player maybe you love playing rogues. But if your dex isn't high enough to meet the prime requisite number then you literally couldn't play one (each class had certain stat requirements you had to meet). This also meant that if you happen to roll awesome and got lots of high numbers you were pretty much pidgenholed into playing a paladin because it had stat requirements that were so difficult to meet, that you otherwise rarely would even got to play one.

2. Suicidal PCs. If a player rolled badly or was forced into playing a class they didn't want to play (thanks to the stats they rolled) rather then suck it up some players would just play their characters very recklessly in the hope of getting them killed. This allowed the player to roll a new character that might actually be enjoyable to play and/or that would fill the role needed by the group. Depending on how character wealth was handled by the DM this was also a way to give the party extra loot since the party would get the dead character's stuff in addition to the new fully geared character. To be fair, it wouldn't take much of this before the DM would start declaring that the new character would show up basically naked.

3. Forgettable SAD character play was the norm. After awhile you got used to playing characters that would have 1 good stat and a bunch of average to below average stats. This is because even if you had 2 high stats the other high stat probably wasn't some place that you actually cared about. As a result the only memorable characters were the ones where you got extremely lucky and rolled good stats in places you cared about for a class you wanted to play.

4. Party balance meant the player with the most good rolls had too choose between screwing the party or getting screwed. The following was common. Player 1 only has the stats to play a rogue, player 2 had ideal stats for a fighter, player 3 could play a cleric or a rogue and player 4 rolled decently for a wizard. This means that player 3 is forced to play a cleric because the party needs one even if they would rather play a rogue. They might roll a rogue anyway forcing the group to choose differently. meaning one of the roles is being filled by a character who barely has sufficient stats for that role and probably now hates player 3 for "forcing it" on them.

It can be fun at first, but it becomes frustrating after awhile. Especially if you find that because of 1 and 4 you never get to play the class you want to play. Hence the common house rules some of which became the standard in later editions.


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What about a party stat buying system? Everybody rolls their six stats, all those are thrown into a group pool (in order, so a STR roll is a STR roll, no swapping), but then Players have to opt to buy each from the pool? Then there is some amount of option in character build, no one player gets to dominate with highest stats, etc.


Ok. Here's the bottom line even though it will be a very unpopular opinion.

When rolling characters straight up like this, everyone will have a difficult time optimizing and power gaming. Even with a lucky set of rolls.

This is very obvious if you look through the posts and consider the tone and attitude used. Most people are complaining because they think that any character with beginning stats lower than 14 are "Nerfed".

An array of 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 is a fine character. Especially once you add normal race bonuses. But why can't the array be 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9 and modified by race bonuses?

I'll tell you why. Because hack and slash type of power gamers think this character is a turd that couldn't slaughter a level 1 kobold in one attack.

Personally, I like the idea of rolling characters straight up because it forces the player to figure out inventive ways to make the character work while actually ROLEPLAYING. Sure, I wouldn't want to make every character that way but it throws some of that old school play into the mix if you do it once in a while.

I apologize for the ranting and raving along with my long winded ways.

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