The attributes (often called characteristics) are, in general, determined randomly by rolling dice. The standard method is to roll three normal (six-sided) dice and add up the scores on all three. This will give a number between 3 and 18 which will, for example, be the character's Strength. Similarly three d6s are rolled and totalled for the character's Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity and so on.Apparently Messrs. Butterfield, Parker, and Honigmann didn't think much of the DMG's alternative ability score generation methods either. Good for them.
This method, however, tends to produce characters with many or all of their attributes at about average (10 or 11), and many players find the game is more exciting when they have characters who excel in one or more attributes. To this end there are several alternative methods of character generation. The first is to roll four six-sided dice and to discard the lowest score. For example, if the scores on the dice were 6, 5, 4, 2 then the player would discard the 2, as in this case it would be the lowest roll, and then add up the total of the rest, giving a final value of 14 for this attribute. The next method is to roll attributes for twelve separate characters and then to choose the set of attributes from any one particular character. This has the advantage that the player can elect, for example, to have a character with a high Strength if he wishes to play a 'Strong' character. It also does not tend towards the production of 'Super-Characters', that is those who have 18 in every attribute. These are not nearly as much fun to play as characters which have one or two low attributes. A character with low Intelligence can often provide great amusement, whereas a character with all attributes high, having less challenges to face, will often become simply tedious. One other method often used does fall into this unfortunate tendency to produce Super-Characters. In this method three d6s are rolled six times for each characteristic and the best score taken.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Here's a lengthy excerpt from the wonderful book, What is Dungeons & Dragons?, that I received in the mail yesterday: