Friday, April 25, 2008

Times Have Changed

This is the first sample character in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Take note of his ability scores and his class.

Name: Xylarthen
Class: Magic-User

Strength: 6
Intelligence: 11
Wisdom: 13
Constitution: 12
Dexterity: 9
Charisma: 8
This is the sample character in Empire of the Petal Throne, published the following year. He's called "Character X" in the text. All scores are out of a possible 100.

Strength: 98
Intelligence: 53
Constitution: 37
Psychic Ability: 26
Dexterity: 14
Comeliness: 83
Then, in 1977, we get this:
Furthermore, it is essential to the character's survival to be exceptional (with a rating of 15 or above) in no fewer than two ability characteristics.
That's from the AD&D Players Handbook, written by the Man himself. See a trend?


  1. Mm-hmm. And it just keeps getting worse. I shudder to think what D&D 6.0 is gonna look like. All stats start at 10 minimum?

    By the way, thanks for the link to Philotomy's page, where he talks about stuff like this. It's a great read.

  2. Well Palladium FRP has a pretty long tradition of boosted (and stunted, for that matter), wildly varying stat levels, but that's always been a system that courted craziness. The second edition, integrated with the Rifts Megaverse, added exploding dice for some character builds!

  3. Interesting. I don't even remember that comment from the PHB. Thinking back, I know we had plenty of succesful AD&D characters who certainly did not have exceptional scores in two abilities. Usually they did in one, but we used a pretty loose 4d6 drop lowest, then arrange them system. Meh, I really cottled the players back then.


  4. Re: Philotomy's page

    Philotomy's site is the best OD&D site out there, because it so beautifully illustrates the philosophy behind the game and old school gaming generally. And he does it without talking down to you or slamming other games. It's a real treasure.

  5. Re: 1e PHB

    AD&D is such a weird thing. Some OD&Ders see it as where what had previously been suggestions in Supplement I become the Law and the rot really sets in. I'm sympathetic to that perspective, especially if you play 1e as written. Of course, almost no one ever played it as written, so I'm not quite as ready to condemn its departures from "true" old school gaming. I think it's definitely the first step toward the evolution of what we're seeing reach its fruition in 4e, but it's such a small step that I'm keeping my sword sheathed. For now.

  6. Wow, guys, thank you for the praise. I'm flattered. :)

  7. Muah hah hah hah...

    Dark Sun's "basic" character creation method? Roll 4d4+4 for each stat. And it just gets more powerful from there. Almost all Racial limits are 20 (with a couple exceptions like Halfling STR and Half-Giant INT, etc.). Remember that this is BEFORE racial adjustments!

    And that was back in 1990-91...