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12/17/2017 12:02 pm  #1


Rolling Attributes

I know this is discussed to death elsewhere with warring factions between the 3d6-in-order grognards and the point-buy/array-why-don't-you-just-give-them-a-holy-avenger-at-level-one hippies, but what the hell.
When we started up our AS&SH campaign a few weeks ago, I wanted to come up with something that allows my players to play the class they want to play but still allows for the randomization that makes for interesting characters.  4d6 drop lowest, arrange as you like, is the common go-to, but I feel like it has a number of problems.  Average roll goes up to 13, which is high enough to have a positive modifier, so the overall power level feels significantly higher.  And it also pretty much guarantees certain a certain distribution of attributes, where the fighter will put his highest in strength, then dexterity/constitution, dump intelligence/wisdom, etc.  Just kind of boring.
Anyway, what I came up with was having my players pick class first, and then they roll attributes in order, 3d6 for non-primes, 2d6+6 for primes, and if you get lower than required attribute for your class, bump that attribute to the minimum.
Here's the resulting party.

Shaman
ST 9, DX 18, CN 13, IN 16, WS 13, CH 10

Death Soldier
ST 13, DX 15, CN 11, IN 13, WS 12, CH 12

Berserker
ST 16, DX 15, CN 15, IN 12, WS 11, CH 14

Ranger
ST 13, DX 13, CN 10, IN 12, WS 11, CH 7

This array includes 1 point added to each character for being adults, so the average attribute rolled, modified by minimum requirement, was 12.5, right between 3d6 and 4d6 power level.  Everyone got to play the classes they wanted, but we still have some unconventional builds, like the 18 DX shaman.

I feel like it worked out really well for what I wanted.  I hadn't seen this method elsewhere, so I figured I'd share, since AS&SH has such a wonderful assortment of classes, I'm sure a lot of players go in really wanting to try out something specific.

 

12/17/2017 3:22 pm  #2


Re: Rolling Attributes

Interesting approach, and similar to what I did: 4d6 drop lowest, but in order. Everyone wound up qualifying for the class they wanted, and the party has a Fighter with Str 11 and Legerdemainist with Con 17. And one of the nice things about AS&SH is that, for example, the Fighter with Str 11 is still the best combatant, due to Great Mastery with Bastard Sword. In fact, my group is more familiar with Pathfinder, and they have remarked how different this is. One of our youngest players (13), who was guest-playing the Fighter (and has now assumed the role full-time), said "This is not an optimal Fighter build." Very true, because it's a randomly-rolled character, and still perfectly enjoyable. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

12/17/2017 3:56 pm  #3


Re: Rolling Attributes

rhialto wrote:

Interesting approach, and similar to what I did: 4d6 drop lowest, but in order. Everyone wound up qualifying for the class they wanted, and the party has a Fighter with Str 11 and Legerdemainist with Con 17. And one of the nice things about AS&SH is that, for example, the Fighter with Str 11 is still the best combatant, due to Great Mastery with Bastard Sword. In fact, my group is more familiar with Pathfinder, and they have remarked how different this is. One of our youngest players (13), who was guest-playing the Fighter (and has now assumed the role full-time), said "This is not an optimal Fighter build." Very true, because it's a randomly-rolled character, and still perfectly enjoyable. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Just rolled up characters with 4d6 drop, in order, with one swap.  Everyone got the character they wanted.  I like when you get an intelligent fighter or a strong sorcerer.  In my last campaign I had a fighter with a Str of 12 get to 8th level so the stats don't win the day its the player.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/17/2017 4:58 pm  #4


Re: Rolling Attributes

@under_score
I like it a lot. One thing I'd add is some compensation for the base classes (as they only have one primary attribute). Something like a reroll, a swap, or a second attribute rolled on 2d6+6. Otherwise, I might steal this for my home game.

 

12/17/2017 5:57 pm  #5


Re: Rolling Attributes

@Ynas, yeah, that's a good point.  The highest overall average of my characters was the Berserker, with a 13.8.  The Berserker requires 2 attributes of 15.  I don't remember the original roll, but I believe both of required stats were below minimum and got bumped, and then he added 1 to ST with the Age bonus.
Players overly concerned with attributes could just pick the classes with highest minimum attribute requirements.  I don't think most players are that ridiculous though, and mostly just want to play the archetype they're in the mood for.

As for the 4d6 drop lowest, with or without swapping, as I said before, it always feels like a bit too much of a power creep to me, and unless you allow assigning as you like, there's still no guarantee that you'll hit high enough in required attributes.

     Thread Starter
 

12/18/2017 4:07 am  #6


Re: Rolling Attributes

For something a little less "Excalibur-hand-out Hippy", try 3d6 in order and allow the player to swap two scores. Part of the fun for me (as a player) is to mold a memorable character out of what fate has dealt me.

I currently have a classic Traveller character (2d6 based ability scores) with stats of 2 in two abilities and a 5 in another (all physical) - the character uses a grav-belt to get around and prefers the zero-G environment aboard star ships. ;)

Want to be a fighter, but you rolled like Kenny McCormick in a snuff film? Try being a grizzled old soldier with failing health (or a maimed sword arm) who just wants to "see the world" before he dies; or, maybe the all-talk-no-action dilettante who relies on a brutish body guard (or other meat shie... er, party members) to stay alive.

Prime-18 characters are forgettable.
 

Last edited by foxroe (12/18/2017 4:11 am)


"I, Satampra Zeiros of Uzuldaroum, shall write with my left hand, since I have no longer any other, the tale of everything that befell Tirouv Ompallios and myself in the shrine of the god Tsathoggua..."
 

12/18/2017 6:49 am  #7


Re: Rolling Attributes

I had a similar idea, based on Mongooses Heroic stat arrangement, but the Mongoose Heroic Characters are Based on 1d10+8. (They still have a 4d6 remove lowest order).

The theory at it basically 3.0 or 3.5 rules, that only a -1 negative can be achieved and no lower, with 9 minimum.

But, Like Under_Score, I have thought to arrange the dice, so at Heroic Character, could roll 1d8+10 x2, 1d0+8 x2, then 4d6 remove lowest for remaining two attributes (arrange as suits), just of course for some major heroic group. Not an idea for every game, just the odd one for a different perspective.

I do enjoy being the snarling old soldier when it comes to any OD&D game...

 

12/18/2017 8:55 am  #8


Re: Rolling Attributes

foxroe wrote:

Prime-18 characters are forgettable.
 

I agree

In my last campaign the first character to die had incredible stats, he was an Adonis, perfection walking, and died under the club of a cyclops...  

 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/18/2017 9:13 am  #9


Re: Rolling Attributes

under_score wrote:

As for the 4d6 drop lowest, with or without swapping, as I said before, it always feels like a bit too much of a power creep to me, and unless you allow assigning as you like, there's still no guarantee that you'll hit high enough in required attributes.

We are coming at it from two perspectives I suppose.  They have access to higher average attributes but may not have the ability to play all the subclasses.  You want them to have access to all subclasses and that's cool.

Another way to achieve the same thing would be to ignore the attribute requirements.  This could lead to some RPing stuff when the Berserker has a Strength of 9.  Bob doesn't look like much but don't make him mad.







 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/18/2017 11:19 am  #10


Re: Rolling Attributes

Yeah, that's true mabon, I'm specifically trying to allow all subclasses without inflating average stats much.  Which could be achieved easily enough by ignoring the requirements.

I'd be curious what Ghul's intention for attribute requirements are.  I think in a lot of old school games they are meant to make certain classes more unusual, due to their greater power or assumed rarity in the setting, but I'm not sure that would be the case here.  Berserker is one of the toughest to roll up, but berserkers are common enough in the setting to be a monster.

     Thread Starter
 

12/18/2017 11:42 am  #11


Re: Rolling Attributes

The class Berserker is set apart and different from the savage men given to chewing lotus to madness!  Thankfully the more numerous group doesn't get all the class abilities!


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/18/2017 12:16 pm  #12


Re: Rolling Attributes

mabon5127 wrote:

 stats don't win the day its the player.

I think this pretty much sums it up. I simply give my group a couple of options (4d6 in order, 3d6 in order with a +6 to be spread around, 4d6 allocated in whatever order, etc) and let them decide as a group. If that's what it takes for them to at least feel like the GM isn't trying to shove something down their throats, then they will be able to invest into their characters, and therefore, the campaign. 

 

12/18/2017 12:32 pm  #13


Re: Rolling Attributes

One of the methods we use is 4d6, drop 1, seven times. Then the player can eliminate one stat and collapse the rest. Allows more flexibility if there's a specific class the player wants but still is influence by chance.

I disincentivize it by allowing rerolls of HP and starting gold if you roll 3d6 in order or one of those if you roll 4d6 six times.

 

12/18/2017 1:45 pm  #14


Re: Rolling Attributes

Handy Haversack wrote:

I disincentivize it by allowing rerolls of HP and starting gold if you roll 3d6 in order or one of those if you roll 4d6 six times.

Ooh! I like these.

 

12/18/2017 2:27 pm  #15


Re: Rolling Attributes

I've told my players that what mostly makes them heroic, and a cut above the NPCs, is their level: that neatly encapsulates all the intangibles that elevate them above the madding crowd. If they also happen to have some good attributes that's a bonus, and more in the vein of Conan, Kane, John Carter, etc. Which is fine, too, if that's the tone of the game.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

12/18/2017 4:23 pm  #16


Re: Rolling Attributes

I guess I'm the hippy, although I prefer punk. Even though I come from the dawn of the RPG, I generally allow point spread assigned Attributes. Three reasons for this:
1) We play pulp / heroic Conan type campaigns.
2) My players (and I) have a character concept going into the game, and don't do great with the "play what your delt" philosophy.
3) We all roll like crap most of the time. If those Attributes in the original post were from our group everyone would have at least 3 or 4 Attributes of 8 or less. Seriously, rolled characters in our group start out below any of the NPC's found in the town and adventure in the 2e book. I'd prefer they all get to play characters more like the pregens in the 2e book (all of which have fairly good Attributes).

Just my anti-roll 2 cents.

(I freely admit that the downside is that nobody ever plays the old worn out soldier, or such. It's hard enough however to get players accepting that rogues and wizards aren't super combatants like most "modern" games.

Last edited by Grimmshade (12/18/2017 4:24 pm)


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
 

12/18/2017 4:48 pm  #17


Re: Rolling Attributes

Grimmshade wrote:

I guess I'm the hippy, although I prefer punk. Even though I come from the dawn of the RPG, I generally allow point spread assigned Attributes. Three reasons for this:
1) We play pulp / heroic Conan type campaigns.
2) My players (and I) have a character concept going into the game, and don't do great with the "play what your delt" philosophy.
3) We all roll like crap most of the time. If those Attributes in the original post were from our group everyone would have at least 3 or 4 Attributes of 8 or less. Seriously, rolled characters in our group start out below any of the NPC's found in the town and adventure in the 2e book. I'd prefer they all get to play characters more like the pregens in the 2e book (all of which have fairly good Attributes).

Just my anti-roll 2 cents.

(I freely admit that the downside is that nobody ever plays the old worn out soldier, or such. It's hard enough however to get players accepting that rogues and wizards aren't super combatants like most "modern" games.

I think players invest more in characters they like.  If they focus on crummy attributes then I as the DM won't have fun either. I had a player roll up a cryomancer with a 7 strength and 7 dexterity.  He is embracing this as part of his character.  Would he have been happier with a 15+ in each of those? Maybe, but that is the type of player he is.

I get to play on occasion under another DM so I get to understand the players position.  Its helpful when I run.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/18/2017 5:59 pm  #18


Re: Rolling Attributes

mabon5127 wrote:

[
I think players invest more in characters they like.  If they focus on crummy attributes then I as the DM won't have fun either. I had a player roll up a cryomancer with a 7 strength and 7 dexterity.  He is embracing this as part of his character.  Would he have been happier with a 15+ in each of those? Maybe, but that is the type of player he is.

I get to play on occasion under another DM so I get to understand the players position.  Its helpful when I run.
 

I think it's important to discuss this before the game begins: I did with my group, knowing they were more familiar with Pathfinder and it's stultifying build process (IMO, of course http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/tongue.png
) and attribute budget. I'm okay with the latter, but asked them to trust me on the rolled attributes option. Now that they're all 6th-7th level the investment is there, and when they narrowly dodged a TPK this past weekend I could tell how much: they asked for a break to regroup right after, and discussed just how closely they all came to making up new characters...


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

12/18/2017 6:04 pm  #19


Re: Rolling Attributes

Grimmshade wrote:

I guess I'm the hippy, although I prefer punk. Even though I come from the dawn of the RPG, I generally allow point spread assigned Attributes. Three reasons for this:
1) We play pulp / heroic Conan type campaigns.
2) My players (and I) have a character concept going into the game, and don't do great with the "play what your delt" philosophy.
3) We all roll like crap most of the time. If those Attributes in the original post were from our group everyone would have at least 3 or 4 Attributes of 8 or less. Seriously, rolled characters in our group start out below any of the NPC's found in the town and adventure in the 2e book. I'd prefer they all get to play characters more like the pregens in the 2e book (all of which have fairly good Attributes).

Just my anti-roll 2 cents.

(I freely admit that the downside is that nobody ever plays the old worn out soldier, or such. It's hard enough however to get players accepting that rogues and wizards aren't super combatants like most "modern" games.

My group tends towards this too, but they have other opportunities to indulge this way, so I was able to convince them to try 4d6 drop lowest, in order, "just this once". I may have meant "once" as in "in all my AS&SH campaigns", but even I don't know for sure.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

12/18/2017 6:11 pm  #20


Re: Rolling Attributes

rhialto wrote:

mabon5127 wrote:

[
I think players invest more in characters they like.  If they focus on crummy attributes then I as the DM won't have fun either. I had a player roll up a cryomancer with a 7 strength and 7 dexterity.  He is embracing this as part of his character.  Would he have been happier with a 15+ in each of those? Maybe, but that is the type of player he is.

I get to play on occasion under another DM so I get to understand the players position.  Its helpful when I run.
 

I think it's important to discuss this before the game begins: I did with my group, knowing they were more familiar with Pathfinder and it's stultifying build process (IMO, of course http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/tongue.png
) and attribute budget. I'm okay with the latter, but asked them to trust me on the rolled attributes option. Now that they're all 6th-7th level the investment is there, and when they narrowly dodged a TPK this past weekend I could tell how much: they asked for a break to regroup right after, and discussed just how closely they all came to making up new characters...

Interesting story.  I wonder how often players are successfully converted to OSR from the newer games?


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

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