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7/06/2014 5:25 pm  #1


An Argument for 3d6 In Order

One of the first and most difficult things for me to wrap my head around in OSR play is 3d6 in order.  However, I would like to share the character creation in my new campaign as an argument for near-comletely random character generation.
Here are the first player's rolls:  Str 14, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 11, Wis 17, Cha 14.  He decided to play a cleric of Chaotic Good alignment.  Researching AS&SH's gods, I didn't find any that immediately jumped out at me.  However, there is reference to Thor on p. 230 of the Gazetteer and exiled Vikings living on the Isles of Thur on p. 205 of same.  Thus, I suggested being a Viking cleric of Thor, alienated from most Vikings in Hyperborea, but carrying out the veneration of Thor taught to him by his father.  Using Colin Chapman's excellent Name Generator, he became Aleifr Thormunarson.  I also used Mr. Chapman's Height and Weight and Masks generators to describe Aleifr; he is of average build, standing 6' even and weighing 182 lbs, with dark blue eyes and white (!) hair.
The next player (my son) rolled the following:  Str 5, Dex 12, Con 7, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 8.  He decided to play a legerdemainist of Chaotic Good alignment.  Looking over the class, we decided he would be a good candidate for a Hyperborean mountebank, an illusion-casting archaelogist type.  Once again to the Generators, we have Xurogul Zhaan, a 6'10", 181 lbs, slimly built Hyperborean with dark violet eyes and rich golden hair.
The third player rolled:  Str 14, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 8.  He decided to play a Chaotic Evil barbarian.  Based on his alignment and class choice, we decided he was an outcast Kimmerian, possibly due to the rape of the chief's daughter.  Randomly determining the rest, he became Drakon the Barbarian, a 6'3", 182 lbs Kimmerian of average build with dark gray eyes and black hair.
Finally, the last player rolled:  Str 7, Dex 8, Con 5, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 12.  He decided to play a Chaotic Good Pyromancer.  Looking at the races, we decided he was an outcast Ixian who detested slavery.  He became Siomachos Dandaxarthos, a 6'3", 137 lbs Ixian of slim build with black hair and eyes.
The biggest thing I did for the characters was 1) give them maximum hit points, adjusted for Con; 2) give them maximum gold; and 3) ignore initial encumbrance.  Basically, my thought was why handicap them further?  They rolled 3d6 in order and created the rest of their characters randomly, choosing class based on their roll and alignment based on class.  I was really impressed by the spread of classes we were able to accommodate from the 3d6 method.  Hopefully, these 4 will last long enough to advance to 2nd level.

 

7/08/2014 8:30 am  #2


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

So far I have been letting my players choose from three methods:

1. Our timeworn AD&D standard: 4d6, drop 1, seven times in order, eliminate one score and collapse the rest. Allows a little more choice and pushes stats up a bit.

2. 4d6, drop 1, six times, in order

3. 3d6 six times, in order.

For methods 2 and 3, I have been allowing either 50 starting XP (100 for method 3) or one reroll for HP or starting gold (method three can be 2 rerolls or a combo of 50 XP and one reroll).

I'm actually finidng that AS&SH characters are more survive-likely than AD&D ones, so I'm thinking about going strating 3d6 or maybe 3d6 7 times and collapse.

The name and characteristics generators are pure gold.

 

7/10/2014 1:47 pm  #3


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

It is not in my nature to coddle players, but I do want them to enjoy playing the game. For some players, part of this enjoyment is derived from choosing a race / class combo, and then rolling stats and arranging to taste; for other players, rolling in order and seeing what Lady Luck delivers and THEN selecting a race / class combo is all part of the allure. Thus, in general, I pretty much allow them to choose whichever method they want. Of course, bragging rights always go to the 3d6 in order players, as opposed to those who choose a more liberal chargen method, but it's not like any of our methods are even close to being as generous as that which is found in Unearthed Arcana.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

7/10/2014 2:32 pm  #4


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

I like 3d6 straight down in games where stats don't matter as much, like OD&D. I've generated many a good PC this way. In something like AS&SH (or 1E), where stats matter more in play and in class selection, we use 4d6/drop lowest, arrange to taste. On top of this, I allow a stat to be lowered by two in order to raise another by one (max 17). In 1E, Gygax recommends at least two 15s, so it's not as if there is no precedent for such methods. As Jeff said though, if a guy insists on 3d6 straight down because he enjoys playing what's put to him, that's cool too. I won't go any easier on him though, so he better bring his A-game.

Regardless, as with all things RPG, you have to do what works for you and your group.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

7/11/2014 7:26 am  #5


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

What I've found is that if characters live short and die fast it's fine to use 3d6 in order, but when characters are expected to survive a lot longer then players like it better when they get more control over what they can be as characters.

My "early days" group in high school had no problem with 3d6 in order and if someone's character died they gladly rolled up a new one ASAP to get back into play. My current group has a very different mindset and wants to put more time and energy into character development and they don't like to start over so often, so they aren't fans of 3d6 in order.

I think it all comes down to the players and their style.


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

7/11/2014 8:33 am  #6


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

3d6 in order makes sense for games in which characters are disposable and the goal of the game is trying to get as far with a random character as you can. Such characters are not meant to have personalty, a backstory, or interactions with the game world. If your stats are terrible, have a laugh as he barely makes it through one or two encounters, and then start another one. Or in rare cases everyone might be amazed how the character simply does not seem to die, against all odds.
Can be lots of fun.

But I don't think it works at all for a game in which the players are supposed to give the character a personalty and an active role in the world. When players are meant to create an interesting character to become the hero of his story, it doesn't make any sense to randomly assign each player what choices they can make.
All classes and races should be equally open to all players, and the ability scores match the character concept. It's not fun for anyone in the group when some players are just waiting for their disposable character to die, so they can get another chance of making the character they want to play.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/11/2014 10:45 am  #7


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

For me, rolling method is less about the outlook for PC longevity and heroism, but what the rules system implies about attribute relevance.

In OD&D using first three LBBs, for example, there are three classes that have minimal attribute requirements. OD&D also has a limited bonus/penalty for high/low scores. No matter what you roll, odds are you can play any of the three classes and be competitive. So attributes are just not that meaningful and I'm fine with 3d6 in order.

In AS&SH, there are 20+ subclasses and they have more stringent attribute requirements (one requires two 15s, several require multiple 9s - all in the right spots). I want my players to have easy access to them because, to me, that's part of the experience that differentiates the system. Plus, there are more meaningul effects for high/low attributes. So, I prefer scores skewed higher and the ability to rearrange those. That's just me though. I'm also more of a butcher as a referee, so one way to counterbalance that is to give the PCs a little kiss at the beginning of the game.

Regardless, as I said before, each group should do what makes sense for them.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

7/13/2014 6:57 pm  #8


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

I allow methods I-IV, the only caveat is that if people use 3d6 in order then they roll twice on a custom "life events" table that I created. These "events" cover a wide spectrum and each provides a range of advantages; from small boons, mechanical advantages, bonuses, to minor magic items (potions, scrolls, consumables, etc.). Methods II and III roll once on the table and characters that were made with Method IV don't get to roll on the table.

Fo my own part I like the idea of choices and consequences. And the idea of providing a carrot for picking less advantageous methods appeals to me. The best thing I can say about it is that players have split their choices about evenly amongst the methods.

Last edited by NAJones (7/13/2014 6:59 pm)

 

7/13/2014 7:20 pm  #9


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

NAJones wrote:

I allow methods I-IV, the only caveat is that if people use 3d6 in order then they roll twice on a custom "life events" table that I created. These "events" cover a wide spectrum and each provides a range of advantages; from small boons, mechanical advantages, bonuses, to minor magic items (potions, scrolls, consumables, etc.). Methods II and III roll once on the table and characters that were made with Method IV don't get to roll on the table.

Fun! Care to share the events tables?


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

7/13/2014 11:49 pm  #10


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

Chainsaw wrote:

NAJones wrote:

I allow methods I-IV, the only caveat is that if people use 3d6 in order then they roll twice on a custom "life events" table that I created. These "events" cover a wide spectrum and each provides a range of advantages; from small boons, mechanical advantages, bonuses, to minor magic items (potions, scrolls, consumables, etc.). Methods II and III roll once on the table and characters that were made with Method IV don't get to roll on the table.

Fun! Care to share the events tables?

Sure. Unfortunately I'm at a cabin for the next 4 or 5 days, but when I get back I'd be happy to share it.

Full disclosure, I borrowed liberally from the Crypts & Things 'life events' table and then edited it to fit my setting.

Last edited by NAJones (7/13/2014 11:49 pm)

 

7/14/2014 12:16 pm  #11


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

The life events table was one of the more interesting things from C&T. It needs more entries in my opinion to make them feel more unique.

 

7/14/2014 1:15 pm  #12


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

in DCC i go 3d6 down the line. In ASSH 4d6 drop 1 assign as you go rather than roll all then assign. With more experienced players i'd be inclined to go straight down the line in ASSH but i tend to find my players aren't good at team work or decision making so i give them some slack. Perhaps i should be harsher though, they might learn.

 

7/14/2014 2:15 pm  #13


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

Chainsaw wrote:

In something like AS&SH (or 1E), where stats matter more in play and in class selection, we use 4d6/drop lowest, arrange to taste. On top of this, I allow a stat to be lowered by two in order to raise another by one (max 17).

I use this same method.  I find it allows a player to be any class he wants 99% of the time, while still retaining an element of luck.  I rolled 288 sets of character stats for Waifs of the Boreas using this method, and I only had to scrap and reroll maybe three times.  (All of them were bards - and did you know a bard's only dump stat is constitution?  Ugh.)


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

7/14/2014 5:18 pm  #14


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

I sometimes allow point trading with the mental stats, Int and Cha in particular. I do expect my players to an extent to roleplay, and thus think and speak like their characters. So if they don't feel they can perform stupid for a campaign i recommend they raise int to a middle of the range result. Although sometimes I also state that Int is really just memory (the mechanical role of it) and Cha is attractivness, the ability to deduce and speak manipulative words are as the player chooses to roleplay them. I then simple consider their Cha and Int as modifiers to how they act when determining the result.

 

7/19/2014 3:32 pm  #15


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

OK, only because I promised I'd upload it. Its utility might be limited and there's plenty of house-rules inside YMMV. Also it's by no means my creation strictly speaking (so hat tip to Akrasia and Newt Newton).
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p276/nikolokolus/Capture.jpg

Last edited by NAJones (7/19/2014 3:41 pm)

 

1/22/2015 4:11 am  #16


Re: An Argument for 3d6 In Order

Chainsaw wrote:

For me, rolling method is less about the outlook for PC longevity and heroism, but what the rules system implies about attribute relevance.

This. For me it's less about a particular preference towards character generation, and more about what the system itself says about said rolls.

My players have always done the 4d6 drop lowest, assign as desired method. They get to play what they like. Unless there is a general consensus towards another (possibly harsher) method (like 3d6 down the line), I generally keep things are they are. I've absoutely loved the times when we've done 3d6 down the line for Basic though. As characters are prone to death, stats matter little; running away often does! 
 

 

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