Character generation methods

Does everyone here actually use the 3d6 in order method? I’m as old school as the next guy, but I usually find that it creates pretty lame characters. Also, what does the method where you roll 5 characters and pick the best one do better than just roll 4d6 drop lowest. Besides wasting a lot of time rolling dice. :wink:

We do use 3d6 in order at New York Red Box; although my own campaign started with OD&D rules where ability modifiers are less important, the Glantri campaign players have taken 3d6-in-order guys up to 5th or 6th level using B/X rules with ability score modifiers similar to ACKS.
I think that roll 5, pick one is cool because:

  • it keeps you aware of what the actual 3-18 bell curve looks like; when you use 4d6, drop 1 you can get in the habit of thinking a 13 is nothing much
  • it gives you some choice, but the choice is within the universe of straight probability so characters look more organic than other swap or choose methods based on individual stat rolls
  • you can use the “wasted” scores for backup characters, henchmen, etc., or give them to the Judge to use for NPCs related to you somehow

I’ll be using 3d6 in order for my ACKS campaign (generating extra for retainers). Interesting characters have flaws.

I started my current campaign with 3d6 in order, allowing folks to re-roll hopeless characters (hopeless was defined as having a net of all the ability modifiers at -1 or lower). You end up with interesting results, like the beefy magic user with an 18 con or the haughty, sickly elf with 7 con and 5 cha but huge strength and int. You learn to love them. Most of the characters in that campaign are 5th / 6th level these days.

We’ve been using this rule:
As an optional rule, at the start of play, each player generates five characters and select one primary and two back-up characters. The remaining two characters are given to the Judge to use as NPCs to populate the campaign setting. If the primary and back-ups are all killed, the player generates five additional characters, again picking three and giving the Judge two. This ensures that the player always has a variety of characters to choose from to find one he likes, and gives the Judge some additional NPCs to populate the world.//
It’s been working great. Once you have people adjust ability scores, usually they have some pretty decent (i.e. non-lame) character scores.

TAVIS: “…the Glantri campaign players have taken 3d6-in-order guys up to 5th or 6th level using B/X rules…”
Most of those 5th or 6th level guys are now dead, I’d like to point out. The Glantri game is almost comically lethal, and I saw very few characters get past 3rd level during my tenure. The DM of Glantri does let players tweak their attribute scores as described in the B/X rulebook, fat lot of good it does them. :slight_smile:

Here in Durham, Greg Tito and I have both used the “Generating Multiple Characters” rule. It’s now been used in three separate campaigns. The advantages of this method are:

  1. Simulation - Not everyone would become an adventurer. By rolling 5 characters and using 1 with 2 back-ups, you winnow out the truly unfit.
  2. Effectiveness - With five chances, the odds are good you’ll have at least 1 or 2 playable and effective characters.
  3. Interesting - Even when you roll really well, the odds are that your character won’t be optimized in the 3E/4E sense. Your fighter might have a 17 - in Wisdom. Your thief might have an 18 - in Charisma. The existence of unexpected strengths or weaknesses makes the characters much more interesting.

TAVIS: “…the Glantri campaign players have taken 3d6-in-order guys up to 5th or 6th level using B/X rules…”
6th level is the undiscovered frontier in NYRedbox’s Glantri- the highest xp total character in the game died in a recent session, about 1000xp from level 6. There’s another one about 1200xp away, if I remember right.
There’s also been some tooth-gnashing about the RAW point trade in B/X- I doubt that it will survive as a practice.
One of the things I am constantly appreciating is how dialogic the game is: 3d6-in-order is fine, provided that (if the characters are frail) the players can carve out plans to survive, and the GM can adjudicate them with the right mix of failures and successes. Either side of that dialog falling short will quickly lead to fretting about party composition and ability scores.

“dialogic” Wow, even after looking it up I still don’t understand what that means. :slight_smile:
I’ve played in quite a few Basic D&D sessions this past year where we’ve exclusively used 3d6 (sometimes in order, sometimes not) and our casualty rate is probably around 75%. Higher stats would probably have helped at least a little.

The mortality wounds table does help a ton with this. We’ve had several “near deaths” that have turned into simply wounds (or less) that would have been actual deaths in B/X.
Still, we’ve had some actual deaths still with the mortal wounds table being present - one of them from a character who had just recovered from a week of rest after successfully not dying the first time. :slight_smile: