I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Generating SIX abilities with THREE rolls (FINALLY!)

UPDATE [26/12/2019]: this table is now part of Dark Fantasy Characters, which contains several tables for quick character generation.

This took me a lot longer than I expected, but here is my new version of "3d6 in order".

Roll three 20-sided dice one for each pair of abilities: Strength and Intelligence, Wisdom and Dexterity, and Constitution and Charisma. If you roll 3, 7 and 10, for example, your abilities are 12, 9, 8, 13, 12, 9.

After you’re finished, add a +1 bonus to any ability of your choice for every time you rolled 15 or more. 

Characters of the hopeless class [one of the five classes of my game, Dark Fantasy Basicdo not get this bonus, and instead must apply a -1 penalty to any ability (to a minimum of 8) every time they roll 14 or less on the d20.

A PC of the hopeless class...

What's the point?

The traditional "3d6 in order" is very good. However, it requires 18 dice to be rolled and added together. It can also create "hopeless" characters (see D&D Basic by Moldvay) which may require ANOTHER 18 dice to be rolled, etc.

I wanted a method which was:

- Faster.
- Fairer (i.e., starting PCs are more similar).
- More balanced (i.e, less extremes, no starting PCs with 18 Strength and 3 Constitution, for example)
- Allowed for SOME customization, but not too many options, to avoid analysis paralysis.
- Was slanted towards "archetypal" results, based on my yin-yang method.

Shall we try it?

Rolls: 11, 5, 13.
Str 11, Int 10, Wis 10, Dex 11, Con 9, Cha 12. There is no "basic" class that benefits from high Charisma, but this might be a starting paladin or mountebank.

Rolls: 17, 1, 19.
Str 10, Int 10, Wis 14, Dex 7, Con 9, Cha 11, AND we get +2 ability points to add as desired - let us make Dex 8 and Con 10. A decent starting cleric.

Rolls: 2, 16, 7.
Str 13, Int 8, Wis 11, Dex 9, Con 8, Cha 13, plus +1 to one ability. I would bet on Strength 14 to make a strong, if somewhat frail, fighter.

The main issue with these examples is that they seem TOO WEAK when compared to the "new school" methods I'm used to in my 5e games... So I should probably add a couple of extra columns to the table... Something like basic/heroic/epic. It would LOOK good, I think, but just adding +1 or +2 to every stat (or every other stat) would be even easier. 



  1. Definitively an improvement, imo. Fast, simple and fair, just as you say. Are you working on a second edition?

    1. Thanks! To be honest, I'm tempted. However, I feel like I should finish my monster book first, and then some GM material... after that I can think of a second edition, maybe all in one single book.