Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rolling Lots of Dice

You need a large enough surface for the Big Bang.

Yesterday, Beedo posted, asking about people's opinions regarding hopeless characters.  This made me think of my current favorite method of character generation: rolling all the dice at once.  Now, if anything but 3d6, in order, no rerolls, no point swaps, etc, is the only thing that satisfies you because one morning while sitting on the can you had a vision of Gary Gygax, dressed in a white robe and strumming a golden harp whose six strings were tuned to the Fibonacci scale, singing, "Lo, 3d6 ordo," just skip this post: I've got nothing to offer you, so why bother?  But if are open, pray continue.  It may not be new to you, but it doesn't seem very common to me and may be worth your consideration.

Taking 18d6 and rolling all of them at once instead of six times of three together has the following benefits, in my view.
  1. Rolling eighteen dice all together is fun.  I like it better than dragging the rolls out, and the kids I've introduced to this method seem to like it more, too.  (Go ahead, judge me.)  The birth of a character starts out feeling like an event because of the veritable explosion of dice.  
  2. While there should be no significant statistical difference in the total outcome, you now have 18 dice to arrange, three to each of the six ability scores.  This introduces an element of control, planning, and customization that is something like a point buy system, but without eliminating dice or variation.  
  3. You are working not simply with math, but with manipulatives.  For lots of us, this is more fun.  
  4. You have a better chance of getting an 18 in something -- certainly a 17 or 16.
  5. All that talk about it being fun having a low score in something?  Yeah, chances are your allocating your dice to suit your character concept, class, and/or race are going to leave you short somewhere.  Voila, fun.  And fun you chose, weighing your options and using the resources the dice gave you.
  6. Chances are lower that you will roll a hopeless character, since you can weigh the dice totals against the modifiers they will yield in whatever system you are playing, and assigning them to scores you want.
Here are three characters that I created by this method.  Note that, to illustrate the basic method in such a way as to be applicable to the widest number of systems, I did not add any bonuses given to certain races in some systems, not did I observe the limits placed on scores for some races in others.  Just a bare bones approach. (X is for Charisma, by the way.  I'm trying to spread this handy help from the Greek, where chi is written like X.)


Human Fighter
S
666
18
D
554
14
C
554
14
I
211
4
W
521
8
X
541
10


Halfling Thief
S
333
9
D
665
17
C
553
13
I
553
13
W
211
4
X
544
13



Order out of Chaos: The first picture turned into a character.  I'm thinking, Human Magic-User.
Does anybody else use this method?  Is there anything I am missing?  I'd be curious to hear.

11 comments:

  1. I have. It tends, in my experience, to lead to the same min/max as a point-buy systems. I think it's because you are rolling enough dice that you tend to get a reasonably even distribution of rolls, so you are basically juust picking the number you want for the first couple of stats, and then just managing the dump stats.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cool idea! I will definitely try it... except I can only find 13 six siders. Crap.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm with James. It seems like fun. And if you're worried about too much "dump statting" you can set a floor on stats -- like nothing can be below a six (because such crappy stats would have led to to be eaten by a badger before adventuring).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Prof. Pope and 123: I have a design/DMing philosophy issue when it comes to dump-statting. If it is a problem, then that stat is not counting enough in your system or in your game. If they're eating those -2s and -3s in game, then they are taking their licks for dump-statting and no other controls are necessary. To put it another way, if 3-6 isn't meant for functional PCs, then stats should only go from 6-18. Holmes kind of did this functionally, by the way, by having negative modifiers cut off at 6 (or 8) and below. If you made the cut off at 7, you could generate stats by 6+2d6, but I'm still trying to make the whole range useful and playable. And it seems to me still to make interesting characters. There are super smart people who are pitifully weak and super charismatic people who are laughably foolish and so forth. A scale of 16 points for human abilities seems like a decent calibration, just based on observation of humanity.

    Thanks a lot for all the comments, folks! I do think it is fun, James, and Timrod obviously needs to buy some dice. I found my box of little black/red d6s at a hobby store, but where ever you go, paw through every single box they have. I found the one in the back had been there forever, and still had a really old price on it that had never been updated. And I love red on black!

    One or two other folks sent me comments that they were going to be play-testing the method, so I'm glad to hear that it might get more tries.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really like this method, and am going to test it out when my next campaign starts.

    One tweak I have is that everyone will gather around the dice tray, the 18 dice will be split among each player, and everyone in the group rolls together.

    Thus we have a group pool of dice that each player arranges to his liking. No one ends up with a bunch of sixes while another has a bunch of ones. It will help me balance the party between each other and keep the power level in a consistent band.

    Plus, it brings the whole group together at the very beginning, which is always a plus.

    ReplyDelete
  6. WHY ARE YOU SUCH A BICH,NEWBEE?? EVRYBUDDY NO'S IT ARE MOST FUN TO ROLL 3D6 IN ODOR. BUT WATE THAIR IS A TRIKKING!!1 ANY '1' FOR YUOR DIE IS ROLED AGAIN. YOU GET 6-18 FOR SCOARS WITHUOT TEH MUNCHKIN MEAT SANDWICH TO SUK ON LIKE IN YUOR PITCHER.
    :p
    -NUNYA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is indeed a trikking! It refers to the preening peacock of a man called a "Pimp," and what he is doing to your mother.

      Delete
    2. Noway scrote.

      NUNYA is am unprecsiatid artieste. Your all blog biches.
      And, noobs.

      NUNYA'S MOM

      Delete
  7. HAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    What the f are you doing here, Don Rickles? You should have a t.v. show, you're the king-o-commodians!!!

    HAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Genius at work!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Is Nunya's comment available in English?

    ReplyDelete