This is How We Roll (Part 1)

Every time new players enter into an established campaign there is a great deal of explaining that has to happen to get the newcomers up to speed on what is going on and how things work in the game. And perhaps the first thing that needs explaining is how to create a character. One of the first things a player has to decide is what type of character they want to play, and what race. After that we get to bust out the dice and roll up some fun.

The most important rolls are the ones that happen before the character ever enters the story. Coming up with the six vital statistics (frequently referred to simply as “stats”) is a key thing and a player needs to check with their Game Master before proceeding to insure that they are doing it correctly. In my games the players will roll four d6 and keep the best three for each of the six stats. So using my own “Lucky Greens” lets see how this works.

Our first roll isn’t anything to scream about, but by taking the three highest dice we end up with a total of 11. While this is perfectly average it isn’t normally the ideal to have a character with purely average stats. This is however a decent roll for an NPC (non-player character) or for a player’s stat that they might view as not as important as their key stat that is crucial for their character. A thief for instance might want this for their charisma since they aren’t out to impress anyone anyway, or a paladin might put as their dexterity because wearing plate armor is going to hobble your movements enough to make a high dexterity relatively pointless.

On our second roll we get a slightly better result of 13. Again, it isn’t fantastic, but not too shabby. This is what many fighters might consider good enough for their intelligence, or what a priest might place into dexterity. I’ve known quite a few people that haven’t rolled a heckuva lot better than this at all for their stats, so they just went with it and hoped future rolls would be kinder. Spoiler alert: they rarely are.

Our third roll gives us a result of 14. I sense a pattern. Luckily we are headed upwards. A fourteen is a perfectly respectable number, well above average since stats range from 3 to 18 (before modifiers). I honestly wouldn’t want more than one stat lower than this depending on what character I am trying to develop. Players need to keep in mind that anytime they are asked to roll a stat check they need to roll a d20 and the resulting number has to be the same as their targeted stat or lower. Therefore the higher that stat is the easier it is to succeed in those stat rolls. Some Game Masters might not use a lot of stat checks, but I tend to use them a lot whenever my players are trying to do oddball things or I might want to see if they notice something that will help them out.

Roll number four is our best one yet and gives us a 15. This is a fine result. A fighter with a strength of 15 isn’t anyone to be trifled with, nor would be a wizard with an intelligence of 15. Remember that some races will have modifiers to help boost this if it in the right stat, so that could become a 16 or 17, which is a great stat.

The fifth roll is another 15. While we were certainly hoping for better than that, weren’t we? If you are a dick you can take this opportunity to demand a recount and claim the rolls were unfairly stolen. But a lot can be done with these rolls as they stand thus far. We only have one more to go to complete our set of six rolls, and right about now is when you start praying for a damned 18.

And that is what happens when you rely too heavily on divine intervention. Our sixth and final roll gives us a friggin 9. This is the lowest strength a fighter can have, the lowest dexterity a thief can have, and the lowest intelligence that a wizard can have. For the record those would be some easily defeated people. They would be the Sweathogs of adventurers, the veritable “B” squad in a crappy kingdom or the “C” squad in a country capable of potty-training more than fifty percent of their population.

So we take our dismal rolls and assign them to the various stat categories; strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. How those numbers are distributed will depend on what kind of character you are wanting to develop. Most everyone is going to toss that 9 into charisma because as nerds we are well acquainted with being disliked anyway. Is this set playable? Absolutely. You can’t be certain things like a paladin because you will need an 18 for charisma, but there are plenty of options wide open for exploring. Would you want to keep rolling to get better numbers? Yes. So what I do is roll more dice and when I get to a set of six that I like I stop. It might take awhile. But that’s ok because rolling dice is one of life’s great and satisfying activities. Its how we roll.