I am planning to shift to a “roll in order” for ability scores, with the opportunity to swap two scores.

We’ve almost always played “4d6, drop lowest”, but I’m leaning toward a straight 3d6 for Labyrinth Lord from now on. I believe that the +1 modifiers for to-hit, damage, and hit points at 13 is excessive. Yes, I realize that this is how original B/X played it, but I believe it’s just too much. My conscience requires me to either adjust the ability score modifiers, probably to a +1 at 15 instead of 13, or slightly deflate ability scores.

Since the 3d6 method is by the book to begin with, going that route is preferable to me.

Over at Dungeons and Digressions, I see the sidebar poll shows a sizable lead for the “4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste” method. This has long been my own most common rule, though I’ve varied things over the years.

What do readers do and/or prefer?

UPDATE: I also posed this question on the LL forum.

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19 Comments to “3d6 or 4d6?”

  1. GamerDude says:

    In the past it’s been 4d6, drop lowest, arrange to taste. But lately, in my Castles and Crusades game, as well as my family Labyrinth Lord game, it’s been 3d6. But they may arrange to taste. Still, it certainly drops the scores. Out of both games there are only 3 18’s…and that’s out of nearly a dozen characters rolled.

  2. JB says:

    With B/X it’s always been 3D6 in order than adjust as per the Moldvay rules. I find this works best (hey, we aren’t all born Jim Thorpe or Ladainian Tomlinson, right?). I use this for LL as well, to good effect.

    When I played other editions in the past I used a variety of different methods. 3D6 in order but re-roll 1s and 2s (once). Roll D20 (for comeliness) ignoring 1-2 and 19-20. That crazy table from the UA.

    In D20, I preferred to simply take 78 points and arrange to taste…though this sometimes made it difficult to re-create 1st edition AD&D characters of the past.

  3. David Macauley says:

    I’ve always used 4d6 drop the lowest and have never had players roll up any super characters doing so. All it seems to do is guarantee average scores all round.

    • Kilgore says:

      I don’t mind the “avoid the really bad score” aspect of 4d6, drop lowest. But in LL you start getting ability bonuses at 13 and 4d6, drop lowest sure gives out a lot of bonuses, more than “average scores all round.” More than I like, anyway. That’s really my biggest hang-up.

  4. Verhaden says:

    Over at Delta’s D&D Blogspot, he recommends 9-12 as average, and then a +1 granted for every 3 thereafter.

    13-15 +1
    16-18 +2

    I think it works out rather nice with a 3d6 distribution. (I allow 3d6, place at will.)

  5. A Paladin In Citadel says:

    3d6 in order, with a sum of attributes between 63 and 69

    • Kilgore says:

      Do I understand that you cap at 69 points total, even if they roll better? I’ve heard of minimums, but never maximums. Or do I have it wrong?

      • A Paladin In Citadel says:

        Yes, if a character has less than a sum of 63, d6 random dice rolls to increase the stats. If the sum is more than 69, same to decrease the stats.

        Very rarely do the players roll too high. Most end up in the 57 to 69 range from normal dice rolls.

  6. I like 3d6 in order, but also using the old (and often unremembered0 D&D Basic rule of dropping ability scores by 2 to raise prime requisites by 1.

  7. Timeshadows says:

    3d6, 7x drop lowest, arrange.
    –I like giving the Player a decent chance to play a certain type of character, rather than the order of the rolls dictating the ‘decision’ that isn’t really a decision.

    • Kilgore says:

      I used a 7th roll in my S&W WB game. The idea was that at least a really bad score could probably be avoided. I went “in order” instead of “arrange to taste”, but I’m rethinking that now, too.

  8. Carl Nash says:

    3d6 in order, swap one pair works for me! This has been working great for my Mutant Future campaign, as well as always working in the past for B/X D&D.

    Unless we are talking OD&D, then no swapping but you can trade points out at a 2 for 1 rate to raise your prime requisite.

  9. Started with 3d6 in order (still my personal favorite) with Holmes Basic D&D. Used a number of different variations with AD&D before settling on 4d6, drop the lowest roll, and arrange to suit. In current C&C game we started with 3d6 arranged to suit and have moved to rolling 3 sets of 3d6, picking favorite set then arranging to suit. This is not my favorite, but it has been a workable compromise.

    @Timeshadows: I like giving the Player a decent chance to play a certain type of character, rather than the order of the rolls dictating the ‘decision’ that isn’t really a decision. Yup. I agree.

  10. I like to be suprised. I like 3d6 in order and take what I get. Others want to be in control and play what they’ve been thinking of. I, of course, say Booooooring! 🙂 My conclusion: Either method will make some players unhappy.