3d6 or 4d6 Compared

As a follow-up to last night’s post on rolling up ability scores for Labyrinth Lord, here’s a screenshot of a little Excel sheet I whipped up to simulate some rolls:

Green indicates a bonus of 1 or greater, Red indicates a penalty of 1 or greater

Green indicates a bonus of 1 or greater, Red indicates a penalty of 1 or greater

You can click for a closer look, but, before you do, notice the green and red on each side. Green indicates a score of 13 or better and bonus. Red indicates a score below 9 and a penalty. As I noted last night, it’s that bonus at 13 that makes me cringe when talking about 4d6. So much green on the left side.

Something else to consider is the class requirements. In LL, only elves, dwarves, and halflings even have a minimum score required, and that’s a 9 in every case. Certainly not all that difficult with 3d6. Especially with the “trade 2 points somewhere else to add 1 to your prime req” rule, which I’ve never really liked but may consider using if we go with 3d6.

Another option, one I used in my short-lived Swords & Wizardry White Box game, was “3d6 in order, plus a 7th 3d6 roll which can be traded with any of the first six.” What I liked about this was that it helped make sure that a PC had a good chance to avoid a really bad score while not doing too much to ramp up the power level.

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4 Responses to 3d6 or 4d6 Compared

  1. Something else to consider is the class requirements.Very true. I noticed right away that this was missing in C&C–no minimum requirements for class or race. This would actually support the basic 3d6 and roll in order approach that I prefer (but am not using). Low scores would hurt in terms of penalties and saving throws (since ability scores also impact saving throws in C&C). Back in my Holmes days, when we did the 3d6 in order routine, we had a number of “hopeless” characters; enough that we created “Hopeless Character” as a class.

    The chart is groovy. Thanks!

  2. Jack Colby says:

    I like using a seventh 3d6 roll which is tentatively used as the starting gold roll, but if a player would prefer, may be swapped for any one of their other ability score rolls. That way if they roll low on some score they really want, and high for gold, it won’t feel like they are “wasting” the good roll on gold (which is very temporary anyhow.)

  3. Tacoma says:

    I wrote a little revision of OD&D recently and included a “typical equipment list” for a quick start and for new players. Everyone in the playtest group liked it and each bought the package, changing one or two items each. It meant people were adequately equipped at first (no forgetting to buy clothes!) and it was much faster. But you could take any class and buy the package, then add armor and weapon if you wanted and just go.

    I like the chance to swap the gold roll out for a stat instead. But Magic-Users and Thieves who typically don’t need much gold will benefit more than Fighters and Clerics who wear armor. Then again since you’re really looking at raising a statistic for 10 GP per point there is no better deal out there. Assuming your lowest roll isn’t money!

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