<GENERATION OF ABILITY SCORES, Player Characters :> Method I Method II Method III Method IV
- Method V - - -
<GENERATION OF ABILITY SCORES, Non-Player Characters :> Non-Player Characters General Characters Special Characters, Including Henchmen -
- - - - -

As AD&D is an ongoing game of fantasy adventuring,
it is important to allow participants to generate a viable character of the race and profession which he or she desires.
While it is possible to generate some fairly playable characters by rolling 3d6,
there is often an extended period of attempts at finding a suitable one due to quirks of the dice.
Furthermore, these rather marginal characters tend to have short life expectancy --
which tends to discourage new players,
as does having to make do with some character of a race and/or class which he or she really can't or won't identify with.
Character generation, then, is a serious matter, and it is recommended that the following systems be used.
Four alternatives are offered for player characters:

Method I:
All scores are recorded and arranged in the order the player desires.
4d6 are rolled, and the lowest die (or one of the lower) is discarded.

Originally Posted by Amy Kou'ai
Hey, Gary -- this is something that I've just been curious about, though I haven't followed the thread in its entirety so possibly you may have answered it in some previous part, but:

What's your preferred way to roll for stats?


As a DM who wants the players to be as pleased as possible with the process.
I typically allow stat rolls of d46,
taking the three highest,
and allowing the totals to be arranged in whatever order the player desires.

In regards to HPs,
I typically say re-roll any 1,
and I agree with the initial GD being at the max--
a good way to assist in survival of low-lEvEl PCs


Method II:
All scores are recorded and arranged as in Method I.
3d6 are rolled 12 times and the highest 6 scores are retained.

Method III:
Scores rolled are according to each ability category, in order,
3d6 are rolled 6 times for each ability,
and the highest score in each category is retained for that category.

Method IV:
3d6 are rolled sufficient times to generate the 6 ability scores, in order, for 12 characters.
The player then selects the single set of scores which he or she finds most desirable and these scores are noted on the character
record sheet.

Class Minimum Score or Adjustment to 
Ability Dice Roll*
   Paladin S12, I9, W13, D6, C9, Ch17
Cleric S6, I6, W9*, D6, C6, Ch6 (* 13 if multi-classed half-elf cleric)
    Druid S6, I6, W12, D6, C6, Ch15
Fighter S9, I3, W6, D6, C7, Ch6
    Ranger S13, I13, W14, D6, C14, Ch6
Magic-User S3, I9, W6, D6, C6, Ch6
    Illusionist S6, I15, W6, D16, C3, Ch6
Thief S6, I6, W3, D9, C6, Ch6
    Assassin S12, I11, W6, D12, C6, Ch3
Monk S15, I6, W15, D15, C11, Ch6

Prime Requisite: 16+ grants a 10% XP bonus.

<theoretically, could be extended for all of the demi-humans>


Question: When a character has one ability score low enough to be
“forced” into a class, what happens if the character’s other
ability scores are not high enough to qualify for that class?

Answer: Either you’re rolling cursed dice, or the DM is using a strange,
special system for generating ability scores. In either case, the
most obvious solution is to crumple up the piece of paper with
those six terrible numbers on it, take a fresh sheet, and pretend
that character never happened.
    How and why would a player get in this kind of predicament
to begin with? The player decides (in most character-generation
systems) which ability to assign to which number — so why
would anyone knowingly saddle a character with a super-low
score (one of those “here or lower” numbers) and thereby
commit that character to a class it is not qualified for? If you’re
unlucky enough to roll a 3, 4, or 5 for an ability score, your
choices become a lot more limited — but there still are choices.
Assign the lowest of your six scores after you’ve figured out
what to do with the highest rolls, not the other way around.
(Clarification: If you end up with two or more scores of 5 or less, re-roll a new set of ability scores)

richardstincer wrote:
Gary, now that I have asked you everything that I think was missing about a PC race, I want to ask you about ability scores next. For the method that allows rolling 12 sets of six natural basic ability scores for 12 characters, a player can select the six most desirable scores. Does that mean I--or any other player--can select six average scores for a starting PC adventurer? The reason that I want average, basic natural ability scores is because I like being average in physical and mental abilities. Averageness and neutrality are aesthetically pleasing or inherently pleasing to me.


Once again you are asking me questions that are properly the purview of the Game Master.

If you are the GM, make up your own rules as how to handle the dice rolls for new PCs. If someone else is, then ask him.

The alternate means of stat number generation in the OAD&D game were to boost the numbers above the average 9-12 spread to something like 10-13 or 11-14.


oldschooler wrote:
I have a question for Gary regarding character creation: Would you trust any player to simply pick his or her statistics (Abilities or otherwise) rather than roll dice for them? Sort of like a point buy, but with whatever they think their character would have; Any thoughts on this approach?

Do you allow a child to choose what he will have for dinner? I think not. The parent is the one responsible for that sort of decision, just as the Gm oversees character creation :roll:


Joe Maccarrone wrote:
Greetings, Colonel!

A brief distraction from work for you: 

What was (or is) your favorite method of character generation for AD&D? Was it the popular 'Method I' -- 4D6, drop the lowest, arrange as desired?

I've often used Method V from UA, which is sometimes maligned in these forums as creating overly-potent characters. I like it because the player usually sets out to create a particular type of character, and Method V ensures that the scores will qualify. Also, the scores generated by this method are generally suitable for long-term survival and high level play, should the character make it that far.

What do you think? Do you agree with the detractors of Method V? If using Method I, and the scores don't qualify for the character class desired, do you simply raise them to the minimum (as noted in Method V)?



Hi Joe,

Just back from a long weekend of gaming, so I am mired in email 

I usually used method I, 4d6, toss out one, arrange the totals in any order desired, for that allows the player to have a better shor at getting the sort of character desired.

There is nothing wrong with method V, of course, as far as I am concerned, or else I would not have included it in the UA work!


Originally posted by MerricB
G'day Gary!

Over the years, you presented several systems to create ability scores in Dungeons and Dragons. From the initial "roll 3d6 six times, and assign to ability scores in order" to the later versions in AD&D and Unearthed Arcana...

What method did you actually use in your campaign? (It probably changed, but which was your favourite?)

Cheers and Best Wishes!

Hola Merric!

As stats became more vital to a long-lived PC, I improved the players' chance to get a viable one quickly, one that they would be happy with.

In my campaign I allowed rolls of 4d6, three highest for the score, and arrangement of scores as the player wished.
That enabled the creation of a character the player wished to play, of course.


Originally posted by optimizer

We started with with 3d6 in order rolled, moved to 3d6 in player selected order to get characters and classes we would like to play, then finally ended up with the 4d6 with player selected order to get viable characters like you mention. We have been doing this for years and seems to be the best way for us. I am glad to know that our paths moved the same way!



Agreed, Mike

The objective is to have players who are happy with their new PCs, the latter having a decent chance of surving the adventures.


Originally Posted by mistere29
How did you generate attributes in your games?

in 1972 we all rolled 3d6, but later when AD&D made the stats more meaningful, players would keep rolling until they got more viable numbers, so then we switched to various systems--roll seven or eight times with 3d6 and keep the six best totals or roll d4d and throw out the lowest die.

After all, the object of the game is to have fun, and weak PCs aren't much fun for most players.
Even fine role-players want characters with at least one or two redeming stats...

The variations on rolling dice for characters came from me, mainly because i was weary of watching players roll dozens of times in order to come up with a set of stats they wanted. 

It seemed a logical thing to do, as with allowing the scores to be ordered as the player desired so as to arrive at stats for a PC they wanted to play 


Generation of Ability Scores: Non-Player Characters.