Topic: Rolling Attributes: a modified roll-in-order for OSR RPGs.

Rolling Attributes: a modified roll-in-order for OSR RPGs.

I was watching the 1963 version of “Jason and the Argonauts” with a child. There is a scene where Hercules and a friend find the hidden room full of treasure beneath the Talos statue. They go in, and when suddenly, the trap springs and the door closes behind them. But Hercules grabs the door and wrenches it open. “Hercules is famous for being the strongest hero”, I explain. Then, later, when Hercules decides to take the “hair-pin-of-the-gods” and run off with it, Talos, the Bronze Collosus chases after them. “Why is he taking it?” asked the child. “Hercules is NOT famous for being the smartest hero”, I explain.

The above story illustrates something about the kind of character Hercules is. He put all his points in Strength, and not enough in Intelligence or Constitution. (Hercules died after failing a poison save)
On the other hand, Odyseus in spite of being the only one strong enough to string his bow and dexterous enough to shoot through all the axe loops, is not famous for being the strongest or most dexterous hero. He is famous for being the most intelligent hero.

When D&D first started, you had to roll your attributes in order, and would pick your class based on what you rolled. Holmes Basic, the version I started with, had you roll in order, but would let you take 2 points off certain attributes in order to add one to another. This would make it easier to play the Class you wanted to without having to roll again. Lamentations of the Flame Princess has you roll 3d6 in order, then lets you switch one score with another.

(1st ed) AD&D offers several methods of rolling up attributes. But in actual practice, I only ever saw was Method I: roll 4d6 keep the best 3, do this six times, and arrange them on which ever attributes the player chooses. Just before 2nd ed AD&D came out, I encountered a DM who gave people 78 points to distribute amongst six attributes. This could give you three 18s and three 3s. Later, 3rd Ed D&D had a complicated point buy system that was similar to the Holmes Basic system. But I never liked the 3rd ed version of  point buy. I don’t like giving up 2 point to gain one. I would rather run a character with six 10s. 5th ed D&D offered 6 pre-generated scores that you can assign as you choose. But they are too low and too high for my taste.

When you look at roll-in-order verses assign rolls as you choose or point buy. One thing becomes clear. When the player gets to choose where their scores go, they always make a Hercules, never an Odyseus. Fighters never let that 18 they rolled stay on Intelligence. Wizards never let that 18 stay on Strength, where it might help them survive the low levels or carry more equipment. And Charisma is treated as a dump attribute. (unless you are playing one of the New School variants of Bard or Sorcerer) New School players accuse that without Feats, all fighters are the same. But I say, if they can pick where their high attributes go, everyone of a particular class puts them on the same places, making characters who all have the same strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, when you are using a variant of roll-in-order, you might get a fighter with an 18 Charisma who is great at leading the troops, or a Thief who is a con-man type. Roll-in order allows an Odyseus or Casanova to appear . . . or a Gandalf. (he did a lot of fighting with that sword of his) So, this led me to adopt a modified roll-in-order method that would allow you to be assured to having high scores in your main attributes, white not being able to prevent yourself from having higher scores in the attributes you don’t think are that important for your class. I initially used this for Mazes & Minotaurs. Here is the variationI have come up with for LotFP.

A character has six attributes : one prime requisite (determined by his class), two favoured attributes (one determined by class, the other selected by the player) and three standard attributes. Once these choices have been made, the six attributes are rolled up in order.

To determine the score of the character’s prime requisite, roll 2d6 and add the highest one to 12. (Use the Prime attribute listed by class)To determine the score of a favoured attribute, roll 3d6 and add the two best results to 6. (Use the second main attribute, plus one other)
To determine the score of a standard attribute, roll 3d6. (3 attributes, rolled in order)

Class                      Prime Attribute                   Favoured Attribute
Cleric                        Wisdom                               Charisma
Fighter                     Str or Dex                             Str or Dex or Con
Specialist                     Dex                                        Int
Magic User                   Int                                         Dex
Dwarf                           Con                                         Int
Elf                                 Str or Int or Dex                     Int or Dex
Halfling                        Dex                                          Wis

So let me explain my reasoning behind the required Prime and Favored attributes. Since LotFP adventures are usually set in 17th Earth and there are no Sorcerer or Bards, it made sense to make the Clerics the ones who are likely to have a high Charisma.
I make Fighters chose between being better at melee or missiles. And I make elves choose between those two or magic.
I strongly considered making Wisdom the Favored attribute of Magi.
I made Intelligence the Favored attribute of Dwarfs because it helps with Saving throws against Magic, and it helps with knowing languages.
I made Wisdom the Favoured attribute for Halflings because it helps with poison saves. (which are already easy for Halflings)

Keep in mind that the player does get to pick a second Favoured attribute. So they can roll a high score on that third one they want to roll high for.

This gives players a range of 13-18 for their Prime attribute, with a mean of 16.5.
The Favoured attibutes have a range of 8-18, with a mean of 15.

The remaining three attributes, rolled 3d6 in order, average 10.5, could be as low as 3 or as high as 18.

Re: Rolling Attributes: a modified roll-in-order for OSR RPGs.

Very nice alternative for rolling the attributes. I think I will use this when I want the PCs to be more heroic.