A is for Ability Generation

My favorite method of ability generation has traditionally been the one that Len Lekofka described in “Starting From Scratch” in Dragon #40 (interesting the first issue without “The” in the title on the cover). It will create decent AD&D characters without being too much of a gimmie system. You had good odds of qualifying for one non-core class but weren’t assured a specific one. It was also fairly simple:

  1. Role 4d6 and total the three highest seven times.
  2. Swap any two values.
  3. Drop any one value.
  4. The remaining six are your scores in PHB order (strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, charisma although I often defaulted back to Holmes order with dexterity and constitution reversed).

An example:

  • Starting roles: 14, 16, 10, 9, 9, 10, 12
  • Fighter: swap the 14 and the second 10 then drop the now leading 10 for 16, 10, 9, 9, 14, 12 for a good strength bonus and some constitution bonus.
  • Cleric: swap the 16 and the first 10 then drop either 9 for 14, 10, 16, 9, 10, 12 for a four bonus spells (two first and two second level) and a strength bonus when functioning as a backup fighter. A first level cleric with three cure light wounds or two cures and a light is a great asset.
  • Assassin: the old special class this character can meet the qualifications by swapping the 12 with either 9 and dropping the other 9 for 14, 16, 10, 9, 10, 12.

You could also do the other two core classes or different builds for the two given. There are no other special classes builds, however.

In A Fistful of Coppers I’m going to adapt this system to OD&D/S&W as follows:

  1. Role 3d6 and total them seven times.
  2. Swap any two values.
  3. These are your scores in S&W order (strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, charisma) plus your starting gold.

I think some interesting choices of “good class stat” versus “good starting money” may come up.

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