Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Fair Random Ability Scores

I really like the new upcoming English edition of the Swedish RPG: Dragonbane. I love the simplicity of the game's design, but I do notice that many RPGs equate simplicity with "old-school." This doesn't have to be the case, (Check out Quest by Adventure Guild or Land of Eem.) but it's certainly true for Dragonbane. (Given that Dragonbane is an evolution of a game that's been around for 40 years, a certain amount of old-school baggage is understandable and forgivable.)

Most glaring for me among that "baggage" is the six core attributes, and the whole: roll to create your character shtick. My initial reaction to this is just to "steal" D&D 5E's standard array and be done with it. But, then I got to wondering if there was a way to generate the ability scores in a way that gives the fairness of a fixed array while still being random.

I do remember "rolling-up" characters when I first started playing D&D, and the excitement in "discovering" what that new random character would become. I also see value in random generation for new players who don't know what they want and rely on the randomness of the dice to provide some guidance.

I did a search on the interwebs and discovered this creative and simple solution in the 13th Age SRD. (Yet another reason for 13th Age to continue to be my favorite RPG!)

Base 13 Random Stat Generation

Roll six d6, line them up, and assign a letter to each: A, B, C, D, E, F.  Calculate your stats using pairs of adjacent dice as follows:

(13 + A) – B
(13 + B) – C
(13 + C) – D
(13 + D) – E
(13 + E) – F
(13 + F) – A

(This method creates a randomized stat array that always adds up to 78, since each die is both added and subtracted from the total, with a range of 8 to 18 for each stat.)

This looks like it might work pretty well. I had never heard of it before, but I decided to give it a try:

A  =  1    |   (13 + A) – B    |    8 STR
B  =  6    |   (13 + B) – C    |   17 DEX
C  =  2    |   (13 + C) – D    |   10 CON
D  =  5    |   (13 + D) – E    |   12 INT
E  =  6    |   (13 + E) – F    |   18 WIS
F  =  1    |   (13 + F) – A    |   13 CHR

Wow! Looks pretty good! Seems like I have myself a thin but wiry Cleric. I could work with this. I should probably test this several times to see how things fall out, but at first glance, this method of Random Ability Score generation looks just awesome!

What do you think? Do you have a clever random method for generating Ability Scores? I'd love to hear about it. Post a comment here or come join our Facebook Group!

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