Tuesday, March 18, 2008

(Not) rolling with the punches.

One change in Fourth Edition D&D which is sure to delight some players and infuriate others is that there are no longer any random rolls in the character creation process.  Character stats will be created using point-buy, and hit points will now be a set number per class level.

When I heard this I was actually surprised.  I honestly shouldn't be.  My regular game has been using point buy and fixed hit points as a house rule.  Other game systems, like White Wolf's Storyteller System, Champions, Star Wars d6, and even OGL games like Mutants & Masterminds have been doing it for awhile. 

Eliminating random rolls from character creation simply makes sense.  A player who rolls poorly finds himself at extreme disadvantage at the game table.  Meanwhile, I player who rolls well can make a character who finds the average adventure to be a cakewalk.  When these characters are both in the same party it can be a problem.  At least until the character with poor rolls dies and the player can roll up a new one.

That being said, the old school gamer in me cringed when I found this out  Some atavistic part of my mind screamed "It's OK for you to make up some mamsy-pamby house rules to take out rolling, but by gum in REAL D&D you roll 3d6, six times, in order, and live by the results!"

The more rational point of my mind quickly reasserted itself.  It did make me realized how ingrained die-rolling is in the D&D creation process.  I think its because all of us have gone through the extremes.  The joy of rolling that eighteen!  The horror of seeing three ones!  Its a shared experience that helps bring us together as gamers.  Everyone has a story of playing a fighter with a nine strength or that thief who's lowest score was a fifteen.

In the end I suppose rolling your statistics just seems so quintessentially Gygaxian!

Still, I can't say I am sorry to see the randomness go away.  It will make the game fairer and easier to run.  I just bet we will call it "rolling up a character" even after the rolls are gone.


Bronz said...

I for one am certainly glad they took out the random dice rolls in character generation. It makes the customization of that character all the more real since everyone is using the same amount of numbers and didn't just get lucky/unlucky while rolling their d6's or what not.

As was said, the rational part of the brain definitely agrees with this portion of the rules. It just simply makes sense. It puts everyone on an even playing field, and at the same time creates a design frame that balanced monsters and villains can be a part of.

But, maybe I'm just bitter at those stupid dice. My characters were never as strong or as smart as others when randomness was about.

Damn you law of averages! Damn you!

Fosco said...

Great, Another thing I can say to younger folks. "We took our chances and rolled the dice...and WE LIKED IT!"