So in the prep to start a new AD&D campaign, there is a host of decisons to make beyond the simple – “what rules to use”. At it’s most basic, in addition to what classes and races to allow (and I have a game world with a host of non-standard races, let alone classes) is how to roll up characters.
I rarely played with the nominal OD&D notion of 3d6, in order, for statistics. I know that I did that for some period of indeterminate time, but that was dropped somewhere along the way. As has been noted even within the AD&D rules itself, character’s often need at least a couple of stats up in the 15 or 16 range. Then I moved into the 4d6, drop the lowest die, put them where you want, school of rolling up characters and that sufficed for a good period of time. It’s a pretty good system and works well for lots of people.
Somewhere along the way the idea of a “crash roll” – the ability to re-roll one statistic, but with the stipulation that you had to take whatever the new result was even if it was worse – was added to the methodology.
But after Comeliness was added (and I am quite happy to break out physical beauty from Charisma), as well as me adding the statistics of Talent and Power I hit upon a method of character generation that has worked pretty well.
Back in the day, much like to today in some respects, there were all sorts of small companies selling odd little products to gamers. One of these was “G.A.I.”, it was run (as best as I can recall) by a couple of guys that some of the guys from the group I played in knew, and the two products that I have of thiers were “Weather Dice” (to determine the weather – Duh!) and Insta-Character, a book with basically 1000 sets of character stats ranging from 8 to 18, plus some random tables for beginning equipment. The idea being that you would roll a d1000, and have your character stats with no character having anything really crummy and most stats in the 12-14 range (from a quick perusal of the little booklet).
So my character generation method turned into roll your d1000 to generate six statistics, then roll another three statistics using the 4d6 drop the lowest, and then get one crash roll on top of all of that – put the results, whatever they are, where you want them. This seemed to maximize the chances for a decent number of decent stats and still give the chance for some really fantastic sets of stats like the ones my son just rolled yesterday. He ended up with a set from the d1000 that included an 18, then rolled an 18 and two 17’s in his 4d6 rolls – he’ll be playing a really kick-ass elven fighter mage when we start. If my dear spouse remains true to her standard luck over the last 14 years she won’t have anything above a 14…
But then we get to figure out social class – and I’ve dumped a whole metric crapton of old ways of doing things in favor of “make it up using a bare skeleton” – and starting money. I never liked the rolls for money linked to character class, I do it linked to social class – 1d4 x5 cumulative per social class, from Lower Lower Class (1d4 x5) all the way up to Upper Upper Class (45d4 x5).
Now, of course, I just need to decide what exactly I want to do with his couple of characters, a couple that the spouse will roll up, and a couple of NPCs to round things out. I’ve pretty much decided to do a module of some sort – but I can’t decide if I want to use one of the free TSR downloads I have sitting around, one of the free OSRIC downlods I have, or just use one of the classics like T1 or L1. I think I’m likely to go with L1, I have pretty fond memories of that module and it’s mix of odd creatures and interesting landscape – but I could always dust off B1 or B2 as well. I more tempted to save those for the whole group…