Thursday, December 23, 2010

3d6 in order, another quick point

I'm not a fan of demi-human level limits.   I've often heard people support them because they desire demi-humans to be rare / have a human centric world.  I'm not that into human centric campaigns either, but if I were the demi-human level limits haven't been in my experience an effective means of making them rare.  Nor does it balance them at all in most campaigns cause those levels aren't reached often.

I was noticing (I believe Labyrinth Lord) had some modest ability requirements for demi-humans.  Which reminded me of the really tough ability requirements of 1st/2nd ed Paladins and Rangers.   It donned on me that ability requirements combined with "3d6 in order" are an effective way to make certain classes/races rarer.   The Paladin and Ranger requirements are way, way too high making them virtually impossible to qualify for unless you use one of the multiple dice stat methods.  But, say requiring elves to have >= INT 9 would make them less common just by virtue of dice rolling statistics.  Also elves would gravitate towards Magic User.

I've often read at Grognardia the author's belief much more thought than we give credit for went into the earliest editions of D&D.  Much of what many (myself included) consider(ed) an arbitrary hodge podge of rules.  Are actually tied together in subtle and elegant ways.   I'm still undecided how much I believe it was intentional vs survival of the fittest (there were tons of RPGs the one(s) that happened to be elegant survived, the others not so much).   But, I'm definitely seeing more and more of what James talks about re: how effective the rules are when taken as is.   Changing one thing ability rolling has a tremendous effect on many other parts of the game.


  1. In the first D&D game I ever played in, where we rolled up attribute scores (that's another story) we used 3d6 in order. I was LUCKY enough to roll up a paladin. Pure luck. I agree with your premise that 3d6 in order automatically limits the types of characters that are played. Paladins (in particular) have some cool powers. Limiting their play by using the 3d6 method makes them a little more special when you play one.

  2. The problem with level caps on demi-humans is that players will naturally lose interest once their characters can no longer advance.


  3. The biggest problem with Level caps was that they were installed as a balancing factor, and what really needed to be done was to give humans some kind of power as well.

    I once toyed with a game idea where I would introduce a human race as baseline, and make every other race have some really obvious weakness and only minor advantages to make humans a more desirable race. I never really went much further then that thought, but it was very James White in its execution.

    In any case, I feel that it would be like taking the AD&D game backwards to insist on stat entry for Races. I just don't think that many of your races given the baseline from the book would be worth the hassle, and instead of making them rare, you'd just eliminate anything but human. Which is fine, but it makes for a different kind of fantasy fare.

  4. Basic D&D kind of sort of had the right idea. Only humans could be an official class, and specialize in a particular role, while demi-humans had a more generalized set of abilities that could best be described as multi-class. Where it all fell apart was using class limits to balance the two choices, human or demi-human.



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