Monday, April 15, 2013

Why I Love Random Ability Score Generation

Last week, I talked about randomly generating hit points and mentioned that I'm not a big fan of the idea. While I think I have found a nice middle ground where players can randomly generate their character's hit points and not have to worry about getting just a single, measly hit point, I still have some reservations with randomly generating new hit points.

With that being said, I would like to make it very clear that I don't hate all random elements in character generation. On the contrary, I rather like them. I find randomization speeds the process up and I find it entertaining to "work with what fate has given me" occasionally. For example, I absolutely love randomly generating a character's ability scores.

One of the reasons I prefer randomly generating a character's ability scores is that I find it to be more enjoyable than the "Purchase" method. While the Purchase method allows a player to build the character they want and have more control over the process, I feel that it is incredibly boring and causes the process to grind to a halt. However, grabbing a couple of six-sided dice and rolling them a few times is both fast and entertaining.

Secondly, I feel like the random nature behind rolling for a character's ability scores better represents the fact that not everyone is created equal. Some people are better at certain things than others. Just because someone has an 18 in Strength doesn't mean you can't be useful to the party with your 18 Charisma. Personally, I find playing characters with average ability scores more fun because I now have to come up with fun and inventive ways around problems since I can't rely on high ability scores to save me.

While I like randomly generating a character's ability scores, I will admit that it sucks when fate decides to turn her back on you and you end up rolling a really horrible set of scores. So, like the rule I'm thinking about using for hit point generation, I'm thinking about using this one rule that Brian Patterson from d20monkey uses:

  • Roll 4d6 and remove the lowest number.
  • Roll that six times per set. 
  • Roll two sets of six. 
  • The player chooses one of the two sets (no mix-n-match). 

While it would slow the character generation process down slightly, it would give the players a slightly better chance of not being stuck with completely horrible ability scores. Since I'm going to be running a Savage Worlds-based Savage Worlds game for the next few weeks, I'll probably have to wait awhile before I can actually implement this method of ability score generation and see how well it actually works at the table, but I'm sure it will work fine.