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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gender Maximums

I hear there's a lot of flak going around about gender maximums.

I don't remember if we ever used AD&D ability score limits for genders back in the day. The issue may not have come up. I know I wouldn't use it *now*, not particularly for feminist issues, but because (1) I think they're based on stupid misunderstandings of biology, and (2) they are worthless.

The latter point is the most important. Go back to racial level limits and ask "why do they exist?" Because dwarves, elves and halflings have perceived advantages and we want to make them less special to prevent everyone from going all munchkin. It's crude game balance. But there is no advantage to playing one gender over the other in D&D, other than social advantages that may pop up in a given situation. So why limit female characters? Or, more to the point, why add a list of maximum ability scores that you have to check during character creation, adding yet another fiddly bit without any corresponding improvement in game play?

I'm not saying AD&D is wrong for including gender limits. I'm saying that's a part of the game I choose to ignore, like weapon speed factors or weapon vs. AC, because they detract from the game.


  1. I'm not sure what you mean about stupid misunderstandings of biology. Men have (on average) more muscle mass, particularly upper body, and (on the average) are stronger than women.

    Now, that said, I'm absolutely with you on NOT using them in the game because I find it a bit silly to allow population-based statistical fact to be have that much influence fundamentally abstracted fantasy games about exceptional individuals.

  2. More generally, I'd ask: "Does it make the game more fun to play?". If the answer is anything other than a resounding "YES!" then leave it out. Gender maximums doesn't really make it more fun.

  3. I, myself, do use the gender maximums -- but only for ordinary NPCs, not extraordinary (adventuring) NPCs or PCs.