... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Let 'Em Pick, Part II

So, on the OSR Discord one of the members (Spwack) tried to define the essence of “OSR” as “Just Play The Damn Game”, described further as “As few rules as possible, but not as few as to get in the way”.
That is:
  • Exploring a fantasy world and making decisions as if you were in that fantasy world is the essence of the game. Rule Zero, if you will.
  • Players do not need to think about any other rules in order to play the game. Rules that interfere with Rule Zero keep you from playing the damned game and should be discarded.
  • The bulk of the rules are really there for the GM, either as a framework for deciding what happens in the fantasy world or as an aid to fill in details of the fantasy world. These can come and go as needed, and should be ignored by players.
So that discussion got me thinking about Let 'Em Pick , my “Just roll your damn scores or pick them already” approach to chargen. (It also got me thinking about other things… but more on that another day.) Brief recap, since the PDF link seems to come and go:
For each ability, let players choose whether to roll 3d6 or just pick any number they want, within range. . . The catch is that those who pick scores have to roll 3d6, add the highest ability score to the total, and take the result indicated on a background event table. If the character has three or four scores above 13, roll twice. If the character has five or six scores above 13, roll three times.
I might want to redo the the random table at some point, but I’m also thinking of simplifying the process. Maybe roll once, 4d6 + 1d6 per score above 12, but players can opt to split the dice into two or three rolls on the table. So, a player who picks all 18s would have to either roll 10d6 once, or 5d6 twice, or roll 3d6, 3d6, and 4d6 for a total of three rolls. Lower is better, so a roll of 60 would be really bad.



  1. Jeff Rients once said that there are only two valid ways of generating ability scores. 3d6 in order or just write down whatever number you want.

    I think there's a lot of truth to that.

    But your way has a catch to just picking; that seems like a proper old school approach to me. Not game balance as such, but more like "Okay, if you want it you can have it, but it'll cost you..."

    Have you used this in actual play? If so, what was the result?

    1. Not in actual play yet. And yeah, I think either Jeff Rients or Michael Mornard got me thinking about this originally.

      Note that the table is not only bad stuff, but good and neutral stuff as well. Since I minimize the effects of ability scores, straight up picking your stats shouldn't have much effect on play at all. Each of the table results could potentially be a problem, but I tried to design them all to create situations in the game world, rather than to assign advantages or disadvantages to characters, so balance shouldn't be an issue.

      What I felt was missing when a player picks scores instead of rolling randomly is the loss of the randomness itself. Players being surprised by events and thinking of ways to respond is the core of the game, as I see it... so I want to require something to be outside the player's control.

  2. Into the Odd has starting packs where you get better stuff the lower your stats are, and visa versa. I think that would be a good trade off if you're choosing your stats.