Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How Do You Roll?

Something that I have been mulling over of late is the myriad of ways that you can knock up some character attributes. In particular, I have been thinking about attributes and Tunnels and Trolls.

Here you have a system who's creator has said much to effect that you really can't have a character that's too powerful! So, what I'm wandering is just how far can you push dice rolling (without actually cheating) to achieve favorable results? How many different ways are there?


This is the given standard for Tunnels and Trolls, roll 3D6, triples add and roll over (TARO).

Using this method most of your characters will fall within the average of 11 in each attribute, giving them no distinct advantages beyond those granted by their kindred but, leaving an open ended ceiling that makes it possible but unlikely to roll up exceptional starting characters.

All-in-all though, no great whoop.

4D6, Drop the lowest

An older method from other old-school roleplaying games which offers a slight advantage over 3D6 TARO. True, you're throwing away the opportunity to create an exceptional character but you do improve the odds of creating a better than average character by the virtue of rolling more dice and getting rid of the worst one.

XD6 TARO, Drop a dice

Using four dice as above but giving you an even bigger edge as you can now also TARO, which again opens up the possibility of generating something amazing.

Unlike the above method however, you may not want to drop the lowest dice (if the lowest dice forms a triple for example). A similar method using 5D6 is used to generate characters in Beneath the Arena by W. Scott Grant (featured in the freely available zine, TrollsZine #5) which is probably the upper threshold of this method before it begins to produce ridiculous results.. 6D6, 7D6 or more though are of course possible, it's your game after all and it's up to you.

AD6, TARO chaos!

Last but not least is a crazy little concoction of my own which almost certainly guarantees a handful of TARO's, maybe a TARO in every attribute!

For this method, take ALL of the dice that will be used during character generation, including those to be rolled for your gold and roll them all at once.. Nothing says Tunnels and Trolls like rolling a bucket of dice does it?

Now pick out all of the trebles and assign them to the attributes of your choice, being sure to roll them over when you do. This should produce some pretty awesome attributes, even for humans!

Lastly pick out all of your remaining dice, group them into threes and assign them normally.

In summary

So there we have it, four different methods of rolling and four very different probable outcomes but interestingly only two variables, the number of dice rolled and whether to TARO or not.

That's not really the end of the discussion though as gamers are both a creative and intuitive bunch and, as long as they have time to think there will always be new stuff hitting the tabletop.

There is also the possibility of point buy systems similar to the one I devised here for Fighting Fantasy which I plan to follow up on in another post at a later date.

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