Rolling D&D Ability Scores….Do you feel lucky, punk?

There are as many ways to create a character in D&D as there are Tarrasque in a multiverse. The PHB shows us the standards: Point Buy, Standard Array, and 4d6 drop the lowest. All of them have their own benefits. Point Buy is standard in Adventures League and conventions because it is easily verifiable, as is standard array. Rolling the 4d6 harkens back to the days of disco and the straight 3d6. It is fun, but easily abused and fudged. There are even more exotic methods like the Life Path Method, which is extremely fun, but takes a long time. I am here today to introduce you to a new way of rolling stats we have been using here at The Arcana Times it’s called the Gambler’s Gambit.

This is a controversial method because at its heart lies the belief that all character should be better than a commoner listed in the Monster Manual. Some DMs don’t swallow that philosophy. I do. I’m a swallower.

The Commoner in the MM is, well, common. All stats are 10 across the board. So let’s start with that. There you are done. Just kidding. Choose your race and add the racial modifiers to the base stats. This method is called the Gambler’s Gambit because that’s what comes next. A player starts with 10’s in every stat not affected by race and has 6d4 at their disposal.

This is where luck and strategy come together. A player has six d4 rolls to augment their stats. They can burn one on each stat or assign multiple dice to any stat as they see fit, but they only have six. Once a die has been used, it is gone. Here is the catch, a stat cannot be increased above 18 so any extra pips are just lost. It’s a gamble. Say hornbook wants a human fighter. He starts with the commoner and adds one to each ability for being a human PC.  He decides to roll strength first. He really wants a high strength stat so he risks 3d4 on STR and rolls for a total of 10. He gets the 18 in strength and the extra points vanishes.

You have to decide the number of dice and roll them all at once, not roll one and see, then roll another.

That leaves him 3 dice for 5 stats. Now he has to prioritize his remaining dice. Dexterity is the God stat so he has to assign at least one d4 to it, and since CON is hit points he assigns one there.

The last d4 he sticks in WIS because WTF. His final stats are:

  • STR 18
  • DEX 13
  • CON 14
  • INT 11
  • WIS 12
  • CHA 11

The Bell curve on a 2d4 will average 5. Same curve on a 3d4 is 7.5. If a player assigns 1d4 to each they will have stats from 11-16 depending on racial bonuses in each. Will this create stronger PCs than the traditional array, well of course, but right in line with the 4d6 drop the lowest.


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