Honest Rolls Character
In Tabletop RPGs
where stats are rolled, such as Dungeons & Dragons
or d20 Modern
, this is the sort of character where the first numbers rolled for stats are the ones used for the stats, regardless of their value. In first generation D&D
, the 3d6 stats were supposed to be rolled with three six-sided dice, and no more, and you had to take the stats in the order they were rolled.
This method of generating character stats isn't popular these days (indeed, even back then House Rules
frequently circumvented this) because, since the rolls are honest, they are also completely random. You will get average or below-average stats more than half the time, and stats well below average on occasion, especially if you forgot to pay homage to the Random Number God
before you rolled; and if you had your heart set on a pre-conceived character concept, the dice were more than happy to mess up your plans, usually by placing a low number into a score that you really needed a high number in
consequences: One stat below 8 will severely limit your character classes, sometimes even to a single class (earlier editions of AD&D
even had stat requirements for playing specific classes); two or three can render it unplayable as a PC. And that's before
you actually try to play the character and have to deal with the penalties for below-average stats, which was anything from a -1 penalty to hit and damage for a low Strength for the earliest versions, to a big penalty to AC if your Dexterity was the stat that took the hit in the later versions.
Some Game Masters
live for the chance to run a campaign where someone is brave enough to run such a character, up to the point where they'll require
honest rolls characters so they can have a campaign supposedly focused on personalities and role play rather than a munchkin-fest
. (The possibility that one or more players might then just happen to honestly roll up "munchkin" characters anyway is rarely addressed
.) This tends to clash with the sort of player who comes to the table with a firm idea of what sort of character they'd like to play in their head already, as well as with most notions of 'party balance' since some player characters are apt to be just plain randomly better than others in the same group; but it can work if all the players are on board with it and willing to roll with
whatever the dice hand them.
When a video-game version is released, random stat generation is often removed and a Point Build System
is implemented instead. Those few video-games that keep pseudo-random numbers, like Daggerfall
, often include a helpful gimmick, like allowing players to re-roll as many times as they want.
Some groups prefer this method of character generation, creating House Rules
to randomize character statistics where it normally isn't an option.
Contrast Luck Manipulation Mechanic
, in which games are designed to incorporate opportunities to re-roll stats for a better result.
- FATAL rules include "the dice don't lie" and require honest rolls for your character for almost every trait except gender: This includes race, background, hair thickness, alignment, and anal circumference. It also heavily normalises the rolls, making anything significantly different from average nigh-impossible to get. And on the other hand, it is theoretically possible, if very improbable, to get physically impossible parameters. Such as the aforementioned circumference being negative.
- The French derivative RPG Naheulbeuk uses this method for stats and to determine which races and classes are available to the player; however, the values stay rather average even with crappy throws (oscillating between 8 and 13 while the maximum value of a stat is 20).
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Dark Heresy (as well as Rogue Trader and Deathwatch) characters are like this, generating each stat in order using 2d10 (two ten-sided dice). The systems intentionally prevents extremes by adding a fixed value to each roll (depending on system) and allowing you to re-roll one of the stats (whichever you like). Given that you're also (ideally) supposed to roll for your class before you roll for stats it's usually possible to make something halfway playable out of any character.
- Many Roguelike games, like NetHack and ADOM, make characters like this.
- Ancient Domains of Mystery is nice enough to let you "choose" your stats through an arcane personality quiz (which can be gamed), but you don't get to choose which zodiac sign you were born under- sucks if your barbarian was born in the month of The Wizard. Newer Angband variants have auto-roll, which is a stat rolling that can create a more favorable character since the computer rerolls until some of the minimum specified are met.
- The original Traveller had a lot of rolls during character creation. In fact, stay in a career too long and your character was likely to fail a survival roll and die before you ever got to play him.
- Used for nostalgia in The Order of the Stick, with the Gary Gygax tribute strip. Roy and his archon break out an old copy of the 1st Edition rulebooks for the occasion, which use the "3d6, in order" rule.
- Averted very hypocritically in many of the actual D&D NPC books, especially for 2nd Edition. For example, pick up the Forgotten Realms NPC guide: notice that it's very common for characters to have multiple 16s-18s in their starting scores. As the icing on the cake, this is after they spend several paragraphs in the Player's Handbook going on and on about the opportunities for roleplaying that a pathetically poor stat provides. Moral of the story: Mary Sues are for game designers, not for players.
- The Dragonlance 1st Edition characters were this too. Since 3d6 rolled honestly would result in stats averaging 10.5 for a total around 63, all of the characters in the Dragons of Despair module (and main Dragonlance heroes) have stats totalling 75-90! It's also funny how their in-game stats differ from their portrayal in the novels.
- Raistlin is described as being incredibly unhealthy and (in the first books) very unlikeable, yet has a Constitution and Charisma of 10 each. Ironically, he also has a 17 Intelligence, which at the time was not high enough to cast 9th level spells and yet he was the most powerful wizard in history.
- Caramon is described as being fairly slow-witted and nonperceptive. He has a Wisdom of 10 (average) and an Intelligence of 12! Somewhat justified in that the Legends books show him to be a fairly intelligent general and good grasp of character once he steps out from his brother's shadow and realizes he can think for himself.
- Flint Fireforge, the wizened dwarf warrior, has an Intelligence of 7! Although he's described as more wise than smart, a 7 puts him at about Forrest Gump levels.
- Despite all of this, the actual module Dragons of Despair is ridiculously hard at points. One nearly impossible fight is with the Dragon Khisanth, who will kill any characters who fail their saves vs. Dragon breath. He also hovers above the party out of melee range and uses magical Darkness to keep the P Cs from using ranged attacks back at him. I guess that's why the book shows the party being horribly outclassed, the Ranger dying, the dragon mysteriously leaving instead of finishing them off, and the Ranger being brought back to life through literal divine intervention. GM realized the encounter was a wee bit too powerful for even these "munchkin" characters. The term munchkin is used loosely, because even though the characters have high stats, 1st Edition was rougher still with requiring extremely high (15 or 16) values in stats before you saw any noticeable bonus. A character with straight 14s would require incredible luck, and yet gain very little above a character with straight 10s.
- Third Edition is better about this. While some NPC characters might be as above, monsters are almost universally given strictly average stats (10s and 11s) before their racial bonuses are applied. The DMG also explicitly encourages the rerolling of characters whose stats are too below average, and makes the default rule "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest" rather than 3d6, so above average results will be more common (and the default is that instead of rolling for each stat in order, you roll six times and then distribute the results to the stats — this means that while you are still susceptible to getting results above or below average, you can at least make certain that the character's stats roughly fit the role you had in mind). It also lists several alternatives, such as using a "point buy" system or fixed stat array, changing these methods from House Rules to officially sanctioned options. Fourth Edition actually makes point-buy the default, though the Player's Handbook mentions rolling as an alternative (if one slightly slanted to produce worse stats than one could buy, on average).
- Pathfinder also adopted the "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest" as its standard character creation rule, but there are a couple of other options available, including the tournament standard of points buy. Fifth Edition returns to "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest" as the standard method, but also endorses a specific point buy systems, including a premade stat array.
- Hack Master, which is in many ways an offshoot of 1st Edition D&D, employs the classic Honest Rolls Character paradigm. You roll 3d6 for the seven stats and you play 'em as they lie. There's an option to allow you to shift two stats, but it costs a fortune in character-creation points... and if you insist on being allowed to switch your stats around, it'll cost you half your starting character-creation points... you pansy.
- Older editions of The Dark Eye included a milder form of random stat generation: Determine 6 (later 8) values with d6+7 (range 8-13), discard the lowest, assign the numbers to the basic 5 (later 7) attributes at will.
- Maid RPG has by default fully random generation of character attributes, personality traits, skills, and appearance, although characters will at worst be somewhat inappropriate for their immediate surroundings, and the setting encourages seriously weird characters in any event. Its default rules also, and uniquely, permit the players to derail a scenario or campaign into an Honest Rolls Plot.
- Dungeon Crawl Classics strongly urges this.
- In Rifts and other Palladium Games, this is pretty much the default for non-human characters. This is because, unlike humans who roll 3D6 for every stats, most non-humans have different die rolls for each stat. In practice, most GMs institute a house rule equivalent to the D&D 3.0 "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest" rule.
- Baldur's Gate subverts this to hell and back, in spite of being based on AD&D 2nd ed.. Not only does the game allow you unlimited rerolls (but of all stats at once), it allows you to "recall" a previous roll, move points between stats at a ratio of 1-1, and if your character doesn't reach the minimum stats necessary for the chosen class, it automatically adjusts your stats up to the minimum requirements.
- Also, at least in the Enhanced Edition, the game cheats in your favor so that the sum of your rolled stats is never lower than 75 points. Most rolls end up somewhere in the high 70s or low 80s, with mid to high 80s being rather common, while results in the low to mid 90s require some patience. And to make matter evens easier, the game displays the sum of your stats after each roll.
- The Dragon Age tabletop RPG has honest rolls as the only official character generation method, which results in many delightfully messy builds. Naturally, the Point Buy was among the first House Rules invented for the system.
- First Edition AD&D actually averts this. "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest, rearrange as desired" is Method I of the four recommended methods for determining character attributes. "Honest rolls" is not a recommended method.
- Lace & Steel requires that you roll for all attributes in a specific order, although you do have some influence with the favoring/slighting Luck Manipulation Mechanic. In particular, you have to be very lucky to roll high enough on your Magical aptitude stat AND draw a major arcana Significator to even play a magic-using character.