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.note
D&D consequences: One stat below 8note will generally not impact your character abilities, because most classes don't use most stats (see also: Dump Stat). 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. Prior to 3rd edition, this problem was even more pronounced, as you needed a bare minimum in certain ability scores to qualify for certain classes AND for certain races (which were one and the same, in the original D&D). Which meant that if you had your heart set on playing The Paladin, you were almost certainly screwed over if the DM insisted on this trope, as its extremely high stat requirements in multiple ability scores.
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.
- Early editions of WFRP actually mandated this, so you roll random stats and random careers (though you do at least have the choice of your race). Some people found this limiting and unfun and so made house-rules around this, others found "making do" added to the charm. There's something inspiring about rolling up a peasant Action Survivor and surviving by the skin of your teeth. 4th Edition found a happy compromise by using a hybrid system; if you have a specific character concept in mind or happen to be a big baby then you have alternative systems, but rolling is encouraged by granting characters bonus starting experience points scaling with how much randomness their player was willing to accept in their creation.
- 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.
- Dungeons & Dragons: One trait that spans all editions is the idea of 10-11 as the "average" for a stat; that's the average result of rolling 3d6 and adding them together.
- The very first version of D&D (commonly nicknamed OD&D, BD&D or BECMI, to distinguish it from the more famous AD&D, which was printed later but ran concurrently) had the character creation rule of rolling 3d6 in order, which is where this trope originated. But almost from the earliest there was a rule that by concentrating on training one stat, a character could boost that stat by 1 point, at the cost of dropping 2 points from another stat.
- Ironically, AD&D, in its first edition, broke away from OD&D's rules; "Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest, rearrange as desired" is Method I of the four recommended methods for determining character attributes. The other three are "Roll 3d6 twelve times and retain the highest six scores", "roll 3d6 six times for each ability score and retain the highest result" and "generate twelve sets of ability scores, each time rolling a 3d6 for each ability score, and retain the single set the player prefers". "Honest rolls" is not a recommended method for PCs, and even general NPCs use a variant of the "honest rolls" method. By the Unearthed Arcana, the suggested method was to choose a characters class first, which then determined how many dice could be rolled for each stat; for a classs prime requisite stat, that meant rolling 9d6 and dropping the lowest six rolls.
- Even more ironically, AD&D 2nd edition would bring OD&D's "3d6 in order" rule back as the first of six methods of ability score generation; the other methods were, in order, "Roll 3d6 twice for each ability score, and then keep which result you prefer for that score", "Roll 3d6 and arrange the results to whichever ability scores you want", "roll 3d6 twice, keep the results you want and arrange to taste", "roll 4d6, drop lowest, arrange as desired", and "start with an 8 in all stats, then roll 7d6 and add the results from each dice to each ability score as you prefer".
- Third Edition is a little easier on rolling characters. The DMG explicitly encourages the rerolling of characters whose stats aren't 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 makes the default option for generating ability scores "assign the values 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, and 10 to whichever ability scores you prefer, then add your racial ability score modifiers". As alternatives, it allows you to customize your score through a combination of a default stats array and points buy, or roll your score with the "4d6 and drop the lowest" method first seen in AD&D 2nd edition. It does note that this last method will, on average, produce slightly inferior results to using the default ability score array.
- Fifth Edition uses a more complex version of the Point Buy System with optional expanded rules. By default, the standard array of skill points is 15, 14, 13, 8, 10, 12, arranged as you like, plus racial scores. You can also start with an 8 in everything and distribute 27 points, and then distribute your racial points if your DM allows it. You could ALSO do a random roll, 4d6 drop lowest (average of about 11 or so), or your DM could give you pre-made stat arrays for you to do with as you saw fit. Interestingly, this is the only edition where rolling for stats will possibly get you better stats (because rolling can get you up to an 18, and point buy only a 15).
- 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.
- Second edition Pathfinder moved to point buy as the default option, but 4d6 drop lowest is still an optional alternate method.
- 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
- The original version averts this 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.
- In the Enhanced Edition, the game cheats in your favour 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 even 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.
- 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.
- Paranoia, in early editions, gives you a roll-for-stats system that intentionally ends up with highly random and/or ludicrous characters, because the point of the game is that you're going to die regardless of your stats.