I ran across something interesting in AD&D I don’t recall having noticed before. I think there is an Easter egg hidden in 1E. In a Facebook group for 1e a player was grumbling about seriously bad luck. They were rolling up a character using Method II and ending up with 2 3’s and nothing over a 9…
Horrible, right? The odds were pretty low of that even happening (but still possible, just like having 2 18’s and nothing lower than a 16 is possible. Not likely, but possible). I didn’t like the tone of the post but something more than that was off because I know most of the 1E rules makes a great deal of sense and while there is a price for low stats, I’m not sure that Gary ever had 0 encounters with someone who had abysmal stats or terrible dice luck. Especially after the success of the basic games and feedback of people who had never met a DM before they picked up the rules.
Maybe, just Maybe, he had a plan for people who could roll amazingly well AND for those who couldn’t roll higher than a 2 on any one of 6 dice. Now I need to get some Abysmal stats to test out the theory. After several frustrating attempts I have had to go with 1d4+2 for stat generation. Here is the characters stats; Str: 5, Int: 4, Wis: 3, Dex: 6, Con:6, Cha: 3. Now there is a need to interpret them on the chart.
Looking up Strength
On the PHB’s Strength Table I. it says… Boom. I have to be a Mage. Not a shocker, if there is anyone who can get by with a very low strength it is a mage. I also can still be… an Elf or Half-Elf. Thanks Elric!
Next up I go to Int.
With a 4, I can still be a Half Elf (whew!) BUT, here or lower I can only be a fighter… So here is where there is an interpretation Tree. I also can only be a Mage, but first rule is first so now I interpret _that_ as meaning my Int has to be a minimum of 6, but even better, the minimum Int for a Mage is…9. So if the character can only be a mage his (or her) Int must be a 9 (training as a mage automatically makes them halfway smart). there are many other downsides but the obvious one from this chart spells out they can only cast fourth or lower spells. Not a terrible deal but sad. This also means I can still be an Elf (minor compensation).
Fooling with… Wisdom!
Reading through Wisdom…. that 3 makes it so the character a can only be a thief. But the Str Exclusion following an argument of First rule is first should pump up wisdom to where they can be a not thief. Taking the Stat up to 6. Stat wise that isn’t terrible…
Next up the Dex Table!
This is where I start really thinking there is a method to what appears madness looking for an easter egg. Even this supposedly ‘terrible’ character if they had a 5 Dex would still capable of being a Half Elf mage because the character cannot be a cleric, so they get bumped up to 6 which is the minimum for Half Elves and Mages. The character can’t be an Elf, but then swords and bows were already out of the question.
Con Table tells how Unhealthy can you get…
This…This is potentially a problem from some points of view. Main issue being the “here or lower can only be an illusionist” taken in context with the other rules means only one class will ever have a 5 or less Con. On the other hand… it could make Illusionists more common, not necessarily terrible thing. Until you note the high Dex and Int minimums for the Illusionist, 16 Dex and 17 Int… Owch! definitely a point of concern, for investing in a character that gets 0-3 HP/level or less…
But some characters will get a bump up to 6 for Con (because of the first stat ruling) means the character can still be a Half-Elf or Human Mage (not that this character actually needed it).
Now we get to see where Charisma makes ugly boy Ugly.
This chart helps conceptually, far more than just giving my character a 6 Charisma. Unlike Con, this points me in a different direction of thought. Being an assassin isn’t a common choice or for everyone. This deepens the mystery in some ways. What was ticking along in the back of EGG’s head? I don’t know. I’ll have to ask around and see if there are better guesses out there than mine. Perhaps he was thinking that the bias of some towards of “let the dice fall as they may, and suck it” are wrong. Stats are not something to be worshipped?
Although there should be some caution used with interpreting the rules these way. I can understand the point of view that a DM can allow a character to be compensated, even dramatically. The dice don’t rule a character, at most a DM does. DM’s having pity for a character by giving them access to an certain stats and unusual class for the player rolling badly isn’t a terrible thing.
This system could be open to abuse so a GM is advised to keep in eye out for someone who knows the DM is following these rules to rearrange their dice rolls taking a 5 in Constitution arguing they get to have an illusionist who has 17 Intelligence and a 16 Dexterity as well (and making those secondary dump stats) leaving for example a high Wisdom, Charisma and Strength to manipulate the stats this way is potentially problematic. These concepts while not bad should be taken with a grain of salt and awareness by the GM that these rules could be abused.
Killing it Lowly….
On the other hand having a 4 in Charisma and average stats but opening up the possibility of them playing an Assassin could be a really fun game mechanic to expand the options for a player who otherwise rolled poorly and didn’t have any better choices or options and now has to play essentially an evil character as a way to balance the game Designers dice expectations. Perhaps pointing out that maybe evil is related to Charisma in some way in the alignment spectrum. And reinforces the fact that maybe assassins are willing to overlook things in certain characters or they’re willing to deal with such concepts and ideas and that there is someone who has the spies understanding the ruses of judging someone just upon the appearance behaviors and all that will be modified through intensive training in the assassin class…
Next time I’ll write up the character I am Calling: llowgain-the-incompetent, (nods to Joel Rosenberg) found here: