Monday, 3 August 2015

Consolation Ability Bump

Observation 1: New players often ask if there is any way they can increase their ability scores. Old school dogma states that only magic can do the trick (often, literally through a magical trick feature.)

Observation 2: The visible frustration in old school games when a player rolls 1 on their hit point die at a new level.


Well, this works because all my classes roll d6 for hit points with various modifiers. But in a more standard game, it would end up giving benefits to small hit dice types over bigger. YOu can either roll with that as a feature, or try this hack; you gain the ability bonus:

d4: on a roll of 1 ,and 3-6 then rolled on d6:
d6: on a roll of 1
d8: on a roll of 1, or a roll of 2 if 5-6 then rolled on d6.
d10: on a roll of 1, or a roll of 2 if 3-6 then rolled on d6.
d12: on a roll of 1-2.

For monks' starting HP roll, if you're not using "maximum HP at first level" or similar, the stat gain ison a roll of 2 or 3 on 2d4; for rangers, 2 through 4 on 2d8.


  1. In old-school games, a +1 on an ability score is usually pretty trivial (MAYBE it bumps up some roll you make), where an HP of 1 pretty much guarantees that character will never see level 2 unless you're using more forgiving rules for when a character dies (say, only dead at -10 or something).

  2. Well, my game gives first levels the best of three hit point rolls and also has a roll on a serious injury table, rather than outright death, at <=0HP. So it's very survivable,and the 1HP thing is more likely to come into play when advancing levels.

  3. I like solutions that address more than one problem simultaneously.

    I've introduced tabletop role-playing to around 200 middle school students over the last few years and I'll agree that one of the most common questions I hear during character generation is "can they [abilities] ever go up?" We roll 3D6 down the line, so most characters sport at least one single-digit score.

    On the other hand, character mortality is pretty high in our games too. However, having 1 hit point or a significant HP penalty due to a low Constitution isn't necessarily all that indicative of who will make it back to the surface and who will be taken by the horrors.

    I don't know that trying to shield my players from that momentary stab of disappointment ("you mean I'm not completely awesome at everything?") would really enhance their overall enjoyment of the game.

  4. I allow players to reroll low hitdice rolls based upon their characterz weight:

    Reroll ‘1s’ if character weighs more than 135#, and Reroll ‘2s’ if character weighs more than 190 #.
    Type of hit die rolled is determined by your character class.

    Tuff luck, elves and munchkins .. you get enuf bonuses.
    "The bigger you are, the more damage you can withstand."

    With only 2hp left, all attacks & saves are minus two.

    At one OR zero hit points a character is stunned -
    roll d12 (not d20) for attack, save and skill throws.

    If the absolute value of a character’s negative hit point total exceeds his Constitution score then he is dead.