Saturday, 27 April 2013

Low Stats As Disadvantages: Strength

Clovis Cithog, in a comment on an earlier post here, brought an idea up I thought deserved further development:
I PREFER to use low ability scores as a role playing opportunity … Low strength score does not have to imply that one is a weakling, but could reflect a prior shoulder or back injury.
with several more examples.

This struck a chord with me. After all, who is more likely to be an adventurer, this guy who rolled 3 strength:

Or this guy:

With this in mind, we can have really low scores, that normally would imply gross incompetence, instead mean some kind of disability that has a special effect. In Original D&D and derivatives, a reasonable range for the penalty scores is 3-6, to offset the exceptional 15+; in AD&D and derivatives it's much the same, except 4d6 keep 3 leaves little chance for these scores to emerge; in Basic and derivatives it's 3-8.

We can use the same table for all these systems if we split up the rolls of 5 and 6 in "6 or less" systems by what numbers make them up.

So when your starting character strolls into the Necessary Contrivance Inn and all the other characters say, "Wow, check out that missing left thumb, did you use some point-buy system and get some sick advantage like Ocelot Reflexes?" you can say "No, man. I rolled it up. Old School style."

More of these to come.


  1. I like this interpretation. I was messing with hirelings last night, developing a roster and many of them have low scores. This would be a great way to add a little color to their personalities in combination explaining why they have such a miserable time holding the torch high enough.

  2. Now if only we could do this for low Wis...

  3. ADHD, ptsd, an overwhelming distracting not obsession (squirrel!) all sound like wisdom impediments. As might be an unshakable bigotry or other delusion.