A is for Ability Scores
Roll 3d6. Roll 4d6, drop the lowest. Point buy. Arrays.
No matter how you do it, or what edition of Dungeons and Dragons you play, you’ve got to generate your character’s ability score. While I appreciate the idea of balance between the players that methods like the points buy or arrays brings to scores, I miss rolling dice for ability scores.
Rarely will a character created with a point buy or array have a score below 6. And while even rolling dice has an average of 10 or 11 (slightly higher if your DM tweaks the 3D6 method a little), there’s almost a 10% chance of rolling a 6 or lower. Given that each a D&D character has 6 ability scores, this means that a little more than half your characters created using the basic 3d6 method will have at least 1 score below 6.
If you accept the shortcomings that a low ability score brings, rolling dice allows for very unique characters. In the past I’ve played several characters that stand out in my memory because I chose to role-play their low ability scores.
In the Spelljammer setting, where Spelljamming ships sailed on a flammable plane of phlogiston, I played a fire mage who due to his low wisdom would occasionally toss a fire based spell at an inopportune time or location. I tried not to over do it, but on an occasion where the best way to damage the enemy would likely cause problems by setting off some of the phlogiston, I’d make a roll versus wisdom to decide whether he realized the potential danger.
In another game, where we rolled our ability scores in order, with no rearranging allowed, I really wanted to play a thief, but my dexterity score wasn’t very high. Perhaps not a ridiculously low score, but low enough that I should have chosen a different class, but I didn’t. Instead I played a thief who was less than successful in his chosen profession. In addition, he fancied himself something of a cat burglar, so he was regularly putting himself into situations where he needed to rely on his balance to accomplish his task.
While you have to be careful not to go overboard with this type of play. If your actions interfere too much with your party’s accomplishments, the other players won’t enjoy the game.