In Defense of 3d6 Down The Line

Why it works and why you should be doing it!

In the many years I have played RPG’s I’ve come across all sorts of character creation methods. I don’t think any of them are wrong. The way you play your game is great, keep doing it. This article is just to shed a little light on why Gygax and Co. were genius at game design. From the very start they knew exactly what they were doing. From the choices made in recommended fiction, to how to make characters.

Most systems have what has became known as a perk/flaw system. Get an advantage, take a disadvantage. GURPS is notorious for this as is everything White Wolf has made. It’s not a bad idea, it gives you a chance to think out a character.

What if I told you that system has been present since the inception of role playing games? “Cap Capaill!” you might say, if you know Gaelige that is. Well, it’s true and I’m going to show you in this post the proof.

For those not sure what I’m talking about.3d6 Down the Line refers to throwing three six  sided dice and putting them in the following order in Dungeons and Dragons; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma on a character sheet.

Let’s do this. First roll. (Yes, those are the Swords and Sorcery KickStarter Edition Dice)

img_2487 A 14 for Strength. Not bad!

img_2488 A 9 in Dexterity. Average.

img_2489 Nice, a 14 in Constitution. I think I see where this is headed.

img_2490 A 6 for Intelligence, wizardry is out.

img_2491 Well, a 6 for Wisdom. No Cleric here.

img_2492 Hot damn! 17 Charisma.

So let’s take a look at his raw sheet.img_2493

We have a guy who is strong, but not overtly so.

Average in grace and agility.

Can work hard for hours but isn’t the best.

Has a hard time figuring sums and counts on advice.

Lacks awareness, and common sense. Just some.

Has the most rugged jaw line in the whole village. Great teeth, and despite his lack of intelligence his voice pleasant to the ears.

So, that’s one way of putting it. I’d play this character. I’d have blast with him I’m sure. So here’s my challenge to you my friends. Who is this person to you? What class would he be, is he smart but had no schoolin’, or does his pretty face get him to pass any real obstacles? Sure he’s stronger than average, but there are others that are stronger. This is the strength of 3d6 down the line. By giving yourself limitations you have to think about the thing you are playing. How did they get that way, how will it effect their future choices?

In the comments below tell me how you’d play this character. Build him or her up! I’m genuinely curious how you all would deal with these rolls.

Godspeed Friends,



5 thoughts on “In Defense of 3d6 Down The Line

  1. Yeah, I’m thinking the lovable meathead. A lot of fun with jokes and innuendos that go over his head. Maybe an axe-wielder – a former woodcutter…yes, that way we can play a strapping lumberjack. With 17 charisma, his beard must be epic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like all of them, here’s my take. An athletically built woman of noble birth. Though she enjoys vigorous activity, she loathes learning. Common sense is not her strong suit, but she is strikingly beautiful, given that; no one is encouraging her to better learn her letters, and sums.

    Especially her father, who is readying to marry her off to strengthen his house. Having overheard this, went to the armory for a dagger. She couldn’t decide which one, so she took two. Seeing a crossbow she grabbed that as well.

    Returning to her chamber she retrieved her sturdiest clothes and took a servants cloak smudged in dirt.

    I’m thinking thief, a charismatic rogue with pluck. The kind who will die a fool, or get wise quick.


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