Old school Dungeons & Dragons is less about building the exact character you want to play and more letting play and on-the-spot ideas shape the character you’ve got into something interesting.
Roll 3d6 for each one in order. Once all six are rolled you may swap two of them, once. If the total of all six attributes added up is 55 or less (averages out to all six 9 or less, basically) you may discard them and roll again. Not required but is an option.
Second step is pick a class. This will determine how many Hit Points you get. The class can be just a class, race-as-class, or any combination. If a class doesn’t specific a specific race, then a character can be of any race but will not get any special game mechanic abilities from the choice. If a race is not picked, default is human. 1st level characters start with maximum amount of hit points for their class.
Third step is starting equipment. Every 1st level character starts with 3d6x10 silver pieces. Prices during character creation are default prices in the LotFP book. That being about the only unchanged thing I’m using from that rule system. Use whichever price is better, city or rural. Starting equipment is considered to be what the PC has accumulated in their life up until they become an adventurer. See Inventory for more details and encumbrance.
The six primary attributes are:
- Strength (STR) Raw physical strength.
- Dexterity (DEX) Speed, flexibility, and precision.
- Constitution (CON) Health and durability.
- Intelligence (INT) In-world knowledge character has and general mental flexibility.
- Wisdom (WIS) Awareness of the world around them, both spiritual and physical.
- Charisma (CHA) How inspiring and/or likeable the character can be.
Each attribute may also have a bonus:
- 3-4 -2
- 5-7 -1
- 8-11 0
- 12-13 +1
- 14-15 +2
- 16-17 +3
- 18-19 +4
So a strength of 15 would have a +2 modifier.
What each attribute bonus does in game mechanics:
- STR – bonus added to some attack rolls and most damage rolls in combat.
- DEX – bonus added to most attack rolls and some damage rolls in combat.
- CON – Bonus acts as damage reduction (+1 means 1 less damage from any source)
- INT – Bonus is number of languages a character can start out with.
- WIS – No intrinsic value.
- CHA – Affects follower and hireling morale.
Saving throws use these attributes. Whenever the DM calls for a saving throw he will say which attribute is to be rolled again. Roll a d20 and if the result is lower than the attribute you make the saving throw. If it is over the attribute, you fail the saving throw.
Which attributes are good for what Saving Throws:
- STR – Used for anything that needs brute force. Crushed by a ceiling, grappling, etc.
- DEX – Dodging out of the way of things.
- CON – Poison, disease, anything that affects the body directly.
- INT – Confusion, getting lost, anything that affects memory, some illusions.
- WIS – Magical fear, anything that affects the soul, some illusions.
- CHA – Resisting swindles, fast-talked, morale.
Attributes can be increased using Haven turns.
Hit Points (HP)
How much damage someone (or something) can take before they start to get really hurt. If a character has Hit Points left, they haven’t taken any serious damage. Only minor bruises and scrapes and mostly just getting tired out. So HP ‘damage’ may just be a blocked attack that has worn out the character’s arms so they can’t block the next attack as effectively.
At 0 the character is not dead, or even unconscious, but any further damage will require a roll on a Death & Dismemberment table that is fairly serious. Any attack that would put a character below 0 instead puts them at 0 with no other effect. This does not count attacks that do not do damage (save vs poison or die effects) or huge sources of damage such as a dragon filling an entire room with fire breath, or someone getting buried in a huge avalanche.
A character’s HP increases with each level they gain. On gaining a new level a player may choose to either just roll the new Hit Dice and add it to their total, which guarantees some increase. Or the player may choose to roll all the dice for the character (5d8 for a 5th level fighter) and takes whichever is higher between the current HP and the total of the roll. Which might give a big increases but might also mean no increase of HP.
Armor Class (AC)
This is how hard it is to hit a target. Player characters have a armor class equal to 6 + modifiers. Mostly from armor. See the section on Weapons and Armor for details.
Most people and characters don’t have an alignment. It is something that is the person’s side of great cosmic forces. Good and Evil, Law and Chaos. There is no neutral. There is only Unaligned and some combination of the four primary forces of the cosmos.
- Lawful Good
- Chaotic Good
- Lawful Evil
- Chaotic Evil