The way that ability scores are rolled in D&D has always seemed a little strange to me. For a normal character with no bonuses the scores rolled with D6 should range from 3 to 18. This puts the mid point at a 10 which makes sense. An ability score of 10 or 11 provides no bonuses and carries no penalties. It’s average. The issue that I have is the scores that fall in the below average range.
The 4d6 drop the lowest die method works okay, but it does open up the possibility, however unlikely, of a worst-case scenario of the player ending up with six scores that are 3’s. A good DM is going to let that player or any player who rolls up a character who is a below average stinker to re-roll for ability scores, but that wastes time during character creation. It doesn’t make sense to play a character with ability scores that are low across the board. It would be a challenge for the DM to create an adventure where that player wouldn’t die every twenty minutes. It doesn’t make sense in the game world either. Why would a sickly, weak idiot be out looking for adventure? They certainly wouldn’t be looking forward to a long career.
The point buy system tries to solve this problem, but it limits the available scores to a range between 8 and 15. There is no possibility for exceptional ability scores without racial increases. The best solution to solve the problem of low ability scores is to completely take them out of the picture. This can be done quickly and easily by changing the method used to roll ability scores. Just have the player roll a D12 one time and add a 6 to the roll. Repeat this six times and the player ends up with ability scores that all fall within a range of 7 to 18. Since scores between 7 and 9 still carry a penalty you can still make characters that have defects, but no score will be low enough to make that character useless.
Do you like this method? Do you think the players will like this method? Let me know what you think.