Advantages and Disadvantages of the Roll and keep System

There are two types of role playing gamers.  There are the role players, and the “roll” players.  The first group make up those who enjoy the story mutually created by the players and the dungeon master.  These players focus on interaction and creativity rather than the toss of the dice.  The second group typically enjoys combat, wants to make the most powerful characters, gain experience and items, and just all in all, kick some butt.  The “Roll and keep” system of character creation serves one of these groups well.

This “Roll and keep” system has players create characters by rolling the dice, and assigning the base attributes in the order that they were rolled.  There are two methods of doing this in Dungeons and Dragons.  One is to just roll 3d6 for each stat.  The other is to roll 4 dice, but only use the best three.


The “Roll and keep” system forces players to be creative with their characters.  Much like life, these characters have to take advantage of the hand they are dealt.  Not everyone is born strong.  Not everyone is born smart.  Characters will be built off of what they do well, and in spite of their weaknesses.  

This more random form of character creation can provide players two interesting opportunities.  Firstly, class experimentation is almost a must.  A player who may normally play fighter types, could be forced into a wizard role, thereby expanding their role playing horizons.  The other opportunity is based on the possibility of having an odd configuration of attributes.  Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution tend to go together.  Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma make up their own group.  Rather than focusing on one trio, characters created with the “roll and keep” method may be weak, but have high constitution and high charisma.  Few players would plan on this assignment of scores.


The biggest disadvantage of this character creation system is lack of choice.  A player may have a great idea for a bard character, but roll low scores for dexterity and charisma, making the idea useless.  Many players may find it annoying to be handcuffed into not making the most powerful character possible.  This of course means that the “Roll” players will want to use another method of character creation.