[D&D] How many Paladins have you seen today?

I’ve come to something of an impasse regarding character generation and the decisions made in choosing a method or devising house rules. Here’s what I have so far, with discussions of the sticking points.

Generate your character’s stats – STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA, either by:

– rolling 3d6, six times, and allocating results to stats as you choose
– rolling 4d6, six times, dropping the lowest, and allocating them to stats in order

These are the two that I’m willing to countenance. I want players to have some agency and input during the process but I also want them to play the hand fate deals them and, occasionally, play characters who are significantly flawed in some respect. I might also allow two-for-one points trading at my own discretion if a player really wants a given stat value: see next.

Choose your character’s class.
Fighting Man, Scoundrel and Wise Woman are the basic classes, derived straight from Backsword and Buckler. There are also prestige classes, and three ways into them:

– by levelling to 10 in a basic class. Your character earns their status later in life through experience and graft.
– by accepting an Outsider’s Bargain*. Your character has made, or had made on their behalf, a pact with entities from beyond the world we know.
– by rolling into the prerequisite stats for the class. The prestige classes are listed below – 

– but the prerequisites are a major sticking point. In order of rarity, here are the classes:

  • Assassins are members of spiritual organisations/terrorist cults, paid off to target one’s enemies instead of oneself.
  • Rangers are the half-blood survivors of a dead civilisation, safeguarding its legacy and keeping its secrets.
  • Sorcerers are derived from Carcosa and are not Vancian magicians; they work on a ritual basis and deriving much of their power from the Outsiders (of whom more later).
  • Paladins are those exceptional individuals who intercede directly with the ancestors who are the bedrock of a major faith and occupy the niche normally taken by spellcasting Clerics (conspicuous by their absence).

Now, the sticking point is how to go about ensuring their rarity. I have the prerequisite stats for the Original Game to hand, and I envisage the Sorcerer’s key stats as being INT, CHA and possibly CON. I have found some advice on the probability of achieving particular rolls: this one on the probabilities of particular isolated die rolls and this one on the likelihood of qualifying for X class by Y existing method. What I’m not sure about is how to go about isolating these classes, preventing them from becoming commonplace.

The Paladin’s original requirement of CHA 17+ is about right, I think. The discovery of a Paladin should be a huge deal. With four dice dropping the lowest in order we have a 4.2% chance of Paladinhood; with three dice we have six shots at 1.85%, scarcely more likely. Rather than enforcing other prerequisite I think I would insist that the player of a Paladin reassign their best other numbers to WIS and STR in order to capitalise on their good fortune and get the most out of that character in play.

I don’t have exact figures for the Ranger but from the charts I can hazard a guess that CON 15, WIS and INT 12 is not easy and I want Rangers to appear more often than that. Here’s where my lack of Being A Mathematician begins to trouble me as I’m not sure how far to dial it down. My gut says that reducing either the number of prerequisite stats to two or the values required to twelve across the board would be the way forward. If we go for 12s across the board we have a 5.27% chance; at a 15 and a 12 we have a 3.47%; but those figures are based on three dice in order with no drops, and I’m not sure how to recalculate that to account for a more generous method of generation.

The Assassin should be about as frequent as the Ranger and I’ll probably use the same values in different stats for those.

The Sorcerer is my real bugbear; I’m thinking that INT 15 and CHA 12 might be a good start.

What concerns me, though, is that I’ve put a lot of thought into these classes and putting them behind such tall odds means players are unlikely to gain first-hand access to that thought. On the other hand, players discovering things about the world is awesome. On the other other hand, the players should want these classes – hence the inclusion of the Outsider’s Bargain as a short-cut. You can have the shinies at a cost; you can take the long hard road through ten levels of yearning; or you can be born lucky.

It feels right to me, but I’m already interested in this game; I’m not the one who has to worry about barriers and buy-in. I suspect that nobody I actually know would feel engaged or invited by this, so I’m putting it out there for reassurance and critique. If it’s alienating, tell me why it’s alienating.

One thought on “[D&D] How many Paladins have you seen today?

Add yours

  1. Personally, I enjoy high stat requirements for ‘elite’ classes. It keeps them rare, which in turn, allows those classes to be ‘better’ then your average classes while still not unbalancing the game. Rolling a Paladin or a Druid under method I is a big deal, and it should be a big deal, those are rare and powerful classes.

    On the other hand, you have the question of what the stats actually mean. Do only super charismatic individuals get to train as paladins, or is the high charisma the result of the paladin being so pure and heroic that everyone loves him? I’m inclined towards the latter, but that means that ability scores aren’t so much a requirement to be a member of a class, as they are the result of being a member of that class.

    As far as other people go, RPGs seem to be moving in the direction of better stats and more power. Look at the jump from (A)D&D (roll 3d6 6 times and deal with what you get) to 4th edition (assign awesome stats where ever you want). With the first method you’re going to be stuck with 8’s, 7’s, and worse. With the other your lowest stat is an 8, which is merely average. I find it a lot more fun to role-play a character with a serious weakness or two than it is to play someone who is only slightly less amazing at something. But, I know I’m in the minority.

    So, I would say it is alienating because most people seem to want to play heroic super-men without being fenced in by luck.

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