T5 – An Alternative Stat Roll Method

Or subtitled, “When players whine about bad Stat rolls”.

Let’s face it, everyone has a bad day, a day when nothing goes well, and the dice hate you. Some have this problem when rolling up characters. I’ve seen players roll up some really lousy stats, and not just once. I watched a guy roll sub-par (and then some) stats SEVEN times in a row. Forty two rolls, no roll greater than six. To make matters worse, when he finally rolled ok stats, the character died in the first term of character generation… It was a day of epic failure for him. (I remember him setting those dice on fire later, all five of them, but I digress.)

There have been many methods used to combat this problem (or perceived problem) over the decades: reroll until something decent appears; roll 3D take the top 2D; roll stats then assign them; assigned stats from a pregenerated list; point-buy systems; and so on.

The Traveller5 (T5) rules have the Flux roll, however, which can be used as a good basis for stat rolls – 2D stats, anyway.

For readers unfamiliar with T5, Flux is a die roll used in place of Classic Traveller’s ” 2D – 7 ” mechanic, used primarily in stellar system generation. Flux is generated as ” 1D – 1D “, giving a result from -5 up to +5, and is used generously in the T5 rules. I thought at one time the results between the two methods were different, but had a reader jump down my throat, stating they were the same. I’m no mathematician so I can’t argue the point. But my dice roll testing indicates there may be a slight difference. Who knows? I’ll let others worry/argue over it. I like Flux better than 2D-7 in any case, as it is cleaner.

New Stat Roll Method

For Stat rolls, instead of straight 2D rolls, you roll ” 7 + Flux “. This gives the same stat range as the 2D roll, of course, from 2 to 12. But the results are centered on results from 6 to 9, with rolls above/below this range being more uncommon. So players may have fewer “great” results, but also fewer overall “junk” results.

For those species with 1D stats, the player can roll the 1D, taking his/her chances, or they can accept a straight “3” result. Average, but at least it isn’t a 1, right?

I’m uncertain/undecided how to handle rolls greater than 2D. As most of my players in the past have played humans and Vargr, and the setting I’m developing is human-dominated, the issue isn’t likely to come up for some time, so I’ll deal with that one later.

Hopefully this method will resolve some of the perceived issues for players. As always, let me know what you think about this idea, and how it works out if you do use it.

Keep on Travelling!

Note: Edited to correct a glaring mistake.

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2 thoughts on “T5 – An Alternative Stat Roll Method

  1. I’m always interested in reading about T5, the game I own two versions of but can’t seem to force myself to wade into. Since Marc apparently wasn’t interested in producing the quickstart rules PDF that I suggested, and I find a thousand–page rulebook to be more than I can tackle.

    So, not being very math-literate, your suggestion changes the probability curve, while maintaining the range of possible results? I guess that’s OK, but then aren’t you setting a precedent for doing that for every roll, including task resolutions and stat checks? I’m not sure I see the justification for having two different ways to roll 2-12 in the same game.

    My philosophy on stat generation is, I think, somewhat middle of the road. I think CT’s chargen is pure genius. If you want to go for “more,” you take a risk.

    When you have a character, you have X chance to accomplish this-n-that when rolling to resolve a task. I don’t get all hung-up on what the target number is. You will role-play the result, success or failure. Rolls are only called for when necessary, anyway. Most of the time your character is competent at the things he’s familiar with.

    But in dealing with chargen, I see some rationale for results other than straight die rolls. I have the players roll 2d6 six times, but rearrange. That way they can be a physical character, a noble, a brain, or some combination. If someone rolled badly and survived chargen, I usually allow up to three surviving characters to form a “pool” from which the player must choose. Frankly, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.

    Heck, I played a leprous beggar in Stormbringer. It wasn’t my first choice, we were using the optional tables, but we had a roaring good time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, up to a point. There are, as we know, several other methods, this just adds a different idea or method.
      Changing how the stats roll, a little, is more about keeping modern players (or, perhaps, very unlucky players) happy and/or interested in the game. If a player quits due to frustration over such things, the hobby suffers, a little anyway. Most of my players, or those I’ve encountered, also have fun playing “weak” or odd characters.
      T5 doesn’t strictly use 2D rolls. It is converted to a Roll Low system. The harder the task, the more dice are rolled. (Not sure if you were aware of that).


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