The time for talking is over. It’s time to spit on your hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats; roll for initiative, roll to hit, roll for damage, roll, roll, roll. You make the best choice you can given the information available; charge, bowfire, flanking movements, backstabs, holding actions, and defensive fire. Every decision calculated to give your tabletop avatar the best chance to beat the odds. His fate rests in your hands in the form of those funny shaped dice.
There are those who reject the oracular power of the dice. The frustrated novelists who approach the game as another narrative outlet; the ones with a story to tell who will let no mere piece of plastic get in the way. Oh, they may accept the dice when it suits their story, but if the dice come up “wrong” they ignore them, pretend that what happened didn’t, and do things the “right” way.
Of course, it isn’t a binary question. Some reject the use of dice when determining the outcome of the talky bits of the game, some swear by the dice. Most accept the dice in the stabby and flash-bang parts of the game.
If you’re in the latter camp, one who accepts the power of the dice and who abides by their word during the possible death of your character, why wouldn’t you trust the dice at the birth of your character?
When the Moses of tabletop RPGs led his people out of the wilderness, he spake to them of the sacred rule of 3d6 in order from whence true believers would craft a character. Over time the slow creep of blasphemy in the form of character-first/stats-second has overtaken much of the hobby. It is a reflection of the bizarre worldview held by the weirdos on the left, that everyone should be just the same, make the same money, live the same lifestyle, worship the same science, and love the same politicians. That style is a shortcut to greatness, the tabletop RPG version of “everybody gets a trophy for showing up”. It sucks the challenge out of the game and cheapens the victory of climbing from first level scrub to titan killing colossus.
It’s not just stats. Some game tables even allow for maximum HP at first level. They just don’t trust the dice. They think the only path to success is an easy climb up the ranks. They don’t understand that not all high level mages are created equal. To take the extreme comparison, compared to a high level mage that started out with 1 HP and floating disc, the high level mage run one time in a one shot has far less weight, less meaning, less depth, less…everything. Characters granted levels, great stats, extra HP at the DM’s whim – those characters don’t just have less, they are lesser characters.
Consider the real world comparison of two former Presidents – both Democrats so as to avoid the appearance of bias. Bill Clinton rose from a backwater southern town to the White House. He started with nothing and built a political empire. For all his faults, his rise to power is a truly impressive American success story. Barack Obama on the other hand was raised by a wealthy woman, the Vice-President of a major state bank. He attended the most expensive prep school in the state. He started life off with every advantage. He wound up living in the same house as Clinton, but given his privileged background, his achievement pales in comparison to that of his crooked predecessor once removed.
The next time you sit down to roll up a character, do it – roll up a character. And be a Clinton. Take what life gives you, grab it by the short hairs, and milk it for everything you can. Don’t be an Obama. Don’t start off with every advantage, and then spend half your time complaining about how hard things are for you. You’ll appreciate and remember the sweet taste of a hard won success far greater than the taste of powers and rewards dropped into your lap at inception.
And if you try it and don’t care for it? So what? Don’t do it again. But even then you will have grown as a gamer – you’ll savor the short cut version of success just a bit more after trying and failing to earn success the hard way. Love it or lose it, trying 3d6 in order will increase your enjoyment of the game. In the final analysis of this approach, as with all conservative approaches to life and its hiccups, everybody might not win, but they all come out ahead in the end!