OSR D&D – Ability scores & “Consolation Points”

This is a thing I’m using in my backup D&D Campaign of oldschool nature. It’s a little band-aid on random ability scores’ tendency to dole out characters of very different capability. And as I think 3d6-in-order is pretty fun at its core, I didn’t want to throw it out of the game. Thus, “consolation points” were born.


You know how in some newer D&D’s with higher stat modifiers a bad roll in character creation can kind of ruin a character? Yeah, it sucks when your warrior gets a 5 CON and gets -3 HP per level. More oldschool play often dodges a bit of that problem by having larger intervals of what ability scores gives what bonus, and smaller bonuses overall. But still, it might be pretty sad to have character with an average score of 6 (it will happen), and if you’re just going to re-roll it, why then roll at all? So here’s a way to let low ability scores be good (?) too. At least for player characters.

How it works

Basically, add up your total attribute modifiers. I assume they are in a range from around -12 (all 3’s) to +12 (all 18’s). Now, take 12 and subtract the total. This gives you between 24 and 0 consolation points. Then you spend them on background stuff. I use this list.

  • 1 point – get +20 starting gold. (Good for Warriors who need expensive armor).
  • 4 points – get another skill point. Works for everyone, but Thieves might want it.
  • 4 points – get another spell. For those Wizards that need more utility.
  • 10 points – get Another spell cast per day. This works for Wizards and Clerics.

So that’s how it is. Skill points here allow you to learn one of a few skills of adventuring nature, which are rolled as in SWN (2d6 + ability modifier + skill rank). That’s fast and simple, and the skills are pretty useful (*cough* medicine saves lives *cough*).The spell lists are almost all buffs and utility, because pure attack spells are incredibly boring for the most part (at least when they clutter up the spell list). Magic missile is the only one now (of the first level spells, that is).

And for reference extra money isn’t that worthless. I give characters 100 gp to start out with, and thus an average character can triple their allowance. Also, there’s no 50 gp plater armor here (it costs 800 now), and mail is 200, so those who want good armor really needs money. That’s how it should be, I think. And they’ve probably gathered a few hundred gp per character now, so no insane incomes here.

That got a bit ranty. Anyways, I’m fine with this being unbalanced and whatnot, the important bit is that a character with low stats isn’t completetly screwed over and left to die in a ditch. And I got the fun side effect of wizards wanting bad stats because they get more spells.


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