The basic attributes of a character are numbers representing Strength (muscle power), Dexterity (quickness and coordination), Constitution (general health and hardiness), Intelligence (education and IQ), Wisdom (common sense), and Charisma (leadership).
The first step to creating your character is to roll 3d6 for each of the six ability scores. If this is a long-term game and you want to play a specific character class, the Referee will probably allow you to shift the scores around – in some fashion – if your dice rolls are a disaster for that particular kind of character. Keep in mind that your character will almost certainly have at least one score that is lower than average. This is not a game of armored super-heroes! The great wizards and knights of the world do not begin as superior specimens of human perfection; they are flawed like anyone else. What truly makes heroes of legend, in the end, is not what they were born with; it is what they achieve, in a risky life full of adventure, peril, and courage – and sometimes lots of trickery and guile, too.
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Strength score.
High strength lets the character force doors open more easily, and allows much more weight (treasure!) to be carried. For Fighters only, high strength gives bonuses to hit and to inflict damage. The table below shows the effects of your character’s Strength score. Write down these bonuses on your character sheet. Strength is the Prime Attribute for Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers, and one of the Prime Attributes for Assassin characters. (The Prime Attribute is important for calculating bonuses to your experience points when you get them and is described later in the rules.)
*Penalties apply to any character, but only Fighters get the bonuses. The Referee may perhaps choose to allow other classes to have a +1 bonus, but most certainly no more than that. Your Referee might also rule that only hand-to-hand weapons gain the strength bonus, but the bare-knuckles Original Game allowed Fighters to be deadly archers – and so does Swords & Wizardry.
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Dexterity score.
A high Dexterity score gives your character bonuses when attacking with a bow or other missile weapon, and improves your Armor Class (explained later in the rules), making you harder to hit. Fighters with high enough dexterity can even parry enemy blows while fighting defensively in battle. Dexterity is the Prime Attribute for Thieves and one of the Prime Attributes for Assassin characters.
*For Fighters, this bonus is in addition to any bonuses for Strength, unless the Referee tells you otherwise
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Constitution score.
A high constitution gives your character extra hit points for each hit die. It is not the Prime Attribute for any character class, but those extra hit points can come in very, very handy. Constitution is also used to determine a character’s likelihood of successfully being raised from the dead, or surviving other truly major shocks to the system. (For other shocks, use the same percentage chance as shown for “Raise Dead Survival” on the table below.)
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Intelligence score.
High intelligence allows a character to speak additional languages, as shown on the table below. Intelligence is the Prime Attribute for Magic-Users, and one of the Prime Attributes for Assassin characters. Only Magic-Users with high intelligence are able to learn the highest-level spells. There are also limitations on how many spells a Magic-User can learn, based on the character’s intelligence.
Available languages include the Common Tongue (known by all characters), Dwarven, Elvish, Dragon, Giantish (which includes ogres), Goblin (which includes orcs), and various other possibilities depending on your Referee’s campaign. The alignments of Law and Chaos have rudimentary “alignment tongues,” allowing simple converse between those who serve the same alignment. One cannot learn the common tongue of an opposing alignment, and Neutrality does not have any sort of alignment common language, although there is a secret druidic language (druids are of Neutral alignment).
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Wisdom score.
Wisdom is the Prime Attribute for Clerics or Monks, and one of the two Prime Attributes for Druid characters. If a Cleric has a Wisdom score of 15 or greater, the character gains an additional first-level spell. Note: the potential for a bonus spell is not a feature of the Original Game, but it is a way to give low-level parties a bit more stamina and flexibility during an adventure. Your Referee might choose not to grant the bonus spell, but it is strongly suggested. Any character with a Wisdom score of 13 or higher receives a +5% bonus to all experience point awards. (Clerics with high wisdom receive both this bonus and any bonus for Wisdom as their Prime Attribute.)
Roll 3d6 for your character’s Charisma score.
Highly charismatic characters have a better chance to talk their way out of trouble, and can lead more followers than characters with low charisma. Charisma also limits the number of “special hirelings” your character can attract into service as vassals. This does not mean normal men-at-arms; it means henchmen who are character-types: Magic-Users, Clerics and others. Once your character reaches higher levels, you will need those minions! Charisma does not affect the number of regular troops, lantern-bearers, and pack-carriers you can employ, although it might affect how loyal they are. Charisma is one of two Prime Attributes for Druid characters. Any character with a Charisma score of 13 or higher receives a +5% bonus to all experience point awards.