For many years, I secretly harbored the knowledge that I HAD rolled a character with straight 18s for a 1e D&D game. And that bothered me, because I know the odds against doing that were… huge. Beyond any reasonable chance of it happening. And yet, I remembered it happening.
But it hadn’t.
During one of my recent moves, I found the character in question — Buskirk, an elven rogue/fighter/magic-user (multiclassing and demi-humans were weird in 1e). And I made two startling discoveries.
First, he didn’t have all 18s. It was three 18s, and three 16s. Awesome, but not the same.
Second, those ability scores were rolled using a method from the 1e Unearthed Arcana, rolling 9d6 for your primary ability score *and keeping the best 3), then 8d6, then 7d6, and so on, down to 3d6. I know this because I wrote down the results of all the dice on the back of the character sheet when I first made the character. I haven’t done the math on this, but it obviously produces higher ability scores.
So, memory vs reality. I can see why I remembered it the way I did… but my instinct that there must be something wrong with such a spectacularly unlikely result (astronomical in scale) was accurate.
Memory has been shown to be spectacularly unreliable, and yet many of us cling to it as our most trusted information source.
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