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So I have rolled up stats for a new character in one of my friend's campaigns. I am a ranger, and the party is stuck in a forest. As such I am "the leader of the party". As it stands the stats I rolled after applying racial modifiers: 12 strength, 20 dexterity, 6 constitution, 15 wisdom, 12 intelligence, 9 charisma. I'm pretty new to role playing, so how would this character act?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ supposedly I am the "leader" of the party because we are stuck in a forest, os yeah ranger is very useful there \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related, and not closed, questions: How do character stats affect the personality of the character?, Are there any rules that specify that a player must roleplay their characters stats?. For the second link, the consensus answer is "No" and it comes with advice from the venerable SevenSidedDie: "Let's not use comments to conduct a debate on the nature and meanings of ability score numbers." \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 14 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MiloArmendariz Hi Milo, generally closing a question is done by the other users of the site and only when it is considered a bad question - or at least one in need of editing before it can be answered well. If you are happy with your answer, great, but leaving the question open allows it to be seen by other users who might have the same question. We want this to be an archive of great advice, not a passing discussion forum. Leaving your question open also means that someone else might post an answer later, which you will perhaps find just as useful as the one you first accepted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 14 at 5:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Milo didn't close the question \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Feb 15 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o Yes, but in a since-deleted comment they asked "I have an answer, how do I close the question now?" They were assuming that one closed one's own questions when accepting an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 15 at 17:54

2 Answers 2

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Fantastic Flaws

Roleplay and rollplay very rarely line up better than when a character has certain attribute based flaws. So when we talk about a lack of Constitution, we must respect what mechanics say about the stat as well as how the narrative plays well into it. I will give examples (with one known and dnd-famous character example) as well as suggestions. But first, remember that your character has strengths too that shouldn't be counteracted by their flaws.

Constitution vs. Health

The easiest answer is to conflate constitution and healthiness. A character with low con might get sick easily, lack stamina, or generally be pallid and malnourished. But in my view this is almost always going to end at odds with the idea of your character. And at worst, it could make a DM's job harder or leave a player out in the cold (but would be a great way to navigate a player having a less than consistent schedule). In this example, we have the Wizard of Dragonlance fame, Raistlin Majere. Born as twin to Caramon, he was the brains of the two but always physically weaker and left even more so after his trials at the Test of High Sorcery. For many books, it's commented on how Caramon cares for his brother and how Raistlin was constantly in poorer condition than the other adventurers.

Subtle Stamina

Stamina is not used nearly as much a measure in DnD terms and can lead to effective communication without need for overworking. Consider the idea that you talk about taking breaks (in character) more frequently and in worse positions. It will come off more effectively that a character is easier to wind when they call a time out mid dungeon crawl. It also helps to have "aids" like the character being the first to get horses for travel or willing to spend on caravan trips or the like. In example, maybe a chase starts and, instead of sprinting with the party, you immediately go for the stealthy option and try to walk instead.

Combine Stats for Greater Effect

A character with the stat line up that you have says many interesting things. They are very nimble and decently wise while being fit and knowledgeable. But they are meek and easily winded. So my advice to how I would play this stat line up would be the "anti" hero. They think about plans, none of which call for glorious battles or daring theatrics. They prefer roads and well trodden paths to roughing the countryside, even if they know the land (like a ranger in their forest might). They might act the part of a hypochondriac or get a buzz from a whiff of alcohol. And, if all else, they might have a deathly fear of poisonous/venomous things.

A Summary on Statistics

D&D is always foremost about heroes. Any suggestions for roleplay ultimately will only guide you toward how you would like to portray a character. And I would encourage you to mix and match mechanically focused roleplay as well as narratively minded roleplay. There are a wealth of ways to portray a character like this that range from innocuous to damaging mechanically. And as always, talk with your DM about whatever you decide. That way they know how best to play off your weaknesses and strengths in the character you make.

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What does Constitution mean?

The PHB section on using ability scores tells us:

Constitution Constitution measures health, stamina, and vital force.

Constitution Checks
Constitution checks are uncommon, and no skills apply to Constitution checks, because the endurance this ability represents is largely passive rather than involving a specific effort on the part of a character or monster. A Constitution check can model your attempt to push beyond normal limits, however.
The DM might call for a Constitution check1 when you try to accomplish tasks like the following:
Hold your breath
March or labor for hours without rest
Go without sleep
Survive without food or water
Quaff an entire stein of ale in one go

What is a ranger?

Warriors of the wilderness, rangers specialize in hunting the monsters that threaten the edges of civilization—humanoid raiders, rampaging beasts and monstrosities, terrible giants, and deadly dragons. They learn to track their quarry as a predator does, moving stealthily through the wilds and hiding themselves in brush and rubble. Rangers focus their combat training on techniques that are particularly useful against their specific favored foes.

Putting these together

You are a wilderness warrior, skilled in things like hunting, tracking, and fighting monsters. And yet you are frail - for the typical person of your race and age, you would be considered delicate - easily injured, not able to stand up to a solid blow or take much damage. As a ranger, you can cast spells - but if these spells require concentration, you are unlikely to be able to maintain your focus on them (including your best friend, hunter's mark).

So what does this mean? The easy or obvious answer is all about mechanics - you are a missile combat specialist. With your Dex of 20 you are a crack shot with a bow, but your Con of 6 means you will never want to face your foe in melee. You have a slight, willowy build and can glide effortlessly through the forest (at least until you tire), but a single solid hit will stagger you.

Something a little more complicated means leaning in to your roleplaying. Examine your flaw, and your favored enemy, and see what you have to work with. Perhaps you are haunted (not by literal spirits, but by premonitions). Your eyes dart about, you are restless, you can never sit still long enough to eat well, you sleep but fitfully. You are agitated, unable to overcome your dread about...that roleplaying thing.

Another possibility is that you are unwell. You have some sort of wasting disease or condition - a wracking cough, a wound that won't heal, or some such. This is similar to "haunted", but instead of being filled with dread about your next encounter with [X], you are still suffering from your last one. You barely escaped alive, and it left you somehow scarred or maimed. This one depends a lot on your campaign, because if clerics have the ability to cure physical diseases, you might be able to get rid of the roleplaying reason for your low Con score without changing the score itself, which will give you some difficult choices.


1 For the not-obvious distinction between Constitution checks and Constitution saves, see: How are Constitution-based checks and saves differentiated in these circumstances?

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