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D&D Tips: Role-Playing Your ‘Dump’ STAT

When you roll a low stat, if possible, you dump it in a skill your character hardly ever uses and should those skill checks come up let more capable party members make those rolls. But, that’s you, the PLAYER, thinking that way. Is your character going to think the same way? That’s part of their life and character, not some STAT.

I’m talking about Role Play, of course, and how to make your character more fleshed out and memorable. Personally I’m rather perverse and have been known to lower stats because I had a strong character concept.

D&D tips roleplaying your dump stat

A ‘perfect’ character who is good at everything is actually quite boring. Characters are often more memorable for character flaws. Think about the tales you tell around the gaming table. It’s usually about the Epic Fails isn’t it? So the occasional klutz is no bad thing, and the game is balanced for it so it should never be necessary to power-game your way though.

It can be very funny to ‘play up’ your low STAT, although I admit I have had to tone down my low charisma ‘sweary’ dwarf because he was annoying the other players too much! It can be a good opportunity to practise ‘playing-against-type’ (i.e. I don’t usually swear… that much).

Think about:

  • How do your characters low STAT effect them?
  • How do you show this?
  • Does it relate to their backstory?


Low STR: If your character has low STRENGTH do they complain when it comes to the chase scene? (Remember STR is used for running, swimming etc.) They are probably going to travel light and want fellow party members to carry their stuff. They might huff and puff. Can they even lift a sword? (I once had a low Str character capured by the bad guys and they decided not to kill him because he was no threat. TBH, it was true…)

Low INT: Limited vocabulary (just how limited depending on just how low the INT is), small words and bad grammar gets the idea across very quickly! Poor knowledge and understanding, but remember a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and they may defend their ignorance. Very narrow world view based on limited understanding.

Low WIS: Poor judgement of situations and people. Probably doesn’t think things through. Could easily trust people they shouldn’t. Might be a gossip and let secrets slip. Makes unwise plans that go wrong and they always say ‘I should have seen that coming!’ or ‘I’ll know next time’ then do exactly the same thing. Do not learn from mistakes.

Think about how your Character might express their Low Wisdom

Low CON: Perhaps your character has asthma and gets out of breath when they exert themselves? Perhaps yours character has a health condition that they manage and need medication for. They need to take their medication and you need to keep track of it and if they can’t get hold of it there are consequences. It could be natural or a curse. If you go this route discuss details with the GM. Are you questing to get cured?

“I have low Constitution and Charisma!” “That’s because you’re an undead Nazi.”

Low DEX: You are clumsy. How clumsy probably depends on how low that stat is. In battle your companions probably want to give you a lot of space. You are a klutz and bump into people. If someone hands you something you drop it. You could really annoy your group by playing up low dexterity and it could be a lot of fun!
Another reason for your characters low dexterity could be a paralysed or lost limb. This could be part of your character backstory (think Jamie Lannister).

Low CHA: I think of all the stats this is the most open to interpretation. This character is just not great with people for some reason. Perhaps they are shy and it just takes a little while to get to know them. With their friends they may be okay but with new people they are quiet and do not speak up. Are they intimidating and tend to frown at everyone? Is their demeanor unapproachable? They have the fashion sense of Darth Maul? Perhaps they are too loud and that gets peoples backs up. Do they trip over their own tongues? Have poor personal hygene? Whatever it is, it’s ruining their social life.

A Low Charisma Character might just be shy and take time to get to know

Try to think less META and more in-Character and you will have more fun. META will have you stopping your character from doing anything with their dump stat because they might make a mistake, but mistakes are memorable, dramatic, and help your character seem more realistic. If you want a good character you need to be as committed to your weaknesses as you are to your strengths.

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