Dump Stats?
By Anthony Casperson

The other day I was talking with my dad about his character in the D&D game we’ve started playing. Trying to give him the best advice about which ability scores to increase, I’d realized that I’d given him bad advice regarding Strength vs. Dexterity and sought to correct that.

While we were talking about his stats and skills, he said something about the idea that being able to persuade somebody might be important. But his character is an almost anti-social bounty hunter, meaning that his Charisma score was his dump stat. I had to explain that with his character concept, persuading people will never actually be something he’s good at. “You can’t be good at everything.”

Having said that, I have to admit that when I play role playing video games, I have the same problem of wanting to be good at everything. I look at all of the possible options and say, “I want that, and that, and that, and that…and that.” I want a character who has super human powers, can withstand a prolonged battle, and has skills that allow him to get into anything I so desire.

In all actuality, my tendency in RPGs to play roguish characters stems from my desire to not have to rely on other people outside of battle. I have a fear that I’ll come to a point where I don’t have a roguish lockpicker and something good will be behind a locked door, or in a chest just sitting there. A fear which I first realized in the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. And then when I played Dragon Age 2, I confirmed my love of rogues in the prologue where there’s a locked box on a map that you can never go back to, and the only possible rogue in the party is if you pick the rogue archetype for Hawke, the PC. (Thank you Bioware for creating in me the desire to always play a rogue.)

And if I’m honest, I often feel very much the same way in real life. (The wanting to be good at everything, not breaking into every lock.) I can’t stand not being good at something and will often shy away from those places where I suck. I don’t think I’m alone here either.

This doesn’t mean that we are worthless if we can’t do everything well. We can’t go comparing ourselves to other people just because their greatest life stat is better than our dump stat. But what this does mean is that we need other people. We need their strength in the places where we have weaknesses. In the case of my dad’s character, he has to rely on the party’s paladin, who had a 20 in Charisma to begin with (Aasimar + 18 stat roll = 20 Charisma), to persuade people.

Paul spoke about the followers of Jesus needing each other long before d20s became popular. In 1 Corinthians 12, he writes about how we who are followers of Jesus are all members of one body. Each a separate piece, we rely on each other in order to operate in the fashion for which we were created.

Some people are hands, some are feet, others are eyes, and still others are noses. We each have our own strengths. And if a whole being were made up of one piece, it would no longer be a body. In order to properly function, a body needs all of its pieces. We can’t say, “I don’t need you,” to somebody because they undoubtedly have some ability that surpasses our own. There will come a point when we need their strengths to make up for our weaknesses.

I have no doubt, someone is thinking to themselves that people can live without certain body parts. And it’s true. But when one body part is missing, it causes other parts of the body to be stressed in a way that is not the healthiest for it. In order for a body to be in it’s healthiest state, where worry of excess stress doesn’t exist, there should be no missing part. No part of the body is unnecessary.

It’s an unthoughtful person who decides that they can go on a mission without others. (My own statements about choosing the roguish archetype even betray that I fall into this trap myself sometimes.) We followers of Jesus are a part of something larger than ourselves and need each other to accomplish what God has called us to do. He’s created in us weaknesses to remind us that we are not on this journey alone. Dump stats push us closer to God and the people he wants in our lives.

You can’t be good at everything. Nobody can do it all on their own. God has created we characters in his story with the stats to prove it.