Percentile strength, also called percentage strength,[1] or exceptional strength, is a Dungeons & Dragons rule whereby a fighter with a strength score of 18 may also roll 1d100 to represent an even higher strength.

Rules[edit | edit source]

A fighter—no other character class—who has a natural strength score of 18 may roll an additional 1d100 for exceptional strength. A high value for exceptional strength results in increased ability, including (depending on rules edition) increased chance to hit, increased damage, increased carrying capacity, and improved chance to open stuck doors.

Exceptional strength scores are written in the form "18/50". The maximum possible roll is written as "18/00", representing not a zero, but a hundred.

History[edit | edit source]

Origin[edit | edit source]

Percentage strength first appeared in the first D&D expansion Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975), p.7.

"fighters with a strength score of 18 are entitled to make an additional roll with percentile dice in order to determine if their exceptional strength is highly extraordinary, consulting the table below:"

Percentile strength was added to empower the fighter class. In an ENWorld forum post, D&D creator Gary Gygax defended his decision to complicate the rules with percentile strength, rather than allow strength scores higher than 18:

"Adding a d% roll to an 18 Strength roll is hardly complicated. It was done because Strength was the only stat that needed to be increased in steps by the d% mechanic so as to improve fighters to hit and damage chances. So that was used because I favor interesting play over any imagined elegance, that being quite unlikely in an RPG in my view. RPGs are games, not art, and I don't give myself airs."
"Can you imaging the increases of stats going into the 20s needed in order to get the same result as 18/00? The human norm bell curve of 3-18 down the tubes in a jiffy. Not elegant at all, and simply foolish ;-)"

Using the standard 3d6 method, only 2.75% of D&D characters have at least one score of 18, if allowed to arrange as desired; if arranged in order, only 0.46%. The majority of fighters would not have high enough ability scores to take advantage of percentile strength.

Abolishment[edit | edit source]

Percentile strength continued into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition. The video game Baldur's Gate 2, released in 2000, included percentile strength.

D&D third edition, released in 2000, did away with the concept of percentile strength, as well as the taboo on player characters with ability scores above 18. While characters could not roll outside of the 3-18 range, they could accrue bonuses to ability scores either at character creation (e.g. through race) or throughout their adventuring career (e.g. magic).

Reception and influence[edit | edit source]

Percentile strength appears in the roguelike video game RPG NetHack, which is heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons. A score of 18/00 is written as 18/**.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Monstrous Manual (1993), p.129.
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