OK, DMs and players, where do you stand on the issue of a "hopeless" character? Reroll it, or see it as a role-playing opportunity?
Let's let Professor Barker and Zeb Cook weigh in on opposite sides:
"Should a player roll a totally unsuitable character, the referee (at his option, not the player's) may allow the player to roll over for a totally new character. Re-rolling individual basic talents is NOT allowed, nor is it possible to transfer points from one talent to another. If one rolls a puny weakling, thus, or a hopelessly stupid clod, it is best to let him or her wander off into the sunset and roll for a new persona!"
-- M.A.R. Barker, Empire of the Petal Throne, 1975, p.12.
"Don't give up on a character just because he has a low score. Instead, view it as an opportunity to role-play, to create a unique and entertaining personality in the game. Not only will you have fun creating that personality, but other players and the DM will have fun reacting to him."
-- David "Zeb" Cook, 2nd Edition AD&D Player's Handbook, 1989, p. 18.
Gotta say I'm with Professors Barker and Holmes on this one. Reroll until the PC has at least one ability score to get excited about, and no very low scores.
As a player, I have found Cook's advice to be cold comfort as I suffer the presence of the other players' paladins and rangers while I'm stuck with "just a fighter." If it's another player who has the hopeless character, I tend to find it annoying to put up with the PC's weaknesses unless the player is brilliantly clever or entertaining. As a DM, I get bored when heroes become thespians -- I'm really more interested in moving the plot along at a good clip and providing tactical challenges and moments of wonder than in watching improv theater.
Most D&D campaigns I've DM'd or played in featured fudging or re-rolling during character creation outside the guidelines of the RAW. Of the dozens of people I've introduced to the game, many have scratched their heads about the whole process. In my ruleset you get a character with optimal stats for his or her role, and you can individualize the character in play as you level-up. I've had no complaints so far, but would any of you strongly object to all PCs of a particular class starting with the same stats, and why?