I was leafing through some really old AD&D character sheets and what-not from my university days, and recalled how liberal we thought our DM was being when he not only let us roll 4d6 (drop lowest) instead of 3d6 for our characteristics, but then even let us rearrange them a bit if we didn't have the minimum requirements to play the class we really, really wanted with the six scores we'd rolled in order.
It seems to me that we didn't usually end up with particularly shitty characters, and some of them lasted a very long time indeed (though with a certain amount of resurrection magic at hand, it has to be said). In point of fact, I think we were beating the statistical curve quite convincingly with our character generation rolls, since there seem to be few characters in the pile without at least one characteristic in the 17-18 range, though that's in part because the DM was pretty liberal with characteristic-enhancing magic items and wishes and such-like. Where the old characters differ, stat-wise, from more recent ones is that most of their characteristics were distinctly average, and some were truly bad.
In contrast, these days most people seem to deem a character pretty much unplayable unless they start with at least one 18, and having any stat under 13 is cause for great complaint and doom-saying. It irks me, somewhat.
I'm not entirely blameless, since I've allowed some pretty liberal stat-rolling methods in the past, and people have become used to being able to pick and choose from a vast pool of above-average potential characters. I need to tighten up on that a bit.
I still think that Ye Olde 3d6-In-Order is a bit savage, but I'm very tempted to go back to 3d6 rolls (instead of 4d6, drop lowest) for my Characteristic Wheel stat generation system.
The thing is, I'm not so much keen on making everyone play a raddled, crippled, hideous moron, as I am on making high characteristics a bit special. At the moment, they're not, and I think that's wrong, and a bit sad.