3.5 Arrays
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Thread: Arrays

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Memphis, Tn.


    Creatures are assumed to have completely average (or standard) ability scores—a 10 or an 11 in each ability, as modified by their racial bonuses. However, player characters are individuals and often have better than normal ability scores, and usually make use of the nonelite array, the elite array, the heroic array or the legendary array of ability scores. Monsters who improve by adding a template, and monsters who improve by increasing their Hit Dice, may use any of the first three arrays (standard, nonelite, or elite). Any monster unique enough to be improved could easily be considered elite. Monsters that use the heroic array are the actual unique monsters, e.g. a medusa with ranger levels and bow skills. Such creatures are usually named and come complete with a history. The legendary array is reserved for those creatures that need a little extra edge because they are an integral part of the campaign. This does not mean they can't die; just that a few points of extra damage, extra hit points, extra spells, extra AC bonus, etc. does increase their survivability. Only in truly heroic campaigns (think of the labors of Hercules) will player characters need legendary ability scores.

    Standard Array: The standard array is 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10. The standard array is for normal everyday monsters. Minions, redshirts, stormtroopers and grunts make up the bulk of the standard array's ranks. Basic monsters in the core rules use the standard array,.

    Nonelite Array: The nonelite array is 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8. The nonelite array does not necessarily make a monster better than normal, but it does customize the monster as an individual with strengths and weaknesses compared to a typical member of its race. The nonelite array is most appropriate for NPC's and monsters who add class levels in a NPC class.

    Elite Array: The elite array is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. While the monster/character has one weakness compared to a typical member of its race, it is significantly better overall. The elite array is most appropriate for characters or monsters who add levels in a player character class.

    Heroic Array: The heroic array is 17, 16, 15, 13, 12, 10. While the heroic array's lowest score is at least average compared to a typical member of its race, it is supremely better overall. The heroic array is appropriate for heroic characters in deadly campaigns and one shot BBEG fights where survival is not assured.

    Legendary Array: The legendary array is 19, 17, 16, 15, 14, 12. The legendary array is better than an average member of its species in every way. The legendary array is most appropriate for legendary heroes, minor deities, powerful allies, and key NPC's. This array should only be used for player characters if the campaign is unforgiving and deadly. Such players should face and (hopefully) barely scrape past death/destruction/devastation each and every encounter.

    Array Elements
    Standard 11,11,11,10,10,10
    Nonelite 13,12,11,10,9,8
    Elite 15,14,13,12,10,8
    Heroic 17,16,15,13,12,10
    Legendary 19,17,16,15,14,12

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Long Beach, CA
    Great for quick creation of advanced or unique NPCs or monsters.

    As noted, they're also usable by PCs, in place of dice rolling or point buy.

    <Tangent>I had a player who decided that his character should use the Heroic Array, as a base, and then add Point Buy on top. (He actually did that in reverse order, point buying and then applying the array modifiers, but you get the idea.)

    He neglected to inform the DM or other players of his "creative" build technique, which caused a bit of conflict when somebody noticed that his ability scores were flatly impossible.

    He's not with my group any more. </Tangent>

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Colombus, OH
    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricDragon View Post
    Standard 11,11,11,10,10,10
    Nonelite 13,12,11,10,9,8
    Elite 15,14,13,12,10,8
    Heroic 17,16,15,13,12,10
    Legendary 19,17,16,15,14,12
    I don't yet understand your intention in posting, but I strive very hard to make most of my NPCs have inferior 'point buys' than my PCs. The PC's are intended in my game to be truly special extraordinary individuals. Only major characters in my game world have 'point buys' equal to the PCs. The BBEG in my game has the same point buy as the PCs.

    This stands in stark contrast to the stat blocks of most published NPCs, going all the way back to 1e, which tend to have much higher point buys than PCs - often so high as to vastly overshadow the PCs in terms of native talent. I understand why NPCs might need high attributes if they are meant to be foes of the PCs, but this huge inflation in NPCs compared to the PCs always struck me as coming somewhat from a place of DM favoritism and a desire to impress the PC's with the DMs NPCs.

    Since I really intend to have 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10 be 'average' in my game world, most characters have 'point buys' or 'arrays' very near to that and I'm not afraid to have NPCs with much lower arrays.

    Still, it's fun to figure out what you can do with that.

    For example, all the following are the sorts of NPCs you might meet wandering down the street.
    12 11 11 10 10 9
    12 12 11 10 9 9
    12 12 12 9 9 9
    13 12 12 9 9 8
    13 13 12 9 8 8
    13 13 13 8 8 8
    14 13 12 8 8 8
    14 14 11 8 8 8
    15 14 9 8 8 8
    16 12 9 8 8 8
    17 9 9 8 8 8
    16 9 9 9 9 9
    15 10 10 9 9 9
    14 10 10 10 10 9

    I use something like your 'non-elite' array all the time, varying where I put the higher scores according to the duties and skills of the NPC. So gnoll archers might have slightly higher dex and lower in other areas, while gnolls with halberds might have slightly higher str and lower in other areas.

    I do have some quibble with your thinking when describing the arrays though. If the goal is to challenge the PCs so that they are barely scraping past death/destruction/devastation in each and every encounter, wouldn't it make more sense to give them weaker rather than stronger arrays? If you both increase the capabilities of the PCs so that they are effectively of higher level than they would be otherwise, and you also increase the difficulty of encounters, aren't you by moving two separate variables making it much harder to control and achieve the objective of "barely scrape past death/destruction/devastation each and every encounter"?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Memphis, Tn.
    The standard, non-elite, and elite arrays are from the core rules. I just extrapolated that certain creatures would exceed those limits.

    I'm not sure what your beef is, you seem to use a different system anyway (point buy; a method I find too complicated for most of my players). I mention NPCs and PCs for all arrays, not just NPCs.

    Your idea of lowering the array to Average to heighten the chance of death works well if the party is low level. At high level, stat modifying magic items and level gained stat increases tend to lessen or even disappear that disadvantage so that it becomes a normal adventure with normal perils; you still have to increase the difficulty of the encounters to offset the acquisition of magic items.

    Certain adventures require hardier adventurers, hardier adversaries, harder achieved goals.

    Have you never run a one-shot with a BBEG that you wanted to try out against a party of powerful characters? Or do you always only play characters from 1st (or lower) level? Let the party take a pot shot at Tiamat to show them what power is? Let Orcus fill that party's pants?
    Why not give the players some extra ummph if they aren't supposed to live through the experience anyway. The game is not all goblins and kobolds.

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