5E Compilation of Alternate Ability Score Generation Methods

Darkcloud

Visitor
I kept track of innovative methods people were using for stats in the thread, “Point Buy vs Rolling for Stats “. I gave up on the thread on page 27 of 192. I made-up some names for the methods, in bold, for formatting and quick references.

Add a comment if you have another way to generate ability scores, but please to not critique, evaluate, or comment on the various methods. All of that just lead to arguing and posts directed towards individuals rather than the forum at large.

Kinder 3d6 by Ilbranteloth
I use 3d6 reroll any 1s once. It's similar, but mathematically is almost the same as the standard array. If I recall, 4d6 drop the lowest tends to trend higher.
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Random Points by Yunru
8d6 point buy is the current method we're using.
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Random Path to 75 by TwoSix
1) Roll 2d6+5 5 times.
2) Sum those values, and subtract them from 75.
3) If a value is higher than 17, change it to 17 and add the excess to the lowest stat.
4) If a value is lower than 7, change it to 7 and subtract the difference from the highest stat.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all values are between 7 and 17, and the sum of all 6 values should be 75.

Change boundary conditions (7 and 17), total sum (75), or dice rolling method (2d6+5) to taste.
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Playing Card Method by Ti-bob / Arial Black / Irda Ranger
Ti-bob
My method to roll character combine the best of point buy and random rolling: I use cards to generate random and fair characters. All players use the same cards, so no "unbalanced" characters even if random is involved.
(In short: 12 cards numbered 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9; deal 6 stacks; swap any 2 cards; assign to any stats)

Arial Black

Try this: get a normal deck of playing cards, take one red suit and one black suit, discard all aces, twos, threes, tens and pictures.

You now have two suits of six cards each, numbered 4 to 9.

I like randomness mixed with a bit of control. Too much control leads to cookie-cutter PCs and too little need for creative problem solving. Too little or no control leaves you helplessly tossed by the winds of fate.

So, bearing that in mind, take your twelve cards, shuffle them, and deal them all out face up, one at a time, to each stat, in order Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha. Then deal a second card to each.

Each stat will have two cards, ranging from four to nine. The worst a stat can be is to get both fours (8). The best would be both nines (18). The average is 13.

Right now, you have had no control over which stat got which score. Now, each player has the option of choosing two cards and switching them. You might choose to make sure you have an 18 (if you didn't already deal both nines to the same stat) but you only have a choice of two stats to make 18 because you only have a single switch so the 18 can only be one of the two stats that got dealt a nine.

You might have other priorities. Classes you are going for, party balance, all sorts. But you have a semi-random set of stats which has exactly the same total and stat range as every other player at the table.

Irda Ranger

This is a solution I made myself. I don't know anyone else who uses it. But the idea is that you want some randomness in stat generation, but you also want to prevent multiple 18s.

You (as the DM) decide what Point Buy power level you want, then create a deck of 18 cards that add up to those numbers. Then players shuffle and deal the cards to their stats.

The way I do it is you deal three cards to each stat, in order, down the line. You can make one swap between any two stats.

Two Six's Variation on Irda Ranger's Playing Card Method
Hmm....that's not bad. You can set your own bias by choosing the cards you want. Take out aces (1s) if you don't want really low stats. Less or 0 6s if you want to avoid 17-18s.

You can even add in some funky mechanics to make it a little more fun. 3 of the same color gives a +1, or 3 of the same suit gives a +2. Throw in a 7 or 8 in place of a 6. Maybe a joker counts as a 6, and makes the second highest card in the pile also a 6. Or a joker acts as an extra swap if you're using fixed order with limited swaps.

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Standard Array in random Order by Satyrn
When I made my current character (the gnome battlemaster), I built him using the Standard Array, but I placed the scores randomly:
1d6 to determine where to place the 15 (count down from the top)
1d5 for the 14, skipping where the 15 went
1d4
1d3
1d2
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Group Plan by Arial Black
Rolling for stats is great fun!

You know what's even more fun?

At session zero, everyone rolls their stats together as a group, and can communicate with each other about who wants to create what (partly based on the scores they've just rolled) and can work together to be part of each other's backstories.

One side benefit? You are overseeing the whole operation, and you'd catch anyone who would be foolish enough to cheat right in front of you.

The players can have no valid complaints about this (Awww, I can't cheat if you're watching me!), except one: "it takes me a week to think of a coherent and interesting character". Fair enough. I'm like that myself.

Solution? After session zero, the players can go away for a week and complete the design process, bearing in mind all that has been discussed and that you wrote their rolled stats down (for administration purposes, of course!). Next session, after you peruse their sheets and the players introduce their completed PCs to one another, you can begin the adventure.

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Two Strong, Two Good, Two Weak by Yunru
Roll 3d6 for two stats, these are your "weaknesses" - areas where your character simply isn't gifted or hasn't focused.
Roll 4d6k3 for two stats, these are your average stats, neither neglected nor specialized.
Roll 6d6k3 for two stats, these are your "strengths" - areas where you're either gifted or have heavily invested in.

(Averages are 11, 13, and 15)

EDIT: Proving I have the worst case of inverted luck, here's six sets of stats generated with it (rolled on Random.org):
Strength | Average | Weakness
1: 15, 15 | 11, 12 | 13, 16
2: 10, 15 | 17, 8 | 13, 13
3: 14, 17 | 12, 12 | 9, 13
4: 18, 16 | 10, 16 | 10, 15
5: 9, 17 | 11, 11 | 8, 12
6: 14, 14 | 15, 15 | 8, 14

For reference, abnormally ranking results are in italics.
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Honor System by TwoSix (also later described by Pming, but omitted for the shorter explanation by TwoSix)
If you really want to dissuade cheaters, try letting the players pick their own stats. Unless you have particularly brazen players, or they're just sociopaths, they're not going to give themselves anything crazy. Why? Because they'll have to own up to it; they can't just say "Oh yea, the dice GAVE me these 2 18s". Even if they do give themselves 2 18s (unlikely), they'll give themselves at least 2 super low dump stats because they feel guilty.
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Choose Your Set From Everybody’s Rolls by Thurmas
When we decide how we do stats, it first comes down to what kind of game. If it’s a one shot or very short 2 or 3 game sessions, we use the point buy system. It just isn't worth the time to invest in a session zero. It’s an easy check to make sure everyone's stats are good to go.

For a longer campaign with more character investment, I prefer a session 0 where we roll stats and get to enjoy the character building process. Someone may have outlined this method, I didn't read all the posts, but we use this: Everyone rolls 4d6, drop the lowest. After each person has their 6 stats, we write the stats on a white board. Everyone is free to choose any one of the sets of 6 stats. This allows everyone to enjoy rolling, but it also equalizes the playing field by making sure no one gets really bad rolls compared to others and feels underpowered the entire campaign. It gives a little variety and lets people make a character according to their vision. It’s interesting to see how people choose which stats to use. A fair number use the stats they rolled. Typically most of the stats get used by at least one person.

The one thing I have considered trying, but haven't done yet is to do a campaign with no racial bonuses. I would use a little more powerful rolling method, such as 4d6 drop lowest 7 times, dropping one number, or a point buy with more points. The purpose of this experiment would be to expand the race and class combinations. For example, we don't often see things such as a Gnome druid, or a High Elf barbarian, because the racial bonuses don't support those classes' primary stats. It would help break the typical mold a little more and go with desired flavor over function.
 
This method was used by the DM in the very first game of D&D I played more than 20 years ago. It was a BECMI game however, so I am not sure if you want to include it in this thread.

Don't ask me why the DM wanted to use this method, because I don't know. It was supposed to be more generous than just the random rolls, but some of us ended up struggling anyway to create valid characters (since we were also using minimum ability scores requirements for classes).

Roll 3d6 in order, with optional adjustments:

1st: two ability scores can be swapped

2nd: lower any score by 2, increase another by 1 (as many times you wish), with the following exceptions:
- Constitution and Charisma cannot be adjusted
- Dexterity can be only increased
- you cannot lower a score below 8

Edit: to clarify, you could swap any two scores only once; after that, you could lower several abilities by 2 in order to increase others by 1, and you could do this multiple times but not if doing so would lower the score below 8, and you could not increase Con/Cha or decrease Con/Cha/Dex.
 
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Mike Tyson

Villager
I read somewhere (here? another forum?) about rolling 3d6 in a six by six grid, and the player can use any row, column or the diagonal but had to take the scores in order. One of the complaints about it was it was time consuming to roll 36 x 3d6.

I solved that by using excel and the "randomness" command. I did two grids: one where the random was btwn 3-18 and the other where the random was between 2-12 plus 6. I used that second grid for a human monk that resulted in S11, D16, C15, I10, W15, Ch10. I could see using the first grid again, but changing the minimum to 6 or so. Got too many 3's and 4's.
 

Igfig

Explorer
My group doesn't like rolling much (except for certain kinds of one-shots). Instead we use a variant of point buy:


"Floating-Bonus Point Buy" Ability Score Generation
As the standard 27-point buy, but you only get 25 points to spend. Afterwards, put a +1 racial bonus in any one ability score for which you have no racial bonus.

If you are a standard human (and thus have racial bonuses to every ability score), use the standard 27-point buy instead.

This guarantees that any character can start with a 16 in any given ability score, if they so desire. (Starting with less than a 16 means that you hit your ability cap four levels later than everybody else, and so get fewer chances to pick up interesting feats.)
 

ehren37

Visitor
Last campaign I had everyone roll a set of stats. 4d6 drop lowest, in order (Str - Cha). After everyone had generated a set of stats, anyone could use any of the sets. If none worked out well for you, you could instead use the standard array (but the 15 was bumped to a 16). This allowed an "organic" feel to the stats, without making anyone grossly overpowered than anyone else, as everyone could have picked the same stat set (in theory).

We did end up with a set with an 18 strength and charisma, which the party warlock and paladin chose. It's kind of funny that the Warlock started stronger than the fighter.
 

Bolares

Adventurer
On my next campaign I'll be using 2d6+6. It gives numbers in the 8-18. No rerolls. I'm even thinking in doing them in order, but then the character will only be legal if has at least 2 15 scores.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
Roll once on each table:

1.
d20score
113
2-414
5-915
10-1416
15-1817
19-2018

2.
d20score
111
212
3-613
7-1214
13-1615
17-1916
2017

3.
d20score
110
2-311
4-712
8-1313
14-1714
18-1915
2016

4.
d20score
19
2-410
5-811
9-1412
15-1813
1914
2015

5.
d20score
17
28
3-69
7-1010
11-1511
16-1812
19-2013

6.
d20score
15
2-36
4-67
7-108
11-149
15-1710
18-1911
2012

This is modeled on 4d6 drop lowest, but avoids freak occurrences of the dice and makes sure everyone has some high numbers and some low numbers. For extra fun assign scores to abilities before rolling.
 
I think this one is from AD&D 2E:

Every score starts with a value of 8.
Roll seven d6s.
Add d6s to ability scores, however, you have to add the entire die value, not part of it.

For example, if you toll 6 5 5 4 3 3 1, you could have
STR: 8 + 6 + 3 + 1 = 18
DEX: 8 + 3 = 11
CON: 8 + 5 = 13
INT: 8 = 8
WIS: 8 + 4 = 12
CHA: 8 + 5 = 13
 

Yardiff

Explorer
Roll 24d6 remove the lowest 6, build your stats from the pool of numbers on the remaining 18 dice(3 dice max per stats).

If you like rolling dice this way is fun.
 

Wulffolk

Explorer
I prefer rolling stat, but i like a more narrow range, so I have used the following method for quite some time now:

2d6 + 4 for normal character's
3d6 replace one die with a 4 for slightly more heroic characters.
 

Xardion

Explorer
Gonna necro this thread, as I came up with a pretty interesting way to roll stats. But first, some background.

My group (myself, my wife, and some friends) has always preferred rolling stats to using point buy, and while the standard 4d6 drop 1 method works well enough, we always end up needing to roll multiple sets. We've always had a certain expectation of power level from the PCs, and there's enough randomness even in the standard method to end up with either multiple sub-8 scores in a set, or just really bland sets of mostly all 10's or 11's.

So, I sought out a way to alleviate this while still rolling dice (any discussion of point buy in my group will usually get thrown out the window). The guidelines were scores from 7 to 18 (so nothing below a 7 can be possible), and the upper end (16 to 18) needs to have about the same probabilities as the standard method.

I wrote a little program to test various methods and calculate probabilities, and finally stumbled on a perfect solution that does EXACTLY what I set out to do.

The core of the method is rolling 3d4 + 2d3 + 1d6, keep 3 dice, and add a flat 3. Now, if you're doing the math, you'll notice that only allows for scores of 6 to 17, and that the probabilities for 16 and 17 are on the low side compared to 4d6 drop 1. So, there are some special rules added to fix those issues.

First, it's important that you don't use ACTUAL 3-sided dice, and instead are using 6-sided dice to roll the d3's. Second, the actual d6 needs to be a different color, since you'll be treating it as is. The special rules come up when you roll triples on the 6-sided dice (reading all the numbers AS IS, not treating any of them as d3's), or if you roll quads on the d4's and the actual d6 (so you'd obviously not look for quads if you roll a five or six on that die). Here's the triple and quad rules:
If you roll triples of three or under, the result is a 17. Above three is an 18. For quads, a one is a 16, two and three are a 17, and all fours is an 18. Also, you always check for triples and quads first (in that order), since that will always result in a higher score than if you keep 3 and add a flat 3. The order does matter there, since rolling ALL ones should result in a 17 (a triple one), not a 16 (a quad one)
The triple and quad rules have multiple effects. First, they preclude the possibility of rolling a 6, and make rolling an 18 possible (a 4+ triple, or a quad four). Also, they shave off some of the probabilities for rolling a 9 or 12 and use that to bring the 16 and 17 probabilities in line with 4d6 drop 1.

After doing a test with 20 million rolls, the probabilities look like this:
die_probability_graph.png

I also did some tests with actual dice, and the results were pretty good. None of the sets I rolled would have been considered bad or dull, though a couple sets with end up with 2 16's or 17's, which is expected with the somewhat increased chance of a 16 vs 4d6 drop 1. Didn't roll an 18 on any of them, which I didn't expect to as I only rolled 5 sets. The single set with a 17 was also the only time I rolled a triple or quad (a triple 3), so it doesn't happen that often.

EDIT: Another thing you can do is limit the number of triples and quads in a set, like 1 of each or just 1 of either, which I would recommend doing. It opens the possibility of getting a 6 again, but a 6 really isn't worse than a 7.
 
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Horwath

Adventurer
to add to necromancy,

we do point buy 99%, but

we could roll 5d2+5, that gives 10-15 spread with average of 12,5. same as 27 pts most even spread of 12,12,12,13,13,13.

chance for 10 or 15 is 1 in 32, so it would all be well rounded characters with few extreme scores.
 

Xardion

Explorer
Yeah, I played with doing more, smaller dice, but it ended up with really homogenous stats much of the time in any case that involved keeping more than 3 dice.
 

Xardion

Explorer
It works out fine in our group if someone ends up a little more powerful, because none of us are competitive, but we ALL can be a little impulsive, and it helps to have someone who can give a little more grunt when we're all staring down a TPK because we're idiots :p
 
I really like the Dice Point method which combines the control of Point Buy with the variety of Rolling!

For this method each player gets four dice points to distribute among their ability scores. They can apply no more than three points to any single ability. Afterward they roll for each ability according to the number of points they spent on it:
  • 3 points = 18
  • 2 points = 14 + 1d4
  • 1 point = 8 + 1d4 + 1d6
  • 0 points = 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8
This allows enough control for players to get the scores they need but also maintains enough randomness to avoid predictable ability score arrays. Plus it completely removes the ability to dump scores—something I really like about it.
 
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Xardion

Explorer
I like the concept of how that works, because it does give you some control over how your stats come out without just flat-out picking them. But, it wouldn't solve my group's problem, which is rolling multiple sets or re-rolling individual scores because you keep rolling garbage. Even if you went with the most evenly spread option, 1 point each for 4 of the stats, and then 0 on the other two, the chances of you ending up with a terrible set of scores is actually still quite high, much more so than even the standard 4d6 method.
 
One thing about the Dice Point system is that it is adjustable. Some groups might use 3 dice points while others might use 5 or even 6. I'd be careful using any more than that because a dice point is a powerful thing.
 

Iry

Adventurer
Everyone rolls 4d6 Drop Lowest six times.
Vote on which set of rolls EVERYONE will use.
Assign those to the attributes of your choice.
 

Xardion

Explorer
Everyone rolls 4d6 Drop Lowest six times.
Vote on which set of rolls EVERYONE will use.
Assign those to the attributes of your choice.
That's essentially what our group has been doing for a while, though we really just check that the ability bonuses are all within a point or two of each other when added up.
 

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