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D&D 5E Compilation of Alternate Ability Score Generation Methods


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I’m liking 4d6 drop lowest 5x. Sixth attribute is then determined by picking best 3 of the 5 dropped dice. Players choose where to place each score, but that one final score is quite likely to be < 8. This makes for some interesting weaknesses in the party so that the PCs need to rely on each others’ strong attributes a bit more.
 

Xardion

Explorer
I’m liking 4d6 drop lowest 5x. Sixth attribute is then determined by picking best 3 of the 5 dropped dice. Players choose where to place each score, but that one final score is quite likely to be < 8. This makes for some interesting weaknesses in the party so that the PCs need to rely on each others’ strong attributes a bit more.

Another interesting way to do this is to do 2d4+1d6+1d8, drop 1, 5x. Then, for the 6th score you roll 4 of the 5 dice you discarded (your choice). But you gotta be careful, because you can't keep a die that would make your score go above 18. If that happens, you can only keep 2 of them.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This was a system we used back in AD& 2nd ed with a particular DM.

Disclaimer: Now, while I love the organic characters it generates, I happen to think the Faustian bargain of ASI or feat of 5e works best if everyone is on a level playing field, and it's low enough that ASI are tempting. So in 5e I prefer point buy. But this was a fun system for getting unexpected characters.

Organic In Order
Roll ability scores (4d6 drop lowest or whatever) IN ORDER. Do it twice more so you have three sets. Pick one set, or once per campaign you could toss away all three and roll three new sets.

This gives you ability scores where you wouldn't normally expect them. "Hmm, I'm a great barbarian but I also have a 17 INT." It's very organic because it's in order, while still meeting what you need because of the three sets. But you won't always be the class you want, so it also leads to a more organic party feel as opposed to the exact mix you want.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
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.

I don't like this. For example, one great ability score and several okay fits some classes great and precludes others. It seems like depending on how the vote goes, some MAD classes could just be off the table. I understand it's a group descision, sort of tyranny of the masses sort of thing, but I game to have fun and don't need to start inter-player drama even before the game starts because Kevin wants the 18 for his rogue archer and I want a few decent stats for a front line paladin.

While limitations can be an aid to creativity, for a choice that will be with me likely for the next several years I don't want to be chaffing at not being able to play a character for that long. Or for Kevin to.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I’m liking 4d6 drop lowest 5x. Sixth attribute is then determined by picking best 3 of the 5 dropped dice. Players choose where to place each score, but that one final score is quite likely to be < 8. This makes for some interesting weaknesses in the party so that the PCs need to rely on each others’ strong attributes a bit more.

This seems like it doubles down on the differences between characters. Someone who rolled well could have decent numbers left over, while someone who rolled poorly literally can not, since otherwise they wouldn't have been low. So if you have your first five scores lower, you last score will be lower as well. It penalizes your last score for having bad other scores.

I think the opposite would be more interesting. Swap the dropped dice for what's on the down side. Opposite sides on six siders add up to seven, so each die becomes 7 minus the original roll. So if your first five were low, you'll have great dice left over for your last ability score. Make it that people with five low ability scores get a bonus instead of get penalized on their sixth.
 

Xardion

Explorer
Yup, that's one of the reasons we wanted a different method, that we felt was more fair without being totally communist. That, and we got tired of rolling so many sets. We tried the exact method @Iry laid out, where we each rolled one set with 4d6 drop 1, and voted on the best set... and more often than not, we ALL rolled hot garbage. Part of the problem is that our group rarely has a full 4 or 5 player group. We're usually just 2 or 3, with NPCs filling the gaps. So we compensated by rolling multiple sets each (typically 3). We've basically just gotten tired of rolling so many times, and even with 6 sets to choose between, we've still been boned before, unless extra measures were taken (like re-rolling stats below an 8, or allowing 1 score in a set to be re-rolled, etc). But often, doing things like that would swing things in the OTHER direction, where you'd end up with fairly overpowered sets that manage to mess with 5e's scaling a fair amount (though action economy will always win in the end).

So we wanted a way where we could feasibly roll 1 set each, and be satisfied with the result 99.999% of the time.
 

Yardiff

Adventurer
Try this variant point buy. Stats start at 0, you have 84(this number of course can be adjusted) points to spent at a one for one cost, max 18(if you adjust this number down you should adjust the point total down as well) in a stat.
 

Maestrino

Explorer
I saw this one on Reddit somewhere - I can't take credit for it.

STAT DRAFT
4d6 drop lowest, every player rolls 6 times. (For a wider stat spread, just roll 3d6. Or 1d20.)
Record all the rolled results in one common pool and sort highest to lowest.
Everyone roll for initiative, so five players get put in initiative order A-B-C-D-E.
Start your "draft". A gets the highest stat rolled, B gets #2, etc.
EXCEPT - after E takes the #5 stat, E also takes #6, D takes #4, etc.
So the order is A-B-C-D-E-E-D-C-B-A-A-B-C...
AT THE END - everyone can trade one stat of their choice. If, say, B winds up with a high ability score in a "dump stat" that they don't need, they can trade it to someone else for a lower score and some RP fun.
 

ConfusedJackal

First Post
I'm quite late here, but I like using a variant of 4d6 drop lowest. You do the typical first roll, adding any 3 of those dice, then you flip over every die, and keep 3 of those. Repeat two more times for a total of 3 rolls and 6 stats.

Since opposite faces add to 7, a high stat on one side will usually correspond with a low stat on the other side. Because of the drop lowest, it's possible to get high stats that don't have an equally low counterpart (a roll of 6, 6, 6, 1 would give 18 and 8, as opposed to the 18 and 3 that 3d6 would give with this method).

I especially like this method because it keeps the randomness without risking a bunch of negatives or all stats above 13. It's also possible to get Standard Array and the 12, 12, 12, 13, 13, 13 array with this method.
 

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.
I like this Idea, but maybe will adjust the scores and dice for me.

I noticed 5e works better with max rolled stats of 16 at most. Especially after tasha, you always gain +2 to any ability score you like (obviously you highest rolled score).

So maybe
4 points: 16
3 points: 13 + 1d3
2 points: 10 + 1d6
1 points: 7 + 1d6 + 1d3
0 points: 4 + 2d6

And you get 6 points to allocate.
Maybe if you get a d3 and a d6 I allow to chose which die to use as d3 after the roll.

Or use only d3s probably...
 

Lakesidefantasy

Adventurer
I like this Idea, but maybe will adjust the scores and dice for me.

I noticed 5e works better with max rolled stats of 16 at most. Especially after tasha, you always gain +2 to any ability score you like (obviously you highest rolled score).

So maybe
4 points: 16
3 points: 13 + 1d3
2 points: 10 + 1d6
1 points: 7 + 1d6 + 1d3
0 points: 4 + 2d6

And you get 6 points to allocate.
Maybe if you get a d3 and a d6 I allow to chose which die to use as d3 after the roll.

Or use only d3s probably...
Okay, I see. Ability Scores are capped at 16 before racial bonus. You've adapted the dice points nicely to your needs. I like the symmetry. The static term increases by 3 each step and the variable decreases by 1d3. The math adds up.

If you did just d3s it would look like this:

0 points: 16
3 points: 13 + 1d3
2 points: 10 + 2d3
1 points: 7 + 3d3
0 points: 4 + 4d3

All d3s would end up focusing the bell curve around the average. I think that is called decreasing the variance. But I'm not a mathematician, I'm just a fan.

In the end the Dice Point system gives a layer of variation on top of a layer of control.

And, it's adjustable. I like using 3 dice points because I like scrappy heroes. But, I've gone as high as 5 points.

And...it completely eliminates the practice of dumping scores. However, the Advanced Dice Point system gives you the ability to dump scores without really dumping them because you gain no benefit from doing so.
 
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Okay, I see. Ability Scores are capped at 16 before racial bonus. You've adapted the dice points nicely to your needs. I like the symmetry. The static term increases by 3 each step and the variable decreases by 1d3. The math adds up.

If you did just d3s it would look like this:

0 points: 16
3 points: 13 + 1d3
2 points: 10 + 2d3
1 points: 7 + 3d3
0 points: 4 + 4d3

All d3s would end up focusing the bell curve around the average. I think that is called decreasing the variance. But I'm not a mathematician, I'm just a fan.

In the end the Dice Point system gives a layer of variation on top of a layer of control.

And, it's adjustable. I like using 3 dice points because I like scrappy heroes. But, I've gone as high as 5 points.

And...it completely eliminates the practice of dumping scores. However, the Advanced Dice Point system gives you the ability to dump scores without really dumping them because you gain no benefit from doing so.
Yeah, it decreases variance, and now that I see it written out, using d6s is better.
4+4d3 still averages out to 12 which is too high for 0 points (if i give 6 points)
I am a matematican, but I have not calculated it.
4 + 2d6 is 11 on average but with a high chance of being on the low end (as well as being on the high end.
Actually right now we roll 3d6 drop lowest + 4. But I am not totally satisfied.

I also like the "keep the dropped die" or "turn them around", but I need to come up with something useful first...
 

ECMO3

Hero
I have a method I use as a DM for small parties (2-3 players). It is based on the 1E method where you choose your class first and then roll.

You roll 9d6 on one ability, 8d6 on one ability, 7d6 .... 6d6, 5d6, 4d6. You save the highest three dice from each of those rolls and that is the score for that ability. The rolls are fixed there is no movement, so what you roll for strength is your strength, if your barbarian rolls higher on another ability he can't move it. However a Barbarian rolling 9d6 for strength usually means even with poor rolls he will typically have at least a 14 before racial adjustments and 18 is not that uncommon.

You choose your 1st-level class before you roll and your first 1-2 rolls are based on your multiclass requirements. For example if you pick Ranger you roll 9d6 for dex, 8d6 for wis and then choose the order for the next 4. Barbarian is 9d6 Strength, 8d6 Contsititution. Fighter is 9d6 strength or dexterity then choose order for next 5. After you roll all the abilities, then you choose your race.

This leads to very high rolls but you still will not always have an 18 in your top stat. It helps with small groups because you usually have no ability below a 10 so that lets them still cover down on skills they would otherwise be horrible at.

It also leads to some great role play opportunities as your Barbarian who chooses to "dump" intelligence and roll it last still rolls 4d6 and might still end up with a 16 int.

You can also end up with fighters that are very good at both ranged and melee and we have fighters who have both GWM and sharpshooter after a few levels, while still sporting a 16 or better in both strength/dex. Again it is a small group, so you usually only have one martial character and he needs to fill both roles.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
I aim for a much lower range using a deck of 12 cards. Two cards are drawn for each ability, assigned in order drawn, no replacement. You then have the TCoE three points to use.

The deck is 8,7,7,6,6,5,5,4,4,3,3,2. Counting the TCoE ASI, highest starting score is thus 17, lowest is 5. All characters have the same total across scores (63).

The deck is chosen for its swinginess and symmetry. I find character ability modifiers tend to sum to +2 with this method. With a max of +3 on their highest.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

"Wheel of Pain" Method

I came up with this one a few years ago for my homebrew fantasy RPG and it has proved to be a great system if everyone in the group is sitting at the table for "Session Zero" when creating characters.

Group based rolling, group based choice.

Draw a clock face without numbers (this is the Wheel). Top and right ("12 to 5") is "High"; bottom and left ("6 to 11") is "Low". For 5e, 10+ is high, 9- is low.

Every Player at the table rolls a d#, highest person is where the rolling starts. That person rolls 3d6. If it's "high" (10+) it goes at the top of the Wheel (where 12 o'clock would be), if it's "low" (9-) it goes at the bottom of the Wheel (6 o'clock). Then, the player to the left rolls 3d6. His result is then placed at "1 o'clock" or "7 o'clock" on the Wheel, depending if it is a High or a Low rolls. Then the next player to the left. Rinse and repeat until all spokes of the Wheel have a number. If you run out of high/low slots, just keep rolling until you get a result that fits.

Now you have the completed Wheel of Pain, with 12 numbers. The Players... as a group decide what 3 "pairs" of numbers they want. A "pair" of numbers is two numbers that are on opposite sides of the Wheel. E.g., if there is a 15 at the "3 o'clock" mark, the paired number is whatever is at the "9 o'clock" mark.

Once the GROUP has decided what 3 pairs of numbers they want, EVERY PC HAS THOSE STATS! Place where you want and adjust for race/whatever.

What I have found with this method is that no player character is any more "powerful" than any other in the group and nobody feels like the dice screwed them or that some other Player cheated. It also has the added benefit of the group of PC's being rolled up all FEEL like an Adventuring Group from the get-go. The mindset of the Players is that of a needed and contributing member of a GROUP and not some special snowflake superman who don't need no other help! ;)

PS: If you want more 'choices of pairs', just add more spokes to the Wheel; I've used upwards of 20, which was too many; but 16 is good.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


pming

Legend
it really is good - you get the thrill of rolling (a bit) but everyone has roughly the same - no duds, no super-heroes.
If you're replying to my Wheel of Pain method, thanks! :)

Also, if a group likes more "heroic" level stats, simply switch out the high/low threshold. For 5e, it could be 12+ (High), 11- (Low). Then there's going to be more opportunity for pairs of "14/10" or "16/11".

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
If you're replying to my Wheel of Pain method, thanks! :)

Also, if a group likes more "heroic" level stats, simply switch out the high/low threshold. For 5e, it could be 12+ (High), 11- (Low). Then there's going to be more opportunity for pairs of "14/10" or "16/11".

^_^

Paul L. Ming
this is odd, I was replying to bedir and even quoted his post - can't you not see it? The reference to Redrick Roller?
 


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