D&D 5E Dice Rolling for beginning ability scores...redux

delericho

Legend
RPG players, as least when it comes to character creation, tend to be creatures of caution even if it wouldn't necessarily serve their interest to do so. The value of certainty that you'll have some good stats usually outweighs the fact that you're likely to do better with random rolling. If PB is objectively inferior to a fixed array, you'll probably never see people use PB, because both have equal certainty but it's effort to squeeze anything out of PB as it is, and knowing it is objectively inferior will drive most players away unless they really want those high secondary stats.
There's a lot of truth in that.

That said, I'm surprised nobody has taken the risk on rolling - neither point buy nor array allows for the possibility of starting with an 18, so I'd have thought someone might go for it.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
There's a lot of truth in that.

That said, I'm surprised nobody has taken the risk on rolling - neither point buy nor array allows for the possibility of starting with an 18, so I'd have thought someone might go for it.
You mentioned your rolling rules are different, since they factor in the bonuses that would normally come from race. Perhaps share them? It could be an estimate (accurate or inaccurate) of the chances of such a thing.
 

delericho

Legend
You mentioned your rolling rules are different, since they factor in the bonuses that would normally come from race. Perhaps share them? It could be an estimate (accurate or inaccurate) of the chances of such a thing.
Roll 6d6-drop-lowest-3 once, 5d6-drop-lowest-2 once, and then 4d6-drop-lowest for the other four stats.

(My understanding is that on average adding a dice is reasonably equivalent to a +1 bonus, so that's the equivalent of a +2 and a +1. Obviously, that rule of thumb doesn't work if you keep adding more and more dice.)

I haven't worked out the odds of getting an 18 in that system. I don't think they're terrible, but I suspect a majority of characters would still miss out.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Roll 6d6-drop-lowest-3 once, 5d6-drop-lowest-2 once, and then 4d6-drop-lowest for the other four stats.

(My understanding is that on average adding a dice is reasonably equivalent to a +1 bonus, so that's the equivalent of a +2 and a +1. Obviously, that rule of thumb doesn't work if you keep adding more and more dice.)

I haven't worked out the odds of getting an 18 in that system. I don't think they're terrible, but I suspect a majority of characters would still miss out.
Yeah, that's about right. Chance of 18 is 6.25% on 6d6k3, 3.55% on 5d6k3, and 1.62% on 4d6k3. Overall chance of getting at least one 18 would be 1-(1-0.0625)(1-0.0355)(1-0.0162)^4 = 0.153, or just a hair under 15.3%, about one in six. For comparison, the all-4d6 method is 1-(1-0.0162)^6 = 0.0933, or about 9.33%, about one in eleven. Certainly better odds, but one shouldn't be surprised to have no one in the group roll 18.

It's not bad if you're wanting to keep things simple while ditching racial ability bonuses, but I can definitely see why folks would pass on it. You still have a ~50% chance of not even getting a 15 on the 6d6k3, and just shy of that of not even getting 14 on the 5d6. The average does move up the way you've described, however. Average result for 6d6k3 is 14.27, for 5d6k3 it's 13.43, and for 4d6k3 it's 12.24. Impressively, that's exactly as far as the rule of thumb goes; if you went up to seven dice, the average would be only 14.90, barely more than half what you'd want. But (if it ever mattered) 8d6k3 and 11d6k3 are close enough to being "+3" and "+4" in this scheme.

Alternatively, you could start replacing dice with d8s, but treating 7 and 8 as though they were 6. That is, just rolling 4d8k3, but treating 7/8 as 6, is almost identical to 6d6k3, but a much better chance of getting 18 on any given roll. Might be worth thinking about, to get people to try that method. The replace-with-truncated-d8 trick doesn't work for the approximated +1, however. But having a 15% base chance to get an 18 (about 23.3% overall chance) could be tempting enough to get folk to try rolling.

Or, for a wholly different alternative, switch to 9d4k5-2 instead of 6d6k3. The -2 keeps it in the same 3-18 range, but switching to larger numbers of d4 means a more "peaked" distribution. The chance of getting an 18 isn't much higher, but more than 50% of the weight lies in the 15-18 range. Not quite as simple to roll, I admit, unless you use a computer to do the rolling for you. But it has near-identical average results while still being much "safer" than the d6 method.

Here's an Anydice program comparing the three, if you're curious.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
I don't believe so, no. However, if you would like a quick example of what I consider appropriately "weak" feats for that purpose (you might add a few more; I am erring on the side of caution):
  • Actor
  • Athlete
  • Chef
  • Keen Mind
  • Linguist
  • Observant
  • Skill Expert
  • Tavern Brawler
  • Weapon Master
Additional options could include the various armor proficiency feats, the armor mastery feats, Telekinetic and/or Telepathic (if you want to have a touch of psionics), or some racial feats with specific approval. Elven Accuracy is much too powerful, but some (like Dragon Fear, Dragon Hide, Fade Away, perhaps others) are less dramatic and could be reasonable as a "half-feat" to fill in that lingering gap.

I think that it depends on your character, group and play style. I would say half feats are never really inherently weak in a game where you roll abilities because they will boost an odd value to an even value and in that respect are effectively as good as an ASI if you do not have another odd ability, and still often as good if that other odd ability is not important to your character.

I find Skill Expert to be the most broadly effective half feat in the game. Pretty much any character with an odd main stat will benifit from skill Expert. Along with this one I think Fey Touched, Shadow Touched and Telekenetic are also extremely powerful. More powerful than Sklill Expert on most builds but not good on all builds like SE.

The next tier is a bit more situational but extremely good in those situations. Tavern Brawler on a fighter build and unarmed fighting style, especially when combined with skill expert in Athletics. On a grappler build Skill Expert-Tavern Brawler and Unarmed Figthing Style it is better than an ASI and the grappler feat (which I find pretty weak). Resilient Wisdom is also a great feat on any class without Wisdom proficiency, even if the bonus is not very useful to you.

I would say Actor, Telepathic, Observant, and Weapon Master are situationally good feats for a few builds but not great for most, and I would put Elven Accuracy in that class too. While Elven accuracy can be awesome on an Elf Rogue or Gloomstalker, it not as great as other half feats on most builds and you are restricted to Elves and Half Elves. Another great feat for a single race is Second Chance. This is awesome on a Halfling who has a need to boost Charisma, Dexterity or Constitution.

Second Chance is awesome on any class since in addition to Dex and Charisma it can be used to boost constititution, which is universally valuable. Like EA it would be a better feat overall if it was not restricted to one race. Second Chance is especially good if you play a lot of battles with few rests. I am playing a Halfling Bladesinger right now and after I used Second Chance to cancel the 4th critical hit of the night in 4 straight fights without any short rests, my DM asked. "Isn't that thing limited use", to which I replied "yes it recharges on initiative".

The rest of the half feats are as good as these, either because they are very weak or they are so limited in terms of builds/themes that work with them. For most of the other half feats, resilient or skill expert is going to be a better choice for over 90% of the available builds.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
Most games I play in RAW are standard 4d6 drop 1 and then arrange like you want. Of the official ways to generate scores that is the best one IMO. A number of games I play in use PB (but not as much as rolling) and a select few use SA.

In terms of alternative methods the one I see most often is 4d6 drop 1 with a total floor (minimum combined score). This is good and prevents anyone from rolling a terrible character.

Another I see is 4d6 drop 1 rolled 7 times and then drop your lowest score.

I have seen 3d6 six times for every ability, take the highest for that ability

I have seen 3d6 12 times, drop the lowest 6 scores and arrange the other 6 as you want.

I have seen 1d6+12, 1d8+12 and 1d10+8 for every ability, both rolled in fixed locations or rolled and then you arrange them as desired.

The homebrew method I like the most is one adapted from 1E. You choose the order you roll your abilities but they are fixed. Pick an ability and roll 9d6 drop 6. Whatever you get is that ability. Then pick another ability you roll 8d6 and drop 5, that is that ability. ..... you keep going like this until the last ability is 4d6 drop 1. This generates "heroic" characters and you need to tune up encounters or they will be too easy. It does have a few advantages though. By rolling 9 and 8 on your two most important scores you are pretty much guaranteed good enough scores in those after you add bonuses. At the same time you will often get very high rolls in your "dump stat" which prevents the dumb Barbarian cliche. This method really makes characters unique. You can roll up a Wizard with a 16 Intelligence (it will rarely be less than this with +2 from race) and 18 Strength.

All of these examples work well and IME all work better in play than standard array or point buy, as long as encounters are tuned appropriately.
 
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Clint_L

Hero
I was actually thinking about doing a poll, but a search on this site found one from last year. Standard array came in third with 16%, behind point buy with 41% and 4d6 drop low with 30%. "Other" came in at 15%.
This site, though...I think it skews very much towards older players and folks who have developed their own thing. I'd like to see a larger, more objective sample. DnDBeyond has millions of users and I bet they have that data.
 

ichabod

Legned
This site, though...I think it skews very much towards older players and folks who have developed their own thing. I'd like to see a larger, more objective sample. DnDBeyond has millions of users and I bet they have that data.
I did find a poll on reddit with almost 10k responses. Things are reversed for that poll, with rolling coming in at 47% and point buy at 32%. Standard array is in the same place at 15%, but the fourth response is "homebrewed array" which would push array in general to 21%.
 


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