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D&D 5E How do you determine your initial Attributes?

How do you determine your initial Attributes?

  • Rolled

    Votes: 46 39.7%
  • Standard Array

    Votes: 26 22.4%
  • Point Buy

    Votes: 44 37.9%

  • Total voters
    116
Yes they can. It's actually fairly easy. It may not be entirely accurate, but they can roleplay it just the same. Just like I can roleplay a Tabaxi as a cat person, even though I'm not one.

I see my players do it when they have a low intelligence. Now, when the players are talking out of character during the week about what they want to do in the next game, the players will sometimes give a different opinion and/or use their intelligence, but in the game the character isn't roleplayed as a great strategist.

Okay. Instances of some people getting it wrong is not proof that it can't be done. I've seen low intelligence, wisdom and charsima roleplayed well quite often.

Absolutely false. That is not the only true measure. Those things are simply the mechanical measure.

If a PC has a gift with something, the player and I will have worked that out.

And that's false. None of those in my group are even decent actors. Hell, we're not actors at all, and yet we all roleplay these things just fine.
I play Warlocks quite often. As you may have guessed, no one has ever accused me of being highly charismatic in RL. There is no way I can RP a high CHA char when I am not a high CHA person in RL.
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I don't know what people mean by "none of the above" ~ do they just make up numbers :)

I do a stat draft with my groups, in which case yes, I do make the numbers the players are choosing from to draft their ability scores. I am probably doing a sample one on the boards starting tomorrow-ish if you want to check it out or even participate.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Nearly 40% for random, letting one out of four players role up a garbage guy and role play it for the next 12 months? Really? How many that say they do actually do?
Randomizing stats doesn’t require allowing anyone to have garbage stats. You can just not do that.

Lots of ways, too. Some folks do all 10+1d6 or 6+2d6, some folks do 4d6 reroll 1s drop lowest, some folks do multiple sets take the one you want, etc.

I know a group who each player rolls 2 sets using the PHB method, and everyone can pick from the whole list.

Some people use the PHB method but allow redos if the set sucks.
 

I play Warlocks quite often. As you may have guessed, no one has ever accused me of being highly charismatic in RL. There is no way I can RP a high CHA char when I am not a high CHA person in RL.

I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time. If you want to make a thread about it, you could present a few examples of scenarios you have had trouble RPing. I'm sure myself and a number of people would be willing to give advice or constructive criticism on different ways you could approach different situations. Personally, my current character is a low INT, high CHA warlock and it's a lot of fun for RP.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Having agreed-upon expectations of how stats will be played, however, seems sensible. This seems very much a Session Zero kind of thing.
It can be, but even then I’d say that telling the players that there is a right and a wrong way to play thier character in session 0 is, itself, bunk.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time. If you want to make a thread about it, you could present a few examples of scenarios you have had trouble RPing. I'm sure myself and a number of people would be willing to give advice or constructive criticism on different ways you could approach different situations. Personally, my current character is a low INT, high CHA warlock and it's a lot of fun for RP.
We could have a discussion here about how to play high stats in a game, just not as some sort of counter argument in a discussion about low stats. It would be a separate discussion.
 

We could have a discussion here about how to play high stats in a game, just not as some sort of counter argument in a discussion about low stats. It would be a separate discussion.

I actually find that a number of the techniques that I use for RPing high mental stats and low mental stats are similar. Opposite sides of the coin, so to speak.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
At Session Zero, would you suggest going over each stat with each player?

The physical stats seem to handle themselves in the mechanics - noting to a player what encumbrance rules you are using before they take a low strength would be only fair, though.

Setting expectations around low Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, which the player can attempt to exceed without reference to the mechanics, would seem wise. Also, letting the players know how you handle very high mental stats, that the players themselves may not possess, may be in order, depending on your game and players.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I actually find that a number of the techniques that I use for RPing high mental stats and low mental stats are similar. Opposite sides of the coin, so to speak.
I find it easy to roleplay low mental stats, but very difficult to roleplay high stats. My players are the same way. However, as DM I can help their PC achieve the higher mental stats by doing things on my side of it. I filter the roleplay of a player who is not naturally charismatic, but has a high charisma PC, through a filter. The NPCs will hear what the player is saying as if it were much more personable and persuasive than the player is being. If the PC has a higher intelligence than the player, I will sometimes offer up clues or make connections that the PC would make with the higher intelligence. For wisdom I will occasionally offer up bits of wisdom that the player may not have considered when the player is mulling over possible decisions.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It can be, but even then I’d say that telling the players that there is a right and a wrong way to play thier character in session 0 is, itself, bunk.

Setting aside how having a conversation and setting some expectations does not equate to, "telling players there is a right and wrong way"...

Your judgement of how others may choose to play is noted.
 
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I've not seen any games where players generated characters using standard array (other than just as a facet of points buy). Only seen it in pregen characters.
Probably less than 1/4 of games I've seen use rolled stats. The vast majority have been point-buy.

There is no way players who take a more cerebral approach to the game of D&D can RP a low intelligence char.

But I never see the smarter players at a table backing off their RL intelligence when it comes to groups formulating plans inside a game.

And inside the group at my gaming cafe, the chars that try to play low Wis chars, typically Chaotic Neutral chars, who rush speak before thinking, or rushing into insane situations, the well-known term of "Chaotic Stupid" is used.

Bottom line, trying to RP any ability, especially the soft ones, is pretty much impossible except for the most skilled actors.
My condolences.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus

I find it easy to roleplay low mental stats, but very difficult to roleplay high stats. My players are the same way. However, as DM I can help their PC achieve the higher mental stats by doing things on my side of it. I filter the roleplay of a player who is not naturally charismatic, but has a high charisma PC, through a filter. The NPCs will hear what the player is saying as if it were much more personable and persuasive than the player is being. If the PC has a higher intelligence than the player, I will sometimes offer up clues or make connections that the PC would make with the higher intelligence. For wisdom I will occasionally offer up bits of wisdom that the player may not have considered when the player is mulling over possible decisions.

What you describe is very much what I would recommend for both high and low stats. For example: a high INT (or WIS) character knows something that the other PCs don't. A low INT character will also know something that the other PCs don't. The difference is that what the high INT character knows is (mostly) true, while what the low INT character "knows" is less true.

As for charisma, what you describe also works both ways. I guess one critical distinction that I didn't make earlier was that I have a big separation between "role-playing" and "acting". While there is certainly a connection between the two, they are separate skills. Properly roleplaying high/low CHA characters is often when the gap gets larger.
 

The physical stats seem to handle themselves in the mechanics - noting to a player what encumbrance rules you are using before they take a low strength would be only fair, though.
If one is going to set expectations around stats, though, why only insist on just the mental stats? Low STR = scrawny. Low DEX = clumsy. Low CON = sickly. Those can be roleplayed through describing the PC's actions. I suppose any particular table can assign expectations they like, though.

My argument is that all the stats seem to handle themselves in the mechanics. So I skip assigning expectations. YMMV.

Setting expectations around low Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, which the player can attempt to exceed without reference to the mechanics, would seem wise.
And if the player had good reason to roleplay a low mental score as if it was high? I've been told this is bad roleplaying upthread. My stance is that the player should decide how to play their character for themselves - a stance supported by the PHB despite the objections of some - and there is certainly no need to call it "bad roleplaying".

Don't get me wrong - having expectations around roleplaying standards, as long as everyone at the table is on board finding that fun, is fine. Personally, however, I find such expectations a bit of a DM overreach in 5e and, at our table, we choose to leave the role playing of one's character squarely in the creative mind of the player.

Also, letting the players know how you handle very high mental stats, that the players themselves may not possess, may be in order, depending on your game and players.
This is where expectations really break down for me. I say let the dice do the talking here where player skill may fall short of PC ability.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If one is going to set expectations around stats, though, why only insist on just the mental stats?

Because role-play expression of physical stats is generally done through the mechanic. Whether the character is clumsy or not does not make a significant difference until the mechanic comes into play.

Meanwhile, for example, a player can apply their own native intelligence and speak to other players, without reference to the mechanic - like giving input into logic puzzles, or putting together chains of reasoning to solve mysteries, and so forth. And we can note that in D&D how social interaction is resolved is rather vague in ways application of Strength is not. Setting expectations of what, say, a 6 Charisma means may be called for - you don't want the player to be putting together eloquent discourses intended to convince an NPC, expecting them to just work.

My argument is that all the stats seem to handle themselves in the mechanics. So I skip assigning expectations. YMMV.

I cannot speak to your games, specifically. But D&D is a bit thin on mechanics surrounding some of the mental stats, and so a discussion may be called for to fill in what the rules don't provide directly.

And if the player had good reason to roleplay a low mental score as if it was high?

Then, they really ought to communicate that to the GM. If folks at the table don't agree on what's appropriate, there will be issues in play. Better to iron those out ahead of time.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
There is no way players who take a more cerebral approach to the game of D&D can RP a low intelligence char. The amount of actors in a D&D game who can act as well as Penn or Malkovich (who played roles with mentally deficient chars) is few and far between. Now, those actors portrayed chars that were well below an 8 in D&D terms. But I never see the smarter players at a table backing off their RL intelligence when it comes to groups formulating plans inside a game.

And inside the group at my gaming cafe, the chars that try to play low Wis chars, typically Chaotic Neutral chars, who rush speak before thinking, or rushing into insane situations, the well-known term of "Chaotic Stupid" is used.

The only true measure for those stats are not with RP, but inside Ability Checks and Savings Throws, which opens up the entire can of worms where a char that might have horrible decision-making skills and considered low Wis might also be great with Animals, or any other number of combinations that don't make sense.

Bottom line, trying to RP any ability, especially the soft ones, is pretty much impossible except for the most skilled actors.

8 int is just a person who is slightly worse at memorizing facts than average.

The 3 mental state do not make up the totality of the human mind and it's capacity.

I think this might be at the heart of what some take issue with racial ASIs.

It is in fact very ableist to play characters with perceived difficulties like this (not to pick on you).

IQ for example is complete nonsense and yet people. Intelligence in general is not one single attribute and we are all intelligent in our own ways.
 

Because role-play expression of physical stats is generally done through the mechanic.
Source? (genuinely want to know where this concept is coming from for 5e specifically - or is this a commentary on TTRPGs in general?)

Whether the character is clumsy or not does not make a significant difference until the mechanic comes into play.
I mean, it could. For example, the queen may be less likely to take serious someone who trips over her red carpet than someone who does not. Or perhaps she might find such clumsiness endearing. Roleplaying such might even earn said player inspiration in 5e.

Meanwhile, for example, a player can apply their own native intelligence and speak to other players, without reference to the mechanic - like giving input into logic puzzles, or putting together chains of reasoning to solve mysteries, and so forth. And we can note that in D&D how social interaction is resolved is rather vague in ways application of Strength is not. Setting expectations of what, say, a 6 Charisma means may be called for - you don't want the player to be putting together eloquent discourses intended to convince an NPC, expecting them to just work.
And yet the mental skills outnumber the physical skills 14 to 4 when we consider ability checks with proficiency. I'm sure the utilization of such proficiencies, or indeed the call for particular ability checks, may vary from table to table. But, the odds are certainly in favor for mechanics coming into play far more often for mental ability checks than physical ability checks. Unless I'm missing something here in your logic.

I cannot speak to your games, specifically. But D&D is a bit thin on mechanics surrounding some of the mental stats, and so a discussion may be called for to fill in what the rules don't provide directly.
I think there is a reasonable amount of mental mechanics in the PHB around ability checks and Xanathar's around tool usage.

Then, they really ought to communicate that to the GM. If folks at the table don't agree on what's appropriate, there will be issues in play. Better to iron those out ahead of time.
Of course.
 

8 int is just a person who is slightly worse at memorizing facts than average.

The 3 mental state do not make up the totality of the human mind and it's capacity.

I think this might be at the heart of what some take issue with racial ASIs.

It is in fact very ableist to play characters with perceived difficulties like this (not to pick on you).

IQ for example is complete nonsense and yet people. Intelligence in general is not one single attribute and we are all intelligent in our own ways.
Well, first off, a a 10 is considered "average" in the game. I am not going to dive deeply into RL mental capacities. I can't imagine how many people will be triggered by the medical term of "Idiot Savant". But if you actually research that medical condition, you will see it affects roughly 1 in a million people in a highly demonstrable fashion. And it affects men to women in a 6:1 ratio. I am guessing that means in a typical D&D continent maybe a dozen PC's and NPC's would exist at any time with that condition.

But I digress. If 10 is considered average, and if players play using the 27 point by or more so, the Std Array, every single char is going to be "below average" in some manner, if they max min their chars. That is hardly "ableist".

And no, I do not play chars with low Int. You have no reason to believe me, but I have separate degrees in Economics and Physics. I could not RP a low Int char to save my life, the same way I can't RP a high CHA char. Like anyone else, I can play either mechanically, which was the first and only intent of the rules. But to ACT (which is the modern definition of Role-Playing) inside a D&D game...nope.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What you describe is very much what I would recommend for both high and low stats. For example: a high INT (or WIS) character knows something that the other PCs don't. A low INT character will also know something that the other PCs don't. The difference is that what the high INT character knows is (mostly) true, while what the low INT character "knows" is less true.

As for charisma, what you describe also works both ways. I guess one critical distinction that I didn't make earlier was that I have a big separation between "role-playing" and "acting". While there is certainly a connection between the two, they are separate skills. Properly roleplaying high/low CHA characters is often when the gap gets larger.
I only do that with a low charisma. With charisma, it's the NPCs who I control that are seeing and hearing the PC, so I'll run an eloquent player who is playing a low charisma PC through the same filter. Wisdom and intelligence really aren't on my side of things, and giving the player false information seems iffy to me as DM. I let the player determine how they roleplay the low wisdom and intelligence score and am happy with whatever they do as long as it's a good faith effort.
 

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