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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
In 5e, stats measure capability, not capacity. (Otherwise, how could you improve them?) An 8 Int can simply mean you're a little less well-read than others, and as such aren't as aware of formal logic (puzzles, Investigation checks) and lack the theoretical grounding for wizardly magic.

The act of roleplaying doesn't have to be in "playing" your stats, it also comes in narrating the results of the mechanics in the context of your character.
The original versions of D&D had aging tables, where chars lost or gained various stat scores. Now, they were not particularly useful as most chars either died or retired before reaching middle age. But the concept had merit.

What ability stats should be, are the opposite of what you state they measure (I don't think you are entirely wrong). Stats should be a measure of the current capability of a char, not its full potential. Chars are born with a potential, and that value is immutable. What they do to reach that potential in game, well, I guess it is abstracted in 5e, but badly. Suggesting that a 60 year old human is stronger than its 20 year old version is ridiculous. Same with Intelligence, Dex, and Con.
Now, Charisma and Wisdom, sure, I can see those increasing with age, to some degree.

A 30 year old human can be stronger than its 20 year old version, if the 30 year old started hitting the weights for the first time at age 28.

How should this concept be applied in 5e? I would say that aging tables SHOULD be applied again, but many of the abilities would move based on age, not ASI's. A 25 year old char that has been walking the planet, WILL be stronger than the 18 year old version that started out. That char will have innately picked up some life skills aka Wisdom, maybe even Charisma. Kids in the real world are by definition, idiots, and only get wiser with experience aka maturity.

Now, to apply changes to chars outside of ASI's, that fundamentally changes the game. Plus I can only begin to imagine the pushback when a DM says "Your char can't get any smarter after 4 or 5th level".
 

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Voadam

Legend
I prefer standard array, although I have done all 3. Generally I want characters to be about even in power and my experiences tended to show that SAD characters can game point buys more for character power.

In a couple one shot 5e games I ran I had 3d6 in order and it was fun.
 

jgsugden

Legend
That (2d6+4, potential perk) is a pretty tough set of rolling, but because the players have a floor of Point Buy, really a no risk thing.
Yes - a common scenario for a 6 PC party would be 3 point buy, 2 taking the rolls and reordering and one taking them in order and getting a perk.

Players tend to take the rolls when:

1.) They get a 16 (1 in 6 PCs)
2.) They get above the distribution available in point buy (about 1 in 3 PCs)
3.) It is about as good as point buy and they get to take the perk (which is not going to be powerful per se, but will be meaningful through the entire campaign. I had a player select Magic Initiate - Warlock (suboptimal cantrip and spell choices) and his patron relationship ended up being a key storyline of the entire campaign).
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
How should this concept be applied in 5e? I would say that aging tables SHOULD be applied again, but many of the abilities would move based on age, not ASI's. A 25 year old char that has been walking the planet, WILL be stronger than the 18 year old version that started out. That char will have innately picked up some life skills aka Wisdom, maybe even Charisma. Kids in the real world are by definition, idiots, and only get wiser with experience aka maturity.
Yea, I wouldn't go in that direction personally. Not a big fan of using simulationist logic at all for stats; fundamentally I view them as a game abstraction to support fantasy tropes. It's up to the player to flesh out their concept and use the stats as a tool to do that.

OSR play supported starting a character with their stats as the base and then building out concept from there, I don't think that works nearly as well in modern games, which center around concept/hook first.
 

Voadam

Legend
OSR play supported starting a character with their stats as the base and then building out concept from there, I don't think that works nearly as well in modern games, which center around concept/hook first.
I think that can work out just as well in modern games. Most 5e D&D classes are mechanically built around a couple stats in a transparent way (similar to most classes throughout various editions of D&D) and there are mechanically good options for most stats as a primary. So if you roll a high Charisma for instance you look at Warlocks, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Bards. Its just a question of where you want to build your character concept from.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
3e did the same conversion. IQ was int x 10. So he's around an 8.

The problem feels like it comes in if you picture the ability scale actually being defined by the 3d6 (instead of the 3d6 just being used to generate things).

Looks like the probabilities of each number from 3-10 are around the following. If you took them as the actual values rounded off (so the abilities were continuous, but written on the sheets as integers), then the range of percentiles they'd have unrounded are in the [ ], with the corresponding N(100,sd=15) rounded IQ scale quantiles given after that.

3 p=0.46% [0-0.46] 60.9 and lower
4 p=1.38% [0.46, 1.38] 60.9 to 67
5 p=2.77% [1.38, 4.61] 67 to 74.7
6 p=4.62% [4.61, 9.23] 74.7 to 80.1
7 p=6.94% [9.23, 16.17] 80.1 to 85.2
8 p=9.72% [16.17, 25.89] 85.2 to 90.3
9 p=11.57% [25.89,37.46] 90.3 to 95.2
10 p=12.5% [37.46,50.00] 95.2 to 100

So if the 3-18 scale is defined by the 3d6 probabilities, a 75 IQ is in the low 6 range. An 8 would be an IQ of between 85 and 90.

As far as apes brought up in another post, a 6 INT for them seems strange given:
(1) the things Intelligence is useful for in 5e (logic, education, memory, deductive reasoning, arcana, history, investigation, nature, religion, and wizard spells), instead of just giving a lower value and a note about memory and nature
and
(2) that a 6 is only a -2 on those things.

Those are some talented apes!

If instead of percentiles you use mean and standard deviation, then 3d6 standard deviation of 2.958ish goes with the IQ sd of 15. This makes each point of intelligence worth just a bit over 5 IQ points, with a 10.5 ability being IQ of 100. So the 75 IQ would be just over 5.5 and round to the 6 as above. Extrapolating that to the other end, 18 goes with 138, and Holmes (at IQ of 190) would be a 28...

So, anyway 3d6 being defining of how to interpret the scale instead of just a handy tool takes some thought and is problematic in the tails.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The problem feels like it comes in if you picture the ability scale actually being defined by the 3d6 (instead of the 3d6 just being used to generate things).

Looks like the probabilities of each number from 3-10 are around the following. If you took them as the actual values rounded off (so the abilities were continuous, but written on the sheets as integers), then the range of percentiles they'd have unrounded are in the [ ], with the corresponding N(100,sd=15) rounded IQ scale quantiles given after that.

3 p=0.46% [0-0.46] 60.9 and lower
4 p=1.38% [0.46, 1.38] 60.9 to 67
5 p=2.77% [1.38, 4.61] 67 to 74.7
6 p=4.62% [4.61, 9.23] 74.7 to 80.1
7 p=6.94% [9.23, 16.17] 80.1 to 85.2
8 p=9.72% [16.17, 25.89] 85.2 to 90.3
9 p=11.57% [25.89,37.46] 90.3 to 95.2
10 p=12.5% [37.46,50.00] 95.2 to 100

So if the 3-18 scale is defined by the 3d6 probabilities, a 75 IQ is in the low 6 range. An 8 would be an IQ of between 85 and 90.

As far as apes brought up in another post, a 6 INT for them seems strange given:
(1) the things Intelligence is useful for in 5e (logic, education, memory, deductive reasoning, arcana, history, investigation, nature, religion, and wizard spells), instead of just giving a lower value and a note about memory and nature
and
(2) that a 6 is only a -2 on those things.

Those are some talented apes!

If instead of percentiles you use mean and standard deviation, then 3d6 standard deviation of 2.958ish goes with the IQ sd of 15. This makes each point of intelligence worth just a bit over 5 IQ points, with a 10.5 ability being IQ of 100. So the 75 IQ would be just over 5.5 and round to the 6 as above. Extrapolating that to the other end, 18 goes with 138, and Holmes (at IQ of 190) would be a 28...

So, anyway 3d6 being defining of how to interpret the scale instead of just a handy tool takes some thought and is problematic in the tails.
It's a problem you're inventing. It does not state (nor has it ever in any official published book that I know of) that the ability scores of the general populace follows the 3d6 bell curve.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Then we are on the same page, essentially. Other than you calling it for RP reasons, and I am calling it min-maxing.
Then we aren't on the same page, like at all. RP reasons vs. min-maxing is literally yin and yang. And I'm not saying it IS for RP reasons. I'm saying that there are RP reasons for a lot of people, so placing low stats doesn't equate to min-maxing.
And yes, when I create a char, I do have an 8, but never because of RP reasons. I don't play an RP game, or minimize that as much as I can.
Okay. Nothing wrong with playing the game as a minis game if that's what your group is into. For you, you min-max your stats. That's okay. For a lot of people, though, that 8 con is for their concept and represents an opportunity to roleplay.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The problem feels like it comes in if you picture the ability scale actually being defined by the 3d6 (instead of the 3d6 just being used to generate things).

Looks like the probabilities of each number from 3-10 are around the following. If you took them as the actual values rounded off (so the abilities were continuous, but written on the sheets as integers), then the range of percentiles they'd have unrounded are in the [ ], with the corresponding N(100,sd=15) rounded IQ scale quantiles given after that.

3 p=0.46% [0-0.46] 60.9 and lower
4 p=1.38% [0.46, 1.38] 60.9 to 67
5 p=2.77% [1.38, 4.61] 67 to 74.7
6 p=4.62% [4.61, 9.23] 74.7 to 80.1
7 p=6.94% [9.23, 16.17] 80.1 to 85.2
8 p=9.72% [16.17, 25.89] 85.2 to 90.3
9 p=11.57% [25.89,37.46] 90.3 to 95.2
10 p=12.5% [37.46,50.00] 95.2 to 100

So if the 3-18 scale is defined by the 3d6 probabilities, a 75 IQ is in the low 6 range. An 8 would be an IQ of between 85 and 90.
Or we can just roughly calculate it as int x 10. I think that's why they say it roughly corresponds to... :)
As far as apes brought up in another post, a 6 INT for them seems strange given:
(1) the things Intelligence is useful for in 5e (logic, education, memory, deductive reasoning, arcana, history, investigation, nature, religion, and wizard spells), instead of just giving a lower value and a note about memory and nature
and
(2) that a 6 is only a -2 on those things.
Druid: "I ask the gorilla if he knows where the Machine of Lum the Mad can be found."

DM: (rolls some dice for a history check. 17-2=15.) "The gorilla tells you that 3000 years ago this was the nation of Faramal, the capitol of which was located at the base of (successful geography check) Mount Froofroo 2 days from here. (arcana check 20-2=18) He also tells you that the Machine of Lum the Mad was rumored to be there in the king's treasury, so look in the palace."

Druid: "Okay. I ask him if he knows what gods they worshipped there."

DM: (Rolls a religion check. 4-2=2) "The gorilla says no, he's a gorilla! Why would he know those kinds of things!
 
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Amrûnril

Explorer
It's a problem you're inventing. It does not state (nor has it ever in any official published book that I know of) that the ability scores of the general populace follows the 3d6 bell curve.

I'm not aware of it ever being officially stated, but it's a fairly natural assumption to draw from that curve being the original way of generating ability scores (and when 3d6 was abandoned as the default mechanic, this was justified not as a reinterpretation of the scores, but as the average adventurer being above average, relative to the general population).

And I'd argue that this interpretation* isn't a invented problem, because it isn't a problem at all. It's an intuitive interpretation that's entirely compatible with the currently published game. I'd go so far as to say it's more compatible than interpretations that assign greater meaning to the difference between an 8 and a 10, given the small mechanical effect of such a difference. I also think 1 in 216 is a good frequency for the most extreme scores: rare enough to be meaningful, but not so rare as to go essentially unused.

*I'm referring to the overall idea of the the 3d6 bell curve corresponding to the general range of human variation. I 'd avoid mapping to a metric like IQ, which measures a specific interpretation of "intelligence" that won't always match the game's interpretation.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I think that can work out just as well in modern games. Most 5e D&D classes are mechanically built around a couple stats in a transparent way (similar to most classes throughout various editions of D&D) and there are mechanically good options for most stats as a primary. So if you roll a high Charisma for instance you look at Warlocks, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Bards. Its just a question of where you want to build your character concept from.
I think it can work in modern games, but doing so feels like an old-school frame of reference.

Most modern games use Playbooks, or something similar to them, which are definitely concept first. Even a modern crunchy game like PF2 only has "choose ability score" as the 5th stop in the character creation process, after concept, ancestry, class, and background.
 

Yardiff

Adventurer
This is what I like to do for rolling stats.
Roll 24d6 remove 6 dice (usually the lowest 6) take the remaining 18 dice and group them in 6 groups of 3 dice. If you have 12 or more 1's reroll.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
It's a problem you're inventing. It does not state (nor has it ever in any official published book that I know of) that the ability scores of the general populace follows the 3d6 bell curve.
I thought I had remembered something from 1e about that, but was apparently imagining it (or it is hiding).

In 3.5 under making NPCs in the DMG is:

All PCs and all the NPCs described in this section are “elite,” a cut above the average. Elite characters (whether they are PCs or not) have above-average ability scores and automatically get maximum hit points from their first Hit Die. Average characters, on the other hand, have average abilities (rolled on 3d6) and don’t get maximum hit points from their first Hit Die.

which sounds to me like a typical random person would be 3d6. They never come out and say it though.

The ape intelligence in 3.5 is a 2, which seems to fit at least a bit better than a six to me (it's with things like dogs and horses). But the penalty still isn't as big as I would have thought for some of the knowledge rolls (a la @Maxperson a few posts or up).
 

The ape intelligence in 3.5 is a 2, which seems to fit at least a bit better than a six to me (it's with things like dogs and horses). But the penalty still isn't as big as I would have thought for some of the knowledge rolls (a la @Maxperson a few posts or up).
Non-human great apes are still way smarter than dogs and horses (And dogs are definitely smarter than horses.) At least by the same degree than we are smarter than them, probably more.

Now, is is another matter to what degree it is sensible to attempt to model this with a system that is predominantly meant to be used for creatures of roughly human-like intellect.
 

The ape intelligence in 3.5 is a 2, which seems to fit at least a bit better than a six to me (it's with things like dogs and horses). But the penalty still isn't as big as I would have thought for some of the knowledge rolls (a la @Maxperson a few posts or up).

For 3.5 specifically, (and 3.0 I believe), INT of 3 was required for what would be considered a human-like level of sentience. All animals or similarly non-sentient beings were explicitly at an INT of 2 or 1. INT of >3 was a key mechanical benefit of the "Awakened" spell.

Also in 3.x "Knowledge" skills were "Trained Only", so it doesn't matter if the gorrilla was awakened and had a 25 INT, it still wouldn't be allowed to pass those checks. It's a funny story, but doesn't match mechanics of that edition.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
For 3.5 specifically, (and 3.0 I believe), INT of 3 was required for what would be considered a human-like level of sentience. All animals or similarly non-sentient beings were explicitly at an INT of 2 or 1. INT of >3 was a key mechanical benefit of the "Awakened" spell.

Also in 3.x "Knowledge" skills were "Trained Only", so it doesn't matter if the gorrilla was awakened and had a 25 INT, it still wouldn't be allowed to pass those checks. It's a funny story, but doesn't match mechanics of that edition.

I should have been clearer and was mixing and matching my 3.5 reference with Max's 5e one.

Separating out the things that don't think like "people" from a system designed for "people" somehow (maybe needing 3+ to do things and giving animals 2 or lower) makes sense to me.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm not aware of it ever being officially stated, but it's a fairly natural assumption to draw from that curve being the original way of generating ability scores (and when 3d6 was abandoned as the default mechanic, this was justified not as a reinterpretation of the scores, but as the average adventurer being above average, relative to the general population).

And I'd argue that this interpretation* isn't a invented problem, because it isn't a problem at all. It's an intuitive interpretation that's entirely compatible with the currently published game. I'd go so far as to say it's more compatible than interpretations that assign greater meaning to the difference between an 8 and a 10, given the small mechanical effect of such a difference. I also think 1 in 216 is a good frequency for the most extreme scores: rare enough to be meaningful, but not so rare as to go essentially unused.

*I'm referring to the overall idea of the the 3d6 bell curve corresponding to the general range of human variation. I 'd avoid mapping to a metric like IQ, which measures a specific interpretation of "intelligence" that won't always match the game's interpretation.
You can draw any kind of assumptions you want, but it's still a strawman. It's just coincidence that there's any correlation at all. In both cases they're just a simplified approximation. I know someone with a 18 intelligence is really, really smart. Just like someone who scored a 180 IQ. Just like people on average have around a 10-11 intelligence and average IQ is a little above 100.

The rules say nothing about the distribution of intelligence in the general population.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I thought I had remembered something from 1e about that, but was apparently imagining it (or it is hiding).
...
Well intelligent people should be very good at hiding in text. :)

Gygax may or may not have said something along those lines a half century ago, but then again he said a lot of things. It's coincidence that the range of intelligence times 10 roughly coincides with the range of IQ, so personally I find it a useful general approximation.

In any case, ability scores in D&D are a broad oversimplification and IQ is not much (if any) better.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The ape intelligence in 3.5 is a 2, which seems to fit at least a bit better than a six to me (it's with things like dogs and horses). But the penalty still isn't as big as I would have thought for some of the knowledge rolls (a la @Maxperson a few posts or up).
I actually think a 6 is appropriate for apes. The DM should know that the ape isn't going to have history, arcana, etc. and just not allow those rolls. The outcomes is not in doubt, so the answer is no. However, if that gorilla punches the knight in plate mail and hurts his fist, it's going to be smart enough to reason out that the grabbing that big stick to bash in the side of the knight's helmet will be more effective and involve less knuckle pain.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I actually think a 6 is appropriate for apes. The DM should know that the ape isn't going to have history, arcana, etc. and just not allow those rolls. The outcomes is not in doubt, so the answer is no. However, if that gorilla punches the knight in plate mail and hurts his fist, it's going to be smart enough to reason out that the grabbing that big stick to bash in the side of the knight's helmet will be more effective and involve less knuckle pain.

Does that take a 6 to think of? Why would it need the mental capability of someone who only gets a -2 on history, arcana, etc, checks to know that you don't hit something if it hurt the first time or to know that it can use basic tools? (Some insects and otters and birds use basic tools, and rats are way smart enough to avoid things like that.) Is that even intelligence, or is it wisdom which they have a lot of?
 

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