D&D General Monk: The Past, Present, and Questionable Future of an Iconic Class

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I don't want to get off-topic, but if point buy is a minority of campaigns, that's news to me. I think literally every 5e game in which I've ever played used point buy.
Most of mine, though not all of them. With bounded accuracy, bonus proliferation definitely feels impactful and rolled scores seem to create more noticeable disparities in PC power than in older editions.
 

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ECMO3

Hero
I don't want to get off-topic, but if point buy is a minority of campaigns, that's news to me. I think literally every 5e game in which I've ever played used point buy.

Rolling abilities is the default method in the presented in the PHB with standard array presented "if you don't have time or don't like the idea of randomly determining ability scores". 27 point buy is a variant rule. A survey I saw about it a year ago said rolling abilities (including homebrew methods of rolling) is more common than all other methods combined.

Of people I play with regularly, I have one DM who uses point buy, one who uses standard array and four DMs use some method of rolling scores (including 2 that use a homebrew method of rolling). I personally usually use either the default rolling method from the PHB or a homebrew method. In one-shots or games with people I don't play with revularly I have seen a ton of different methods, RAW and non-RAW but have not really counted them.

Maybe rolling is not the most prevalent method, but it is undoubtedly very common. Common enough that you have to consider it when making statements regarding what is and is not possible for a given class. This is particularly relevant when you consider that as far as RAW methods go rolling abilities will on average give you slightly higher ability scores than Standard Array and slightly higher than Point Buy if you buy any more than one 14.
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The survey I saw about it a year ago said rolling abilities is more common than all other methods combined and it is the default method in the presented in the PHB with standard array presented "if you don't have time or don't like the idea of randomly determining ability scores". Although 27 point buy is common, I am not sure exactly where it is published and I'm not sure it is even RAW.
It's on the same page of the PH as random generation and standard array, though presented as a variant.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Most of mine, though not all of them. With bounded accuracy, bonus proliferation definitely feels impactful and rolled scores seem to create more noticeable disparities in PC power than in older editions.

I think part of that is the way bonuses come on. In 1E and 2E you got a +1 to hit and damage with a 17 strength. So anyone between roughly 7 and 15 was the same. You get a bonus at 13 in 5E.

Rolling abilities definitely does create disparities in PC power, but so do class, subclass, race and other build choices that are not random at all. Magic items also create disparities in PC power. In most cases those things are going to influence relative power between PCs more than the distribution between PCs with high abilities and low abilities.

FWIW, having played a lot of D&D using all three methods; I would say rolling abilities generally leads to more diverse character builds and more fun games overall.
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think part of that is the way bonuses come on. In 1E and 2E you got a +1 to hit and damage with a 17 strength. So anyone between roughly 7 and 15 was the same. You get a bonus at 13 in 5E.
12. You get bonuses starting at 13 in B/X and BECMI and the RC.

Rolling abilities definitely does create disparities in PC power, but so do class, subclass, race and other build choices that are not random at all. Magic items also create disparities in PC power. In most cases those things are going to influence power more than the distribution between a player with high abilities and low abilities.
Sure. Which is why most races get the same amount of ability bonuses in 5E. And why 5E tones down magic items and why people don't give out as many in this edition. But a substantial variance in ability scores does that as well, and does it starting from the first shared session. 🤷‍♂️
 

Voadam

Legend
FWIW, regardless of how common it is, IME rolling abilities certainly leads to more diverse builds and more fun games.
:cautious:

That could be your experience but I am not sure the incentives lead to more diverse builds or that rolled abilities structurally lead to more fun games.

I think point buy and arrays can do well for diverse builds (in people playing different builds they want versus builds their stats are good for) and I personally find balanced ability scores between PCs more conducive to fun games.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Sure. Which is why most races get the same amount of ability bonuses in 5E. And why 5E tones down magic items and why people don't give out as many in this edition. But a substantial variance in ability scores does that as well, and does it starting from the first shared session. 🤷‍♂️
All races don't all get the same bonuses and even those with the same bonuses are not of the same relative power. Humans get +6, Mountain Dwarves and Half Elves get +4, Custom Lineage and Variant Human get +2, and everyone else gets +3.

That is not the whole story though as Kenku, Tiefling(PHB) or Rock Gnome with a +3 or even Humans with a +6 are not nearly as powerful as a Shaddar-Kai, Eladrin, Damphir, Goblin, Bugbear or any of the flying races.

This underscores my point - there is not balance between 5E races (or classes) and that to me makes it kind of pointless to balance the ability scores. A Wizard or Sorcerer with low ability scores will generally be the most powerful player at the table (assuming there is not another Wizard or Sorc with higher abilities).
 

ECMO3

Hero
:cautious:

That could be your experience but I am not sure the incentives lead to more diverse builds or that rolled abilities structurally lead to more fun games.

I think point buy and arrays can do well for diverse builds (in people playing different builds they want versus builds their stats are good for) and I personally find balanced ability scores between PCs more conducive to fun games.
I think all methods are goode and IME they usually all do well. Don't get me wrong, I love D&D and that means point buy games, standard array games, rolled games, homebrew. All of them work for me and how you generated abilities is not the primary thing that makes games less fun or more fun.

That said, I just think rolling is superior and leads to more fun (all else being equal which it never is) and it definitely leads to more diverse builds because things are either possible or excluded based on your dice. For example with great rolls you can build the combo melee and missile Fighter who is not only good at both but excels at both, or even the mythical Fighter face.

On the other side with poor rolls there are a lot of common themes that are not viable (and in some cases specific classes can't even be viable) - if you have 3 rolls below a 10 you need to have 3 dump stats and that locks out a lot of stuff. For example you can still play a very effective Wizard or Cleric with 3 low stats, but you can't really play an effective melee bladesinger or plate and shield melee cleric and even something common like a Rogue face is going to be difficult.
 
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Voadam

Legend
That said, I just think rolling is superior and leads to more fun (all else being equal which it never is) and it definitely leads to more diverse builds because things are either possible or excluded based on your dice.
Right, my opinion is different. :)
For example with great rolls you can build the combo melee and missile Fighter who is not only good at both but excels at both, or even the mythical Fighter face.
These seem easy to do with 5e arrays or point buys.

Fighter who is good at melee and missile goes dex and con uses finesse weapons and dex ranged weapons. Or str and con and uses str thrown weapons.

Fighter face goes str, con, cha, takes a background with a social skill (probably persuasion) and is a decent face. The 15, 15, 15, 8, 8, 8 array seems built for it.
On the other side with poor rolls there are a lot of common themes that are not viable (and in some cases specific classes can't even be viable) - if you have 3 rolls below a 10 you need to have 3 dump stats and that locks out a lot of stuff. For example you can still play a very effective Wizard or Cleric with 3 low stats, but you can't really play an effective melee bladesinger or plate and shield melee cleric and even something common like a Rogue face is going to be difficult.
I mostly agree here, although I disagree on some specifics.

The more MAD a build is, the more low or mediocre rolls can hurt or the more lower point buy can hurt. Monks are a decent example.

I think a heavy armor melee cleric can dump int, dex, cha and be fine.

I think a face rogue is fine with dumped str, wis, and int. They will get by decently enough on perception and investigation with their skill proficiency(maybe even expertise) bonus.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Fighter who is good at melee and missile goes dex and con uses finesse weapons and dex ranged weapons. Or str and con and uses str thrown weapons.
I am talking about starting with an 18 Strength and 17 Dex or similar. When I say great at both, I mean as good or better than a point-buy build that is focused on one of them.

I agree about the face Fighter Face, although you are compromising a lot on point buy to do it.

The more MAD a build is, the more low or mediocre rolls can hurt or the more lower point buy can hurt. Monks are a decent example.

Agreed. This is the point though. If your rolls are 8/8/8/10/12/14 you are not really going to be able to do an effective Monk or Barbarian at all. With careful subclass selection, you will be able to do a pretty effective single class Ranger or Paladin, even though they are MAD classes, but they are going to play very different than a default Paladin or Ranger.

I think a heavy armor melee cleric can dump int, dex, cha and be fine.

It can be done, but I think it is difficult. with 6 proficiencies, 2 expertise and possible racial proficiencies, you can do a lot with the Rogue chassis. but if you dumped intelligence and wisdom and you are rolling expertise into charisma, that is going to be a difficult Rogue in play I think, or to put it another way it won't play like a point-buy Rogue with a good Charisma and expertise in Charisma skills.

I think a face rogue is fine with dumped str, wis, and int. They will get by decently enough on perception and investigation with their skill proficiency(maybe even expertise) bonus.

That is a very marginalized build I think and one that is going to be a lot different in play than a Rogue Face with point buy who has genuinely good perception.
 

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