D&D 5E Playing through a Sample Stat Draft (COMPLETED!)


Moderator Emeritus
Originally I said I was gonna post this tomorrow because today was too busy, but I found some time. . .

So over in the "How do you determine your initial Attributes?" thread, I mentioned (for the millionth time, probably) my patented method for players to determine starting ability scores for both the beginning of a new campaign and potential replacement characters is a stat draft. I developed this method with the help of ENWorld posters back in about 2005 when we were still playing 3E and since then, I and other DMs I play with regularly have made use of it.

What I like about the stat draft is that it is a focused activity for a session #0 (so we aren't just discussing the rules and tone and what is verboten or encouraged for the game) and allows the group to discuss what kinds of characters they think they'd like to play, with everyone having an equal role in choosing stats and making those characters. It mixes the tension of stat rolling with the stability of an array. It gamifies character creation a little bit, but also encourages negotiation among players for their choices - and while there is also potential for competition in the choosing - in my experience players have tended to lean more towards cooperation.

When the stat draft is done, everyone has two sets of stats assigned to particular ability scores. They then choose the one they want to use for their new character and the other one goes into a pool from which anyone can choose a set for a replacement character or totally new player joining up. This further encourages everyone to make two viable versions because that second one is a potential future character.

In preparing for the stat draft, I create a series of arrays of stats with numbers assigned to particular ability scores and also an additional set of "Wild" numbers that tend to be slightly lower than the other stats, but can be placed in any ability score for which you have not chosen a specific number. So for example, if a player has chosen all six numbers and five of them are assigned to Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, the "Wild" number will have to be placed in Constitution. Of course, if you have more than one wild number you can place them how you want among unassigned stats.

All the available numbers for each full draft are visible before the picking begins.

The picking order in the first round is determined randomly (I usually have players roll a d30 to lessen the possibility of ties and start with whoever rolls highest and go down from there. So for example, the first player might say "I'll take the 15 Intelligence" and so on. In the successive rounds the players will choose in an order from lowest pick to the highest in the previous round. In the case of a tie, the player with the lowest total stats at that point chooses first. If it is still a tie, the tied players simply choose in reverse order than they did the previous round (this is also how ties are handled in the first round).

While players are allowed to discuss their choices before they are made, when I have done this with groups suffering from analysis paralysis, I have tried two different limitations (a minute hourglass and/or limiting the choosing player to only one other person they can get advice from each round). This has kept things moving along and in the second case keeps pushy players from inadvertent bullying others into making choices they may not really want to make (I assume other DMs know their table dynamics well enough to decide how best to handle this).

This choosing in rounds continues until all the players have all six of their stats accounted for and then any remaining numbers are discarded. Once you have chosen a score associated with a particular ability you may not pick another score of that same ability.

The whole process is then repeated with a new set of ability scores to choose from. The picking order in the first round of the second draft is determined by total points of ability scores of each player in the first set, from lowest to highest. If there is a tie the total modifiers of the individual scores are used (with lowest going first). If there is still a tie, they roll off with a d30.

At the end of this process players will have two complete sets to choose between. The remaining set of ability scores goes into a pool (as complete sets) that can be chosen from when replacement player characters are needed (or new players join the game and need to make a character). When brand new players are joining who did not get a chance to participate in the stat draft I allow them to swap one physical stat (Str, Dex, or Con) for one mental stat (Int, Wis, Cha) in order to better achieve what they want in a starting character. (I call this "the new player benefit").

When I did this for my two current 5E games, I think some of the starting scores were too high because I wasn't thinking through the greater degree of ASIs that 5E allows for out of the gate. The next time I start a 5E game (and in this sample) I am going to use slightly lower numbers and allow all lineages the same choice in floating ASI, either +2 to one stat and +1 to another or +1 to three different stats.

So just for fun and practice and for others in the boards to have a sense of how it works and if they might want to adopt and/or adapt this for their own campaign (and to have a sample on the boards that is more recent that 15 years old or whatever) I'd like to play through another one.

As such I am looking for five or six people (four minimum) who want to play through one in these very thread. Since we are doing this on the forums, it is going to take a little bit (ok, a lot bit) longer than it would in person (or even over zoom), since everyone may not be around to make their choices at any given time. As such, each person participating will have 24 hours to make their choice and I will do my best to keep the board up to date so everyone knows what numbers are still available. That said, in an effort to move things along I plan to set a starting date and time so everyone has a chance to be available for that first round, at least. My hope is to begin tomorrow (Tuesday) or then next day. Typically doing a stat draft in person takes 30 to 40 minutes.

For the sake of the experiment, let's imagine that this is for a 5E game starting at 1st level, using only classes and races in the Player's Handbook - so if people who participate want to discuss their ideas for potential (fake) characters with that in mind, that's cool.

You can see the original dry run thread starting here, but changes to the boards since then has made some of the formatting go wonky and some posts hard to follow.

Ultimately, this is just for fun, as these characters aren't "for" anything - but it could also be a cool way to develop groups of NPCs.

So far, only @Swarmkeeper has expressed interest, so I will put him at the top of the list and create 5 more slots below him.

1. @Swarmkeeper
2. @Baron Opal II
3. @prabe
4. @Charlaquin
5. @TwoSix
6. @FitzTheRuke


I am also happy to answer any questions folks may have.
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Moderator Emeritus
Fantastic! I will give folks a little more time to sign up for the last (optional slot), while I get things ready. Since rolling a die is not an option, I will find some other random means of determining the order in the first round.

Can the folks who signed up let me know what time zone they are in so I can try not to post the scores you'll be drafting from in the dead of night (no promises - I just want everyone to have a fair time to examine the scores and think about what they want). And speaking of what you want, feel free to discuss in this thread.


Moderator Emeritus
Okay, we have six people - if anyone else is interested we'll add you as an alternate in case someone needs to drop out and we need someone to take over.


Moderator Emeritus
Rather than roll a die, I went by the just as random method of alphabetical by the fourth letter in your handle (in case of a tie, I went to the 5th letter). This means in the first round you'll be picking in this order:
  1. @prabe
  2. @Baron Opal II
  3. @Charlequin
  4. @Swarmkeeper
  5. @TwoSix
  6. @FitzTheRuke
In the subsequent rounds the choices or totals made in the previous will determine picking order (see instructions in the first post). Assuming, no one is in a time zone too far behind or ahead EST (GMT-5) I can post the first set of sets this afternoon around 4 pm EST - otherwise I can go for midday tomorrow - allowing some folks to see in the morning and others in the afternoon/evening.

Please check in, if you have not already (or in you have any concerns - timing-wise we don't need to all be on at the same time - but keeping things close will hopefully avoid this dragging on too long).

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