D&D 5E Point Buy Arrays [Assembled]

Art Waring

halozix.com
I'm currently in the trenches designing a 5e based ttrpg, and it's time to talk about point buy arrays and the point buy system.

A lot of discussions are going on about point buys and random rolls to generate ability scores. Some say random rolls are too swingy, and that it creates too much disparity between PCs.

Many prefer the point buy system (as do I), but my biggest concern is that players new to the hobby are coming in fresh and they haven't even made a character yet, and they are already bogged down with tables and charts.

Not to mention, does a new player even know what ability scores are yet? Or how to place their scores into abilities that they will need for their chosen class. /i digress... Yes, a GM sets the standard up front as to what players do to start. Players want choices, but random rolls always end up in rerolls and wasted time.

I'm deciding to add an option of point buy arrays, for the players to choose from right out of the book to save time, so I looked it up. Below I've relisted a full list of the complete point buy array possibilities in a spoiler, taken from the wizards forums (not sure who posted it). Ive chosen seven from the list, while probably not complete by any means it should give players enough options to feel they have choices and variance, but not enough choices to cause decision paralysis.

So, the question is what are the most optimal, and what are the most varied choices to have on a list?

15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 -Standard Array
15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8 -Adept
14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10 -Jack of Trades
15, 13, 12, 11, 11, 11 -SAD Balance
14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 -MAD Balance
15, 13, 13, 13, 10, 9 -Odds
13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 10 -Thirteen-Odd

EDIT: Forum consensus is heading towards generating Random Rolls, with pooling the highest rolls for all players at the table.


5e Point Buy Arrays

See page 13 of the 5ePH under the heading "Variant: Customizing Ability Scores" using a standard 27 point buy:

15, 15, 15, 8, 8, 8
15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8 -Adept
15, 15, 14, 9, 9, 8
15, 15, 13, 12, 8, 8
15, 15, 13, 11, 9, 8
15, 15, 13, 10, 10, 8
15, 15, 13, 10, 9, 9
15, 15, 12, 12, 9, 8
15, 15, 12, 11, 10, 8
15, 15, 12, 11, 9, 9
15, 15, 12, 10, 10, 9
15, 15, 11, 11, 11, 8
15, 15, 11, 11, 10, 9
15, 15, 11, 10, 10, 10
15, 14, 14, 12, 8, 8
15, 14, 14, 11, 9, 8
15, 14, 14, 10, 10, 8
15, 14, 14, 10, 9, 9
15, 14, 13, 13, 9, 8
15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 -Standard Array
15, 14, 13, 12, 9, 9
15, 14, 13, 11, 11, 8
15, 14, 13, 11, 10, 9
15, 14, 13, 10, 10, 10
15, 14, 12, 12, 11, 8
15, 14, 12, 12, 10, 9
15, 14, 12, 11, 11, 9
15, 14, 12, 11, 10, 10
15, 14, 11, 11, 11, 10
15, 13, 13, 13, 11, 8
15, 13, 13, 13, 10, 9 -Odds
15, 13, 13, 12, 12, 8
15, 13, 13, 12, 11, 9
15, 13, 13, 12, 10, 10
15, 13, 13, 11, 11, 10
15, 13, 12, 12, 12, 9
15, 13, 12, 12, 11, 10
15, 13, 12, 11, 11, 11 -SAD Balance
15, 12, 12, 12, 12, 10
15, 12, 12, 12, 11, 11
14, 14, 14, 13, 9, 8
14, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8
14, 14, 14, 12, 9, 9
14, 14, 14, 11, 11, 8
14, 14, 14, 11, 10, 9
14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 -MAD Balance
14, 14, 13, 13, 11, 8
14, 14, 13, 13, 10, 9
14, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8
14, 14, 13, 12, 11, 9
14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10 -Jack of Trades
14, 14, 13, 11, 11, 10
14, 14, 12, 12, 12, 9
14, 14, 12, 12, 11, 10
14, 14, 12, 11, 11, 11
14, 13, 13, 13, 13, 8
14, 13, 13, 13, 12, 9
14, 13, 13, 13, 11, 10
14, 13, 13, 12, 12, 10
14, 13, 13, 12, 11, 11
14, 13, 12, 12, 12, 11
14, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12
13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 10 -Thirteen-Odd
13, 13, 13, 13, 12, 11
13, 13, 13, 12, 12, 12
 
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Art Waring

halozix.com
Random roll everything is easier and faster.
Yes, but it can create disparity between players of one of them rolls poorly, then they reroll, and keep rerolling until they are happy, that's neither fast nor easy.

Also, one player can get multiple 18s if they are lucky, while point buys cap ability scores to 15 before modifiers.

Providing ability arrays provides fast options, faster than rolling, because you simply write them down on your character sheet.
 


Art Waring

halozix.com
Don't reroll until you get what you want. That's the point of rolling.
Yes, and then you might have two players at the table, one with multiple 18s, and another with 13s and lower, that's quite a disparity is player ability before the game has started. I am simply trying to find solutions to this problem.
 

Random rolls, BUT everyone can pick whatever set of rolls they want.

Boom. Problem solved. You've got the fun of RNG, and nobody has less stats than anyone else unless they want to.
 

I'm currently in the trenches designing a 5e based ttrpg, and it's time to talk about point buy arrays and the point buy system.

A lot of discussions are going on about point buys and random rolls to generate ability scores. Some say random rolls are too swingy, and that it creates too much disparity between PCs.

Many prefer the point buy system (as do I), but my biggest concern is that players new to the hobby are coming in fresh and they haven't even made a character yet, and they are already bogged down with tables and charts.

Not to mention, does a new player even know what ability scores are yet? Or how to place their scores into abilities that they will need for their chosen class. /i digress... Yes, a GM sets the standard up front as to what players do to start. Players want choices, but random rolls always end up in rerolls and wasted time.

I'm deciding to add an option of point buy arrays, for the players to choose from right out of the book to save time, so I looked it up. Below I've relisted a full list of the complete point buy array possibilities in a spoiler, taken from the wizards forums (not sure who posted it). Ive chosen seven from the list, while probably not complete by any means it should give players enough options to feel they have choices and variance, but not enough choices to cause decision paralysis.

So, the question is what are the most optimal, and what are the most varied choices to have on a list?

15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 -Standard Array
15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8 -Adept
14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10 -Jack of Trades
15, 13, 12, 11, 11, 11 -SAD Balance
14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 -MAD Balance
15, 13, 13, 13, 10, 9 -Odds
13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 10 -Thirteen-Odd


5e Point Buy Arrays

See page 13 of the 5ePH under the heading 'Variant: Customizing Ability Scores' if you're a bit confused as to what this is good for:

15, 15, 15, 8, 8, 8
15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8 -Adept
15, 15, 14, 9, 9, 8
15, 15, 13, 12, 8, 8
15, 15, 13, 11, 9, 8
15, 15, 13, 10, 10, 8
15, 15, 13, 10, 9, 9
15, 15, 12, 12, 9, 8
15, 15, 12, 11, 10, 8
15, 15, 12, 11, 9, 9
15, 15, 12, 10, 10, 9
15, 15, 11, 11, 11, 8
15, 15, 11, 11, 10, 9
15, 15, 11, 10, 10, 10
15, 14, 14, 12, 8, 8
15, 14, 14, 11, 9, 8
15, 14, 14, 10, 10, 8
15, 14, 14, 10, 9, 9
15, 14, 13, 13, 9, 8
15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 -Standard Array
15, 14, 13, 12, 9, 9
15, 14, 13, 11, 11, 8
15, 14, 13, 11, 10, 9
15, 14, 13, 10, 10, 10
15, 14, 12, 12, 11, 8
15, 14, 12, 12, 10, 9
15, 14, 12, 11, 11, 9
15, 14, 12, 11, 10, 10
15, 14, 11, 11, 11, 10
15, 13, 13, 13, 11, 8
15, 13, 13, 13, 10, 9 -Odds
15, 13, 13, 12, 12, 8
15, 13, 13, 12, 11, 9
15, 13, 13, 12, 10, 10
15, 13, 13, 11, 11, 10
15, 13, 12, 12, 12, 9
15, 13, 12, 12, 11, 10
15, 13, 12, 11, 11, 11 -SAD Balance
15, 12, 12, 12, 12, 10
15, 12, 12, 12, 11, 11
14, 14, 14, 13, 9, 8
14, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8
14, 14, 14, 12, 9, 9
14, 14, 14, 11, 11, 8
14, 14, 14, 11, 10, 9
14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 -MAD Balance
14, 14, 13, 13, 11, 8
14, 14, 13, 13, 10, 9
14, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8
14, 14, 13, 12, 11, 9
14, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10 -Jack of Trades
14, 14, 13, 11, 11, 10
14, 14, 12, 12, 12, 9
14, 14, 12, 12, 11, 10
14, 14, 12, 11, 11, 11
14, 13, 13, 13, 13, 8
14, 13, 13, 13, 12, 9
14, 13, 13, 13, 11, 10
14, 13, 13, 12, 12, 10
14, 13, 13, 12, 11, 11
14, 13, 12, 12, 12, 11
14, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12
13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 10 -Thirteen-Odd
13, 13, 13, 13, 12, 11
13, 13, 13, 12, 12, 12
I think you may enjoy random point buy inspired by former EN World member Redrick

 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Yes, and then you might have two players at the table, one with multiple 18s, and another with 13s and lower, that's quite a disparity is player ability before the game has started. I am simply trying to find solutions to this problem.
What about Rolled Array? One single set of rolled scores that everyone at the table uses, random but fair.
Although I personally do prefer the security of point buy to the chance of random rolls.

Edit: i remembered this ‘stat draft’ experiment thread that happened a while back, for a different method of score generation
 
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Art Waring

halozix.com
What about Rolled Array? One single set of rolled scores that everyone at the table uses, random but fair.
Although I personally do prefer the security of point buy to the chance of random rolls.
Yeah that seems to be the consensus so far is a grouped random roll, i will think it over thank you everyone for the feedback!

I still prefer a choice of several arrays, where the players can assign the numbers as they choose, allowing for a little variation while still keeping everyone at the same relative range of ability scores.

Edit: Oooor, I could include both options, with a choice of arrays or random rolls per player, and then an additional option for pooled random rolls.
 
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Something I've toyed around with is random arrays, but I've been trying to find the best options. Some point buy setups are super weak, and so I don't want to accidentally include them. I also plan to have a few go to 16 and below 8, allowing the feel of getting a "better" roll, while still remaining relatively balanced. I think these 7 and 3 of those would make for a solid 1d10 roll for which array the player gets.
 

Jane rolls 8, 11, 14, 10, 17, and 15.
Jill rolls 13, 10, 13, 13, 13, and 10.
Joe rolls 11, 11, 13, 8, 12, and 10.
Jason rolls 11, 17, 16, 11, 13, and 15.

Everyone can then pick which of the 4 sets they want to use. Everyone picks Jason because yowzers. The power level of the characters is certainly higher than normal, but the DM can easily adjust for that. You got your RNG, everyone got to pick the stats they wanted, and someone at the table got to be a big dang hero!
(Those are actual rolls I just randomly generated.)
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
Jane rolls 8, 11, 14, 10, 17, and 15.
Jill rolls 13, 10, 13, 13, 13, and 10.
Joe rolls 11, 11, 13, 8, 12, and 10.
Jason rolls 11, 17, 16, 11, 13, and 15.

Everyone can then pick which of the 4 sets they want to use. Everyone picks Jason because yowzers. The power level of the characters is certainly higher than normal, but the DM can easily adjust for that. You got your RNG, everyone got to pick the stats they wanted, and someone at the table got to be a big dang hero!
(Those are actual rolls I just randomly generated.)
Absolutely, this seems to be the general consensus so far, pooling rolls and using the highest. Thank you for your input, I have updated the OP.
 

Many prefer the point buy system (as do I), but my biggest concern is that players new to the hobby are coming in fresh and they haven't even made a character yet, and they are already bogged down with tables and charts.

Not to mention, does a new player even know what ability scores are yet? Or how to place their scores into abilities that they will need for their chosen class.
At that point of issue, you may be better off pre-generating some characters, since players unable to assign scores to abilities within 5e's level of effectiveness required may not know enough about the actual classes to build one.
 

New players should roll stats. They have enough to learn with where to put the numbers, they don't also need to struggle with what numbers to choose in the first place.

While in theory using a set standard array would be even easier, I think there is enough complication with new players wrapping their heads around the cumbersome two step process of deriving bonuses from scores even with the scores being things they rolled with their own hands and (sort of) understand the source of. Bombarding people with strange arrays of mysterious numbers right out the gate and then making them translate them into a derived array of bonuses just makes the game feel more weirdly math intensive than it is.

Disparity between scores is not a major problem with most players, particularly new ones. Fundamentally it is a class (and subclass) based game, so different players are doing different things. It's only when you get a character who is actually bad at what should be their core talents or a character who, through overpowered ability scores, is much better at things they don't specialize in than mediocre specialists that disparities really start to weigh on people. On balance I still think it's better for new players to just roll stats, even accepting that they might grow a little unhappy with them.

At the point where someone has a grasp of the game suitable to using arrays they would probably be happier just creating their own with point buy. Personally I consider unrolled stats cheating, but to each their own.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Jane rolls 8, 11, 14, 10, 17, and 15.
Jill rolls 13, 10, 13, 13, 13, and 10.
Joe rolls 11, 11, 13, 8, 12, and 10.
Jason rolls 11, 17, 16, 11, 13, and 15.

Everyone can then pick which of the 4 sets they want to use. Everyone picks Jason because yowzers. The power level of the characters is certainly higher than normal, but the DM can easily adjust for that. You got your RNG, everyone got to pick the stats they wanted, and someone at the table got to be a big dang hero!
(Those are actual rolls I just randomly generated.)
The problem with this approach is you get higher ability scores than 4d6, drop lowest, already generates.

Now, if you want that, then it isn't a problem of course. ;)

FWIW, the "standard array" for 4d6, drop lowest is actually 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 9.

If you have a "standard" party of 4 players, each rolling, the "highest (standard) array" is instead: 16, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9.

Comparing to the standard array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8), we see 4d6, drop lowest increases the highest and lowest only (15 to 16, 8 to 9) and the middle scores remain the same. Having four players all roll 4d6, drop lowest and then take the best set among them also increases all the middle scores (14 => 15, 13 => 14, ... 10 => 11). The table below shows them in comparison:

1660176845986.png


Of course, if you have more players, the rolls will generally be higher. Also, if one player happens to get really lucky (like a player in my first d20 game, he rolled 16, 18, 17, 14, 13, 13), then your whole party will be very powerful...

So, nothing wrong with such methods, just food for thought. :)
 

The problem with this approach is you get higher ability scores than 4d6, drop lowest, already generates.

Now, if you want that, then it isn't a problem of course. ;)
It's not that I want higher stats, but it's pretty easy for a DM to adjust encounters to a slightly higher power level, and it can present a fun choice when at least two player rolls are similar.
 

delericho

Legend
I've gone through loads of stat generation methods over the years. My ultimate conclusion was that I never found one I was particularly happy with - random methods tended to throw up too many disparities within the party, while point buy (and, worse, standard arrays) led to cookie cutter characters.

So eventually I decided not to worry about it. :)

Of my recent campaigns, two used the standard array, and one used a choice of a few array options. My next campaign will likely have the players each roll 4d6-drop-lowest once or twice each, going around the table until we have six stats, and everyone using that.

But possibly the one I found I liked the most, which I used in late 3.5e, Star Wars Saga, and a few other games of that era, was to give each player a choice:

  • Roll 4d6-drop-lowest. You get to reroll if your net bonus is (IIRC) +1 or less, or if your highest stat is 13 or less, but otherwise you're expected to play the character generated as-is, and play in good faith - no suiciding a 'bad' character! Or...
  • Use 28 point buy using the point costs in the 3.5e DMG. Or...
  • Use the fixed array: 16, 15, 13, 12, 10, 8.
(I haven't updated this method to 5e, largely because the point buy system is so different. Plus, with my current group adding that choice is probably not ideal at this stage.)

The logic underlying the choice is that the rolled method is on paper the best, in that your stats will probably be highest. But because you don't get to choose, there's not as much scope for optimising. Conversely, point buy gives the most control, and most scope for optimising, but is on paper the weakest. And the fixed array lies in the middle.

One last note: if doing point buy in 5e, my strong inclination these days would be to roll the racial ability score adjustments right into the point buy - so grant a number of extra points to spend, and allow stats of up to 17 to be bought.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Yeah, I have probably experimented with over a hundred (no kidding) methods. Part of my problem is after so long, with so many PCs over so many editions--they just start to feel the same, anyway.

I've settled on different options, but my favorite for 5E is 3d8, take the MIDDLE roll, plus 7. This gives you a range of 8 to 15 like the point-buy and standard array methods, clustering the rolls around 12-13.

One last note: if doing point buy in 5e, my strong inclination these days would be to roll the racial ability score adjustments right into the point buy - so grant a number of extra points to spend, and allow stats of up to 17 to be bought.
I agree. Floating scores aren't a good idea IMO, but the problem is rolling those into point-buy works, and you can always boost the standard array, but how do you incorporate them into the rolling method? I've looked into it, and I think rolling 7 or even 8 scores, and then using the best 6, does this effectively.
 

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