D&D 5E Point Buy vs Rolling for Stats


Morkus from Orkus
Yes NPCs build like PCs can reach 20 in stats, this is why they are considered special NPCs. I've said that all long. Adventurers (PCs), Monsters, and Special NPCs can have stats of 20 or in the monsters case over 20. All others have stats from 3 and maxing at 18. That's what is says on pg 7.

I looked at page 7 and I can't find anything saying what other NPCs have at all. It says most adventurers have 3-18.

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Morkus from Orkus
I'll take that bet! The rest of the stat block is only possible with an 18 Dex. He's a level 10 Thief with an AC of 2. You need a minimum Dex of 9 to be a Thief, and he only has +1 Leather and a Ring of Protection +1 to adjust his AC. In order to get an AC of 2 with what's written in his stat box he needs an 18 Dex.

Fair enough. Then the clumsy portion was probably the error there.


Morkus from Orkus
Like I said. Blind as a bat. :cool:

Although it does state that the range is typical, which means there can be exceptions. Which makes sense - there's a difference between someone who's really, really clumsy and someone who has ALS and would have a dexterity of 1.

I expect going down below three would involve things like being paralyzed from the waist down and other severe impairments.


Morkus from Orkus
It could also be that the description of you character came first then the stats were rolled and the description wasnt updated.

Find more like this and then the thief wont be an outlier.

There are more like that, or at least more where there were obvious errors in the stat blocks. I remember finding those errors fairly often back during 1e and to a lesser extent, 2e.


Victoria Rules
There are more like that, or at least more where there were obvious errors in the stat blocks. I remember finding those errors fairly often back during 1e and to a lesser extent, 2e.
Though I can't remember any specific examples at the moment, I've hit this a few times as well while running canned modules - the numeric stats and the words used to describe the character simply don't agree. My own default in these cases is to ignore the words and go with what the numbers tell me, as it's easier and quicker to refluff the description on the fly than to replace the numbers.



First Post
[MENTION=6799649]Arial Black[/MENTION] - the problem I have with your argument is that you are insisting on following the advice laid out in 1e but, then ignoring the context of that advice. In 1e, "normal" stats (as in no penalty or bonus) run from 7-14. Thus, a 3d6 distribution will result in about 90% (someone else can do the exact math) of the population having identical stats from a modifier point of view.

I proved that idea false, or at the very least incredibly misleading many pages ago. In 1e stat ranges had other influences than pure combat pluses that got better or worse within the range you are claiming to be normal and without bonus. Increasing or decreases survival/system shock is in fact a bonus, just a different sort of bonus. Another example is that a strength of 12 gets a +100 weight allowance bonus. In 1e a normal stat was 10-11 and then bonuses and penalties started happening.

There really is no real difference between an 8 Str and a 14 Str. At least, not enough difference to be noticeable.

Except that there is. That 14 has +200 weight allowance bonus over the 8 and 7% chance to bend a freaking bar or lift a gate, where the 8 only has a 1% chance.

If we take 2e into account (also part of this game history), the difference between an 8 and a 14 was similar to a 5e's +6, in regards to skill use. Even in 1e/OD&D, some people would be using (or still are) that "roll under" option (from the magazine, I guess?) for some tasks, so there is that.

Lordy Lord! You sure do know how to zing a guy! :D

You say a 7% difference for one miscellaneous task is huge but a 5% difference on every ability score that affects multiple aspects of the game is inconsequential. Even when can show that it does indeed have major impact. Yep, you've slain me with your rock solid logic. Hoo boy. Time to retire posting to the message board.

Gahh! And there you go again making me break my resolution to not get into ****ing contests again. :mad:

The thing is, not all percentages are created equal (or something). Going from 65% to 70% in chances to pass an athletics test is less than a 10% increase in overall efficiency, whereas going to 1% to 7% chance to bend bars is a 600% increase. Sure, 7% is still an abysmal chance, but throughout a whole campaign, this difference it would hold a bigger impact (given that plenty of chances to show off the PCs muscle mighty were available) than that 5e's 5% difference does.


Something people might not be aware of from 1e, I played 1e for years and missed this from the PHB. 1e PHB pg 9.

The premise of the game is that each player character is above average- at least in some respects -and has superior potential. Furthermore, it is usually essential to the character's survival to be exceptional (with a rating of 15 or above) in no fewer than two ability characteristics.

Just thought it might be of interest.

Arial Black

Can you point to anywhere in the 5E books where it states that?

They are not going to waste valuable book space to tell you that 'nothing changed'! When you turn on the TV news, the newscaster tells you about new stuff. For example, it might be in the news that France has got itself a new president, but he doesn't waste half the broadcast time by telling us all the counties who have not changed presidents since yesterday!

The whole rulebook is like that. Each element it describes (race/class/feat/spell) tells us what this element alters. It only tells us what the element doesn't alter if the lack of such clarity would cause ambiguity.

In order for D&D 5E to remove the assumption of the 3d6 bell curve it would have to tell us what the 5E assumption is! If it did that then any old assumption would fall away.

Even so, there is no way that 5E would simply say something like, "NPCs are not rolled up on 3d6 in order, if that is what you're thinking!" They would simply print the new rule of what it now is.

They didn't. On top of this, every piece of evidence that does get printed in 5E regarding ability scores for average NPCs remains consistent with that 3d6 bell curve assumption.

If we compare the two sets of evidence, we might think that there is no certainty for that assumption, given the lack of specific verbiage. But crucially, there is far more evidence for that assumption than for any competing assumption.

I don't deny that logically ability scores should be based on some kind of bell curve, but if we look at IQ, a little more than 50% of the population is "average". If we have no good way of modeling a bell curve, it becomes pretty irrelevant.

Gygax wrote a mini essay concerning that very thing in the 1E DMG. In it, he mentioned that some players might think of the D&D Int stat as being IQ/10, or as a creature's IQ as being its Int score x 10. He was keen to point out that this is not the case; that IQ and Int measure related but different things (Int covers more things). Upshot being that the bell curve which applies to real world IQ scores simply is not the same bell curve that applies to D&D Int, or any other D&D ability score.

If there is a perceived disparity between the bell curves of D&D Int and real world IQ, it's not that the D&D bell curve is 'wrong', it's that it is wrong to assume that D&D Int is the same thing as real world IQ.


Morkus from Orkus
NPCs aren't covered in the PHB, its only mentions non-player characters a few times.

Technically, they are mentioned. The races section talks about the entirety of each race, not just PCs of that race. Unless you think that every member of the race is a PC, the PHB must be talking about NPCs as well. Then it goes on to give the stat bonuses for the race, not special members of the race. Then when it comes to abilities it talks about how YOU(the PC) are a member of the race(which includes NPCs) and so have certain special abilities(which means NPCs get them as well).

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