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D&D 5E The Philosophy Behind Randomized and Standardized Ability Scores

King Babar

God Learner
Point Buy is simpler and more fair for the entire table. I don't want people getting frustrated because they feel like they're playing an inferior character.

Additionally, I find that all the different attempts to lessen the randomness of rolling are kind of missing the point. If you can't accept random results, don't roll.

Edit: I think the fact that my first exposure to "D&D" was through playing Knights of the Old Republic heavily influenced my preferences for stat generation."
 

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reelo

Adventurer
How would you rate this method of assigning stats that I totally just came up with (but which might already exist in one form or the other?)

All stats start out at 10
You can distribute a total of 10 points. If you lower a stat below 10, you recover points on a 1-1 basis. No stat can be raised above 16 this way.
 

payn

Legend
How would you rate this method of assigning stats that I totally just came up with (but which might already exist in one form or the other?)

All stats start out at 10
You can distribute a total of 10 points. If you lower a stat below 10, you recover points on a 1-1 basis. No stat can be raised above 16 this way.
This is close to how point buy works. I liked it best in 3E and PF1. Im sure it works just as well in 5E.
 

For the longest time, 4d6 drop the lowest was my go-to for stat generation. These days, Standard Array is my favorite. With random stat generation, unless you sit there and watch every roll, you're going to end up with someone with nothing higher than a 13 and a few 6s and 7s in the mix, and then someone with an 18 and nothing below a 10. And whether that 18 was even rolled legitimately or not, that's another issue.

I like the randomness of letting the dice decide, but I've learned over the years to have some trust issues with players as a result.
 

Yardiff

Adventurer
I wonder if the designers willingly omit to add a safety belt mechanic or advice for rolled stats? They could easily add an advice for too weak or even too strong rolls. Nope. Nada. Silence. I don’t even remember any Sage advice on the subject.
Rolling is still popular but also mostly home brew.
Would you like an official advice for 2024?
In the 1e PHB Gary suggested that a set of rolled stats should have at least two 15s. This was on pg 9 of the PHB.
 

Yardiff

Adventurer
I ran a game with the "colleville method" (roll stats 3d6 for stats in order don't reroll ones but reroll the entire array if you don't have two stats 15 or better). It pushed my players to trying classes outside their comfort zone as designed, but the characters themselves were just standard $class with what were often better than normal stats. It wasn't something that seemed to improve the game & generating the arrays took a long time due to tossing so many.

I'd much rather see "official advice" that realigns the stat mods from every +/-1 for every 2 points above/blow ten where it has been since 3.5 back to ad&d2e style -1 at 5-6 +1 at 15-16. An option like that would free up some room for magic items & such within the system math. Being an "official" option means that I could just point at it & say "this campaign are using this for these characters" like I did for survivors withou the sort of pushback I got with just as if not more powerful level zero characters. Of course 2024 is 3 years away & despite being "most popular RPG ever" I expect to no longer be playing or running d&d due to 5e's failings and wotc will need to meet a very high bar to interest me into returning again.
Colville rolled 4d6 drop lowest and at least two 15s.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Another variant that I've pondered:

Take the top three stats from the standard array — 15, 14, 13. You can place those stats where you want. Then roll three times (probably 3d6, but maybe 4d6k3), and place those stats in order on the remaining attributes.

That lets you guarantee competence in your primary stats, so your character doesn't feel broken or pointless, while still giving you randomness in your overall character. Since they're rolled in order, you just have to play them as they land. Maybe you end up with an erudite barbarian, or a muscle wizard (with high rolls), or the clumsy professor (low dex Wizard or Cleric) or repugnant rogue.

As long as the character is still guaranteed to be good at his main job, these variations still allow for interesting (unpredictable) flavor.
 


Horwath

Hero
There is one big advantage of point buy/array. DM does not have to be with schedule "rolling sessions" or listen to whining about low scores and options of re-rolling if X amount is too low or Y amount is too high.

Players can make their characters in peace.

Also 27 point buy is little low comparing to what on average you can get rolling 4d6 drop 1.
 

ardoughter

Hero
Supporter
Colville rolled 4d6 drop lowest and at least two 15s.
So I thought I would try this and see what I got:
4 tries until first 2x 15 and
11,17,15,13,12,12
3 tries:
10,15,15,9,16,9
2 tries:
17,15,13,11,13,14
3 tries:
16,11,14,9,14,18

Interesting, Did Colville say, place in order or rearrange to suit?
 


Voadam

Legend
I played in a 2e AD&D game where I had a fighter with a 17 strength and another PC had a fighter with an 18 percentile strength. It was noticeable that our characters were mechanically basically the same, but his was just better, with a bonus to hit and a significantly bigger bonus to damage on every attack. This was frustrating to constantly be doing your main thing a little bit worse than someone else.

The fact that he was playing an evil jerk in a game where PCs could be adversarial and kill each other made the situation even worse.

I was a big fan of the 2e player's option rules for splitting and adjusting stats so that most fighters could go from a 14 strength to an 18 for combat mechanics purposes which was generally enough to get everyone on a much more level playing field.
 

Voadam

Legend
random rolls worked well back in 1e&2e,

Hard disagree. :)

but not since 3.5 and there are reasons related to the historical system mechanics for that. Without those differences they cause problems. It worked till 2e because of system differences & failed different in 3.x again because of differences. 5e is different from both & is unable to make use of the ways it could work or kinda work that those earlier editions enjoyed

Prior to 3.x (1e/2e) A +1 started around a 15 in an ability while -1 started around a six in an ability giving a nine point dead zone of +/-0 that was likely to contain nearly every ability score roll. The different abilities would add a small bonus or penalty to specific things even within that dead zone, but in general it was a very minor thing. Rolling ability scores itroduced some random near ribbon flavoring to characters as a result of this dead zone that no longer exists.

AD&D's reverse bell curve on stat bonuses made getting high stats much more impactful. Percentile strength was huge, int or wisdom could determine maximum spell levels for casters, and lots of classes had tough stat prereqs.

In B/X it was not nearly as much of a big deal and lower stat characters were not nearly as far behind the curve. A 13-15 got you a +1 and the bonuses tapped out at +3 for 18s. In AD&D a 13 would get you a +0 and an 18 strength could get you as high as +3 to hit and +6 on damage, Dex 18 would get you +4 to AC, and an 18 Con would get you +4 hp per level (for fighters). B/X int and wis did not give spellcasters bonus spells (the way they did for clerics in AD&D) or limit spellcasting with lower scores. In B/X the system encouraged roll and go much more than AD&D which rewarded specific builds matching with stats to a noticeably bigger extent.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Hard disagree. :)



AD&D's reverse bell curve on stat bonuses made getting high stats much more impactful. Percentile strength was huge, int or wisdom could determine maximum spell levels for casters, and lots of classes had tough stat prereqs.

In B/X it was not nearly as much of a big deal and lower stat characters were not nearly as far behind the curve. A 13-15 got you a +1 and the bonuses tapped out at +3 for 18s. In AD&D a 13 would get you a +0 and an 18 strength could get you as high as +3 to hit and +6 on damage, Dex 18 would get you +4 to AC, and an 18 Con would get you +4 hp per level (for fighters). B/X int and wis did not give spellcasters bonus spells (the way they did for clerics in AD&D) or limit spellcasting with lower scores. In B/X the system encouraged roll and go much more than AD&D which rewarded specific builds matching with stats to a noticeably bigger extent.
Stats still matter in 5E, even if not as much. Roll really well and you can hit 10-15% more often while having more HP, likely better initiative and capabilities out of combat. Plus you have a lot more options to play MAD classes and multi-class.

Using point buy I don't always max out my primary abilities, but I'm probably only 2-3 points behind someone who does and I have the option for a more balanced character or multiple focuses.

So I hard disagree your "hard disagree". :p
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What I can't wrap my head around is automatic ASI ever so often in 5E, as well as the expectation that by level X, you are "supposed" to have 20 in your main stat.
I much prefer the way games like Mythras handle stats, where your starting stats are your body's absolute achievable prime.
If I ever DM 5E again, I'll completely excise ASI.
I don't mind stats slowly getting better as levels advance. What I don't like is the automatic part, where the stat predictably goes up at a certain level.

The 1e percentile-increment system they used for Cavaliers is the best I've seen so far for this, except expanded to all classes. Been using it for decades.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There is one big advantage of point buy/array. DM does not have to be with schedule "rolling sessions" or listen to whining about low scores and options of re-rolling if X amount is too low or Y amount is too high.

Players can make their characters in peace.
And then chuck 'em out and make them again when I can watch.

It's not just stats that get rolled for round here.

Besides, roll-up night is usually a lot of fun. :)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Hard disagree. :)



AD&D's reverse bell curve on stat bonuses made getting high stats much more impactful. Percentile strength was huge, int or wisdom could determine maximum spell levels for casters, and lots of classes had tough stat prereqs.

In B/X it was not nearly as much of a big deal and lower stat characters were not nearly as far behind the curve. A 13-15 got you a +1 and the bonuses tapped out at +3 for 18s. In AD&D a 13 would get you a +0 and an 18 strength could get you as high as +3 to hit and +6 on damage, Dex 18 would get you +4 to AC, and an 18 Con would get you +4 hp per level (for fighters). B/X int and wis did not give spellcasters bonus spells (the way they did for clerics in AD&D) or limit spellcasting with lower scores. In B/X the system encouraged roll and go much more than AD&D which rewarded specific builds matching with stats to a noticeably bigger extent.
Percentile strength was almost a secondary system that doesn't really have a good analog since then. For purposes of the +1/-1 +2/-2 etc that the attributes have functioned as since 3.x the tightening of the dead zone has consistently made stats matter much more to the point of pushing ultra min max stat arrangements. A simple sidebar thst covers going back to a wider dead zone would undo that pressure.

It's also notable that percentile strength was only a thing for strength. Yea the other attributes influenced things based on charts but there wasn't a secondary d100 roll you put beside the other five stats like strength
 

reelo

Adventurer
I don't mind stats slowly getting better as levels advance. What I don't like is the automatic part, where the stat predictably goes up at a certain level.

The 1e percentile-increment system they used for Cavaliers is the best I've seen so far for this, except expanded to all classes. Been using it for decades.

I like how The Black Hack does it: you roll 1d20 and if the result is ABOVE your current stat, it goes up by 1 point. That way it gets harder the higher your stat already is.
 

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