D&D 5E Why I Am Starting to Prefer 4d6 Drop the Lowest Over the Default Array.

Oofta

Legend
Obviously the numbers are different, and if that's all you look at then yes, the resulting abilities of the characters will also be different. (and FWIW you've given a pretty extreme pair of stat sets - 18-18-14-14-14-14 vs. 14-10-9-9-9-9 (filling in values not stated, using what you said as guidelines) - giving an average of 15.67 vs. 10.00 for the two characters. That's a huge difference, and IME extremely unlikely to happen within the same party. But, it's what you've got, so let's proceed.

Outright going to be better? Not necessarily. Are the odds in Tok's favour? Certainly. But you won't know the actual outcome - whether, say, Tik rolls into the hall of fame while Tok lies forgotten in an unmarked grave somewhere - until the game gets played out.



Lan-"stats aren't everything"-efan

I'm just using stats from the last game I played where we rolled for stats. I don't remember exact numbers - I think my wife's low number was a 6 but not sure that really matters all that much.

From a metagame standpoint Tok is numerically superior to Tik in every way. No one has explained why that is a good thing other than that it's what they prefer. I prefer more even footing.

We like to come up with characters and detailed backgrounds (often with "prequel" stories) to introduce characters long before the campaign starts. Random results are not only inherently unfair, they also make the preplanning and detailed back stories more difficult.
 

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RotGrub

First Post
Is there anything new here?

Other than "you aren't playing the one true way, therefore you are doing it wrong?"

If one person gets every magical item and bonus while another receives nothing then yes, eventually I would think it's unfair. Same as if the DM looked at his buddy and said "Because I like you, I'm giving you a +3 weapon and a ring of protection +2 at first level. The rest of you are cursed and can never benefit from magical items."

If you're going to make an equivalency argument, follow it through to it's comparable scenario.

Why do you always make outlandish assertions? They are not arguments.

My point is that the game doesn't assume the balanced playing field you're comfortable with across all situations of play. There will be sessions in which your character just can't compete on a level playing field. In D&D, the spotlight isn't yours all the time. The halfling crawling through knee-high kobold tunnels will make a joke out of the 7' tall half-orc barbarian who hasn't enough frighting room.

Even for a mechanically obsessed player, you have no idea what your character will find, what situations he will be placed in, what feats in lieu of stat increases will be selected, etc. All these things are more important than a few stat modifiers at first level.


btw, I'm reminded of a shrine in which the caretakers would only talk to low charisma characters...
 

Oofta

Legend
Why do you always make outlandish assertions? They are not arguments.

My point is that the game doesn't assume the balanced playing field you're comfortable with across all situations of play. There will be sessions in which your character just can't compete on a level playing field. In D&D, the spotlight isn't yours all the time. The halfling crawling through knee-high kobold tunnels will make a joke out of the 7' tall half-orc barbarian who hasn't enough frighting room.

Even for a mechanically obsessed player, you have no idea what your character will find, what situations he will be placed in, what feats in lieu of stat increases will be selected, etc. All these things are more important than a few stat modifiers at first level.


btw, I'm reminded of a shrine in which the caretakers would only talk to low charisma characters...

How is my assertion "outlandish"?

I assume that over the course of their adventuring career characters will find roughly equivalent magic. Having significantly higher stats is the equivalent of having Tok having a +3 weapon and a +2 ring of protection with no chance for Tik to get equivalent items.

I don't see how that's fair.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
We are doing this (which I stole from this board at some point) after the current campaign ends at 20th (we are close):

Everyone rolls ONE set of 4d6 drop lowest, then each set is written down on a sheet of paper. Players pick the stat array they want from the list, and players can even pick the same one. This way, either everyone is screwed equally, or everyone gets the god stats. :)

Low Fantasy Gaming RPG basically uses this method. Everyone rolls, but anyone can choose any array (possibly with a small penalty if you dont choose your own). You get the variety / avoid cookie cutter builds, but maintain intraparty balance.
 

Sounds a lot like D&D to me, especially the "you ran plenty of missions where she wasn't even there" part.
Um... what?

Most players don't view their PC as a subordinate whom they're giving orders to.
Most players don't have multiple PCs under their command in the same campaign.
And most players don't play adventures where their PC is not present and an active participant. (I don't even know what that would look like.)

The game of D&D pretty strongly assumes a persistent one-to-one identity of player to character. Even in the old-school high-mortality dungeon-crawl style of play, I can't recall ever seeing a group where the players bring teams of expendable adventurers -- each player is still one guy, even if that guy isn't expected to live for very long. That's a pretty fundamental difference in the dynamic between D&D and X-COM.

Who said it did? I even said that I would, as a DM, consider just letting you make up your own stats freeform, especially if it were a narrative-style PCs-never-die campaign. You want Dex 18 and Cha 18? Go for it, you can have them. And I won't call you a munchkin for it.
Great! Only point-buy is just a variety of make-up-your-stats with constraints to keep everybody on the same page. And the standard array is just point-buy with stricter constraints.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
[EDIT]
I was going from memory on extra damage and so on and goofed.
Assuming target AC 13 (average)
Both using battle axe, average damage 4.5 per hit
Tik: Strength 16, has +4 to hit, 7.5 damage for average (.45 * 7.5) = 3.375
Tok: Strength 20, has +6 to hit, 9.5 damage for average (.55 * 9.5) = 5.225

Conclusion:
Tok does 65% more damage per round.
Tik has 12 HP, Tok as 15, Tok will last 20% longer in combat, not considering his far better saves for pretty much everything.

This is called "how to play spin doctor with statistics". Tok is doing less than 2 points more damage (on average) than Tik - but because you're spinning it as a percentage change from Tik's perspective, it obscures the fact that it's only 2 points from an objective perspective. Similarly, with only 3 more hit points than Tik, objectively, Tok might be able to survive 1 hit longer than Tik depending on how the damage is being rolled - yet you're spinning it as 20% longer as if that's significantly meaningful.

The math may not be wrong, but there's a reason there's a well known book titled "How to Lie with Statistics" and it's largely about perspective and framing the data. Tell someone that Tok tends to do 2 more points of damage and people will brush it off. Tell them "OMG! IT'S 65% MOAR!" and they'll take notice.
 

Oofta

Legend
This is called "how to play spin doctor with statistics". Tok is doing less than 2 points more damage (on average) than Tik - but because you're spinning it as a percentage change from Tik's perspective, it obscures the fact that it's only 2 points from an objective perspective. Similarly, with only 3 more hit points than Tik, objectively, Tok might be able to survive 1 hit longer than Tik depending on how the damage is being rolled - yet you're spinning it as 20% longer as if that's significantly meaningful.

The math may not be wrong, but there's a reason there's a well known book titled "How to Lie with Statistics" and it's largely about perspective and framing the data. Tell someone that Tok tends to do 2 more points of damage and people will brush it off. Tell them "OMG! IT'S 65% MOAR!" and they'll take notice.

Well, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

But what's the point? Tok is better at combat, has more hit points (the difference will become significant at higher levels), better saves, better skills. From a game perspective I see that as a significant difference.

Seems like more of the same "you aren't playing the game the way I play it so you're doing it wrong". I just think it's hilarious that people can look at these two characters and claim they're practically identical twins. Seriously?
 

This is called "how to play spin doctor with statistics". Tok is doing less than 2 points more damage (on average) than Tik - but because you're spinning it as a percentage change from Tik's perspective, it obscures the fact that it's only 2 points from an objective perspective. Similarly, with only 3 more hit points than Tik, objectively, Tok might be able to survive 1 hit longer than Tik depending on how the damage is being rolled - yet you're spinning it as 20% longer as if that's significantly meaningful.

The math may not be wrong, but there's a reason there's a well known book titled "How to Lie with Statistics" and it's largely about perspective and framing the data. Tell someone that Tok tends to do 2 more points of damage and people will brush it off. Tell them "OMG! IT'S 65% MOAR!" and they'll take notice.
"Only 2 points" is only 2 points when you're working with, say, a hundred-point scale. But if you're dealing with numbers mostly between 1 and 12 or so, as you are with damage rolls, then there's nothing "only" about a 2-point difference. A 2-point difference is negligible in basketball but daunting in hockey. Barely perceptible on the Celsius scale but catastrophic on the Richter scale.

Because of this problem of scale, expressing the gap as a percentage is honestly the best way to communicate its magnitude. It simply provides clearer context. Yes, you can lie with statistics through the abuse of percentages. But you can also lie with statistics by using unit values and relying on people's intuitions that 1 and 2 are "small" numbers to convince them that the difference is also "small". And that, I am afraid, is what you are consciously or subconsciously doing here. "You say the earthquake is a hundred times stronger, but that's only 2 points on the Richter scale! Nothing to worry about!"
 
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cbwjm

Legend
Seems like more of the same "you aren't playing the game the way I play it so you're doing it wrong". I just think it's hilarious that people can look at these two characters and claim they're practically identical twins. Seriously?

You do realise that this is exactly how you come across. That because some people like to roll their stats that they are somehow doing it wrong.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
 

Oofta

Legend
You do realise that this is exactly how you come across. That because some people like to roll their stats that they are somehow doing it wrong.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app

Nope. I don't care if you roll stats, which I have stated repeatedly. It's just not my cup of tea.

Ignoring basic math as if stats don't matter irks me. Saying that Tik and Tok should have different builds so that we're comparing apples and oranges to cloud the results. Saying that +2 damage and +10% to hit inconsequential when rolling a d8 for damage and you have roughly a 50% chance to hit is ignoring facts.

If you want random results, great. I just wish you would be willing to honestly acknowledge the consequences.
 

Most players don't view their PC as a subordinate whom they're giving orders to.
Most players don't have multiple PCs under their command in the same campaign.
And most players don't play adventures where their PC is not present and an active participant. (I don't even know what that would look like.)

You added a bunch of extra constraints here, so clearly you know what I'm talking about, and are pretending not to know.

D&D has always, since the very beginning, had the notion of a player with a stable of multiple PCs, from which the player selects a suitable PC for any given adventure.

You may not use this model personally but it's disingenuous for you to pretend not to know it exists and has similarities to your Sgt. Molly scenario.

The game of D&D pretty strongly assumes a persistent one-to-one identity of player to character.

Depending on what you mean by "persistent." It only has to last for a single adventure.

Even in the old-school high-mortality dungeon-crawl style of play, I can't recall ever seeing a group where the players bring teams of expendable adventurers -- each player is still one guy, even if that guy isn't expected to live for very long. That's a pretty fundamental difference in the dynamic between D&D and X-COM.

But not a fundamental difference between D&D and the scenario you described with Sgt. Molly.

Great! Only point-buy is just a variety of make-up-your-stats with constraints to keep everybody on the same page. And the standard array is just point-buy with stricter constraints.

I'm not stopping you from using point-buy or standard array. I allow my players to choose any of the PHB methods to generate their stats.

Do you allow yours the same freedom?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Nope. I don't care if you roll stats, which I have stated repeatedly. It's just not my cup of tea.

Ignoring basic math as if stats don't matter irks me. Saying that Tik and Tok should have different builds so that we're comparing apples and oranges to cloud the results. Saying that +2 damage and +10% to hit inconsequential when rolling a d8 for damage and you have roughly a 50% chance to hit is ignoring facts.

If you want random results, great. I just wish you would be willing to honestly acknowledge the consequences.

Both sides have pros and cons. You weight the pros/cons of point buy relateively better than the pros/cons of rolled stats. It's like asking is it better to have a computer with a faster processor or more ram. It really depends on what you want to use that computer for. For stat generation methods it also depends on what you will be using those stats for.

If you already have a character concept you really want to play and you roll stats that just won't work well for the concept then that's terrible. If you don't start with a character concept in mind and roll stats and then make the character then it's hard to imagine making as interesting of a character with point buy.

There's many other factors to consider the choice as well. Rollers don't really care as much about whether others roll or choose point buy. Point buy preference is often also there because people like to feel like they are on totally equal footing to others. I get that. It's usually borne out of thinking the game plays better when no one overshadows and no one really undershadows the rest of the party.

One other consideration. As long as players are playing generally different characters then stat variances don't matter nearly as much. A wizard with overall higher stats than a fighter isn't generally an issue if there are no other wizards in the group to compare him with. As long as his higher stats don't really step on any other character class toes then it's not a problem. If he has higher Str than a fighter that may be a problem. If he has higher charisma than a bard that may be a problem. (Unless he sacrificed his own INT in order to achieve those things). But as long as he only has a high int and charisma or str or wisdom equal to those other classes then its fine IMO.
 

The math may not be wrong, but there's a reason there's a well known book titled "How to Lie with Statistics" and it's largely about perspective and framing the data. Tell someone that Tok tends to do 2 more points of damage and people will brush it off. Tell them "...IT'S 65% MOAR!" and they'll take notice.

Besides, the math is wrong. Against an AC 13 target, Tik's +5/d8+3 (from Str 16 + proficiency) averages 5.10 points of damage per attack, while Tok's +7/d8+5 (from Str 20 + proficiency) averages 7.35. Tok is doing 44% more damage, not 65% more.

If they both take Dueling style, as is common (although IMO Defense is better), it's 8.85 vs. 6.40, or 39% more.

But the key flaw is in requiring Tik's build to be identical to Tok's build. It may make it simpler to show that Tik is numerically "inferior" to Tok, but it's bad analysis. The best build for Tik is different than the best build for Tok, and their best DPR comes from synergizing with each other. If Tik is a Fighter 5/Rogue 5 (Str 18, say, with Defensive Duelist feat), she'll hit for +8/d8+4, +3d6 to the first hit, and will do 24.65 DPR on average to that AC 13 target. If Tok had the same build, he'd do 27.42 DPR (11% more damage!).

But why should Tok have the same build? With his higher stats, he has less incentive to go Rogue, and more incentive to go e.g. Battlemaster with GWM. If Tok is using a greatsword to power-attack a target that Tik has already grappled and proned for him, his DPR jumps to 38.33, which is 40% more damage than he could do by himself. Tik just spent her first round grappling and proning that bad guy, so her DPR on the first round is zero (although she deserves much of the credit for the increase to Tok's DPR, and she's also reduced the bad guy's DPR to near-zero at the same time if he is a melee monster type) but on second and subsequent rounds her DPR also increases to 28.23.

If you're actually interested in playing Tik and Tok synergistically, it's foolish to constrain them to be identical.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
Nope. I don't care if you roll stats, which I have stated repeatedly. It's just not my cup of tea.

Ignoring basic math as if stats don't matter irks me. Saying that Tik and Tok should have different builds so that we're comparing apples and oranges to cloud the results. Saying that +2 damage and +10% to hit inconsequential when rolling a d8 for damage and you have roughly a 50% chance to hit is ignoring facts.

If you want random results, great. I just wish you would be willing to honestly acknowledge the consequences.
And yet, you've written posts that seem pretty derisive of those that enjoy rolling random stats. You may not think so but you really do come across as a fanatic where point buy is the "one true way" of stat generation.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
 

Nope. I don't care if you roll stats, which I have stated repeatedly. It's just not my cup of tea.

So, just to be clear: if someone else at the table rolls up Super Dave or Tok or Lumpy or Tik or Fezzig, is it true that you have no objection? You're okay letting other people use the method they have fun with, just like the PHB says they can do?
 

Oofta

Legend
And yet, you've written posts that seem pretty derisive of those that enjoy rolling random stats. You may not think so but you really do come across as a fanatic where point buy is the "one true way" of stat generation.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app

I get frustrated with people that won't acknowledge simple math. That pretend that numbers don't matter. That all you have to do to compensate for crap numbers is do a different build so that comparison of effectiveness is no longer possible. Or that "rolling for stats is a good way to weed out bad players" because obviously someone who doesn't like rolling is not someone you want to hang out with.

If I get a little POed by that and it comes across as "fanatic" I apologize.

Here's the thing.

I've never stated that point buy was better. As far as I can tell, on average, you get roughly similar results.

I've stated my preference for point buy. I like planning characters ahead, and I prefer all characters to be on roughly equal footing.

I've had bad experiences with point buy: the last time we did it we had one person with super stats and my wife had crap.

The only thing rolling for stats guarantees is that you get random results. I'd rather have fair results.

Anyway, I'm done with this topic. Have fun gaming using whatever method you like.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
"Only 2 points" is only 2 points when you're working with, say, a hundred-point scale. But if you're dealing with numbers mostly between 1 and 12 or so, as you are with damage rolls, then there's nothing "only" about a 2-point difference. A 2-point difference is negligible in basketball but daunting in hockey. Barely perceptible on the Celsius scale but catastrophic on the Richter scale.

Because of this problem of scale, expressing the gap as a percentage is honestly the best way to communicate its magnitude. It simply provides clearer context. Yes, you can lie with statistics through the abuse of percentages. But you can also lie with statistics by using unit values and relying on people's intuitions that 1 and 2 are "small" numbers to convince them that the difference is also "small". And that, I am afraid, is what you are consciously or subconsciously doing here. "You say the earthquake is a hundred times stronger, but that's only 2 points on the Richter scale! Nothing to worry about!"

Fortunately for us all, rolling damage isn't on a logarithmic scale - and comparing it to one is just another form of bad spin control. You might as well be comparing the difference in damage to vests because they have no sleeves.

Besides, you are dealing with something closer to a 100-point scale than just 1 to 12. The damage dice may be between 1 and 12, typically, but you're applying those rolls against the monster's hit points - which are going to be much larger. Doing 2 points more per hit will add up over time and in the abstract, sure, but in any single fight doing 2 more points of damage per hit against a monster with 60-150 hit points isn't going to feel all that different. You'll feel more difference from the variations in the dice rolling.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Fortunately for us all, rolling damage isn't on a logarithmic scale - and comparing it to one is just another form of bad spin control. You might as well be comparing the difference in damage to vests because they have no sleeves.

Whoosh.... that's the sound of his point going over your head. His point paraphrased is that stating something is a difference of 2 is just another form of 'bad spin control' and it's much less useful than using something as a baseline and looking at the percentage difference from there.

+2 on a scale that typically has a range of .01 to .05 is huge! +2 on a scale that has a range of 1000 to 2000 is tiny and maybe not even worth mentioning. +2 on a scale that has a range somewhere between 1 and 10 is pretty significant. In any of these cases we could glean the significance of that +2 by looking at the percentage of it compared to a baseline number.

Basically, its those that are saying but wait it's only a difference of +2 that are trying to spin the difference as insignificant when the percentage difference more clearly reveals the true significance.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
[MENTION=3400]billd91[/MENTION]

This is not the statistical fallacy example you are looking for. In fact, if you brought this up as an example of using statistics/percentages to lie in a class the students would rightfully stare at you like you are crazy. The percentage in this case tells the story much better than those stating "but it's just a difference of +2" as if it's understood that a difference of +2 is universally known to always be insignificant!.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
[MENTION=3400]billd91[/MENTION]

This is not the statistical fallacy example you are looking for. In fact, if you brought this up as an example of using statistics/percentages to lie in a class the students would rightfully stare at you like you are crazy. The percentage in this case tells the story much better than those stating "but it's just a difference of +2" as if it's understood that a difference of +2 is universally known to always be insignificant!.

No. No it doesn't. It maximizes the terms of the difference to make a stronger impression. Putting it in terms of percentage increase over the lower value skews the impression when divorced of the objective values. Using the percentage terms, you can't tell if that's a difference of 1, 2, 50, or 100 or what that means to the world around the characters but it sure sounds big, doesn't it? Once we know we're playing 5e and we're looking at applying those damage values against monsters with hit points that will quickly range into the dozens, we can pretty much see that a +2 difference isn't a particularly big deal.

And it gets hinkier when you realize that the percentage increase will vary depending on the base expected damage you use. Good think Oofta wasn't using unarmed combat to show off the difference. With an expected damage from the weapon equal to 1, Tik and Tok's strength becomes a larger component of the calculation, skewing the percentage difference in damage even higher, despite the absolute difference being the same. Use greatswords with their larger expected damage (7) and you'll see that percentage difference cut down substantially compared to unarmed combat, again despite the absolute difference being the same. That's one of the problems with the subjective POV - it varies depending on the factors going into the perspective.
To put things in other terms - I'm sure Carrie Fisher seemed pretty tall to her costars Kenny Baker and Warwick Davis. But don't expect Peter Mayhew to agree.
 
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