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

Barolo

First Post
Nothing has been added here for a while.

Point buy (my preference):
  • I come up with characters when we start talking about the campaign.
  • I don't want to rely on random luck to see if I can play the character I want to play.
  • I don't really care what my stats are as long as they are reasonable and on an even footing with other characters in the group. Not because it's a competition, but because I want a chance to contribute to the team at the same level as the rest of the group.
  • I don't see the point to randomizing stats for a character I'm going to play for hundreds of hours

Random Rollers:
  • Like to let the dice determine the character
  • If the dice give a character you don't like (or don't grow attached to) find a way to die.
  • If you don't like random characters it's because you aren't good enough skillful enough player to come up with an awesome character if you have below average stats.

Here is the deal. If you begin your planning on a specific character as soon as you start talking about a campaign, then probably you want a stable starting point for your planning, you will build your concept taking into account the resources you know already are available, and point buy is definitely the way to go.

But some people have different ways of building their PCs. Some people already have dozens of concepts they would like to try on any campaign, that the could choose from depending on the stats rolled, or start thinking about a concept only after stats are rolled. For the second group, rolling stats might be perceived as a superior option to point buy (but not to free allocating stats) just because the variety of stats, and consequently of PCs concepts that can be accommodated, is bigger, and the standard array, or even point buy, are too limiting.

Free allocating could be somewhat difficult to implement, as everybody involved should really be on the same boat. For me, the better way is to allow players to choose between rolling or point buy, to cater for different character building processes. As I am one of those who follow the second building process. On the rare events I have a chance to play, I am very glad if I am allowed to roll, although I can tolerate to use point buy. In my table, the players like the thrill of the "stat lottery", so generally everybody just rolls. We don't usually face cheating problems, as everybody meets to start a campaign and rolls together.

Why is it so horrible to want to play a hero? Or to have options on what class to play while still feeling like you are contributing to the team? Especially in a game that will last a year or more? Because the issue is not "competition" it's being overshadowed by other characters 99% of the time and never feeling like you're pulling your own weight.

I could have fun playing a campaign as the second string washouts - if the other players are in the same boat. D&D is a collaborative team game. So much like how I wouldn't feel very useful if I were on the same basketball team as LeBron James, I don't want to play "Pudgy the Wimp" on the same team as "Super Dave".

...and this...

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.

Now, this seems to me to be what is been prolonging the thread so far. If you want to have your original concept, built on the assumptions of a stable baseline, I completely agree with you that it might (or better still, probably will) lead to overshadowed characters when you try rolling stats and they do not fulfill your expectations. It may even be true that the PC is not exactly overshadowed by other player's PC, as they could end up on a group where nobody else competes for that specific function, but still be unpleasant to play as they not fulfill your own basic expectations.

But to claim that low rolled stats will irremediably result in a player being overshadowed, period, this is wrong. And is wrong because there are people around the gaming community that are ok with/prefer to build their concept for a PC based on available stats, and for those people there are plenty of ways to workaround bad stats in 5e.
 

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Oofta

Legend
But to claim that low rolled stats will irremediably result in a player being overshadowed, period, this is wrong. And is wrong because there are people around the gaming community that are ok with/prefer to build their concept for a PC based on available stats, and for those people there are plenty of ways to workaround bad stats in 5e.

Just to clarify: mathematically someone with lower stats will always be behind the curve. Someone with lower stats will be (numerically) inferior to another character with the same build. Someone that has to spend all their ASIs bumping stats loses the opportunity to take feats or shore up other weak stats.

On average someone with higher stats will hit more often, hit harder, survive longer, succeed on more saving throws, be better at skill checks. A +5 will always be greater than a +3. A +3 Reflex save is better than a -3 Reflex save. I would hope that basic math is not being debated.

Whether or not the character with lower stats will "shine" from an RP perspective is a different issue. Whether or not you enjoy playing characters with potentially vastly different capabilities out of the box is a personal thing.
 

Just to clarify: mathematically someone with lower stats will always be behind the curve. Someone with lower stats will be (numerically) inferior to another character with the same build. Someone that has to spend all their ASIs bumping stats loses the opportunity to take feats or shore up other weak stats.

Every time someone points out to you the fact that you wouldn't use the same build as someone with higher stats, you get huffy. But it's still true.

When you roll awesome stats, you make a certain kind of PC. A multiclassed warbearian (Barbarian 1-3/Warlock X), for example, requires high stats to be maximally effective because he's so MAD. When you roll low stats, you make a different kind of PC, SAD like a Rogue or a Moon Druid. One of the cool things about rolling stats in 5E is that it tends to give you a wide variety of PCs, many of whom would never be created under point buy.

Someone should make a thread pointing this out. They could call it, say, "Why I Am Starting To Prefer 4d6 Drop the Lowest Over the Default Array", and could start the OP with observations like,

All of the gish classes also look a lot better if you roll higher ability scores. If you roll [poorly] the Moon Druid is a great class along with the Morph from EN5ider.

Yeah. That would be a good thread.
 

Oofta

Legend
Every time someone points out to you the fact that you wouldn't use the same build as someone with higher stats, you get huffy.

Dwarven fighter is one of the better options for someone with low stats. I'm comparing the same builds so that it's a fair comparison.

As always whether you personally would enjoy playing Tik is a preference. There is no build that Tik could do that would be better from a numbers perspective than Tok doing the same build.

Or are you saying that +5 is not greater than +3?
 

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.
Dude. This isn't even spin, this is just plain mistaken. You acknowledge that doing 2 points per hit "will add up over time and in the abstract" as if that were a minor concession, when really it's the crux of the matter. Over time, you're not doing "only 2 points" more damage. You are, as ever, doing 44% more damage. You're reducing that 150 hit points to zero 44% faster. It will take you only 21 rounds on average to do it, where it will take the weaker guy 30. So on this 150-point scale, you're not doing 2 more damage -- you're doing about 42 more damage.

Furthermore, the more you roll, the less the variations in the dice rolling matter. The standard deviation tightens around the mean as you add more dice, as good and bad rolls tend to cancel each other out. Further still, on 1d8+5, more than half of the average damage is in that constant +5 anyway. I said the average time to kill our hypothetical 150-hit-point monster with 20 Strength was 21 rounds. The SD on that distribution is about 3 rounds. Less than 1% of these fights are going to go to 30 rounds or more. You're gonna notice the difference.
 

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.
What you're talking about aren't "objective values", they are unit values. They're no more or less objective than percentages -- in fact, they are percentages. If I say I'm 1.8 meters tall, I'm saying that I'm 80% taller than the arbitrary standard unit designated the "meter". And if I say that I'm 71 inches tall, I'm saying that I'm 7100% the length of the arbitrary standard unit designated the "inch". Because these figures are expressed relative to different units, they can be different, even though they are expressing what is objectively the same fact (minus a bit of rounding). And because height is objective, regardless of which unit I'm using I will get the same value when I express my height as a percentage of Carrie Fisher's: 116%. I am, in effect, dispensing with the arbitrary units and using Carrie Fisher as the unit, which may not be as good for my purposes if I want to tell you how much bigger I am than a metal stick in a Parisian vault but is much better for my purposes if I want to tell you how much bigger I am than Carrie Fisher.

PS: No value here is in any sense subjective. "Relative" and "subjective" are not the same thing.
 
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You added a bunch of extra constraints here, so clearly you know what I'm talking about, and are pretending not to know.
Hemlock, I'm the one who made the distinction in the first place. The question is not whether I know what you're talking about. The question is whether you know what I'm talking about. And clearly you didn't. So I clarified.

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.
You're right, maybe I did write them as similar for some reason even though it would undermine my case to do so, and then when you ingeniously perceived this, I was forced to add dissimilarities after the fact just so you'd be wrong.

But alternatively, maybe I wrote them as dissimilar in the first place because that would support my case, you misunderstood them, and now you're calling me dishonest for trying to clarify.

Option A would require me to be subconsciously on your team and for you to be able to know what my words mean better than I do. But on the other hand, Option B would require you to have made a mistake, so I guess Option A is more likely!

Depending on what you mean by "persistent." It only has to last for a single adventure.
Even if it only lasts for a single adventure, that's still one more adventure than in X-COM.

But not a fundamental difference between D&D and the scenario you described with Sgt. Molly.
Again: probably a bad idea to presume that you know what I'm talking about better than I do. And, hell, even if you're right and I'm a goalpost-moving weasel, where we're at now I'm still describing, and you appear to be acknowledging, a fundamental difference in the dynamic between D&D and X-COM. Which is what was to be demonstrated, to coin a phrase.

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?
I've already described how I handle this. The short answer is "yes".
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Dwarven fighter is one of the better options for someone with low stats. I'm comparing the same builds so that it's a fair comparison.

As always whether you personally would enjoy playing Tik is a preference. There is no build that Tik could do that would be better from a numbers perspective than Tok doing the same build.
But why does it all have to be about "numbers" and "build" in the first place? That sounds like powergamer min-maxer talk, though you don't otherwise come across as such.

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).

Lanefan
 

Barolo

First Post
But why does it all have to be about "numbers" and "build" in the first place? That sounds like powergamer min-maxer talk, though you don't otherwise come across as such.

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).

Lanefan

Maybe a minority, but certainly not alone.
 

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).

I like it too. It always strikes me as wrong, for instance, for paladins to be as common as fighters. 2nd edition paladins may not derive any mechanical benefit per se from high Charisma (IIRC), but all the bonuses from the whole paladin class are really a benefit of high Charisma, if you couple it with virtue, compassion, etc.

The fact that you can't be a paladin without Cha 17 serves to both keep paladins rare, and to inform the roleplaying experience about how they should be portrayed and viewed by others. If you try to have one without the other it doesn't work so well; if paladins are just another class instead of rare paragons of virtue and chivalry, they quickly becoming annoying, especially if they try to insist on still being viewed as paragons of virtue and chivalry just because their character sheet says "paladin" on it. Having prereqs like Cha 17 is the first step on the road to making paladinhood an earned status (which can be lost) instead of something to take for granted.

Anyway, I like the stat prereq approach quite a bit.
 
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TheNoremac42

Explorer
My group likes to randomize our whole character creation - race, background, class, and stats. If we don't like the results of the first three, we usually roll again. Randomized results are easier to think about and creates interesting combination to try.
 

cbwjm

Legend
But why does it all have to be about "numbers" and "build" in the first place? That sounds like powergamer min-maxer talk, though you don't otherwise come across as such.

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).

Lanefan

I like the idea of minimum stat requirements as well. I thought it made sense that having at least a 9 in your prime requisite was necessary since, back before 3e, anything below a 9 meant penalties started to come into effect. They kept it to a small degree in 3e with requiring a minimum spellcasting stat to cast certain levels of spells but otherwise stat requirements were essentially gone.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
 

Sadras

Legend
I absolutely love the stat requirements of earier editions - I just remember I was never a fan of the rolling due to the disparity it created between players, I was also a much younger DM back then and that certainly didn't help.
I will certainly incorporate them (stat requirements) now that [MENTION=6688937]Ratskinner[/MENTION] posted that neat card system for generating stats.
 

Oofta

Legend
But why does it all have to be about "numbers" and "build" in the first place? That sounds like powergamer min-maxer talk, though you don't otherwise come across as such.

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).

Lanefan

I wrote up a long post on comparing Tik and Tok, my example dwarven siblings but I don't see the point of posting. To make a long story short at 4th level if they were individually fighting a hell hound Tik would last 3.8 rounds, the hell hound would last 8.6. Tok lasted 6.8 rounds while the hell hound lasted 6.

So in other words, Tik is crispy doggy chow (beaten by 5 rounds) and Tok walks away singed, battered and bruised but still alive. My comparison didn't even take into account the fact the Tik probably loses initiative and Tok probably wins so the numbers should be even worse than what my quick calculations show. So IMHO the two characters are night and day as far as effectiveness because of their ability scores.

So you ask my why it's about "numbers". Well, from a game (not an RP/immersion/story telling perspective) I want to play competent characters. Tik, compared to Tok, is not competent.

As much as you try to find a different role or class, if Tok was in that same role/class he would be hands down better at his job than Tik.

Maybe you don't care. That's great. Personally? I like being good at my job. I take pride in my work. I want my characters to also be good at their jobs. So while I am not a powergamer by any means (I don't care about optimization and tend to build generalists) I want to feel like I contribute to the team.

End of the day, as I've stated repeatedly, it's just my preference. I don't see the point of numerically gifting some characters while handicapping others.
 

But why does it all have to be about "numbers" and "build" in the first place? That sounds like powergamer min-maxer talk, though you don't otherwise come across as such.
This game is predicated on there being a correlation between the numbers and the in-universe reality. Having a high number in Strength means your character is strong, having a low number means your character is weak. Having a high number in Intelligence means your character is smart, having a low number means your character is dumb. This concern for what the numbers represent about your character is, if anything, the opposite of min-maxer talk -- min-maxers stereotypically have little regard for the in-game reality and try to weasel out of the consequences of low scores.

Say you've got two players, Alice and Bob, whose characters both have 8 Int. Alice is unhappy because she wanted to play a smart character but that 8 Int says her character isn't smart. Bob doesn't care and just optimizes his character based on the stats he has, working around the low Intelligence as much as possible when roleplaying. Which one is the powergamer? I don't think it's Alice.

But you'll note I used the word "stereotypically" above, and that's a part of the problem too: you're making an implicit judgment based on stereotyped gamer personalities, not real people or games or experiences. So really, we shouldn't call Bob a powergamer either, at least not before we've gotten an opportunity to meet him.

Having a character concept in mind before rolling is very cool. Having a character concept in mind before rolling that requires certain stats to be certain values in order to work is not cool, and this is why I rarely do it - particularly in 1e where classes have specific stat minima (which I've always kinda liked, though I'm in the minority there I think).
I don't think Alice above is "not cool" for deciding she wants to play a smart character. I think if you're going to dismiss character concepts as broad and basic as smart-guy for being "not cool", you're ruling out so many ordinary plausible character concepts that your endorsement of the character-concept method rings rather hollow.
 
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Soul Stigma

First Post
Not aimed at anyone in particular, but this thread has gone full clown shoes. People have their preferences, their reasons/beliefs for those preferences, and no one is going to convince anyone differently. At best there are logical arguments for one person's point of view, which can be argued against equally logically because no one is really arguing the exact same thing.

Anyway, that's my two cents, worth every penny in today's economy. Carry on!


Sent from my iPhone using EN World
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

I'm going with [MENTION=12608]Soul[/MENTION]Stigma above. I posted back in the beginning? Middle? Can't remember now.

Anyway, I always find that at the tail end of these threads they devolve a "bit" into the theorycrafting side of things as each "side" tries to prove they are correct. In this particular thread, I always get a giggle out of watching someone try and back up their claim that random character gen is "bad'ish" by then continuing to use an example that only uses averages or absolutes.

Sort of... "Rolling 3d6 is dumb because it's average is 10.5! You can't *roll* 10.5, so right there the system is broken! Even if we say it's 9 to 11, that's still dumb, because now everything that is 8 or lower fails, and everything 12 or more succeeds. The DM has to basically ALWAYS have things be 9, 10 or 11, or else is is setting up all the players who rolled badly on some stat to fail...Every. Single. Time! It's madness!" <--and in so doing they completely leave out the fact that a random dice roll is used to get the starting number to succeed/fail to begin with.

;)

I've seen characters with absolutely pathetic stats succeed and prosper time and time again. Barkus, the 11th level fighter...with a Strength of 4 and a Constitution of 7; or Mort, the 4th level "begger-archer" with a Strength of 6, Constitution of 9, and Charisma of 4; or Jose Jojoba, the mutant jojoba plant with a chicken head who had stats so low you would have though he should have died as a seedling...all characters went on to great success. I've seen the opposite as well. Hell, I remember rolling up some absolutely ridiculous Monk for our Iron Kingdoms (3e) campaign. He had all 16's or higher, three stats were 18! He died second session in.

Only time that stats seem to make a big difference is when the DM has it in his/her head that the characters "stats" should determine what the character does...and not the player. When the DM starts asking for Strength checks to open a normal door, or a Constitution check to not die in his sleep, or a Wisdom check to not drink the potion labeled "POISON! DO NOT DRINK!". But that's a DM problem...not a random stat rolling method problem.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Only time that stats seem to make a big difference is when the DM has it in his/her head that the characters "stats" should determine what the character does...and not the player. When the DM starts asking for Strength checks to open a normal door, or a Constitution check to not die in his sleep, or a Wisdom check to not drink the potion labeled "POISON! DO NOT DRINK!". But that's a DM problem...not a random stat rolling method problem.
Well, the other time the stats - be they good or bad - seem to make a difference is when the player takes them to heart and in effect decides to allow them to make said difference in the approach to how the character is played.

For example, a player who rolls really good stats might decide to underplay the character to bring it down to the party level - and in so doing run it into the ground as an unintended side effect. Or on the flip side, a player with god-like stats might decide to overplay the character as a one-person show and either become the party MVP or (more likely) die trying. Either way, the stats have influenced the play beyond just what the numbers say - and I've seen both happen (and done the second one myself, dammit!).

Going the other way, a player whose character's stats are somewhat limited might decide that the character is worthless and play it as such - contributing nothing instead of what it can - thus making it even less useful than it otherwise might be. Again, an example of the numbers influencing the player's approach above and beyond the simple math effects.

Take the example of Tik and the hell hound a few posts up. Tik's player could get discouraged, decide that Tik is both worthless and hopelessly outgunned, not put any thought or effort into keeping her going, and let Tik quietly die the death. Or, Tik's player - knowing full well that Tik's odds aren't great - could get on the front foot and have her stand in nonetheless to give it everything she has, and cheer her on knowing what a great story it'll be if she wins!

Lan-"I've played Tiks in the past - they don't always last long, but when they do it's wonderful"-efan
 

Take the example of Tik and the hell hound a few posts up. Tik's player could get discouraged, decide that Tik is both worthless and hopelessly outgunned, not put any thought or effort into keeping her going, and let Tik quietly die the death. Or, Tik's player - knowing full well that Tik's odds aren't great - could get on the front foot and have her stand in nonetheless to give it everything she has, and cheer her on knowing what a great story it'll be if she wins!

Not to mention the fact that Tik can change her approach and beat that hound anyway, despite her "low" stats. (And in fact, a Str of 16 isn't remotely low. Tik is as beefy as an adult gorilla.)

Incidentally, this is yet another reason why I hate playing a low Int--it sets a up roleplaying tension that I find unpleasant. At Int 6 I really would have her just wade in there and bash away with her axe until she died; at Int 11 I'd feel a little bit more free to experiment with basic tactics like grapple/prone (esp. w/ Athletics Expertise), combined arms with other PCs, and hiding. (E.g. block the door with some rubble and try to climb out the chimney.) At a higher Int I might feel comfortable letting her take a few opportunity attacks if necessary in order to bait the hound out into an area where it can be killed with mounted tactics. The higher your Int, the more foresight you have, and the more sophisticated your tactics can appropriately be. (This applies to monsters too, obviously. My goblins don't do the goblin conga line because they're not smart enough and coordinated enough; but my hobgoblins do follow a tactical doctrine that includes taking cover in broken terrain, and horse archery/kiting in open terrain.)
 
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cbwjm

Legend
Well, the other time the stats - be they good or bad - seem to make a difference is when the player takes them to heart and in effect decides to allow them to make said difference in the approach to how the character is played.

For example, a player who rolls really good stats might decide to underplay the character to bring it down to the party level - and in so doing run it into the ground as an unintended side effect. Or on the flip side, a player with god-like stats might decide to overplay the character as a one-person show and either become the party MVP or (more likely) die trying. Either way, the stats have influenced the play beyond just what the numbers say - and I've seen both happen (and done the second one myself, dammit!).

Going the other way, a player whose character's stats are somewhat limited might decide that the character is worthless and play it as such - contributing nothing instead of what it can - thus making it even less useful than it otherwise might be. Again, an example of the numbers influencing the player's approach above and beyond the simple math effects.

Take the example of Tik and the hell hound a few posts up. Tik's player could get discouraged, decide that Tik is both worthless and hopelessly outgunned, not put any thought or effort into keeping her going, and let Tik quietly die the death. Or, Tik's player - knowing full well that Tik's odds aren't great - could get on the front foot and have her stand in nonetheless to give it everything she has, and cheer her on knowing what a great story it'll be if she wins!

Lan-"I've played Tiks in the past - they don't always last long, but when they do it's wonderful"-efan

I wonder if part of the problem some people have is due to how stats have changed over editions. Ever since 3e, you gain modifiers much sooner whereas in earlier editions you gained bonuses from a stat of 15 or above. In 2e, someone with all 14s would be similar to someone with all 9s at the most basic level. There would be some differences, but on the whole not much in basic running around the dungeon gameplay.
 

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