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

cbwjm

Legend
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.)

One character I want to play is a half-orc barbarian who solves everything with his axe. I want to contribute to every plan with "Maybe Krunk not smartest there is, but Krunk have axe. What if Krunk hit them with axe?"
 

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One character I want to play is a half-orc barbarian who solves everything with his axe. I want to contribute to every plan with "Maybe Krunk not smartest there is, but Krunk have axe. What if Krunk hit them with axe?"

Ah yes, that sounds like a very relaxing, low-maintenance PC to roleplay. Harry Dresden would love it. :)
 

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.

In 2nd edition, the biggest effect of many stats was that they would unlock special classes, e.g. ranger or paladin or specialist wizard. Of course those special classes came with restrictions too. Interesting tradeoff IMO.

5E has a touch of this in how it restricts multiclassing based on stats.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Just as a quick non-mathematical and more fundamental thought on this matter:

D&D is pretty un-biologic in terms of stats and stat development. Which means that in D&D you are either born with great strength, constitution, intelligence etc. or you are not. After "birth" you stats change only marginally and, to be honest, only very few people in the D&D world reach more than, say, level 4. So level progression does not really change much at all.

In my opinion this is the crux behind all of our discussion of whether one should roll first, create the character later or vice versa. Because life usually doesn't work that way. I could have great genes for muscle development, but totally focus on studying biology and end up with a "Str 8". If I then started training, I could easily raise my Str 8 to a Str 12 or 13 or even more. I can be totally "intelligent", but still choose a sports carreer and never learn to foster thinking logically. And speaking of charisma, one can go from extroverted to shy to utterly charming in a matter of years.

So I guess even if we didn't change anything in terms of D&D stats (and I would really advocate to give people more stat increases like in 4e so they don't have to focus on a "main stat"), I still stand behind the thought that both approaches are totally viable and that no one should be forced to roll 3 or 4d6 in order . Because we, as an intelligent species, generally have more choice that that. But that's just my 2 cents.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
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.

I think it does have an impact...the early editions strongly incentivised players to lie or cheat their stats, especially fighters with their exceptional strength. The last AD&D campaign we played, the Dwarf Fighter simply outclassed the human fighter in every single way imaginable because an 18/76 (at start) is so completely superior to a 16 Str. The Dwarf player (who always seems to be playing a Dwarf with at least an 18 Str) just couldn't let it go how "useless" the human fighter was. Not that he was wrong in his assessment of their relative ability to contribute, but ... well let's just say that the proportion of AD&D fighters I've seen with "honestly rolled" exceptional strength beggars believe. (I think the ridiculous rolling methods presented in the 1e Unearthed Arcana serve to demonstrate just how important stats were in early editions.) One of my best friends absolutely refused to play "Slightly-above average man" (all 12's) in a college AD&D game, and I don't blame him. All that character did was qualify to be mechanically horrible at anything.

I honestly think that the effects of the stats (if they are so fundamental to things as Str to an AD&D Fighter) should be rolled into the class at design time. That is, if you pick Fighter...you're strong, done...want non-strong fighters? have separate classes for Swordmasters and Brutes (or whatever coolsy names you want). Same for wizards, etc. and the relevant abilities for them. Skip stat-rolling as a step of character gen. If you want to replace the inspirational thing...have a table of quirks or background traits (maybe one for each class) that everyone rolls on or selects from.

IMO, YMMV, and all that.
 

Just as a quick non-mathematical and more fundamental thought on this matter:

D&D is pretty un-biologic in terms of stats and stat development. Which means that in D&D you are either born with great strength, constitution, intelligence etc. or you are not. After "birth" you stats change only marginally and, to be honest, only very few people in the D&D world reach more than, say, level 4. So level progression does not really change much at all.

In my opinion this is the crux behind all of our discussion of whether one should roll first, create the character later or vice versa. Because life usually doesn't work that way. I could have great genes for muscle development, but totally focus on studying biology and end up with a "Str 8". If I then started training, I could easily raise my Str 8 to a Str 12 or 13 or even more. I can be totally "intelligent", but still choose a sports carreer and never learn to foster thinking logically. And speaking of charisma, one can go from extroverted to shy to utterly charming in a matter of years.

So I guess even if we didn't change anything in terms of D&D stats (and I would really advocate to give people more stat increases like in 4e so they don't have to focus on a "main stat"), I still stand behind the thought that both approaches are totally viable and that no one should be forced to roll 3 or 4d6 in order . Because we, as an intelligent species, generally have more choice that that. But that's just my 2 cents.
I generally assume that adventurers, given their lifestyle, keep themselves in the top physical and mental condition that their genes* allow. If there's an NPC with a sedentary lifestyle, I might note their Strength and Constitution as "potential" and knock a few points off their actual scores.

*Assuming biology in D&D even uses genes.
 

Bigsta

Explorer
I don't know if anyone posted anything similar, but in high school we did the following to generate stats in 2e:

1d8+10, roll three times for each stat, taking the highest roll in each case.

Unless it was Dark sun, then we rolled 1d10+10.
 

Seule

Explorer
I am not a fan of random rolls. It leads to unbalanced characters which can cause hard feelings. You also get things like the person who has no stat over 10... what kind of adventurer is that going to make?
The two campaigns I have made characters for both use 4d6 drop lowest, then take the default array if you don't like the result. One allowed one rerolls before taking the default array, the other said to roll until you got at least a 16+ or two 14+ stats. In both campaigns I have the default arrays, while other characters started with multiple 16+ stats and nothing under 12. My characters are fun to play, no doubt there, but they seem a lot less effective than others in the respective parties.
It adds up over time.
 

RotGrub

First Post
There are some game systems that deliberately generate characters you'll never happy with mechanically. You must find it within yourself to look past the numbers.
 

Seule

Explorer
There are some game systems that deliberately generate characters you'll never happy with mechanically. You must find it within yourself to look past the numbers.

Yep. Or play a game that actually has some balance by using a non-random character generation method. If you are okay with a party where one person has every stat at 16+ and another has no stat over 8 more power to you, but that doesn't fit my concept of what a cooperative, party-based adventuring game should be.
I prefer my randomness to happen over time during play where it will even out rather than all at once during character creation.
 

Oofta

Legend
I am not a fan of random rolls. It leads to unbalanced characters which can cause hard feelings. You also get things like the person who has no stat over 10... what kind of adventurer is that going to make?
The two campaigns I have made characters for both use 4d6 drop lowest, then take the default array if you don't like the result. One allowed one rerolls before taking the default array, the other said to roll until you got at least a 16+ or two 14+ stats. In both campaigns I have the default arrays, while other characters started with multiple 16+ stats and nothing under 12. My characters are fun to play, no doubt there, but they seem a lot less effective than others in the respective parties.
It adds up over time.

Which is a problem that a lot of people face. Many groups (not all) say they roll 4d6 drop lowest when in reality it's roll until you get characters with uber-high stats which is not only unnecessary but messes with the balance of the game.

Then if you state an honest opinion that you don't think it's fair, or that ability score disparity affects your enjoyment of the game, it's suddenly your fault that it concerns you that there is no way you can be as effective in your role as others are in their roles.

You have my sympathy, but I don't have a solution for you. I've hit the issue before the only option was to drop out of the game. Now that I or my wife DM most of our games we use point buy. If we want a high-powered campaign with higher stats we just use the heroic point buy/array option from 3.5.
 

RotGrub

First Post
I think it does have an impact...the early editions strongly incentivised players to lie or cheat their stats, especially fighters with their exceptional strength. The last AD&D campaign we played, the Dwarf Fighter simply outclassed the human fighter in every single way imaginable because an 18/76 (at start) is so completely superior to a 16 Str. The Dwarf player (who always seems to be playing a Dwarf with at least an 18 Str) just couldn't let it go how "useless" the human fighter was. Not that he was wrong in his assessment of their relative ability to contribute, but ... well let's just say that the proportion of AD&D fighters I've seen with "honestly rolled" exceptional strength beggars believe. (I think the ridiculous rolling methods presented in the 1e Unearthed Arcana serve to demonstrate just how important stats were in early editions.) One of my best friends absolutely refused to play "Slightly-above average man" (all 12's) in a college AD&D game, and I don't blame him. All that character did was qualify to be mechanically horrible at anything.

I honestly think that the effects of the stats (if they are so fundamental to things as Str to an AD&D Fighter) should be rolled into the class at design time. That is, if you pick Fighter...you're strong, done...want non-strong fighters? have separate classes for Swordmasters and Brutes (or whatever coolsy names you want). Same for wizards, etc. and the relevant abilities for them. Skip stat-rolling as a step of character gen. If you want to replace the inspirational thing...have a table of quirks or background traits (maybe one for each class) that everyone rolls on or selects from.

IMO, YMMV, and all that.

That might be a good option for some games, but I do know players who would be very disappointed they couldn't play a low strength fighter. A character who had no choice but to survive by his wits alone.

Of course, in my games combat isn't king. What you do in the campaign and how you interact with the world is what measures your character. I've seen players with powerful characters enter my game and end up having zero impact on anything important.

In fact, there are rows upon rows of graves out my window. Many dead 18 percentile fighters with names long since forgotten. So many combat focused mechanical dreams shattered and lives cut short. I need to animate them all sometime.
 
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RotGrub

First Post
Yep. Or play a game that actually has some balance by using a non-random character generation method. If you are okay with a party where one person has every stat at 16+ and another has no stat over 8 more power to you, but that doesn't fit my concept of what a cooperative, party-based adventuring game should be.
I prefer my randomness to happen over time during play where it will even out rather than all at once during character creation.

All those OSR games with characters of varying levels are more than just traumatic, they are oppressive hierarchical nightmares. Within, higher level characters wield oppressive +5% to +15% modifiers like a scourge, inflicting incurable systemic bleeding damage.
 

Which is a problem that a lot of people face. Many groups (not all) say they roll 4d6 drop lowest when in reality it's roll until you get characters with uber-high stats which is not only unnecessary but messes with the balance of the game.

Then if you state an honest opinion that you don't think it's fair, or that ability score disparity affects your enjoyment of the game, it's suddenly your fault that it concerns you that there is no way you can be as effective in your role as others are in their roles.

You have my sympathy, but I don't have a solution for you. I've hit the issue before the only option was to drop out of the game. Now that I or my wife DM most of our games we use point buy. If we want a high-powered campaign with higher stats we just use the heroic point buy/array option from 3.5.

See, this is what I've been getting at all along. A lot of the people who supposedly just "want to play their concept" are in reality not okay with rolling, not because of the risk of not getting to play their concept, but because someone else might overshadow them. Or in other words, their concepts seemed to be defined with respect to other PCs. "Highest DPR in the party" instead of "Beowulf the mighty warrior."

We just now saw a post from someone who claimed to be upset at the potential disparity between "one person who has every stat at 16+ and another has no stat over 8," but in reality is upset even at the disparity between "multiple 16+ stats" (which happens 17% of the time under 4d6 drop lowest) and point buy.

I agree that if you can't handle even minor disparities, you shouldn't play with a group that does individually-rolled stats. (You could still do one of the rolled stats variations where everyone picks from the same pool of rolled stats; or you could do freeform, or point buy; but you shouldn't do everybody-rolls-their-own.) But you should be honest about your motivations: just say, "It's not fun for me if other people have higher stats than I do." Don't try to pretend that it's about "concept" or being overshadowed in actual play, because it's not*. It's purely about stat envy: "that guy is stronger/smarter/faster than me."

* If some other PC has a Constitution of 17 and you have a Constitution of 14, who cares? You will hardly ever notice the difference empirically in play; and you sure won't be "overshadowed".
 

Oofta

Legend
That might be a good option for some games, but I do know players who would be very disappointed they couldn't play a low strength fighter. A character who had no choice but to survive by his wits alone.

Funny. I've been DMing for eons, using point buy before there was an official option. I've never met a person who was "very disappointed" they couldn't play a wimp.

In fact reactions are generally a non-committal shrug to a "Thank God!". YMMV and all of that of course.

In addition, rolling for stats doesn't guarantee anything other than that the results will be random.

We have a system with 5E to have disadvantages, even if they are more on the RP than mechanical side of things. And, of course there's no rule (that I know of) that you have to spend all of your points with point buy.
 

Satyrn

First Post
That might be a good option for some games, but I do know players who would be very disappointed they couldn't play a low strength fighter. A character who had no choice but to survive by his wits alone.
But as [MENTION=6688937]Ratskinner[/MENTION] said, there'd be a class (or somesuch option) for that in his hypothetical remake.
 

RotGrub

First Post
Funny. I've been DMing for eons, using point buy before there was an official option. I've never met a person who was "very disappointed" they couldn't play a wimp.

In fact reactions are generally a non-committal shrug to a "Thank God!". YMMV and all of that of course.

In addition, rolling for stats doesn't guarantee anything other than that the results will be random.

We have a system with 5E to have disadvantages, even if they are more on the RP than mechanical side of things. And, of course there's no rule (that I know of) that you have to spend all of your points with point buy.

Players do pick low strength fighters at character creation for a number of reasons. If you need a mechanical reason, consider the fighter who after a few levels, becomes a wizard.

Suggesting that all fighters should start with a high strength doesn't make sense in all cases.
 

Seule

Explorer
As the 'upset' person in question, I wouldn't characterize myself as upset in either case. I merely said that I'm not a fan of rolling because it introduces disparity and that's not my preferred playstyle. I also pointed out that both campaigns I play in do mitigate the randomness by allowing at least one reroll and then allowing the default array so my characters, while using the default array, are certainly perfectly viable. After all, I pointed out that I play in these campaigns, and if I wasn't having fun I would stop.
Separate from that I pointed out that straight die rolls can have huge disparity in character effectiveness. I certainly wouldn't want to make a character with no stat over 10, let alone nothing over 8 (or 3, all of which are possible if increasingly unlikely). I would probably have an issue if in a supposedly teamwork game one character started with every stat at 18 and everyone else had normal numbers. That would severely warp a campaign, you might as well play Ars Magica or Buffy the Vampire Slayer where a character imbalance is expected at that point.
To combat this I personally prefer to go point buy. This allows characters to be good at what they want, and to have one or more low stats if they want (low stats are RP gold).
 

Oofta

Legend
See, this is what I've been getting at all along. A lot of the people who supposedly just "want to play their concept" are in reality not okay with rolling, not because of the risk of not getting to play their concept, but because someone else might overshadow them. Or in other words, their concepts seemed to be defined with respect to other PCs. "Highest DPR in the party" instead of "Beowulf the mighty warrior."

We just now saw a post from someone who claimed to be upset at the potential disparity between "one person who has every stat at 16+ and another has no stat over 8," but in reality is upset even at the disparity between "multiple 16+ stats" (which happens 17% of the time under 4d6 drop lowest) and point buy.

I agree that if you can't handle even minor disparities, you shouldn't play with a group that does individually-rolled stats. (You could still do one of the rolled stats variations where everyone picks from the same pool of rolled stats; or you could do freeform, or point buy; but you shouldn't do everybody-rolls-their-own.) But you should be honest about your motivations: just say, "It's not fun for me if other people have higher stats than I do." Don't try to pretend that it's about "concept" or being overshadowed in actual play, because it's not*. It's purely about stat envy: "that guy is stronger/smarter/faster than me."

* If some other PC has a Constitution of 17 and you have a Constitution of 14, who cares? You will hardly ever notice the difference empirically in play; and you sure won't be "overshadowed".

Sounds like more one-true-way-ism to me. You like rolling for stats therefore you don't want to accept that in my experience it was not a "minor" difference.

For those who don't want to look up the post, the abbreviated version: I used stats from my last game we were forced to roll for stats and set up two characters and did a hypothetical average combat at 4th level vs a hell hound. One character died long before she beat the hound (by 5 rounds) while the other walked away victorious.

It's a personal preference. You may like disparity in ability scores, others don't. Personally I don't see the point.
 

Oofta

Legend
Players do pick low strength fighters at character creation for a number of reasons. If you need a mechanical reason, consider the fighter who after a few levels, becomes a wizard.

Suggesting that all fighters should start with a high strength doesn't make sense in all cases.

Not sure what you're trying to say. If you allow people to assign numbers they have to the ability scores they prefer, the difference between point buy and rolling is how you get the numbers that they assign.

Not all of my fighters had high strength. Some had high dex. Some had a relatively high intelligence because that's how I envisioned the character.

So I'm not stating that fighters should have high strength. It's simply my preference that all members of the team are slightly above average for average ability scores, and are on roughly equal footing. Some are going to specialize, others are going to be more generalists, others are going to make builds that never really work for whatever reasons. Point buy simply gives you control over that outcome.
 

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