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


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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."
Maybe you should be honest about your motivations: just say, "It's not fun for me if other people think and play in ways that I don't approve of." Don't try to pretend that it's about "interesting characters" or challenging oneself to contribute in actual play, because it's not. It's purely about player vanity: "I am purer/smarter/wiser than that guy."

Or maybe, if you think I'm wildly off-base about your motivations because I'm not you and can't read your mind, you should consider the possibility that you're also off-base about other people's motivations, and that perhaps it's neither polite nor effective to dictate to them what they're feeling.
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
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.
There's always the option to play an unlucky PC into an early grave, then reroll. :D Some DMs don't like the idea that a player might intentionally play badly, but it's all part of the creative process of rolling stats: Sometimes the player is inspired to create a character they might not have otherwise played, and sometimes the player is inspired to role play a poor sod's tragically short life.
 

Oofta

Legend
There's always the option to play an unlucky PC into an early grave, then reroll. :D Some DMs don't like the idea that a player might intentionally play badly, but it's all part of the creative process of rolling stats: Sometimes the player is inspired to create a character they might not have otherwise played, and sometimes the player is inspired to role play a poor sod's tragically short life.

:mad: What! Substandard character that dies quickly? Sacrilege! All characters must be played, no matter what the role and if the DM even gets a hint of suicide-by-goblin that character will be resurrected! How dare you break the sanctity of the game! :mad:

Although other staunch supporters of rolling have said basically the same thing. Personally I'd rather just give people the tools to build the character they want to play from the get go.
 

RotGrub

First Post
With rolling for stats, in a single moment your character's life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through envy, and unintentionally through rolling. That DM(and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless characters, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a player. This issue deserves serious consideration by every DM, because no matter what role your character ultimately adopts, stat rolling has effects that will last through their whole life.

Only a cruel DM would punish a player by making him keep what he rolls, or punish the group by forcing them to role play. That's psychological abuse. But for point buy nonconforming players, that's the everyday reality of their lives. We know point buy players are far more likely to be depressed, with a heartbreaking 41 percent rate of suicide attempts (via Mountain Dew hyponatremia), nearly nine times the D&D table average. That's not evidence of mental illness, it's evidence of trauma and distress causing by an oppressive social contract. They're not miserable because they rolled, they're miserable as the result of being assigned the wrong stats at character creation.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I played with rolls exclusively from 1981 to about 2014 (when 5e came out), and have since pretty much done array (it's just easier, and you never have to worry about a player fudging rolls when they make a PC on their own).

Both have some pretty good advantages, and I'm a big proponent of random char gen. Then again, my group have never been optimizers, so we couldn't care less if you had a PC with lower than normal stats. It never affected our game play. And no one in my group was petty or jealous, getting upset if another PC had better rolls. We were all part of the same team, so it's no big deal. Just like I wouldn't get jealous or upset if we all spent $5 on lottery tickets and one of us happened to win $50 while the rest of us only won $5. Good for them for getting lucky! And it's fair, because we all had the same opportunity. Now, if the DM allows a reroll for someone? Then it becomes unfair unless they do that for everyone. So we were all happy with our set and played with what we had for 30 years with no issues.

Random chargen also allows for some unexpected great role playing opportunities. Got a 5 or a 6? Great opportunity there to play that out in the game. It adds variety as well. I personally really don't like how array always results in cookie cutter PCs. Every fighter has the same stats. Every wizard has the same stats, etc, etc. Boring.

so yeah, I really like random chargen. But that doesn't mean array doesn't have value as well. It's faster to create a PC, and you don't have to worry about someone cheating.
 

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).

If you don't like "upset", can we agree on "is turned off by"? I want to avoid a semantic argument and focus on the substantive.

I'm interested in hearing how you think think a campaign would be "severely" warped by having an all-18s character in it, in any substantive way besides stat-envy.

My experience is thus: in terms of the PCs' ability to solve challenges, high stat rolls have a minor effect on the campaign (PCs may perform as if 20-25% higher in level or so), while skilled players have a gigantic effect which dwarfs stat rolls. This isn't true for all games but it has been the case with my entire 5E experience.

If one or more players in the party happens to roll a bunch of 18s, but the player is of only average skill, the DM can basically ignore it and just run the same adventures he would otherwise run, and the PCs will do about as well as they otherwise would. Sure, maybe the Barbarian has 12 more HP at 6th level than a typical Barbarian, and +1 to AC, but the PCs still have to solve the Sphinx's riddle because they can't defeat the Iron Golem (despite all those 18s), and they still can't defeat 80 gnolls so a PC still has to defeat the Gnoll Chieftain in single combat--the all 18s Barbarian will do that easily, but a typical PC will still do it handily, and only a very rare PC group would consist entirely of PCs who are unable to defeat him at all. So, the effect of the 18s on the adventure is pretty minor.

Contrast this with what happens when you run a group of players who are deeply savvy about the 5E ruleset, e.g. every single PC is Mobile and Stealth-proficient and Perception-proficient and familiar with the mounted combat rules, and the party is 75% range-specialized with 25% dual-specialized in both melee and ranged combat. Now the party has options they didn't have before: they can kill the Iron Golem and/or the Sphinx, bypassing the riddle entirely, and they can engage the whole gnoll tribe in a series of mounted skirmishes (with backup mounts pre-placed at strategic locations) and degrade the gnolls until they break. The additional player savvy has a major effect on the adventure, to the point where you have to either start writing more sophisticated adventures which anticipate sophisticated players, or you have to just relax and enjoy players stomping all over standard adventures. (This BTW is why I have little use for most published adventures--they don't work as advertised vs. savvy play.)

I presume that you, @Seule, have some other standard in mind for judging "severe warp", and I'd like to hear more about it.
 
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:mad: What! Substandard character that dies quickly? Sacrilege! All characters must be played, no matter what the role and if the DM even gets a hint of suicide-by-goblin that character will be resurrected!

Therefore, the most overpowered character is the one with a 3 in Constitution, because that DM will ensure that he is immortal. 18,18,18,18,18,18 is therefore, at that DM's table, a less powerful array than 16, 14, 12, 12, 10, 3. ;-)
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
My experience is thus: in terms of the PCs' ability to solve challenges, high stat rolls have a minor effect on the campaign (PCs may perform as if 20-25% higher in level or so), while skilled players have a gigantic effect which dwarfs stat rolls.

It's embarrassing how many times I had to mentally parse this sentence. I kept thinking "what does a Dwarf's Stats have to do with this more than any other race?"

I'd like to blame it on a case of the Mondays.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
If you don't like "upset", can we agree on "is turned off by"? I want to avoid a semantic argument and focus on the substantive.

I'm interested in hearing how you think think a campaign would be "severely" warped by having an all-18s character in it, in any substantive way besides stat-envy.

My experience is thus: in terms of the PCs' ability to solve challenges, high stat rolls have a minor effect on the campaign (PCs may perform as if 20-25% higher in level or so), while skilled players have a gigantic effect which dwarfs stat rolls. This isn't true for all games but it has been the case with my entire 5E experience.

If one or more players in the party happens to roll a bunch of 18s, but the player is of only average skill, the DM can basically ignore it and just run the same adventures he would otherwise run, and the PCs will do about as well as they otherwise would. Sure, maybe the Barbarian has 12 more HP at 6th level than a typical Barbarian, and +1 to AC, but the PCs still have to solve the Sphinx's riddle because they can't defeat the Iron Golem (despite all those 18s), and they still can't defeat 80 gnolls so a PC still has to defeat the Gnoll Chieftain in single combat--the all 18s Barbarian will do that easily, but a typical PC will still do it handily, and only a very rare PC group would consist entirely of PCs who are unable to defeat him at all. So, the effect of the 18s on the adventure is pretty minor.

Contrast this with what happens when you run a group of players who are deeply savvy about the 5E ruleset, e.g. every single PC is Mobile and Stealth-proficient and Perception-proficient and familiar with the mounted combat rules, and the party is 75% range-specialized with 25% dual-specialized in both melee and ranged combat. Now the party has options they didn't have before: they can kill the Iron Golem and/or the Sphinx, bypassing the riddle entirely, and they can engage the whole gnoll tribe in a series of mounted skirmishes (with backup mounts pre-placed at strategic locations) and degrade the gnolls until they break. The additional player savvy has a major effect on the adventure, to the point where you have to either start writing more sophisticated adventures which anticipate sophisticated players, or you have to just relax and enjoy players stomping all over standard adventures. (This BTW is why I have little use for most published adventures--they don't work as advertised vs. savvy play.)

I presume that you, @Seule, have some other standard in mind for judging "severe warp", and I'd like to hear more about it.

Holy crimeny, a couple years ago when we ran HotDQ, the DM let us roll stats. One of the players is....not very bright in getting concepts. So while I don't think he intentionally cheated, he most definitely didn't get what the DM was saying. When he showed up with his PC, every one of his stats was between 16 and 19. Every one. Obviously he screwed up (I'm guessing he forgot to drop the lowest dice).

But it didn't matter in the game at all. He was probably the least effective PC in the game because he just didn't get it. And forget any sort of tactical thinking. I kid you not, we completed that campaign and he still couldn't figure out how to calculate his attack and damage bonuses.
 

It's embarrassing how many times I had to mentally parse this sentence. I kept thinking "what does a Dwarf's Stats have to do with this more than any other race?"

I'd like to blame it on a case of the Mondays.

Probably my fault. I may have sinned against Strunk & White.

Attempted rewrite, just for practice: The effect of high stat rolls is dwarfed by the effect of player skill.
 
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Oofta

Legend
Therefore, the most overpowered character is the one with a 3 in Constitution, because that DM will ensure that he is immortal. 18,18,18,18,18,18 is therefore, at that DM's table, a less powerful array than 16, 14, 12, 12, 10, 3. ;-)

Sadly, I remember a poster on a different "roll vs point buy" thread a while back that basically said that if they suspected someone purposely got their character killed that they would force the player to continue to play the same character.

I know from my own personal experience, when my wife asked if she could use point buy (or re-roll) she was told no. Some otherwise decent people have a blindspot.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Holy crimeny, a couple years ago when we ran HotDQ, the DM let us roll stats. One of the players is....not very bright in getting concepts. So while I don't think he intentionally cheated, he most definitely didn't get what the DM was saying. When he showed up with his PC, every one of his stats was between 16 and 19. Every one. Obviously he screwed up (I'm guessing he forgot to drop the lowest dice).

But it didn't matter in the game at all. He was probably the least effective PC in the game because he just didn't get it. And forget any sort of tactical thinking. I kid you not, we completed that campaign and he still couldn't figure out how to calculate his attack and damage bonuses.

I hope he was playing a Champion. ;)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
The odds of that kind of spread happening within the same party (one character all 16+, another all :cool: are so extreme that if you ever see it, get thee hence to your local lottery retailer ASAP because you're on a serious roll!
Rot Grub said:
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.
I had a guy in my game who'd been playing 1e or variants since nearly forever. He'd lost yet another character (he was good at this) and decided to bang out another one - and in front of the table to much celebration and cheering rolled 18.00 strength for the first time in his life.

That character made it out of his first adventure, but not his second. What did him in was a serious lack of hit points - a true glass cannon, he was. Never mind that in his short career he'd racked up so much debt that the party declared him bankrupt, and sold his corpse to the party's Necromancer!

Which leads to: do all of you lot who don't like random stats also de-randomize hit points?

Lan-"good or bad luck on hit points can counterbalance good or bad luck on stats in a real hurry"-efan
 


Which leads to: do all of you lot who don't like random stats also de-randomize hit points?

No, I'm not that hard-core. :) I allow my players to de-randomize HP of course, per PHB rules, but when I myself roll up a PC (or NPC) I always take the average. Two reasons:

(1) It reduces the number of stats I need to remember, if I lose a character sheet. Instead I can always recompute them.
(2) It has a higher expected value than rolling.

I suppose the smart move, from a powergaming standpoint, would be to always take the average for PCs with good stats, and to roll for PCs with mediocre or poor stats. That way they have a chance to acquire an outstanding characteristic of some kind (high HP), and if they don't, not much loss. But really I don't find HP very interesting--having 50 HP at 5th level is more improbable for a Con 10 fighter than having a Int 16, but also less interesting. So I don't think I will powergame HP even now that it has occurred to me to do so--it's just not worth the hassle.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No, I'm not that hard-core. :) I allow my players to de-randomize HP of course, per PHB rules, but when I myself roll up a PC (or NPC) I always take the average. Two reasons:

(1) It reduces the number of stats I need to remember, if I lose a character sheet. Instead I can always recompute them.
(2) It has a higher expected value than rolling.
Side question, but why would you ever lose a character sheet? Don't you leave them with the DM between sessions?

As for h.p., just like with stats the game has dice for a reason. :)

Lanefan
 

cbwjm

Legend
Players have the choice of rolling their hit points at my table or taking the set amount. Set amount does average out to slightly higher but it can be fun to roll hit points on level up. The thrill of rolling max. hp, the sadness of rolling a 1, it's a lot of fun and the whole table tends to sit down and watch and laugh or cheer along with the player rolling.
 

Side question, but why would you ever lose a character sheet? Don't you leave them with the DM between sessions?

My fundamental approach toward character sheets is to view them as props. The reality is the information, not the object on which the information happens to be recorded.

When I'm DMing, I lose NPC character sheets because I'm kind of disorganized, and sometimes it's an NPC that I wasn't expecting to have to reconstruct. I can usually manage to remember name + level + key stats, but having one less important thing to worry about is convenient for me.

When I'm playing (rarely), well, I don't have a good excuse for losing character sheets, but I know I've done it.

Also as DM, I've had players lose character sheets (especially new players), and we had to reconstruct the PCs from memory, either for a session or permanently. I don't make players leave character sheets with me, and in fact I do my best to remain somewhat ignorant of what is written on the character sheet. My job is to run the world, not the PCs. (Nevertheless I do sometimes memorize PC stats incidentally--if not I wouldn't be able to help recreate them from memory. With a new player, it helps that I was probably involved in helping create that first PC, so I have a better-than-usual chance of knowing what stats go where.)
 
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