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Point Buy Method Critique and Evaluation


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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I've been tossing around the idea of an alternate point-buy method for a while now.

24 point buy.

Stats fall in 2 categories, Dump Stats and Primary Stats. Primary stats start at 10 while Dump Stats start at 8. Stats may not be lowered below starting value.
The point buy for each is:

Primary:

10 -- 0
11 -- 1
12 -- 2
13 -- 3
14 -- 5
15 -- 7
16 -- 10
17 -- 13
18 -- 17

Dump:
8 --- 0
10 -- 1
12 -- 2
14 -- 3
15 -- 4
16 -- 5

Primary stats are: Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, and your class stat

Dump stats are: Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma (minus class stat)

An incomplete list of class stats are: Barbarian (str), Bard (cha), Cleric (cha), Druid (str), Fighter (str), Monk (str), Paladin (cha), Ranger (str), Rogue (int), Sorcerer (cha), Wizard (int)

Alternate method: Player may define one dump stat to be a class (primary) stat, typically for the purpose of raising it above 16.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------

Purpose:
In my opinion, the current point buy system rewards efficiency and punishes variety. A fighter or wizard who wants to be "charming" with a 12 or 14 charisma operates at a 6-to-9 point deficit from a player who has dumped charisma to 7. Also, the downsides of a total dump to 7 versus a slight dump to 9 are outweighed by the benefits of the points gained.

I want to encourage points spent in non-optimal ways (and non-optimal builds, as a consequence) by making "useless" stats cheaper (and hopefully more attractive).

I'm throwing this out here to get an outside opinion before I bring it live. Please tell me your opinion on the matter so that we may have a discussion on it.


Certain play styles reward efficiency and punish variety. Its certainly a common playstyle and in other styles is can be present in part at least. However, in some games variety is not a problem. Some are rules light, some emphasize less common game aspects, and some don't require much system mastery.

I would remove the ability to dump to 7, or least reduce it from four points to three.

On another subject, some classes have 3-4 important ability scores, and some have only 1-2.


Looking at your point buy method, I would so play a bard (Str 16, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16) or Paladin (Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, wis 12, Cha 16) under it. In both cases if Human I would put my racial in strength.

I use either 28 or 33 points for builds, no stat below 10. (Well, they can take a stat below 10, but they don't get any points for it.) Note that this is functionally similar to a 20 or 25 point build with two stats a 7, balancing SAD (Single Ability Dependency) classes vs MAD (Multiple Ability Dependency) classes. I have also found that players tend to drop a couple of points into dump stats anyway now that they have enough points for their primary function.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:

Certain play styles reward efficiency and punish variety. Its certainly a common playstyle and in other styles is can be present in part at least. However, in some games variety is not a problem. Some are rules light, some emphasize less common game aspects, and some don't require much system mastery.

I would remove the ability to dump to 7, or least reduce it from four points to three.

On another subject, some classes have 3-4 important ability scores, and some have only 1-2.

Here, I have eliminated the possibility of dumping at all, starting certain abilities at a lower value and giving extra points to compensate for lack of dumping.

A class with 3-4 ability scores is one of the things I had in mind. It helps those classes afford better scores, since those tend to be the classes that can afford non-optimal choices the least


Dilvias wrote:

Looking at your point buy method, I would so play a bard (Str 16, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16) or Paladin (Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, wis 12, Cha 16) under it. In both cases if Human I would put my racial in strength.

I use either 28 or 33 points for builds, no stat below 10. (Well, they can take a stat below 10, but they don't get any points for it.) Note that this is functionally similar to a 20 or 25 point build with two stats a 7, balancing SAD (Single Ability Dependency) classes vs MAD (Multiple Ability Dependency) classes. I have also found that players tend to drop a couple of points into dump stats anyway now that they have enough points for their primary function.

I'd thought about making a higher point buy like you suggest, but in the end I still wanted there to be some tradeoff (perhaps a greater tradeoff) for having a pre-racial 17 or 18 while encouraging more attribute variety. Even though a higher point buy enables stat/build variety, I tend to see higher class stats primarily.


I don't get why you're pre-assigning what "primary" and "dump" stats are. I can play a Cleric or Rogue with a Str of 16 for 5 pts, but if I want to play a Barbarian with a Str of 16 it costs 10????

Okay, if I want to play a Barb starting with a Str of 20 (including racial), now I'll have to pay the price in terms of calling it a primary stat. But what if I don't want any stats higher than 16 before racials? My players would be howling at this system.

What really puzzles me is that so many classes have melee applications, where Str is a primary. And so few reward Wis. I get that everyone benefits from Dex & Con. But I'd have thought that everyone benefited from Str more than Wis, if only for carrying capacity. Your system lets you buy one stat you need cheap, but two (plus your class stat) at high cost. Huh? (It also will penalize any Dex-based build excessively.)


Interesting idea. My stats if using this system to build an archery focused human ranger with a 24 point buy would be:

STR 12 (2)
INT 16 (5)
WIS 12 (2)
DEX 16 +2 (10)
CON 12 (2)
CHA 14 (3)


bitter lily wrote:

I don't get why you're pre-assigning what "primary" and "dump" stats are. I can play a Cleric or Rogue with a Str of 16 for 5 pts, but if I want to play a Barbarian with a Str of 16 it costs 10????

Mainly because stats don't mean the same thing to all classes. If a Barbarian had a cheap Strength stat, he would always buy a 16 Strength. Arguably, it's the Barbarian's most important stat. A Rogue (Unchained), on the other hand, can ignore Strength if need be.

Truthfully, I thought about assigning "Strength" as a primary ability to Clerics since many Cleric builds focus on Strength over Charisma. Also because of the prevalence of dumping Charisma and ignoring Charisma-based abilities. I should probably change that, actually.

This system isn't about making abilities cheaper, it's about making the less meaningful abilities cheaper.

Quote:


Okay, if I want to play a Barb starting with a Str of 20 (including racial), now I'll have to pay the price in terms of calling it a primary stat. But what if I don't want any stats higher than 16 before racials? My players would be howling at this system.

That's one of the reasons I like the assigned-primary system a bit better. Still, the "pick-your-primary" alternate system does discourage over-specialization in your primary ability, while still allowing it if you want it, so I thought I'd include it.

Quote:


What really puzzles me is that so many classes have melee applications, where Str is a primary. And so few reward Wis. I get that everyone benefits from Dex & Con. But I'd have thought that everyone benefited from Str more than Wis, if only for carrying capacity. Your system lets you buy one stat you need cheap, but two (plus your class stat) at high cost. Huh? (It also will penalize any Dex-based build excessively.)

Dex, Con, and Wis all govern saving throws. Wisdom, arguably, governs the most useful. Wisdom also governs Perception, (arguably) the most useful skill. Con governs hit points; Dex governs initiative and AC. These are the three abilities that I would never consider dumping to 7 (or 8, for that matter).

On the other hand, many classes and builds have absolutely no use for Strength. A low Strength affects melee combat, carrying capacity and some skills. If your build requires neither Strength or Wisdom, a low Wisdom will be a much larger detriment than a low Strength.

Again, that's why I prefer the "assigned primary" system more than the "pick-your-primary" system. I think your points may convince me to abandon the "pick-your-primary" alternate. I'm designing the system to let you buy two stats you don't need cheaply and the others at normal cost.


What I am not clear about is how this system encourages variety. At our table we have those players who have characters with dump stats and those with more balanced characters. This system seems to encourage everyone to avoid dumping stats, which would reduce variety. Am I missing something here?


Multiclassing.


As an alternative you could change the point cost for attributes to make higher scores relatively more expensive and increase the total point buy by 5 points so that a 25 point buy in the old system is equivalent to a 30 point buy under the new system. Maybe go with a breakdown like this:

7 --- -4
8 --- -2
9 --- -1
10 -- 0
11 -- 1
12 -- 2
13 -- 4
14 -- 7
15 -- 10
16 -- 15
17 -- 21
18 -- 30

Although, upon reflection I like the system proposed in the opening post better as it does encourage multi classes.


with current point buy pool totals (15,20,25,30)

7/-3
8/-2
9/-1
10/0
11/1
12/2
13/3
14/4
15/5
16/6
17/7
18/8

or revamping point buy pools to be (35,40,45,50) with

7/-4
8/-2
9/-1
10/0
11/1
12/2
13/3
14/5
15/7
16/10
17/13
18/17

would solve most issues


Seems like a lot of work that could be saved by simply going with a stat array.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
What I am not clear about is how this system encourages variety. At our table we have those players who have characters with dump stats and those with more balanced characters. This system seems to encourage everyone to avoid dumping stats, which would reduce variety. Am I missing something here?

I'm trying to encourage variety by making stats cheaper. This is based on the concept that not all stats are worth the same to a class or build.

Example:

I am building a Wizard with standard point buy. I want him to be charming. I build him as:

S8 D14 C12 I16 W10 C14

But 8 Str isn't that far from 7 Str and a 12 Wis helps more than a 8 Str

S7 D14 C12 I16 W12 C14

But an 18 int (especially boosted to 20 post racial) is going to matter a lot more than a 14 cha and I can take Student of Philosophy

S7 D14 C12 I18 W12 C8

But a 7 cha isn't really that far from an 8 cha and a higher con would really help

S7 D14 C14 I18 W11 C7

****

Every other stat is more important for a Wizard than Charisma. Besides Charisma, every other stat is more important for a Wizard than Strength. But all stats cost the same.

***

I'm trying to make the 2 least useful stats cheaper in an attempt to get players to "seize the bargain." Since I'm not banning high stats, players can still choose to sacrifice them for higher, more useful stats

S8 D14 C12 I18 W10 C8

...or be tempted into purchasing discounted stats

S10 D14 C12 I17 W10 C14
S8 D14 C12 I16 W12 C16

But you do have a valid point -- maybe it just shifts the "default" into a different direction instead of encouraging variety.

Lady-J wrote:


or revamping point buy pools to be (35,40,45,50) with...would solve most issues

I had considered a higher point buy like you suggest, but I wanted a system that wouldn't just enable putting points in your least useful abilities, but would encourage it.

I am not convinced that I have successfully designed such a system, though, so I'm going to put some thought in how to tweak it.

PT.B=The Devil wrote:


Seems like a lot of work that could be saved by simply going with a stat array.

I don't see how a stat array encourages players to prioritize their least useful abilities over their more useful abilities.


PT.B=The Devil wrote:
Seems like a lot of work that could be saved by simply going with a stat array.

A stat array is simpler, but it prevents variety rather than encouraging it, which was one of the original goals in the opening post.


@ Kitty Catoblepas

I think your system is better than simply increasing the point buy. And as Gulthor pointed out, variety could come from increased multi classing.


I think it party comes down to "Group Think." I've got a party now that I'm GMing for where nearly everyone has a Str of 8 or 10. (I didn't allow stats of 7.) Luckily, there's a Str-based magus, so the party has at least SOME hauling capacity. But the low-Str bias keeps having negative effects.

And yes, I'm willing to actually hit PCs with effects that require Will saves, so it's arguable that a bias away from Str and toward Wis is useful for my game. Maybe. I take it you also are not a GM who religiously avoids Will saves, on the grounds that it's no fun for the player if their PC fails one. Do take note that Wisdom is less useful in some games, however.

For me, I might look at making ONE stat cheap, and define that one stat by class. Although... yes, what about dips? I don't generally do dips, but I think a lot of builds start out at 1st level with a class not to be repeated.


If you want to encourage players, you want to give them a reason to put points into non-primary stats. For example, in my game, Charisma is how much you are liked by everything, including the universe. So if something good or bad happens to a random character (who gets to run into the princess or who gets their pouch stolen, for example), I have the characters roll their charisma.

This encourages people who may not have a reason to normally put points into charisma to drop at least a couple of points into it.

Since I also enforce encumbrance, I don't see too many low strength characters.

Skills, especially knowledge skills, are also pretty important, so most characters have at least a 10 or 12 Int.

Dark Archive

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Gulthor wrote:
Multiclassing.

I second this. The system only works if you know exactly what your players will play for the full 20 levels, and Multiclassing can turn the Dump Stats into Primary Stats. Fighter into Wizard or vice versa gets you a cheap 16 in your second Primary score before heading into Eldritch Knight, for instance. The only way to make it work is to have players give their full Level 1-20 build at character creation and stick with it, which limits RP potential.

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