Generating Ability Score Methods - Which is the best option?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
WeekendWarriors wrote:

So we just wrapped RotR AE this afternoon & our group is ready to move on to CotCT.

My players expressed discontent with the Epic Fantasy Purchase method we used last time, so I'm curious to hear from other GMs & players which of the other four methods presented in the Core Rulebook (Standard/Classic/Heroic/Dice Pool) are thought to be popular & balanced?

It's been my experience that folks who don't like a 25 point buy are those who are experts in being amazingly "lucky" in point rolling.

I've never known a GM who allowed rolls stats without insisting on personally witnessing the rolls.

As for the bigger question of the thread, I'd say I'm fine with any stat generation method that gives me the flexibility to make the character I want, and is reasonably equitable. Point buy does that, as does a decent array (or array of arrays) or rolls if everyone gets the same final pool to pick from. As long as my character isn't stuck with 14 as his high stat while Bob is rocking all 18s, I won't make too much of a fuss.

About the only statgen method I can't stand is rolling stats in order, since it can effectively lock you into/out of certain classes. I guess it could work if you're leaving character generation completely up to the RNG, but I usually have some idea of what sort of character I want to play before I hash out the numbers. It would suck to be eager to play a certain type of caster, then roll a 9 on your casting stat. Character creation should never deny someone the chance to play the character they want (barring the occasional wildly inappropriate choice).

Liberty's Edge

I offer either rolling straight down or PB (usually 4d6 and 15 respectively), and players can choose which they want to use after rolling. Good for players who don't know what they want to play yet as well as players who are already locked in on a concept. Still rough for people who want to play MAD classes though.


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Goblin_Priest wrote:


Insert "in my experience" somewhere in there, then, and "your table(s) may differ".

Cheering and jeering for 5 minutes to then suffer the luck of the rolls for dozens of hours if not more hardly seems like a good investment. In my experience, to avoid utterly brutal low scores, these are allowed to be rerolled... which just leads to overly high averages. Not to mention sentiments of unfairness between those who had different luck at the dice.

The only downside to point buy imo is its strength, its uniformity. Makes it really rare to have wizards with good str or fighters with good cha, for example.

I could consider allowing players to replace dump stats with 1d10+5 for example in a point buy system. But the only randomness that is appropriate in character generation imo is over non vital attributes .

Tables certainly vary. Show me a table who rolls over an obsession with high stats and I'll show you a table who loves point buy because of pride in doing more with less. Low (or "reasonable") stats due to point buy aren't going to keep people from making pet classes or pet class variants of classes. Pet classes, in my opinion, cause greater balance problems than high stats.

I do like your suggestion about dump stat variance. You could probably define most point arrays as:

Important, Important, Don't Dump, Don't Dump, Don't Care, Don't Care

-something like-

17, 16, 1d6+11, 1d6+9, 1d10+7, 1d10+7
-or-
17 16 1d4+11 1d6+9 1d12+6 1d12+6


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Bill Dunn wrote:

1) You get to discover the PC as you roll rather than just building

2) Character classes often balance better against each other with rolled stats than point buy, particularly multiple attribute dependent classes compared to single attribute classes

3) It makes for a fun session 0 to generate PCs together, cheer each other's high rolls, jeer each other's poor rolls

4) Each stat is an independent variable without a high value mandating a dumped value elsewhere to pay for it, something that makes it easier to get a PC with quirky stat distributions that would show up as a major boost in point buy totals but will have a relatively small impact on actual character power

1) Some people like to craft a character rather than discovering it. A character I don't connect with pulls me out of the game.

2) Rolled stats will sometimes give the player who wants a MAD character one high stat or the player who wants to play a SAD character a bunch of middling stats. I don't see how you can say they balance better when one person gets what they want and another person gets something different. For that matter when one person gets nothing below 14 and the other person is slightly above the point that they get to reroll it's not balanced at all.

3) Generating PC's in game works for some people. Other people prefer to take more time. I've been the guy who's still deciding things while everybody else wants to play. It's not fun for anybody.

4) It also allows characters with quirky low stats. The effect of high or low stats is very pronounced at low levels. Admittedly it goes down over time, but at 1st level the difference is huge.

Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Idea: let the players rank their stats in order of importance, ABCDEF. Then once everyone's picked, give them an array with the highest number going to the A slot, next highest to B, etc.

And some concepts work best with two or even three stats being at equal priority. Using the same array for SAD and MAD characters is likely to cause problems.

Bwang wrote:
As a repeated beneficiary of the dice, I prefer the point buy. I have been the target of snide remarks even with people watching my rolls like a hawk.

I've been forced to re-roll a character because it was too good. That was annoying.

Rosc wrote:

One particular rolling method has caught my eye was as follows:

1) Create a 6x6 grid
2) For each square, roll to create a stat.
3) I forget if it was 3d6 or 4d6 drop lowest. Use one or the other for lower/higher stats I suppose.
4) Select one line or column. Those numbers are your ability scores, in order or in reverse order.

What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Steve Geddes wrote:
I prefer rolling, but I think it's worth checking first that everyone is happy to risk being 'the sidekick'.

If I'm going to make the sidekick, it's because I wanted to design a support character.

Blymurkla wrote:

I can not believe nobody has mentioned Justisaur's 27-25-23 Ability Score Generation. I'm using it in my campaign right now, and loving it.

Decent, well rounded characters yet characters that aren't all the same either.

This essentially enforces that if you get a high stat you need to balance it with a dump stat. How much you need to balance it is based on what order you roll them in. I repeat: What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Silver Crusade

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A little divergent from the topic, but I can tell you the *worst* stat generation method.

We were on Roll 20 so I didn't know the GM and he said it was an introductory adventure for newbies and to choose classes. I went for Paladin as I thought he could fight and help out the newer players with Detect Evil and a bit of healing etc.

Then he made us all roll 3d6. 3d6, in order, after character choice. Even Gygax himself never did that (though classes had to qualify with stats then).

My Paladin had Str 13 and Cha 9. He was useless and the newbie players didn't have fun as their characters couldn't do anything either. Lasted one session.

So don't do that.


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0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:

A little divergent from the topic, but I can tell you the *worst* stat generation method.

We were on Roll 20 so I didn't know the GM and he said it was an introductory adventure for newbies and to choose classes. I went for Paladin as I thought he could fight and help out the newer players with Detect Evil and a bit of healing etc.

Then he made us all roll 3d6. 3d6, in order, after character choice. Even Gygax himself never did that (though classes had to qualify with stats then).

My Paladin had Str 13 and Cha 9. He was useless and the newbie players didn't have fun as their characters couldn't do anything either. Lasted one session.

So don't do that.

All your stats should be zero. ;)


Philo Pharynx wrote:
What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Now that's a very good point.

Along those lines...

What is the point of using a point buy for balance if stats don't mean the same for every class?

What's the point of assigning a point buy if you can dump meaningless stats for more points?

What we're converging on is developing an array that is considered sufficient or acceptable tailored for class and purpose.


Man, this forum system makes it a pain to quote the proper section of a long post ...

Philo Pharynx wrote:
Blymurkla wrote:

I can not believe nobody has mentioned Justisaur's 27-25-23 Ability Score Generation. I'm using it in my campaign right now, and loving it.

Decent, well rounded characters yet characters that aren't all the same either.

This essentially enforces that if you get a high stat you need to balance it with a dump stat. How much you need to balance it is based on what order you roll them in. I repeat: What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

It's a valid point, sure.

To me, its the compromise. Some people really like rolling dice for their stats. I can sometimes be one of them. It is, if nothing else, rather a nostalgic feeling. Some come to the table without a developed character concept, and wants to be inspired by what they roll. And its fun to see the odd fighter with Cha 12.

Yet random ability generation comes with a heap of problem, which is aggravated by the amount of investment of effort and time that goes into each character in a game like Pathfinder (The crazy-random Life Board method Operation: Fallen Reich isn't a problem, because the PC ain't expected to last 2 sessions).

The Justisaur's 27-25-23 Ability Score Generation makes it possible to get a bit of that inspiration or old-school feel , but generates well-rounded characters. The only other way (apart from some other crazy-complicated random method) to please everyone is to use different methods for different players. Except that will hurt peoples feelings, too.

Sure, it's not easy to learn and use, but it's complicated at the right part of the campaign. Taking some extra time and even frustration at character creation is well worth it, if it gives you a good time later.


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How I like to do it is 4d6, drop the lowest. If someone is unlucky, have them reroll a new spread of stats until they get an array they like. If they're still unsatisfied, you can have them reroll ones and twos, and/or volunteer someone else to roll for them if it makes them feel better. If all else fails, you can give them a point buy of 5-10 to give their under 10 ability scores a bit of a boost. Granted this will probably result in op characters, but I think it's much better to have op characters than weak ones. Especially if you're running a home brew game. Because then you can make the encounter as hard as you want.


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Luckily I never had the displeasure of rolling for stats. We always had either an array or pointbuy.


Scythia wrote:
I would suggest 4d6, drop lowest (reroll 1s if you want to be extra nice). Write each set of six scores on a piece of paper, then let every player choose which set of rolls they want to use. That prevents the lucky/unlucky roll disparity.

I wouldn't go with reroll 1s. Unless you're really looking for high stats. There's little need to reroll 1s to mitigate bad stats, since you're rolling a bunch of arrays anyway and you can just ignore the bad ones.

Other than that little bit of caution, this is my favorite approach these days. A bit of randomness, keeps me from obsessing over whether moving one more poitn in point buy around, but it eliminates the power disparity of most random methods.


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I am thinking or trying 3d6 in order, 1=3 and 2=4. For a little game where the players are ex-henchmen. So I want few bad stats, but not too many great stats.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Philo Pharynx wrote:
I wrote:
I prefer rolling, but I think it's worth checking first that everyone is happy to risk being 'the sidekick'.
If I'm going to make the sidekick, it's because I wanted to design a support character.

If you were at my table, I'd put you down as "not happy to risk being the sidekick" and would suggest we not roll.


DrDeth wrote:
I am thinking or trying 3d6 in order, 1=3 and 2=4. For a little game where the players are ex-henchmen. So I want few bad stats, but not too many great stats.

If the goal is to reduce bad stats, I much prefer something like that, rather than a "reroll 1s" or "rerolls 1s & 2s". Those masquerade as avoiding bad stats, but are really just one more shot at good ones.

That said:
Str: 3d6 ⇒ (4, 5, 3) = 12
Dex: 3d6 ⇒ (3, 5, 5) = 13
Con: 3d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 3) = 11
Int: 3d6 ⇒ (4, 5, 4) = 13
Wis: 3d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 4) = 14
Cha: 3d6 ⇒ (4, 6, 3) = 13

Well, that's pretty damn average. Amusingly, not a single 1 or 2, so your boost doesn't help at all.


thejeff wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
I am thinking or trying 3d6 in order, 1=3 and 2=4. For a little game where the players are ex-henchmen. So I want few bad stats, but not too many great stats.

If the goal is to reduce bad stats, I much prefer something like that, rather than a "reroll 1s" or "rerolls 1s & 2s". Those masquerade as avoiding bad stats, but are really just one more shot at good ones.

That said:
[dice=Str]3d6
[dice=Dex]3d6
[dice=Con]3d6
[dice=Int]3d6
[dice=Wis]3d6
[dice=Cha]3d6

Well, that's pretty damn average. Amusingly, not a single 1 or 2, so your boost doesn't help at all.

I got a average of 13.5, when I tried it several times. You know straight 14's can be fun, I did it once.

Silver Crusade

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DrDeth wrote:
thejeff wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
I am thinking or trying 3d6 in order, 1=3 and 2=4. For a little game where the players are ex-henchmen. So I want few bad stats, but not too many great stats.

If the goal is to reduce bad stats, I much prefer something like that, rather than a "reroll 1s" or "rerolls 1s & 2s". Those masquerade as avoiding bad stats, but are really just one more shot at good ones.

That said:
[dice=Str]3d6
[dice=Dex]3d6
[dice=Con]3d6
[dice=Int]3d6
[dice=Wis]3d6
[dice=Cha]3d6

Well, that's pretty damn average. Amusingly, not a single 1 or 2, so your boost doesn't help at all.

I got a average of 13.5, when I tried it several times. You know straight 14's can be fun, I did it once.

For some classes, straight 14s (with a race adjustment) would be pretty good.

Halfling Archer bard for example. Sensible, solid class/race mix, very useful, decent power. Str 12, Dex 16, con 14, int 14, wis 14, cha 16.

That's very playable indeed. Or tanky dwarf Cleric. Or zippy elf Magus. Or a Paladin with impenetrable saves.

Silver Crusade

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Anyway, I'll play this game. 3d6 in order, 1=3, 2=4.

Str: 3d6 ⇒ (5, 2, 2) = 9
Dex: 3d6 ⇒ (2, 2, 6) = 10
Con: 3d6 ⇒ (1, 6, 4) = 11
Int: 3d6 ⇒ (3, 6, 3) = 12
Wis: 3d6 ⇒ (3, 3, 3) = 9
Cha: 3d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 5) = 15

so, Str 13, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 9, Cha 15

There are plenty of Dex/Cha races so I rolled fairly lucky. Decent Bard or something.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The last time I rolled in a real game, my first 6 rolls were 2 18s, 2 17s, a 15 and a 10 (4, keep best 3). 5 of 6 players and the DM watched me roll, the only one to ignore us wanted to bet that I would out roll EVERYBODY (I did). One of the 18s would have been a 17 taking worst and I can't remember anything under a trio of 3s on the 10.


Kitty Catoblepas wrote:

I do like your suggestion about dump stat variance. You could probably define most point arrays as:

Important, Important, Don't Dump, Don't Dump, Don't Care, Don't Care

-something like-

17, 16, 1d6+11, 1d6+9, 1d10+7, 1d10+7
-or-
17 16 1d4+11 1d6+9 1d12+6 1d12+6

Hey Kitty (can I call you Kitty?) that is the essence of the Dice Point method which combines the control of the Point Buy method with the variety of rolling!

For this method each player gets four dice points to distribute among their abilities. They can apply no more than three points to any single ability. Afterward they roll for each ability according to the number of points they spent on it: 3 points = 18, 2 points = 1d4+14, 1 point = 1d4+1d6+8, 0 points = 1d4+1d6+1d8.

This allows enough control for players to get the scores they need but also maintains enough randomness to avoid predictable ability score arrays. Plus it completely removes the ability to dump scores—something I really like about it.

Some methods are accused of being overly complex but when you think about it, the Point Buy method is pretty complex itself.


Orville Redenbacher wrote:

I second or third or whatever just using an array.

16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 Is what I like.

Or you could do the "smart" thing, and just roll 18 times until you get what you like :)

Or you may have 16 14 14 10 10 10. Although this would be better for full casters.


There are a whole lot of feats with "13 in a stat" as a prerequisite. I would make sure there's at least one 13 in whatever array is handed out.

Plus, when you give people odd numbers the attribute point they get at level 4, 8 etc. is a lot more meaningful.


Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Philo Pharynx wrote:
What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Now that's a very good point.

Along those lines...

What is the point of using a point buy for balance if stats don't mean the same for every class?

What's the point of assigning a point buy if you can dump meaningless stats for more points?

1) Stats don't mean the same thing to different character concepts, even for the same class (ranged fighter vs melee fighter, for instance). The players choose which stats are important to them as part of defining their character concept (provided they have any choice at all over stats - thinking of 3d6 in order, there).

2) Those stats are only meaningless because the player doesn't care about them (a choice already shown in their class/race choice). The whole point of point buy is to make choices about which stats are important (and how much) for the character you're creating, and that includes dumping.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow! Lots of ideas in this thread!

If your players don't like point buy (which I can understand) then my suggestion is to keep things simple. Many of the methods suggested here just seem too baroque and complex for my tastes, and wouldn't suit my players either.

Someone upthread suggested having everybody roll 4d6 (drop lowest) and putting the subsequent array on paper. Then, everybody gets to choose the array they like best. Odds are you'll be faced with the equivalent of much higher than a 25-point buy, but as long as everybody is having fun, hey, that works. And it avoids the pitfall of bad feelings between the guy who got really lucky rolls and the guy whose highest stat is a 13. Which I have been on the bad end of before. It really sucks when you get stuck with Mr Mediocre for the next 3 years of the campaign.

Back in the mid-70s, we rolled 3d6 six times in order, and only selected our class (and race) after seeing our stats. It could suck to roll low, and some guys did have suspiciously high stats, compared to the others. But we played so much - like 5 or 6 nights a week - that even if you had a suboptimal character, you weren't stuck with it forever. These days, we're lucky to get in one 6 or 7-hour session a month. So be sure to use a method that all the players are happy with.

Either:

- 4d6 (drop lowest) and choose, or
- 4d6 (drop lowest) and opt for a pre-set stat array or point buy if you get crappy rolls.


Khudzlin wrote:
Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Philo Pharynx wrote:
What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Now that's a very good point.

Along those lines...

What is the point of using a point buy for balance if stats don't mean the same for every class?

What's the point of assigning a point buy if you can dump meaningless stats for more points?

1) Stats don't mean the same thing to different character concepts, even for the same class (ranged fighter vs melee fighter, for instance). The players choose which stats are important to them as part of defining their character concept (provided they have any choice at all over stats - thinking of 3d6 in order, there).

2) Those stats are only meaningless because the player doesn't care about them (a choice already shown in their class/race choice). The whole point of point buy is to make choices about which stats are important (and how much) for the character you're creating, and that includes dumping.

That's the point I was making and the overall point of the thread. If you're a Fighter, for example, a 16 Charisma isn't worth the same 10 points that a 16 Strength is. For that matter, a 10 Charisma is worth about the same as a 7 Charisma or a 17 Charisma. On top of that, a player who wants to play a charming, devil-may-care mercenary has to miss out of a prime stat-dump as well as burn points into a stat that isn't going to increase his power level.

Even though "balance" and "customization" are major perceived benefits of the point buy system, a 17 14 16 7 10 7 fighter is measured equal to a 14 14 14 10 10 14 fighter.

That's why I say that point buy discourages "flavor choices" and encourages "power choices." That's also why I say that not all stats should be weighted the same for every class/build and that "stat dumps" just circumvent the intended power limit (that is to say, a fighter built on a 20 point buy with dumping allowed is roughly equal to a fighter built on a 28 point buy with no dumping allowed).


Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Kitty Catoblepas wrote:

I do like your suggestion about dump stat variance. You could probably define most point arrays as:

Important, Important, Don't Dump, Don't Dump, Don't Care, Don't Care

-something like-

17, 16, 1d6+11, 1d6+9, 1d10+7, 1d10+7
-or-
17 16 1d4+11 1d6+9 1d12+6 1d12+6

Hey Kitty (can I call you Kitty?) that is the essence of the Dice Point method which combines the control of the Point Buy method with the variety of rolling!

For this method each player gets four dice points to distribute among their abilities. They can apply no more than three points to any single ability. Afterward they roll for each ability according to the number of points they spent on it: 3 points = 18, 2 points = 1d4+14, 1 point = 1d4+1d6+8, 0 points = 1d4+1d6+1d8.

This allows enough control for players to get the scores they need but also maintains enough randomness to avoid predictable ability score arrays. Plus it completely removes the ability to dump scores—something I really like about it.

Some methods are accused of being overly complex but when you think about it, the Point Buy method is pretty complex itself.

Ouch, I'm a Monk!

Strength: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (4) + (4) + 8 = 16
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (4) + (6) + 8 = 18
Constitution: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (4) + (2) + 8 = 14
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (6) + (7) = 14
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (3) + (6) + 8 = 17
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (6) + (1) = 8

Ouch, I'm a Paladin!
Strength: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (3) + (6) + 8 = 17
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (4) + (2) + 8 = 14
Constitution: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (3) + (4) + 8 = 15
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (4) + (5) = 13
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (6) + (2) = 12
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (2) + (3) + 8 = 13

Meh, I'm a Wizard
Strength: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (2) + (3) + (1) = 6
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (1) + (1) = 6
Constitution: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (4) + (6) + 8 = 18
Intelligence: 18 = 18
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (2) + (4) + (6) = 12
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (2) + (3) + (8) = 13

Meh, I'm a Fighter
Strength: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (4) + 14 = 18
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (3) + (4) + 8 = 15
Constitution: 1d4 + 1d6 + 8 ⇒ (1) + (4) + 8 = 13
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (6) + (2) = 9
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (1) + (5) = 10
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (2) + (4) + (5) = 11

Just randomly rolling. Let's see how it works out.


So, do you think 4 dice points is too much or not enough? Would 3 or 5 dice points be better?


I will make a Barbarian using 4 dice points.

Strength: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (4) + 14 = 18
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (5) + (7) = 13
Constitution: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (4) + 14 = 18
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (3) + (5) + (2) = 10
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (4) + (5) = 10
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (2) + (7) = 13


Two more barbarous friends.

Strength: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (2) + 14 = 16
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (5) + (4) = 10
Constitution: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (2) + 14 = 16
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (2) + (6) + (3) = 11
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (2) + (1) = 7
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (4) + (3) + (5) = 12

and

Strength: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17
Dexterity: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (3) + (2) + (1) = 6
Constitution: 1d4 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17
Intelligence: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (2) + (6) = 9
Wisdom: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (3) + (1) + (6) = 10
Charisma: 1d4 + 1d6 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) + (1) + (6) = 8


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Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Philo Pharynx wrote:
What is the point of using a random method if you use crazy complicated ways to make them less random?

Now that's a very good point.

Along those lines...

What is the point of using a point buy for balance if stats don't mean the same for every class?

What's the point of assigning a point buy if you can dump meaningless stats for more points?

What we're converging on is developing an array that is considered sufficient or acceptable tailored for class and purpose.

Stats don't have to mean the same for every class. Every class has stats that are important for them. Point Buy gives everyone an even budget for them to allocate their stats as they see fit. Since the higher stat values are priced exponentially, SAD characters are balanced vs MAD ones.

Stat dumping is something that occurs just as much for rolled stats as they do for point buy, unless you're doing the extreme dictatorial standard of "roll Xd6 in order". The player will assigned the worst number rolled to the stat that means the least to them.

Grand Lodge

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Gulthor wrote:

Seems like a good place for me to plug the attribute generation method I put together a couple weeks ago, especially considering that CotCT was the introduction of the Harrow Deck.

Your method was the first thing I thought about when I saw this thread title

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Our group (at my initiation, as the majority-time DM and mechanical expert) has moved over to point buy, but at a point-for-point basis as opposed to a scalar one, from base 8. (I.e. 18 => 10 points.) We did a fair bit with a 30-point, but have now moved to 36.

(On the basis it makes the SAD characters no better, but helps the MAD ones more and means there's a bit of room for non-critical "roleplaying" stat choice that otherwise no-one was going to make at the expense of optimisation-ones.)

I have also simply stopping rolling for hitpoints altogether and every has max.

We do, however, play in a mid-high optimistion environment.

I have even started to (to some extent) backwards apply points buy to Rolemaster. The first new party we had in nearly twenty years was generated by giving the PCs a total of +50 bonus to be distriubted among their stats.

(Partly, this was because the last party we generated rolled and after we'd had to adjust whole characters upward to match the top end of the party (whose high stats got higher) so ad to attempt to even keep a slightly balance, I'd decided we'd had enough.

That said, the PCs were made to roll and keep their background options (and not have the "roll until we get something we like" we'd also used previously); but if they didn't like it, they could replace it with another +5 bonus. That still gave us a bit of organic spread and stopped some of the worst insane bonuses the previous party suffers from. (E.g. characters with +50-60 stat bonuses, which is like having stats of 32-34 only worse...))


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I don't really have an issue with dump stats per say, characters having flaws is good in my book. Though the payoff for taking a 7 is too high and the predictability of the dump is a little stale. I don't really get why some seem to think characters should not have any bad stats.


It depends on how strong I want the campaign.

If you are wanting everyone to be on equal footing with the same scores, but still roll, there is an option I utilize.

When rolling for scores, each player gets to roll one set of dice for one stat (which can be assigned as players want). If there are only 4 players, I'll roll twice as the GM. IF there are 7 players, we'll roll 7 times, and drop the lowest roll.

I also have rolls dependant on how powerful I want the first level characters to be. If I want a relatively low powered campaign, it is roll 3d6.

So, in the above method, if I had 8 players, each would roll 3d6. Let's say each rolled the following.

4, 8, 11, 9, 12, 10, 13, 7.

We'd drop the 4, and each player would have an array of, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, and 7.

Now 3d6 typically gives scores that are even lower than what people with low point buy might be comfortable with.

In that instance, if we want more normal scores, we'll go with 4d6.

HOWEVER, if I want them to stand a chance of having some really great scores I'll go with the 5d6 method that I originally used in 3e.

That seems to give them an excellent opportunity to have high powered stats, but at the same time still gives a chance for a bad roll.

Anyways, if one wants to roll, but have everyone where they have the same opportunity, I like doing the group rolling for a set array that everyone uses. Gives them the chances to roll better than a point buy might give them, but also at the same time there's that chance it will be worse.

I should add, there are variations to this idea of a set group array.

For example, if I want to lesson the chances of them rolling a bad character, we might divide the group in two and they each roll up an array. We then choose which ever one we feel is better as a group.

If we have TONS of time, and we are using the 3d6 method, because that method is the most likely to give you a broken character with rolls so low you'd never stand a chance, I'll let each player roll the 6 ability scores with 3d6 while I watch, and then we, as a group, choose which array to use.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


Stat dumping is something that occurs just as much for rolled stats as they do for point buy, unless you're doing the extreme dictatorial standard of "roll Xd6 in order". The player will assigned the worst number rolled to the stat that means the least to them.

Gonna have to disagree with that claim. Yes, a character is putting their lower rolled stats where they do less harm to their concept or power, but it's not dumping in the sense that you get a payoff for doing so like you do by taking the stat down and gaining points back to pay for boosting something else.


The predictability of the dump comes from stats being unequal, which is a problem with the game system, not with the point buy itself. The costs and refunds are based on modifiers: the cost to increase a stat by is equal to the modifier of the new stat (minimum 1), so 1 for up to 13, 2 for 14 or 15, 3 for 16 or 17, 4 for 18 and the refund to decrease a stat by 1 is also equal to the modifier of the new stat: -1 for 9 or 8, -2 for 7. It's (slightly) asymmetric because modifiers are.


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To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

I DO NOT ALLOW that EVER when we do point buy. That would tend to diminish the worth or even the reason to HAVE point buy in the first place...to me.

Then again, I normally don't use point buy, so it's really not a problem for me typically. HOWEVER...

If you think people are abusing the dump stat phenomena, then simply disallow it. The minimum score is 10, and though they can keep a score at 10, they can't decrease it to gain more points from it.

That would basically mean that they really don't have a set dump stat, but it may make it so what some see as a 10 point buy won't buy as much as it would if they allowed dump stats.


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That is exactly what stat dumping means. And it's an integral part of the point-buy system (choosing which stats are important for your character and which aren't). Notice that the system already sets a limit to stat dumping (the minimum for a stat in 7 in point-buy, compared to 3 when rolling). Also, increasing high stats costs more than increasing low stats, so you can't get crazy stats with the points you scrounged. In case you haven't noticed, absolutely no D&D ruleset puts the minimum for a stat at 10 for point-buy (it's 8 in 3.5, 4e and 5e).


GreyWolfLord wrote:
To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

That's not the usual definition of the term; a dump stat is just whatever stat you stick no resources/effort into. There would be way fewer unnecessary arguments on these boards if people could stick to the accepted definitions of common terms instead of constantly rewriting them to suit whatever agenda they're pushing.

And yeah, the bottom line is that people are going to put low scores in the stats that don't matter to their characters as long as they have any control over the process. If it's rolls, they'll put the lowest roll in their dump stat. If it's point buy, they'll put zero points (or take negative points) in said dump stat.

Changing the minimum just means they'll dump their stats less, and players have one less trick to get the most out of their point buy. 90% of Fighters would just have 10 charisma instead of 7, and slightly lower scores elsewhere; nothing else changes.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


Stats don't have to mean the same for every class. Every class has stats that are important for them. Point Buy gives everyone an even budget for them to allocate their stats as they see fit. Since the higher stat values are priced exponentially, SAD characters are balanced vs MAD ones.

You're claiming that SAD classes and MAD classes are balanced because MAD classes have lower attributes on an even point buy? That's the actual definition of SAD/MAD imbalance and one of the major drawbacks of point buy.

Quote:


Stat dumping is something that occurs just as much for rolled stats as they do for point buy, unless you're doing the extreme dictatorial standard of "roll Xd6 in order". The player will assigned the worst number rolled to the stat that means the least to them.

I agree with you about that. "Roll xd6, arrange" does nothing to address the problem of limited utility stats. "Roll xd6 in order" actually does address the problem (in a manner), but it's such an unforgiving method that people have created a plethora of ways to get it to perform right.

Here's what I'm getting at.
Consider three methods of point buy:

a) 20-point buy, dumping allowed
b) 28-point buy, dumping not allowed
c) 28-point buy, dumping not allowed, half-cost dump stats, player wants charisma for "flavor"
d) 20-point buy, dumping allowed, player wants charisma for "flavor"

Wizard
a) S7 D16 C14 I17 W10 C7
b) S10 D16 C14 I17 W10 C10
c) S10 D16 C14 I16 W10 C14
d) S7 D14 C14 I16 W9 C14

Fighter
a) S17 D14 C16 I7 W10 C7
b) S17 D14 C16 I10 W10 C10
c) S16 D14 C16 I10 W10 C14
d) S16 D14 C14 I7 W9 C14

In my opinion, methods a, b, and c all have similar power levels. The flavor choice of method d puts it at a significant disadvantage, basically equivalent in power to an 11-point dump-buy. With a game balanced towards a 20-point dump-buy (and the assumption that point buy is a necessary power limiter), that's a potential problem. That's why I'm starting to see the benefits of methods like b and c.

"Dump Stats" in method c for clarity:

* A "Dump Stat" is one or two attributes that class abilities do not depend on.
* A "Dump Stat" is never Dexterity, Constitution, or Wisdom.

Dump Stats:

A few dump stats:
Barbarian = Intelligence, Charisma
Bard = Strength
Cleric = Intelligence
Druid = Intelligence, Charisma
Fighter = Intelligence, Charisma
Monk = Intelligence, Charisma
Paladin = Intelligence
Ranger = Intelligence, Charisma
Rogue = Strength, Charisma
Sorcerer = Strength, Intelligence
Wizard = Strength, Charisma

half-price cost chart
12 -- 1 point
13 -- 2 points
14 -- 3 points
15 -- 4 points
16 -- 5 points


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Kitty Catoblepas wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


Stats don't have to mean the same for every class. Every class has stats that are important for them. Point Buy gives everyone an even budget for them to allocate their stats as they see fit. Since the higher stat values are priced exponentially, SAD characters are balanced vs MAD ones.
You're claiming that SAD classes and MAD classes are balanced because MAD classes have lower attributes on an even point buy? That's the actual definition of SAD/MAD imbalance and one of the major drawbacks of point buy.

No, the claim is that point buy helps balance SAD and MAD classes because the cost of individual high stats increases exponentially, so getting one really high stat is as expensive as two moderately high stats. In PF, you can buy a 16 and a 15 for the cost of a single 18.

If anything, the cost doesn't go up fast enough to balance SAD classes.

Now, if you want your MAD classes to have multiple stats at the same high level as the SAD class's highest, that's not really a problem that can be solved with any point buy scheme. Nor does rolling fix it, other than by chance determining what class to play - holding off on the MAD classes until you have multiple 18s or some such.


Goblin_Priest wrote:
I don't really have an issue with dump stats per say, characters having flaws is good in my book. Though the payoff for taking a 7 is too high and the predictability of the dump is a little stale. I don't really get why some seem to think characters should not have any bad stats.

Sure. But there shouldnt be any points back. It should all be RP stuff.


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Bill Dunn wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


Stat dumping is something that occurs just as much for rolled stats as they do for point buy, unless you're doing the extreme dictatorial standard of "roll Xd6 in order". The player will assigned the worst number rolled to the stat that means the least to them.

Gonna have to disagree with that claim. Yes, a character is putting their lower rolled stats where they do less harm to their concept or power, but it's not dumping in the sense that you get a payoff for doing so like you do by taking the stat down and gaining points back to pay for boosting something else.

Right. And it reduces the worst optimizing. (Optimizing is not always bad by any means, but when it is done at the expense of the rest of the party, it is not good.)


Chengar Qordath wrote:
GreyWolfLord wrote:
To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

That's not the usual definition of the term; a dump stat is just whatever stat you stick no resources/effort into. There would be way fewer unnecessary arguments on these boards if people could stick to the accepted definitions of common terms instead of constantly rewriting them to suit whatever agenda they're pushing.

I disagree. Now that point buy has become the default, and PF significantly rewards dumping stats below 10, now here in PF "dump stat" means the stat you have reduced the score in. A 10, where you didnt buy or reduce is no longer a "dump stat".


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GreyWolfLord wrote:
To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

Indeed, 100% of my problems with how Pathfinder does Point Buy is the phenomenon of "My Str is 7 and my Cha is 5 so I can have an INT of 20" not "I put my most valuable resources in the most important stat".

If the math for PF's system didn't allow "bonus points" for stats below 10, I'd like it a lot more, but if you changed it suddenly a lot of people would be upset because they can't get the stats they want/are accustomed to without putting the stats they don't intend to use as low as possible.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
GreyWolfLord wrote:
To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

Indeed, 100% of my problems with how Pathfinder does Point Buy is the phenomenon of "My Str is 7 and my Cha is 5 so I can have an INT of 20" not "I put my most valuable resources in the most important stat".

If the math for PF's system didn't allow "bonus points" for stats below 10, I'd like it a lot more, but if you changed it suddenly a lot of people would be upset because they can't get the stats they want/are accustomed to without putting the stats they don't intend to use as low as possible.

if you made it so people couldnt get points from "dumping" a stat you would have to reduce the ammount of points getting a higher stat needs to compensate like an 18 in a stat only costing 13-14 points instead of 17 because the normal point buy takes into acount the fact that people can lower other stats for more points thus increasing the cost of the higher stats.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
GreyWolfLord wrote:
To clarify, when people talk about stat dumping are they discussing REDUCING an ability score in order to gain MORE points than what they were given for point buy (aka, you reduce one score to 3 so you gain the points because you gain them from reducing that one so much).

Indeed, 100% of my problems with how Pathfinder does Point Buy is the phenomenon of "My Str is 7 and my Cha is 5 so I can have an INT of 20" not "I put my most valuable resources in the most important stat".

If the math for PF's system didn't allow "bonus points" for stats below 10, I'd like it a lot more, but if you changed it suddenly a lot of people would be upset because they can't get the stats they want/are accustomed to without putting the stats they don't intend to use as low as possible.

I've never built my characters that way for PFS. I've kept my Charismas to at least 10 so that I'm not penalised on social rolls, my str to 12 to handle encumbrance, and usually an Int to 12 for skills.

Min-maxers will do what min-maxers will do. I don't believe that we should design game rules on the predication that every gamer is a min-maxing cheese weasel.


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DrDeth wrote:
Goblin_Priest wrote:
I don't really have an issue with dump stats per say, characters having flaws is good in my book. Though the payoff for taking a 7 is too high and the predictability of the dump is a little stale. I don't really get why some seem to think characters should not have any bad stats.

Sure. But there shouldnt be any points back. It should all be RP stuff.

Why? That's like saying they can buy 18s but the modifier caps at +3, the rest is just RP stuff. 12 costs 2 more points than 10 I don't see why 8 shouldn't cost 2 less than 10. Negative modifiers are fully legitimate. Just ban 7s or turn them into +3 points if you think its too cheesy as is, or limit how many negatives players can take. I take negatives when I make PCs and I expect most of my players to do the same when I DM.

Also, what weird rules dictate what people can dump or not...? I've made a human Ranger with 7 wis in point buy. The dude was awesome, punching grizzlies in the face while grappled, grappling a big bad for his nemesis PC to hit him, and source of our recurring "I've got +2 to cook human" (favored enemy). Didn't play him much but he was lots of fun. Wasn't even a spell less archetype, I just don't ever remember casting a single Ranger spell since 3.0.

Some people are just overly phobic of that minus sign. 7 is to 10 what 10 is to 14. An 8 isn't really much worse than a 10. With a rank in a class skill that's still a +3 on a check , so you just need a 7 for basic tasks and a 12 on most. The odds of a 8 charisma character getting better checks than a 14 cha character on any one given roll are fairly good, even if the 14 cha dude will perform better on average. Starting stats really just give a tiny fraction of what characters end up with.


Goblin_Priest:

The only rule that dictates what is and what isn't a dump stat is the rule of utility. Constitution, wisdom, and dexterity are always useful and a penalty to them always hurts. Strength, intelligence, and charisma are situationally useful. A penalty to them can often be ignored or overcome.

@Everyone else:

If you eliminate bonus points from dumping, you're basically playing with 4-8 points fewer than the point buy would suggest. If stats are really that meaningful, it could really affect encounter difficulty.


It depends on your group... and most of all on you as a GM.

I would suggest one and only one caveat with rolled stats: All stats are rolled at the table and in front of the GM at minimum, and the entire group by preference. Rerolls are only permitted with full consensus of all players and the GM.

Otherwise, whether you do 3d6, 4d6 drop lowest, 5d6 drop 2 lowest (I've played in a game with this) or 2d6+6, depends entirely on how powerful you want characters to probably be.

Personally... I really don't like having rolled stats, both as a player and GM:

  • I find having the power level of a character arbitrarily determined at the start of a game (there is a vast gulf between a character with four stats over 16 and one with no stat over 13) to be generally not conducive to character (and character-focused narrative) continuity or enjoyment of the game.
  • I find that rolling the dice away from the table, or not under supervision leads invariably to some "amazingly lucky" rolls, at almost every game I've seen. I dislike any mechanic or system that promotes dishonesty.
  • Because as both a player and GM I prefer that PCs are crafted carefully and with investment, with the intent of that character being played through the entire campaign. My experience with ability score lottery is that it tends not to promote the style of game I prefer.
  • Because point buy is really, really not that complicated.
  • And because I do not consider "Arbitrary and Random" to be "Fair".


  • Bill Dunn wrote:
    Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


    Stat dumping is something that occurs just as much for rolled stats as they do for point buy, unless you're doing the extreme dictatorial standard of "roll Xd6 in order". The player will assigned the worst number rolled to the stat that means the least to them.

    Gonna have to disagree with that claim. Yes, a character is putting their lower rolled stats where they do less harm to their concept or power, but it's not dumping in the sense that you get a payoff for doing so like you do by taking the stat down and gaining points back to pay for boosting something else.

    That is a distinction without a difference.

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