Generating Ability Score Methods - Which is the best option?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Jader7777 wrote:
Raynulf wrote:

A lot of this is about game style.

In a more narrative game style where character plot is heavily interwoven into the main story line of the game, the characters at the start of session 1 are expected to be the characters at the end of session 80.

Let's be totally honest about this hobby, how many 80 sessions heavily plot interwoven campaigns are you, and to a lesser extent the typical player in?

GM'd three to date, played in two.

Jader7777 wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'll agree with the first one, but that's it. That's why we use calculators.
I bet its right alongside your protractor for vertical distance measurement along with your excel sheet of encumbrance listings.

No protractor needed for vertical distance measurement, any more than it is needed for horizontal distance measurement :)

As for encumbrance? Yeah, if I want to calculate that, I use a spreadsheet... but frankly the reason I use spreadsheets is actually to handle buffs in big parties, as things get really silly, really fast. Especially if there are bards. That being said, we normally ignore encumbrance after a couple of levels as ant haul, handy haversacks and muleback cords inevitably appear across the party to render the subject moot except in the outside cases of "Can I tow this sailing ship by myself?" and such.


Raynulf wrote:
Jader7777 wrote:
Raynulf wrote:

A lot of this is about game style.

In a more narrative game style where character plot is heavily interwoven into the main story line of the game, the characters at the start of session 1 are expected to be the characters at the end of session 80.

Let's be totally honest about this hobby, how many 80 sessions heavily plot interwoven campaigns are you, and to a lesser extent the typical player in?
GM'd three to date, played in two.

All my games, both run and played, are plot-focused. I don't think I've ever played a game that wasn't.

Here is a more important question. How often do you kill PC's? How cut-throat are your games? Are your players expected to bring multiple character sheets to each session because the rogue stubbed his toe on a door-wedge and released the vat of molten lava onto the entire party, killing them instantly?

If that is the kind of games you are playing, I would assume low stats would make the game more interesting if anything due to the extreme character turnover. Otherwise, I would detest playing more than a session with an absolute loser of a character, and this isn't just from speculation, I've actually played a s*#~ stats character for a fairly decent chunk of a campaign while everyone else rolled incredible. It was a huge drag and the only saving grace was that I went caster. (Can't go wrong with caster with s!%! stats)

Didn't die once though. Always found a way around my s@&* stats. Usually by letting the superheroes die. So I suppose that's what I get for 'risk aversion'.

Grand Lodge

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I don't set up my players to die, the dice does. :)

Crits against you while you're prone
Nat 1 on a save
Fizzling spells
Didn't spot that trap
Ate those weird berries no one checked
"I reach into the devil statues mouth"

This is the game, how it works. How we bait our breath and cry our triumph.

If I evened it out I'd say 1 death every 3 sessions. There are those TPKs though, mostly involving splitting the party while being chased by ghouls.

Sounds like you enjoyed playing that low stat character. Stats are of course abitrary, once you survive a dragon encounter with your nothing above 14 fighter you feel so much more attached to their legend.


Jader7777 wrote:

I don't set up my players to die, the dice does. :)

Crits against you while you're prone
Nat 1 on a save
Fizzling spells
Didn't spot that trap
Ate those weird berries no one checked
"I reach into the devil statues mouth"

This is the game, how it works. How we bait our breath and cry our triumph.

If I evened it out I'd say 1 death every 3 sessions. There are those TPKs though, mostly involving splitting the party while being chased by ghouls.

Conversely, over 17 years of playing and GMing in D&D (starting in 2nd edition), I've had two PCs die as a player (both caused by another PC, in fact) and 2 PC deaths as a GM. This is playing weekly, and sometimes twice weekly, with session times typically 6-12 hours long.

This is also the game, and how the game works.

That's the joy of tabletop; There are as many "correct" ways to play it as there are tables :)

PC Deaths:

My two PC deaths were fairly straight forward.
1) Playing a thief/mage in 2nd AD&D and in a party with a CN evoker, who figured casting fireball down the mineshaft half the party was in was a perfectly appropriate response to "I can hear kobolds".
2) Playing a more spec-ops themed game in Eberron (using a chip system that was hoardable, instead of action points), wherein the rogue/wizard thing insisted on opening the blatantly trapped sarcophagi as soon as the rest of the party's (who had ordered him to LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE) back was turned, and promptly triggered a symbol of death then made sure to dump the chips he had been hoarding for four rerolls and a +10 bonus to the final roll to make sure he passed, and the symbol went on to kill his two superior officers instead (both of whom had burned chips in the past to keep that specific character alive). Or in fewer words: Contrary player deliberately triggered trap on top of party.

That said, I've witnessed quite a few more than a few PC deaths over the years. Probably in the order of a dozen, all said and done. Never seen or been involved in a TPK first hand, though, even with several highly adversarial GMs in the mix.


I've lost 3 characters in about 14 years. As a GM I have not lost a lot of PCs and I never killed a PC because of bad luck. Mostly died because of awful decisions being informed of consequences and some in epic moments.


Look, Kitty, clearly you have issues with dumping that aren't shared by eveyone. If faced with a 5 str sorcerer that uses ant haul just to lift himself from his bed, enlarge person the moment a breeze comes up, and various other spells for the numberless events where his atrocious strength score makes him need a crutch, then I am entirely satisfied with that. His character has some weaknesses that he manages through other means. In my book, that's great. It's what I tend to do as a player and I would be hypocritical if I thought it wrongbadfun when it's my turn to GM. I like to run gritty games, characters having some stats that are average or below average lends to the atmosphere.

For racial modifiers, an easy way to get rid of the stereotypes of 1 race per class combo, more or less, is to convert the bonuses into floating bonuses. A +2 to str can become a +2 physical, for example. Gives way more flexibility withiut breaking anything imo.

As for 80 session games... we tend to play that style at our table nowadays. More around lvl1-20 40 sessions arcs though. I'm aiming 20-30 sessions or so for my e6 campaign. We mostly keep our characters for the whole time.


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Goblin_Priest wrote:
For racial modifiers, an easy way to get rid of the stereotypes of 1 race per class combo, more or less, is to convert the bonuses into floating bonuses. A +2 to str can become a +2 physical, for example. Gives way more flexibility withiut breaking anything imo.

Let's go over core races to be sure I get it:

- Dwarves (normally +2 CON, +2 WIS, -2CHA) would get +2 in any physical stat, +2 in any mental stat and -2 in any other mental stat
- Elves (normally +2 DEX, -2 CON, +2 INT) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat
- Gnomes (normally -2 STR, +2 CON, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves)
- Halflings (normally -2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves and gnomes)
- Half-elves, half-orcs and humans would still get +2 to any stat

Scarab Sages

As far as dice-rolling goes, I've figured out that the ideal formula is 1d12+6 - that results in a perfectly equal chance for any score 7 through 18, whereas rolling Xd6 has an annoying tendency to favor middling scores. DungeonmasterCal is, of course, absolutely right that PCs are, by definition, supposed to have at least above-average statistics, so accompany that with rolling multiple 'suites' of 6 and choosing your favorite.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
As far as dice-rolling goes, I've figured out that the ideal formula is 1d12+6 - that results in a perfectly equal chance for any score 7 through 18, whereas rolling Xd6 has an annoying tendency to favor middling scores. DungeonmasterCal is, of course, absolutely right that PCs are, by definition, supposed to have at least above-average statistics, so accompany that with rolling multiple 'suites' of 6 and choosing your favorite.

Except that both the standard rolling methods and point buy are aimed at "middling" scores deliberately. It costs more to go from 17 to 18 than from 11 to 12 for a reason. Very high stats are intended to be outliers.

I suspect your d12+6 method would wind up being very swingy - more characters with very high stats and more with very low stats. Rolling up multiple sets would alleviate that somewhat, but also push the high end up.

There is no "ideal formula". Or "best option". Because people want different things. Not just more or less powerful, but different tolerances for risk or for different power levels in the group or for fiddling with the numbers in point buy.


Favoring middling scores over extreme ones is a feature. The most likely score on 4d6 drop lowest is 13 (which is above average, since the average is defined as 10). Also, dropping the lowest favors high scores over low ones.


Khudzlin wrote:
Goblin_Priest wrote:
For racial modifiers, an easy way to get rid of the stereotypes of 1 race per class combo, more or less, is to convert the bonuses into floating bonuses. A +2 to str can become a +2 physical, for example. Gives way more flexibility withiut breaking anything imo.

Let's go over core races to be sure I get it:

- Dwarves (normally +2 CON, +2 WIS, -2CHA) would get +2 in any physical stat, +2 in any mental stat and -2 in any other mental stat
- Elves (normally +2 DEX, -2 CON, +2 INT) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat
- Gnomes (normally -2 STR, +2 CON, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves)
- Halflings (normally -2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves and gnomes)
- Half-elves, half-orcs and humans would still get +2 to any stat

That does seem much less convoluted than my own suggestion, so I agree. Though, that does mean that Orcs just...still get a -2 across their mental stats. And some high ability score races can end up juggling their stats into optimal places, like goblins. Oh god, imagine a +4 Strength goblin....

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
As far as dice-rolling goes, I've figured out that the ideal formula is 1d12+6 - that results in a perfectly equal chance for any score 7 through 18, whereas rolling Xd6 has an annoying tendency to favor middling scores. DungeonmasterCal is, of course, absolutely right that PCs are, by definition, supposed to have at least above-average statistics, so accompany that with rolling multiple 'suites' of 6 and choosing your favorite.

Is this formula for pure randomness? Because that is extraordinarily swingy. The generation was never to provide equal opportunity for ridiculously low and ridiculously high, but to curve out more to middling stats. It isn't a tendency, it is a deliberate design choice.


Yeah, it does start to get weird when you consider it... Though I would love it if floating bonuses weren't limited to humans and their half-breeds.


Khudzlin wrote:
Yeah, it does start to get weird when you consider it... Though I would love it if floating bonuses weren't limited to humans and their half-breeds.

So, just do it. Dump the race specific bonuses and give everyone a floating +2

Seems a little weird for some, since the bonuses/penalties often match the race's physique, but probably wouldn't really break anything. The halfling/gnome with a +2 str instead of a -4 might be a bit of a problem, but hey ...


Goblin_Priest wrote:

Look, Kitty, clearly you have issues with dumping that aren't shared by eveyone. If faced with a 5 str sorcerer that uses ant haul just to lift himself from his bed, enlarge person the moment a breeze comes up, and various other spells for the numberless events where his atrocious strength score makes him need a crutch, then I am entirely satisfied with that. His character has some weaknesses that he manages through other means. In my book, that's great. It's what I tend to do as a player and I would be hypocritical if I thought it wrongbadfun when it's my turn to GM. I like to run gritty games, characters having some stats that are average or below average lends to the atmosphere.

I've misunderstood what you were getting at, then. I thought you were advocating using punishing situations to prevent/discourage players from dumping stats (and wasn't convinced that it would work). Indeed, playing in a game where the weather's always a hurricane or where NPCs refuse to talk to anyone but the ugly, quiet loner would get tiresome pretty quickly.

My issue isn't that dumping stats is wrong. My issue is that with Point Buy, putting points into what would typically be your dump stat puts you at a significant disadvantage (a 14 charisma for a Wizard has a net cost of 9 points). I thought a good solution to that was to make stat dumps unnecessary, but if groups (such as yours) have fun with their point dumps, then a point buy method would have to allow (and not discourage) stat dumps without punishing players for not stat dumping (or actually increasing their dump stats).

That seems like a challenging design.


Khudzlin wrote:
Goblin_Priest wrote:
For racial modifiers, an easy way to get rid of the stereotypes of 1 race per class combo, more or less, is to convert the bonuses into floating bonuses. A +2 to str can become a +2 physical, for example. Gives way more flexibility withiut breaking anything imo.

Let's go over core races to be sure I get it:

- Dwarves (normally +2 CON, +2 WIS, -2CHA) would get +2 in any physical stat, +2 in any mental stat and -2 in any other mental stat
- Elves (normally +2 DEX, -2 CON, +2 INT) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat
- Gnomes (normally -2 STR, +2 CON, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves)
- Halflings (normally -2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CHA) would get +2 in any mental stat, +2 in any physical stat and -2 in any other physical stat (just like elves and gnomes)
- Half-elves, half-orcs and humans would still get +2 to any stat

Yes, pretty much. I allow players to cancel a +2 and a -2 on the same stat, but not to combine two +2s into a +4.

I don't allow any races that grants a +4, so I didn't put much thought into this, but breaking it into two +2s, one of which needs to be the original stat but not the other +2 (and allowing stacking) might be an option. I don't really like the idea of +4 to stats to begin with though and would probably change it to +2s with no stacking potential.


thejeff wrote:
Khudzlin wrote:
Yeah, it does start to get weird when you consider it... Though I would love it if floating bonuses weren't limited to humans and their half-breeds.

So, just do it. Dump the race specific bonuses and give everyone a floating +2

Seems a little weird for some, since the bonuses/penalties often match the race's physique, but probably wouldn't really break anything. The halfling/gnome with a +2 str instead of a -4 might be a bit of a problem, but hey ...

Yea, honestly, I don't think even that would be a problem, though I haven't tested it. Small characters already get penalties on CMB, lower damage dice, and so a few other restrictions to penalize them. Would a halfling with a +2 racial in str suddenly become a considerably better two-handed barbarian than a human with the same build? Doubt it. Throws some "realism" out the window, but opens up a considerable amount of race/class combinations that simply wouldn't have been very viable otherwise.

Kitty Catoblepas wrote:

I've misunderstood what you were getting at, then. I thought you were advocating using punishing situations to prevent/discourage players from dumping stats (and wasn't convinced that it would work). Indeed, playing in a game where the weather's always a hurricane or where NPCs refuse to talk to anyone but the ugly, quiet loner would get tiresome pretty quickly.

My issue isn't that dumping stats is wrong. My issue is that with Point Buy, putting points into what would typically be your dump stat puts you at a significant disadvantage (a 14 charisma for a Wizard has a net cost of 9 points). I thought a good solution to that was to make stat dumps unnecessary, but if groups (such as yours) have fun with their point dumps, then a point buy method would have to allow (and not discourage) stat dumps without punishing players for not stat dumping (or actually increasing their dump stats).

That seems like a challenging design.

I believe in varying game modifiers and challenges as much as possible, as a GM. My players are all combat-oriented more than RP oriented, but I still try to pick a few random skill or ability-based challenges every session. IMO, the game was probably balanced around this, and a lot of common complaints I see on the forums just don't seem applicable, thus far, to my games because of it. I mean, take the rogue. Everyone hates it. Heck, I hate it, I've played it myself, and it sucked. Maybe because there were almost no skill-based challenges... the rogue's PC in the game I'm running is consistently a badass, even when I don't design situations specifically to highlight his skills. And that's despite the most mediocre array possible and being drafted by a non-optimizer.

And by random, I don't necessarily mean that I roll from a table, though I might in the future, but rather that I don't seek to specifically penalize certain players. I used 1 hurricane-like session so far (no small characters in the party), and no situation where everyone needs to do a cha check yet (the one example I think of was under a different GM, who doesn't routinely call for such checks and this case it was wholly justified). So indeed, we could have misunderstood each other. By "having them do cha checks to prevent the dump from having zero cost", I didn't mean to imply every single session. Once in a while, maybe 4-6 sessions, is likely more than enough. It should make sense, though.

All attribute systems have their flaws. If dumps yielded a lower reward, namely that 7, and high scores costed more, one could see more middling scores. Wouldn't be very interesting for everyone to just have 6 14s, though. Rolling offers the same effect as point buy as far as dumping goes, unless it's rolled in order.

I've never been a fan of rolling, but rolling in order, X+2 times (where X is the number of PCs) where everyone can pick any of the rolled arrays, is probably what I would go for. 3d6 (minimum 6) probably.


Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:

I threw in a low-powered but I doubt anyone actually uses low-powered point buy anyway. Unless you like playing commoners with swords, that is.

I see you've missed a couple of recent threads. :)


Goblin_Priest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Khudzlin wrote:
Yeah, it does start to get weird when you consider it... Though I would love it if floating bonuses weren't limited to humans and their half-breeds.

So, just do it. Dump the race specific bonuses and give everyone a floating +2

Seems a little weird for some, since the bonuses/penalties often match the race's physique, but probably wouldn't really break anything. The halfling/gnome with a +2 str instead of a -4 might be a bit of a problem, but hey ...

Yea, honestly, I don't think even that would be a problem, though I haven't tested it. Small characters already get penalties on CMB, lower damage dice, and so a few other restrictions to penalize them. Would a halfling with a +2 racial in str suddenly become a considerably better two-handed barbarian than a human with the same build? Doubt it. Throws some "realism" out the window, but opens up a considerable amount of race/class combinations that simply wouldn't have been very viable otherwise.

Mostly the "realism", but halflings are already possible and would become pretty nice even with the reduced weapon damage - don't forget the small size bonuses to attack and AC.

Then add in Risky Striker against a lot of targets. :)

Not game-breaking - they're not wizards - but pretty damn good.


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Back in my post in another thread, I wrote:

Quote:

Did some more spreadsheets with exhaustive stat selection.

3d6 average stat = 10.5
10 Point buy average stat = ~11.09
15 Point buy average stat = ~11.58
20 Point buy average stat = ~12.07
4d6 less one average stat = ~12.24
25 Point buy average stat = ~12.53

This is before racial modifiers.

/cevah


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:

I threw in a low-powered but I doubt anyone actually uses low-powered point buy anyway. Unless you like playing commoners with swords, that is.

I see you've missed a couple of recent threads. :)

I probably have, and may have even hidden it. I am not saying they can't, I'm just saying it seems a little pointless to me and might not be well balanced for the system or most AP's.


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I am very vocally opposed to point buy, as I've found its influence on game design to be a bit sad since everything is now being designed to be built around it, which other classes do not.

That said, I generally use heroic rolls, or 2d6+6. I'll have the players roll two sets and take the better of the two, and players can trade sets between each other if they think another player's set is better suited for a different role.

My players are not bound by the dice rolls, the characters are. If Sean rolled for a great wizard, but he wants to play something else, then the wizard player could trade stats with him etc.

I've also used 3d6, replace lowest with 6 for high powered games, I don't fear PCs with strong stats since they become less relevant at higher levels, if they were ever relevant at all for secondary, or tertiary abilities. I've found that players with better stats complain less and spend less effort on getting stat or big 6 items to hit minimum values they want on their characters, but I may be blessed with nice players (except Sean, he's kind of a d*ck).


master_marshmallow wrote:
I am very vocally opposed to point buy, as I've found its influence on game design to be a bit sad since everything is now being designed to be built around it, which other classes do not.

I can agree with this. Imma still gonna use PB anyways.


I've been playing for about 18 years, started in 2nd edition. Now we play everything from star wars to deadlands to a pathfinder/ 3.5 mash up. Played with 3 different groups over that time, once every two weeks or so and have never used a point buy. It's always been 4d6 drop the ones, recently I've taken more to letting the group pick their stats in reasonable array's-couple high's,couple med's and a couple low's. This has always seemed to work for us just fine. I think it really comes down to your group and how familiar you are with them. I didn't even look at their stats when we started this current campaign, I know them and what their about so it's not really an issue for us.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Cevah wrote:

Back in my post in another thread, I wrote:

Quote:

Did some more spreadsheets with exhaustive stat selection.

3d6 average stat = 10.5
10 Point buy average stat = ~11.09
15 Point buy average stat = ~11.58
20 Point buy average stat = ~12.07
4d6 less one average stat = ~12.24
25 Point buy average stat = ~12.53

This is before racial modifiers.

/cevah

Copied into my tome of things I really should know after 4 decades. You wouldn't have done calculations on any of the other rolling conventions out there, would you?

I run with 20 pts now, but you pay for unusual or more powerful races and get 1 point each level to buy stats rather than a +1 every 4 levels. I really doesn't phase Single Attribute builds, but helps the Multiple Attribute builds bring up scores they need later. My players did the rending and ashes bit at first, but all 3 games spawned by mine since have cloned the system. The GMs all B&M, but players seem happy.


I'm surprised nobody mentioned the AD&D 1st Ed UA's infamouss method V... start one attribute with 9d6 keep 3 you want, and roll one d less for each following attribute untile you're at 4d6 drop one for the last attribute.


That sounds overpowered.


Khudzlin wrote:
That sounds overpowered.

Random is still random. It tends to generate a lot of scores from 11 to 15. You usually get a 17 for your highest stat, and tend to get 15 to 17 for the second highest.

On five rolls, I just got:

18,17,11,11,10,9
17,17,16,14,11,11
15,15,15,15,9,8
16,15,13,13,12,19
17,16,15,15,13,8

The highest stat was only the 9d6-keep-3 roll on two of these.

But, yeah, these are pretty high point buys. But you aren't getting a ton of 18's and 17's.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Khudzlin wrote:
That sounds overpowered.

It was. On the other hand, some classes had very high and hard requirements to qualify for a class. A PC needed a 17 charisma to qualify to be a paladin, for example.


Last time I was the DM, I allowed my players to pick what ever starting stats they wanted, with the limitation being between 3 and 17 and no racial modifiers. It worked out totally fine. They where able to bring what they wanted to the table.


@John Mechalas: you rolled a lot of 8's and 9's. At 4d6 drop lowest, that's quite below average. Not to mention that 9 you apparently rolled at 5d6 drop 2...

@Bill Dunn: I'm glad I didn't play that edition. I prefer choosing race and class (and have both separate) without being shoehorned by the dice.


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Khudzlin wrote:
@John Mechalas: you rolled a lot of 8's and 9's. At 4d6 drop lowest, that's quite below average. Not to mention that 9 you apparently rolled at 5d6 drop 2...

Random means random. Every die roll result from 1-6 is equally likely and independent of the previous roll. Above average results are as likely to happen as below average ones. You only tend towards averages over many, many, many rolls.

Which is exactly why using dice to generate characters is problematic. Bad rolls, and strings of bad rolls, happen. Frequently.


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9d6 ⇒ (6, 4, 1, 5, 2, 2, 6, 1, 6) = 33=18
8d6 ⇒ (5, 1, 3, 6, 3, 2, 3, 5) = 28=17
7d6 ⇒ (6, 5, 2, 2, 6, 3, 5) = 29=17
6d6 ⇒ (5, 4, 4, 4, 5, 2) = 24=14
5d6 ⇒ (3, 2, 3, 6, 1) = 15=12
4d6 ⇒ (5, 6, 5, 1) = 17=16

9d6 ⇒ (4, 4, 3, 1, 2, 5, 2, 3, 1) = 25=13
8d6 ⇒ (1, 1, 5, 2, 2, 1, 5, 5) = 22=15
7d6 ⇒ (5, 4, 5, 6, 5, 2, 5) = 32=16
6d6 ⇒ (4, 6, 5, 5, 2, 4) = 26=16
5d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 3, 2, 6) = 19=14
4d6 ⇒ (3, 1, 4, 2) = 10=9

This is why I don't like even the high end rolling methods. I mean, those are both high arrays, but one of them is awesome and the other is only good - especially since you're rolling those in order so those stats aren't where you wanted them. 60 point buy equivalent vs 34.


thejeff wrote:

9d6=18

8d6=17
7d6=17
6d6=14
5d6=12
4d6=16

9d6=13
8d6=15
7d6=16
6d6=16
5d6=14
4d6=9

This is why I don't like even the high end rolling methods. I mean, those are both high arrays, but one of them is awesome and the other is only good - especially since you're rolling those in order so those stats aren't where you wanted them. 60 point buy equivalent vs 34.

But that's one roll. One roll doesnt show anything.

with 9d6 you should get one of each 1,2,3,4,5,6 plus say 2,4,5. So the average is only 16.5


DrDeth wrote:
thejeff wrote:

9d6=18

8d6=17
7d6=17
6d6=14
5d6=12
4d6=16

9d6=13
8d6=15
7d6=16
6d6=16
5d6=14
4d6=9

This is why I don't like even the high end rolling methods. I mean, those are both high arrays, but one of them is awesome and the other is only good - especially since you're rolling those in order so those stats aren't where you wanted them. 60 point buy equivalent vs 34.

But that's one roll. One roll doesnt show anything.

with 9d6 you should get one of each 1,2,3,4,5,6 plus say 2,4,5. So the average is only 16.5

That's two sets. Two wildly different sets. Since I got them in my first 2 tries, it's not unlikely there'll be similar diversity in a party of 4.

Sure, the average of 9d6 is 16.5. Sounds about right to me. But the deviation matters as much as the average.


Just for reference, this is the 9d6 8d6 etc method on anydice.
http://anydice.com/program/a404

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

A couple years ago, I was part of an unusually experimental rotating-GM "secret masters of gaming" group.

For one campaign, the group of 5 players built a party of 8 human characters. In Pathfinder terms, we rolled best 3 of 4d6, and then finished them by assigning in packets such as "+2 Strength, Weapon Focus in two-handed sword, masterwork weapon" or "+4 Wisdom, -2 Charisma, Low Light Vision". There were about 20 such packets, and we didn't have to assign them evenly to the characters. (We could have given them all to one character, but I think it would have required him to wear an "S" on his chest.)

Then each player chose one of the PCs to play, and chose the character's skills, spells, worldly equipment, etc. The unchosen characters were reserves in case a PC were to die.


Cevah wrote:

Back in my post in another thread, I wrote:

Quote:

Did some more spreadsheets with exhaustive stat selection.

3d6 average stat = 10.5
10 Point buy average stat = ~11.09
15 Point buy average stat = ~11.58
20 Point buy average stat = ~12.07
4d6 less one average stat = ~12.24
25 Point buy average stat = ~12.53

This is before racial modifiers.

/cevah

That... is good to know.

I also find it interesting that the "accepted norm" for Point Gen is 15, and for rolling is 4d6 drop lowest. The above table may well explain some of why the 4d6 drop lowest is so very much preferred by so many players over a point buy that will usually give you significantly lower stats.


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Bwang wrote:
Cevah wrote:

Back in my post in another thread, I wrote:

Quote:

Did some more spreadsheets with exhaustive stat selection....

/cevah

Copied into my tome of things I really should know after 4 decades. You wouldn't have done calculations on any of the other rolling conventions out there, would you?

I run with 20 pts now, but you pay for unusual or more powerful races and get 1 point each level to buy stats rather than a +1 every 4 levels. I really doesn't phase Single Attribute builds, but helps the Multiple Attribute builds bring up scores they need later. My players did the rending and ashes bit at first, but all 3 games spawned by mine since have cloned the system. The GMs all B&M, but players seem happy.

Check my previous post in the linked post thread. That person had an odd and overpowered die rolling rule.

Making exhaustive spreadsheets needs hours of compute time, as well as huge arrays of data. 9d6 keep 3 needs 6^9 sets of data [=10,077,696 entries. Each set needs 9 numbers for the die rolls and 19 for calculations. That is 282,175,488 cells filled. For 9d6 down to 4d6, you need 336,186,288 cells at the same time. And that is just to come up with the stat numbers. Now you need to generate the possible combinations of these stats. There are 6.04328E+38 combinations. I don't want to make that spreadsheet. :-)

Die set & calculations:
Dice numbers:
A1=[dice number]
B1=[dice number]
C1=[dice number]
D1=[dice number]
E1=[dice number]
F1=[dice number]
G1=[dice number]
H1=[dice number]
I1=[dice number]

Count of each number:
J1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=6")
K1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=5")
L1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=4")
M1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=3")
N1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=2")
O1=COUNTIF($A1:$I1,"=1")

Quantity to use for each number:
P1=MIN(J1,3)
Q1=MIN(K1,3-SUM($P1:P1))
R1=MIN(L1,3-SUM($P1:Q1))
S1=MIN(M1,3-SUM($P1:R1))
T1=MIN(N1,3-SUM($P1:S1))
U1=MIN(O1,3-SUM($P1:T1))

Total from each number:
V1=P1*6
W1=Q1*5
X1=R1*4
Y1=S1*3
Z1=T1*2
AA1=U1*1

Grand total of 9d6 keep 3:
AB1=SUM(V1:AA1)

The [dice number] can be assigned, or you can use =INT(1+6*RAND()) to have a random number from 1-6. For fewer die than 9d6, you can leave the later columns as 0 rather than some number. That will automatically drop them from consideration and leave the final total correct.

The COUNTIF function lets me count rolls in descending sequence.

The MIN formulas let me allocate 3 dice, by subtracting allocated dice from the amount available.

The next seven formulas could be combined into a single formula, but the complexity of keeping track is a little harder, so I left it simple.

It is easier to write a program to cycle through dice with it recording totals as it generates each number.

One way of reducing the number of combinations is to summarize the Xd6 rolls as a set of 16 number pairs. example A occurrences of 18, B of 17, C of 16, D of 15, ..., P of 3. Then combine the number pairs from 9d6 by 8d6 to get a composite set [9d6,8d6]. Continue with the rest, and you can get your averages.
I haven't thought through the exact formula for the combination, but I imagine I can figure it out.

/cevah


Cevah wrote:
Bwang wrote:
Cevah wrote:

Back in my post in another thread, I wrote:

Quote:

Did some more spreadsheets with exhaustive stat selection....

/cevah

Copied into my tome of things I really should know after 4 decades. You wouldn't have done calculations on any of the other rolling conventions out there, would you?

I run with 20 pts now, but you pay for unusual or more powerful races and get 1 point each level to buy stats rather than a +1 every 4 levels. I really doesn't phase Single Attribute builds, but helps the Multiple Attribute builds bring up scores they need later. My players did the rending and ashes bit at first, but all 3 games spawned by mine since have cloned the system. The GMs all B&M, but players seem happy.

Check my previous post in the linked post thread. That person had an odd and overpowered die rolling rule.

Making exhaustive spreadsheets needs hours of compute time, as well as huge arrays of data. 9d6 keep 3 needs 6^9 sets of data [=10,077,696 entries. Each set needs 9 numbers for the die rolls and 19 for calculations. That is 282,175,488 cells filled. For 9d6 down to 4d6, you need 336,186,288 cells at the same time. And that is just to come up with the stat numbers. Now you need to generate the possible combinations of these stats. There are 6.04328E+38 combinations. I don't want to make that spreadsheet. :-)

** spoiler omitted **...

^^ listen to this guy he knows what's up with spreadsheets!


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Pathfinder Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thank you so much everyone for your responses! I've been reading them silently & came up with a homebrew option that everyone seemed content with during session 0 today.

We have 6 players in the group, so I had everyone (including myself as GM) roll 4d6, rerolling ALL 1's, then dropping the lowest, 6 times total.

Then I had everyone do that a second time.

*I had a final step where everyone would have to reroll IF they had more than 1x18, 2x17+, 3x16+, 4x15+, or 5x14+, but it never came into play (I wanted this to enforce balance).

After we all had 2 sets of stats I made everyone choose 1 of them to submit to a party "pool".

Finally they worked as a GROUP to assign 6 of these 7 sets to the 6 character concepts they walked in with, scrapping the last one (if I didn't make it clear in the initial post, this was their largest issue as everyone had an idea of who they wanted to play but didn't want point buy/random roll stats screwing up their concepts).

Worked FLAWLESSLY.

I'm happy with the balance amongst them (my biggest concern) & the fact that no one "lucked out" with a 18/17/16/15/14/13 character "maxed out". They were happy with various arrays between 6 & 18, most of which felt "heroic" & only slightly above average. After gaming biweekly for the last 20 months, I know the 4 returning pretty well. They're not powergamers. The 2 new players I'm sure will be a great fit too & don't appear to be that way either. All around I think this method will be great for our group going forward, & I want to personally thank all of you for the inspiration!


What works for you group, works. There really isn't a need to go on an evangelical crusade about it which is what the die rollers seem to be on these days.

We use either 20 or 25 point buy. It works for us. And that's pretty much all we care about.


My group has always been happy with this: 4d6 drop lowest die; do this seven times, and keep the highest 6.
Repeat this all three times, and pick the array you prefer among the three.
If none of them is good for you, you may roll the seven 4d6 to produce one more array, but you'll lose one point from the highest result. If you're still unsatisfied, you may reroll "indefinitely", losing one more point each time you create a new array.

As a GM, I always liked stronger PCs so I could throw more powerful things to them. And since I don't play monsters dumbly (unless they are dumb), CR has always been on par, except in peculiar exceptions, of course.


Raynulf wrote:
I also find it interesting that the "accepted norm" for Point Gen is 15, and for rolling is 4d6 drop lowest. The above table may well explain some of why the 4d6 drop lowest is so very much preferred by so many players over a point buy that will usually give you significantly lower stats.

I'd actually still take the 15 point buy. Because then I can

a) rely on getting one stat really high / two quite high etc.
b) dump a stat
c) avoid odd numbers for stats where they don't help
d) avoid being unlucky

Maybe the best option is to let each player decide on their own. Whether someone wants to roll, to buy stats or to pick them (within reason) - it doesn't matter much for the campaign as a whole, but for the player. Just make sure the results are moderately comparable, or some people will be tempted to pick methods they actually dislike - just to get better numbers.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

What works for you group, works. There really isn't a need to go on an evangelical crusade about it which is what the die rollers seem to be on these days.

We use either 20 or 25 point buy. It works for us. And that's pretty much all we care about.

Not like the point buy crowd doesn't do its own share of evangelizing.

Probably more to say on the rolling side since everyone has their own clever method of rolling.


Wasn't the "15 point buy is standard" put in the rulebook (and the APs etc.) because the designers (mistakenly) believed that 15 point buy worked out to about the same as 4d6 drop low?

Because I see that as an error, if people really want to do point buy I'll generally do "20 PB, no stats above 18 after racials, no bonus points for stats below 10." 25 if it's a particularly heroic premise.


Two events convinced me to go to switch to a point buy and never go back. One was a good friend who I'd gamed with for about 20 years. I was GMing and another player looked at his character sheet. We used 4d6 drop the lowest, and arrange as you like method.
"How did you get such good stats? Three 18s?" he asked.
My good friend answered with a straight face "I kept rolling until I got a set I liked."

The second incident was in Society play. A new player showed up and he hadn't read the Guide. He pulled out a notebook with pages of sets of ability scores written down, and flipped to the end. "I rolled up lots of characters and got one with three 18s. I'm going to play that one." Yes, he had really rolled up and written down hundreds of characters in his spare time.

Personally, I'd have used a computer program. :-)


I put together a method of randomly generating usable stat arrays that avoids the problems with traditional dice-based methods (4d6 drop lowest, 8+2d4, etc.) such as flat stat arrays, huge disparities in scores, and equal probabilities of crap and high rolls. You specify a point buy range: Standard+ (15-22 pts), High+ (20-27 pts), and Epic (25-35) and it generates stats within that range.

It generates two high stats, two mid stats, and two low stats. Only one stat will ever be <10. Your highest stat will always be in the range 15-17. This captures the flavor of randomness while resembling point builds without extreme min-maxing.

Random Ability Score Generator

Let me know if you think this is useful or usable.


FYI. Fixed an issue that prevented this from working in IE.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Wasn't the "15 point buy is standard" put in the rulebook (and the APs etc.) because the designers (mistakenly) believed that 15 point buy worked out to about the same as 4d6 drop low?

Because I see that as an error, if people really want to do point buy I'll generally do "20 PB, no stats above 18 after racials, no bonus points for stats below 10." 25 if it's a particularly heroic premise.

No.

If you calculate the point buy equivalent of straight 4d6 drop one generation (without allowing re-rolls for "bad" arrays), it averages around an 18 point buy equivalent (slightly over, to be more precise). However, a slightly lower number of guaranteed points for ability scores, that could be adjusted (not just arranged), was selected as the "other standard."


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Wasn't the "15 point buy is standard" put in the rulebook (and the APs etc.) because the designers (mistakenly) believed that 15 point buy worked out to about the same as 4d6 drop low?

Because I see that as an error, if people really want to do point buy I'll generally do "20 PB, no stats above 18 after racials, no bonus points for stats below 10." 25 if it's a particularly heroic premise.

I don't think they were mistaken. I think the Standard Method is a reward for accepting higher risk.

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