Characters’ Starting Stats, the Method I Use

Throughout my years as a player and a DM I have always struggled with how to generate stats. A character’s starting stats often define them as much as their class, so it always seemed like a very influential decision, and there are quite a few methods out there.

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I used to really love the novelty of rolling dice, it provided the potential for extremely good stats and very poor. I really liked the excitement of seeing the promise of your character springing forth. However, often, even rolling 4D6 and discarding the lowest, players would roll some very poor stats, with the highest number a 14.

Perhaps even worse then low stats, nearly every group had one player, you know the jerk with three 18s, two 16s, and a low score of 14. This was always extremely annoying, with such disparity between party members the weaker member would inevitably feel inadequate, or do less impressive things, while super human PC showed off.

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To solve this I experimented with a points system, where players get a certain amount of points to spread among stats as they saw fit. This worked well to put everyone at the same starting point, but often I found players gravitating towards 2 extremely high stats and several very low. This also felt wrong, as it created extremely unbalanced characters, and really penalized characters which needed to fill multiple roles.

Since 5th Edition’s release; however, I have been very, very happy with the method of distributing 6 pre-made numbers, 15,14,13,12,10, and 8, described on page 13 of the Player’s Handbook. This works great as it gives a nice even spread between stats. Character’s stats are then boosted by their race to impressive, but not obnoxious levels starting out. It also forces every player to have a negative stat, something I think is essential to create fun characters, as well as curb players’ egos. I also really like that they allow some room for growth under the 5th edition caps. Finally, it still has a lot of flexibility for players to decide which numbers are going to which stat. Overall, I strongly recommend all my D&D readers give this method a try if you are struggling to have a balanced party.

I am using this with my upcoming campaign, so I will be sure to report what my players’ long term reactions are.

What is your preferred method of rolling stats?

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2 thoughts on “Characters’ Starting Stats, the Method I Use

  1. I agree with you, I think the standard array is the best method. I won’t re-iterate because you nailed the reasons why. The campaign I’m running right now is VERY casual, so I let players do whatever they wanted for stat generation (it was new players, so this gave them options to choose their own fate, which has been fun for the group) but for established groups I think a DM can more easily balance around a standard array.

    Liked by 1 person

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