Dan & Paul survey the different options across the years for D&D PC ability score generation.
Which is best for your D&D game? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Dan & Paul get into the nitty-gritty in this episode.
In original D&D, ability scores were determined by “roll[ing] three six-sided dice in order to rate each [character] as to various abilities”. This had a significant impact on later character creations as “certain classes could only be taken up by characters with the right combination of statistics. As a result, players often” re-rolled characters until they ended up with the combination of ability scores they desired. The point buy system was originally added as an optional ruleset in the second edition supplement Player’s Option: Skills & Powers (1995) and while it is “largely incompatible with most of the other books released for AD&D second edition” it still “proved very popular among fans”. “A point system to ensure total player control over the character’s attributes while at the same time limiting just how powerful the character could become […] [was] formalized in the third edition”.
There are now several methods of determining a character’s initial ability scores during character creation:
- Rolling dice (3d6): This is the standard method for the original edition. For each ability score, the player rolls 3d6, and adds the values, resulting in scores ranging from three to eighteen, averaging between 10 and 11.
- Rolling dice (4d6, keep 3): This is the standard method since 1st edition AD&D. For each ability score, the player rolls 4d6, and adds the three highest values, resulting in scores ranging from three to eighteen, skewed towards higher numbers, averaging 12.2446, though the most probable result is 13.
- Predetermined array of scores: Each player uses the same set of numbers, choosing which ability score to apply them to.
- Point buy: In the point buy system, a player has a certain number of points to spend on ability scores, and each score has a certain point cost affixed to it, where higher scores cost more points than lower ones.
Wandering DMs Paul Siegel and Dan “Delta” Collins host thoughtful discussions on D&D and other TTRPGs every week. Comparing the pros and cons of every edition from the 1974 Original D&D little brown books to cutting-edge releases for 5E D&D today, we broadcast live on YouTube and Twitch so we can take viewer questions and comments on the topic of the day. Live every Sunday at 1 PM Eastern time.
This description uses material from the Wikipedia article “Dungeons & Dragons gameplay”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.