User:Mkill/Balanced ability score rolling methods

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The standard D&D ability score rolling method and the point buy method both have their weaknesses:

  • dice rolling leads to cheating, and can create a wide array of results, which can disturb the power level in the party
  • point buy leads to min-maxing, and characters who are too much alike

So, what we want is a method to determine ability scores that is #1 random but #2 balanced out to prevent cheating and wide power differences between PCs.

There are several ways to do this. One way is, to count a die roll twice, as a bonus to one score and a penalty to another. Another way is, to determine most of the ability scores and calculate the last one.

The balanced 4d6 drop one[edit]

First, the GM determines the total ability score points, such as 25 for a standard campaign or 32 for a tough one.

Then, 5 ability scores are rolled using the standard 4d6 drop one method. The point cost for these is calculated, and substracted from a the number set by the GM. The result determines the last score, any excess points are lost.

Point Buy System[edit]

Table: Extended point buy table
Ability score 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Point cost -9 -6 -4 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 13 16 20

The DM should set a minimum score, anywhere between the minimum for rolling (3) and the minimum for point buy (8). Any rolls below that score are repeated. If the player rolls really well, he'll have to take the minimum score on his last ability but he can keep his other scores (only if he rolled under GM supervision).

If the player rolled really bad and he had 20 or more points left after rolling, the can either take a 19 on his last score or repeat the whole rolling process.

This method creates random scores that are still all within the same point buy range, plus minus a few.

The 3 dice up and down method[edit]

For this method, only three dice are rolled once each, and each gives two scores. This is done by adding the die to a number for the first score, then the same die roll is subtracted from a number to get the second.

Even though only 3 dice are rolled, this method creates a mixture of high, low and average scores, odd and even, and the score total is always the same.

The following example creates a range of scores between 7 and 18, and the total is always 75.

  • 10 + d6
  • 15 - d6
  • 10 + d8
  • 15 - d8
  • 8 + d10
  • 17 - d10

A variant of this method switches out the d6 for a d12, and is:

  • 10 + d8
  • 15 - d8
  • 8 + d10
  • 17 - d10
  • 6 + d12
  • 19 - d12
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