Balanced random stat generation

It's generally difficult to do truly balanced random stat generation, but this is an experiment in how close I can come. It won't precisely match a point build system, but I think it's at least not hideous. The method is simple:
Order your stats. The first stat should be the one you want to be good at. The second should be one you want to be not bad at. The remaining stats can be in any order, and order has no effect. Process is as follows:


  1. Note starting stat values of 14 12 13 13 13 13

  2. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #1. Subtract it from stats 3, 4, 5, and 6

  3. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #2, subtract it from stat #3.

  4. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #3, subtract it from stat #4.

  5. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #4, subtract it from stat #5.

  6. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #5, subtract it from stat #6.

  7. Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #6, subtract it from stat #2.

This guarantees the following:
Stat #1 will be 15-18
Stat #2 will be 9-15
Stat #3-6 will be 6-15
Stats 2-6 will add up to 120 - 4 * stat #1.
My problem with an approach like this is that it, imho, defeats the purpose.

It also - and this could just be me - takes a lot of the 'fun' out of rolling the stats.  It just doesn't feel the same.  But that isn't a 'scientific' objection - just my personal perception.

That said, the idea behind random stats is to have the characters be different.  If your system just chanels them into all being nearly the same, why not just use point buy or a matrix?

For example - once upon a time, characters often had stats in the four to seven range.  These made for interesting characters because the players used them to set their character apart - the clumsy paladin, the stupid fighter, etc.  Other characters ended up with sixteens and seventeens in stats that had nothing to do with their primary function:  The suave wizard, the brilliant barbarian, etc.  This, again, resulted in characters whose attributes were outside of the norm and would never have been created by someone using point buy or a matrix - because they wouldn't have wasted that high stat somewhere it didn't have a direct mechanical benefit.

Of course - this was back in the day when the difference between a 10 and a 17 was a +1 to hit and +1 to damage, for example.  So rolling decently above average didn't gimp your character.  And it was the era of the dump stat when many attributes (intelligence for a fighter, charisma for a wizard) had no effect on play whatsoever.  

And, no, I'm not advocating a return to the extremes of those days.  But I also think its ironic that 4E gave a way to significantly de-emphasize the importants of many of the stats (Dex and Int affecting AC; Str and End affecting Fort, etc) - thus making rolled stats, at least for the non-primary and non-secondary attributes, feasible.  And yet rolled stats were never really a part of the game.

As I've suggested elsewhere, I think the solution is twofold:  First - flatten the attributes so that they go up from +0 to +1 at 14, to +2 at 17, and +3 at 20, and then come up witha system that ensures that the primary and secondary attribute are decent - and use straight rolls for the rest (I'd prefer without re-ordering - although I'm sure most will argue for reording the stats). 

Making sure that the primary and secondary attributes are inline with what the math requires will make sure that the character is mostly balanced, and the flattening of the modifiers (as well as the ability to choose which of two stats to use for defenses) will mitigate most of the potential imbalance created by good or bad rolls.

I'd also  support taking the 'either of two attributes' approach a step further and allowing either strength or constitution to affect hit points  - or simply giving everyone what they can already have with a background:  The abilty to use their highest modifier for their hit point bonus).

Carl
Something we used in our last AD&D campaign was roll 3d6 and add +1 to any die that isn't a 6...

1+3+5... add 3= 12
6+6+1... add 1= 14

I'm not going to try to describe the bell curse, but it moves the average from 9-11 to 12-13. There were a few 18's in the group, but still a couple of 7-8's...

Veteran of The Transfer... Add 700 to my post count... 

My system was a crossover between point buy and rolling: You roll for your first stats, and buy the results with points, until you only have one possibility for the rest (either you rolled low and you must buy high scores, you rolled high and must buy low or the total of points left just don't allow for certain combinations, in which case you pick a random combination from among the ones you can buy).

Also, the player assigns any 2 of the generated values to whatever abilities s/he chooses. The higher value left is assigned randomly with 1d4, and the player assigns the rest at will.

That said, the idea behind random stats is to have the characters be different.  If your system just chanels them into all being nearly the same, why not just use point buy or a matrix?


18 12 10  6  9 11 and 15 12 13 12 10 13 are identical? Those are both totally possible rolls from this system.
Note starting stat values of 14 12 13 13 13 13
Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #1. Subtract it from stats 3, 4, 5, and 6
...
Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #6, subtract it from stat #1.

This guarantees the following:
Stat #1 will be 15-18

Um, I'm pretty sure that stat 1 cannot be higher than 17.

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Note starting stat values of 14 12 13 13 13 13
Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #1. Subtract it from stats 3, 4, 5, and 6
...
Roll 1d4. Add it to stat #6, subtract it from stat #1.

This guarantees the following:
Stat #1 will be 15-18

Um, I'm pretty sure that stat 1 cannot be higher than 17.


Oops, you're right, I miswrote something. That should be stat #2. Fixing in OP.
I like that approach to stat rolling. It is a little more complex, so the new player might not be able to jump into it right away easy.

Some other options

Roll 3d6 in order and then Roll 1d6 and add it to the score of your choice (the method I had my players use for starting our 2e Ruins of Greyhawk adventure, and the kids use)

Roll 4d4+4 This was used in the old 2e DarkSun setting and I've used it in 4e as well.

that being said, those are options. I still think the default should be 3d6 in order for simplicity sake. To bring in those new players who may not desire to do a ton of pre-work prior to playing the game.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
Back when stat rolling was the norm we used a modified rolling method to flatten the curve.

We used 6 + 2d6. Though, now I would probably modify this to 4 +2d6. This way your range is 6-16. So even if you roll snake eyes your character won't totally suck, or likewise if you roll 12 then you are not totally maxed out, and it leaves room for improvement. Assuming that 5e still has attribute bumps at certain levels.
Roll a d6 twenty-four times.  Distribute the results into six sets of three.
My problem with an approach like this is that it, imho, defeats the purpose....the idea behind random stats is to have the characters be different.

An 18 STR/8 INT barbarian is the same as an 8 STR/18 INT wizard, because they use the same array? 

 

 

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I think one thing to remember is that in older editions, character creation was a sort of mini-game. Those who prefer it, like this aspect. You rolled FIRST , then decided what class to be. Part of the fun was trying to find a class that fit the dice, or saying "the hell with it" and playing a class with lower than desired stats and making it work. It meant there were parties without clerics not because no one wanted to play one, but because no one rolled the stats to justify becoming one.

Roleplaying started at dice rolling: A wizard with 16 str and 11 int...Hmmm...who am I, whats my story, how did THIS happen? Stat boosting items were created in home games well before they showed up in "official" documents as a way to shore up this interesting character...once it became common, and you played the class you wanted with an 18 in its primary stat, THAT is when stat boosting became a problem.
I think one thing to remember is that in older editions, character creation was a sort of mini-game. Those who prefer it, like this aspect. You rolled FIRST , then decided what class to be. Part of the fun was trying to find a class that fit the dice, or saying "the hell with it" and playing a class with lower than desired stats and making it work.


This largely died with AD&D 1e, where it was possible to change the order of the stats. If you're rolling the stats and have to keep the stats in order, you have to puzzle things out, but if you can change the order, it's just a matter of putting the numbers in order of priority.
As they seem to be distilling the game down to the 6 Ability Scores (which I am digging), I'm intrigued by a balanced way of rolling (hey, there is that first thrilling experience of rolling scores).
My system was a crossover between point buy and rolling: You roll for your first stats, and buy the results with points, until you only have one possibility for the rest


I think this is a nice way to involve rolling for stats but still ensure that all players are on even grounds. 
I think this is a nice way to involve rolling for stats but still ensure that all players are on even grounds. 



Thanks. The issue with 4e was whether to allow rolls under 8, or more than one under 10. Since individual low stats had nearly no effect (unless you happened to have both stats of the same Defense low, which is easy to avoid unless you are rolling in order, and even then only the higher one matters). I ruled that all stats must be 10+, except for an 8+. Whenever you rolled below the minimum or over the maximum, you re-rolled or assigned the minimum (or maximum) value.
Have the DM roll once, the  5 players roll once. Everybody uses the same totals for their characters.
I ran the numbers on a lot of different stat rolling methods a few months ago here-

1d8.blogspot.com/2011/07/stat-rolling-an...

Since then, I've thought of a new way that should be very balanced.  Everyone roll up 6 stats and combine all the rolls in a list.   Example-

player 1 rolls- 12 15 16 14 13 11
player 2 rolls- 17 14 14 9 14 15
player 3 rolls- 12 14 9 13 18 14
player 4 rolls- 15 8 8 11 6 11

list-
12 15 16 14 13 11 17 14 14 9 14 15 12 14 9 13 18 14 15 8 8 11 6 11

Now players take turns selecting the stats for their pc from the list.  Who goes first?  Roll init for it or go with whoever had the highest stat roll.  In this case, player 3 goes first because he rolled an 18.  Now the trick to this is that the stats picked have to be in order and the same exact 6 numbers can't be picked twice.  So considering everyone wants that juicy 18, they might pick stats like this-

player 1 picks- 18 14 15 8 8 11 fighter
player 2 picks- 13 18 14 15 8 8 rogue
player 3 picks- 14 9 13 18 14 15 mage
player 4 picks- 12 14 9 13 18 14 cleric

A stat draft isn't a bad idea. I think it works for more nuanced players once they have learned the ropes a little bit.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
I've run the stat draft fairly successfully in a 3.5 campaign. I also had them draft character levels: 4 players got to divide up 6 character levels between them. It gave the option of starting off at a higher level or choosing an LA+ race, but they had to haggle with the rest of the party for the opportunity, typically taking a couple of the lower attribute rolls so that everyone had a chance to be special.

Nowadays I favor DM rolls an array, each player rolls, then each player can choose one of the sets. If there was one super set, everyone could have it. If one had a single high stat and the others didn't, players focusing on a SAD character could choose that one. More balanced sets were more popular with MAD characters. It worked quite well and everyone was happy.
Someone mentioned a hybrid system in another thread, but I can't remember who it was or what thread.  I'll just go ahead and sketch it out here, and if the true owner wants to step forward and claim it, please do.

You start by rolling 4d6 (dropping the lowest die) for each stat, assigning them in any order you choose.  As you go, you add up how many points each score would be worth in a point-buy system.  If, at the end, you have points left over, you can spend those points to improve whichever stat(s) you see fit.  You may NOT lower any scores to "buy" more points.  On the other hand, if you are at a point deficit after all the rolling, you MUST lower one or more scores until your point total is kosher.

I've probably added my own flair here and there, but that's the basic idea.  I like this method because there's a little more diversity than with arrays or straight point-buy, but you still end up with a balanced character.  I also like that you might end up with scores below 8.

(Please note that you need to extend the point-buy scale on the low end in the event that you do roll lower than 8.  Here it is:  8 is -2; 7 is -3; 6 is -5; 5 is -7; 4 is -9; 3 is -12.)
If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
Someone mentioned a hybrid system in another thread, but I can't remember who it was or what thread.


IDK if mine is the one you're talking about, but I proposed a point-buy system where you roll 4d6 one time to determine how many points you get.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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Someone mentioned a hybrid system in another thread, but I can't remember who it was or what thread.


IDK if mine is the one you're talking about, but I proposed a point-buy system where you roll 4d6 one time to determine how many points you get.

Nope, the one I'm thinking of had a fixed number of points for everyone.  The rolls were for individual scores.
If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
Personally I like point buy better than rolling stats. I prefer the fairness of it.


That said another method you could use to roll stats but maintain somewhat equitable stats across the table would be to have each die roll give two stats: one is the total of the dice and the other is 24 minus that roll. (There are similar systems I could describe but this is the simplest.) Roll three times and you get six pairs of stats, the total of which is 72. Then order the stats however you like for your character. Using this system everybody ends up with an average ability score of exactly 12, which makes is relatively fair, but nobody is likely to have the exact same set of stats and not everybody will have a 17 or 18. And the people who were lucky enough to get a 17 or 18 also were unlucky enough to have a 6 or 7 (which can be fun to roleplay depending on where you put the low stat).


I'm not saying the above system is perfect, I'm just bringing it up as an example of a compromise way you can do random rolling with just a few rolls without sacrificing much character balance.
I posted this in a couple of threads now and I'm going to keep pounding my drum about it. Do what Gamma world did. Primary stat = 18, Secondary = 16, all other starts 3d6. This way you still get to be useful in whatever class you pick, but still get to experience the highs and lows of dice statistics.
Give every race a +2 to one or two ablity scores, as in 4e or Pathfinder.  Then just assign an array of 16,15,14,13,12,11  you could roll d6's to determine the order you assign those numbers if so inclined.  This means the max for any starting PC is 18 wich is classic, easy for new players to pick what do you want highest, second highest, ect and it is easy to remember.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

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