Premise: I wanted to create a point buy system for my characters to use and I wanted to model it after previous editions. I'm posting this not so much for a grand discussion but for nods that I choose correctly or shakes from those who feel I didn't. Then from those people to offer up a different suggestion (and no thank you suggesting they roll, that is not so great). [3rd Edition:] Although the books or someone on the internet suggested 10+1d8 for generation which would on average be all 14.5s which does set it slightly higher than what can be selected (which is all 14s with a point left over). So yes your thoughts please!
After researching the various editions from 3.0 to 3.5 to 4.0 to 4.E and 5th (Next) I have come to the conclusion that the current system is modeled on 3.0/3.5. The Standard Array for 5th is the Default Array for 3rd (Page 19-20 DMG) and the Elite Array for 3.5 (169-170 DMG). That Standard Array being: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10 and 8. So since it so closely mimics the 3rd edition I will be using that system. Now I’m going to mostly just explain the systems.
The suggested method for these third editions is to start with six 8s and using 25 points to spend on improving them using a chart. It is also suggested to use more or less points based on difficulty of the campaign desired. For Lowered Powered Campaigns use only 15, use 22 for Challenging, use 28 for Tougher, and 32 for High Powered. The actual chart looks something like this: 9 through 14 (the scores) cost 1-6 points and above that it goes 8p for 15, 10p for 16, 13p for 17 and 16p for 18.
Fourth Edition does it slightly differently; they ask you to take five 10s and one 8 and gives you 22 points to spend but with a different point buy system. Straight fourth edition’s standard array (17-18 PHB) is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11 and 10. Fourth Essential breaks it into 3 standard arrays (38 HoFL) (38 HoFK): a balanced one at 16, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10; a specialist one at 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8; and a dualist one at 16, 16, 12, 11, 11, 8. In essential the point buy option is in the Rules Compendium pages 77-78. All four of these do come out to 22 points with the following tables. A score of 9 and 10 require 1 and 2 points respectively to raise your 8 score to 10 before you can modify it further. At 11 12 and 13 it is just 1 2 3 but at 14 it is 5; 15 is 7; 16 is 9; 17 is 12; and 18 is 16.
In attempting to compare the two systems I had to convert the 4th edition into something closer to its earlier cousin. If I pull down the 10 rule and move everything to an 8 then I need to adjust the number of points given to 32 (add 10 points) and make the table from a starting at 8 perspectives by adding 2 to all the values. It turned out like this: 9-13 / 1-5 then 14/7, 15/9, 16/11, 17/14, 18/18. Basically compared to the 3rd edition chart you add 1 to every number from 14 to 17 and add 2 to 18 making it more expensive in 4th but you get more points.
Then let’s review the standard arrays to determine if one system empowers the PCs more than the other. 3rd: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8; 4th: 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. 4th edition has a +1 on its highest and two lowest making it have a tighter stronger array. But really without looking at the bonuses and penalties how would we know? 3rd: +2, +2, +1, +1, 0, -1 vs. 4th: +3, +2, +1, +1, 0, 0. It improves the highest score to a +3 and improves the lowest score to not be a -1. Alright 4th edition PCs are stronger (in the sense that they are a bit tougher, if the monsters do not scale from 3rd to 4th to reflect this slight change in power). How? This is because the underlying system of bonuses and penalties has not shifted to reflect the points/scores (and it shouldn’t shift its fine).
Converting: 3rd edition standard array (25pts in 3rd) costs only 27 points in modified 4th edition point buy and the 4th edition standard array (32pts in modified 4th) cost 30 points in the 3rd edition point buy system. 2 points more expensive moving from 3rd to modified 4th systems and 5 points more expensive moving from 3rd standard array to modified 4th standard array. I know right? Yay math! So 30 point characters into the 3rd edition setting puts them halfway between tougher and high powered characters.
Name: Brother Michael
Adventuring Class: Cleric
Adventuring Experience: 1446 out of 1501
Bonus Experience: 10%
Languages Known: Common, Orc, Elven.
Alignment: Lawful/Neutral Good
WEAPONS: HIT; MEDIUM; LARGE
Footman’s Flail: 1d20; 1d6+1; 1d4
Hammer (Thrown): 1d20; 1d4+1; 1d4
Sling: 1d20-3; 1d4+1; 1d6+1
Today’s Prepared Spells: Cure Light Wounds x2, Command x1
Spells Spent: Cure Light Wounds x1
Other Cleric Abilities: Turn Undead
Spell Failure: 0%
Magical Attack Adjustment: +2
Armor: 5 (-4 Armor, -1 Shield)
Maximum Health: 10
Current Health: 9
7 Days of Trail Rations
7 Pints (Flasks) of Oil
1 Ounce (Vial) of Holy Water
12 Sling Bullets
6 Pieces of Silver
8 Pieces of Twine