Quick Fix for the Elite Array

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I have a suggestion for making the "Elite Array" ability score generation method more palatable to players. I think this is also more fair than the point buy system as all points cost the same with the array.

The way this works is that bonuses of +1, +2, and +3 that can each be assigned to any one ability score from the array, with no more than one bonus applied to any score.

So, start with 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15. Adding the bonuses could get you:

10, 10, 12, 13, 17, 16 (+2 on 8, +3 on the 14, +1 on the 15)

8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18

8, 10, 12, 16, 16, 16

10, 10, 15, 14, 14, 15

11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 15

And so on. There's quite a bit of variety without going overboard and allowing extremely min/maxed stats like some point buy systems. As you can easily see by the last example, it can be used to make a bell curve (scores average to 13), or as most players will do, stack the stats on the end giving a couple mediocre scores along with a somewhat bad one. With racial abilities on top, you still have the option of taking one score of 6 if you want to be a grumpy dwarf.

This system also lets players have a coveted 18 score with having to give up a lot of other points like in the point buy method. It's hard to say that the character with scores of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 is unbalanced compared to any of the other examples I gave. Players seem to find it a fair and balanced way to start the game.

I hope this can be squeezed into the 4E DMG, maybe in place of one of the 5 (!) optional randomized systems.
The idea behind the elite array is that it's a quick array that fits into the standard 25-point buy that RPGA and other games use. The way you give scores would have varying point totals. Some of them are extremely high compared to what the DMG says about "high-powered campaigns" in point buy (32 points).

10, 10, 12, 13, 17, 16 = 36 points
8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 = 38 points
8, 10, 12, 16, 16, 16 = 36 points
10, 10, 15, 14, 14, 15 = 32 points (actually a reasonable point total)
11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 15 = 31 points (barely there)

However, all your score arrays show to be meant for very high power campaigns.

I like it, but it varies widely how "powerful" each array is depending on how you distribute the scores.
The idea behind the elite array is that it's a quick array that fits into the standard 25-point buy that RPGA and other games use. The way you give scores would have varying point totals. Some of them are extremely high compared to what the DMG says about "high-powered campaigns" in point buy (32 points).

10, 10, 12, 13, 17, 16 = 36 points
8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 = 38 points
8, 10, 12, 16, 16, 16 = 36 points
10, 10, 15, 14, 14, 15 = 32 points (actually a reasonable point total)
11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 15 = 31 points (barely there)

However, all your score arrays show to be meant for very high power campaigns.

I like it, but it varies widely how "powerful" each array is depending on how you distribute the scores.

Part of the point behind it is that the point buy system with weighted costs is not a fair system (to my mind at least). A +1 equals +1 no matter if it cost 16 points or 3 once you are playing the game. At 4th level, there's no difference between making a 18 into a 19 or a 16 into a 17. The designers of Icewind Dale II in fact decided on this basis to use an unweighted point buy system.

It may not be appropriate for the RPGA (I would argue that as above, but not here), but it is another option. "Fix" was probably a bad choice of words since the elite array isn't broken. I am not saying to replace it, just as an option on top of it.

Variations can be made on it too. For example, start with 8, 8, 8, 10, 10, 10. Add bonuses of +2, +2, +4, +4, +6. This could give:

8, 10, 10, 14, 14, 16

10, 12, 14, 14, 12, 10

Not as exciting, but again it works like a bell curve with different distributions. There are lots of options with the "array plus bonuses" system and it can be used for any power level.
I once considered starting people with the elite array, plus three discretional points to put wherever they wanted. (In other words, they could add one point each to three scores, three points to one score, or two points to one and one to another.) This lets you start with an 18 or with no penalties, but not both, and creates enough variation to notice, but doesn't reach the very high power level of your suggestion (basically it's only half as many points). This is about as good as 28-point buy, a little better in the peak overall character power that's possible but a little worse in being less flexible.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011