Fair and Random Ability Scores

Some people love rolling random ability scores for d20 games, and hate the carefully balanced, often similar arrays generated by point-buys.

Other people hate being unable to pick ability scores that work for their character concept, and the fact that random rolls often mean players don’t start on a level playing field.

I don’t know if EITHER group would be satisfied by it, but it certainly IS possible to have a system that incorporates elements of both.

Fair and Random Ability Generation

Preferably as a group activity, the GM and every player each roll 10 stat arrays (a set of 6 numbers you could assign as ability scores), using any preferred random method (most commonly roll 4d6 and pick the best 3 six times for each array, and assign to specific ability scores later). You should have a number of stat arrays equal to 10x the number of players in the game +1.

Then, the group each calculate the point value of each random array. This may be done fastest by having everyone note down the value of each 18 in any array, then each 17, and so on.

Then the GM decides on a number of arrays close in point value equal to double the number of players. He adjusts these as needed to all have the same point value.

Then each player may choose to either randomly select one of the balanced arrays (a rolling method can be devised, or if preferred since it may be a weird number of arrays, they can be numbered and chits placed in a hat for random selection), OR may choose any of the arrays that had a point value lower than the value of all the balanced arrays.

Randomness continues to ensure their are unexpected results and much less min/maxing. Balancing assures even random results don’t put players on radically different playing fields. The ability to select from a number of specific, but lesser, arrays allows players to choose a known quantity if needed for a character concept, but at a price.

Then apply racial modifiers and such to ability scores as normal.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens

Posted on December 2, 2016, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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