View Full Version : Point Buy advice

2011-01-01, 01:21 PM

I'm about to GM my first game, and I'm stuck on how many points I should allow my players for their stats.

On the one hand I don't want players to just focus on a single stat, pushing it to 18 and leave 3 others at 8, which would probably mean "give them more points".
On the other hand I don't want players basicly being able to push 4 stats to 16 or so, so too many points aren't good either.

I also thought about limiting the stats to 16 before any racial modifiers, that should limit the extreme munchkining too I guess, and I can keep the PB score lower.

I'm not sure if such a limitation is a good idea, and how many points are good then. Or if the limit is no good, how many points are good if I want to encourage somewhat balanced characters.

You guys have alot more experience with this stuff, what do you think?

Claudius Maximus
2011-01-01, 01:27 PM
Putting an 18 in your main stat isn't what I would call "extreme munchkining."

I would suggest 28 points. A bit better than the basic norm of 25, but not too high. 32 is probably going to be the consensus of this thread but I always saw that as a bit too high. 28 worked fine for the Test of Spite.

2011-01-01, 01:32 PM
Pushing the stats to their "best" values is what results when you use Point Buy. If you don't like Wizards having maximum intelligence and minimum strength (and all other well-tweaked combinations), consider sticking with rolling.

Thrice Dead Cat
2011-01-01, 01:32 PM
I'm a fan of 32 PB. It lets the wizard nab is 18 Int and then throw points around with 14 Con and Dex minimum, maybe stuff into Cha and Wis to prevent penalties. It also gives primary melee people 16s in all physicals and a 10 in a mental stat. As well as letting people like Paladins to grab two 16s and two 14s or some other combination.

2011-01-01, 01:35 PM
Depends on power lvl.

If you're going Mid-High, 32 is the way. If below, 28 might be better.

EDIT: Meh, removed the roll comment.

2011-01-01, 01:40 PM
You could always just give them a series of arrays to pick from if you don't want pointbuys.

2011-01-01, 01:40 PM
I'm a fan of extreme point buys like 40+; helps make characters happen as you envision them and somewhat improves multi-attribute dependent classes, and in general builds that rely on more than 3 stats. Diminishing returns strike really fast for single attribute dependent classes (since the cap of 18 exists and pumping multiple stats high is very costly) leading to a bit more even playfield and room to tweak the stats to match your view of the character.

No more 8 Charisma Fighters as a rule; those can exist but if a player wants to play a leader-like Fighter, he has the option without having to go with 14 Strength to compensate and thus fail at his main job for character vision (a choice no player should ever have to make IMHO; if you're given the choice between having the character you want to play or being able to contribute in the party, something is wrong).

2011-01-01, 01:45 PM
Putting an 18 in your main stat isn't what I would call "extreme munchkining."
It is when you use 25 PB. Leaves you with 9 points and thats not even enough to raise all others to 10.

That's why I thought at first to limit it to 16, that way the have still some points left.

But I guess just giving them some more points so they can get that 18 and still decent secondary stats is the better way that also makes players happy :)

Also if I give them 32 points and they still have 3 stats with penalties, I can happily exploit that and can just blame them for it :)

2011-01-01, 01:47 PM
We've used 32 +2d6 in the past. Stats in D&D aren't overly powerful anyway and past the first few levels +1 or +2 to do something isn't that big of a deal, anyway.

You wind up with 13 or so average with at least 1 stat at 18.

Improperly moderated magic breaks the game far more than having decent stats.

2011-01-01, 09:58 PM
I use 32-point buy almost exclusively. Also, I would suggest the OP not restrict the abilities to 16 before racial for two reasons.

First, having an 18 (or 20 after racial) in an ability makes the player feel like his character is really powerful, a paragon of that ability.

Second, despite the players' perceptions, going from 16 to 18 is mechanically not a huge difference and has a significant cost. By "not a huge difference," I mean that going from 16 to 18 will likely not allow a character to fight opponents even 1 CR higher than they could have with a 16. In other words, it is often more economical to stick with a 16 in your primary ability and bump up some of your secondary abilities. Let's look at what going from 16 to 18 in various abilities gives you (assuming no racial boni):

Strength: +1 melee attack, +1 or +2 melee and thrown damage, 70 additional pounds of stuff carried (max load), +1 to Climb, Jump, and Swim

Dexterity: +1 ranged attack, +1 AC, +1 Initiative, +1 Reflex, +1 to several skills

Constitution: +1 hit point per level, +1 Fortitude, +1 Concentration

Intelligence: +1 skill point per level, +1 to several skills, 1 additional 4th-level spell per day (Wizard only), 1 additional 1st-level spell known at character creation (Wizard only), +1 Spell save DCs (Wizard only)

Wisdom: +1 Will, +1 to several skills, +1 AC (Monk only), 1 additional 4th-level spell per day (Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger only), +1 Spell save DCs (Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger only)

Charisma: +1 to several skills, 1 additional 4th-level spell per day (Bard and Sorcerer only), +1 Spell save DCs (Bard and Sorcerer only), +1 saves (Paladin only), +1 point of Lay on Hands healing per level (Paladin only)

When I build a character, even with 32 points, I usually only spring for an 18 if I'm a full caster (often not even then) or a Big Stupid Fighter. For example, my stats with 32-pt buys usually go something like this:

Specialized (e.g. Wizard): 18, 14, 14, 10, 10, 8

Focused (e.g. Ranger): 16, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8

General (e.g. Rogue): 16, 14, 14, 14, 10, 10

2011-01-01, 10:12 PM
You could always just give them a series of arrays to pick from if you don't want pointbuys.


If you assume players are ALWAYS going to min-max when presented with the opportunity, you'll be right often enough that the one or two times in your entire gaming career that you're wrong won't matter. Thusly, never give them the opportunity. And, frankly, understanding that for each basic archetype, there is a single mechanically superior layout of attributes at a given point value means that pretty soon, every Rogue or Wizard starts looking alike. That's boring.

Note, though, that this doesn't mean to reduce them to impotence, either. Giving your Wizard player the choice between a 12, 14, 10, 15, 15, 15 statline and a 15, 15, 12, 15, 14, 10 statline isn't really a choice. Give them a clear strength, and even let that strength be in their main stat...but that doesn't obligate you to max out the main stat. Giving the Level 1 Wizard a choice between these statlines, for example, all produce a "decent" character who is competant at what he does, but has some clear weaknesses.

Str 12
Dex 10
Con 15
Int 16
Wis 8
Cha 12

Str 10
Dex 14
Con 8
Int 17
Wis 10
Cha 15

Str 9
Dex 12
Con 12
Int 16
Wis 16
Cha 10

The final advantage doing this gives you is that you don't have to ensure that everyone gets the same "point value", or even that every statline has the same point value. You could choose ANY of those previous statlines for your Wizard, and the party Paladin can end up with a 17, 10, 15, 11, 15, 17 statline...and they'll still both be playable within the same party due to the fundamentally more powerful nature of the Wizard. The fact that the Paladin has a higher "point value" for his attributes doesn't matter.

2011-01-01, 11:15 PM
Most of the cunning players I've worked with in a pointbuy system set their primary stat at 17. It saves 3 points over a stat of 18, and you bump it up to 18 at 4th level anyway. When you're pinching pennies to get all your stats in, it's the way to go.