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View Full Version : Generating Those Six Magic Numbers

Glawackus
2007-09-25, 11:29 AM
I'm writing a character generator program for my Computers Seminar project here in school. I want it to be fairly robust, and was wondering about the different ways that people generate attribute scores.

The methods that I know of so far:
--Classic: 4d6, drop lowest
--Point-Buy: Everything starts at 8, modify by x amount of points
--Elite Array: You get this, this, and this, assign as you like (I forget what the numbers are).

Are there any other big ones that I'm missing, or are these the most common ways that people get the attributes?

 If this is in the wrong forum, I apologize in advance. Wasn't really sure where to put it.

Chaos Bringer
2007-09-25, 11:32 AM
I have a DM that just makes us roll 3d6 and take what you get. Kinda leaves things more to chance to make it interesting. I've also seen players go for a 5d6 drop the 2 lowest. I dont like that one, unless its meant to be an overpowered group.

Tellah
2007-09-25, 11:35 AM
I've seen a few others, but they're essentially variants on what you've got there:

5d6 drop two
32 point buy (rather than the standard 25), seemingly a common method judging from forum activity
3d6 straight, no arranging by preference
1d20
2d10
1d10+8

Those are the ones I can remember seeing more than once, but of course there are plenty of wacky generation methods out there.

crimson77
2007-09-25, 11:36 AM
--Elite Array: You get this, this, and this, assign as you like (I forget what the numbers are).

15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 11:36 AM
6d3 is something I've been meaning to try. Gives you a score between 6 and 18, with an average of 15. Very high powered, but has some potential.

Another one I've considered is 1d12+1d8. Score between 2 and 20, with the average at 11 (not much higher than 3d6's 10.5 average). Makes for more broadly oriented characters.

Finally, I've tried the Champion array: 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8.

Jacob Orlove
2007-09-25, 11:38 AM
6d3 has an average result of 12.

Crow
2007-09-25, 11:41 AM
Our group uses one of two;

1. Standard 4d6, drop lowest

or

2. 3d6, re-roll 1's (6-18, tends to come out on par with the above...functionally)

Though our favorite is having the other players vote on your real-life ability scores, and using those. =)

Holocron Coder
2007-09-25, 11:50 AM
As a programmer also, here is a note when actually doing the programming:

Don't mistake a random number 2-12 to be the same as 2d6. The probabilities of the individual numbers are different. Namely, for 2-12 random, each number has an equal chance, whereas with 2d6, the chance increases as you approach the mean (with 7 being the most common result).

Generation methods:
3d6
4d6b3
5d6b3
Unusual Variants (6d3, 1d10+8, etc)
Grid-Method (shown here ('http://invisiblecastle.com/help.py?p=grid')), which uses another generation method as well.

Jacob Orlove
2007-09-25, 11:58 AM
There's also the "just pick whatever scores you want" method, but that won't work for most groups.

Chaos Bringer
2007-09-25, 12:08 PM
Though our favorite is having the other players vote on your real-life ability scores, and using those. =)

I though i heard of a site or a group or something that came up with a criteria for generating your real world stats. If anyone knows of it send me a link!

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 12:12 PM
6d3 has an average result of 12.

Not quite. For calculating the averages of dice, it's the least possible plus the most possible, divided by 2.
1+3=4
4/2=2
6*2=12

Nevermind, I forgot that odd-sided dice have whole number averages. This is what I get for originally doing it in my head.

Kurald Galain
2007-09-25, 12:14 PM
There's the "click on the + button until you get straight 18s" which is mostly used in computer games.

Also, there's 5d4 (Dark Sun) and "any 6 scores that add up to 75" (which makes more sense in 2nd ed, I suppose).

There's also the variant where you aren't allowed to switch your scores around - e.g. roll [3 of 4]d6 six times, and keep the stats in that order.

Holocron Coder
2007-09-25, 12:17 PM
Not quite. For calculating the averages of dice, it's the least possible plus the most possible, divided by 2...

Actually, it's just the least plus most divided by 2. All of the numbers on a single die are equally possible :smallbiggrin:

BardicDuelist
2007-09-25, 12:19 PM
I use 2d6 +6. This generates an average of 13, with a range of 8-18.

I've also used 1d10+8. I don't like this as much.

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 12:19 PM
Also, there's 5d4 (Dark Sun)

Ooh, I kinda like that one.

Swooper
2007-09-25, 12:19 PM
My group has long used 4d6, reroll ones (untill it's not a one), take best three - so you might want to include the option to ignore certain numbers should they come up.

Holocron Coder
2007-09-25, 12:25 PM
OP, you've actually sparked my mind (during school, no less) enough to write a generic "dice roller" function. Nothing stat-wise and nothing special (no best-of or min-value modifiers) but still workable.

Of course, it's in Java... /geek

Kurald Galain
2007-09-25, 01:04 PM
My group has long used 4d6, reroll ones (untill it's not a one), take best three - so you might want to include the option to ignore certain numbers should they come up.

That's technically 4d5 [pick best three] + 3 :smallsmile:

crimson77
2007-09-25, 01:28 PM
Finally, I've tried the Champion array: 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8.

Where did this come from?

2007-09-25, 01:30 PM
I vaguely remember this system from my rec.games.frp.dnd days; I know I've seen it posted here at least once, but the details are a bit fuzzy:

Stat 1 = 3d6
Stat 2 = 3d6
Stat 3 = 3d6
Stat 4 = 27 - Stat 1
Stat 5 = 25 - Stat 2
Stat 6 = 23 - Stat 3

Arrange as desired.

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 01:30 PM
Where did this come from?

I think it was made up somewhere on these very boards. It's a decent array, as far as arrays go.

Person_Man
2007-09-25, 01:32 PM
My group uses an even simpler method. The DM sets a score value, usually 80 or 85. Your six stats must add up to that number. No stat can be higher then 18 + racial modifiers + stat bonuses from levels, and no stat can be lower then 3 after racial modifiers are applied, (which means a Dwarf would have to put a minimum of 5 points into Cha).

1) Every PC starts out on equal footing. Your bonuses always add up to the same exact amount. No resentment because of poor die rolls.

2) Every PC can customize what they want.

3) You can make your PC truly shine at an ability.

4) If you really want to dump an ability (Wis and Cha are popular) you can, but then you must accept the consequences on your roleplaying (a low Wis PC should make poor tactical decisions, a low Cha PC should have trouble communicating - even with other PCs, etc) and in combat (expect poison, ability drain, ability damage, etc).

1) Builds with MAD tend to suck if the base stat points are generally low. For example, a Gish build has a hard time with just 80 stat points.

2) Builds with MAD generally pwn if the stats are generally high. A well built gish with 100 stat points can do almost anything, destroying niche protection.

Raolin_Fenix
2007-09-25, 01:32 PM
My group uses: 4d6 x 7 (as opposed to 4d6 x 6). Drop the lowest roll, drop the lowest total. Makes things somewhat higher powered, but doesn't overblow it. Generally prevents you from having penalties.

BetaFlame
2007-09-25, 01:33 PM
Lessee.

4d6 reroll 1s. Drop lowest.

2d6+6.

1d6+12.

1d6+1d4+1d8.

1d6+1d12.

2d12.

4d6 (no dropping)

These are all styles of games I have played/used.

OH YEAH.

Stat Matrix. 3d6 in each slot of a 6x6 grid, take any row, column, or diagonal of 6 stats.

Ralfarius
2007-09-25, 01:34 PM
Here's one I haven't read around here, quite yet:

18d6, roll all at once, put in groups of three. Highly customizable, can make for some overpowered characters, but it's fun to roll fistfuls of dice. Works best with smaller, 'monopoly/Shadowrun/Warhammer' style dice.

CockroachTeaParty
2007-09-25, 01:34 PM
One interesting variant I heard of was rolling 24d6, drop the lowest 6, and arrange as desired (no score above 18 or below 3).

Indon
2007-09-25, 01:35 PM
Let's not forget the Standard array, used for generating normal NPCs: It's 8,9,10,11,12,13 if I remember correctly.

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 01:36 PM
Let's not forget the Standard array, used for generating normal NPCs: It's 8,9,10,11,12,13 if I remember correctly.

And the Mundane array (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10).

Kurald Galain
2007-09-25, 01:52 PM
And the Mundane array (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10).

And the "DM hates you" array (8,7,6,5,4,3).

Rockphed
2007-09-25, 01:55 PM
I use the following method, though I don't think I have ever seen anybody else use it. I roll 3d6 12 times, drop the 6 lowest entries.

Duke of URL
2007-09-25, 01:57 PM
I think it was made up somewhere on these very boards. It's a decent array, as far as arrays go.

It better be "decent" -- that's a net +9 modifier and the equivalent to a 38-point buy (16+10+6+4+2+0).

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 01:59 PM
It better be "decent" -- that's a net +9 modifier and the equivalent to a 38-point buy (16+10+6+4+2+0).

Oh, no, what I mean was that arrays, IMO, are generally inferior to rolling, as the numbers generated just feel arbitrary instead of variable.

Duke of URL
2007-09-25, 02:05 PM
Oh, no, what I mean was that arrays, IMO, are generally inferior to rolling, as the numbers generated just feel arbitrary instead of variable.

Ah... that makes sense.

Actually, something I like, though I've never seen it used is to set a range of net modifiers (say, +4 to +6), roll 6 x 3d6, re-roll all until your net modifier is within the range -- this gives the randomness of dice rolling along with the egalitarianism of "fair" attributes for all. The range defines the relative power of the PCs, much like a point buy system, but you still get randomness within it.

Of course, when you set an upper limit of say +6, and someone rolls a net +8 or +9, they're not going to be a happy camper... :smalleek:

black wagner
2007-09-25, 02:43 PM
In my campaigns I always allow a 4d6, drop the lowest 7 times, dropping the lowest total.
I do like my players to have every opertunity to have a good character. One they will be excited about running for a long time.

ocato
2007-09-25, 03:07 PM
OH YEAH.

Stat Matrix. 3d6 in each slot of a 6x6 grid, take any row, column, or diagonal of 6 stats.

this and the 5d4 are very interesting to me.

Glawackus
2007-09-25, 03:10 PM
OP, you've actually sparked my mind (during school, no less) enough to write a generic "dice roller" function. Nothing stat-wise and nothing special (no best-of or min-value modifiers) but still workable.

Of course, it's in Java... /geek

Same for my program.

(For something really geeky: we all had to give our projects names...mine is called "Gazebo". :smallwink: )

RS14
2007-09-25, 03:11 PM
I generate scores with the standard 4d6 choose 3, find their point-buy equivalent, then roll a d6 to choose an ability and add or subtract as necessary to bring the point-buy value of the scores to 25, or 28, or some other pre-determined level. I then reroll if the scores are particularly bad (13,13,13,13,13,8). It keeps the power level roughly even but takes a while to do, so it's good to have automated or pregenerated.

tannish2
2007-09-25, 03:16 PM
i, personally, prefer rolling , because it reduces the badness of MAD. point buy REALLY ****s over those classes but having XdX asssign as you like or set. print in tiny letters near top of stat block, and include point buys so its totally unlimited or a combination roll+pt buy thing. making it more open is better.

Holocron Coder
2007-09-25, 03:21 PM
Same for my program.

(For something really geeky: we all had to give our projects names...mine is called "Gazebo". :smallwink: )

Ha, nice! I actually have it saved on my computer at the moment... the back of my mind is toying with simple ways to handle "bX" or "minX" that stays true to dice-roll probabilities.

TO_Incognito
2007-09-25, 03:35 PM
I generate scores with the standard 4d6 choose 3, find their point-buy equivalent, then roll a d6 to choose an ability and add or subtract as necessary to bring the point-buy value of the scores to 25, or 28, or some other pre-determined level. I then reroll if the scores are particularly bad (13,13,13,13,13,8). It keeps the power level roughly even but takes a while to do, so it's good to have automated or pregenerated.

Erm... I personally prefer to have each player draw a perfect circle, divide the circumference by pi, add the individual's estimated ADIU rating, factorial the cubic root of that, plug into the quadratic equation, and differentiate the result. Eight times; drop lowest two.

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-25, 03:38 PM
6d3 is something I've been meaning to try. Gives you a score between 6 and 18, with an average of 15. Very high powered, but has some potential.

Another one I've considered is 1d12+1d8. Score between 2 and 20, with the average at 11 (not much higher than 3d6's 10.5 average). Makes for more broadly oriented characters.

Finally, I've tried the Champion array: 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8.

The average of a d3 is 2, not 2.5. Thus, it gives you an average of 12, not 15.

Fax Celestis
2007-09-25, 03:42 PM
The average of a d3 is 2, not 2.5. Thus, it gives you an average of 12, not 15.

We went over this already, about three posts after that. I know: it's because I'm a History major doing math in my head.

Merlin the Tuna
2007-09-25, 03:46 PM
OH YEAH.

Stat Matrix. 3d6 in each slot of a 6x6 grid, take any row, column, or diagonal of 6 stats.Invisible Castle has a modified version of that here. (http://invisiblecastle.com/statgen.py?a=grid) There are also a few systems that involve group PC stat generation rather than individual PC stat generation. Don't remember where to find any, though.

Yakk
2007-09-25, 03:59 PM
each 1: add 2 to stat 1
each 2: add 2 to stat 2
...
each 6: add 2 to stat 6

If you roll more than 6 of any one number (ie, modified score over 18), reroll it.

Finally, roll 3d6, reroll duplicates
each 1: add 1 to stat 1
...

Also reroll anything that gives you a stat over 18.

Average: 13 and 1/6th.
Total modifier: +8

By reducing the first die pool, you have tight control over your total modifier -- each die is a +1 modifier.

So 15d6 gives you a total modifier of +3.

dr.cello
2007-09-25, 04:38 PM
One interesting variant I heard of was rolling 24d6, drop the lowest 6, and arrange as desired (no score above 18 or below 3).

I've done that, mostly as a joke. It was sarcastically powerful. We used that method to roll up an NPC in a Star Wars campaign (who was named Norm, and there was a running joke about how awesome he was). I believe his stats were 18, 18, 18, 18, 17, 16--I think we did 24d6, drop lowest six, arrange as desired but you have to give three dice to each attribute.

Draz74
2007-09-25, 07:39 PM
One oft-overlooked method is "point-buy, followed by rolling, which replaces point buy if it's better."

Now, for each ability (in order), roll 3d6. If your 3d6 result is higher than what you bought, replace it.

Nice, because you can end up with a Sorcerer that actually has decent Strength, or a character that actually has odd-numbered ability scores, or strange things like that.

Still abusable by dedicated min-maxers, though. (Even more than normal point-buy, it encourages the hopeful Wizard to buy 18 Int, and just hope that his other lousy scores get replaced by decent rolls.)

Tor the Fallen
2007-09-25, 07:49 PM
Roll 3 sets of 4d6, drop the lowest.
That way you tend to get a crap array, a "monk" array and a "I'm a druid, I only need an 18 in wisdom and a 16 in con, and I'm set to jet. Err, turn into a dinosaur and pwn you mother****ers."

Enzario
2007-09-25, 08:29 PM
So, to sum up so far, we have:

Roll XdY drop Z lowest add V + PdQ drop R lowest add U (repeat for each individual ability)
X Point Direct Buy (ability scores must add up to a total amount)
Arrays: Champion, Elite, Nonelite, Mundane, S**t

Also, we must include a system of grouping together rolls into one array, and also a way of keeping track of previous arrays so you can compare (maybe add in support for saving/printing records for those DMs out there who are obsessed with anti-cheating devices?)

CockroachTeaParty
2007-09-25, 08:41 PM
I've done that, mostly as a joke. It was sarcastically powerful. We used that method to roll up an NPC in a Star Wars campaign (who was named Norm, and there was a running joke about how awesome he was). I believe his stats were 18, 18, 18, 18, 17, 16--I think we did 24d6, drop lowest six, arrange as desired but you have to give three dice to each attribute.

Oh, that's what I meant. Only three dice per attribute. Whoops.

Orzel
2007-09-25, 08:44 PM
There's also

(pick a playing card and add 6 to it. Jokers are 12's)

"An Ace."
"Aces are one. Enjoy your 7 Str"
"Boo. Three of a kind."

Tengu
2007-09-25, 08:58 PM
My group uses an even simpler method. The DM sets a score value, usually 80 or 85. Your six stats must add up to that number. No stat can be higher then 18 + racial modifiers + stat bonuses from levels, and no stat can be lower then 3 after racial modifiers are applied, (which means a Dwarf would have to put a minimum of 5 points into Cha).

1) Every PC starts out on equal footing. Your bonuses always add up to the same exact amount. No resentment because of poor die rolls.

2) Every PC can customize what they want.

3) You can make your PC truly shine at an ability.

4) If you really want to dump an ability (Wis and Cha are popular) you can, but then you must accept the consequences on your roleplaying (a low Wis PC should make poor tactical decisions, a low Cha PC should have trouble communicating - even with other PCs, etc) and in combat (expect poison, ability drain, ability damage, etc).

1) Builds with MAD tend to suck if the base stat points are generally low. For example, a Gish build has a hard time with just 80 stat points.

2) Builds with MAD generally pwn if the stats are generally high. A well built gish with 100 stat points can do almost anything, destroying niche protection.

So it's point buy, but with all increases costing 1 point, and lower minimal stats?

I see one more disadvantage - non-human races do not benefit from their ability bonuses, unless you want to have a stat above 18 at the start. Which really makes humans even better than in a normal DND game. How do you handle races with stat bonuses that add up to a sum other than 0?

Kurald Galain
2007-09-26, 03:58 AM
I'm rather surprised at how complex and time-consuming these can get... wasn't one of the points of original D&D that creating a character was quick 'n easy? Okay, skill and spell selection may take some additional time, but aside from that, I don't see why generating ability scores should take more than a minute.

tannish2
2007-09-26, 04:09 AM
So, to sum up so far, we have:

Roll XdY drop Z lowest add V + PdQ drop R lowest add U (repeat for each individual ability)
X Point Direct Buy (ability scores must add up to a total amount)
Arrays: Champion, Elite, Nonelite, Mundane, S**t

Also, we must include a system of grouping together rolls into one array, and also a way of keeping track of previous arrays so you can compare (maybe add in support for saving/printing records for those DMs out there who are obsessed with anti-cheating devices?)

ooh and add for the roll ones 2 variants
in order rolled (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA)
also have the type that was used displayed somewhere in the record
OH! and have manditory ninja levels.

AtomicKitKat
2007-09-26, 04:17 AM
Finally, I've tried the Champion array: 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8.

That's the one I suggested, for the Worgs to be playable, as I recall.:smallbiggrin: Most useful on races where the + and - ability score gulf is enormous(ie, where the highest score is 10 or more points above the lowest).

goat
2007-09-26, 04:29 AM
We went over this already, about three posts after that. I know: it's because I'm a History major doing math in my head.

The 6d3 method is also reeeaaally unlikely to give you an 18. On 3d6, you've got a 1/216 chance, on 6d3, it's only 1/729. You're going to get a nice cluster of scores around the 12 mark, with a minimal amount of outliers.

Tengu
2007-09-26, 04:52 AM
I'm rather surprised at how complex and time-consuming these can get... wasn't one of the points of original D&D that creating a character was quick 'n easy? Okay, skill and spell selection may take some additional time, but aside from that, I don't see why generating ability scores should take more than a minute.

Because it's better to take a longer time and have a set of stats that'll represent your character well and won't make you feel useless than roll 3d6 six times and come up with something that sucks bum?

Vilehelm
2007-09-26, 05:19 AM
this and the 5d4 are very interesting to me.

The 5d4 method was from the 2nd edition Dark Sun campaign. It generates scores between 5 and 20 (obviously) as it was meant to be a hard, high-powered, lethal world. The current 3.5 incarnation of Dark Sun (as presented officially on www.athas.org) uses regular character generation methods between 3 and 18 instead of the older, higher powered rolling system. See the link for details.

Dark Sun is still my favorite world.

I use mostly a 32-point buy, though at times it makes characters feel a bit generic, stat-wise.

Kurald Galain
2007-09-26, 05:38 AM
Because it's better to take a longer time and have a set of stats that'll represent your character well and won't make you feel useless than roll 3d6 six times and come up with something that sucks bum?

That's a nice fallacy you have there. Nobody is sugegsting that these are the only two alternatives, and there are plenty of ways that are both quick and resulting in good characters.

Tengu
2007-09-26, 05:47 AM
That's a nice fallacy you have there. Nobody is sugegsting that these are the only two alternatives, and there are plenty of ways that are both quick and resulting in good characters.

Examples then, if you don't mind, along with methods that result in good characters but are too slow and were mentioned here. Because I had the impression your comment was about the majority of methods mentioned here, from which barely any are complicated and time-consuming.

The Mormegil
2007-09-26, 08:27 AM
When you've finished the program, can you put it in a website or something? Free download character sheet for DnD players, or the like? That will be most appreciable...

Glawackus
2007-09-26, 11:24 AM
I'll see what I can do. Right now, my priority is to (1) keep the teacher thinking I'm busy enough to give me an A and (2) make the thing work.

 Being that I actually have to do some work today, I'm going to write a quick little class for the die roller. (once again, this is just part of a larger character generator--if I'm excessively bored/finish this early, maybe I'll yank out the dice roller, and some more functionality) The methods that I'm going to write in, because they seemed to come up the most in the thread:
- 3d6
- 5d6 drop 2
- 1d10+8
- Classic (4d6 drop lowest)
- 5d4 (Dark Sun)

And the various arrays will be in there ("Elite", "Classic", "Standard", "Mundane", "DM Hates You" :smalltongue:)

Big ups to whoever brought up the Stat Matrix. I'm not going to code it in, but, man, is that a neat idea.

Carry on, though! This is a terribly interesting thread. If I had more nerdy types in my Prob/Stat class, I'd totally do this for a project or something. :smallsmile:

Curmudgeon
2007-09-26, 12:42 PM
While I prefer point buy, I've also used this method:
Roll 3d6 36 times, arranging the scores in the order rolled in a 6 x 6 grid.
Pick any row, column, or diagonal (14 different choices).
That way you'll have 2 or 3 choices for the stats that go with any lucky 18 (15.4% chance) or 17 (33.6% chance) (51% chance of at least one number 17+), or maybe a couple of nice selections with a high average.

You can also reroll 1s with the above, or use 3d5+3 (which is the same result), narrowing the range from 3-18 to 6-18. Compared to 3d6 this omits the lowest 4.6% of all possible scores. It also bumps up the chance of an 18 (to 25.1%) or a 17 (to 43.9%) (69% chance of at least one number 17+).

Kurald Galain
2007-09-26, 02:02 PM
Examples then, if you don't mind

You don't consider rolling up thirty-six stats to be slightly overdoing it?

Kompera
2007-09-26, 02:26 PM
One oft-overlooked method is "point-buy, followed by rolling, which replaces point buy if it's better."