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    Default [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    My players and I agree we should use the point buy system at the start of the game, but I don't know how many points to give.

    If using the point buy system, how many points should be available to use? This would also be the first time I used point buy, so are there any suggestions to using this system or things I should know about it?

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Weak = 25
    Average = 28
    Above Average = 32
    Powerful = 36

    These, to my knowledge, are the most used PBs.
    Last edited by Eloel; 2010-10-11 at 03:11 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Go for 28 or 32 pts.
    Definitely, the point buy is better then die rolls. You'll avoid PCs with different totals: when a pc rolled two 18 and one 17, while the higher stat of another PC is a single 16, there's no good in it.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I am a Computer Programmer with a serious hobby-level interest in statistics, 4d6b3 is approximately a 38 Point Buy.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    as said above, use 28 or 32. i personally like giving 32, makes the players a bit happier, and doesn't affect the game THAT much.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I typically use 25-PB for groups composed mostly of casual gamers or players who are new to D&D, and 32-PB for groups of heavy optimizers and powergamers who want to push the system.

    25-PB is easier for you as the DM -- monsters and NPCs built on the Elite Array are also using 25-PB. If you switch to a higher PB, you'll need to improve the elite array to match the higher PB, and upconvert any stock elite monsters and NPCs to match as well.
    Last edited by jiriku; 2010-10-11 at 03:20 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I rarely go under 40 though I've played as high as 50pb before. Doesn't really help SAD types like Wizards or Druids any, but all the martial types profit. Not to mention, it lends itself well to both, covering your class's needs and whatever secondary stats you view your character as having high. For example, you could actually build a believable Roy with ~40pb.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Here's a handy point-buy calculator you can link to your players if you want to help them.

    The first one apparently uses a Pathfinder version; in it, 25 points works out to roughly the same as 32 points in regular point-buy, and you can have attributes lower than 8 (before racial adjustments).

    I like 32 point-buy, myself. MAD (multiple-attribute dependency) characters can spread their stats as needed (since lower scores cost less per point), and SAD (single-) characters aren't boosted as much as to be worrisome.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I use a 29 point buy using the Pathfinder rules. It comes out to just a little better, on average, than 4d6 drop lowest.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubious Pie View Post
    I am a Computer Programmer with a serious hobby-level interest in statistics, 4d6b3 is approximately a 38 Point Buy.
    That . . . looks like a typo. If I remember correctly, it's around a 28-point buy.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I won't DM a game with less than 40.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post
    That . . . looks like a typo. If I remember correctly, it's around a 28-point buy.
    Yup. The 3.0 writers pegged it at a 25 point buy, but there's a spreadsheet somewhere on the interwebz showing it comes closer to a 27 point buy. If you reroll 1s - even only once per die - it comes closer to 38.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I wouldn't want to go lower than 32. Casters will always just put 18 in their casting stat and less point buy for them just means they'll be dysfunctional savants. Other classes generally need a wider distribution of ability scores and they can't afford low stats if there are higher tiers around.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    The DMG and the Monster Manuals assume a point buy of 25. NPCs and class-leveled monsters typically are built with Elite Array, which is also a 25 point buy. 28 and 21 are both close enough that you don't really need to adjust. I usually use 28, because it works out statistically similar to the 4d6 method.

    I don't recommend going much over 28 point buy, because it starts to affect balance and makes high stats much less special. At 28 PB, there's still a significant choice between putting a 16 and an 18 in your primary stat, or a 12 and a 14 in a secondary/tertiary. The higher you raise the point buy, the less significant the choices become, until having an 18 in your primary stat becomes the default. Some people think this is a good thing, but in practice all it does is raise everyone's standards; everyone starts thinking that their character's "weak" if they aren't at the human maximum.

    Once you hit 35-40 PB and up, you have to start rewriting monsters on a regular basis: standard MM monsters have the nonelite array of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, which just doesn't cut it when PCs have all their primary and secondary stats at 16+. It does give the PCs marginally more flexibility in what build they want to play, but personally I don't think it's worth the effort.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-10-11 at 08:06 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I would note that 25 points is what the D&D 3.5 edition authors were expecting. So all the CR rules and balancing is geared toward that level of power. If your characters are 32 point buy, you should expect that they are slightly more powerful than what's expected of their level. Keep that in mind when balancing encounters.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Designers also balanced for Weapon Specialization Longsword & Board Fighters with a Healbot and a Blaster Wizard, and figured the MM1 monsters would not use 'optimal' tactics.

    EDIT: I find, for my games, that a 28 point buy makes my players feel sufficiently special without having them either struggle against, or walk through, the majority of level-appropriate challenges from the MM.
    Last edited by Amphetryon; 2010-10-12 at 06:10 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Very true. If you know how to play a monster well -- especially if you can remember to apply all their DR & SR & immunities, which I never can -- then yes, they are definitely a CR higher, or two.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Once you hit 35-40 PB and up, you have to start rewriting monsters on a regular basis: standard MM monsters have the nonelite array of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, which just doesn't cut it when PCs have all their primary and secondary stats at 16+. It does give the PCs marginally more flexibility in what build they want to play, but personally I don't think it's worth the effort.
    Could you rely on CR otherwise? I've found that regardless of pb, you'll have to rewrite or at least reassess monsters on a regular basis since CR is inconsistent to say the least, let alone if you use intelligent monsters with class levels (which I feel logical, at least for creatures that dwell in groups such as Giants and most Monstrous Humanoids) or advanced creatures.

    And on the other hand, if a Fighter puts those 8 points to get 15 Charisma, I don't see it making a huge difference in combat encounters; combat-wise he's still equivalent to a 32pb Fighter, though obviously better off in social encounters.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubious Pie View Post
    I am a Computer Programmer with a serious hobby-level interest in statistics, 4d6b3 is approximately a 38 Point Buy.
    Recheck your calculations; 4d6b3 averages to almost exactly 28 points. (The exact number depends on how you average in results under 8, which are impossible by point buy.)

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    For the record, I've been playing with 33 point-buy (yes, thirty-three... my DM is weird) for a year or two now, making several characters, and I've never started with a pre-racial 18 in any stat, even on my most SAD characters. Anecdotes, varying mileage, etc.

    I like 32 point-buy. It makes stat-boosting items more of a luxury than a necessity. You'll still want 'em, sure, but not nearly as badly.

    Plus, it means that almost any character can afford at least a 12 in INT, which means more skill points, which everyone loves (GMs and players alike benefit from having a range of skills in the group).
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    I use 30 points from base 8 on a point-for-point basis, which approximately comes out as about 38 points in 3.5's metric. (Never liked the logic of a non linear cost for a linear stat progression.) A typical array with this gives you 18,16,14,12,10,8. (I'm actually considering raising that by another 6 or so points, to avoid the "everyone in the party has 8 charisma" syndrome.)

    I find that I can't use stock monsters ANYWAY (average party size six, access to most of 3.5 and moderate to high optimisation and teamwork skills on the part of my players) so really, the fact I have to make my own monsters doesn't bother me. (That and the fact that 90% of the opposition in my games will be classed humanoids anyway.)

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    I find that I can't use stock monsters ANYWAY (average party size six, access to most of 3.5 and moderate to high optimisation and teamwork skills on the part of my players) so really, the fact I have to make my own monsters doesn't bother me. (That and the fact that 90% of the opposition in my games will be classed humanoids anyway.)
    Eh, I just don't have the time nowadays. I'd much rather be able to use monsters straight out of the Monster Manuals whenever possible. It cuts down on the mechanical part of the preparation enormously, which gives me more time to work out the rest of the session.

    That's only half the reason, though. The other reason is that I think the quest for high stats is kind of a rat race. High stats are relative; if everyone else has a 14 in their primary stat, then to be special you need a 16. If everyone else has a 16, you need an 18. If everyone else has an 18, you need a 20, and so on. I really don't think a DM does their players any favours by giving them high starting stats - all it does is set the numbers to a higher baseline.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Either 28 or 32 point buy for me--28 for lower-power games, 32 for higher.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Eh, I just don't have the time nowadays. I'd much rather be able to use monsters straight out of the Monster Manuals whenever possible. It cuts down on the mechanical part of the preparation enormously, which gives me more time to work out the rest of the session.
    I make time. Wargaming and roleplaying are my only hobbies (I don't have any interest in sports, booze, the mating rituals of the living etc etc), so I am prepared to sink the hours in. Plus, making monsters is at least half the fun of adventure writing. (You are, after all, talking to the guy whose most current game world unilaterally tossed out the entire 3.5 bestiary (and Vancian casting and WBL) to re-design and re-image a new whole one from mostly primary sources! Up to a round 70 beasties so far...)

    MM monsters wouldn't make it even if I had lower PCs stats, though. They just don't cut it against a well-organised team of players!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph
    That's only half the reason, though. The other reason is that I think the quest for high stats is kind of a rat race. High stats are relative; if everyone else has a 14 in their primary stat, then to be special you need a 16. If everyone else has a 16, you need an 18. If everyone else has an 18, you need a 20, and so on. I really don't think a DM does their players any favours by giving them high starting stats - all it does is set the numbers to a higher baseline.
    On the flip side, even with 25 points buy, the SAD characters are almost certainly going to have at least a 16 in the casting stat, and a 5% difference between save DCs (say) (i.e. 16 to 18) isn't something I care to lose sleep over. It also shores up the gap for the noncasters a touch (and every bit helps). As the maximums don't change, all the stats in the world don't stop the SAD casters from dominating if they like, however you assign them. But a higher point buy does make things like my Cleric/Monk Naruto-ninja-clone character actually reasonably feasible. (That particular one is a bugger because there are NO dump stats.) I'm also not really bothered about anyone's stats feeling "special", since everyone will have exactly the same number of pluses. (Since I'm using a point-for-point.) I expect EVERYONE to be having at least one 18 unless their crazily MAD.

    Basically, I think a higher point buy helps the MAD characters (which basically translates to "more-or-less anyone except SAD primary casters) more than it helps the SAD characters; and theoretically, it might give you more or a variety in spread of stat modifiers across the group.
    Last edited by Aotrs Commander; 2010-10-12 at 05:58 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Basically, I think a higher point buy helps the MAD characters (which basically translates to "more-or-less anyone except SAD primary casters) more than it helps the SAD characters
    I've heard this argument before, and I'm not convinced. I made some example builds once to test it out, and my conclusion was that the difference was microscopic. Maybe comparing the lowest to the highest extreme, the MAD characters benefited a tiny bit more, but it was insignificant compared to play style, DM decisions, houserules, optimisation level, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    and theoretically, it might give you more or a variety in spread of stat modifiers across the group.
    I don't find that this applies either. The powergamers will dump their dump stats and pour all their points into their primary and secondaries; the RP-types will spread their points out to match their conception of the character. Stat variety is mostly a function of the personalities of your players, rather than the PB totals you give them.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubious Pie View Post
    I am a Computer Programmer with a serious hobby-level interest in statistics, 4d6b3 is approximately a 38 Point Buy.
    You meant "28 point buy."

    Anywho, I usually run 28-32.
    Last edited by Godless_Paladin; 2010-10-12 at 06:10 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I've heard this argument before, and I'm not convinced. I made some example builds once to test it out, and my conclusion was that the difference was microscopic. Maybe comparing the lowest to the highest extreme, the MAD characters benefited a tiny bit more, but it was insignificant compared to play style, DM decisions, houserules, optimisation level, etc.
    I'm not convinced by your non-convinced-ness.

    We could argue all day and it wouldn't matter, though. You won't convince me to use lower stats, and I'm even not gonna try and convince you. Maybe it's just a psychological thing, that we as players feel better because we've got higher numbers (i.e. more at the maximum cap and more above the "average"); whatever the reason, it works for me. We tend to use maximum hitpoints for everything as well (especially the NPCs nowadays!)

    My games are a fairly radical departure from 3.5's supposed design average anyway, so if I choose to base the numbers slightly higher up, what the hey?
    Last edited by Aotrs Commander; 2010-10-12 at 06:27 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    My games are a fairly radical departure from 3.5's supposed design average anyway, so if I choose to base the numbers slightly higher up, what the hey?
    Eh, it's not a big deal or anything. I just think that for most games, it works better to keep the stats to something close to the book-standard. Obviously if the DM's willing and able to do the work to rebalance, the game's going to work fine no matter what power level you set it at.

    I'll admit that part of it is that I've had a lot of frustrating experiences with players who have ridiculously high benchmarks for stats. I've lost count of the number of times I've been told that a character's stats "suck", or that a PC is "gimped" . . . and then I total up the scores and it comes to something like a 42 point buy.
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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    When I've DMed, I've usually used 40 PB: the players in my group are mostly optimizers, and in my experience it actually does make a difference giving MAD characters more freedom. And, as has been said above, for optimized PCs monsters generally need reworking anyway.

    In my main game at the moment? The DM allowed us a 60 PB. Sure, it's way more than what's expected, but honestly? It doesn't make that much of a difference when compared to a game with "standard" stats, especially since the DM (like me) often reworks monsters.
    But yeah, if you're using strictly out-of-the-box enemies, I can see how higher PBs might start to show an effect.

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    Default Re: [3.5 D&D] How many points for point buy system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I've heard this argument before, and I'm not convinced. I made some example builds once to test it out, and my conclusion was that the difference was microscopic. Maybe comparing the lowest to the highest extreme, the MAD characters benefited a tiny bit more, but it was insignificant compared to play style, DM decisions, houserules, optimisation level, etc.
    That "argument" is like the argument that a + 5 sword is better than a +1, or that a wizard 20 is more powerful than a fighter 20. Past level 8, a druid is highly unlikely to care at all whether his stats array is 18,16,14,14,14,14 or 18,16,14,14,3,3. At high levels, the wizard has the same lack of caring, for the same reasons (neither one spends much combat time in their original form, so their natural str or dex is irrelevant). The SAD classes can avoid low scores (Glibness or charm>Cha, Polymorph or crafting a golem> Str), or amend them to be closer to where they want (Persist or quicken a stat buff, or make a wand). Mad classes typically can't. You may be unconvinced that water flows downhill, and that is your opinion, it is just wrong.

    The statement about play style, DM decisions, houserules, op level, etc is just a red herring. Houserules are endlessly flexible, and can just as readily invalidate any statement about the game, starting with "there are 6 attributes, ranging between 3-18" up and down the line. DM decisions and playstyle may alter what is better to play, but they don't change that a druid past level 8 needs 2 good stats and 2 decent ones, and a monk needs a lot of good stats. At any optimization level, it is easier to play a SAD character than a MAD one at low PB.

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