# Thread: Alternate Stat Generation Method

1. ## Alternate Stat Generation Method

So just for fun I made a small game out of stat generation. I thought I'd see what kind of feedback it gets.

The rules:
Choose your first stat. It can be anywhere between 7 and 16.
Roll 2d6+5. If your roll is higher than your previous stat, you keep it and add one to both the previous stat and the next stat. If it is lower, you may keep it or you may subtract 1 (minimum 7) from your previous stat and roll again. Once you subtract one from a stat to reroll, you cannot benefit from the +1 of rolling higher.

The goal:
The idea is to allow players to take reasonable risk to generate stats and make it a combination of choice and luck, and to make it unnecessary to have to reroll anything after the fact. By selecting their first stat, the player sets their own bar for risk. Do they want to take the easy 16, or start low and have a higher chance of that +1 to a future roll?

Example:
My next roll is 10. I'm going to keep it and hope for higher next roll: 16 10 X X X X
My next roll is 12. Higher!: 16 11 12 X+1 X X
My next roll is 8. That's lower than I want. I reroll: 16 11 12-1 X+1 X X
...and get 13, +1 for 14!: 16 11 11 14 X X
Next roll is 11. Mediocre, but I'll hope I roll higher and chip it up: 16 11 11 14 11 X
Final roll is 14! The final tally is: 16 11 11 14 12 14

The bounds of a statblock generated in this way are between 7 and 18. 18 requires a roll of 17 after rolling high previously to get that +1. I initially had it as 2d6+6 for a rare and elusive 19, but I felt that those blocks averaged too high. Of course, it could be adjusted if needed.

Anyway, let me know what you think!

2. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

I suspect it's always better to take 16 to start with. Which if correct defeats the purpose of having that choice.
The +1 mechanic to your previous and next roll loses value on the last stat as there is not going to be another roll.

3. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Honestly, this really just seems complicated for the sake of being complicated to me.

4. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

I'm not sure what niche this really feels. Point Buy exists for those who want maximum customization and to inject system mastery by getting the best distribution. Array exists for those who want something simple, fair and evenly distributed. Rolling exists for those who want a more organic feel and to get a new experience during generation.

This seems to be serving some narrow overlap between rolling and point buy, where you're playing a risk management game with a mastery element while still being subject to the whims of dice.

5. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

I like that you call it a game, and it's definitely a unique way of doing things. Not sure what else to say beyond that, really.

6. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Final Hyena
I suspect it's always better to take 16 to start with. Which if correct defeats the purpose of having that choice.
The +1 mechanic to your previous and next roll loses value on the last stat as there is not going to be another roll.
The lower initial stat you select, the higher chance that the next roll will be higher than it and give you a +1 to your next roll. Thus, aiming for the elusive 18.

Originally Posted by Wryte
Honestly, this really just seems complicated for the sake of being complicated to me.
Fair enough. Thanks for the feedback.

Originally Posted by Mr.Moron
I'm not sure what niche this really feels. Point Buy exists for those who want maximum customization and to inject system mastery by getting the best distribution. Array exists for those who want something simple, fair and evenly distributed. Rolling exists for those who want a more organic feel and to get a new experience during generation.

This seems to be serving some narrow overlap between rolling and point buy, where you're playing a risk management game with a mastery element while still being subject to the whims of dice.
You hit the nail on the head. That narrow overlap is for a table that a) hates point buy and array because they're "boring", b) loves rolling but hates getting screwed by pure luck and c) can stomach a sacrifice provided it was fueled by their own choice. The built in re-roll option at a sacrifice and the fact that it's taken one stat at a time allows a certain measure of control over the whims of fate without having it be pure cookie cutter.

And the design is meant to evoke a feeling of accomplishment by having a floor of 7 and a general theme of "chipping up" the numbers to higher levels.

Originally Posted by JBPuffin
I like that you call it a game, and it's definitely a unique way of doing things. Not sure what else to say beyond that, really.
I appreciate you taking a look!

7. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by pwykersotz
The lower initial stat you select, the higher chance that the next roll will be higher than it and give you a +1 to your next roll. Thus, aiming for the elusive 18.
To get an 18 you need to roll a 17 which is higher than 16.

8. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Final Hyena
To get an 18 you need to roll a 17 which is higher than 16.
...and this is why many eyes is a good thing.

Thank you very much for pointing that out, I had overlooked it. I was too focused on the +1 applying to any roll. I'll think about a correction.

9. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by pwykersotz
You hit the nail on the head. That narrow overlap is for a table that a) hates point buy and array because they're "boring", b) loves rolling but hates getting screwed by pure luck and c) can stomach a sacrifice provided it was fueled by their own choice. The built in re-roll option at a sacrifice and the fact that it's taken one stat at a time allows a certain measure of control over the whims of fate without having it be pure cookie cutter.

And the design is meant to evoke a feeling of accomplishment by having a floor of 7 and a general theme of "chipping up" the numbers to higher levels.!
This could work for them.

10. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Final Hyena
To get an 18 you need to roll a 17 which is higher than 16.
Are you talking about a 16 -> 17 -> 17 situation, which gets you 17 17 18 X+1? And has a 1 in 1,296 chance of occurring (odds of 2 17s together like that)? Doable, but rather rare.

Something like 7+1d10 might be an odd variant to try. My dad and I did it once for a one-shot with 4e PCs built as monsters. And for 5e, I might do 2d4+7 b/c I don't like anything higher than a final score of 17 at level 1 for GMing purposes (+4's just too much at level 1 to me, and it's literally impossible in point-buy).

11. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by JBPuffin
Are you talking about a 16 -> 17 -> 17 situation, which gets you 17 17 18 X+1? And has a 1 in 1,296 chance of occurring (odds of 2 17s together like that)? Doable, but rather rare.
I was trying to point out the flaw in the having a choice for the first stat. Apart from rare exceptions it's better to take 16.
There is also the issue that the system benefits someone who gets lower rolls at the start and that if your last roll is higher than the previous the +1 on the next roll doesn't count as there is no next roll.

12. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Final Hyena
I was trying to point out the flaw in the having a choice for the first stat. Apart from rare exceptions it's better to take 16.
There is also the issue that the system benefits someone who gets lower rolls at the start and that if your last roll is higher than the previous the +1 on the next roll doesn't count as there is no next roll.
I'm currently debating if it would be best fixed by allowing the +1 to roll forward to the first stat. But I'm not certain it's enough of an issue to worry about.

And while the issue with the "false choice" of the first stat would be easily remedied by just making it a roll, I really like the ability to choose. I just have to figure out how to implement it in a way that makes it matter.

Game design is difficult!

13. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by pwykersotz
Game design is difficult!
You speak the truth.

A few brainstorming ideas;
• Before rolling you can make one stat a 16 or two stats a 14.
• At the end of generating stats you can re roll your second highest stat to re roll your lowest.
• You can choose instead of rolling 2d6+5 to roll 3d4+4 (minimum is still 7. Average changes from 12 to 11.5. Maximum changes from 17-16. Generally a bit worse but a lower deviation).
• Take a -2 on the current roll (after seeing the result) to get +1 on the next roll.

14. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by pwykersotz
I'm currently debating if it would be best fixed by allowing the +1 to roll forward to the first stat. But I'm not certain it's enough of an issue to worry about.

And while the issue with the "false choice" of the first stat would be easily remedied by just making it a roll, I really like the ability to choose. I just have to figure out how to implement it in a way that makes it matter.

Game design is difficult!
I'm just thinking out loud. Here might a simpler system for the same kind of overall effect you're trying to get at.

You have a pool of 30 d4s.
You assign these to 6 groups, with a minimum of 3 in each.
You roll these dice and total the highest 5 for each group. If the group has less than 5 simply total those.
Then assign these stats as normal, applying racials and obeying the normal cap of 20.

This means that players have the choice for getting the best overall spread by spreading out their pools evenly: 5/5/5/5/5/5 or pushing for big stats: 3/3/3/3/9/9 or even 3/3/3/3/3/15 in the extreme.

This means that an full split is very close to the normal 4d6k3 method in overall power:
4d6k3:
Average = 12.24
Std Dev = 2.85
Chance of 10+ = 82%
Chance of 12+ = 61%
Chance of 14+ = 35.4%
Chance of 16+ = 13%
Chance of 18+ = 1.6%
Chance of 20 = Impossible

5d4:
Average = 12.50
Std Dev: 2.5
Chance of 10+ = 88%
Chance of 12+ = 65%
Chance of 14+ = 34.9%
Chance of 16+ = 11.8%
Chance of 18+ = 2%
Chance of 20 = 0.1%

At the extremes, players are pretty much guaranteed to get a good (or bad) roll:
15d4k5 gives you a 75% shot at an 18 or higher, and a 96% chance of a 16 or higher. Even middling values say putting in a 7d4k5, gives you an 82% shot at 14+.

This gives players a lot of room tune to their odds up or down from the standard spread, without a huge increase in average power. This may provide a relatively nice balance between
"I'd like to make decisions and have my ability to choices impact my stat array directly"
and
"I'd like to not have things be entirely predictable"

You can also easily tweak the overall power level of characters by adjusting the size of the pool. This is of course prone to min/maxing issues and creating dump stats, but so will any method that allows player trade-offs.

EDIT: If you'd like to retain the "Fixed Choice" element. You can actually just treat the dice as point buy points for example. Simply add the following rule:

Players may spend dice as though they were point buy, each stat costs as many dice as it would points in point buy, plus 1.

Meaning you could spend 10 dice before any rolls to have a guaranteed 15. Going straight point buy would be equivalent to a 23 point buy (4 weaker than standard).

EDIT(Again):
You could also say spend dice
1 = PB up to 1 stat (with normal prices)
2 = PB up to 3 stats (with normal prices)
3 = PB up to 6 stats (with normal prices)

meaning you could ultimately. A player by their choice could get a standard point buy by paying 3 dice to "Unlock" all 6 stats and then just spending their rest of their dice as though it was point buy. Anyone at the table who wants to play the risk game still can. Rolled characters will be more powerful than PB ones but not by huge margins. Or you could point buy 3, roll the rest with whatever dice remain.

15. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Mr.Moron
I'm not sure what niche this really feels. Point Buy exists for those who want maximum customization and to inject system mastery by getting the best distribution. Array exists for those who want something simple, fair and evenly distributed. Rolling exists for those who want a more organic feel and to get a new experience during generation.

This seems to be serving some narrow overlap between rolling and point buy, where you're playing a risk management game with a mastery element while still being subject to the whims of dice.
And if you are going for the narrow overlap and point buy, I would suggest another method (from here).

Basically: take the average number you'd like to see in the stats (say 12), subtract the minimum number for a stat (like 3, so 12-3=9), and multiply that number by three (27). Now roll that many D6's. Group the dice by which number they rolled. The number of ones rolled times two plus the minimum is your strength stat (so if you rolled 5 ones it's 5*2+3=13), #2's * 2 + minimum = dex etc. Can be rolled in order, or rolled and assigned. At the end give three stats a +1 for flavor. Everyone has the exact same stat total, yet it's still random. Optional but probably recommendable rule: reroll any dice that bring a stat over 18 points. (Okay, and your actual average ends up half a point higher than the value you put in in the first step because of those last three +1's, but "subtract 0.5" seemed like a needlessly confusing step to add in that first sentence.)

Has absolutely no relation to the method this thread is about, just wanted to pimp that idea again.

Because I pretty much forgot about it until I read this thread and thought "O yeah, there was a brilliant way of doing that, how did it go again?"

But to also go on-topic for a little while: This method (the one from the opening post) gives you a little bit of a choice in whether you just want a high stat total or want your top stats to be as high as possible. That's the biggest draw I see in it, and it does that pretty well. But it's also kind of a complicated method for still ending up with what's almost identical to a normal rolled stat block. In your example you got 3 plusses and a minus out of it.

But hey, we've all seen normal stat rolling by now, as well as point buy, arrays etc. Any new method can spice up session zero. Everyone will have that first 16 though, that's definitely part of the optimal strategy.

16. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by Mr.Moron
I'm just thinking out loud. Here might a simpler system for the same kind of overall effect you're trying to get at.
I like this system quite a lot, but it has a different feel to it. Instead of seeing what you rolled and reacting to it (choosing to reroll at a cost or choosing not to for the +1's), the entire game you propose is in the setup.

A way to make your game have the same feel as mine might be to have the option to carry over 4's. So if you allocate 5 dice for the first roll and you get 4, 4, 2, 1, 3, you could take 10 and carry the 4 over to the second roll. Or if you REALLY want to min-max, you could take 6 and carry over 2 4's. Of course, that kind of choice is interesting, I'm not sure how it plays with the overall odds. I know that sacrificing a 4 for an average of 2.5 extra on the next roll is an average loss, but does it up the fact that it's being added to a pool finesse that average at all?

Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert
And if you are going for the narrow overlap and point buy, I would suggest another method (from here).

But to also go on-topic for a little while: This method (the one from the opening post) gives you a little bit of a choice in whether you just want a high stat total or want your top stats to be as high as possible. That's the biggest draw I see in it, and it does that pretty well. But it's also kind of a complicated method for still ending up with what's almost identical to a normal rolled stat block. In your example you got 3 plusses and a minus out of it.

But hey, we've all seen normal stat rolling by now, as well as point buy, arrays etc. Any new method can spice up session zero. Everyone will have that first 16 though, that's definitely part of the optimal strategy.
Thanks for the encouragement (and the critique), and that system is pretty interesting. I'll save it.

17. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

Originally Posted by pwykersotz
I like this system quite a lot, but it has a different feel to it. Instead of seeing what you rolled and reacting to it (choosing to reroll at a cost or choosing not to for the +1's), the entire game you propose is in the setup.

A way to make your game have the same feel as mine might be to have the option to carry over 4's. So if you allocate 5 dice for the first roll and you get 4, 4, 2, 1, 3, you could take 10 and carry the 4 over to the second roll. Or if you REALLY want to min-max, you could take 6 and carry over 2 4's. Of course, that kind of choice is interesting, I'm not sure how it plays with the overall odds. I know that sacrificing a 4 for an average of 2.5 extra on the next roll is an average loss, but does it up the fact that it's being added to a pool finesse that average at all?
It does have a different feel. So if the goal is to have a reactionary system it won't fulfill that role. Rather I was just thinking out loud on a system that might serve some of the same purposes of a reactionary system, without the added layers of complexity that come in the rules from trying to implement it. It's not just that game design is hard but that it gets exceptionally harder the more branching outcomes you need to account for and weight the relative value of.

18. ## Re: Alternate Stat Generation Method

To provide an update, I used this system to generate stats for six characters across two separate games over the last several days. All players ended up being very happy with their stats and had fun with the method (two actually insisted to use it over others), so the core of the idea is sound at least.

I'll be continuing to look for ways to subtly improve the design elements, but it does seem workable in the current form.