Dungeons & Dragons/Learning the game/Ability Scores

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The six attributes in Dungeons and Dragons (hereafter referred to as "DnD") define certain physical or mental abilities of a character, monster, or non-player character (NPC). These are:

  • Strength (Str)
  • Dexterity (Dex)
  • Constitution (Con)
  • Intelligence (Int)
  • Wisdom (Wis)
  • Charisma (Cha)

The most common methods to determine these scores are as follows:

  1. The player rolls 3d6 six times and places the scores where they are wanted. On average, this will produce a typical individual selected at random from the population. It is suitable for a low-powered campaign.
  2. An ability score is determined by rolling 4d6 and discard the lowest score. This is repeated six times and each score is placed next to the ability where they are wanted by the player. This method tends to produce higher than average scores, which is more appropriate for a heroic character.
  3. The point buy method is used to purchase ability scores out of a pool of points. The number of points available is determined by the DM from table 2 below. This method has the benefit of allowing the player to create just the type of character she wants to run. A drawback may be the relative ease of min-maxing the character. That is, the player can exaggerate the beneficial abilities for their character while minimizing the less useful abilities.
Table 1
Ability Score Point Cost
8 0
9 1
10 2
11 3
12 4
13 5
14 6
15 8
16 10
17 13
18 18
Table 2
Type of Campaign Points Allowed
Low-powered 15
Challenging 22
Regular 25
Tougher 28
High-powered 32