Attribute Array Alternative

Most RPG’s have a point buy system for character statistics or attributes, such as Strength, Endurance, etc. The names of the attributes differ from system to system, but most cover basically the same types of attributes, both physical and mental.

Some systems, however, ask you to roll dice to determine the attributes. Dungeons and Dragons specifically asks you to roll 3d6 and add them up for each of the six basic attributes. Unfortunately, a straight 3d6 roll can give you a 3 just as well as it can give you an 18. That’s not a very satisfying system. I don’t want a character with any attribute at a 3. Who would? I also don’t want all 18’s… that’s boring. There are alternate dice rolling systems that can give more favorable attributes, like rolling 4d6 and taking the highest three, or rolling several sets and taking whichever you like best.

There are also attribute Arrays, which are a group of attribute numbers that you can simply choose which number goes with which stat. Most arrays range from a high number to a low number. For example, a common Array in D&D is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. You can put them where you want them, but you really have no choice. That 8 has to go somewhere, even though an 8 can be a disadvantage.

So how about this instead. How about we just let the players decide what the attributes are? If they want all 18’s, let ’em. In the long game, does it really matter if the attribute bonuses are all +4? Not really. Unfortunately, that can lead quite quickly to abuse and resentment between players.

I have an idea that is kind of a mix between rolling and arrays. Let me know what you think. How about we DO let the players decide what the attributes are, but at a price, or a sacrifice. You want your fighter to have a Strength of 18? Sure. But that means one of the other attributes has to be an 8. You could go 18, 18, 18, but then you’d also have three attributes at 8. Harsh, but doable if that’s what you really want. Too harsh? How about a 17? That’ll mean that a different attribute has to be a 9. And so forth. for every high number chosen, another attribute has to be a low number.

Here’s the sequence I’m considering: an 18 requires an 8, 17 forces a 9, 16 gives you a 10, 15 means 11, 14 means 12, and 13 is a free stat.

An example:

STR: 16, DEX: 13, CON: 15, INT: 10, WIS: 11, CHR: 13.

It’s a good range of stats. None too high, none too low, and it gives the player a lot of control over what they want their character to be like while discouraging power gaming. You could make a strong, hardy, quick fighter that is also not very bright, very unwise, and not very likeable at all. You could also give him all 13’s. Above average across the board but without any game disrupting power.

This is just an idea I came up with. I hope you like it. Please let me know if you don’t, or can think of reasons why this wouldn’t work!

BTW, I know my posts have been very far and few between, and I apologize. Life demands my attention, unfortunately sometimes too much. Thank you for your patience!

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