Point Buy VS Rolling Dice


“Which method will you choose? Papa needs a new set of ability scores!”

It has been several months since I’ve taken my usual seat behind the DM screen. I hope to fix that relatively soon by running a game or two online for some friends.

One will be to test a project I’ve been working on for more than a year, while the other will most likely be some good, ol’ Dungeons & Dragons (5e to be specific).

I’m currently brainstorming what house rules I’ll be using and I figured I’d start at the beginning with Ability Score generation.

There are many ways to generate Ability Scores in Dungeons & Dragons, but two options are the most common: Point Buy or Rolling Randomly.

Rolling Randomly is the traditional method, requiring you to roll between 3 to 4 six-sided dice (D6), add the results together, and repeat the process until you have six totals which you will assign to your character’s Ability Scores as you see fit.

Point Buy, on the other hand, is more of a recent idea. In this method, each Ability Score will start with a default score (usually 8 or 10) and you receive a pool of points which can be spent to increase these as you see fit. The amount of points you receive is usually determined by the desired power level of the campaign.

Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Rolling Randomly is just fun. There’s a thrill to grabbing a bunch of d6s and seeing what fate has in store for you. Unfortunately, that’s also the method’s biggest drawback. You might get lucky and roll a natural 18, but you might also roll a bunch of 6s or 7s. There are ways to mitigate this somewhat, such as rolling 4d6s and dropping the lowest one or rolling 2d6 and adding 6 to the combined total, but bad bouts of luck are still possible.

Point Buy allows you more control over your Ability Scores. You don’t have to worry about being stuck with a bunch of low scores just because the dice decided to be a dick to you. Furthermore, Point Buy also helps keep the power balance between different characters within the party, which is rather nice. This is doubly true if you’re playing at an open table or within some kind of organized play program.

That being said, I’ve always felt like Point Buy tends to encourage people to obsess over getting the maximum benefit when spending their points. This then causes the process to move at a much slower pace than it should, especially if you have a player who suffers from a bad case of analysis paralysis.

I like the control that Point Buy offers, but I also enjoy the thrill of Rolling Randomly. The possibility of utilizing a hybrid of the two, similar to the method HackMaster uses, but I feel like that’s cheating for the purposes of this post.

In the end, I think I just have to go with my gut and use the option which feels the best to me: Rolling Randomly (specifically 4d6, Drop the Lowest). However, I’d love to hear what others think. Do you prefer Point Buy, or Rolling Randomly? Why? Leave your thoughts down below.


3 thoughts on “Point Buy VS Rolling Dice

  1. Pingback: Starting Small |

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