DnD 5e Character Ability Score Meaning

In all of the below, you decide what value goes to which stat, which lets you build up your character. If you truly have no idea what kind of character you want to make, you could just as easily randomly assign each roll to a stat and see what you get!

Each stat will have a certain score. During character creation, there are a multitude of different ways to get that score. In general, to start, a character will have a score between 3 and 18, the higher the better. Sometimes you roll (4d6, drop the worst, add the 3 that are left), sometimes you use a point allocation system (everything starts at 10, you have X points to buy your stat points, price goes up as the stat goes up), sometimes you might use a standard distribution (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8).

Any stat that is a 12 or greater receives a “bonus” modifier (ability modifier), and any 9 or below gets a “penalty” modifier. This is to express the value of higher (or penalty of lower) stat values. These come into play during skill checks and other situations that involve the stat in question (strength might affect your ability to attack, intelligence how many spells you can cast/learn, etc.) It is possible to improve stats over the course of adventuring, either by gaining levels (at certain points) or by using magical items. It is also possible to LOSE stats (usually temporarily) by being affected by magic, poison, or diseases. In 5E, these cases are rare and generally temporary (or are cured by the use of a spell).

Lots of people think “Oh no, I can’t have a low stat, that means I suck!” And while generally, I prefer to let my players run with a higher-than-average stat level (gives more of a ‘heroic’ feel) once you get a feel of the game and how things work, a low stat can be just as interesting and useful as a high stat. Sure there is the standard. “Me dumb barbarian, me smash,” but maybe you have a wizard with only average intelligence, but who grew up with a family that owned a gym for warriors. Jacked up strength and constitution, but just happened to have the Gift for Magic, so went to school for that. Got picked on by all the other apprentices, got called names, and just wanted out. Graduated middle of the class, and then started out adventuring to get away from it all. Might be that he makes a name for himself, hones both his body and mind, and becomes a famous close-quarters magical warrior, mixing might and magic in ways never before seen!

Ability Scores Explained

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