Port of Entry – Attributes and Stats

Ability Scores, Attributes, Stats – no matter what you call them, they help determine the effectiveness of the everything your player character does in Dungeons and Dragons. Today in the Port of Entry we’re covering stats – what they do and how they are generated. Ability scores are used to determine how good or experienced your character is with certain skills. A bard with low charisma may not be able to accomplish all of the things their player character had hoped to. A druid with low wisdom is going to have a harder time casting spells. Let’s take a moment to look in greater detail at the six ability scores – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, used in Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

a set of polyhedral dice laid out from largest to smallest
Dice Pictured from Bard and Barbarian

Strength

A character’s strength score measures their physical fitness and power, also known as the ability to crush a tomato. Athletics is the only strength based skill listed on the standard Character Sheet. Strength is typically seen as a primary stat for Barbarians and Fighters. Commonly shortened to STR.

Dexterity

A character’s dexterity measures their balance and agility, also known as the ability to dodge a tomato. Dexterity effects the following skills: acrobatics, sleight of hand, and stealth. Dexterity is typically considered a primary stat for rogues and monks. You may also see it shortened to DEX.

Constitution

Constitution is the stat that measures your character heartiness and endurance, also known as the ability to eat a bad tomato and survive. Constitution has a direct effect on a player’s hit point value. Constitution will help you gain more hit points as you level up throughout you campaign and can have long lasting benefits for your character. Magic users rely on their Constitution score when maintaining concentration of a spell. Commonly shortened to CON.

Intelligence

A character’s intelligence measures their reasoning and memory, also known as the ability to know a tomato is a fruit. Arcana, history, nature, and religion are all skills that rely on a character’s intelligence. Intelligence is commonly seen as the most important stat for artificers and wizards. You may see this shortened to INT. 

Wisdom

A character’s wisdom is used to measure their perception and insight, also known as knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. Wisdom is used for a character’s animal handling, insight, medicine, perception and survival skills. Wisdom is typically used as the primary stat for clerics and druids. Many players shorted this to WIS.

Charisma

Charisma is what is used to measure a character’s personality, also known as the ability to sell a tomato based salad. A higher charisma score will boost a player’s deception, intimidation, performance and persuasion skills. Charisma is typically seen as the most important stat for bards, paladins, sorcerers and warlocks. CHA is another way you may see this written. 

multi colored d6's

Generating Stats

There are many ways that attribute scores can be determined (or generated) for new characters.  Below are among the most common.

Point Buy – Each player starts all stats at 8 and then gets 27 points at level one to “buy” higher numbers in each of the six stats.  The cost of increasing an attributes tends to grow as the attribute is raised.  For example, it may cost more to increase your constitution from 14 to 15 than it would from 10 to 11.

Rolling for Stats – A method in which attributes are determined through random dice rolls.  A common stat roll ruling is known as 4d6, drop the lowest. Many tables will choose to have each player roll a six sided die 4 times, dropping the lowest number from each of these sets.  The remaining three numbers are added together and the sum is an attribute score number. Players will often do this seven times, and are allowed to drop the lowest number. The remaining six numbers are then put into each of the six stats. 

Standard Array – Each player is given a 15, 14, 13, 12, 10 and 8 to put in each of the six stats. 

4d6 Drop the Lowest Method

Skills

Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast

On the Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet, you will find boxes for your base stats (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma) as well as a list of skills. Skills are what your character may use to interact with the world around them. A Character’s skills are directly correlated to their ability score values, plus whatever proficiencies they may get through other factors, such as race, class and background. For example, if you have a thief-type character, you may want to give them a boost in the deception and sleight of hand skills. If you have a character with a musical flair, you may want to take proficiency in the performance skill. 

In a future Port of Entry post, we will be reviewing the rest of the character sets. I hope today’s article will serve to help the new player feel more confidant generating their character’s ability scores.

* Photo Credit: Variant Berry 

How do you prefer to generate your character's stats?

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