Rolling stats in D&D 5e lets us tabletop gamers indulge in our favorite thing: dice rolling!
In this article, we look at how to roll stats for character creation, the pros and cons of rolling for stats, and offer some homebrew options. Take a break from playing with your favorite dice for a minute and scroll on!
What is Rolling for Stats in 5e?
The traditional way to get a character’s ability scores in Dungeons and Dragons 5e is by rolling for stats: generating the six ability scores randomly by rolling dice.
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After you’ve generated six ability scores, you assign each one to an attribute: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.
How do you Roll for Stats in 5e?
Rolling up a stat pool is simple and fun! Who doesn’t like rolling dice? Follow these steps to roll stats for your character.
- Roll 4 x 6 sided dice
- Remove the lowest dice result
- Add up the remaining numbers to get an ability score
- Write down this ability score on note paper
- Repeat these steps until you have 6 ability scores
- Assign a score to each attribute on your character sheet.
Rolling for stats is sometimes called the 4d6 drop method because you roll 4 d6 and drop the lowest die result from the stat score calculation.
Rolling Stats Example
By way of an example, here’s how it works in practice.
- I roll 4d6 which land on: 3, 4, 2, 5.
- I remove the 2 because it’s the lowest roll.
- Then add up the 3+4+5 to give me 12 in total.
- I write down 12 on my note paper.
- After repeating this 5 more times, I end up with 6 ability scores: 12, 7, 17, 13, 10, 14.
- I assign my scores on my character sheet, one for each attribute.
Because I’m creating a Wizard, I decided to assign my scores like this:
- Strength: 10
- Dexterity: 12
- Constitution: 14
- Intelligence: 17
- Wisdom: 13
- Charisma: 7
These scores give me a pretty powerful spellcaster with a +3 Intelligence ability modifier, but with all the Charisma of a poke in the eye.
Watch me roll a set of stats following the 4d6 drop method in this quick YouTube video I made.
If rolling dice to get scores isn’t your thing, then you can always use a digital stat roller like those in the section below instead.
Online DnD Stat Rollers
Looking to roll up your stats on a computer like a true technopagan? These sites make the rolling process quick, easy, and randomized.
Taters! D&D 5e Ability Score Roller does all the rolling and math for you: 4d6 minus the lowest, all 6 totals at once! Great for folks who prioritize speed, but not so much if you’re looking to savor the suspense. It even tells you how much your scores would cost in points were you to use the Point Buy system for your stats instead.
Random.org has a super simple, visually appealing dice roller that allows you to roll one total at a time. It also claims to use a more truly random number generation method than most. You’ll need to do all the math yourself though, so don’t be afraid to use fingers and toes.
Pros of Rolling your Stats
Hands down, the best reason to roll your stats the old school way is so you can get that sweet, sweet dice rolling satisfaction. But that’s not the only upside by a long shot!
For example, if you’re lucky you can end up with a crazy set of ability scores. And even if you roll some stinkers there’s still a chance for roleplaying fun!
Did your Fighter hit the jackpot in physical traits, but abysmal in the mental? Use it as a narrative characteristic and play as the Powerful, but Incompetent who could rule the world if only he could figure out how to buckle his sword belt.
The randomization also has the added benefit of dampening the urge for players to overly optimize their PC and “win the game.” After all, nothing is fun when you’re overly concerned with the results. D&D should be about having a brilliant time with friends!
Rolling your stats has all the following benefits:
- 18s are possible, even before racial bonuses
- Discourages min-maxing
- Encourages resourcefulness and creative play
- Team building experience!
- OG street cred
- More dice rolling (yaaaay!)
Cons of Rolling your Stats
There are downsides to placing your ability scores into the hands of fate. Sad as it is to say, even your luxurious metal dice from Etsy can let you down. It is possible to really wiff it on your rolls, though a bit improbable.
Furthermore, DMs may want to consider getting the group together for the rolling extravaganza. Honesty only knows so many bounds… and the prospect of a 5 in your stat pool can tempt even the most honest player to make up some numbers.
Getting together to roll stats with your buds is fun. Feeling pressured to get the right numbers, rolls, and stats isn’t.
If you decide to roll your stats, consider these cons:
- 3s are possible
- Could get low stats across the board
- May encourage stat fudging
- Computer generators mean less dice rolling (boooo!)
Modified Stats Rolling Methods
Cursed dice? Feud with Lady Luck? No problem. There are nearly endless homebrewed rolling stats modifications to choose from to make sure a character doesn’t get stuck with unworkable stats.
Here are some personal favorites for ideas on how to make rolling stats excitingly random and reasonably forgiving:
- Allow a certain number of rerolls
- Allow up to 3 full stat pool mulligans
- Roll 7 sets of numbers and drop the worst
- After rolling all 6 totals, replace the lowest number with a 16
- Reroll 1s
But if you like the randomness of rolling for stats and enjoy the unbalanced, ramshackle group of adventurers it can create, then have players roll 3d6 six times instead. No lowest dice removals here, and no rerolls.
I get my best ideas from hearing other people’s homebrew rules. Threads like this on D&D Beyond are an amazing source of inspiration.
Alternatives to Rolling for Stats
Not sure your group will agree on rolling for stats? No worries, Wizards of the Coast give you two other options in 5th edition D&D: standard array and point buy.
Standard array lets you pick from a set pool of ability scores. Find out all about it in How to Use the Standard Array in 5e.
For the truly customization minded, the point buy system lets you decide exactly which numbers you want for each ability. Figure out How to Use Point Buy in 5e here.
To see a side by side comparison, check out the Standard Array vs Point Buy vs Rolling 5e post.
Conclusion – How to Roll Stats in DnD 5e
So, what do you hope to get out of rolling your stats? A massively overpowered PC with multiple 18s? Or maybe you just want to have a great time finally using that Chessex Pound-O-Dice you bought on a whim from Amazon.
Rolling stats in 5e is an excellent way to spend time with your group, get creative ideas about character building, and more.
With the randomization and diversity of rolling your character’s ability stats, nearly anything is possible. So bust out your favorite set and roll on, fellow gamers, roll on.
How about something shiny to go with your new character? Take a peek at some of my favorite D&D Gaming Accessories for Players!
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