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How to Use Standard Array in 5e D&D + Pros & Cons!

The Standard Array is a set pool of six numbers used during character creation in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. You take each number and match it with one of the six ability scores.

When is it good and when is it bad? Why use the standard array over other ability score generation methods? In this article we’ll get into how to use the standard array in 5e and list the pros and cons. 

d20s showing standard array 5e numbers on a dungeons and dragons character sheet over the stats

What is the Standard Array?

In D&D 5e the term Standard Array refers to one of the methods for assigning ability scores to a character during creation. You get a set pool of six numbers and pick which to slot into each ability. Below we get into detail about how to do it and give suggestions for each class.

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How to Use the Standard Array in 5e

The standard array pool consists of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8.

Take the list and assign each number into one of the character’s six abilities on your character sheet: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

Each ability score affects the modifier you’ll have for each ability. The table below shows the standard array numbers with their ability modifier for easy reference.

Standard Array NumberAbility Modifier
15+3
14+2
13+1
12+1
10+0
8-1

Read about the class you’re creating in the next section to get the most out of this uncomplicated system.

Suggested Standard Arrays by Class

These suggestions give you the scoop on which abilities you need to focus on for your build, with a soft focus on solid starting hit points and/or armor class.


Barbarian

The rough and tumble Barbarian’s primary ability score is Strength, followed closely by Constitution so they can take a punch as well as dole them out. 

If you wanna wreck some baddies with massive damage, but also prioritize toughness and ability to dodge when unarmored, try assigning your Barbarian’s stats like so:

Str: 15 Dex: 13 Con: 14 Int: 8 Wis: 12 Char: 10


Bard

As performers and party faces, the most important ability for a Bard is Charisma. Dexterity takes priority next as it keeps you from getting KOed while rapping out your battle beat poetry.

Classic Bards favor the sharp tongue over the sword, so consider using your array like so:

Str: 8 Dex: 14 Con: 12 Int: 13 Wis: 10 Char: 15


Cleric

Pious Clerics use Wisdom to cast their divine spells, but Charisma also comes into play from time to time.

For a Cleric that can proficiently cast spells without ending up too squishy to wade into battle to heal that Fighter again try these stats:

Str: 14 Dex: 8 Con: 13 Int: 12 Wis: 15 Char: 10


Druid

Druids use Wisdom first and foremost for their natural magic. Intelligence plays a supporting role for crucial knowledge checks.

To build a Druid that can commune with animals, cast a variety of spells, and keep the Rogue from eating the kind of mushroom you only eat once we recommend this array:

Str: 8 Dex: 10 Con: 14 Int: 12 Wis: 15 Char: 13


Fighter

Strength is a Fighter’s primary ability for thrashing baddies and carrying away damsels. Next, they need to consider Dexterity and Constitution to boost their external defense (dodging a hit) and internal (shrugging off the effects of a gas).

Showcase the Fighter’s command of the physical arts with a spread like this for a tough and agile character:

Str: 15 Dex: 14 Con: 13 Int: 12 Wis: 8 Char: 10


Monk

The Monk is another master of combat, but instead of brute force their abilities focus on finesse, speed, and control of the situation.

With their use of physical and ki skills, a Monk will need a mix of Dexterity, Wisdom and Strength to be effective. Consider using the standard array like this:

Str: 13 Dex: 15 Con: 12 Int: 10 Wis: 14 Char: 8


Paladin

Paladins are formidable in fights and powerful casters of divine spells. They utilize Strength most, Charisma next, with a light focus in Wisdom as well.

To make your Paladin capable of laying down some damage, laying on hands, and cool-headed decision making, try this kind of build:

Str: 15 Dex: 10 Con: 12 Int: 8 Wis: 13 Char: 14


Ranger

Agile and wily, the Ranger focuses on Dexterity and Wisdom abilities, with Strength playing a minor role.

Rangers aim, dodge, and outmaneuver in fights but also excel as wise trackers, guides, and survivalists. Check out this use of the standard array if you’re making a Ranger:

Str: 13 Dex: 15 Con: 12 Int: 10 Wis: 14 Char: 8


Rogue

Rogues are the quintessential Jack of All Trades, and the abilities they focus on are all about adaptability. Dexterity is foremost for physical capabilities, then Intelligence to support their wide array of skills.

With a spread of point like this, a Rogue will be able to adeptly land a hit, dodge a strike, disarm a trap, repel down a cliff, or even use that mysterious magical wand you found in the dungeon:

Str: 10 Dex: 15 Con: 8 Int: 14 Wis: 12 Char: 13


Sorcerer

A Sorcerer is a person brimming with natural magical talent. The raw, inborn nature of their magic means that Charisma is the primary ability for spellcasting, with Constitution playing a supporting role.

Consider this use of the standard array for assigning ability scores so that your Sorcerer can bring their natural hardiness of body, spirit, and mind to bear on any problem. Or, ya know, just set things on fire!

Str: 10 Dex: 12 Con: 14 Int: 8 Wis: 13 Char: 15


Warlock

Charisma is also the main ability score for Warlocks. They use Charisma to cast powerful spells with the borrowed power of strange, interstellar beings of unimaginable power. Wisdom comes in next to help them hold onto some sanity and provide a vast well of mental fortitude.

Try this set of ability scores for your next Warlock:

Str: 8 Dex: 10 Con: 14 Int: 12 Wis: 13 Char: 15


Wizard

True to the academic nature of their arcane magic, Wizards focus on mental abilities. Intelligence is most important, followed closely by Wisdom. 

For a Wizard that excels at learning spells, casting them effectively and accurately, as well as identifying magical items and the ability to put up considerable mental defenses try this array:

Str: 8 Dex: 14 Con: 12 Int: 15 Wis: 13 Char: 10


Pros of Standard Array

The strong suits of the standard array method are its simplicity and speed. You get a good spread of base ability scores and a cut and dry approach to assigning them. No calculations or grumbling about it. And no randomness either.

DMs will be able to slap some stats together for that npc shopkeeper their party keeps trying to pull into their adventure or make up bad guys at the drop of a hat!

And using the standard array, new players don’t have to learn even more rules just to get their first character up and running. The set number pool lets you start having fun with your friends faster with no agonizing over the math. Awesome!

Pros:

  • Simplest method
  • Quick character builds
  • 8 is lowest base stat
  • Great for new players

Cons of Standard Array

The downsides of using a set pool of numbers for building a character’s ability scores mainly revolve around this method’s rigidity and lack of customization.

Going with the safe bet of the standard array means you lose out on your ability to truly maximize a starting stat, whether by luck (rolling up a base 17 or 18) or design (lowering one stat to beef up another).

The highest base score you can have with this method is a 15. Good, but not amazing. You can bump that up to a commanding 17 with a +2 racial bonus, but some players will always covet truly superhuman stats.

And let’s not forget what will really break our little geek hearts: you don’t get to roll satisfying handfuls of your new skull dice set from Etsy! Tragic.

Cons:

  • Less customization
  • Less dice rolling (booo!)
  • 15 is the highest base stat

Better Standard Array 5e

Like the idea of a set pool of numbers, but unhappy with those presented in the Player’s Handbook? Check out some of our favorite homebrew standard array alternatives!

Drasha1’s Advanced Standard Array brings all the stats closer to the middle: 15, 14, 13, 13, 11, 9. This edit allows for overall higher scores, and the increase in odd numbers means you can easily bump up to the next ability bonus tier when you get your free ability point every 4 levels.

AaronWho’s Heroic Standard Array boosts stats so that you can all play as superpowered characters, or maybe young demigods 18, 17, 16, 15, 13, 11. DMs can use this as an excuse to throw exceptionally powerful enemies and traps at their players, or tell a specific type of story.

On the wackier side, ThaiTanus proposes a more out there array that fans of maxing out a few abilities to the detriment of others may appreciate: 18, 16, 12, 10, 8, 6.

Alternatives to Standard Array

Standard array certainly isn’t the only method for generating ability scores for a new character. There are two other, Wizards of the Coast sanctioned ways to do it in 5th Edition: rolling stats and the point buy method.

Rolling Stats

Just like it sounds, rolling your stats means using dice to determine your stat pool. Also known as the 4d6 drop method, our How to Roll Stats in 5e + Pros & Cons article takes a closer look at this way of creating ability scores.

Point Buy

The point buy system is a bit more complex but can yield serious benefits to experienced players. Read more about Point Buy and its Pros and Cons in our article!

For a brief overview of all three, peek at our article Standard Array vs Point Buy vs Rolling 5e – Which is Best?

Conclusion – Standard Array in D&D 5e

Are you a new player looking to make a character, but avoid the cumbersome rules text and brain cluttering minutia? Or perhaps you’re just seeking a quick and easy way to put a new PC together?

Standard array may be just what you’re looking for. Whether it’s Dungeon Master business or players wanting a concise character creation experience, standard array is a simple solution.

How about something shiny to go with your new character and their standard array stats? Take a peek at some of my favorite D&D Gaming Accessories for Players!

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Emily
Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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