Standard Array in DnD 5e is one of the methods by which you determine your ability scores.
We’ve actually written on this topic before in the past. Specifically when looking at the point buy method, and more generally when discussing how to roll for your ability scores. Go check those respective articles if you want to know more about the topic.
Today instead, we will be specifically focusing on the standard array method. With a brief recap of what was said in the other articles – just to have a reference.
Without further ado, let’s first have a recap about what this is all about. And then we can go into the pros and cons of the standard array method.
Table of Contents
Recaping Ability Scores
Ability Scores are the values of your attributes. These attributes are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. When creating a new character one of the most important things that you have to do is to roll for your ability scores.
And here is where standard array can come into play. As it is one of the easiest and most common methods that you can use. But it isn’t the only method. So let’s shortly go over the other methods.
Points Buy Method: This method gives you a pool of points at the beginning that you can spend to increase your ability scores. Other than standard array, this is the 2nd most used method by newer players in DnD 5e.
The Regular Rolling Method: This method requires that you roll 4d6 dice 6 times. With each roll, you remove the lowest number of the dice – and the value you get will be your ability score. This method is mostly used by experienced players, as the risk can be worth the reward.
The Risky Rolling Method: This method is the same principle as the previous method – but riskier. You now only get 3d6 dice. What you end up on a roll with is what you get to have as an ability score. It can either be a 3 or an 18.
The d20 Method: This is the riskiest of the bunch. It is also the fastest method. You take a d20 and roll it 6 times. The numbers you get will be your ability scores. High risk – high reward. You either get a 1 or a 20 – and everything in between.
With the recap done. Let’s get on with the pros and cons.
The Pros of Standard Array in DnD 5e
Now that we’re familiar with the other methods, let’s talk about standard array.
Standard array is really simple to get. You have a predetermined pool of points that you have that you can allocate to your ability scores. These points are 15,14,13,12,10, and 8.
The philosophy behind this of course is that you put the highest points in the ability score that your class uses the most. If you’re a fighter 15 goes into strength. If you’re a wizard 15 goes into intelligence, so on and so forth.
So, what is the most obvious pro? That it’s easy to use. Newer players might be disheartened if they roll a bad score and are stuck with a character that sucks for the rest of the game. So it’s fair to let them build their character how they want at the start.
Another pro is that it’s fast. Not as fast as the d20 method which can literally define your character in 20 seconds. But still fast. As you don’t really have to bother with rolling at all.
The final pro is fairness. Sometimes, another player may roll all high values for their ability scores – while you’re stuck with single digits. Standard array curbs this.
The Cons of Standard Array
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. So let’s talk about the cons of standard array.
The first point isn’t as much of a con as it is a critique by veteran players. Standard array is the newbie method of getting your ability scores. As such, most experienced players like taking the risk by using the other methods instead.
The biggest con of standard array is that it’s basically a factory setting for characters. It strips them of character and individuality from the get-go.
Sometimes, imperfections can help with the story. Like a fighter with low intelligence being slow in the head and talking like a moron because of it. But being a fearsome opponent on to battlefield because of high strength.