When getting ready for an organized play event, we get to face a love it or leave it reality… Point Buy stat generation. In the name of fairness, it is well understood but to those of us who may be used to broader possible highs (and lows) Point Buy can require different thinking.
Metagame Economics of Point Buy
Organized play is a different beast than home extended campaigns and its realities can help inform you decisions about stat allocations. Remember that each score costs more the higher it goes and this can lead to diminishing returns (costs here). Lets get a brief run down of some of the differing realities of most organized play events:
- Spells stop at 6th level. Unless needed for the bonus spells or DCs (which you might), spellcasting stats can park at much lower levels and still provide the majority of a character’s casting potential.
- Magic Items are readily available at appropriate levels. Organized play is far more restricted by time invested in a character than it is availability. The chances are a character will end up with most items it would want.
- Party rosters are chaotic and you cannot count of augmentations from another character unless your pair to another player or players outside of game. Many long time home gamers are caught off guard by this one. Sarah won’t be casting bull’s strength if she stayed home in St. George.
- Racial bonus weigh in heavier. In the right placement, racial bonuses can nearly double your effective points. DO NOT underestimate this. You may find yourself opening up to new racial horizons to support a concept you like.
- At low levels, stats TRUMP class. High Strength can make any class match a fighter and high Dexterity can dodge better than beginning armor. Don’t forget this when you are plotting out your possibilities.
- You won’t master much, but mastery isn’t required. General adventures require general hazards and threats. Don’t go all in on a stat unless it is vital to a roleplaying need or driven by raw mechanics.
In a standard 20 point buy we are going to see a few repeating patterns and it helps to know them (and use them) when they surface:
- The Glass Cannon [18, 18, 8, 7, 7, 7] – If you have ONE job and only one job and otherwise want to make Professor Xavier look like an olympian, you can play this. It is fragile, vulnerable and miserable outside of its home function. Sleeping enchanter? Great! Until you are fighting mindless monsters… Raging Barbarian of Doom? Great! Until the above enchanter is fluffing you as a pillow.
- The Right Stuff [16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 7] – Fairly Good at everything, with a really shining smile (or bicep, or academic award). This guy has his flaw but otherwise is a well-rounded person. She’s spot on and on the spot and works for every class.
- The Even Stephanie [16, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12] – One solid trait with all her other ducks just ahead of the curve. Only stands out when she means to, but might have a harder time with a single strong attribute to lean on.
- The Double-Barrel [16, 16, 14, 13, 7, 7] – Two solid choices, two flaws and a little staying power to get it done. Possibly the most “heroic” build with a lot to overcome and a lot to offer. Watch racial modifiers here or you end up with a serious Achilles heel.
Obviously points can be spent dozens of ways, but having a solid concept of the metagame reality of Point Buy games can make sure you are happy with your stat allocations from start to finish with your character.