Standard Array in DnD 5E explained

Streamline ability scores with the Standard Array 5E. Learn the default spread for balanced hero creation.

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Ability Scores in 5E are the most crucial part, and sometimes you want them done fast. Point Buy isn’t particularly quick, and Rolling for them takes even longer. Luckily, suppose you don’t want the hassle of either, and you want the party on more even footing with strengths and weaknesses. In that case, Standard Array can be a powerful ally, allowing you to use actions to select ability scores instead of minutes! So grab your Hasty Brew and your Pen of Readable Writing, and we’ll give you speed!

A simple explanation of Standard Array

To recap what Ability Scores are and how to set them, check here for the basics. The DM sets a Standard Array for ALL players. There should be no variation in these, except with extreme caution as a reward everybody agrees with. Please do not punish bad players with in-game mechanics. It doesn’t help and makes the game feel worse.

Easy, fast, made new

As I stated in my earlier article, the basic Standard Array is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. This leaves you with no particularly high or low numbers and is a tighter range (even if only slightly) than I like to give my players. The resulting numbers from this grant a wide range of what you’re good at. I prefer to provide them with something like 16, 15, 12, 11, 10, 8, or something similar to give them a chance at being really strong at one thing while giving them mediocre spots to wrestle with. In one of my campaigns, I have given my players 12, 10, 10, 10, 10, 8 since I have an easily accessible way of obtaining more significant Ability Score Increases, which they were able to switch around as they pleased at a certain point. You might even think of having multiple Standard Arrays if you still want your party to be able to build MAD characters as well!

Perks and flaws of Standard Array

However, the Standard Array isn’t perfect, as can be seen by how many people change it around or don’t even bother with it in the first place. First off, it’s not as exciting as not knowing how strong or weak you’re going to be, and second, it forces you to wait a long time until you can get 20 in anything. But it’s a solid method, especially for new players who don’t even know what they’re doing, or what many of us do quite a bit of: making an endless army of characters you would like to play someday but probably won’t due to the lack of campaigns to play in. Though if you want to fix that, please do!