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Alternative Standard Arrays for 5e Ability Scores

by Mike on 1 January 2024

Here's an easy house rule to help players more easily select ability scores when building characters in 5e games.

Instead of using a mixture of point-buy systems and either racial or background-based ability bonuses, suggest the two following standard arrays, applying them to the player's abilities of choice. These standard arrays already include any potential racial or background bonus:

16 (+3), 14 (+2), 14 (+2), 12 (+1), 12 (+1), 8 (-1)


16 (+3), 14 (+2), 14 (+2), 12 (+1), 10 (+0), 10 (+0)

These standard arrays work for whatever flavor of 5e you happen to be playing including the 2014 D&D Player's Handbook, Tales of the Valiant, or Level Up Advanced 5e. Each of these 5e variants has their own ways to handle ability scores and bonuses but they're all close enough to these standard arrays that any differences don't really matter.

Experienced players who want to get into the weeds can use the ability point-buy rules of your chosen 5e flavor and apply additional bonuses based on whatever ability bonus points the system provides.

New players, and players who just want to get on with their adventures, may find these all-in standard arrays much easier to understand and apply without needing to worry about any complex point-buy systems and ability bonuses from other parts of character creation.

Add these standard arrays to your session zero guide to help players more quickly build their characters.

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