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I noticed that the Monster Manual tells you the racial bonuses that monsters have if you consider the starting point as the standard array.

For BBEGs and the like, we roll ability scores for them, etc.

Should the same be done for other monsters? Is there a rule that specifies this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to reopen as this question has been edited since the first vote to close. It's now on topic and can be answered directly by the 3.5 DMG. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 26, 2019 at 4:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard could you comment the page number for me. I must be blind, I can't find a reference at all \$\endgroup\$ Apr 26, 2019 at 5:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ NeomerArcana No, @QuadraticWizard could not comment the page number for you. It would be an answer, and answers in comments are forbidden. But he can post an answer now, when your question is open. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Apr 26, 2019 at 10:33

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You don't normally roll monster stats, but you have that option.

Average monsters are assumed to have average stats of 10 or 11 before racial modifiers. For above-average monsters, the rules recommend that improved monsters (such as those with class levels, templates or advanced hit dice) use one of the fixed arrays.

However, rolling ability scores is a valid alternative for NPCs and monsters.

Monsters

Monster Manual p.290 and 294 describe three ability score arrays: standard (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10), nonelite (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8) and elite (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8). Standard is used by most monsters, nonelite by monsters with NPC class levels, and elite by monsters with PC class levels. Monsters with templates or advanced hit dice may use whichever the DM wishes, but using the elite array increases CR by 1 unless the monster also has a PC class level.

NPCs, which can also be monsters

NPCs are handled slightly differently. This is important because according to DMG p.173, monsters can be considered NPCs, and do not necessarily even need class levels to qualify for this status. Following a section on monster PCs:

Remember that what's good for PCs is good for NPCs. NPC monsters can have classes, exceptional ability scores, and maximum hit points from their first Hit Die as well.

In fact, according to Player's Handbook, p. 306, monsters and NPCs are functionally the same thing, which allows us to use NPC stat generation methods for monsters too:

character: A fictional individual within the confines of a fantasy game setting. The words "character" and "creature" are often used synonymously within these rules, since almost any creature could be a character within the game, and every character is a creature (as opposed to an object)

nonplayer character (NPC): A character controlled by the Dungeon Master rather than by one of the other players in a game session, as opposed to a player character.

Dungeon Master's Guide p.110 notes that you typically roll 3d6 for average NPCs rather than use the standard array, which opens that option up to monster NPCs:

Average characters, on the other hand, have average abilities (rolled on 3d6) and don't get maximum hit points from their first Hit Die. The monsters described in the Monster Manual are average characters rather than elite ones (though elite monsters also exist).

DMG p.111, Starting Ability Scores, notes that NPCs typically use the elite array, but cites page 169, Ability Scores, for alternative methods of determining ability scores for PCs and NPCs, which include rolling 4d6 drop lowest.

In short

  • You should not roll ability scores for most monsters. This would be unnecessarily time-consuming, and the rules recommend keeping the standard ability score array for most monsters.
  • For average monsters, you may roll ability scores using 3d6.
  • For elite monsters, you may roll ability scores as you would a PC. This makes them stronger than average, and as a guideline should generally be reserved for improved creatures (class levels, templates, advanced hit dice). Making a creature without class levels "elite" in this manner increases their CR by 1.
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The Monster Manual gives you the rules to do so, if you wish, but no sane DM would roll the stats of every monster in the game. Some DMs do it for the important opponents or allies, treating monsters as important NPCs (after all, sentient creatures that are not PCs should be NPCs, regardless their race; monsters were treated differently back in 3.0, for example they gained feats only every 4 hit dices and not every 3, but with edition 3.5 monsters became closer to humanoid characters, many of them also having a LA). But I believe these rules are more intended for the possibility of playing monstrous characters, rather than meant to suggest DMs to treat any monster as a NPC. Those rules (in the last pages of MM1) are maybe also meant to help the conversion from previous editions.

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