My group uses 4d6 drop lowest for stat generation.

The other players feel that the rolled stats of one of the other players are 'too good' in comparison to their rolls and I'm not certain that they actually did roll those numbers. None of the other players rolled in front of the group, but their characters all had ability scores that seemed actually balanced. The statistics in question came out as (STR: 15) (DEX: 17) (CON:16) (INT: 14) (WIS: 14) (CHA: 16).

How do I (as the DM) alleviate and address the concerns of myself, and the other players, as I work with this new player to bring their character to the table?

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Did all the other players need to verify their rolls? Such as, did everyone roll up their character in a group? This isn't an answer, but something that would influence an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 7, 2023 at 18:22
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ @Argo You said one player is bringing their character to the table with stats 'pre-rolled' but now you say everyone prerolled their stats. Why are you calling out the one player for pre-rolling? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2023 at 18:50
  • 12
    \$\begingroup\$ I mean I get that, but if I say "I went to lunch with my coworkers and one guy bought a steak", the obvious implication is that nobody else did. It may be a technically true that if everyone bought steaks, that one guy bought a steak, but that isn't how idiomatic english works. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2023 at 18:53
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ As a follow up, will all future dice rolls during play be validated? As in, are you playing in person where everyone can see each other's dice, or using the built-in roller of whatever VTT system you are using? Or does everyone roll in private and just announce what is rolled? Because you are setting yourself up for something called "anchoring bias". Basically, because of your suspicion of cheating for stat rolls, all future rolls will be under suspicion making a less enjoyable game for everyone. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 7, 2023 at 19:59
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Quick question: are the stats given for this character (“(STR: 15) (DEX: 17) (CON:16) (INT: 14) (WIS: 14) (CHA: 16)”) given before or after the racial bonuses are added in? I suspect it’s before, but wanted to double check. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2023 at 18:25

9 Answers 9


You do nothing, or make everyone reroll

Statistics are weird. Just because something is a small percentage chance of happening doesn't mean it can't happen. In fact, those things happen!

I've even got a character I made with a 3d6 stat creation with two 18s.

Your problem is you set up a stat creation method that is variable, but you didn't create a check or balance of having a witness to make sure it was a 'true' roll.

There is no evidence that this player cheated, and there is no evidence that the others didn't. You've created a system of trust, but you don't like the results of that trust.

What to do?

Well, you've got a couple options. You can have everyone reroll in front, you can use an array, a point-buy system, or any other method that everyone agrees to.

We like more powerful characters, so my groups have started using Standard Array plus an additional 2 to each score. That works for us, but it may not work for you. My old tables ran 7x4d6, reroll 1s, drop lowest rolls and lowest overall score. We always rolled with a witness.

But rolling can create a lot of variability and player unhappiness even when witnessed and fully legit.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I rolled a two-18s character once, too, and no score below 12. Happened to be running a barbarian, so I just had ridiculous scores. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2023 at 18:48
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Right, and mine was the standard 6 rolls of 4d6-drop-lowest, just giving an example from personal experience of randomly rolling stats at the table that would look EXTREMELY suspicious if I walked in saying I'd rolled them at home. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2023 at 19:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't often play (usually a DM), but in a rare chance of playing in a new campaign we all rolled our chars at the table. I got two 18s. Other scores were something like 16, 15, 12 and 11. Got to play a very healthy druid :) \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Feb 8, 2023 at 8:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Side note: it might be that they cheated, but if they didn't, it'll probably feel terrible to have rolled an amazing character, and then be forced to reroll (especially because your rolls are too good). Any other player could also end up rolling a worse character. A DM reconning (player) rolls, at the expense of players, should ideally never, ever happen, so I'd be very hesitant about doing that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 9, 2023 at 10:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Piling on this answer... The policy for rolling characters can be summed up as "I trust you to roll your characters on your own". Follow through on that trust. If you want to change the policy then go for it - but don't do it retroactively. \$\endgroup\$
    – vsfDawg
    Feb 9, 2023 at 19:09

You either trust them, or you don't

No one else needed to validate their rolls, purely on the human perception of, "they seemed balanced". But what do you see as "balanced"? Equal highs and low? The sum of the values added up to a certain range? The bonuses and penalties equaled out? There are a lot of ways to "think" things are balanced, so if something doesn't fit into that one method, it seems off.

But dice are random

There is a completely probable chance that a character can have all 18s for their rolled stats (24 dice rolled, 18 of which come up as 6's)1. Sure, it looks out of balance, but good dice rolls happen.

How to "balance" the dice rolls

At this point, you either accept the one player with higher stats, or you make everyone use a validatable method.

  1. Everyone re-rolls their character in front of at least one other person (can be video if no one is near). This will likely upset the existing players as they may get worst stats than what they have now. It may also invalidate multiclassing, change any half-feats they've taken, and a bunch of other factors.
  2. Everyone starts over and uses the point-buy method. This means everyone has the same pool of values to swing their character however they want; boost some values knowing it will sacrifice other values. This too will likely upset the existing players, although to a lesser extent as they can now plan for their stat distribution.

It is up to you to decide

Is it worth making all the other players change based on your perceived "imbalance" of one player's stats?

1 Which by the way is a weird method I have heard someone use. Roll all the dice at once and then group them into 6 sets of 3 dice. Supposedly it allows for truly customized characters.

  • \$\begingroup\$ about note 1: very similar method can be found in Pathfinder 1st edition core rules - just you should distribute the dice on the rolls first then roll... \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 8, 2023 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish That just sounds like an awkward way of saying "roll 3d6 for each ability." Is there something else going on there that I'm not picking up on? \$\endgroup\$
    – 8bittree
    Feb 8, 2023 at 20:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting you didn't mention the 3rd method, standard array, as that's the method I've used every time I played 5e (both as a player and a DM). \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 8, 2023 at 20:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @8bittree Yes. The method gave you 24 dice to distribute as you wanted on the rolls, and then keep 3 per roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 8, 2023 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Oh, so you can use a different amount of dice per ability? Like 5d6, drop 2 lowest for your primary ability and 3d6 for your dump ability, as long as the total number of dice is 24? \$\endgroup\$
    – 8bittree
    Feb 8, 2023 at 20:29

Assume they are honest then handle the problem of power disparity separately

Rolling is an way of generating stats that inherently produces variable results and characters which can land a big distance apart in terms of power levels. A set of high rolls doesn’t mean that the player cheated (and similarly, low or average scores also don’t mean that they didn’t cheat). Probability calculations are difficult and humans are also quite bad at assessing what’s random or how probable a given result is.

You have no proof or even an indication that this player cheated with their rolls. You’re saying other players also rolled away from the table so I’m guessing that’s what you allowed. Therefore it doesn’t seem like the player did anything wrong, you should assume good faith and trust the player that they rolled those stats honestly.

The way to do going forward is to announce some table rules regarding rolling dice (which is a good idea to do anyway) that will ensure accountability and enforce them.

If you do not like that one character is so much more powerful than the others or are concerned that this is going to impact players’ fun then handle that separately from any accusations or suspicions of cheating. Tell everyone that you’re concerned about the power imbalance between characters and would like to address that. Then you have a few options, you could buff everyone up to match the strongest character or scrap everyone’s stats and ask them to use point buy or standard array. The one thing I would avoid is leaving all characters as they are and nerfing the strong one to bring him down to everyone’s else, that’s almost guaranteed to upset the player.

An easy solution ...

... that should keep everyone happy is to allow everyone to use the strongest one’s array for their characters. It’s a quite common variation on rolled stats, everyone rolls an array, you record it as a group and then every player can choose to use any array out of the ones rolled. You might have to scale up your encounters a bit if you choose this method since it can result in quite a strong party.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Good suggestion with sharing stats. I recently rolled about as insanely well (supervised) at a session 0 (18, 16, 16, 15, 13, 11) and was at first disappointed when the DM said 'now you all choose how you want to distribute those'. But it works really well, no one feels left behind - question begged is how you then deal with HP rolls, the other roll with permanent effects. And shining is not always having the highest stat, I'm having great fun playing a rogue with CON 6 (36HP at level 9) and his desperate attempts to stay alive. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2023 at 11:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wish I could upvote this twice! "allow everyone to use the strongest one’s array for their characters" I think this is always great since the important part of the stats is mostly that they are balanced relatively between the players. It is an especially good suggestion here since it is the least painless to implement now. It avoids the pains mentioned in both proposed solutions by MivaScott as well as the accusation that someone cheated. (And really the cheating isn't the problem anyway. The problem you are noticing is the disparity which is there whether the player cheated or not.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Kvothe
    Feb 8, 2023 at 13:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ (If you still want the highest rolled character to feel a little bit special you can also say you can only copy an array at the cost of say -2 in one attribute. With the way characters usually only really rely on a few stats that should not actually lead to a large disparity.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Kvothe
    Feb 8, 2023 at 13:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I would like to offer support to this answer; I am in a group that plays on Foundry/Discord. We did the "each roll a 6 x (4d6drop 1) array, then as a group pick one that we all use" for our current campaign (it is almost wrapped up) and the upcoming campaign that begins next month. Very satisfactory for all. +1 \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2023 at 14:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I once rolled a character with 18,17,16,15,14,10, (before racial adj) without a drop the lowest rule. and I rolled in front of the group, the rolls were so good I decided to play a class everyone says was underpowered, a way of the 4 elements monk, I took it as an RP opportunity. I still went down in half the combats, stats don't mean that much. Had I been forced I would have resented the DM but the DM brought up the idea tactfully and on my terms, ..after I had already come up with the idea, so redundant but I would have done it anyway because they asked. Try asking the player. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Apr 20, 2023 at 20:39

This is a session 0 topic, meaning, in ideal circumstances, this is decided before session 1, before you meet to play the game. I don't even used rolled stats, but for a different reason. Stats have such an impact on the game, every ability check, saving throw and attack, that I want an even playing field for all the players.

After reading the edit to the question, I looked back at an old session zero document, where I actually ran some tests and presented this argument.

The standard 4d6, drop the lowest character generation method, while bell curve balanced, has a very wide curve. For example, in a random test of 10 players rolling ability scores, the lowest pool total was 65 [avg 11], and the highest was 96 [avg 16]. Should these two players be in the same game, one would have a significant statistical advantage over the other [allowing one to shine while the other feels ineffective]. By using arrays [or point buys] for ability scores, each player starts with a level playing field.

Maybe you can approach this from a different perspective. By using a similar argument, you might approach the group with a point buy, based on the average of all your characters, then have them use that so that the "good fortune" can be spread around. This way, they retain the overall results of the original rolls, without any one character being over or under powered compared to the rest.

I stopped writing requirements and instead use The Adventurer's League requirements. It stipulates an array or point buy method for generating ability scores and includes what sources may be used. I also remind the players of the Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Customizing your origin (which is essentially the treatment all races published in Monsters of the Multiverse got.)

In this case, it's going to be troublesome to change the rules now, unless you already required the other players to roll at a previous session. If you established that rule, then it's OK to enforce it, but in any case, it's likely the newer player will see it as an accusation, so I'm not sure it's worth the hassle. On the other hand, if the player's stats are ridiculous, it won't be fair to the other party members. Good luck!


This is a bit of an oddball/longshot answer, but...

Is it possible that your friend misunderstood what "4d6 drop lowest" meant?

I ask because I made this mistake myself while trying to run the odds on your friend's result.

Presumably when you all agreed to use "4d6 drop lowest" for stat generation, you meant "roll 4d6, then drop the lowest d6; do that 6 times." But if nobody ever explained this to your friend properly, he might think it means "roll 4d6; do that 7 times, then drop the lowest 4d6."

If your friend did make this mistake, it would dramatically increase his odds of getting the stats you showed us. Doing a few AnyDice calculations:

  • Odds of rolling 14+ on all stats with "correct" method: output 6@6d([highest 3 of 4d6]) >= 140.20% (~1 chance in 500)
  • Odds of rolling 14+ on all stats with "mistake" method: output 6@7d(4d6) >= 1410.86% (~1 chance in 10)

I recommend bringing up this possibility up with him in a polite way, or asking him to describe in detail the exact method he used to roll his stats. If you find out that he used the wrong method, problem solved: ask him to re-roll using the correct method.

On the other hand, if you confirm that he did use the correct method, or if you are already completely sure that he couldn't have made such a mistake...well, that doesn't prove anything. As other answers have pointed out, rare results are not impossible. My advice is: do not accuse your friend of dishonesty. Instead, try to deal with it purely as a power balance issue, and lead a group discussion in that direction. ("I know some of you are worried that because Joe's character is so strong, it will unbalance the party...how can we address that?") The solution might be anything from "everyone re-rolls their stats" to "let's agree that stats aren't that important anyway, we're here for the roleplaying", depending on your group. And consider if you would like to generate stats differently the next time around.


Are the statistics fishy?

The statistics (STR: 15) (DEX: 17) (CON:16) (INT: 14) (WIS: 14) (CHA: 16) sum up to 92. Let's assume the typical human +2/+1 and we are at a rolled sum of 89. Divided by 6, the average rolled number would be 14.83. Let's call that a 15. The actual rolls that were involved were most likely a spread of 15, 15, 14, 14, and 16, unless the race deviates from the typical +2/+1.

A spread like that does raise an eyebrow, as it is well above the average of the standard 4d6 drop lowest and is quite more likely to happen if you forget to drop the lowest die, as anydice shows. But it can also be an exceptionally lucky roll.

In fact, the likelihood of a sum of exactly 89 is 0.43%, 89 or more is 1.21% by treating it as the sum of 6 dice that have the probability of a 4d6-drop-lowest. This means, 1 in 232 has exactly an 89, but 1 in 82 characters is 89 or better.

Treating the Array as the target to roll, the chance is 0.66% to get exactly that array or 4.37% to get that or a better result. While the methodology here differs, the outcome of both ways is, that this array is not very likely, but not impossible.

It might have been luck - I have seen a roll streak of exactly 1-1-2 on the very same d20 which has a chance of 0.0125% to occur. Or in other words: Just because an event is unlikely, it's not cheating. Only if the event is impossible, statistics can indicate cheating. E.g. there is no way to roll any statistic greater than 18 or to get more than 108 points in sum. Only that could prove cheating. Just because it's unlikely that that specific player has the event does not make the reason for it cheating.

In fact, let's take a different example: a specific Super-Rare card in Magic the Gathering has a chance of about 0.83% to show up in a booster pack. It's exceptional if you draw the one card you want on the first try. But if 200 people each open a booster, it's very likely that one or two will draw this specific card. If you have 1000 players drawing cards, you'd expect about 8 of these cards to show up, but you might see none or 10.

It's not an alternate charge method

In a related fashion, it is clearly not the standard spread of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 that made the statistics. Neither can the point buy method create the array, as you can't generate a 16 with point buy. The other 5 statistics but the 16 already sum up to 32 buy points while you have only 27, so the spread isn't possible due to two reasons with Point Buy method. Both those alternate rules can be found in the 5th Edition Player Handbook p.14.

If you absolutely must talk carefully to the player.

When you see something that you absolutely believe to be fishy, you ought to talk about it. But still, they could just have had super lucky dice that day. Because statistics only average out in large numbers, e.g. generation 100 scores, they can't prove someone cheated. generating 6 stats is totally able to create the outlier to up or down.

While you expect that a created character using 4d6-drop-lowest has a sum of statistics around a mean of 73.47 with a standard deviation area of 66.5 to 80.44, an 89 is not impossible but just very unlikely (about half a percent either way) to happen on your table. But it does happen. In any way, if you feel like you have to talk to them, don't accuse them of cheating. They just could have been lucky, and an accusation of cheating will make them defensive or leave the group instantly.

I believe you should only talk to them about their statistics being quite better than the other players' characters, not about anything being fishy about the roll itself. You don't know the roll or the circumstances, but only the outcome, which is statistically possible so you can't argue that it can't be. The chance might be low, but it exists and is possible One player of about 200 will get a roll like that. If your player is taking a comment about the character being well above average with humor (I know I did once), they might suggest rerolling on their own, or show you their lucky dice (both of which were what I did when a GM gave me some similar comment).

As a GM, you have to read their social queues to figure out if you can trust whatever result you get from a player. In general, I run with the benefit of the doubt. That means if there is nothing obviously wrong in the reaction or result of a roll (here: they admit that they doctored the array, or another player points out cheating), deal with the better character statistics/good roll and the problem that poses for the game (usually: few to none), and don't treat the player as a problem unless they are known as a cheat. If it's a known cheat... well, there's open rolling and tossing from the table.

Prevent the problem in the first place and switch to a re-calculable method

Point Buy and Standard Spread are much easier to verify that nothing is afoot, every player gets the same resources. Especially for online play where characters are made off the table and there is no verification method for dice, it might be warranted to swap to either of those methods.

When I ran a campaign where players could drop in and out, the requirements to play on a day were made clear well in advance:

  • Point Buy, 27 points, the original spread has to be denoted on the sheet.
  • When you missed sessions, Level up to the party's XP pool pinned on the discord before you join in.
  • Bring your own books.

As a result, I could at any moment check statistics that appeared fishy with a simple look into my own book and the back side of the sheet, no matter the current level.

  • 15
    \$\begingroup\$ If the chance that a particular player rolls ≥89 is 1.21%, the chance that at least one player in a group of five (five players is a guess) rolls ≥89 is 5.91%. In other words, about 1 group in 17 will have such an "unusually" high stats roll. It's arguable whether that's even suspicious. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaelus
    Feb 8, 2023 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I don't suggest approaching them about the statistics being fishy, but that their statistics are exceptional - which creates other problems, not related to cheating and which might warrant an adjustment that the player knows about in before. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 8, 2023 at 15:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Outside of the math, I also strongly disagree with approaching the with a conversation about "Did you discard some low rolls?" I mean, have you approached a conversation with an accusation in real life? How did that go? That's just an indirect accusation of cheating, isn't it? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Feb 8, 2023 at 18:13
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note: looking at the probability of getting that exact number is roughly meaningless. On a dartboard, the probability of landing on any given spot is 0, yet that happens on practically every throw. Same goes if you generate a random real number. "{number} or greater" is the main thing that matters. In any case, 1% is far too likely to accuse a player of cheating. For comparison, a Minecraft player was accused of cheating when the results he got had a somewhere between 1 in 10 million and 1 in 7.5 trillion probability of happening (although he played a lot more games than one does in D&D). \$\endgroup\$
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 9, 2023 at 10:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish To use your Magic analogy, if one person names a rare, opens a booster and gets that rare, that might be noteworthy, but unlikely events happen all the time. But also, now imagine thousands of people naming a rare and opening a booster - would you be suspicious of the 1% of people who got the card they named? No, because that's exactly what you'd expect given a 1% probability of people being correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 9, 2023 at 10:11

To address the concerns of the other players, you could say something like:

"When we decided to roll stats, that meant you agreed that some characters would probably be stronger than others. When we decided that you could all roll stats on your own without a witness, that meant you agreed to trust one another, because it's not fun to get a good roll and then be accused of cheating. If you all want to start again and this time have Standard Array for everyone - that's 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 - we could do that. Otherwise, let's not worry about it. After all, you're all on the same team."

To maintain balance in the group going forwards, just be a bit more generous to the players with lower stats, for example by allowing them to find magic items that would be useful to their character.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Again, that last paragraph rears it's ugly head: we shouldn't penalize players for good rolls. THe first half has also already been said in other answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Feb 8, 2023 at 18:19

Have a private talk with the high roller about stepping on toes

Before the next session talk to the player in question, but before you do let go of the possibility that they cheated. While it is possible, whether they cheated or not accusations of cheating will only make things worse regardless of their veracity. Go in assuming everything was above the board because this kind of thing can happen (it happened recently in one of my campaigns with everyone rolling together).

Explain that the higher stats for their character can make it easy for them to outshine the other players, but that since this is a cooperative game you want their help metagaming the situation so it's fun for everyone. Discuss with them what each of the other PCs are "best" at and ask that they help you spotlight those characters when those kind of situations come up. For example the Bard is probably aimed at persuasion and deception, your high roller has a great charisma score but they could pick different skills AND/OR support the bard in those kind of actions instead of doing them themselves when possible.

Find at least a couple of places for each other character where they can help you make that character shine. The important thing is to frame this as them helping you NOT them being punished for success. Finally make sure that there are opportunities for the high roller's character to shine at whatever they're best at as well. The key is to make sure they understand you don't want to take away their time in the sun, you want to ensure everyone has some.


Extra Gear for the low rollers (maybe even magic items!)

With rolling you're naturally going to have a disparity in power levels. I recently had almost exactly this situation come up in a campaign (and everyone's rolls were made at the same time, in view of everyone else).

With hindsight I wish I'd been a bit more proactive and started some of the other players with magic items and extra gear but in my case I just strategically placed some loot that would help the characters who weren't so lucky (eg magic dagger for the rogue with low stats) in the early dungeons.

If you do grant some players magic items at the start I'd be 100% transparent about this and tell my players something along the lines of:

"I'd like to have a balanced party for my own piece of mind when creating encounters but also so everyone has fun. To that end I'm giving several of you a magic item (or even just better armor/weapons) to start so that everyone will be a little closer to the same power level"

Again, statistical anomalies are BOUND to happen by the nature of randomness, there's no reason to expect your player was cheating and no reason to penalize them for rolling well.


As an aside, I played in a campaign near the start of 5e where everyone rolled 5 stats, and then their last one was determined so that everyone had an overall approximately equal bonus. I rolled well enough for my five stats that I ended up with a dump stat of 1 (-5) which I put in Con and lead to some great stories (and almost every time I got hit I went down immediately). Stats aren't everything and if you're focusing on roleplaying the power disparity won't be as noticable.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ extra gear is not a good solution to any problem - you have them punch heavier but they can't take the hits of an enemy that such gear is meant to fight against. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 8, 2023 at 18:03
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ -1, this is just going to feel INCREDIBLY unfair for all the players, if you like to have a balanced party then don't have your players roll stats, this is going to feel like you punishing some of the players for your own failings as a DM (and your buddy starting with cool magic gear while you start with nothing IS going to feel like a punishment for rolling well, I would nope out of a game that started like this in a heartbeat) \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Feb 9, 2023 at 9:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .