Just staring 5e, did 3.5 for a long time.

The question is - is 90 points for a starting character, in a 1-1 buy system in 5e too OP compared to 84 in 3.5e in the same buy system?


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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Have you considered using the array or the point-buy system in the PHB? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestion, but not really, I want to use 1-1, that's what I always use for long campaigns, I have no problem with the system, my problem is how OP is 90 in 5e, compared to 84-87 in 3.5e? \$\endgroup\$
    – Marklar
    Apr 27, 2016 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason you don't want to use the given points buy, and insist on 1:1? I am mainly asking because "What do you think of my house rule?" questions usually get closed as too opinion-based. Since the PH has points buy rules, we can say with some fair certainty that they've been playtested and work well. Since no one has used your house rule, we cannot give a good, objective answer to your question. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 16:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marklar Editing the question to be more concise is a good idea, yes. The clearer the question, the better answers can be. Of course, I still think that you should play with the game as-written before you mess around with things, but that's just me. There are many changes from 3.5 to 5 that might make the reasoning for the high points buy pool unnecessary. But that's just my opinion. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since the bounded accuracy model was adopted for 5e, the general argument has been that super high stat scores aren't as necessary for a successful adventure. (Be careful though, of various discussions on that, for there be dragons!) But, the way you build the adventure may call for it ... \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


"OP" depends upon how you run your campaign.

  • The default character generation method is 4d6 (best 3). My last look at anydice showed that rolling stat generation method to average about 12.25 per stat; but the results can swing quite a bit.

    (Basic Rules p.7) You generate your character’s six ability scores randomly. Roll four 6-sided dice and record the total of the highest three dice on a piece of scratch paper. Do this five more times, so that you have six numbers. If you want to save time or don’t like the idea of randomly determining ability scores, you can use the following scores instead: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8

Converting the standard array to pips on the dice, *That's 72 pips** compared to your 90; a 27 point buy with no score lower than 8 actually has a range of pips due to the extra cost of higher stat scores.

  • If using the roll, the average 5e score is 12.25 per attribute.
  • If you do the 27 point buy with 8 = 0 ... 3 13s @ 5 each and 3 12s @ 4 each shows that. That's 75 pips. "What," you may ask, "I thought standard array was 72?"

    As you go above 13, each pip that you buy costs more points. Bonuses for stats go up every other number, at 12, 14, 16, 18, 20(max) for +1, 2, 3, 4, 5 respectively.

Significantly higher stat bonuses

The difference between 72, or 75, pips and 90 pips is 15-18 pips, which is up to 3 pips per stat. That's a significant set of increased bonuses.

Using the 27 point buy based on 8 = 0, I can make the following character stat array. 14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10, (3x7 + 3x2 = 27). 72 pips. 3 bonuses at +2 and no others. (Total +6 bonuses).
Add 18 more pips to all that and get (samples):
20, 20, 20, 10, 10, 10; (+15 bonuses)
18, 18, 18, 14, 12, 10; (+15 bonuses)
18, 18, 16, 14, 12, 12; (+15 bonuses)
18, 18, 16, 14, 14, 10. (+15 bonuses)
That's before racial additions.

If everyone in your party starts with the same point buy, and you offer them 90 points, your only "balance" problem is in getting the Challenge Rating right for your encounters.

If, after the first few encounters you find that the average encounter of medium to hard is not tough enough for them, make the standard encounter hard to deadly and see how it works out. (Guidance for that is in the DMG p. 85 and in the DM Basic Rules, pages 56-58.)

The game's bounded accuracy model should account for the rest.

Final answer to your edited question

The question is - is 90 points for a starting character, in a 1-1 buy system in 5e too OP compared to 84 in 3.5e in the same buy system?

Quite a bit has changed from 3.5 to 5e. Your offering 90 pips versus the 72-75 pips for the standard array-point buy, and 74 (12.25 x 6) pips for average roll of 4d6 (best 3) looks like overkill.

While we don't know your campaign particulars, 84 pips is nearly two pips per ability score greater than the standard array. Using 84 would make the standard array look like this before applying any racial bonuses (assuming we line them up as Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wis/Chr)
17, 16, 15, 14, 12, 10

  • For the basic human, that makes for 18, 17, 16, 15, 13, 11.

  • Mountain dwarf: 19, 16, 17, 14, 12, 10. (Mtn Dwarf is +2 str +2 Con)

  • It would take my notional 14, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 (72 pips) and turn it into 16, 16, 16, 12, 12, 12 (84 pips); then adjust for the racial bonus

    If that is the ability range you are aiming for, then 84 should suffice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I'll rephrase (not sure if I should edit my question?). How different is 84 points in 3.5e compared to 90 points in 5e? (I have my own reasons for keeping their stats high, related to my custom setting) \$\endgroup\$
    – Marklar
    Apr 27, 2016 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ If that's your question, I am not expert enough in 3.5e to offer a better answer, but someone else probably is. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 16:15

Stats in 5E are MUCH more tightly bound than in 3.5. With the default 5E point buy, you aren't even allowed to raise a stat above 15 (before racials). Additionally, stats are hard capped at 20, with very few exceptions. Your 90 points will be VERY powerful. Comparison to 3.5 is difficult: it depends on the specific level of optimization as well as the overall play style. Overall, if you are dead set on trying this method, nobody is stopping you. But as a general rule, I highly recommend playing by the base rules before putting house rules into play, especially so with character creation. If you find the players are over or under powered for what you want, feel free to adjust after, either by retconning their sheets or via magical stat adjusting items.


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