Ability Scores

To create an ability score for your character, roll four six-sided dice
(4d6). Disregard the lowest die roll and total the three highest ones.
The result is a number between 3 (horrible) and 18 (tremendous).
The average ability score for the typical commoner is 10 or 11, but
your character is not typical. The most common ability scores for
player characters (PCs) are 12 and 13. (That’s right, the average
player character is above average.)
Make this roll six times, recording each result on a piece of paper.
Once you have six scores, assign each score to one of the six abilities.
At this step, you need to know what kind of person your character is
going to be, including his or her race and class, in order to know
how best to distribute the ability scores. Choosing a race other
than human or half-elf causes some of these ability scores to
change (see Table 2–1: Racial Ability Adjustments, page 12).
Each ability, after changes made because of race, has a modifier
ranging from –5 to +5. Table 1–1: Ability Modifiers and Bonus
Spells (on the next page) shows the modifier for each score. It
also shows bonus spells, which you’ll need to know about if
your character is a spellcaster.
The modifier is the number you apply to the die roll when
your character tries to do something related to that ability.
For instance, you apply your character’s Strength modifier to
your roll when he or she tries to hit someone with a sword.
You also use the modifier with some numbers that aren’t die
rolls—for example, you apply your character’s Dexterity
modifier to his or her Armor Class (AC). A positive
modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called
a penalty.
The ability that governs bonus spells (see Chapter 3:
Classes) depends on what type of spellcaster your
character is: Intelligence for wizards; Wisdom for clerics,
druids, paladins, and rangers; or Charisma for sorcerers and
bards. In addition to having a high ability score, a spellcaster
must be of high enough class level to be able to cast spells of
a given spell level. (See the class descriptions in Chapter 3
for details.) For instance, the wizard Mialee has an Intelligence score of 15, so she’s smart enough to get one bonus 1stlevel
spell and one bonus 2nd-level spell. (She will not actually get
the 2nd-level spell until she is 3rd level wizard, since that’s the minimum
level a wizard must be to cast 2nd-level spells.)
If your character’s ability score is 9 or lower, you can’t cast spells
tied to that ability. For example, if Mialee’s Intelligence score
dropped to 9 because of a poison that reduces intellect, she would
not be able to cast even her simplest spells until cured.
If your scores are too low, you may scrap them and roll all six scores
again. Your scores are considered too low if the sum of your
modifiers (before adjustments because of race) is 0 or lower, or if
your highest score is 13 or lower.


Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of his
or her actions.
The description of each ability includes a list of races and
creatures along with their average scores in that ability. (Not every
creature has a score in every ability, as you’ll see when you look at
the lists that follow.) These scores are for an average, young adult
creature of the indicated race or kind, such as a dwarf tax collector, a
halfling merchant, or an unexceptional gnoll. An adventurer—say, a
dwarf fighter or a gnoll ranger—probably has better scores, at least
in the abilities that matter most to that character, and player
characters are above average overall.
Strength measures your character’s muscle and physical power. This
ability is especially important for fighters, barbarians, paladins,
rangers, and monks because it helps them prevail in combat.
Strength also limits the amount of equipment your character can
carry (see Chapter 9: Adventuring).
You apply your character’s Strength modifier to:
Melee attack rolls.
Damage rolls when using a melee weapon or a thrown weapon
(including a sling). (Exceptions: Off-hand attacks receive only one
half the character’s Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks
receive one and a half times the Strength bonus. A Strength
penalty, but not a bonus, applies to attacks made with a bow that
is not a composite bow.)
Climb, Jump, and Swim checks. These are the skills that have
Strength as their key ability.
Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).
Average Strength Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Strength Modifier
Allip, shadow, will-o’-wisp — —
Lantern archon, bat, toad 1 –5
Rat swarm 2 –4
Stirge, monkey, Tiny monstrous spider 3 –4
Grig, Small monstrous centipede 4–5 –3
Hawk, cockatrice, pixie 6–7 –2
Quasit, badger 8–9 –1
Human, beholder, dire rat 10–11 +0
Mind flayer, dog, pony, ghoul 12–13 +1
Gnoll, dire badger, baboon, manta ray 14–15 +2
Black pudding, choker, Large shark 16–17 +3
Centaur, displacer beast, minotaur 18–19 +4
Ape, ogre, flesh golem, gorgon 20–21 +5
Fire giant, triceratops, elephant 30–31 +10
Great wyrm gold dragon 46–47 +18
Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance.
This ability is the most important ability for rogues, but it’s also
high on the list for characters who typically wear light or medium
armor (rangers and barbarians) or no armor at all (monks, wizards,
and sorcerers), and for anyone who wants to be a skilled archer.
You apply your character’s Dexterity modifier to:
Ranged attack rolls, including those for attacks made with bows,
crossbows, throwing axes, and other ranged weapons.
Armor Class (AC), provided that the character can react to the
Reflex saving throws, for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that
you can escape by moving quickly.
Balance, Escape Artist, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Ride,
Sleight of Hand, Tumble, and Use Rope checks. These are the
skills that have Dexterity as their key ability.
Average Dexterity Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Dexterity Modifier
Shrieker (fungus) — —
Gelatinous cube (ooze) 1 –5
Colossal animated object 4–5 –3
Purple worm, ogre zombie 6–7 –2
Ogre, basilisk, fire giant, tendriculos 8–9 –1
Human, triton, boar, giant fire beetle 10–11 +0
Bugbear, lammasu, hobgoblin 12–13 +1
Displacer beast, hieracosphinx 14–15 +2
Blink dog, wraith, lion, octopus 16–17 +3
Astral deva (angel), ethereal filcher 18–19 +4
Arrowhawk, bone devil 20–21 +5
Elder air elemental 32–33 +11
Constitution represents your character’s health and stamina. A
Constitution bonus increases a character’s hit points, so the ability is
important for all classes.
You apply your character’s Constitution modifier to:
Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result
below 1—that is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each
time he or she advances in level).
Fortitude saving throws, for resisting poison and similar threats.
Concentration checks. This is a skill, important to spellcasters,
that has Constitution as its key ability.
If a character’s Constitution score changes enough to alter his or
her Constitution modifier, the character’s hit points also increase or
decrease accordingly.
Average Constitution Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Constitution Modifier
Ghoul, mummy, shadow — —
Centipede swarm, locust swarm 8–9 –1
Human, imp, dire weasel, grick 10–11 +0
Rust monster, medusa, otyugh, nymph 12–13 +1
Light horse, merfolk, troglodyte 14–15 +2
Tiger, chimera, assassin vine 16–17 +3
Polar bear, gargoyle, umber hulk 18–19 +4
Elephant, aboleth, tyrannosaurus 20–21 +5
The tarrasque 35 +12
Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons.
This ability is important for wizards because it affects how many
spells they can cast, how hard their spells are to resist, and how
powerful their spells can be. It’s also important for any character
who wants to have a wide assortment of skills.
You apply your character’s Intelligence modifier to:
The number of languages your character knows at the start of the
The number of skill points gained each level. (But your character
always gets at least 1 skill point per level.)
Appraise, Craft, Decipher Script, Disable Device, Forgery,
Knowledge, Search, and Spellcraft checks. These are the skills
that have Intelligence as their key ability.
A wizard gains bonus spells based on her Intelligence score. The
minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the
spell’s level.
An animal has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2. A creature of humanlike
intelligence has scores of at least 3.
Average Intelligence Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Intelligence Modifier
Zombie, golem, ochre jelly — —
Carrion crawler, purple worm, camel 1 –5
Tiger, hydra, dog, horse 2 –4
Gray render, tendriculos, rast 3 –4
Otyugh, griffon, displacer beast 4–5 –3
Troll, hell hound, ogre, yrthak 6–7 –2
Troglodyte, centaur, gnoll 8–9 –1
Human, bugbear, wight, night hag 10–11 +0
Dragon turtle, cloud giant, lamia 12–13 +1
Invisible stalker, wraith, will-o’-wisp 14–15 +2
Beholder, succubus, trumpet archon 16–17 +3
Mind flayer, death slaad, nightwing 18–19 +4
Kraken, titan, nightcrawler 20–21 +5
Great wyrm gold dragon 32–33 +11
Wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, perception,
and intuition. While Intelligence represents one’s ability to
analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and
aware of one’s surroundings. An “absentminded professor” has low
Wisdom and high Intelligence. A simpleton (low Intelligence)
might still have great insight (high Wisdom). Wisdom is the most
important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for
paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have acute
senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom
You apply your character’s Wisdom modifier to:
Will saving throws (for negating the effect of charm person and
other spells).
Heal, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks.
These are the skills that have Wisdom as their key ability.
Clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers get bonus spells based on
their Wisdom scores. The minimum Wisdom score needed to cast a
cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger spell is 10 + the spell’s level.
Average Wisdom Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Wisdom Modifier
Gelatinous cube (ooze), animated object 1 –5
Shrieker (fungus) 2 –4
Red slaad, githyanki 6–7 –2
Purple worm, grimlock, troll 8–9 –1
Human, lizardfolk, phantom fungus 10–11 +0
Owlbear, hyena, shadow, remorhaz 12–13 +1
Wraith, owl, giant praying mantis 14–15 +2
Devourer, lillend, androsphinx 16–17 +3
Couatl, erinyes devil, guardian naga 18–19 +4
Unicorn, storm giant 20–21 +5
Great wyrm gold dragon 32–33 +11
Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness,
personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This
ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one
is perceived by others in a social setting. Charisma is most important
for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics,
since it affects their ability to turn undead. Every creature has a
Charisma score.
You apply your character’s Charisma modifier to:
Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Handle Animal,
Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device checks. These are the
skills that have Charisma as their key ability.
Checks that represent an attempt to influence others.
Turning checks for clerics and paladins attempting to turn
zombies, vampires, and other undead.
Sorcerers and bards get bonus spells based on their Charisma
scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a sorcerer or
bard spell is 10 + the spell’s level.
Average Charisma Scores
Average Average
Example Race or Creature Kind Wisdom Modifier
Zombie, golem, shrieker (fungus) 1 –5
Spider, crocodile, lizard, rhinoceros 2 –4
Tendriculos, octopus 3 –4
Dire rat, weasel, chuul, donkey 4–5 –3
Badger, troll, giant fire beetle, bear 6–7 –2
Gnoll, dire boar, manticore, gorgon 8–9 –1
Human, wolverine, dretch (demon) 10–11 +0
Treant, roper, doppelganger, night hag 12–13 +1
Storm giant, barghest, medusa 14–15 +2
Ogre mage, pixie, harpy, achaierai 16–17 +3
Greater barghest, nixie 18–19 +4
Astral deva (angel), kraken 20–21 +5
Great wyrm gold dragon 32–33 +11
Monte wants to create a new character. He rolls four six-sided dice
(4d6) and gets 5, 4, 4, and 1. Ignoring the lowest roll (1), he records
the result on scratch paper: 13. He rolls the dice five more times and
gets these six scores: 13, 10, 15, 12, 8, and 14. Monte decides to play a
strong, tough dwarf fighter. Now he assigns his scores to abilities.
Strength gets the highest score, 15. His character has a +2
Strength bonus that will serve him well in combat.
Constitution gets the next highest score, 14. The dwarf’s +2 racial
bonus to Constitution (see Table 2–1: Racial Ability Adjustments,
page 12) improves his Constitution score to 16, which gives him a +3
modifier. This bonus gives the character more hit points and better
Fortitude saving throws.
Monte puts his lowest score, 8, into Charisma. The dwarf’s –2
racial penalty to Charisma (see Table 2–1) reduces his Charisma
score to 6, for a –2 penalty.
Monte has two bonus-range scores left (13 and 12), plus an average
score (10). Dexterity gets the 13 (+1 bonus), which helps with
ranged weapon attacks and with Reflex saving throws. (Monte’s also
thinking ahead. A Dexterity score of 13 qualifies his character for
the Dodge feat—see Table 5–1: Feats, page 90).
Wisdom gets the 12 (+1 bonus). The Wisdom bonus helps with
perception skills, such as Spot and Listen (see Table 4–2: Skills, page
63), as well as with Will saving throws.
Intelligence gets the 10 (no bonus or penalty). An average Intelligence
isn’t bad for a fighter.
Monte records his character’s race, class, ability scores, and ability
modifiers on his character sheet.
Over time, the ability scores your character starts with can change.
Ability scores can increase with no limit. Points at which ability
changes occur include the following:
Add 1 point to any score upon attaining 4th level and at every
fourth level your character attains thereafter (8th, 12th, 16th, and
20th level).
Many spells and magical effects temporarily increase or decrease
ability scores. The ray of enfeeblement spell reduces a creature’s
Strength, and the bull’s strength spell increases it. Sometimes a
spell simply hampers a character, reducing his or her ability score.
A character trapped by an entangle spell, for example, acts as if his
or her Dexterity were 4 points lower than it really is.
Several magic items improve ability scores as long as the character
is using them. For example, gloves of dexterity improve the wearer’s
Dexterity score. (Magic items are described in the Dungeon
Master’s Guide.) Note that a magic item of this type can’t change an
ability score by more than +6.
Some rare magic items can boost an ability score permanently, as
can a wish spell. Such an increase is called an inherent bonus. An
ability score can’t have an inherent bonus of more than +5.
Poisons, diseases, and other effects can temporarily harm an
ability (ability damage). Ability points lost to damage return on
their own at a rate of 1 point per day for each damaged ability.
Some effects drain abilities, resulting in a permanent loss (ability
drain). Points lost this way don’t return on their own, but they can
be regained with spells, such as restoration.
As a character ages, some ability scores go up and others go down.
See Table 6–5: Aging Effects (page 109).
When an ability score changes, all attributes associated with that
score change accordingly. For example, when Mialee becomes a 4thlevel
wizard, she decides to increase her Intelligence score to 16.
That score gives her a 3rd-level bonus spell (which she’ll pick up
upon attaining 5th level, when she becomes able to cast 3rd-level
spells), and it increases the number of skill points she gets per level
from 4 to 5 (2 per level for her class, plus another 3 per level from
her Intelligence bonus). As a new 4th-level character, she can get
the skill points immediately after raising her Intelligence, so she’ll
get 5 points for attaining 4th level in the wizard class. She does not
retroactively get additional points for her previous levels (that is,
skill points she would have gained if she had had an Intelligence
score of 16 starting at 1st level).


You can use your character’s Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores
to guide you in roleplaying your character. Here is some background
(just guidelines) about what these scores can mean.
A smart character (one with high Intelligence) is curious, knowledgeable,
and prone to using big words. A character with a high Intelligence
but low Wisdom may be smart but absentminded, or knowledgeable but
lacking in common sense. A character with a high Intelligence but a low
Charisma may be a know-it-all or a reclusive scholar. A smart character
lacking in both Wisdom and Charisma may put her foot in her mouth
A character with a low Intelligence mispronounces and misuses
words, has trouble following directions, or fails to get the joke.
A character with a high Wisdom score may be sensible, serene, “in
tune,” alert, or centered. A character with a high Wisdom but low
Intelligence may be aware, but simple. A character with high Wisdom but
low Charisma knows enough to speak carefully and may become an
advisor (or “power behind the throne”) rather than a leader. The wise
character lacking in both Intelligence and Charisma is uncouth and unsophisticated.
A character with a low Wisdom score may be rash, imprudent, irresponsible,
or “out of it.”
A character with high Charisma may be attractive, striking, personable,
and confident. A character with high Charisma but a low Intelligence can
usually pass herself off as knowledgeable, until she meets a true expert.
A charismatic character lacking in both Intelligence and Wisdom is likely
to be shallow and unaware of others’ feelings.
A character with low Charisma may be reserved, gruff, rude, fawning,
or simply nondescript.


——————————————————— Bonus Spells (by Spell Level) ——————————————————

Score Modifier 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1 –5 —————————————————— Can’t cast spells tied to this ability ——————————————————
2–3 –4 —————————————————— Can’t cast spells tied to this ability ——————————————————
4–5 –3
6–7 –2 —————————————————— Can’t cast spells tied to this ability ——————————————————
8–9 –1 —————————————————— Can’t cast spells tied to this ability ——————————————————
10–11 0
12–13 +1 1
14–15 +2 1 1

16–17 +3 — 1 1 1 — — — — — —
18–19 +4 — 1 1 1 1 — — — — —
20–21 +5 — 2 1 1 1 1 — — — —
22–23 +6 — 2 2 1 1 1 1 — — —
24–25 +7 — 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 — —
26–27 +8 — 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 —
28–29 +9 — 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
30–31 +10 — 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
32–33 +11 — 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1
34–35 +12 — 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
36–37 +13 — 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
38–39 +14 — 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2
40–41 +15 — 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2
42–43 +16 — 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2
44–45 +17 — 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3

Generating Ability Scores

In addition to the standard method for generating ability scores
presented in the Player’s Handbook (roll 4d6, discard the lowest die,
and arrange as desired), here are eight options you might want to
consider using in your campaign.
1. Standard Point Buy: All ability scores start at 8. Take 25
points to spread out among all abilities. For ability scores of 14 or
lower, you buy additional points on a 1-for-1 basis. For ability
scores higher than 14, it costs a little more (see the table below).
This method allows for maximum customization, but you should
expect each PC to have at least one really good score.
Ability Score Point Costs
Ability Point Ability Point
Score Cost Score Cost
9 1 14 6
10 2 15 8
11 3 16 10
12 4 17 13
13 5 18 16
2. Nonstandard Point Buy: Use the standard point buy
method, except that the player has fewer or more points for
buying scores, as shown on the table below.
Type of Campaign Points Allowed
Low-powered campaign 15 points
Challenging campaign 22 points
Tougher campaign 28 points
High-powered campaign 32 points
3. Elite Array: Use the following scores, arranged as
desired: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8. These numbers (assuming
they’re assigned to abilities in an appropriate way) produce
characters with at least a decent score in every ability
that’s important to the character’s class. This method
is faster than the standard point buy method and is good
for creating characters quickly. In fact, it’s the method
we used to generate ability scores for the sample NPCs
in Chapter 4 of this book.
4. The Floating Reroll: Roll 4d6 six times, discarding
the lowest die each time. Once during this process,
the player can reroll the lowest die instead. Arrange
scores as desired. This method results in slightly
better characters than the standard Player’s Handbook
method does, allowing players to either improve a
particularly bad score or try to get a very good score.
For example, if the player rolled 4d6 and got results
of 1, 2, 6, and 6 for a score of 14, she might choose to
reroll the 1 to see if she could improve the score
(and possibly even get an 18 if the reroll came up 6).
5. Organic Characters: Roll 4d6 six times, discarding
the lowest die each time. Place in order (Str, Dex,
Con, Int, Wis, Cha) as rolled. Reroll any one ability
score of your choice, taking the new roll if it’s
higher. Then switch any two ability scores. This method allows some choice but doesn’t let a player have all her
ability scores exactly where she wants them. A character might
have to learn to cope with unwanted clumsiness (just as in real
life), or she may have a personal talent that isn’t usual for a member
of her class (such as a high Strength score for a sorcerer).
6. Customized Average Characters: Roll 3d6 six times and arrange
scores as desired. This method produces characters more
like average people but still allows customization. The player may
reroll all scores if his ability modifiers total –3 or lower, or if he
doesn’t have any score of 12 or higher.
7. Random Average Characters: Roll 3d6 six times and place
in order (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha). This is the strictest method.
It frequently generates virtually unplayable characters, but it
makes high scores very special. The player may reroll all scores if
her ability modifiers total –3 or lower, or if she doesn’t have any
score of 12 or higher.
8. High-Powered Characters: Roll 5d6 six times, discarding
the two lowest dice each time. Arrange as desired. This is just right
for a high-powered game where the characters need to be really
good just to survive. The player may reroll all scores if his ability
modifiers don’t total at least +2 or if he doesn’t have at least one
score of 15 or higher.
In the new D&D Campaigns program administered by the RPGA®
Network, the ability scores of player characters are generated
using the standard point buy method. In some older RPGA campaigns,
nonstandard point buy methods are used. For instance,
characters in the Living Greyhawk campaign are built using the
28-point nonstandard point buy method, because it’s a tougher
campaign that requires more powerful characters.
Why does the RPGA use the point buy method instead of
rolling dice to generate ability scores? Unlike most home games
with one Dungeon Master and a small group of players, RPGA
D&D games are played by thousands of players, and are adjudicated
by hundreds of Dungeon Masters. At large gaming events,
an RPGA DM doesn’t always play with a familiar group of players
or characters. In these environments, the point buy system provides
a way for players to customize their characters, while at the
same time enabling the DM to reasonably gauge the power of all
the characters in the game.
For more information about the D&D Campaigns program, and
how to participate in RPGA events, go to www.wizards.com/rpga.

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