Sometimes, the dice hate you. Sometimes, the dice love you. But, there is no worse time to suffer the capricious whims of the dice than during character generation. Believe me, I know.
Pathfinder is a complicated game. We rely on dice to determine many facets of the game, but for many of these situations situational modifiers and player skill can hugely affect the die roll.
However, this isn’t the case during character generation. In character generation, you are pretty much stuck with what you roll. Here player skill counts for naught.
If you don’t get great stats, it can be tempting to declare the character hopeless and re-roll. However, very few characters are truly hopeless. There is nothing wrong with playing a character with sub-optimal statistics. (Assuming you are not at a table where everyone is super-optimised). My first ever character had a Charisma 3. Admittedly, that’s not exactly a huge problem for a fighter, but it still defined a large part of his personality and backstory. For me, it made him more memorable. (It also made hiring henchmen and hirelings quite tricky later on, but I love a challange!)
Assuming you are going to stick with your stats, it doesn’t mean you (or your character) are necessarily doomed. Follow the notes below, to generate your character:
Step 1: Choosing Your Class
The better your stats the more options you have during character generation. Some classes—like monk—require several decent stats to shine.
However, you’ll noticed in the list below several character classes only really require one primary requisite. Of course, every character wants a high Constitution and Dexterity, but they don’t necessarily need them. Not having high numbers in these stats is not exactly a death knell (but it can make life tricky).
- Bard: Cha
- Barbarian: Str, Con
- Cleric: Wis, Cha
- Druid: Wis
- Fighter: Str or Dex
- Monk: Str, Dex, Wis
- Paladin: Str, Cha
- Ranger: Str or Dex, Wis
- Rogue: Dex
- Sorcerer: Cha
- Wizard: Int
Looking at the list above it’s clear bards, druids, fighters, rogues, sorcerers and wizards all only really require one statistic to play to the class’s strength. Simply stick your highest statistic in that ability.
It’s also handy to put some of your best scores in Dexterity and Constitution as these boost your character’s defences. After that, assign your scores in the order that makes the most sense to you. Remember, though, Intelligence governs—to a large extent—how many skill points your character gets. Some characters—like rogues—need a decent range of skills while others can probably do without.
Step 2: Racial Adjustments
Remember, your character’s race modifies his statistics. You can enhance your original rolls by choosing a race that plays well to the prime requisite of your chosen class. For example:
- Dwarf: A dwarf’s stats are modified in the following manner: +2 Con, +2 Wis, -2 Cha; this makes them good choices for fighters, barbarians, druids and rangers, but bad choices for paladins and sorcerers and (to a lesser extent) clerics.
- Elf: Elves’ stats are modified by +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Con; this makes them a good choice for range-focused rangers, rogues and wizards, but bad choices for barbarians.
- Gnome: +2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Str; gnomes make good sorcerers and bards, but their strength penalty makes them a poor choice for melee-focused fighters.
- Halfling: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Str; halflings make good rogues, sorcerers and bards, but their strength penalty makes them a poor choice for melee-focused fighters.
- Half-elf, Half-orc, Human: These three races get a +2 to any one stat of their choice. Thus, they are a good choice for almost any character class.
So if you have bad stats, these combinations can be surprisingly effective:
- Dwarf: druid
- Elf: rogue or wizard
- Gnome: bard or sorcerer
- Halfling: bard, rogue, sorcerer
- Half-elf, half-orc or human: bard, druid, fighter, rogue, sorcerer or wizard
Living with a Low Dexterity or Constitution
Every character would like a high Constitution and/or a high Dexterity. Having more hit points or a better armour class is always desirable. However, for some concepts a low Constitution or Dexterity can be rapidly fatal.
For example, a melee fighter with a low Constitution score is a disaster waiting to happen, but an fighter specialising as an archer is in a far better position to survive a low Constitution. If you’ve got a low Constitution, choosing a character concept that involves a lot of melee is really asking for it! Depending on the nature of the foes you regularly face you might want to consider picking up Great Fortitude to boost your Fortitude saves. Toughness is always an excellent choice for more hit points.
Similarly, a low Dexterity affects (among other things) initiative rolls, armour class and Reflex saves. If you’ve got a low Dexterity, you don’t want to be at the front of the marching order. If you are at the front, you are far more likely to get attacked while flat-footed (potentially disastrous if you fight a lot of rogues). Choose a concept that puts you in the middle or the back of the party. Improved Initiative is a good choice for characters with a low Dexterity score as it helps you act quicker than normal. However (sadly) you character won’t qualify for Dodge to boost your AC so you’ll need to wear the best protections you can afford.
What Do You Think?
Is life too short? Should your GM let you re-roll your stats until you get he set you want or should you view bad stats as an opportuntity? Let me know, in the comments below.