To roll for stats in 5e, roll 4d6 six times, record the sum of the highest 3 rolls each time (so that you have six numbers), and then assign each of these numbers to an ability score (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) (Player’s Handbook, pg. 13).
For example, let’s say I rolled 4d6 six times and got these results:
|Roll Results||Sum Of 3 Highest|
|5, 4, 3, 1||12|
|6, 6, 4, 2||16|
|6, 3, 3, 1||12|
|4, 3, 2, 2||9|
|3, 3, 2, 1||8|
|5, 5, 4, 2||14|
Next, I would decide how to assign those numbers to my six ability scores. Keep in mind that your choice of race also grants a floating +2 and +1 bonus to the ability scores of your choice (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pg. 7).
If I was building a Barbarian, I’d put 16 as my Strength score and 14 as my Constitution, “dumping” the 9 and 8 in Intelligence and Charisma, abilities that I’m unlikely to use often.
If I was building a Warlock, I’d put 16 as my Charisma score and 14 as my Dexterity score (for armor), “dumping” the 9 and 8 in Strength and Intelligence.
Alternatives to Rolling for Stats
There are a few alternatives to rolling for stats in DnD 5e:
Standard Array. The Standard Array is a set of six pre-assigned numbers (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) that you can use as your ability scores without rolling any dice. If you don’t like the idea of random dice rolls, this is the option suggested in the rules (Player’s Handbook, pg. 13).
Point Buy. Point Buy is a method where ability scores of 8-15 each have a different “Point Cost.” An 8 costs 0 points, and a 15 costs 9 points. You have 27 points to spend. So your character could start with three 15 ability scores and three 8s, for example.
This is also good for people who won’t like randomness and want even more customization and control in character creation than the Standard Array offers.
Re-roll 1s. Good for people who like randomness…as long as it’s not too harsh 🙂
Roll 3d6 seven times, and drop the lowest sum. Similar to the “roll 4d6 drop lowest” method but should result in slightly worse starting scores.
Roll 3d6 six times and drop nothing. This is the ultra-gritty version of character creation, leaving your fate totally in the hands of the gods.
Paty-wide ability scores. Instead of each player individually rolling their stats, the entire party rolls and comes up with a pool of six numbers. Then, each player can assign those scores to whichever ability they choose. This method is good for ensuring that all players start on an even playing field.