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Standard Array In D&D 5E [Allocate Ability Scores With Ease]

Standard Array In D&D 5E
  Written By: Ashish Arya
Updated On: 11/11/2023
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

If you’re a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast, then you likely already know that the standard array in D&D 5e is vital to character creation.

It sets the tone, creates the rules of engagement, and serves as the backbone for your role-playing experience. But what exactly is it, and how does it impact your gameplay?

Your journey in D&D begins with creating a unique character, and that’s where the standard array comes in. Each class comes with its strengths and weaknesses defined by basic ability scores.

Think of this array as your character’s DNA. It shapes their development throughout your campaign, affects their survival chances, and adds depth to their abilities.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, understanding this concept can dramatically enhance your gaming experience.

What is the Standard Array in D&D 5E?

The term ‘standard array’ might seem a bit intimidating, almost like a complex algebraic formula that you have to conquer.

What is the Standard Array in D&D 5E?

But let me reassure you – it’s not as complicated as it sounds. The standard array is essentially a predetermined set of numbers you can use to define your new character’s basic abilities in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

In D&D, a character isn’t just an avatar; it’s an embodiment of imagination with depth and potential. Each character has six primary abilities that define its power and weakness:

  • Charisma (CHA): This is your character’s charm and force of will. A high charisma score can help your character influence others effectively.
  • Intelligence (INT): Reflects how well your character learns and reasons. It’s crucial for wizards who use magic academically.
  • Wisdom (WIS): A measure of your character’s intuition and perceptiveness. Clerics operating by divine intervention rely heavily on wisdom.
  • Constitution (CON): This ability defines how tough and resilient your character is, determining things like hit points.
  • Dexterity (DEX): This represents agility, reflexes, and balance, which affect armor class besides others.
  • Strength (STR): This determines physical power, affecting offensive prowess with melee weapons.

Recognizing these six abilities is important because each of them directly impacts your gameplay depending on the class chosen by you.

A point to note here about the standard array: it offers these scores – 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8 – which you can assign to any of these ability scores based on what suits your gameplay.

The effectiveness of a wizard doesn’t come from brute strength but through intelligence; similarly, strength is vital to warriors who are directly engaged in combat.

Also Read: How Many Spells Does A Wizard Know In 5E D&D? [2024 Guide]

How to Use the Standard Array

The standard array system offers a fair, balanced method for generating your character’s ability scores. Here’s how you use it.

Your task is to assign each of these six numbers to one of the six ability scores. For example:

  • Strength: 15
  • Dexterity: 14
  • Constitution: 13
  • Intelligence: 12
  • Wisdom: 10
  • Charisma: 8

Each game is different, and each player should choose their abilities according to their preference or the role they wish to fill.

Let’s say you want your character to be a charismatic speaker or negotiator; in that case, giving Charisma a higher number could be wise.

Keep in mind that different D&D races have Ability Score Increases (ASIs), which can additionally add points on top of your base scores from the standard array.

Deciding When Standard Array is the Ideal Option

Using the standard array method to establish your character’s ability scores in Dungeons & Dragons 5e isn’t always compulsory, but there are circumstances when it proves to be the perfect fit.

Deciding When Standard Array is the Ideal Option

Understanding this approach can open up new dimensions of your role-playing journey and make for smoother and more strategic gameplay. Here’s why:

  • Novice Players and Dungeon Masters (DMs): The standard array is straightforward, simple, and user-friendly. If you’re new to D&D or you’re diving into DMing for the first time, it provides an easy way to define character abilities without overcomplicating things.
  • Removes Random Chance: Mainly relying on dice rolls can often create a discrepancy in power among characters. The standard array removes this randomness, maintaining balance in gameplay.
  • Equal Power Level for The Party: Every member of a D&D group needs to add value and have a moment in the spotlight. The standard array ensures an equal power distribution among all characters, letting everyone shine.
  • Quick Character Creation: With pre-set numbers, character creation becomes significantly faster. There is no need to spend excessive time rolling dice; instead, you can dive right into storytelling and strategizing.
  • Useful When Short on Time: Particularly during quick games or impromptu sessions, allocating stats with a standard array saves precious time.
  • It Can Be Used On the Fly: If your character meets an untimely end mid-game, you’ll need a new one fast! With the standard array method on standby, creating your new alter-ego can be immediate.

Every gamer broaches D&D differently. Personal style is what makes role-playing such a unique experience for each player.

Understanding why and when to opt for a standard array keeps gameplay agile and engaging.

Read More: How To Calculate Armor Class 5E? [Detailed Steps & Examples]

Tips for Using Standard Array

Alright, you’re getting the hang of this! Now that you’ve started to grasp the importance and role of the standard array in D&D 5E let’s walk through some strategies to get the best out of it.

Tips for Using Standard Array

Like any good game, D&D is a mix of skill, strategy, and a smidgen of luck. Using your standard array can help tip those scales in your favor.

Use uneven ability scores to your advantage

One unique aspect of D&D is its half-feat system. Half-feats, by design, increase an ability score by one and give an additional boon, such as a new skill or feature.

When you have an odd score in your standard array list, such as 13 or 15, take a half-feat associated with that ability score if possible.

This can effectively make your score an even number, leading to increasing its modifier by +1, which means better dice rolls for you.

Increasing specific ability scores not only bolsters your character’s capabilities but may also allow you to unlock additional abilities useful for strategic gameplay.

So don’t look at those odd numbers as disappointments; instead, see them as opportunities begging for advantage.

Strategize your racial abilities

A crucial part about creating your character isn’t just choosing their job class but their race too.

In D&D, each race grants certain Ability Score Increases (ASIs). For example, being an Elf grants +2 to Dexterity while being a Half-Orc gives +2 Strength and +1 Constitution.

Using these racial bonuses strategically can give you a tremendous headstart in the game.

Avoid letting any skill fall into the -1 modifier range (which happens with an ability score of under 10); it’s going to be detrimental no matter how minor that ability may seem from a class perspective.

Assigning the standard array tactfully for races that get not just one but two bonuses to different abilities can mean that you can get yourself a good couple of +3 modifiers in your key abilities, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Strategic allocation of your standard array can set the pace for your character’s entire journey.

Please don’t rush into it; take the time to make strategic decisions, whether assigning half-feats or leveraging racial abilities.

When you take full advantage of the standard array, you’re building a foundation for an immersive and thrilling gaming experience.

Explore More: How Does Concentration Work 5E? [Maintain Your Spells In DnD]

FAQs about standard array in d&d 5E

What does “standard array” mean in D&D 5E?

The standard array refers to a specific set of numbers (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) that you distribute among your character’s ability scores to determine their skills and attributes.

Can I modify the numbers in the basic standard array?

Typically, you would utilize the numbers exactly as they’re given, but different Dungeon Masters may allow variations.

Can I use a dice to determine my ability scores instead of using the standard array?

Yes, you can roll four six-sided dice and add together the highest three for each ability score instead if you prefer an element of luck and potential for higher stats.

What happens if I assign a low number from my standard array to an important character attribute?

This action could result in lower checks and saving throws for that attribute, making related tasks more challenging for your character.

Do racial bonuses add to my ability score before or after applying the standard array numbers?

Racial bonuses are added after assigning values from your standard array to ability scores. This provides an extra boost on top of the base stats.


  • Ashish Arya

    I'm a tech enthusiast and lifelong gamer, hailing from the beautiful city of Chandigarh. My passions range from immersing myself in worlds like GTA V, COD, SIMS, Roblox and Minecraft to exploring the latest innovations in laptops and technology. Armed with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Application, I love sharing my insights through writing and engaging with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on my journey through the ever-evolving realms of gaming and tech!