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|* Racial modifiers are added/subtracted after the point-buying step.|
DDO character generation uses the standard point buy rules from pen-and-paper D&D, allowing you to choose (within limits) the 6 starting abilities of your character. Standard characters have 28 points to allocate, but it's possible to start with 32-point characters, or higher.
When building a starting character (i.e. before play begins), each ability score starts at 8 and can't be lowered. Starting ability scores can't be increased above 18. Increasing an ability score cost a certain number of points. It is not a simple one-for-one cost; the cost increases as the ability score gets higher. The chart (right) shows each ability score, the additional cost to increase from the immediately previous value, and the total cost to obtain that score (from the starting value of "8").
You can also think about it like this:
- 1st to 6th ability increases (9-14) cost 1 point per increase.
- 7th to 8th ability increases (15 & 16) cost 2 points per increase.
- 9th to 10th ability increases (17 & 18) cost 3 points per increase.
Ability modifiers are generally more important than raw ability scores. The key thing to remember about abilities is that for almost all purposes, even numbers are more important than odd ones. That's because ability scores mainly take effect through ability modifiers. Ability mods start at -2 for a 6 score, and increase by +1 for every 2 points above 6. A fighter who takes a 16 strength instead of 15 will notice more hits and more damage, but going from 16 to 17 will have absolutely no combat effect. However, it's quite easy to find or create items that improve stats - often every little bit helps.
The biggest ways that odd-numbered abilities are directly useful are in spellcasting and as prerequisites for feats. Casting classes need an ability score of at least 10 + X to cast one of their level X spells. As for feats, several have odd prerequisites. For example, dodge, Two Weapon Fighting, and Improved Two Weapon Fighting require a dexterity of 13, 15, and 17, respectively, although you can use various ability tomes to meet these requirements. One other case where odd abilities matter immediately is Strength, which improves all characters' carrying capacity for every point.
But in general, only raise an ability score to an odd number if you know that you have a specific reason to do so. Aim to have all abilities land on even numbers when your character is maxed-out, unless you were exactly meeting an early Feat prerequisites.
Level progression and ability increase
Character creation isn't the only time to raise ability scores. They also come at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, and 28 and from racial/class enhancements as well. And there are wearable magic items which boost a stat anywhere from +1 to +14 and ability tomes that give single-stat bonuses of +1 to +7 (though +3 tomes are rare, +4s are almost unheard-of, and +5 are as likely as winning the lottery). All these additional ways of increasing abilities treat all scores equally - it is only during creation where going from 16->17 is more costly than from 8->9. Therefore, consider staying away from extremely high attributes at creation and using other means to get abilities above 16.
- Example: a fighter who starts with an 18 strength can increase it to 20 at level 8 (before enhancements), for +5 to attacks and damage. But if he had started with 16, then at 8th level he'd have 18 and +4 attack/damage, which is almost as good and costs 6 fewer build points at creation, which, for example, could be spent instead to bring wisdom from 8 to 14 for a +3 to will saves.
Important! When a Feat requires a minimum ability score, only your base score (from character creation and level progression) and ability tomes count. That is, you only get to count your score at creation (including racial adjustments) plus tomes and level-up bonuses. Specifically, ability boosts from Enhancements and Items do not count to meet Feat requirements! Make sure you take this into account and either raise the ability high enough during creation or get it high enough that you can raise it the rest of the way with methods that actually help meet the minimum.
Finally, be aware that items which give a +1 to an ability are pretty common and easily found by level 2, and that you will be limited to +3 or +5 items at some levels. Even if you are using some stats as "point dumps", it might help to leave them at 9 instead of 8, to take advantage of those fairly cheap items. On the other hand, at high levels you can occasionally find items giving +6 to a stat, making that one odd-numbered point no longer useful. Therefore, it is difficult to guess the optimal value at build time, since you cannot always know what kinds of items and enhancements will become available in future updates.
- Pure spellcasters* usually put all possible points into their main casting ability, i.e. start with an 18 before racial modifiers. Main spell casting ability score affects the chance that spells land on your foes (difficulty class, or "DC") - and you really want them to land.
- * Clerics, Druids, Favored Soul, Sorcerers, Wizards, & Warlocks. Semi-spell casters (Bards, Rangers, Paladins, Artificers, etc.) do not always follow this general rule, depending on the specific build.
- For other classes, starting with an 18 in the main ability score (e.g. Strength for Fighters, Dexterity for Rogues, etc.) is not so straightforward - especially for builds with lower point buy. There are significant diminishing returns to consider. Spending 6 build points to increase a starting "16" to "18" might be only a marginal benefit, especially if it noticeably gimps other aspects of your character.
- Constitution is a particularly important ability score that affects your hit point total, and players should always put at least 6 points into Con unless they are 100% sure that they know what they're doing - and "new" players generally do not. Extremely well geared characters can achieve very impressive HP totals even if they start with less - but they seldom do, and dying early and often is rarely fun for anyone concerned.
You can unlock 32-point builds1, known as "Champion status", a number of ways:
- by earning 1750 Total Favor (which earns it for all future builds on that account on that server only)
- by purchasing it via the DDO Store (for 1,495 DDO Points, which provides it account-wide, all servers, all future builds)
- by performing a (non-lesser) Reincarnation on the character (which earns it for that character only - and, since that character is now 2nd life, immediately advances to 34 points - see next section)
What does 4 extra points mean? It means you can start with (somewhat) higher stats. For example, it means you could increase a stat of 14 (from a 28-point build) to 16, or increase an 8 to a 12, both of which are "4 build points" more expensive. This is particularly helpful for any builds that rely on multiple ability scores affecting what they do, or for builds that are sacrificing a stat they'd rather not lose.
For example, if you have a Human Paladin with 28 points, you might* start with...
- 28 pts: Str 16, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12
...but with 32 points, you could* increase that to one of...
- 32 pts: Str 16, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12 (4 pts into Con)
- 32 pts: Str 16, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 14 (2 pts into each of Int & Cha)
- 32 pts: Str 16, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 13 (2 pts into Int, 1 pt into each of Wis & Cha)2
- 32 pts: Str 17, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 12 (3 pts into Str, 1 pt into Wis)2
- * For example only, not necessarily recommended
...or any other mix that adds up to "32 build points".
- 1) Drow characters do not use the standard 28/32/34/36 build point progression that all other races use; instead, they always start with 28, and once reincarnated improve to 30 and then a final maximum of 32.
- 2) Starting with "odd numbered" values (i.e. 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, or 19) ~can~ be desirable, depending on the exact build and plan for the character. DDO is not DnD, and it's quite common to find/create stat-boost items. See building guides or the DDO Forums for specific ideas and examples.
34- and 36-point builds
After achieving Level 20, it's possible to reincarnate as a new character starting with 34 or even 36 build points. See Reincarnation for full information.