As part of my continuing exploration of the statistics underlying Pathfinder, I’ve been comparing mortality for different types of fighters under different types of character generation systems. The basic Pathfinder rules recommend a point-buy system, but also allow for 4d6 choose the best three. I’ve generated PCs under all four point buy systems, 4d6 choose the best three rolled in order, 3d6 rolled in order, and the purposive semi-random system I developed for previous posts on this topic. Between them these cover the gamut of possible ability score generation methods.

For the point buy systems, I spent the points under the following rules:

  • Spend as many points as possible on the most important ability score for the fighter type (strength for strong fighters, constitution for tough fighters, etc)
  • Spend as many of the remaining points on a secondary score: strength for non-strong fighters, and constitution for strong fighters
  • If any points remain, spend them on the last remaining physical ability score
  • If balancing between point allocation is necessary, wherever possible choose ability scores so that they are the minimum value required to achieve a given bonus (so 16 for a +3, not 17)

This guarantees maximization of bonuses and roughly orders scores in the strength/constitution/dexterity priority list.

I ran 1,000,000 simulations pitting a fighter against an orc, with all the orc ability scores randomly determined. Half of all orcs were ferocious (randomly determined). The fighter’s race, class type, and ability score generation method were randomly determined, to ensure a wide spread of ability scores across all types of fighters. Results were calculated as mortality rates – this is really just an addendum to previous research so more detailed analysis was not conducted.

Results

The results are shown in Table 1, as mortality rates for the different ability generation systems for both Meek and Ferocious orcs. Mortality rates are given as percentages of all fighters who participated in the battle.

Stat Generation Method

Orc Type

Meek Ferocious
Rolled in order
  3d6 51 76
  4d6 best 3 36 62
Purposive Random 35 61
Point buy
  Low Fantasy 34 61
  Standard Fantasy 19 44
  High Fantasy 21 46
  Epic Fantasy 12 32

In a somewhat surprising result, 4d6 choose-the-best-3 has a similar mortality rate to the point-buy system labelled as “low fantasy” by Paizo. Mortality rates for fighters pitted against ferocious orcs only reach the 30% mark that one might expect of a CR1/3 monster in the Epic Fantasy scenario.

Conclusion

Rolling 3d6 in order significantly reduces survival rates compared even to a low fantasy point-buy system. Survival of these fighters against ferocious orcs does not differ between standard and epic fantasy builds, suggesting that these categories are essentially irrelevant. New boys fresh out of the village on their first adventure should only consider taking on an orc if they are confident that their genre setting is Epic. Otherwise, they should expect a bloody and gruesome end.

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