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Point Buy Arrays

Normally these articles are about items or other in game elements that
will help you “step it up” in Pathfinder.  However I did want to bring
to attention one are where you have a great deal of power as a a
player, but without investing a lot of time (or just reading an
article like this) you could end up cheating yourself out of extra

In Pathfinder Society characters are made with the point buy system,
using 20 points to purchase the values of their six attributes.  Now,
everyone gets 20 points, but how efficiently you use those points to
make an array of attribute scores can create wildly different end


First, if you are in a rush.  What is the best array that you can get
out of 20 point buy?

16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 7

Why is this the best?  Well, technically it isn't... it all depends on
what your overall goal is with the character, but it is a good one.
You can consider this the best “Generalist with a touch of Specialist
Array.” If you were to look at in in terms of “Right at level one I
want to be really good at one particular thing, and decent at most
other things” then this does the job.

On a numerical level it is one of the strongest arrays you can get, as
the net result of bonuses is 7 (+3, +2, +2, +1, +1, -2).  However, if
you take into account what I call the “Dump Stat Factor” then the net
result jumps to 9.


The Dump Stat Factor (DSF) is just taking into account that any class,
and any player, can with just a little effort be able to dump ONE stat
(that is, drop it into negatives to get more point buy points) and
then ensure that this liability has no impact on their character's
performance 99% of the time in the game.

The classic example would be the Fighter with a Charisma of 7.  The
player dumped the Charisma all the way down because he knows that it
has no impact on his main role (to fight!) and that the situations
where the game hinges on someone making diplomacy or bluff checks will
likely be handled by a different character that is quite good at that
role, say a Bard.  The Fighter keeps his physical attributes up high,
makes sure his Intelligence isn't hurting his meager skill point
allotment, and his Wisdom isn't suffering in case someone tries to
possess him or scare him away.  He just kicks his social skills to the
corner and gets down to the business of fighting.


Just to put things in perspective, what could one generally regard as
the worst array?

18, 18, 8, 7, 7, 7

Sure, those pair of 18s are pretty sweet, but you've really opened
yourself up to some nasty liabilities.  With four dump stats you're
ensuring that at very least one saving throw is going to be
penalized.  Even with the DSF being considered, you still are awful at
three other aspects of the game.  So this array is bad in that you are
open to far too many liabilities.  The end result of the bonuses are
that you get an net value of 1, or when you consider DSF, just 3 (+4,
+4, -1, -2, -2, -2).


There is something else to consider with Pathfinder Society.  Because
the game only goes up to level 12, at which point your character goes
into semi-retirement, there is a limit on how high your attributes can
be raised naturally.

Every four levels a character gets +1 to one attribute.  Thus you get
one at level 4, level 8 and level 12.  That ends up being a total of
+3 over the lifetime of the character.

If you want to be really efficient with your attribute scores over the
whole twelve levels then you really want to make sure that you take
into account the Odd Number Factor (ONF) in your array.  That way at
level 4 you'll get a bump up in that odd score, and then two more
later on, finishing with a nice even score at level 12.  That's
important because the bonuses on scores only kick in at even values.
If you end at level 12 with an odd score that really mattered to your
character, then in terms of efficiency you'll have to bow your head in


Alright, if you are going for raw net value from your array, squeezing
the most raw bonuses out of your array (DSF), and being the most
efficient over the lifetime of the character (ONF) then you want:

15, 14, 14, 14, 12, 7

You get 9 bonus points (+2, +2, +2, +2, +1, -2), along with another 2
(4th, 8th, and 12th levels) later for a total of 11 overall.  You just
have to slog through those first three levels with a 15 (or 17 with
racial bonuses) with that top attribute.


Good point.  Well, then you'll have to suck it up and be less
efficient, but it does give you some higher bonuses in select scores.
In that case it becomes an issue of how many attributes you want to
dump.  You can get away with one dump stat, but the more you add on
increases your liability at becoming crippled in some manner during
the game.

Before we jump into the list, a couple of other factors to consider:

The 20 Factor – You want to max it all the way?  20 is as high as you
go so you need that 18 in there somewhere.

The 13 Factor – A lot of feats open up their attribute prerequisites
with a value of 13, so depending on your build you might be able to
use the ONF in terms of just giving yourself a 13 in the right
attribute.  An example of this would be Combat Expertise requires at
least a 13 Intelligence.

No Dump Stats:
18, 13, 10, 10, 10, 10 = 5 net
17, 14, 12, 10, 10, 10 = 6 net
16, 14, 14, 10, 10, 10 = 7 net
16, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12 = 8 net
15, 14, 12, 12, 12, 12 = 8 net
14, 14, 14, 14, 10, 10 = 8 net

One Dump Stat:
18, 13, 12, 12, 10, 7 = 7 net
18, 12, 12, 12, 11, 7 = 7 net
17, 12, 12, 12, 12, 9 = 7 net
16, 14, 12, 12, 12, 7 = 9 net
16, 15, 14, 12, 10, 7 = 8 net
15, 14, 14, 14, 12, 7 = 9 net
14, 14, 14, 14, 12, 8 = 9 net

Two Dump Stats:
18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 7 = 6 net
17, 14, 14, 14, 7, 7 = 7 net
17, 16, 14, 10, 7, 7 = 6 net
16, 16, 14, 13, 7, 7 = 6 net
16, 14, 14, 14, 9, 7 = 6 net

Three Dump Stats:
18, 17, 12, 7, 7, 7 = 4 net
18, 17, 10, 8, 7, 7 = 4 net
18, 16, 14, 7, 7, 7 = 5 net
18, 15, 14, 9, 7, 7 = 5 net
17, 16, 14, 8, 8, 7 = 6 net
16, 16, 16, 8, 7, 7 = 6 net

All of the above are taking into account the DSF in the net results.

There are many other permutations one can go with the point buy, but
these all rise to the top in terms of weighing the cost of net value
versus top score value, along with DSF.

So there you have it folks.  The above is a good spread of arrays that
fit most any concept, but also don't scrimp on making huge blunders in
how to properly spend your point buy.

If you have the tools you have the talent!