Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 4: Variant Rules / Ability Scores Variants

Point Buy

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 182
This alternative ability score generation method replaces ability boosts and flaws with a number of Ability Points. Players determine their ability scores by investing Ability Points into each score, as seen in Table 4–1: Cost for an Ability Score. These give players more customization in their ability scores and can allow a player to really prioritize their favorite ones, but the system is significantly more complicated to use.

Table 4-1: Cost for an Ability Score

Total Ability Points SpentAbility Score

Step 1: Decrease Starting Scores

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 182
All of a character’s ability scores start at 10. If the PC’s ancestry has ability flaws, decrease those ability scores to 8. A player can also voluntarily lower any ability score to below 10 to gain more Ability Points to use in Step 2. They gain 1 Ability Point for lowering an ability score to 9, or 2 Ability Points for lowering a score to 8.

Step 2: Spend Points

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 182
Now that each player has set their minimum scores, they’ll spend Ability Points to increase their ability scores. Ability Points come in two categories: dedicated and flexible. Dedicated Ability Points can be spent only on specified ability scores, but flexible Ability Points can be used to increase any scores. These Ability Points replace all the ability boosts a character would normally get.

The total number of Ability Points spent determines the character’s starting ability score, as shown on Table 4–1: Cost for an Ability Score. The maximum score a player can buy at character creation is 18. Raising a score costs 2 points more than the listed value if the score started at an 8 after Step 1, or 1 point more if the score started at a 9. Any Ability Points not spent during character creation are lost.
  • Dedicated Ability Points: A character gets 2 dedicated Ability Points for each ability score their ancestry gives predetermined ability boosts to. Human characters, or those with another ancestry that grants two free ability boosts, get 2 more flexible Ability Points instead. Each character also gets 2 dedicated Ability Points for one of their background’s choices of predetermined ability scores, and 2 dedicated Ability Points for their class’s key ability score.
  • Flexible Ability Points: Each character gets 15 flexible Ability Points, plus any gained for voluntarily lowering ability scores below 10 in Step 1.

Increasing Scores at Higher Levels

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 182
When a character levels up, they gain Ability Points at each level, as shown on Table 4–2: Ability Points Gained. Unlike the Ability Points from character creation, a player can save these to buy a more expensive increase, and they can increase ability scores to a maximum of 22. When a player is ready to increase one or more ability scores, they spend the number of Ability Points listed on Table 4–3: Raising an Ability Score and increase the ability score accordingly. A player can increase a score more than once at a given time, but they must pay for each increase individually, such as going from 14 to 16 by spending 2 points to increase from 14 to 15, and then 3 points to increase from 15 to 16. For most games, it’s best to increase scores when leveling up, between game sessions, or during downtime.

Apex items work as described in the Core Rulebook. They can increase an ability score to a maximum of 24.

Table 4-2: Ability Points Gained

LevelAbility Points Gained
1Starting points

Table 4-3: Raising an Ability Score

Current Ability ScoreCost to Raise by 1


Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 183
Merisiel is an elven rogue with the criminal background. She starts with 10 in all ability scores and reduces her Constitution to 8 for being an elf. She decides to voluntarily lower her Strength and Intelligence to 8 each, gaining 4 flexible Ability Points. She has now set her minimum scores: Str 8, Dex 10, Con 8, Int 8, Wis 10, and Cha 10.

In Step 2, she starts by determining how many points she has to spend. She gains 2 dedicated Ability Points in Intelligence and Dexterity for being an elf, 2 in Dexterity for being a criminal, and 2 more in Dexterity for being a rogue. She also has 19 flexible points to spend: 15 plus 4 for the two ability scores she voluntarily lowered to 8.

Merisiel purchases an 18 in Dexterity, which costs her the 6 dedicated Ability Points plus 11 flexible Ability Points. Spending her 2 dedicated Ability Points in Intelligence brings her to a 10, which she’s happy with. She now has 8 flexible Ability Points left. She’s worried she’ll be too frail with a Constitution score of only 8, so she spends 4 flexible Ability Points to increase it to 12, leaving her with 4 Ability Points left over. Finally, she raises Wisdom and Charisma each to 12 because it’s inexpensive but still grants her bonuses; this uses all her Ability Points, leaving her with Str 8, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12.

When she reaches 2nd level, she gains 2 Ability Points. She decides to save these until 3rd level, when she gains 2 more. She then spends 3 of her 4 Ability Points to raise her Constitution from 12 to 14. She then saves up for more Dexterity, gaining 2 Ability Points each at 4th and 5th levels, then 3 each at 6th and 7th levels. She spends all 11 Ability Points at 7th level to gain a 20 in Dexterity! Unless it helps her to have an odd score (for example, to satisfy a feat prerequisite), it’s usually best to wait until she has enough Ability Points that increasing a score will increase her modifier—just in case she changes her mind.