5E I feel like there is a problem with ability score bonuses. - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    I think the actual problem is that there's no point in investing in anything other than your main attack stat.

    Fundamentally, stat modifiers are so low compared with other contributing factors that over small numbers of rolls, they effectively get lost in the noise. A +3 charisma bonus to your persuasion roll is effectively meaningless - it's only going to affect your roll 15% of the time, and you typically get so few rolls that it might make a difference once every few game sessions.

    Conversely your main attack stat is
    a) used all the time
    b) applied to other things, like spells known, damage bonus etc.

    So... what's the incentive to have a +3 charisma bonus on a warrior? There's basically not one - if it wasn't written on my sheet, I probably couldn't tell that I had it just by looking at successes and failures. If I want to play a charismatic warrior, then I can safely dump charisma and roleplay one, because the mechanics associated with stats are so weak.

    If you want to make other stats more important, then change the skill system outside of combat (keep the current one for grapples etc). Roll 3d6 for skill checks instead of a d20, for instance. Point out to players that their +5 strength is only affecting 25% of their combat rolls, whereas bonuses to skills would make a difference on most rolls.
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
    It's a feel thing so I could be wrong.(even if it wasn't I could be wrong too)

    I am almost always on the DM side of the screen but I have noticed something common to almost al PC's. They have a 16 or better, usually better, in their main attack stat. This is true regardless of the method for character generation. I don't know why it bothers me or if it should but when every scorcerer is charismatic, every wizard intelligent every, rogue nimble and every barbarian strong and always within a 4 point threshold it messes with my chi (eg. qi).
    I often hear old timers complain about how ability-score dependent the modern editions are. This seems a bit disingenuous to me as, at least in person, they are often the same people I see regularly come to the table with "honestly" rolled 18-somety something Strength Dwarves. (Talk about "easy mode"..yeesh)

    Similarly, I can't say that I've ever observed a party in any edition that wasn't interested in increasing it's stats. If anything, the lack of a guaranteed availability of increases made stat (particularly Str) enhancing items almost a necessity "back in the day." If you try to tell me AD&D players didn't gush over the thought of a belt of giant strength...

    Of course, you could force all the character gen at table..then the common tactic seems to be that sub-optimal characters develop intensely suicidal tendencies. How this is any "tougher" or more honorable than just playing a character with stats you find acceptable in the first place eludes me.

    I'm not sure that I see why it's a problem that characters come with some measure of competence. If it was up to me, I might eliminate ability scores entirely and bake the competence directly into the class (easier to balance, too).

    As always, just my $.02.

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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
    I am almost always on the DM side of the screen but I have noticed something common to almost al PC's. They have a 16 or better, usually better, in their main attack stat. This is true regardless of the method for character generation...
    That's just a consequence of players wanting PCs to be good at combat.

    The only way around it is to make "winning" in combat:
    • either generally easy,
    • and/or unimportant.


    In the current campaign I am DMing the PCs do not have stats focused around their combat abilities. Which is wonderful, they are more interesting and diverse characters.

    But that is possible because, although combat is often difficult, the consequences of losing are interesting for the players instead of catastrophic. When the party loses an encounter instead of a TPK, they get to run away, or retreat, or get captured (which means they later get to escape). The Adventure continues. My players are prepared to accept that the Adventure does not have be a long sequence of combat victories, and so play accordingly.

    Also, I am awarding most of the XP for *having* the encounter not for *defeating* the enemy. Running away still nets nearly all the XP, for example. You need to be really explicit with the players right from the beginning of character generation that this is what will happen, and explain to them that this frees them to have more diverse/interesting spreads of Abilities and capabilities. And also, of course, you as DM need to follow through and not take advantage of the players having less "combat-optimal" PCs.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saeviomagy View Post
    I think the actual problem is that there's no point in investing in anything other than your main attack stat.
    I think there's some truth here. If the classes were more MAD, you might see some classes choose higher secondary stats over their primary.

    Right now, I could maybe see a cleric with a higher strength or dex than wisdom if they are going as a warrior with manly buff spells. Maybe maybe a paladin who is willing to go with super saves over attacks.

    But that's about it.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    Similarly, I can't say that I've ever observed a party in any edition that wasn't interested in increasing it's stats. If anything, the lack of a guaranteed availability of increases made stat (particularly Str) enhancing items almost a necessity "back in the day." If you try to tell me AD&D players didn't gush over the thought of a belt of giant strength...
    Sure, but if you didn't have any obvious path of advancement, then there wasn't much point in worrying about it. My fighter with Str 10 or Str 12 would love to find Gauntlets of Ogre Power, but since they don't have any idea where to find such an item, they're just going to go about their business.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    Of course, you could force all the character gen at table..then the common tactic seems to be that sub-optimal characters develop intensely suicidal tendencies. How this is any "tougher" or more honorable than just playing a character with stats you find acceptable in the first place eludes me.
    I can't speak for those players. That's not something I observed during my AD&D, but then again, nobody had amazing stats so everyone felt pretty balanced in that way.

  6. #26
    I was thinking about the way classes sometimes make us of ability modifiers to affect how many times a day you can do something and got inspired.

    An easy way to make ability scores more useful and interesting might be to create uses for them with a quantity based on ability modifer. The idea of extra skills for Intelligence has been bandied around a lot, but what about the other ones? If you got one extra of whatever it was for each bonus in an ability score, and those things were interesting and desirable for all classes, not just ones based on that stat, that could provide positive motivation for PCs to diversify more.

    The specifics are tough, because they can have a huge effect on the nature of your game. Does Charisma determine your number of henchmen? Sounds cool at first, until a PC wants to get extra henchmen beyond that number and you have to figure out how to deal with it. A better way might be to say that you automatically attract that many loyal henchmen if you try. Henchmen beyond that number may or may not be loyal. Even then it isn't perfect, and wouldn't work for all play styles. But I think the general idea of bonuses like that is pretty interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salamandyr View Post
    Easy fix. Only use stats for attribute checks, and for everything else--class based abilities, attack bonuses, and spell DC's; just use a +3 bonus at 1st level, upgraded to +4 at 4th Level, and +5 at 8th (and topping out there);

    So all fighters will start with their +5 attack bonus, every sorceror a DC13 spell DC, but they could play around with their stats then, and gain bonuses to tertiary abilities.

    Play around with it, see how you like it. There's probably a more elegant way to express it, but it's all just math.
    You might go with just using 2x proficiency bonus (or 1x when it doesn't normally apply).

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
    It's a feel thing so I could be wrong.(even if it wasn't I could be wrong too)

    I am almost always on the DM side of the screen but I have noticed something common to almost al PC's. They have a 16 or better, usually better, in their main attack stat. This is true regardless of the method for character generation. I don't know why it bothers me or if it should but when every scorcerer is charismatic, every wizard intelligent every, rogue nimble and every barbarian strong and always within a 4 point threshold it messes with my chi (eg. qi).
    If a game is designed in such a way that higher scores mean character more successful at doing their job, it's pretty obvious that every player looks forward to getting such scores as high as possible...

    If you don't like that, there actually is a character generation method that prevents it: roll ability scores in order, after choosing your class. That's very brutal, so you can allow some limited adjustments to avoid extremely low scores.

    That said, I played an Int 8 Wizard and she was fine. For spellcasters, their primary stat is essential for offensive spells (affects DC and attack bonus), but not every spellcaster needs to be offensive. There are even a few occasional offensive spells that are unaffected by your primary stat (e.g. Sleep). The other problem is the small number of prepared spells, and this can be really bad at low levels; it becomes less of a problem as your level increases, and it is also mitigated by domain spells, wizard rituals and land druid spells. The spellcasting stat doesn't affect your known spells or daily slots.

    But if you want your PC to make weapon attacks it's true that you either need Str or Dex.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
    It's a feel thing so I could be wrong.(even if it wasn't I could be wrong too)

    I am almost always on the DM side of the screen but I have noticed something common to almost al PC's. They have a 16 or better, usually better, in their main attack stat. This is true regardless of the method for character generation. I don't know why it bothers me or if it should but when every scorcerer is charismatic, every wizard intelligent every, rogue nimble and every barbarian strong and always within a 4 point threshold it messes with my chi (eg. qi).
    Well, maybe because your highest stat(best talent you have) will determine what you will become in life.

    In d&d realm, if you have very high intelligence 16+, you will become a wizard. If available in your culture. Because you will probably see any other class(profesion) to be beneath you.

    Or from another point of view. No master/trainer will train an aprentice if he does not have atleast 14 in required stats simply as they dont see any potential and consider it a waste of time.
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horwath View Post
    Well, maybe because your highest stat(best talent you have) will determine what you will become in life.

    In d&d realm, if you have very high intelligence 16+, you will become a wizard. If available in your culture. Because you will probably see any other class(profesion) to be beneath you.

    Or from another point of view. No master/trainer will train an aprentice if he does not have atleast 14 in required stats simply as they dont see any potential and consider it a waste of time.
    This is what I mean. Imagine a fictional world. Now Imagine a character like Conan, imagine a legion of Conans. Imagine if every opponent Conan faught was as strong as he and the only difference between them was gear and a meager +1 to hit from proficiency.

    I love Conan, but as things are in 5e he would be just another PC. I understand PCs are exceptional, except they aren't because their foes are just like them +6 to hit d12+4 damage.

    I love Pizza too but sometimes I just want a burger and fries.
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  10. #30
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    This has been discussed in other threads as well, but I really wish all classes were more MAD than they currently are. As a very simple illustration, I'd like to see the game designed so that having a 18 in one stat and a 12 in the other, or vice versa, or a 14 in both, is all about the same. Different, maybe in different situations, but it would be hard to argue that one is objectively the "best". That would accomplish at least three things:
    1) There would be more variety in character builds if there weren't an incentive to stack one ability score as high as possible.
    2) There would be fewer "dump" stats
    3) Because higher scores are more expensive with point-buy we would tend to see investment across more stats.

    So, as I wrote about in my Str vs. Dex thread, if Strength and Dex could both contribute to melee combat, but in different ways, then it would encourage Str Fighters to invest in Dex and Rogues to invest in Str.

    Really, the way the game is written now we could have three stats and just call them "Attack Stat", "Constitution", and "All Others"
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