Ability Score Blues


First Post
I've DMed a game up to level 7 now and I've found that one thing that quickly frustrates players is missing with their big abilities consistently. The main issue is that so much of what a player gets to do, and not just rolling damage, is keyed off of scoring a hit. Worse still, only some abilities, like the Fighter's comeback strike, are reliable.

Missing with a daily that is not reliable and essentially losing it is incredibly frustrating. With our group we will rarely rest more than once, so missing with a daily often means not getting to use it for another week.

That being said, a well round character will not dump everything in order to get that 18 or 20, nor will they have to pick a race that adds to your primary. Consider the following reasons you boost a stat:

-To qualify for a feat (ex: armor or shields)
-To increase a defense, including AC for light armor
-(optional)To increase the bonus to hit of secondary attack types
-To enhance or add a bonus to an attack (ex: rogue's brutal scoundrel)
-HP for Con, initiative for Dex, etc.
-To add to relevant skill checks.

Some of these, such as feats, are thresholds, while others are a constant bonus. You will likely try to wrap your stats around the first three or four reasons, minimum. Therefore, as long as your racial bonuses are contributing to any of those, they are effectively "freeing up" points to contribute to your main stat. Rather than saying you MUST have an 16 or 18, one might also phrase it as "you should be dumping no less than 2 ability scores" which will get you pretty close to the target. in 3.5 there was a push for some classes to have high scores in many stats, while some were almost singular in their focus.

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First Post
with the point system you can achieve the following array of points for your warforged character: Str 18 Con 14 Dex 10 Int 16 Wis 12 Car 8.

Although obviously the Genasi is a more optimized race I don't think the above stats are in anyway unplayable. 29 Hp at lvl one with a racial ability that gives you a HP boost 1/encounter. AC 18 with leather armour and no shield in shield hand (and if i was your DM I'd be inclined to let you install a light shield on your forearm as a component and still consider you have your shield hand free so you could use a shield and keep your sheild aegis +3 bonus ... so AC 19 with a light shield). Fort 14 Vol 13 Ref 13 (14 with an installed light shield)... certainly not as vulnerable as a fighter who may even have 10 or 11 in reflexes if the player optimises Str, Con , and Wis and uses a 2 handed weapon.

Is that really so far away from Genasi?

Lets say 16 str con 14 Dex 10 Int 18 Wis 13 Car 8
or 18 str con 12 Dex 10 Int 18 Wis 12 Car 8

Obviously the sorest point is the +1 difference in attack... but, it doesn't seem like such a big deal imho.

I'd also be inclined to let you invent something cool (within reason) with your bonded sword component as well seeming as how it is probably an attached sword component and not likely to be found 50' away from you very often. Lets say with a feat you were able to fire a mechanism that allowed you to throw your sword as a proficient heavy/light weapon and then have it return. As a DM I would hope that would compensate any feeling of frustration for its 'non-optimal' racial stats.

one last thing to remember:

vary the different moster types when you DM and try to make sure, that your description will give a hint, which defense may be lower:

-fragile enemy, tough enemy
-smart and cunning, or clumsy
-self confident or not

this should help your players make an estimate which monster to attack...

(Actually that was one of my biggest griefs with the 4th edition rules... that some monsters are not consistent... at least in H1 --> kobold dragonshields without armor much harder to hit than kobold minions etc...)
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First Post
16 is not fine.
Go higher than a 16 in the best stat and see how much that guts many character's feat choices. :] Playing 18's and 8's with ability scores. provides solid to hit, but closes many doors.
Saying hitting on a 10 at level 1 is ok is aiming to hit on a 15 at level 30.
It never gets easier.
This is completely intentional. System assumes the players are all working together to confer each other bonuses and enemies penalties at the latest levels.


First Post
Buying the 18 isn't so bad. My Tiefling wizard bought an 18 Int and went Hellfire Blood at first level, giving me a comfy +6 with my fire attacks. Sure, my defenses ain't so hot (Fort in particular-- ick!), but it's worth it for me for the feeling of power I get. And with Color Spray, I'm near the front fairly often, so it's not like those defenses never get attacked. But we play smart enough so that it's not a huge liability.

It's like everything else in the game-- a balancing act. If you're willing to play a bit risky, you can reap the rewards.


First Post
A tiefling wizard with hellfire blood! That's a warmage build, you're violating all the established 'CharOp' conventions!

Yes that's a dig against the CharOp conventions, firewizard for the win.


First Post
My preference is characters that start with a 16 before racial bonuses. In MOST cases this will end up as an 18. However I have a Dragonborn Fighter that has a 20 Str and loves it (it suits him) and I can imagine that a 16 primary after racials would work decently for a number of characters. Lowering a primary stat at first level is always better than not raising it during level up- you're better off taking a 16 Str and levelling it up whenever you can than to take a 18 Str and only level it up 4 times instead of 6. Because of point buy you'll end up with net higher stats.

Of course, as I think optimisers often forget, D&D is dynamic. So maybe it will be worth taking an 18 starting and then adding to it at 24th and 28th, at least that way you've been ahead for the majority of your career. Even if your other stats suffer. Optimisation plans should be a guideline, but they should never be rigid. Each campaign plays out differently and you need to adapt to what's thrown at you.


First Post
Having at least a 16 and pumping it every time is the minimum to avoid suckage. Sure, you can optimize further, but at a bare minimum the 16 is necessary.

Whenever you go below 18, I think you have to justify it. Does the boost to secondary attributes outweigh the bonus to hit? Sometimes.

For example, a paladin might need:
STR 14 and DEX 14 to qualify for Heavy Blade Opportunity
WIS 13+ to feed their secondary stat and class features
That doesn't necessarily leave a whole lot for CHA depending on how your racial bonuses fall, forcing you to consider starting with a natural 16 or 17. Heavy Blade Opportunity is worth the sacrifice, though, IMHO.


First Post
Go higher than a 16 in the best stat and see how much that guts many character's feat choices. :] Playing 18's and 8's with ability scores. provides solid to hit, but closes many doors.

It closes nothing.

Having a +2 higher primary = +1 to hit & damage.
Compared to a damage boosting feat granting +1/+2/+3, for the price of a feat, it's much stronger .. so those can go in the trash.

What other feats do you mean? Stuff like spell focus can be qualified for with a minimum of fuss, whilst for weapon mastery feats you'd be pumping those stats anyway.

Bottom line: If you mean feats that improve your combat effectiveness, you'd never be as effective with a mediocre primary, regardless of feat choices.


First Post
The only times I've seriously considered 16 in the primary stat is:

(a) Warlock multi'd into wizard, tiefling with 16's in Con, Int and Cha. By taking exclusively fire/fear based powers, including multiclassing to get more wizard powers, nearly every power acts as if Con/Int/Cha was actually 18.

(b) Dwarf Fighter. The +1 talent for the fighter makes attacking as if you had 18 str, and the minor action healing surge makes you a super tank.

(c) Warlord ... this was mostly because the warlord was designed to be an "extra character" so that the party I was running for would have a leader. Getting 18 int on a tactical warlord was a bigger impact on the game than him hitting. The main power is commander's strike, unless the shift is more important. For the dailies and encounters, I've gone with (a) multiclassed in swordmage and taken an encounter powerswap, (b) wait for flanking and/or bloodied for bonuses, not to metion I use a +3 prof item, (c) have some of the target non-ac powers like the encounter that targets reflex.

At the same time, I rarely go out of the way for a 20, but at the same time, while you may cut off feat options, many aren't ones you'd want to take anyway. Most of my characters go with either 16/16/12/12/10/8 or 16/14/14/13/10/8 as their "pre-racial" ability scores, depending on feat choices down the line, etc.

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