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Ability Score Rebalancing

Xeviat

Explorer
I'd like to discuss ability scorebalance, and what could be done to bring them closer together. AllAbilities grant Ability Checks and Saving Throws; balancing these isa separate discussion. Almost all abilities grant +to hit/damage/DCsfor, so the balance of these will not be considered, as mostcharacters are going to put their highest stat in their class'sattack stat; class attack stat kind of just forces certain classes tocertain things. I may look at coupling this with changes to spellsand monsters to utilize all saving throws a bit more, instead ofhaving common and uncommon saves (this is a separate discussion,though to preview I'm thinking about dynamic saves where you get tochoose between two ability score to save with which could change theeffect).


First, how does 5E define the abilityscores, and what do they do other than attack, checks, and saves?


Strength: Measures physical power
Dexterity: Measures agility
Constitution: Measures endurance
Intelligence: Measures reasoning andmemory
Wisdom: Measures perception and insight
Charisma: Measures force of personality


Strength

  • Carrying Capacity
  • Jump Distance
  • Heavy Armor allowance


Dexterity

  • AC (limited by medium and heavy armor)
  • Initiative (this is really just a kind of Dex check)


Constution

  • Hit Points and Hit Dice rolls
  • Length of time to hold breath


Intelligence

  • ?


Wisdom

  • ?


Charisma

  • ?


+2 to an ability score is worth a feat.For most characters, though, +2 to an ability score is only reallyworthwhile for their class's Attack stat, their class's potentialsecondary stat, and Constution; light or no armor characters may alsofavor Dex because of the importance of Dex saves.


+2 to an ability score bundles togetherit's potential attack/damage/dc increases, along with saves, checks,and its fixed benefits. Lets pretend all skills checks and saves areequal for a second (which is a separate, but related, discussion).


Toughness is considered an okay feat.It gives +2 hp/level, double part of Constitution's core function. +2Con is +1 hp/level, +1 con checks, +1 con saves, and +1 to a fewrandom things (like length of time to hold breath).


Alert is a feat that grants +5 toinitiative (a very specific use of Dex checks), and grants protectionfrom surprise and some advantage. Both sides of those seem even tome.


So, I'd like to add some non savingthrow/check/spell-casting functions to Int, Wis, and Cha.


Intelligence is easy. I think it shouldgrant skill proficiencies and possibly languages. 1 feat grants 3skill proficiencies, or +1 Int, 3 languages, and the ability to writeciphers; languages are clearly valued less than skill proficienciesin this regard. Perhaps 1 skill proficiency and 1 language perIntelligence modifier? Going by the “Toughness is a fair feat”angle, if 3 skill/tool proficiencies is worth a feat and 4 languages(lets count cyphers as a secret language) is worth half a feat … ifa full feat is worth 2 points, then a skill/tool proficiency is worth0.66 points and a language is worth 0.25. Together, those are worth0.91 … or close enough to 1 for me to not complain. (Interestingly,backgrounds value tool proficiencies and languages the same).


But what should Wisdom do? What arethings wise characters should be better at than unwise characters?Things that aren't checks or saves. What is tied to thisarchetype/trope? Perhaps the ubiquity of Perception/PassivePerception checks is what Wisdom does, but I don't like that and Ifind that to be more of an argument of making some functions ofPerception part of Wisdom saves. If I was constantly running horrorgames, I'd have Sanity tied to Wisdom, but I don't think that's rightfor all D&D games.


What about Charisma? Part of me feelslike Inspiration might be the right angle here. The charasmaticcharacters often come across as lucky characters. I'd consider givingcharacters Cha mod+1 inspiration points per long rest. I may alsoretool the lucky feat.


Now, most characters currently probablyhave between an 8 and a 12 intelligence. Looking at past charactersat my table, 8 and 10 was very common for people not playing aWizard, Eldritch Knight, or Arcane Trickster. So, most characterswould end up with the same amount of skills they currently have, orat least be disincentivized from taking an 8 Intelligence.


But, this does mean the Wizard would begetting +3 skill proficiencies, and Eldritch Knights and ArcaneTricksters would be picking up 1 or 2 more. These would grow withlevel as stats were increased. As I've spoken about in anotherthread, I want to expand what skills can do so non-casters feel moreversatile, and part of that would be requiring spellcasters to haveskills that functionally do nothing other than facilitatespell-casting. 3E's spellcraft and concentration skills sort ofworked this way. So I'll be thinking about doing this very thing.


What are your thoughts? Mostimportantly, what might you add to Wisdom?
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Hmm. Well, you could treat Wisdom in a similar fashion and just split the skills into two lists. The line between INT and WIS is murky at best, but I think you could probably get two lists together that made sense.

On the Perception side of things you could always brew up a rule that lets you use WIS to save versus surprise or even make it a second option for initiative. Reflexes, which is what DEX represents, do help with reaction time, obviously, but WIS is the been there, seen it, now I'm ready for it half of things. Conceptually a rule something like that fits in pretty well with how D&D treats WIS as a stat.

Another idea, mentioned above, is to remove Perception from the skill list and make it just an ability or check tied to WIS, much like Initiative is tied to DEX. As an ability that everyone has you can monkey around with adding layers to it. Personally, I think it's too ubiquitous to really be a skill like the other skills anyway. You could replace it with a different skill or skills that are more specific in scope and application. This would stack well with the idea that high WIS could also provide additional skills like INT does in your model above.

That was all a little "throw stuff at a wall" but that's what I got off the top of my head.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Well, if you are looking for things for the non-physical ability scores "to do" you sort of took the long way to say that. :)

But seriously...

We use Intelligence mod as bonus language, skill, tool, or kit, valuing each equally. Yeah, I know they aren't quite equal, but 5E is also about simplicity so we stick with that. If you dump INT with an 8, you lose a language, skill, too, or kit. We also have languages as INT skills so the DM can require an Intelligence (Language) check. You automatically have Expertise in your native languages.

Wisdom modifier could be used as favor from the gods or something? Like inspiration but represents your connection to fate, karma, nature, or whatever. Maybe you could add it so often to your d20 roll for an attack or save? Something like once per short or long rest? You could even add it after the roll but before the results, so if you think you JUST missed or failed, your WIS bonus might turn failure into success.

Charisma also use to limit how many followers/henchmen you could have and modified their loyalty to you. The Charisma modifier could work in a similar way, maybe 1 + Charisma mod for how many henchmen. Also, your Charisma bonus could add to henchmen's checks/saves for loyalty and morale.

For spellcasters you could grant bonus spell level slots equal to the spellcasting ability score modifier per long rest. This would definitely boost spell ability at lower levels and add a perk even at higher levels. Alternatively, allow the modifier to count as restored spell slots during a short rest (not to exceed your maximum). For example, a WIS 16 would allow a Cleric to regain 3 spell levels worth of slots, say like a first and a second or a single third, etc.

Finally, we house rule Initiative can be modified by DEX, INT, or WIS... not just DEX. So a really smart person is more likely to go early due to tactical advantage of smarts and reacting to the situation. A really wise person has a better understanding of the situation, motives, etc. so gets the chance to act a bit faster, too.

That's all I have for now.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
People have been trying to balance the six abilities for roughly 50 years. The six are just bad design.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
People have been trying to balance the six abilities for roughly 50 years. The six are just bad design.
LOL at yet people keep using them. Personally, other than DEX being a bit overly useful in combat, I've never had an issue with balance per se. But if you think they are bad, what would you suggest?
 

Eubani

Explorer
I would think about removing Wisdom and adding Perception and Soul. Ranged attacks can key off perception, divine magics and quite a few magic saves would use Soul and initiative can choose between Intelligence, Dexterity or Perception. Perception as a stat makes more sense and frees up a skill slot as almost everyone tries to get Perception as it is a near guaranteed scene to scene check.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
I would think about removing Wisdom and adding Perception and Soul. Ranged attacks can key off perception, divine magics and quite a few magic saves would use Soul and initiative can choose between Intelligence, Dexterity or Perception. Perception as a stat makes more sense and frees up a skill slot as almost everyone tries to get Perception as it is a near guaranteed scene to scene check.
‘Perception’ = Intelligence
‘Soul’ = Charisma
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
... sense and frees up a skill slot as almost everyone tries to get Perception as it is a near guaranteed scene to scene check.
But that's only because people are crazy. Perception is vastly overrated in 5e. Though that's probably a discussion best had elsewhere.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
[MENTION=57494]Xeviat[/MENTION] I think that basing more on ability scores only serves to grant classes that use that ability score as their primary attack stat those abilities at the expense to other classes. At that point you would be better off just baking the bonus into the classes based on those ability scores than on the ability score itself.

For example. Your intelligence adding extra skills breaks things for me personally.
#1 I don't believe intelligence has anything (or at least very little) to do with athletics or sleight of hand etc. - that is to say many skills aren't dependent on intelligence in the slightest so why would it be the general stat that boosts number of skills
#2 It's just a straight up buff to Wizards and any other class that is incentivized for boosting intelligence. Whatever you do for strength or dexterity or wisdom or charisma would also be as well for those respective classes.

What's the danger I see? You are going to be too tempted to have stats modify things they shouldn't. That's part of the reason you are struggling come up with what to let each stat affect, because outside basic combat capabilities/ specific class abilities / relevant skill checks /relevant saving throws, they really shouldn't be affecting anything else. In other words, let the classes drive the game. Ability score interactions should be very basic and very parallel unless a class ability bases something special on an ability score.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I'd make sure that every ability score has uses in every pillar of play. Some of the pillars may be dominated by skill use so that's effectively already covered, but others not as much. And combat is a pillar of play, so I'd like INT, WIS and CHR to have some effect on combat even for non-casters. For example, if INT also covers speed of thought and wits, make it determine Initiative. This both pulls something away from the "god stat" of DEX as well as making INT more reasonable.

I like how 13th Age does this - several combat related scores use the MIDDLE modifier from three. So your Mental Defense (think 4e like save, where it's a target like AC), which the target used for mental manipulation, psychic attacks, stealth, trickery obfuscation and the like, is determined by the middle modifier of your INT, WIS and CHR.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
I'd make sure that every ability score has uses in every pillar of play. Some of the pillars may be dominated by skill use so that's effectively already covered, but others not as much. And combat is a pillar of play, so I'd like INT, WIS and CHR to have some effect on combat even for non-casters. For example, if INT also covers speed of thought and wits, make it determine Initiative. This both pulls something away from the "god stat" of DEX as well as making INT more reasonable.

I like how 13th Age does this - several combat related scores use the MIDDLE modifier from three. So your Mental Defense (think 4e like save, where it's a target like AC), which the target used for mental manipulation, psychic attacks, stealth, trickery obfuscation and the like, is determined by the middle modifier of your INT, WIS and CHR.
I go back and forth on int for initiative. The start of a fight is really about reaction speed. Speed of thinking may make a small impact there, but really in intense physical situations you aren't supposed to think because thinking takes to long, you just react. That's definitely a function of dexterity in 5e.

I think the best place to have INT, WIS and Charisma do something for Martial PC's is not through a universal mechanic but class based mechanics. Give the fighter specific benefits for those stats. Give the rogue specific benefits for them. Or do what 5e currently does and if you want an intelligent fighter create a subclass that caters to intelligent fighting. If you want a charismatic rogue then create a swashbuckler subclass. If you want a wise barbarian then create the subclass for it! What about a strong wizard, there's plenty of room for that in a subclass.

That's one place I think we are lacking, we need a lot more subclasses to help realize these missing concepts.
 

Horwath

Explorer
Delete Con, merge it's mechanics into Str

Merge Int, Wis and Cha into one stat: Cunning

Cunning adds extra language, tool and skill proficiency. And bonus to initiative.

Add Willpower as a base stat: Will is used for spellcasting and Will saves(duh) and for certain class features, Paladin save bonuses I.E.

So;

Strength: melee and thrown attack and damage, HPs, Fort saves, carry capacity, armor requirements,

Dexterity: finesse and ranged attack and damage, AC, Reflex saves, initiative bonus,

Willpower: spell attack and damage, spell DCs, Will saves, concentration checks,

Cunning: bonus skill/tool/language proficiency, bonus initiative,
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
@Xeviat I think that basing more on ability scores only serves to grant classes that use that ability score as their primary attack stat those abilities at the expense to other classes. At that point you would be better off just baking the bonus into the classes based on those ability scores than on the ability score itself.

For example. Your intelligence adding extra skills breaks things for me personally.
#1 I don't believe intelligence has anything (or at least very little) to do with athletics or sleight of hand etc. - that is to say many skills aren't dependent on intelligence in the slightest so why would it be the general stat that boosts number of skills
Being intelligent means you will pick up and understand the techniques used in Sleight of hand etc faster. You're still using Dexterity (usually) to apply those techniques in actual use.
#2 It's just a straight up buff to Wizards and any other class that is incentivized for boosting intelligence. Whatever you do for strength or dexterity or wisdom or charisma would also be as well for those respective classes.
I would probably just remove the base skill proficiencies from the wizard class in the case of adopting this system. They'll be fine with those from backgrounds and their bonus intelligence.
A similar system that I have seen mentioned here is Intelligence bonus granting a skill proficiency for every even bonus, and a Language/tool proficiency for every odd one.

I go back and forth on int for initiative. The start of a fight is really about reaction speed. Speed of thinking may make a small impact there, but really in intense physical situations you aren't supposed to think because thinking takes to long, you just react. That's definitely a function of dexterity in 5e.
Think of it as the difference between doing something and doing something meaningful. Reflexes do what you've trained them to do, and Intelligence determines how fast you can sum up a new situation and take action appropriate to it rather than just flailing and screaming.
Deflecting a sword coming at your face is reflex. Identifying the number of combatants and their dispositions in the way a player can see the battle-map, and then decide on tactical action is probably more a function of Intelligence.
Running on reflex, you're probably only going to come up with "lots" and surly". Possibly only after you've stabbed the nearest non-party creature.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
I go back and forth on int for initiative. The start of a fight is really about reaction speed. Speed of thinking may make a small impact there, but really in intense physical situations you aren't supposed to think because thinking takes to long, you just react. That's definitely a function of dexterity in 5e.
You know, over the years initiative has taken on a new meaning. Originally, with 1-minutes long rounds, when you went (your initiative) was the moment you spotted your opening to make a significant move. Although your Dexterity does represent your reaction speed, your ability to make the decision to act is your Intelligence, and your will to follow through with a normally dangerous action when you face possible injury or death is certainly Wisdom.

Honestly, you could even claim Strength because that is your muscle, including fast twitch and Charisma, the belief in yourself that you can accomplish your goal. Even Constitution could play a factor as the longer combat goes on the more winded you will become and the slower your response time. Mental fatigue also comes into play as combat goes on.

We debated about using at least Dex, Int, and Wis combined... adding all three modifiers together to determine your initiative modifier.

Each ability score could arguably add to initiative, it just depends on your reasoning and where you want the focus to lie.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
One thing I forgot to add before is we no longer add the Dexterity modifier to damage, with Monks being the sole exception. Any bonus to damage comes from Strength. Yeah, people argue that higher Dex allows you to strike more vital spots, etc. Sure, but that is the attack roll and when you are trying to use finesse (hence, the weapon property in use). If you are more likely to hit, you are thus more likely to do damage.

We've even toyed around with the idea that finesse weapons allow you to add BOTH Str and Dex to your attack roll, but you add neither to damage (or maybe just Str still...). Few character builds have very high Str and Dex.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
One thing I forgot to add before is we no longer add the Dexterity modifier to damage, with Monks being the sole exception. Any bonus to damage comes from Strength. Yeah, people argue that higher Dex allows you to strike more vital spots, etc. Sure, but that is the attack roll and when you are trying to use finesse (hence, the weapon property in use). If you are more likely to hit, you are thus more likely to do damage.

We've even toyed around with the idea that finesse weapons allow you to add BOTH Str and Dex to your attack roll, but you add neither to damage (or maybe just Str still...). Few character builds have very high Str and Dex.
If I was going to do that I'd probably allow finesse weapons to do 2x str mod in damage (max 5).

This would simulate your more accurate strikes costing less strength to do the damage. Some Strength would still be required but not as much as you would be hitting the correct spot
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
Being intelligent means you will pick up and understand the techniques used in Sleight of hand etc faster. You're still using Dexterity (usually) to apply those techniques in actual use.
There's a difference between knowing how someone else does something and why it works and being able to actually do that on your own. I'm fairly smart, definitely smarter than a lot of high school jocks, and yet everyone of them can throw a spiral football or shoot a basketball better than me. Even if I understand how it was supposed to be done I'm still not going to be able to become proficient in the skill because my low str and dex prevent me from doing so.

So IMO
the better argument would be that dexterous characters can learn dex based skills easier because they have to spend less time successfully mastering those skills. Dex rather than INT should be what impacts the speed of learning dex skills (if you really want to go this route)

Basically athletic knowledge, slight of hand knowledge are different than intelligence based knowledge.

Deflecting a sword coming at your face is reflex. Identifying the number of combatants and their dispositions in the way a player can see the battle-map, and then decide on tactical action is probably more a function of Intelligence.
Running on reflex, you're probably only going to come up with "lots" and surly". Possibly only after you've stabbed the nearest non-party creature.
When my combats start it's because sometime within the next 6 seconds someone is going to be swinging a sword at you. While the players will often assess the situation at that moment (effectively catching up to speed with their character), the character doesn't have time to do anything but the most basic reactionary assessment of the situation at that time.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
LOL at yet people keep using them. Personally, other than DEX being a bit overly useful in combat, I've never had an issue with balance per se. But if you think they are bad, what would you suggest?
Actually once you step,outside the dnd/srd/d20 bubble it seems like very many games abandoned these six in favore of more or less.

If i were going to build a set from scratch - it would start at 9.

There would be a triad of stats for each "focus".

Physical - strength, dex, con

Intellect - knowledge, wits, discipline

Social - charisma, influence, composure (or cool)

In each triad, they reflect in order power, finesse and toughness.

So the first stat is used for direct and forceful, the second for sophisticated or delicate and the latter is your resistance or defensive stat.

Not the key if for different games and setting you can add more or different triads.

Maybe you add Faith or Tech or Superpower or Cybered or Status/Honor or etc etc etc

The key being each triad is intended to covert a significant element of the game/campaign so really the balance is dine at the choice of triads, not the specific ability levels.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
To me there is a serious flaw in the framing. Basically not alk ability checks adding to saves and checks are equal.

Sure we can,point to str having carry capacity as an extra feature but when we compare that to Cha ans say Cha needs more we are ignoring that Cha carries a lot of the weight for the social pillar on its own with the four skills it adds to. Compared with Athletics - thats not a wash that leaves us needing to find something to help Cha.

In actual play, in terms of "rolls that matter" and "values that matter" what i have seen is that Int is the only one getting a less frequent level of use but that us highly dependent on the nature of the challenges and especially how much the GM makes Investigation matter.

But, the notion that in 5e games Cha and Wis arent getting rolled enough and playing a role enough to need more stuff added is very much i see a case of the assumptions being made.
 

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