D&D 5E Character sheet: Ability score or modifier in the big box?

Should the stat or modifier be emphasized (use big box) on the character sheet?


Mercule

Adventurer
Just to be clear, I really like 5E and think the rule set is great. This is 100% about some style/presentation. It's also 100% nitpick and totally "fixed" by the conventions my players and I use. I'm just doing some prep for next week's game and venting. Figured I'd see it anyone agreed with me or not. Straightforward poll: top option agrees with me, bottom option is wrong (I kid).

This started as a raised eyebrow, but has become an increasing itch. It annoys me to no end that the expectation on the character sheet (per pregens) is to write the ability score modifiers large and the score itself underneath. I've seen it a couple times, on the WotC site, when looking for something else. It's jarring and stops me dead in my tracks. It's a visual thing and it just makes my brain scream, "you're using it wrong", every single time.

If I had a player at my table that did that, I'd correct him a couple of times then write him off as an idiot. It really started to get under my skin when I realized Dungeonscape may force users into this format. That presentation is so irksome that it pretty much kills the huge enthusiasm I had for the product. This is something that my group can ignore on the printed character sheets, but not for the tool. Hopefully, they include a "show ability scores correctly" toggle. Better yet, WotC stops using the backwards layout and burns all evidence of it. (If you can't tell, I strongly disagree with anyone who wants to replace 3-18 with just the modifiers -- the scores are writ in stone, but the modifiers are fair game to tweak from edition to edition.)

I didn't even notice the other stylistic bit, at first. I don't really care for listing skills as "Strength (Athletics)". The skill is just "Athletics". The end. I get that, in 5E, the skills are tightly married to their ability score, but writing it that way is just silly. Although vaguely related, this isn't part of the poll.
 
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The Hitcher

First Post
This started as a raised eyebrow, but has become an increasing itch. It annoys me to no end that the expectation on the character sheet (per pregens) is to write the ability score modifiers large and the score itself underneath. I've seen it a couple times, on the WotC site, when looking for something else. It's jarring and stops me dead in my tracks. It's a visual thing and it just makes my brain scream, "you're using it wrong", every single time.
The new way makes a lot more sense, and I'm all for it. You almost never use the actual stat number, but you use the bonus all the time.

But guess what? They've deliberately designed the sheet so that you can do it either way, and thus everyone can be happy. Guess some are pretty hard to please.

I didn't even notice the other stylistic bit, at first. I don't really care for listing skills as "Strength (Athletics)". The skill is just "Athletics". The end. I get that, in 5E, the skills are tightly married to their ability score, but writing it that way is just silly. Although vaguely related, this isn't part of the poll.
They've done that so you can have a single "+X" against each skill, which incorporates the assumed stat modifier. It's simpler, and it's easy enough to recalculate if you happen to use the skill with a non-standard stat.

EDIT: You forgot to include an option in the poll for "oh look, they've designed it in a way so everyone gets to have their preference! Hurrah!"
 

thalmin

Retired game store owner
I prefer emphasizing the modifiers, but I believe all at the same table should do it the same way.

And neither way is the "Correct" way or the "Wrong" way. (Except when the DM or group decides what is right or wrong at his/their table)
 

fba827

Adventurer
It may have to do with my age and mental association of what stats should be, but I prefer the score to be emphasized.

That said, I do understand the functional reason for modifier to be emphasized. Just, I prefer score to be due to my history with the game and the built in preferences and assumptions that have grown for that.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
And neither way is the "Correct" way or the "Wrong" way. (Except when the DM or group decides what is right or wrong at his/their table)
Since tone of voice isn't transmitted by the Interwebs, I was being tongue-in-cheek. While the notation is jarring to me, I do understand why they did it. I strongly disagree with the decision, but I understand.
 

I have a very hard time accepting that this even an issue. Fill it out how you want. If the Dungeonscape default isn't the way you like it, say "Oh, well," shrug, and move on.

We're talking about a difference that is literally--and I mean "literally" literally, not the hip new "figurative" literally ;) --meaningless.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Doesn't really matter to me, but when I saw the modifier in the big box, I had the same reaction as when I saw AC going up in 3E - "Why the hell didn't I do this years ago?"
 

Chest Rockwell

Banned
Banned
If you can't tell, I strongly disagree with anyone who wants to replace 3-18 with just the modifiers -- the scores are writ in stone, but the modifiers are fair game to tweak from edition to edition.


Bingo, Basic, 1/2nd Ed, and 3rd/4th/5th Ed, all have different modifiers, so, yes, I agree with you.
 

delericho

Legend
For auto-generating character sheets, I'm definitely in favour of the toggle the OP describes.

Beyond that, each person can make their own choice - I genuinely don't care.

I personally will be putting the modifier in the big box, because that's the one I'll use more often.
 

Paraxis

Explorer
This is a thing?

The following as always is my ever so humble opinion.

The ability score number itself hardly ever matters, maybe there are more but the only things I can think of at the moment are having 13's in some stats if you want to ever multiclass and strength minimums on some heavy armors.

The ability score itself is not used for anything else in the game, only the modifier.

The modifier at it's core modifies a d20 roll, so each point of difference is only 5%.

A person with a 18 strength is only 20% stronger than someone with a 10 on feats of strength. There is a difference in what they can carry/lift but that is a matter of 150 pounds, and many groups never use encumbrance.

There is a general trivia contest, where knowledge skills play little factor or if a subject comes up assume both contestants have the proficiency. The Int 10(+0) character rolls vs a genius with a 20(+5) so on each question the genius only has a +25% chance to get the answer correct. We are not talking about the difference between a real world genius and a normal person here, this is a game and it has rules.

Now if we assume A baseline of 10 DC, a person who has the Int score just above a farm animal 4(-3) vs 20(+5) that is only a 40% difference. We do run into an issue if the DC gets to a 17 or higher on the trivia questions because now the boy raised by pigs can't roll high enough to win.

Also ability scores don't define how a character looks, nothing in the game does. A anemic looking wisp could have a 20 con score if you wanted, a big bulking thing could have a dex of 20, a tiny halfling that at most is 3ft 3 inches tall and 43 pounds can have a 20 strength score the same as an ogre.

So the ability score modifier is the most important thing, and in fact I hope in future editions of the game they do away with the score all together.

But seriously this is a thing? I mean all the above is how I think on the subject but even if someone thinks the exact opposite of how I do what is the point of the question?
 

Iosue

Hero
With the order of the abilities already mixed up, I find it hard to really worry about which number goes in the big box. In the end, I can write it down as I always have. Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Cha, with the ability score to the right of that and the bonus/penalty in equally large numbers to the right of that.
 

Really, in 5e, the modifier IS the ability score. In my opinion, the new edition should have made that clear: the old ability score should have been abandoned completely.
 

Mr Fixit

Explorer
Really, in 5e, the modifier IS the ability score. In my opinion, the new edition should have made that clear: the old ability score should have been abandoned completely.

They might as well have. I guess they are left in the game for reasons of tradition primarily. And, of course, those 4d6 rolls at character creation...
 

Riley

Hero
On my own character sheets, the actual ability scores should be presented prominently, and in the correct order of: strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, charisma.

Everyone else, of course, is welcome to write them down however they want.
 

Mishihari Lord

First Post
I prefer emphasizing the mod, since it's what is used. I would actually prefer to not even have a 3-18 attribute in the game at all. Just call the mod the attribute and be done with it. You can still use 3d6 or whatever to generate it. The only reason I can think of to not do this is D&D tradition.
 


Mercule

Adventurer
Really, in 5e, the modifier IS the ability score. In my opinion, the new edition should have made that clear: the old ability score should have been abandoned completely.
This is the only reason why it's anything more than a minor annoyance. I don't want to see 3-18 disappear. I'm afraid that having the mod emphasized is sort of the first step towards eliminating the scores for 6E. That would make me sad. The scores are one of my sacred cows.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Really, in 5e, the modifier IS the ability score. In my opinion, the new edition should have made that clear: the old ability score should have been abandoned completely.
One nice thing that works well with keeping the ability scores as is, is when you are building a non standard human character in point buy where your primary ability score for the class is not the one you get a +1 in. You can set up your primary/secondary ability scores as 15/15 or 17/15 or 15/17 depending on which ability score bonuses you get. You can then split your ability score increase at level 4 to make that a 16/16 or 18/16 or 16/18 and get two modifier bumps and catch up to the other players.

Yes, this is a bit convoluted, but we have a few players at our table who did this. A halfing rogue/monk started with 17 Dex/15 wis; a Dragonborn wizard started with 15 Dex/15 Int. If the ability scores were reworked to just be the bonus, this granularity would be lost.

And some things should stay with tradition if the alternative does not make them significantly better.
 

Riley

Hero
I prefer emphasizing the mod, since it's what is used.... The only reason I can think of to not do this is D&D tradition.

The reason to preserve the 3-18(+) distribution is because of things like this:

The Onion said:
Bill Gates Grants Self 18 Dexterity, 20 Charisma

NEWS • Business • ISSUE 31•21 • Jun 18, 1997

REDMOND, WA—Microsoft head Bill Gates, already considered by many to be among the most powerful men in the world, further increased his powers Monday, augmenting several of his key statistics to near-immortal levels....

..."This is a very shrewd move on Gates' part," PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak said. "His vastly increased charisma--the prime stat of a chaotic evil executive--will help him tremendously in his ongoing struggle to convince skeptical Microsoft stockholders that his ventures into television and his massive content-buying spree will pay off in the long run. The extra CHR will also assist him greatly in dealing with wary CEOs of companies he wishes to invest in and cast spells over, like Comcast."
http://www.theonion.com/articles/bill-gates-grants-self-18-dexterity-20-charisma,837/

An 18 stat is essential to the core cultural identity of Dungeons & Dragons. And that is the only reason it remains.
 

mcbobbo

Explorer
I think you could do away with the stats entirely (after rolling them up) by allowing a .5 qualifier that always rounds down. So a 12 is now +1 and a 13 is now +1.5. Stat increases that gave +2 to a stat now give +1 to the stat bonus. Gauntlets of blah now give a minimum bonus instead of a minimum score. And so on ...
 

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