D&D General Decoupling Ability Scores from Offense

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Just to elaborate: going your way, you could define all d20 rolls by d20 + PB when you're not proficient, d20 + PB + PB when you're proficient, and d20 + PB + PB + PB when you're an expert. That's an abstraction too far for me.
Just attack rolls and save DCs. Maaaaaaaaaybe damage rolls. And they'd probably be a little different, since ability scores usually go from +3 to +5. My initial idea was to increase on the odd levels so it's smooth, but that's +10 growth when the baseline grows by +8; if you assumed someone only starting with a 14, they'd grow by up to +9.
 

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Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Now if only we could decouple skill proficiency from level!
I have thought of how to do this too. PF2 does it reasonably I think. I think it would need to be paired with some sort of system of moving some of the skill feat abilities over to the skills so you feel like you're gaining minor abilities for mastering a skill, which would be neat.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
But, what if you didn't need to do all this? What if your level determined your offensive capability? What if, say, a level 10 rogue is deadly because they're a level 10 rogue, regardless of if they're an agile thief, a cunning mastermind, or a charming rake?
When I did this for 4e, I called it "presumed competence". A level X character is presumed competent at thier abilities.

I didn't completely remove attributes. In 4e, your damage was (dice) plus (static modifier) -- I kept the static modifier from attributes to damage, and removed it from d20 rolls.

A version I've seen proposed in 5e is to use proficiency bonus.

Your Attack bonus is the best of your attribute plus your proficiency, or twice your proficiency.

Your DCs is the best of 8+attribute+proficiency, or 8 + 2*proficiency.

In effect, the floor of your attribute is your proficiency bonus.

An optimized attribute is usually 16 at level 1, 18 at level 4 and 20 at level 8+. Double prof vs attribute+prof is:
1: 4 vs 5
4: 6 vs 7
8: 8 vs 9
12: 10 vs 10
16: 12 vs 11
so failing to optimize your "attack" attribute costs you 1 point of DC or ATK modifier. And T4 characters get an extra +1 to hit regardless.

Your AC is either the base calculation, or:
Light armor: 10+proficiency+1/2 dex bonus
Medium armor: 10+proficiency+1/2 (max of dex or strength bonus) (+1 if stealth disadvantage)
Heavy armor: 12+proficiency+1/4 (sum of strength and con bonus)
round down the fractions, plus enchantment/shields/etc.

The bonuses from attributes cap out at +2, even if you have a belt of giant strength.

The 10+proficiency provides an AC floor, with a small contribution from an attribute on top, mostly for flavor: a 20s in attribute gives 2-3 points of AC over nothing at all, instead of 5.

Above 10+proficiency, the armor types give:

For light/medium we get:
10: +0 AC
14: +1 AC
18: +2 AC

For medium (stealth disadvantage) we get:
10: +1 AC
14: +2 AC
18: +3 AC

For heavy we get:
10/10: +2 AC
16/12: +3 AC
20/16: +4 AC
(note that with 10 con, you still get equal or higher AC from heavy than medium armor based off just strength)

This cap of +2 AC from higher stats is intended to exist, but not be so large as to make a huge difference.


---

By focusing on hitting, the goal is to avoid the wiff. The stronger more dexterous will hit a bit harder, and gets more uses of some attribute-mediated abilities.

I'd leave all skills alone. If someone wants to wrestle a giant, invest in strength. :)

But DCs/ATK being too important to be left to chance seems reasonable, and rolling in an AC floor is also reasonable.

By having enchantment stack on top of this floor, and making the subtype of armor you wear stop mattering at higher levels, is an intersting side effect in my opinion.

A level 20 fighter in +3 plate armor and shield with 26 strength and 16 constitution has an "old" calculation of 26 AC.

Under the new calculation, they have 12 + 6 (prof) + (8+3=11/4 = +2 capped) + 6 +2 = 28 AC even if they are wearing +3 chainmail instead of +3 plate armor.

(That extra +2 AC might be a small problem; it falls out of wanting to ensure that light armor < medium armor < heavy armor AC, with each getting a +1 kick over the last. You could make light armor be 8+calc, medium with stealth disadvantage be 9+calc, and heavy be 10+calc instead.)
 
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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Love these.

Especially if we make Offhand Attacks a bonus attack during the Attack Action rather than a separate bonus action attack.

Then Rogues could Feint in combat to get advantage and sneak attack and still have their bonus action to dash.
Exactly.

As a side note, I already play with the notion that an off-hand attack does not require a bonus action and everybody at the table loves it and nobody was struck by lightning or died of instant combustion :p
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
When I did this for 4e, I called it "presumed competence". A level X character is presumed competent at thier abilities.

I didn't completely remove attributes. In 4e, your damage was (dice) plus (static modifier) -- I kept the static modifier from attributes to damage, and removed it from d20 rolls.

A version I've seen proposed in 5e is to use proficiency bonus.

Your Attack bonus is the best of your attribute plus your proficiency, or twice your proficiency.

Your DCs is the best of 8+attribute+proficiency, or 8 + 2*proficiency.

In effect, the floor of your attribute is your proficiency bonus.

An optimized attribute is usually 16 at level 1, 18 at level 4 and 20 at level 8+. Double prof vs attribute+prof is:
1: 4 vs 5
4: 6 vs 7
8: 8 vs 9
12: 10 vs 10
16: 12 vs 11
so failing to optimize your "attack" attribute costs you 1 point of DC or ATK modifier. And T4 characters get an extra +1 to hit regardless.

Your AC is either the base calculation, or:
Light armor: 10+proficiency+1/2 dex bonus
Medium armor: 10+proficiency+1/2 (max of dex or strength bonus) (+1 if stealth disadvantage)
Heavy armor: 12+proficiency+1/4 (sum of strength and con bonus)
round down the fractions, plus enchantment/shields/etc.

The bonuses from attributes cap out at +2, even if you have a belt of giant strength.

The 10+proficiency provides an AC floor, with a small contribution from an attribute on top, mostly for flavor: a 20s in attribute gives 2-3 points of AC over nothing at all, instead of 5.

Above 10+proficiency, the armor types give:

For light/medium we get:
10: +0 AC
14: +1 AC
18: +2 AC

For medium (stealth disadvantage) we get:
10: +1 AC
14: +2 AC
18: +3 AC

For heavy we get:
10/10: +2 AC
16/12: +3 AC
20/16: +4 AC
(note that with 10 con, you still get equal or higher AC from heavy than medium armor based off just strength)

This cap of +2 AC from higher stats is intended to exist, but not be so large as to make a huge difference.


---

By focusing on hitting, the goal is to avoid the wiff. The stronger more dexterous will hit a bit harder, and gets more uses of some attribute-mediated abilities.

I'd leave all skills alone. If someone wants to wrestle a giant, invest in strength. :)

But DCs/ATK being too important to be left to chance seems reasonable, and rolling in an AC floor is also reasonable.

By having enchantment stack on top of this floor, and making the subtype of armor you wear stop mattering at higher levels, is an intersting side effect in my opinion.

A level 20 fighter in +3 plate armor and shield with 26 strength and 16 constitution has an "old" calculation of 26 AC.

Under the new calculation, they have 12 + 6 (prof) + (8+3=11/4 = +2 capped) + 6 +2 = 28 AC even if they are wearing +3 chainmail instead of +3 plate armor.

(That extra +2 AC might be a small problem; it falls out of wanting to ensure that light armor < medium armor < heavy armor AC, with each getting a +1 kick over the last. You could make light armor be 8+calc, medium with stealth disadvantage be 9+calc, and heavy be 10+calc instead.)
...

Wait...

What if we split the difference?

Rather than having Attributes have -no- effect on combat, we apply Presumed Competence to all characters or the Attribute, whichever is better?

That way players who roll lucky at low levels still get a good set of stats and get to enjoy their ability beyond a level of competence, but even someone who rolls a bunch of low-rolls is at least competent?
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
That way players who roll lucky at low levels still get a good set of stats and get to enjoy their ability beyond a level of competence, but even someone who rolls a bunch of low-rolls is at least competent?
That's how I do it. Stat mod OR proficiency bonus, whichever is higher. Starting with a 16 Dex or Str has value, if that's how you want to play your character. And Belts of X Giant Strength or Gauntlets of Ogre Power are still useful.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
...

Wait...

What if we split the difference?

Rather than having Attributes have -no- effect on combat, we apply Presumed Competence to all characters or the Attribute, whichever is better?

That way players who roll lucky at low levels still get a good set of stats and get to enjoy their ability beyond a level of competence, but even someone who rolls a bunch of low-rolls is at least competent?
Yes, that is what the post you quoted does in 5e.

For attack rolls and DCs, you use the best of your attribute or your proficiency.

For AC, I hobbled together a system where you can use the existing calculation, or one where attributes are half as important (roughly). The difference between a 10 stat character and a 20 stat character is 2 points of AC, so it is bounded.

The effect is that a high dex character is just as good in light or medium armor if they care about stealth.

If you give up on stealth, medium armor is +1 AC, and you can use strength instead of dexterity and keep your AC.

Heavy armor is just as good or better than medium armor for a strength build, and you can eke out another point of AC if you have medium to high constitution.

Now that I think of it, /2 and /4 is a bit too complex.

Light Armor:
AC 10+Proficiency bonus. +2 AC for 15 dexterity.
Medium Armor:
AC 11+Proficiency bonus. +1 AC for both 13 strength and dexterity.
Bulky Medium Armor (Stealth Disadvantage):
AC 12+Proficiency bonus. +1 AC for both 13 strength and dexterity.
Heavy Armor
AC 12+Proficiency bonus. +1 AC for each of 15 strength and constitution.

A "simple" table does it.

Heavy Armor is better AC than medium armor if you have at least one of 15 strength or con.

Light Armor is a match for medium armor at 15 dex vs 13/13 for medium.

Medium armor requires medium stats in both dex and strength, but if str/dex is low, medium is better AC than light.

Heavy armor for a weakling is no better than medium armor.

At level 1, assuming those modest attribute requirements are met, we get:

Light: 14 AC (requires 1 15)
Medium: 14 AC (requires 2 13s)
Bulky-Medium: 15 AC (requires 2 13s)
Heavy: 16 AC (requires 2 15s)

At level 20 we have:
Light: 18 AC (requires 1 15)
Medium: 18 AC (requires 2 13s)
Bulky-Medium: 19 AC (requires 2 13s)
Heavy: 20 AC (requires 2 15s)

Light armor is 1 AC higher than studded+20 dex. Heavy armor is 2 AC higher than baseline, but requires attributes.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
This is one of those things that is going to require 3rd party creation and hopeful implementation by a large number of the player to become a "thing", because my sense is that it isn't something WotC would ever want to do on its own. The six ability scores are the clarion call of D&D as a game and as such the entire baseline and main focus that I don't think they'd ever want to reduce their use even further. If ability scores aren't used for things in the game, then they have no point. If they have no point, then they fall off the game. If they fall off the game, then you don't have "Dungeons & Dragons" anymore.
It is quite possible to keep ability scores, and use them, without tying them to the core functionality of the classes.

Much as I would like to see Wizards get rid of ability scores entirely, I know that will never happen--the fan response would make 4E look like a time of glorious harmony. But restricting them to saving throws and skills, plus the occasional side benefit (e.g., Constitution granting bonus hit points), is both possible and IMO desirable.
 



TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Heavy Armor is better AC than medium armor if you have at least one of 15 strength or con.

Light Armor is a match for medium armor at 15 dex vs 13/13 for medium.

Medium armor requires medium stats in both dex and strength, but if str/dex is low, medium is better AC than light.

Heavy armor for a weakling is no better than medium armor.

At level 1, assuming those modest attribute requirements are met, we get:

Light: 14 AC (requires 1 15)
Medium: 14 AC (requires 2 13s)
Bulky-Medium: 15 AC (requires 2 13s)
Heavy: 16 AC (requires 2 15s)
I like all of this table; I'm just not sure I see the need to have a scaling feature linked to proficiency bonus in it. Unless there's a belief that AC should be scaling in base 5e, of course.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I like all of this table; I'm just not sure I see the need to have a scaling feature linked to proficiency bonus in it. Unless there's a belief that AC should be scaling in base 5e, of course.
Low level characters have inferior armor. High level don't. That is 1 point of AC scaling.

Light armor PCs in dex usually gain +2 AC from level 1, so a +3 swing.

Medium armor PCs gain 0 to 1 AC, and 1-2 from armor quality, so a +2-3 swing.

Heavy armor PCs gain 2-4 AC from armor quality.

The proficiency calculation there is on the same order of magnitude as the existing swings. The stats I chose (except heavy armor) are low enough that a level 1 PC can probably hit them. Heavy armors 15 str/con is intended as a neat stretch, and is the best AC for a low-dex PC.

But sure, I can strip out the proficiency bonus.

Light Armor: 12 AC, +4 AC if 15 or higher Dexterity.
Medium Armor: 14 AC, +1 AC for each of 13 Strength or Dexterity
Bulky Medium Armor: 15 AC, +1 AC for each of 13 Strength or Dexterity (disadvantage on stealth)
Heavy Armor: 16 AC, +1 AC for each of 15 Strength or Constitution (disadvantage on stealth)

"Superior" versions of each armor is worth +1 AC.

Superior Leather is studded
Superior Medium is a breastplate
Superior Bulky Medium is half-plate
Superior Heavy is full plate

Baseline at level 1:
12 AC in light
14 AC in medium
15 AC in bulky medium
16 AC in heavy

this ensures that "heavier armor" for a class is actually a feature. Also, if you don't invest in physical attributes, medium is better than light.

Optimal:

15 Dex: 17 AC in superior light
13 Dex/13 Str: 17 AC in superior medium
Disadvantage Stealth:
13 Dex/13 Str: 18 AC in superior medium
15 Str/15 Con: 19 AC in superior heavy

also, heavier armor gives more AC.

If you invest in dexterity and care about stealth, medium armor isn't useful, as intended.

Losing stealth gives you 1 point of AC, and heavy armor gives you another. Getting the bonus AC from heavy armor requires more physical training.

A 15 strength/10 con/10 dex PC will get more protection from heavy armor than from medium, however.

At 15 strength/13 dex/10 con, medium matches heavy. You lack the endurance to wear heavy enough armor, and your dexterity is best suited to less weight to move around better.

At 15 strength/15 con heavy wins, regardless of dexterity.
 
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Low level characters have inferior armor. High level don't. That is 1 point of AC scaling.

Light armor PCs in dex usually gain +2 AC from level 1, so a +3 swing.

Medium armor PCs gain 0 to 1 AC, and 1-2 from armor quality, so a +2-3 swing.

Heavy armor PCs gain 2-4 AC from armor quality.
I find these numbers a bit high - medium armor wearers (IME) usually have a 14 Dex and start with scale mail, and will go up to half-plate at some point. Only a +1 change, unless you assume magical armor will be available.

Heavy armor really only ranges from chain to plate, for a +2 shift. (No starting package includes ring mail).

If we want the new armor math to be simple, I'd probably go with proficiency or dex (or str for heavy) on a base:
Light 11 + mod, minimum 12
Medium 11 + mod, minimum 14
Heavy 12 + mod, minimum 16

If, on the other hand, you want to scale AC to average attack bonuses against you, adding full prof to all of them makes a lot more sense (and I would go with the prof or ability mod rule for armor too)
 

I think the start of this thread was great.
But then some fiddly bits were inserted and then you could ask, why you don't leave it as is.

I think using attributes strictly for skill usage and item minimums (at stat 13 or so) seems like a great way to go.

The rest, offense and defense should be determined by class and level only.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think I'll try this system next time I get to start a 5e game, which shouldnt be too long, fingers crossed.

Offensive Rolls:
1d20 + prof + item's Aspect bonus (aka quality modifier) + magic bonus (if any)
- damage: 1 x weapon die + prof + Aspect

Armor Class:
Armor's Aspect Bonus + Prof + magic bonus (if any)

Skill checks
1d20+ability mod+prof+ item Aspect bonus (if any. Example: a pair of masterwork boots can have an Aspect of 2 to acrobatic checks. Basic equipment have an Aspect of +0).

Features' DC
8+prof+Aspect

Saves:
1d20+abilities+prof (if any)

Aspect
At the DM's discretion, they can modify the Base Aspect by a certain number to represent varying qualities of product.
Base Aspect for armament as presented in the PHB have an Aspect of 2 or 3 for most weapons, and armors have a Base Aspect equal to their AC. Unarmored PC have an AC of 9+Prof.
 

Undrave

Hero
I think this is a good idea...

Actually, you could simplify things and rather than have an AC formula, you just need to check what armor you're wearing (do you qualify for its STR requirement and are you willing to take its downsides) and then it just... TELLS your your AC. That's it. Maaaybe a bonus from your class at certain levels for certain classes and from feats (and certain classes would gain bonuses based on thematic choices).

Same way with weapons. Your class tells you if you're proficient, and then you'd have STR/DEX requirements and then the weapon tells you the ATK bonus and Damage formula (we could go back to previous edition where stronger weapon were less accurate) and then your class could give you certain bonuses at certain levels.

Heck, you could even have an interesting system too where you could be proficient in PROPERTIES as well! So anyone with the proper STR can wield a Pike or a Spear, but only certain class get to use the Reach properties and maybe you could just ignore the whole 'simple/martial/exotic' classifications instead? Want a Wizard with an Axe and plate armor? Just pump up that STR bro!

Similarily, your spells known and spell slot would be based on the casting stat, but the spell itself and your class would give you the numbers you need to roll. I also like the idea that you get Cantrips based on your Casting modifier. Druid wth +3 WIS? You start with 3 Cantrip! Wizards actually get a bonus one so with +3 INT they get 4.

and then your ability scores would round out your character.

And you could have races or even classes that give you a bonus to your STR requirement for equipment or your casting requirement.

And this system could also totally ignore the ability score and just have the pure modifiers instead.

It would also make monsters way easier to stat and build.
 

Not quite what you were looking for, but I wrote a post about D&D without ability scores last year:

Post in question

Unfritunately 5e intertwines ability scores with so many features and sub rules that removing it or reducing it has dozens, if not hundreds of knock on effects that I'm frankly not interested in putting serious effort into!
 

I've been tempted to create a one pages core system that only has skills that covers all things from feats of strength, saves, abilities in combat, diplomacy etc.

Skill progression would be based on skill points and would be 0>5>9>12>14>15

So spending a skill point to go from 14 to 15 is quite an expensive way to do something when you could use that point to go from 0 to 5 on an untrained skill.

Resolution is then just 1d20+skill.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
I think the start of this thread was great.
But then some fiddly bits were inserted and then you could ask, why you don't leave it as is.

I think using attributes strictly for skill usage and item minimums (at stat 13 or so) seems like a great way to go.

The rest, offense and defense should be determined by class and level only.
The only fiddly bit I'm considering along side the simple patch is what to do about feats. Feats may overtake ASIs as the preferred choice, so I may want to remove ASIs and turn all feats into "half feats", or some other change, to embrace the change fully.
 

Undrave

Hero
The only fiddly bit I'm considering along side the simple patch is what to do about feats. Feats may overtake ASIs as the preferred choice, so I may want to remove ASIs and turn all feats into "half feats", or some other change, to embrace the change fully.

Half feats seem like a good idea. Just make some generic flat bonus ones, spread a few +1s and it should work out fine. Since stats aren't as powerful you can afford to bump them more freely.

You could also have a 'feat' that's just an ASI, just so the choice is there. Say if you want to bump your STR to use a bigger weapon or better armour, that +2 is gonna be the fastest way to do it.
 

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