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Level Up (A5E) Do Player Characters Have Average Population Stat Distributions?

Are hero PCs bound to average population statistics?

  • I agree with the proposition: PCs do not have to follow average population stats of NPCs

    Votes: 61 69.3%
  • I disagree: if the average NPC orc is stronger, PC orcs also have to be stronger on average

    Votes: 27 30.7%

  • Total voters
    88

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What do you think? Agree or disagree (poll) to the following proposition:


Character creation rules create exceptional hero protagonists, not statistically average populations. Therefore the character creation rules should not extrapolate to the population as a whole.


Can Zidi Wheatling, the Halfing Titan (apologies to @RangerWickett) spank the local orc weightlifting champion in a contest? Or is that that simply not allowed?

No wrong answers.
 

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TheSword

Legend
Supporter
PC stats are a choice and can range from 8 to 15 or even 10 to 17 if there is a +2 modifier.

There is no such thing as an ‘average’ PC stat as they vary so much and their is no way of calculating that average in the rules or enforcing it.

An average population stat strength for Orcs is going to be 12 or 13 presumably - Orcs in the MM are warriors after all. A wizard Orc should be allowed to be below this.

If you asked should the Orc PCs be incentivized/encouraged/enabled to be stronger than a non Orc then I would answer yes to that question.
 

battlebaby

Villager
Depends. Is the local orc a major NPC or one of the main objectives in the story? It's s feat of strength or there is no rules?

Yes - the Halfling can try, but it should be hard, dramatic and rewarding.
No - he is just a regular joe - it should be trivial. If is a Strength context whoever has the higher Strength should have advantage.
 

(to be fair, Zidi was first released in a superhero book, and her strength was mechanically the perk from levels in the Hero class; she could throw wagons as improvised weapons)

My view is that the numerical parts of the game - attack bonuses, AC, saves, damage - shouldn't advantage one race/species over another, but I'd be fine with other abilities providing flavor that plays to tropes.

Like, a halfling barbarian ought to be able to use their halfling greatsword to hew through giants just as well as the orc barbarian does. But maybe the halfling has a 4e style racial ability to impose disadvantage on opportunity attacks against them, while an orc gets that ability to drop to 1 HP instead of 0 once per day. The stats would be the same for fighting, but halflings would lend themselves to a dodgier playstyle, while orcs might just leap into the thick of things.
 

Tonguez

Legend
Like, a halfling barbarian ought to be able to use their halfling greatsword to hew through giants just as well as the orc barbarian does. But maybe the halfling has a 4e style racial ability to impose disadvantage on opportunity attacks against them, while an orc gets that ability to drop to 1 HP instead of 0 once per day. The stats would be the same for fighting, but halflings would lend themselves to a dodgier playstyle, while orcs might just leap into the thick of things.

yes very much this. One thing that the rules fails to capture is inherent differences in style (a skilled halfling knife fighter moves differently (And probably gets in more small precision strikes) than a skilled orc cleaving with a great sword but should not be disadvantaged on their ‘effectiveness’ in battle).

PCs are exceptional and skilled in their particular roles, they are not the average of their species.

nonetheless the bonuses do give a ‘tend to be’ archetype ie - Orcs tend to be stronger than other common races
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
My opinion: You can give the NPC orc guard a strength build and the halfling guard a dexterity build and the high elf guard an int-based mage build to show that certain people tend to favor one archetype over the other without having to influence PC stats.

Also big yes for other means to distinguish ancestry-style abilities than stats. Also, make them useful for every class if they are mandatory abilities, or make them more niche if you offer a broader choice.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
This is a tough one for me. I've said it before but I think this problem exists around the idea of strength, and to a lesser extent constitution, more than any of the other ability scores. Based on the 5e PHB the smallest half-orcs are roughly 5 feet tall and weigh 180 pounds. The biggest halfling are 3 feet tall and weigh 45 pounds. I have no problem believing that the halfling could be smarter, wiser, more charismatic, or lighter on their feet than the small half-orc. Believing the opposite is also easy enough. But when you tell me the halfling is going to deadlift or bench press more than the half-orc, I'm not going to believe it without something else being involved. I just have too much life experience to ignore it.

The easiest solution is using size categories to grant benefits and penalties. Things like carrying capacity, stealth, contested strength checks, AC, etc. That way attack, damage, saves, etc aren't impacted but differences in sizes are still felt.
 




Ace

Adventurer
I assume the average in a given species is 10 plus whatever add that species gets. This is 12 points in point buy whereas PC's are 27 and are tougher than normal people.

A civilian Orc for example is 12 ST, 8 Int, 10 Wis, 10 Dex, 11 Con, 10 Cha

The monster manual common orcs and most of the ones encounters are warriors or similar, faster, stronger, tougher and apparently dumber than civilian orcs and built on more points.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
That's not the question. The average in a million NPCs is a given. What about heroic PCs?
At level 1, about 12.5-13.

Basically, if a species average is 10 +/- racial modifiers, the average PC will be +1 modifier bonus higher across the board.

That's my take, anyway, FWIW. :)
 

Ace

Adventurer
That's not the question. The average in a million NPCs is a given. What about heroic PCs?

Apologies. I thought I answered in my last post. I was too oblique I guess. :oops:

PC's are of course more heroic than average as all the SRD the methods used (standard array, 4d6 drop lowest and point buy) end up well above an average member of the same species.

The monster stats are a bit wonky of course of this is desigend around fun encounter not fantasy demography
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
At level 1, about 12.5-13.

Basically, if a species average is 10 +/- racial modifiers, the average PC will be +1 modifier bonus higher across the board.

That's my take, anyway, FWIW. :)
I think you missed the point. PCs are explicitly exceptional. Just like there's probably an orc somewhere with Str 3 for whatever reason, there's also a halfling with Str 22. There only needs to be one -- the PC.

I guess, can there not possibly be an orc with Str 3? That's the only logical conclusion of saying a halfling can't have Str 22.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I think you missed the point. PCs are explicitly exceptional. Just like there's probably an orc somewhere with Str 3 for whatever reason, there's also a halfling with Str 22. There only needs to be one -- the PC.
No, I got the point, I just don't agree with it personally (like you said, no wrong answers... ;) )

I'll put it this way, comparing PC to not-PC is not constructive really if you already believe PCs are explicitly exceptional. If you feel that they are, they will be superior anyway.

For me it is about PC vs PC. Do I think a STR 20 Halfling should be as strong as a STR 20 Dragonborn? NOPE! In fact, I don't think a Halfling should have a STR over 16, personally, because they are a small race. PC or not is immaterial. Does it cause some friction for the Strong Halfling Fighter? A bit maybe, but not so much I want mechanical bonuses to override how I think the "reality" of fantasy should work. Currently, a STR 16 can allow a PC to lift, drag, push, etc. 480 lbs! That is really strong already for most people. Now, make that a halfling who is 3 feet tall with an average weight of 40 lbs. Even at twice that weight you are talking about someone lifting 6 times their body weight! But that is just as a STR 16, so like WOW but not impossible. Make it a STR 20 and now you are talking 600 lbs... Sorry, but for me that is just too much barring magic, divine demi-god lineage, or something.

I'd rather see racial minimums and maximums and not worry about modifiers to starting scores. I don't want the world's strongest human to be as strong as the world's strongest half-orc. Sorry, but no thank you. A STR 18 human is close enough to the STR 20 half-orc to make me happy. :)

Now, all that being said, I know many players (most I can honestly say) either want their STR 20 Halflings or frankly really don't care one way or the other probably. From a game design perspective that is perfectly fine. I can always house-rule the game as I see fit when I DM and I am okay with that. I certainly don't expect others to have to play by my vision.

Anyway, overall, I voted for the second option. If PCs have racial modifiers (as currently they do), every member of that race that are not PCs should get them as well.
 


Tonguez

Legend
I guess, can there not possibly be an orc with Str 3? That's the only logical conclusion of saying a halfling can't have Str 22.

I think that, thats where the narrative comes in because stats are a blunt instrument.

I have had in the past an NPC Ogre with Str 8, she was a sickly and abused runt of a mob who survived by staying away from the others in her clan, hiding in the midden and scavenging the left overs. Her purpose was to clue the PCs in that they were facing ogres ...

Equally I’d expect a Str 22 Halfling to have a bloody good story as to why he is exceptionally strong not only for Halflings but also compared to other common races that Halflings live among.

IMC that approach even lead to a special gnome barbarian ability “Calefaction” to explain how a gnome barbarian could get str bonuses. Calefaction is a rock gnomes elemental affinity to magma (molten rock), they channel it in such a way that during a rage their muscles twitch at hyperaccelerated speeds, the gnome is getting in multiple rapidfire tiny actions so quickly that it mimics increased Str :)


For me it is about PC vs PC. Do I think a STR 20 Halfling should be as strong as a STR 20 Dragonborn? NOPE! In fact, I don't think a Halfling should have a STR over 16, personally, because they are a small race. PC or not is immaterial. Does it cause some friction for the Strong Halfling Fighter? A bit maybe, but not so much I want mechanical bonuses to override how I think the "reality" of fantasy should work. Currently, a STR 16 can allow a PC to lift, drag, push, etc. 480 lbs! That is really strong already for most people. Now, make that a halfling who is 3 feet tall with an average weight of 40 lbs. Even at twice that weight you are talking about someone lifting 6 times their body weight! But that is just as a STR 16, so like WOW but not impossible.

Again its back to narrative, but the issue here is that you’re applying “Human standard” to fantasy races who arent the same.

irl the Chimpanzee is smaller than a human but an adult Chimpanzee has greater arm strength than a human. They have physiologically different musculature.

In the same way I’ve always thought of Dwarfs as having much denser muscle than humans do - which though they are smaller makes them heavier, broader and stronger than their size suggests.

who’s to say Halflings arent also like Chimps and dwarfs or, like my Gnomes, have an entirely fantastic reason to be as strong as an Orc
 
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rules.mechanic

Craft homebrewer
Not even Hercules or Conan or Captain America?
I guess the half-orc would have to be Atlas, Thak or the Hulk for those (not really fair, could easily argue those three are monsters) but the argument is that at the extreme end of the bell curve all six have legendary strength but the non-humans can still have a strength advantage over the humans.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Not even Hercules or Conan or Captain America?

Half-orcs don't get to have heroes too? Why wouldn't the great strong legendary heroes of the stronger races be stronger than the great strong legendary heroes of the weaker races?

But you have convinced me that there's no reason the 20th level Halfling couldn't be stronger than all of the currently living Half-orcs. Having a low-level one do that seems too goofy though. And I'd like to think the all time Half-Orc hero would still destroy the Halfling in arm wrestling.
 

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