log in or register to remove this ad

 

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

Lucas Yew

Explorer
I'd treat all STR 20 as equal STR 20's for all creatures with Medium size, regardless of species. That number is just an expression of the total mass and quality of whatever muscle/item/whatnot's fueling the individual's brute strength, at least to me.

And for the main topic, I'd say Yes, as they are meant to be special, so...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Saelorn

Hero
If the statistical distribution of NPC stats does not conform to the rules presented for PC generation, then it creates a lot of problems. Invariably, it means that PCs don't play by the same rules as anyone else; and when the rules of the game reflect the reality of the game world, that basically amounts to codified meta-gaming (i.e. you succeed at the task because you're a PC; which rather cheapens any victory you might earn, when you know it's only because the rules are biased in your favor).

Even worse, unless the writers go out of their way to write up an entire separate set of rules for NPCs, it means we don't know how the rest of the world actually works. If the statistical distribution of NPC stats does not conform to the rules presented for PCs, then we have no idea what their distribution actually is. If a PC halfling is just as likely to have Strength 20 as a PC half-orc, and those rules don't apply to NPCs, then we can't extrapolate out how strong the average (or top 10%, or bottom 10%) halfling should be.

And to what end? To remove a couple of limitations on possible character concepts? Games are built on limitations! If you don't want limitations, then you might as well write up your level 900 god-king with all of the powers and magic items, and then never actually play them because characters without limitations are boring.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
The default range for PCs is 3-20 with a +2 modifier. Rolling is the default. Point buy and arrays, though very popular, are optional rules.

On topic. I think that if the Orc population has a +2 to strength, making them stronger on average than say Halflings, PC orcs would also have that same +2 to strength. Yes, you can have a PC Orc Wizard with a 5 strength, but he's going to be an outlier for strength.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
Sure, but with a +2 strength bonus there would need to be a reason, such as childhood, old age or disease, to explain why the orc is at 3. Assuming nothing causing unusual weakness, the weakest Orc would be a 5. I'm sure there are Orcs that have 0 or 1 strength due to those reasons.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Not even Hercules or Conan or Captain America?
So, this gets into the demi-god (Hercules) and "magical" super soldier (Captain America), both could have STR 20 (or even higher) due to the extra influences I mentioned.

As for Conan, a STR 18 mechanically would fit fine IMO. Also, as a Barbarian, he could do things a Fighter would find harder due to the advantage on STR ability checks when raging.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
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
Nothing accept a lot of the fantasy literature and such. I'm sure there might be other examples I am unaware of, but if I had comes across them I probably wouldn't have liked them and not read such material. Again, nothing wrong with it, just not my preference.

Dwarves are potentially stronger (at least mountain in 5E), so +2 STR makes sense for them IMO.

I think bonuses are high enough as it is, but if people wanted a universal 20 max score for humans, then I would rather see racial mods also affect that cap, so a STR 22 Dragonborn, Half-Orc, Mountain Dwarf would be possible. Again, I don't want this myself, as I like humans capped at 18 (along with other races), and +2 ASIs for race bump those caps up to 20. So, Elves have a DEX 20 max, Gnomes a INT 20 max, and so on. I'd rather remove the actual racial ASIs completely (not move them, remove them) and have any former +2 ASI make the cap 20 instead. shrug

This works for our tables and such, and I am perfectly happy just having them as a house-rule.

I certainly don't expect it to be the accepted norm for 5E or Level Up, however.
 

battlebaby

Villager
Not even Hercules or Conan or Captain America?
I think Cap America, Hercules, and Conan are high level or mythic characters. So I think they are stronger or as strong as the world strongest orcs.
It's hard to imagine how a fighter can survive a dragon breath or even a claw attack if you don't abstract hps into combat power or something like that.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If in the game world the average common Dwarf is stronger than the average common Hobbit then in that same game world the average PC Dwarf should (and, for internal consistency, must) be stronger than the average PC Hobbit.

The easiest way to reflect this is by flat bonuses and-or penalties - Dwarf Str +1, Hobbit Str -1 for example. Then, if a player wants to fight this and play a weakling Dwarf or a musclebound Hobbit it's still possible; but even the weakest Dwarf will still be stronger than the weakest of Hobbits.

Put another way, on a broader scale the question you're asking is this: are the PCs intended to be an intrinsic part of the setting or are they somehow remote and-or different from it?

For my part, if the PCs aren't intended to be an intrinsic part of the setting they inhabit then why bloody bother with the setting?
 

aco175

Hero
I agree with some of the earlier stuff saying that the average of a race is a lot less than PCs get right now. a human average is a bunch of 10s and starting PCs get 15,14,13,12,10,8 if you play that way- which is incredible compared to average. An average halfling should be weaker than the other races 8 times their size, so they get an 8 strength on average. A PC halfling can put their 15 in strength and take the -2 for a 13 which is still stronger than the average orc with its +2 strength.

Now comparing PCs which are all above average to the normal people in the world, my halfling fighter may never reach a 20 strength, or may need to wait until 18th level or such. Same as my mage orc or my other non-stereotypes. If I want to play a fighter, maybe I play something to get the +2 strength, or a human to get a feat, or a halfling to get a Dex build, or any of a bunch of builds to get something worth playing. Some may depend on how one builds a PC and if having a 20 in your main stat is important. I tend to pick class first and race second, but others may be opposite.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You want to stop pretending............in an RPG?
I want to stop pretending that a character’s ability scores dictate characters’ physique in any meaningful way. A Goliath with 10 strength (or even as low as 5 strength if you roll stats!) can still be 7’10” and 440 pounds, while a 2’9”, 37 pound halfling can have 20 strength. And both characters have the same carrying capacity (300 pounds). And the halfling will deal significantly more damage with melee weapons, but the Goliath can be a significantly better archer, I guess? Ability scores have never translated into physical characteristics in a way that has made any sense, and the game has consistently improved as the attempts to pretend they do have gotten relaxed. Again I say, the sooner we can just stop pretending the stats mean anything more than what they actually do, the better.

The rules say otherwise and I'm thankful that they do. It would be a sad say when an 18 strength only meant +4.
It has only ever meant that, and the game would be better if we would stop trying to make it mean more.
 
Last edited:

Campbell

Legend
From my perspective the purpose of ancestry/race/whatever entries is to help players build their characters. It should be written and tuned to those needs.
Monster/NPC creation is a separate matter. It should be based on the needs of the game. I cannot begin to explain how little interest I have in representing standard deviations of ability scores among elven farmers.
 

I couldn't disagree more with the following post. In fact, none of this even makes sense to me.

If the statistical distribution of NPC stats does not conform to the rules presented for PC generation, then it creates a lot of problems. Invariably, it means that PCs don't play by the same rules as anyone else; and when the rules of the game reflect the reality of the game world, that basically amounts to codified meta-gaming (i.e. you succeed at the task because you're a PC; which rather cheapens any victory you might earn, when you know it's only because the rules are biased in your favor).

Here I don't even understand how you're using "statistical distribution". You seem to be conflating it with simply higher stats. But those are two different things. For example, an NPC stat block for an elf might have a dexterity that is +2 more than, say, humans. But PCs might have floating bonuses, which they would be free to put in Dex...or somewhere else. So the statistical distribution of PC stats would be different from those for NPC stats, but that says nothing about whether PCs are better or worse or about the same overall.

Even worse, unless the writers go out of their way to write up an entire separate set of rules for NPCs, it means we don't know how the rest of the world actually works. If the statistical distribution of NPC stats does not conform to the rules presented for PCs, then we have no idea what their distribution actually is. If a PC halfling is just as likely to have Strength 20 as a PC half-orc, and those rules don't apply to NPCs, then we can't extrapolate out how strong the average (or top 10%, or bottom 10%) halfling should be.

re: the bold part. Um....so? Except in the context of intellectual self-pleasuring such as this thread, I've never once worried about or even really thought about statistical distributions of stats among NPCs. And yet I've had years of quite pleasureful (but not that kind of pleasureful) gaming.

Why would we ever care "how strong the average (or top 10%, or bottom10%) halfing should be"? What does "should be" even mean? (Shades of your famous, "What would a wood elf do?" are coming back to me now.). Need a weak halfing? Give him a 7 Str. Or a 5 Str. Or a 3 Str. Who the $%@% cares what percentile bracket it's in?

What really astonishes me about this is that every time we've disagreed in the past, it's involved you being haughty about what roleplaying is and isn't. And here you are stressing out about some kind of simulationism. I really don't get it.

And to what end? To remove a couple of limitations on possible character concepts? Games are built on limitations! If you don't want limitations, then you might as well write up your level 900 god-king with all of the powers and magic items, and then never actually play them because characters without limitations are boring.

There is all the difference in the world between limitations that drive the challenge of the game, and limitations that don't actually have anything to do with challenge, and don't actually contribute anything to the game, but exist only to serve tradition.
 

The rules say otherwise and I'm thankful that they do. It would be a sad say when an 18 strength only meant +4.

We've gone around on this one before. In the past you have insisted that descriptive fluff, even the sort that doesn't specify any kinds of behaviors or means for resolving uncertainty, is still "rules".

I don't know how you arrive at that conclusion, but at least I can bring you some joyous tidings: an 18 strength doesn't only mean +4. It also determines how much you can carry, and how far you can jump.

Dig deeper than that, though, and it's fluff all the way down.
 

Phoebasss

Explorer
It seems silly to restrict PCs to the racial stereotype, especially if it makes playing an orc wizard or halfling barbarian a bad idea. It's more fun to play characters succeeding against the stereotypes of their race. I'm not interested in another high elf wizard or orc fighter. We've all seen hundreds of them. Sure, races have an average, but 5e is pretty explicitly heroic. The usual constraints of your race don't apply to heroes. And they shouldn't. Because its not fun.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
especially if it makes playing an orc wizard or halfling barbarian a bad idea.
Why is it a bad idea? Because your total modifier will be +1 less than a race more suited to a particular class? I'm not trying to be difficult, but does that single point of modifier really prevent you from playing a sub-optimal race/class combination?

Personally, I find them more enjoyable because they are different.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I'd like to see something roughly approaching average for base stats to start because it leaves more room to grow. With that said the game doesn't play too well at early levels in any version if you don't have some stat bonuses or have too many stat penalties so it seems extremely reasonable to say that PCs start with one or two +1 or +2 ability score item of their choice.

Having close to average plus a +1/2 ability score item gives "good" stats and as players start replacing those with laterally improved or even outright better versions they might start moving their discarded starting ability score items around so a single new item could result in Alice getting an upgrade & tossing her old +2 one to Bob who is upgrading his secondary +1 ability score item & giving it to Cindy that is uprading her +0 nothing off number tertiary stat with a +1 item
 

Phoebasss

Explorer
I want to see more of them at my table. And as a DM, I've seen more than enough of Half-Orc barbarians. I want to see a half-orc wizard make use of Savage Attacks on spells. And I know from experience that I see less of them at my table because they know they're getting screwed over by the rules, and no one likes it when the rules say "this is bad" for no good reason.
 


COMING SOON! Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top