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D&D 5E Exceptional Strength for 5E

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
This is something I'd thought about adapting to 5E back around the release of the edition and had decided there was no good way to do it. The problem is there's not much room between an 18 Strength and a 19 Strength, or even between a +4 and a +5. A recent thread (thanks @Minigiant ) got me thinking about this again, and I think I found a way to do it that I'd be alright with.

First, some history for those who don't know, in 1E, Exceptional Strength is a Fighter class feature. Fighters, which includes Paladins and Rangers (and, with UA, Barbarians) with an 18 Strength (the highest you could get through char-gen) can make a percentile roll to see how exceptional their high Strength is. If the player rolls a high enough number, they get a really significant bonus to hit and damage rolls, weight allowance, and rolls to open doors and "bend bars/lift gates"! A high enough roll even gives you a chance to break open locked or magically held doors. The fact that this system was added on above the normal Strength bonuses in the 1E PHB (1978), and then bonuses for 19 Strength and above were added on top of that (with Deities and Demigods, I believe) means that there's plenty of room for this system between Strength 18 and Strength 19.

Which brings us to 5E. There's zero light between 18 and 19 in terms of bonus and not much more in terms of weight allowance. So I've put together something that stays within the bounds set between individual scores for weight and between modifiers for attacks and checks. Because it respects the boundaries, you could apply it to any Strength score, but I would keep the prerequisite of 18, and allow it for 19 and 20 too. Because of the constraints, it runs the risk of being too insignificant, but is also something that can just be added into the game without any real need to balance it out.

Exceptional Strength
Prerequisite: Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers with Strength 18 or higher
Roll d100 and consult the following tables:
Score
Attack rolls and checks that use StrengthDamage rolls that use Strength
01-50​
----
51-75​
reroll 1’s once--
76-99​
reroll 1’s oncereroll 1’s once
00​
reroll 1’s and 2’s oncereroll 1’s and 2’s once


Add to...
Score
Maximum unencumbered weightMaximum encumbered weightCarrying capacityPush, drag, and lift weight
01-50​
--+1 lb.+1 lb.+2 lb.
51-75​
+1 lb.+2 lb.+2 lb.+5 lb.
76-90​
+1 lb.+2 lb.+3 lb.+7 lb.
91-99​
+2 lb.+4 lb.+6 lb.+12 lb.
00​
+3 lb.+7 lb.+10 lb.+21 lb.
 

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dave2008

Legend
I like the idea, but I might even go a bit more extreme / old school. Instead ore reroll damage rolls on 1 or 2, have them roll "damage advantage." So at 76-99 you roll 2d8 instead of d8 and take the highest. At 00, you roll 3d8 and take the highest. Double on a crit of course.

No that is a nice benefit without upping the max damage you can do.
 

Maximum unencumbered weight +3lbs! Are you serious?
What a gain! It really give the feeling of exceptional strength! Most players don’t even know hat is the Maximum unencumbered weight for 18 strength.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I like the idea, but I might even go a bit more extreme / old school. Instead ore reroll damage rolls on 1 or 2, have them roll "damage advantage." So at 76-99 you roll 2d8 instead of d8 and take the highest. At 00, you roll 3d8 and take the highest. Double on a crit of course.

No that is a nice benefit without upping the max damage you can do.
I'd find that a little too good because, with an 18/76 Strength and a damage die d8 or above, on average you'd be doing more damage than someone with a 20 Strength, all else being equal. One of my design goals was for this not to be better than having a higher Strength bonus.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Maximum unencumbered weight +3lbs! Are you serious?
What a gain! It really give the feeling of exceptional strength! Most players don’t even know hat is the Maximum unencumbered weight for 18 strength.
That might be because they aren't playing with the variant encumbrance rules, in which case the first two columns of that table would not apply. I think three extra pounds is significant considering the benefit of a one point increase in Strength is five pounds. At 18/00, you're getting most of the way toward what you can carry with a 19.
 

MarkB

Legend
Is there any reason, other than nostalgia/tradition, to have it kick in at Strength 18? It seems like it would make much more sense, in the context of 5e's general framework, as something which you can acquire once you hit the ability cap at Strength 20. That way, it really is something exceptional - a way to exceed the normal limitations that apply to most mortal humanoids.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Is there any reason, other than nostalgia/tradition, to have it kick in at Strength 18? It seems like it would make much more sense, in the context of 5e's general framework, as something which you can acquire once you hit the ability cap at Strength 20. That way, it really is something exceptional - a way to exceed the normal limitations that apply to most mortal humanoids.
That's a good point, and I considered moving it up to 20. It could totally work that way, which I think I addressed in my OP. You could also go the other way though and let fighter types roll it no matter what their Strength score. In the end I decided to go with a literal translation of the 1E version in that respect. But yeah, 20 would make a lot of sense for the reason you stated.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'd find that a little too good because, with an 18/76 Strength and a damage die d8 or above, on average you'd be doing more damage than someone with a 20 Strength, all else being equal. One of my design goals was for this not to be better than having a higher Strength bonus.
OK, I was assuming you were capping at 18 (that is what I do).
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
OK, I was assuming you were capping at 18 (that is what I do).
I mostly assumed default rules for this (although I did include some benefits that only apply to the Encumbrance variant), but even if I was going to cap PC Strength at 18, the fact that monsters could (presumably) have higher scores would be a reason for me to keep the benefits from exceeding those of a 20. Again, this is in keeping with the 1E version, where scores 19 and up are better than 18/00.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I like it.

It's different from what I was proposing as my Exceptional strength was an alternative option for not increasing Strength or taking a feat. Because like you said, there is no space between 18 and 19.
 

Mercurius

Legend
It is well conceived, but I would suggest that if you want an old school feel that much, just go old school. The exceptional STR system makes no sense in the 3E/4E/5E paradigm. It seems like an unnecessary complication. Further, if you're going to do exceptional STR--which becomes decimal increments between 18 and 19, really--then you might as well do all ability scores. At which point, why bother with increments between 18 and 19?

Now if you want the effects of, say, rerolling 1s and 2s, why not make it a feat?
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I like it.

It's different from what I was proposing as my Exceptional strength was an alternative option for not increasing Strength or taking a feat. Because like you said, there is no space between 18 and 19.
Thanks, that's why I decided not to post it in your thread, because the design goals were so obviously different.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I grew up in 2nd ed and I remember this mechanic well.

Honestly... what are you trying to accomplish here? That's the real question you have to answer. Because 18/76 is the new 22 strength or something? You're only renaming scores above 18 to somethin different than 20, 24 etc...

I mean, there the same room between each integral number: 1.

If you want martial characters to benefit from strength more, remove their cap of 20.
 
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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I grew up in 2nd ed and I remember this mechanic well.

Honestly... what are you trying to accomplish here? That's the real question you have to answer. Because 18/76 is the new strength or something? You're only renaming scores above 18 to somethin different than 20, 24 etc...

I mean, there the same room between each integral number: 1.

If you want martial characters to benefit from strenght more, remove their cap of 20.
I'm not sure if you read what I posted, but your general point is well taken. I'm not trying to change anything about the game in particular. My goal was to convert this mechanic into what, to me, it might look like in 5E, given the constraints of this edition and the design space that's left over, so just a bit of idle navel-gazing really.

As to what I think it might accomplish, I think it gives fightery types a little something extra for focusing on Strength, which I've seen some posters complain over the years about them not having, although it really isn't a concern of mine. I'm fine with the way things are and think the fighter and other martial classes get other things that make up for the absence of Exceptional Strength.

It just isn't much of a bonus, so I haven't renamed higher Strength scores, which is exactly what I set out not to do. The reroll bonuses on attacks and checks, for example, amount to +0.475 and +0.9 on average, comfortably within the +1 design space between Strength 18-19 and 20-21. So that's a false claim on your part and why I think you didn't read the actual implementation.

If I was to implement this in one of my games (and I'm not likely to), I think I would either allow the roll at STR 18 or above, and then allow rerolls for a chance at a higher percentile score upon raising the score to 19 or 20, or I would make the prerequisite 20 in the first place to further represent that this is something above the realm of normal human ability.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Now that I re-look at your proposal, it's more modest than I believed (I must admit I had a few sheets loose to the wind, sorry about that).

So you've shown a lot of restraint (which I commend). But if your goal is to make strength matter... I can think of two ways.

One is to enforce the encumbrance rules - using the full, not simple system. The second is to stop having dex add to damage.
 

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