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Four Ability Scores

5ekyu

Adventurer
For D&D, a sixsome of abilities comes with two persistent problems − they are unequal in usefulness − they are ambiguous.

For the AGE system, the sixsome improves by being unambiguous, yet remains unequal in usefulness. AGE too can improve further by combining Cunning and Perception, handling magic mentally, and thereby feature the salient foursome.
"Pulling a teammate up is a Strength check, but pulling yourself up is a Dexterity check relating to movement and agility."

To me, the above is the opposite of "elegant".

Thst said, "unequal in usefulness" is in the eye of the challenges. There is no set of abilities which won't have this " problem". - as long as they have any meaningful differences beyond fluff.

If you want equality in usefulness, have the ability scores provide the same effects just with different flavors - I use Int vs stuck door by using the moss aad urine to make a lube.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
I would drop Wisdom. It attempts to be too much - perception, willpower, intuition, some knowledge - and it does trample on both Intelligence (some forms of knowledge, interpretive insight, etc.) and Charisma (willpower). The justification that Wisdom includes common sense is a strike against it rather than for it, since the idea that high wisdom characters demonstrate high common sense is laughable. I don't think that Intelligence and Wisdom are that different even when people cite the clueless professor or the like.
Speaking as a clueless (and unobservant) professor, I would say you are quite wrong.

No knowledge is tied to Wisdom in D&D, never has bean. The "knowledge" component of Medicine, Survival, etc comes from the skill itself. You know it if you are proficient in it. You know it better if you have expertise in it. It no different to dex skills - you can learn the technique for picking pockets (skill proficiency) but if you are clumsy (dexterity mod) you will never be very good at it.

And charisma has nothing to do with willpower. Having a strong will and having a forceful personality are completely different. A person with a strong will can stand up under torture. A person with a forceful personality might be able to browbeat a confession from an innocent person, but torture them and they will break in seconds.

And an inner stillness (wisdom) makes you open to the universe around you, whether that be noticing things (perception), having a feel for the natural world (survival), or observing other people (Insight). But note that understanding people does not automatically give you the ability to manipulate them.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Speaking as a clueless (and unobservant) professor, I would say you are quite wrong.

No knowledge is tied to Wisdom in D&D, never has bean. The "knowledge" component of Medicine, Survival, etc comes from the skill itself. You know it if you are proficient in it. You know it better if you have expertise in it. It no different to dex skills - you can learn the technique for picking pockets (skill proficiency) but if you are clumsy (dexterity mod) you will never be very good at it.

And charisma has nothing to do with willpower. Having a strong will and having a forceful personality are completely different. A person with a strong will can stand up under torture. A person with a forceful personality might be able to browbeat a confession from an innocent person, but torture them and they will break in seconds.

And an inner stillness (wisdom) makes you open to the universe around you, whether that be noticing things (perception), having a feel for the natural world (survival), or observing other people (Insight). But note that understanding people does not automatically give you the ability to manipulate them.
Overall, what I am hearing as an academic as well is that you are a creature of habit when it comes to uncritically justifying the status quo of D&D's traditional attributes.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Overall, what I am hearing as an academic as well is that you are a creature of habit when it comes to uncritically justifying the status quo of D&D's traditional attributes.
"Tradition" is the only thing that makes D&D D&D and not Runequest/GURPS/Rolemaster/Tunnels and Trolls/any other generic fantasy RPG you care to mention.

Nevertheless, just because something is traditional it doesn't make it not true. D&D has always made a good job of defining the differences between it's entirely arbitrary choice of attributes, and players have always made a good job of failing to understand them.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
My opinion is Wis as ability score means the emotional intelligence, psychological maturity, common sense, mental resistance, serenity, sanity and about ethical decisions and long-term consequences.

With high Int you can learn faster or think about more complex ideas, with astuteness you can improve better, faster, be more creative, faster mind in stressful situations and better skills for social manipulation.
 

Horwath

Explorer

Yaarel

Explorer
Pulling yourself up is a Dexterity check relating mobility. Pulling a teammate up is a Strength check relating to carrying.

This is a clean line that separates the squirrel that can climb, jump, and run, from the elephant that can lumber thru anything.

This clean line has many benefits. The same ones who can jump also know how to fall and land. The same ones who can climb also know how to balance. The same ones who can catch themselves from falling can also hang on without losing their grip. The same ones who can dodge can also jump out of the way. And so on.

Dexterity (Athletics) covers everything relating to mobility and physical stunts.

Strength (Weightlifting) covers something else.



Note, Constitution by itself is a passive ability, without any skill. It kinda just sits there and takes a beating. Merging active Strength and passive Constitution creates the fighting stat that represents combat toughness, dealing damage and taking damage.

The resulting abilities, Strength and Dexterity, represent well the dichotomy between toughness and agility.



The mental abilities. Perceptive people are smart, and Intelligence includes it, being observant and sharp. Thus the person who can detect evidence is also knowledgeable enough to recognize and understand what it is that one is looking at. Charisma includes people skills, reading people, responding effectively to each person, understanding a need and inspiring a solution. The English words ‘willpower’ and ‘force of personality’ relate closely and can even be synonymous. The main difference is, it is called ‘force’ when against an easy challenge, and it is called ‘will’ when against a hard challenge.

The resulting abilities, Intelligence and Charisma correspond to the exploration encounter versus the social encounter.
 
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Yaarel

Explorer
It is easy for players to implement the ability foursome for a character. Create the character with Dexterity (Athletics) and Intelligence (Perception), only plug in four ability scores, and done.

It is more challenging for the DM to implement it because the DM is constantly referencing pregenerated monster stat blocks that often predetermine the calculations for Perception and Athletics, and so on.

But it is ok to do both simultaneously. Player characters use the foursome. Monsters use the stat blocks as-is. Meanwhile, the DM can use the foursome when creating new monsters, and gradually build up a collection.

To adjudicate any narrative results, the DM can still think in terms of the foursome.
 
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Kinematics

Explorer
I had my own rework of the stats, with:

Body - Strength/health/athleticism/etc [Athletics] [non-magic damage]
Agility - Coordination/balance/agility [Sleight of Hand, Stealth] [melee/thrown to-hit]
Mind - Memory/problem solving/willpower [Investigation, Medicine, various lores] [magic/psionics to-hit]
Awareness - Perception/awareness [Perception, Insight, Navigation, Survival] [ranged to-hit]
Presence - Social presence [Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion, Animal Handling]
Spirit - Magical ability [Base stat for all magics] [magic damage/DC]

Of course it's backburner, and I keep fiddling with how it works. But I rather like it in principal, particularly compared to the standard six. I had originally culled it to just 4, but the more I worked on the various things the stats can affect, and how they interact with game balance, the more it got pushed back to 6.

Looking at it now, you can kind of view it as simply changing Con to Spirit, and Wisdom to Awareness, and shifting some skills around. From that perspective, it's easier to reconcile with the original six.

Now I'm off to go fiddle with it again.
 
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Yaarel

Explorer
For me, I dont want abilities that are ‘theoretical’.

An ability must have a specific D&D mechanic in-game, preferably one that is useful during every combat.

For example, people often describe Intelligence as relating to ‘memory’. I dont think I have ever seen someone roll to see if they could actually ‘remember’ something. By contrast, Perception checks happen all the time, including during combat. So, the Perception skill makes sense as an aspect of Intelligence (observant people are smart, and Investigation and Perception are practically interchangeable). More importantly, the Perception skill is actually useful, and all by itself makes Intelligence useful. Someone who wants a smart character concept, also gains the utility of being Perceptive during encounters.

The goal of the ability foursome is not only that each one is intuitive and unambiguous, but also that each one is equally useful.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
For me, I dont want abilities that are ‘theoretical’.

An ability must have a specific D&D mechanic in-game, preferably one that is useful during every combat.

For example, people often describe Intelligence as relating to ‘memory’. I dont think I have ever seen someone roll to see if they could actually ‘remember’ something. By contrast, Perception checks happen all the time, including during combat. So, the Perception skill makes sense as an aspect of Intelligence (observant people are smart, and Investigation and Perception are practically interchangeable). More importantly, the Perception skill is actually useful, and all by itself makes Intelligence useful. Someone who wants a smart character concept, also gains the utility of being Perceptive during encounters.

The goal of the ability foursome is not only that each one is intuitive and unambiguous, but also that each one is equally useful.
Really? We use Intelligence for the character to recall facts often. This is mainly because, well, to be frank, some of the characters would definitely be smarter than the players who control them. :)
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
Perception isn't only to searching secret doors, traps and clues in an investigation but also about noticing about little details who tell a lot of information, for example reading in a lady's eyes she is angry, maybe jealous, because her husband is talking with other woman. Perception is needing only a little time to find where is Wally in the picture. It isn't only to find but also to interpret the signs, for example when a witness may be lying.

And we have to remember ordinary animals have got better sense than us. A horse or a pet could hear a predator or an intruder next to the camp when all are sleeping but the sentinel(s). Stealth checks could be useless if dog can sense your smell.
 

Gadget

Explorer
I have a hard time with different aspects of perception. While it can relate to Intelligence (Sherlock Homes) or Wisdom (Wise guru sees to the 'heart of a problem), I don't really see it as being particularly an aspect of either. There's the absent minded Professor type who wouldn't notice an elephant sneaking up on him even if he is highly intelligent, and the half blind guru who has more knowledge and insight the visual our aural acuity.
 

Coroc

Explorer
All these threads about simplifying or adding, you create solutions for problems that don't exist and problems were you to implement your solutions.

How to even start on this topic?

Ok,

1. D&D is not a very good reality simulator that also applies to attributes and meta-attributes.
2. The skills are most useful in typical adventure situations and also do not picture the whole skillset a real individual would have
3. D&D especially 5e has a very balanced consistent mathematical system behind it.
4. If you fiddle around with 3. you got a lot of work to do and won't get a good result guaranteed.


To elaborate a bit more:
What does OP want to achieve? more realism?
then he would need more stats eventually rather than less see 1. and 2.
More game balance? see 3, D&D especially 5th is balanced quite well.

Anyway, with the suggested alteration for what reason ever you create a lot of work for yourself, you got to adapt all official material, also you have to find players who like your house rules, also it is a different game now so you cannot even discuss in this forum about a topic relating to your table without explaining your D&D with the needed depth for said topic.

This is not houseruling like Max HP for the first 3 levels, or a 1 is a critical miss or such.
This is not even houseruling like a fighter may intimidate with Str as a skill (I dm it, that if said fighter is a constitution dwarf he might use Con as base attribute for intimidate)

This is altering the whole set with all consequences:

What about saving throws, magic items etc. What about things keying of stats now not available anymore? Etc. Etc.



I give you an example of something which should be far more simple and still gets me headaches on how to do this right:

It is totally easy to convert standard D&D adventures to 5E from different campaign worlds imho.
But there are serious exceptions, one example is Dark Sun:

-The thing with better attributes than in vanilla settings does not work proper due to bound accuracy
-PC race Thrikreen and halfgiants are a bag of problems to depict in 5e
-Defiling / Preserving
-Items of minor quality and item breakage (Though you can depict this quite well if you up the damage dice by one for items made of steel e.g. dagger (bone stone) 1d4 dagger steel 1d6).

So why is it so difficult to convert DS even though it uses all 6 attributes? Because it has some mechanisms which cut into the base math behind the system and which contradict 5e bound accuracy.
 

seebs

Explorer
Okay, yeah, Constitution is "passive"... but I still like the idea of being able to distinguish between people who are really tough and people who aren't.

I don't think the idea that every ability has to not only be useful, but to be used in the exact same ways, makes sense.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
The six abilitie scores are one of the D&D sacred cows, but not in a future d20 Modern 2.0. Maybe this allow a module to add more attributes for a easier adaptation of other system games. You can bet somebody will want a d20 version of World of Darkness or Fallout.

* Don't forget some shapesifter PCs would want to use their animal shapes with better senses, for example to hunt preys, or to be a better sentinel in the camp.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
@Coroc — All good points, and I think I ran into every one of them when I was trying a stat rebuild (summarized a few posts above). A lot of that led to me building back up to 6 scores, instead of a reduced 4 or 5.

For example, most animals have a low Int, but a decent-to-high Wis because they have good perception. When I'd combined Perception into Mind (Int analogue), that ended up being impractical to represent. Even if it was fine to consider Mind as the base for Perception for humans, it didn't work as a more generalized stat set.

On the other hand, I still don't like "Wisdom" as a stat. After a bit of muddling around, I made Awareness because I could find enough skills to fit into that category, and there are a reasonable number of character types that could fit having a high or low Awareness, and it's much easier to grasp that as concept than the nebulus "Wisdom". It also provides a better basis for ranged attacks, in my opinion.

Anyway, 5E does a good job with the stats it's restricted to, all things considered, but it's not unreasonable to want to "fix" them. Still, you are going to run into all those problems you mentioned, which means you'll have to put in a lot more work to make it viable. But if you enjoy doing that, more power to you.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
For example, most animals have a low Int, but a decent-to-high Wis because they have good perception.
Regarding "super-nature", many animals have special senses. (Many D&D monsters have Darkvision as a special sense.) Dogs have crazy powerful sense of smell, and better-than-human hearing. Eagles can see long-distance − even a rodent from near cloud level.

None of this has anything to do with Buddha-esque Wisdom.

A special sense is simply a racial trait or a specific bonus adding on to a Perception check for a specific situation.

Animals are still as dumb (low Int) and as foolish (low Wis) as ever.



It is probably worth mentioning, the human species has the best vision of all other species on Earth. The color vision, ability to see blue, the paralax perception of 3D, the discriminating focus, and so on. The visual perception of humans is among the best of any animal.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Regarding "super-nature", many animals have special senses. (Many D&D monsters have Darkvision as a special sense.) Dogs have crazy powerful sense of smell, and better-than-human hearing. Eagles can see long-distance − even a rodent from near cloud level.

None of this has anything to do with Buddha-esque Wisdom.
Doing a very brief skim over animals (using DNDBeyond, filtering on Beasts up to CR1), at least half of all animals have a 12 Wis. A good chunk of the remainder are in the 8-11 range. Hawk and panther show up with 14's, but that's definitely rare. Compared that to Int, where most animals are in the 1-4 range, with the occasional outlier like the ape at 6.

That's basically all tied to Perception, and perhaps Survival. As you say, nothing correlates to what we'd commonly call "wisdom", which is why the stat feels so out of place.

Perhaps "Cunning" would be a better descriptor, if it's used to describe animal cunning. Hmmm... Actually, that's interesting.

Move Medicine to Int. Move Animal Handling to Cha. Move Stealth to Cunning (which fits the variety of potentially stealthy characters better than just the agile ones).

Cunning would then have skills of: Insight, Perception, Survival, and Stealth. Could also cover things like Navigation and Trap Making.

I think I like it better than Awareness, which was the 6th stat in my own reworking of the system. It fits with Insight and Survival a bit better, and I think fits concept tropes better than Awareness. Rather than attentive vs absent-minded, it's cunning vs naive, which also fits closer to the original Wisdom concept.
 

Quartz

Explorer
An elegant way to handle the D&D abilities system is to consolidate the current six to a salient four.

• Strength
• Dexterity

• Intelligence
• Charisma
The four abilities you've listed are essentially offensive abilities; Str and Dex are defended by Con and Int and Cha are defended by Wis.
 

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