Four Ability Scores

Yaarel

Adventurer
Physical, Mental, Spiritual each break down into two subtraits and each of those breaks down further into a Capacity, a Power, and a Speed -> 18, not 3.

How reach of them related to skills and attribute checks means they aren't really just 3.
Gary Gygax has only three abilities − Physical, Mental, and Spiritual − and each is defined by its two subdivisions.

The tertiary subdivisions (‘attributes’) are just numbers that ‘measure’ the proficiency and speed of the ability. They dont change the meaning of the ability.

For example, when Gary Gygax lists the skills for each ability, the skill lists are three: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

Not 6. Not 18. But 3.

His gaming system is an ability threesome.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's not a throwback if you never moved forward in the first place.

They've never even been close. But, amusingly, they've moved around. For the longest time, CHA was the notorious dump stat. And DEX, while superb, couldn't obviate STR.
No longer.

So, even if you don't consolidate or split out stats and change the number/names, their relative utility can be, and has been, altered. And the game would be better if their relative utility matched their relative weighting at Chargen and ASI, even if that meant changing the number of stats.

You could say "that'd only be a little better, and it's not worth enraging the fanbase for that small gain" and you'd be right.
It wouldn’t be worth it even if the fan base didn’t care either way.

Because it wouldn’t improve the game.

The bolded part isn’t axiomatic, as you seem to think.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You're endorsing trap choices and dump stats as a good thing, then.

If that's where you stand, we're not even speaking of the same thing when we say "game."
There are no dump stats.

Things like trap options are only a thing in less well made games, games that intentionally include them, and at tables (and forum threads) obsessed with optimization.

A Ranger with a 13 Int and the Keen Mind feat hasn't fallen into a trap, they’ve just chosen to be a little better at Int Skills at the expense of a little combat power, in a game where they can absolutely afford to do so.

Int isn’t important for combat for most characters. That’s absolutely fine. Combat isn’t the whole game, and the game shouldn’t be balanced as if it were. Likewise, the classes and proficiency bonus provide the vast majority of what you need to contribute in any game other than a very heavily optimized one. You could put strait 12s and a 14 in your main stat, and you’ll still be a viable character. The game is balanced such that rolled stats and standard array both work. The game doesn’t break down at all using either option.

The stats, like the skills, need only be balanced enough that people who aren’t that concerned with optimization will consider all stats and skills when making most character types. 5e is there.

Further, the stats should be designed with the following priorities, in the following order:

*Story, including representing expected archetypes.

*Gameplay, primarily in terms of those archetypes actually mostly doing what people who want to play them expect from them.

*Perception of balance over a broad set of groups and plays types.

*Balance, In a more complex sense than just comparing equations.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
The thing about removing dump stats is...

Why do you want to do it?

There's several problems that can result so it's important to make sure it's worth the trouble.

One. Pcs generally need to dump something. It's more important to raise your best score than it is to raise your lowest - hence dump stats. You don't gain much by simply making that necessity more painful. It's not like players have an awful lot of choice about what their best stats are - they're basically dictated by class - everything else is secondary.

You don't get dumb fighters because intelligence doesn't do enough. You get dumb fighters because they have to be strong, fast and tough. Just about every point buy system has the same problem because the pie still needs to be carved up the same way. (And rolling stats can only avoid this if you strictly roll them in order - or someone rolls exceptionally well).

If you make dumping stats so painful that people end up reducing their prime stats to avoid it then you end up with a range of ability scores which are within 1 or 2 points of each other. Given that means 5-10% on a D20 it becomes worth asking what the point of ability scores is in this case? - as they don't particularly serve to differentiate characters. (You could then just go all the way and give everyone the same flat bonus.)
 
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There are no dump stats.
The term exists because there are, specifically, in D&D. CHA was notoriously one between the time henchmen went out of style and skills (and Sorcerers) became a thing.

Things like trap options are only a thing in less well made games
Like D&D in general
games that intentionally include them
Like 3.x D&D, specifically.
and at tables obsessed with optimization
ditto.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
The thing about removing dump stats is...

Why do you want to do it?

There's several problems that can result so it's important to make sure it's worth the trouble.

One pcs generally need to dump something. It's more important to reaise your best score than it is to raise your lowest - hence dump stats. You don't gain much by simply making that necessity more painful. It's not like players have an awful lot of choice about what their best stats are - they're basically dictated by class - everything else is secondary.

You don't get dumb fighters because intelligence doesn't do enough. You get dumb fighters because they have to be strong, fast and tough. Just about very point buy system has the same problem because the pie still needs to be carved up the same way. (And rolling stats can only avoid this if you strictly roll them in order - or someone rolls exceptionally well).

If you make dumping stats so painful that people end up reducing their prime stats to avoid it then you end up with a range of ability scores which are within 1 or 2 points of each other. Given that means 5-10% on a D20 it becomes worth asking what the point of ability scores isin this case? - as they don't particularly serve to differentiate characters.
Especially when using an ability foursome, there is no dump ability. Every one of the four abilities is a must-have.

Here are some pragmatic ways, how the foursome plays out.

Assuming one is a powergamer, the key ability of the class will have the highest score (Strength-Constitution Fighter, Dexterity-Athletics Rogue, Intelligence-Perception Wizard, Charisma-Wisdom Cleric, etcetera).

After that, each choice is a meaningful decision point, a real decision with costs and benefits.

So, a Fighter has a high Strength-Constitution score. That single choice is taken care of. Now, do I want this Fighter to be a light-armor swashbuckling athlete, or an ingenious tactician from a military academy, or a popular war hero who can rally the troops during difficult times? And many other possibilities become valid choices because they are all good choices. For example, a Fighter can choose heavy armor, thus forego Dexterity-Athletics, and focus on either mental ability. The foursome opens new possibilities of meaningful choices.

So far, the foursome works well.

The typical nonplayer human uses one of two average arrays.
• +0 (10),+0 (10),+0 (10),+0 (10)
• +1 (12), +0 (10), +0 (10), −1 (8)

However, the player characters and various superhuman races use one of two exceptional arrays:
• +2, +2, +2, +2
• +3, +2, +1, +0

The standard is:
• +3, +2, +1, +0

Player races have ability minimums, rather than ability improvements. For example, the Elves of the material plane.
• High Elf: +2 Dexterity-Athletics, +1 Intelligence-Perception
• Wood Elf: +2 Dexterity-Athletics, +1 Strength-Constitution
• Drow: +2 Dexterity-Athletics, +1 Charisma-Wisdom

In other words, in order to play a High Elf, the player using the array must put at least a +2 (score 14!) in Dexterity-Athletics, and at least a +1 (score 12) in Intelligence-Perception.

But there is still a floating +3 from the array, and that tends to make any class a viable choice. So there are High Elf Bards with a +3 Charisma-Wisdom, but they are less frequent.

And of course, the Human can be anything.

So, even without the existence of any dump abilities, there are many good choices.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The term exists because there are, specifically, in D&D. CHA was notoriously one between the time henchmen went out of style and skills (and Sorcerers) became a thing.

Like D&D in general Like 3.x D&D, specifically. ditto.
The thread is about 5e. If you assume that I am only talking about 5e unless I specify otherwise, you’ll almost always be right.

I don’t care if other editions had dump stats and ivory tower design. 5e doesn’t, so this concern is unnecessary and the proposed solution would be to the detriment of the game.

2-3 stats can work for a general game. 4 can work for a game with specific enough tone that “Cool” and “Weird” can be a stat.

In a game like dnd, 5-7 stats is probably the sweet spot, and 6 works really, really, well.

Having 3 physical stats allows for differentiation between types of physicality without getting bogged down in excessively branching delineation to the point people get confused with casual system use.

Having 3 mental stats does the same, but differentiates different broad types of inner/social behavioral methodology.

People can grok the 6 stats without having ever played any sort of RPG. I taught an 8 year old I’d never met before how to play 5e yesterday, at a game at my public library. He understood the 6 stats well enough to just dig into making an elf rogue and playing the game.

IME, people who don’t spend a lot of time analyzing game design just get it, and that is more important than whether it makes sense to folks like you and I. By far. I’d go so far as to say that it only actually matters if they get it.

I happen to also think the 5e take on the stats works even under examination, though. You just have to not try to force the stats to be hyper-literal. That’s it.

A Dex 20/Str 10/Con 12 character with Acrobatics Expertise has well defined musculature/is pretty strong in IRL usage of the term strong, solid metabolism, and good stamina under normal circumstances. How do I know this? Because they are extremely good at activities that require a person to be in that condition.

So, why not just make Strength and Dex a single stat, or put all “purely physical” prowess into one stat? Because the game benefits from delineating between characters who focus on agility and related traits, vs characters who focus on physical power and related traits. People expect, even those who’ve never played an RPG, to have the quick nimble guy and the powerful bruiser type, to be different mechanically.

You could go Body/Wits/Will or Heart and move that differentiation entirely to other parts of the game, but the proposed breakdown ends up awkward for trying to hold the same place as DnD’s stats.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
The D&D sixsome is more like the QWERTY keyboard.

The QWERTY is bad design. It was literally designed to be bad, to prevent people from typing too quickly. But even decades later, after the original mechanical issues no longer exist, the culture still uses the bad design.

Why does a culture insist on using a bad design?

Part of the reason is, it is bad, but serviceable enough to be adequate. The combination of bad but doable makes people invest enormous personal energy to try to make it work. This investment creates commitment. After everything in the industry is built and standardized around this bad design, there is strong resistance to improving it.

And that is why D&D 5e still has a sixsome.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The D&D sixsome is more like the QWERTY keyboard.

The QWERTY is bad design. It was literally designed to be bad, to prevent people from typing too quickly. But even decades later, after the original mechanical issues no longer exist, the culture still uses the bad design.

Why does a culture insist on using a bad design?

Part of the reason is, it is bad, but serviceable enough to be adequate. The combination of bad but doable makes people invest enormous personal energy to try to make it work. This investment creates commitment. After everything in the industry is built and standardized around this bad design, there is strong resistance to improving it.

And that is why D&D 5e still has a sixsome.
😂 no, my friend, that is not why.

Also, QWERTY isn’t going anywhere because relearning the implicit memory functions of how to type is a worse proposition in every way than the fairly mild benefits of any other keyboard design.

A better thing to use QWERTY as an analogy for would be “why people make DnD work for playing magical cyberpunk when there is a whole game built to do exactly that”. Using the very very familiar thing is just easier than learning an entirely new system of fairly equal complexity and depth.

None of which is [the whole of] why the 6 scores remain.

6 reigns because it’s better than most alternatives, and it’s very very easy to understand, and thus to learn to use.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I suggest that gaining the system mastery of the ins and outs of the complex D&D gaming rules and its many options − all of which organize around QWERTY the sixsome, is even a greater personal investment of energy than learning to type.



For example, 5e assigns ‘Perception’ to Wisdom. There is no reason to do this. Even Gary Gygax assigned Perception to Dexterity or Intelligence. Not Wisdom. But why does 5e assign Perception to Wisdom? Because 3e did. Despite being a less good design.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I suggest that gaining the system mastery of the ins and outs of the complex D&D gaming rules and options − all of which organize around QWERTY the sixsome, is even a greater personal investment of energy than learning to type.
It isn’t. You’re objectively incorrect.

This can be proven simply by remembering when people still had to learn to type as a specific learning activity rather than as part of growing up, and watch kids or adults learn to play DnD.

Or more specifically, your strawman style response to me is incorrect because it assumed an argument I didn’t make, ie that system mastery matters and is what should be compared when determining how best to build the game, but if we assume a somewhat more reasonable argument on your end, you’re still wrong, because dnd 5e is very very easy to learn, as are most editions of dnd. Even in the editions that are bothersome to learn, it certainly isn’t the ability scores that trip people up!
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Even a person that fails to gain system mastery of the QWERTY keyboard, can still hunt-and-peck on a keyboard. The keyboard is serviceable despite being bad design.

Even a person that fails to gain system mastery of the ability sixsome, can still hunt-and-peck. Look at a simple character sheet and try to make the best sense of it that one can. It is serviceable enough despite being bad design.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
The foursome is inherently intuitive to new players:

"Big Tough Guy"
"Athletic Stunt Guy"

"Smart Guy"
"Heart Guy"

"Well-Rounded Leader Guy" (+2, +2, +2, +2)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That is pretty much the point. That is pretty much why various less good designs have been able to persist within D&D.
Perhaps, but the 6 scores aren’t an example of that.
The foursome is inherently intuitive to new players:

"Big Tough Guy"
"Athletic Stunt Guy"

"Smart Guy"
"Heart Guy"

"Well-Rounded Leader Guy" (+2, +2, +2, +2)
The 6 are just as intuitive, but less awkward and kludgey.
 
The thread is about 5e.
It's not so tagged, and the 6-stat sacred cow has grazed all eds.
I don’t care if other editions had dump stats
All eds do. In 4e, it just varied wildly with class/build - and the way 4e paired stats changed the whole dynamic, as well.

In 5e, DEX is noticeably the uberstat simply worth more than the others, almost regardless of class/build, capable of obviating STR, and, unrelated, INT is under-utilized by most classes.

2-3 stats can work for a general game. 4 can work for a game with specific enough tone that “Cool” and “Weird” can be a stat.In a game like dnd, 5-7
The number of stats is really "orthogonal" to the kind of game - Hero and GURPS were both universal build systems in the 80s. One had over a dozen stats (but with different costs ranging from 1/2 a cp to 3 (or 10 for the most valuable figured stat), the other only a handful. Both worked. It's not the number of stats, it's how well they're balanced as alternatives to eachother, and how well the system uses them.

People can grok the 6 stats without having ever played any sort of RPG.
Actually, the INT/WIS divide /frequently/ confuses brand-new players, CHA is a source of confusion, and sometimes the lack of an agility/manual-dexterity divide screws with folks a little, too. The INT/WIS divide is a particular source of considerable confusion among new & veteran D&Ders, alike, in the specific case of Investigation vs Perception, as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's not so tagged, and the 6-stat sacred cow has grazed all eds.
All eds do. In 4e, it just varied wildly with class/build - and the way 4e paired stats changed the whole dynamic, as well.

In 5e, DEX is noticeably the uberstat simply worth more than the others, almost regardless of class/build, capable of obviating STR, and, unrelated, INT is under-utilized by most classes.

The number of stats is really "orthogonal" to the kind of game - Hero and GURPS were both universal build systems in the 80s. One had over a dozen stats (but with different costs ranging from 1/2 a cp to 3 (or 10 for the most valuable figured stat), the other only a handful. Both worked. It's not the number of stats, it's how well they're balanced as alternatives to eachother, and how well the system uses them.

Actually, the INT/WIS divide /frequently/ confuses brand-new players, CHA is a source of confusion, and sometimes the lack of an agility/manual-dexterity divide screws with folks a little, too. The INT/WIS divide is a particular source of considerable confusion among new & veteran D&Ders, alike, in the specific case of Investigation vs Perception, as well.
So, when I say i don’t care about something, your response is to just talk at me more about it? Lol okay.

Have fun, I’ve said any needed response earlier in the thread.
 

3catcircus

Explorer
Gary Gygax has only three abilities − Physical, Mental, and Spiritual − and each is defined by its two subdivisions.

The tertiary subdivisions (‘attributes’) are just numbers that ‘measure’ the proficiency and speed of the ability. They dont change the meaning of the ability.

For example, when Gary Gygax lists the skills for each ability, the skill lists are three: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

Not 6. Not 18. But 3.

His gaming system is an ability threesome.
More people than me disagree with you. Mythus Prime uses 3. The full game uses 18.

 

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