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D&D General How do you like your ASIs?

What do you like to see in your character creation rules?

  • Fixed ASI including possible negatives.

    Votes: 27 19.9%
  • Fixed ASI without negatives.

    Votes: 5 3.7%
  • Floating ASI with restrictions.

    Votes: 8 5.9%
  • Floating ASI without restrictions.

    Votes: 31 22.8%
  • Some fixed and some floating ASI.

    Votes: 19 14.0%
  • No ASI

    Votes: 35 25.7%
  • Other (feel free to describe)

    Votes: 11 8.1%

  • Total voters
    136

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This is a false argument that I'm really tired with, it has absolutely zero basis in fact, it's only fanatics claiming this on behalf of others to stir trouble.

Mod note:

Enough.

If you can't make a point without insulting people, you will find yourself unable to make points in this discussion at all.
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
All that said, detaching ASI from race is not a bad idea. I think I might enjoy a ruleset where the ASI at chargen is +1 for class, +1 for background, and +1 floating (with max +2 to any one ability score).
I'm a fan of fixed ASIs... but exactly what level they should be, I'm flexible on. I really liked the +1 for class that was in the 5e play test and was a bit disappointed they rolled it back to race. Given my druthers, I'd go as far as +1 for race, +1 for sub-race, +1 for class, +1 for background and for the class/background bonuses, I'd give them a choice from 2 reasonably thematic options.
 

glass

(he, him)
Honestly, the "favored class" is not that long gone, it was "only" 3e and it is still in PF1. Can't say for PF2 though.
PF1 had something called "favored class", but it was not the same as it was in 3.x (most pertinently, any character could pick any favoured class - it was not fixed by species).

By way of comparison, in PF2, everyone starts with a 10 in all stats. Races give two fixed +2, one floating +2, one fixed penalty, except humans, which have two floating +2. You get a fixed +2 to you main stat from your class. Your background provides a choice between two +2, and after that, you get four floating +2 that you can apply where you wish. Your aren’t allowed to stack bonuses from a same source.

Overall, I’m not that much of a fan of the system, as it has the effect of restricting race AND background (plus it prevents you from getting an 18 in anything except your main stat).
As I hinted at earlier in the thread, I think PF2's version is almost great. To make it actually great IMNSHO you would take out the red queen race. IOW, the cap and the boosts should be set up such that you can hit the former without using all of the latter.

_
glass.
 

I'm still not seeing any convincing argument that a +2 modifier vs a+3 modifier has any noticeable, meaningful impact on gameplay at levels 1-3 despite claims of being "gimped" or "disadvantaged" compared to other party members. The d20 is just too random, IMO, for a 5% difference to truly be highlighted. Heck, if it does become "noticeable", just swap out that dang d20 that has missed by 1 one too many times and bring out a new one with better mojo. Amirite?
If people are feeling disadvantaged or annoyed then it does have a noticeable, meaningful effect on gameplay. And I'm one of those who finds not reaching what is, for practical purposes, the game's benchmark to be annoying.

In order from best to worst as far as I'm concerned:
  1. No racial ASIs. They are the single most boring way to differentiate races in D&D and I don't think much of value would be lost if they went. If you're not going to go in don't go in at all.
  2. 13th Age style Class Based ASIs on top of racial ASIs which you can reallocate if you double up. So a wizard always can get +2 Int from being a wizard, but the secondary stats are influenced by races.
  3. Pure floating ASIs. This, to me, is a patch that is effectively a way of saying no racial ASIs while being fiddly and annoying.
  4. Flex ASIs, 4e style. Where there are multiple options for ASIs for each race but defined strengths. This just feels like an inferior version of the 13th Age style.
  5. Fixed ASIs with negatives. If you're going to go in go all the way. I dislike this but it does add worldbuilding.
  6. Fixed ASIs without negatives. If you can't reach the benchmarks it might as well be a negative but without the worldbuilding benefits.
 

ReshiIRE

Adventurer
PF1 had something called "favored class", but it was not the same as it was in 3.x (most pertinently, any character could pick any favoured class - it was not fixed by species).


As I hinted at earlier in the thread, I think PF2's version is almost great. To make it actually great IMNSHO you would take out the red queen race. IOW, the cap and the boosts should be set up such that you can hit the former without using all of the latter.

_
glass.
Apologies in case this has been explained before, but what do you mean by 'red queen race'?
 


If people are feeling disadvantaged or annoyed then it does have a noticeable, meaningful effect on gameplay. And I'm one of those who finds not reaching what is, for practical purposes, the game's benchmark to be annoying.
I can't argue with how people feel. And that's fine. If you are annoyed at something in the game for any reason the session won't be as much fun. I get that.
As an aside: Is this feeling in any way tied to the belief that ability scores should dictate how one roleplays a character (not just asking you here)?

But back to my initial point... What I'm trying to understand is: what, if any, noticeable mechanical effect does starting with a +2 vs starting with a +3 have on gameplay? No one has been able to answer that for me aside from @clearstream's case of one fewer Bardic Inspiration dice per long rest. Which in itself may only be slightly more noticeable (with an active Bard PC) than some characters missing a given roll 1 out of 20 times. Perhaps expanding upon your "benchmark" comment would be helpful.

To reiterate: I have no problem detaching ASIs from races. I just want to understand if there is anything I'm missing beyond personal feeling for the +2 vs +3 concern.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
If the player is truly pursuing power and power only. Fixed ASI force him to choose only the race that will give his character the stats that he wants for his character. Some races might come with a negative aspect (bad reputation to fight/overcome) depending on the world and DM's style. This might prevent a power gamer to actually pick the "perfect" race and make him choose an other one (or not). Floating ASI makes some races extremely good at everything. No need to double check, to care about reputation, or simply put, floating ASI are simply doing the reverse of what people claim they do. They lessen the actual amount of races played. I am aware of 5 tables that use floating ASI and guess what? In four of them parties are made up entirely of Mountain Dwarves, Half Elves, a few VHumans and Half-orcs. Do you see the pattern?
My campaign has floating ASIs. My players have the following..

High Elf Radiant Sorcerer
Wild Elf Ranger
Fallen Aasimir Fighter
Halfling Bard

Please let me know which one of those characters was powergamed by being able to float an ASI.
 

I can't argue with how people feel. And that's fine. If you are annoyed at something in the game for any reason the session won't be as much fun. I get that.
As an aside: Is this feeling in any way tied to the belief that ability scores should dictate how one roleplays a character (not just asking you here)?

But back to my initial point... What I'm trying to understand is: what, if any, noticeable mechanical effect does starting with a +2 vs starting with a +3 have on gameplay? No one has been able to answer that for me aside from @clearstream's case of one fewer Bardic Inspiration dice per long rest. Which in itself may only be slightly more noticeable (with an active Bard PC) than some characters missing a given roll 1 out of 20 times. Perhaps expanding upon your "benchmark" comment would be helpful.

To reiterate: I have no problem detaching ASIs from races. I just want to understand if there is anything I'm missing beyond personal feeling for the +2 vs +3 concern.
It's FOMO. If all the numbers were hidden (ie the dm did all the die rolling behind a screen and you never actually saw your character's sheet) I would bet no one would be able to tell who had a 14 and who had a 16 in their key ability. You might feel a bigger difference, but it'd probably be closer to a 12 to 18 gap before people reliably guess who's got the better number (just based on experience and gut feelings, here.)

But I don't recall ever playing that way. I have my sheet in front of me, and I can see the numbers, and I add them to my own rolls. I know that I could have had a 16, but chose not because X: if X isn't a compelling reason, I'm going to feel like I made a dumb choice every time I roll a die and add my key ability, which is likely to be the majority of dice rolls. Especially those times I miss by 1. We don't start perceiving the game at the results phase, after all.

(If numbers really didn't matter than it wouldn't matter if they were fixed or floating anyways, any more than it matters if players can pick purple as an eye color.)

Now maybe X is a compelling reason: Relentless Endurance is a really cool feature for any class - but maybe it ain't and picking an elf when I wanted to use a longsword was a bad idea even though I have this really cool mini of a longsword-wielding elf I wanted to play but now it's not as fun as it could be because elves are dexy and not strong. Not noticeably to other players, but noticeably to me, because it's right there on the to of my sheet.

So I guess the argument for floating here is: why should it cost me something to play a longsword-wielding elf?
 

It does a good job if you think of the starting ability scores coming from your training rather than being innate to the person before training began. It's more of a life-path system.
Fair enough, but the reason I raised the issue was in the context of Racial ASIs. Does the free ability boost offset the 2 fixed ability boosts plus 1 fixed penalty?

While I personally would prefer 1 Fixed, 1 Floating in D&D, the PF2 option goes too far on the essentialism track for me.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
So I guess the argument for floating here is: why should it cost me something to play a longsword-wielding elf?
Whether floating or non-floating, it still costs you something. Comparing the two alternatives of floating (+2 to strength) vs fixed (+2 to dex) - you may get the bonus on the longsword (and Str skills, Str saves) by floating, but it costs you +1 to your AC (for anything outside of heavy armor), ranged attacks and damage, initiative, Dex skills, and Dex saves that you'd get with the fixed bonus.
 

I'm a fan of fixed ASIs... but exactly what level they should be, I'm flexible on. I really liked the +1 for class that was in the 5e play test and was a bit disappointed they rolled it back to race. Given my druthers, I'd go as far as +1 for race, +1 for sub-race, +1 for class, +1 for background and for the class/background bonuses, I'd give them a choice from 2 reasonably thematic options.
If the background option kept 5e’s emphasis on Invent-your-own-background, the background ASI would essentially be Floating, which I like.
 

As I hinted at earlier in the thread, I think PF2's version is almost great. To make it actually great IMNSHO you would take out the red queen race. IOW, the cap and the boosts should be set up such that you can hit the former without using all of the latter.

OK, I’m curious. What is the “Red Queen” race? Does it involve chopping off their heads?
 

My campaign has floating ASIs. My players have the following..

High Elf Radiant Sorcerer
Wild Elf Ranger
Fallen Aasimir Fighter
Halfling Bard

Please let me know which one of those characters was powergamed by being able to float an ASI.
A few flukes, a rule do not make.
There are bound to be table that will restrain themselves. But a lot more will not. So far, as I said, if you followed, I know of 5 tables using floating ASI and four of these are powergaming the floating ASI and one does not. And I know a lot more tables that will not use floating ASI exactly because of the power creep that it can bring. That rules, was toughtlessly implemented in TCoE.

Also, it depends a lot on the DM. A DM that focuses mainly on RP and not on tactical combat might not see the problems that TCoE can bring because the problem might never be apparent. Especialy if combats are staged as story propelers to the next chapter. If a DM is a lot more like me where combat is not a story propeler for the next chapter but is its own thing, these problems will arise quite fast. We did the maths. And we see the results around us and it reinforced our doubts up to the point of confirmation. Floating ASI are not for every tables. I'd even dare to say that they're not for every tables but for a minority.

Also, how long does a character lasts in your games? In mine, a player can expect to make 1 to 3 low level characters at the begining of the campaign as the attrition is quite high. With luck you might make only one and this character might last up to 14th and even 20th level. Most campaigns end around level 14 but some last a bit more. We let the story arise from the survivors, not from the original characters as the begining character might have died way before the campaign ends.
 

Whether floating or non-floating, it still costs you something. Comparing the two alternatives of floating (+2 to strength) vs fixed (+2 to dex) - you may get the bonus on the longsword (and Str skills, Str saves) by floating, but it costs you +1 to your AC (for anything outside of heavy armor), ranged attacks and damage, initiative, Dex skills, and Dex saves that you'd get with the fixed bonus.
But with fixed, I don't get the choice - I have to value initiative over hitting with my main weapon, or not play the character.
 

A few flukes, a rule do not make.
There are bound to be table that will restrain themselves. But a lot more will not.
You have evidence for this, I presume? Because I can add my own anecdotes to the "this totally doesn't happen" pile, which while not statistically significant is hard to dismiss.

So far, as I said, if you followed, I know of 5 tables using floating ASI and four of these are powergaming the floating ASI and one does not. And I know a lot more tables that will not use floating ASI exactly because of the power creep that it can bring. That rules, was toughtlessly implemented in TCoE.
So we're at 3 not powergaming to 4 that do... not an overwhelming majority.
Also, it depends a lot on the DM. A DM that focuses mainly on RP and not on tactical combat might not see the problems that TCoE can bring because the problem might never be apparent. Especialy if combats are staged as story propelers to the next chapter. If a DM is a lot more like me where combat is not a story propeler for the next chapter but is its own thing, these problems will arise quite fast. We did the maths. And we see the results around us and it reinforced our doubts up to the point of confirmation. Floating ASI are not for every tables. I'd even dare to say that they're not for every tables but for a minority.
They're definitely a good fit for all 6 tables I've played with in the past couple of years.
 

Amrûnril

Explorer
I think my preference would be for no ASIs or floating ASIs regardless, but I'd be much more sympathetic to arguments for fixed ASI if every ability was a reasonably effective choice for every class. With the current balance, though, where each class revolves heavily around one or two ability scores, I think fixed ASIs are a clear mistake. A plus one to your primary ability modifier may be unimportant compared to the effect of the dice, but it's massive compared to the effect of any other ability score. This means that, with fixed ASIs, over half the possible race-class combinations will feel like a clear choice to handicap yourself.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Also, it depends a lot on the DM. A DM that focuses mainly on RP and not on tactical combat might not see the problems that TCoE can bring because the problem might never be apparent. Especialy if combats are staged as story propelers to the next chapter. If a DM is a lot more like me where combat is not a story propeler for the next chapter but is its own thing, these problems will arise quite fast. We did the maths. And we see the results around us and it reinforced our doubts up to the point of confirmation. Floating ASI are not for every tables. I'd even dare to say that they're not for every tables but for a minority.
Please give an example of a class for which there is a floating ASI race that is obviously the superior choice over VHuman. If you can't, there's no power creep.

The idea that floating ASIs has unbalanced the game is just silly. Something like Twilight Cleric is way more of a balance concern than floating ASIs.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My campaign has floating ASIs. My players have the following..

High Elf Radiant Sorcerer
Wild Elf Ranger
Fallen Aasimir Fighter
Halfling Bard

Please let me know which one of those characters was powergamed by being able to float an ASI.
I'm not really in this argument, but I think for them to properly answer that, you'd need to provide their starting stats after bonuses were applied and where those floating bonuses went.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's FOMO. If all the numbers were hidden (ie the dm did all the die rolling behind a screen and you never actually saw your character's sheet) I would bet no one would be able to tell who had a 14 and who had a 16 in their key ability. You might feel a bigger difference, but it'd probably be closer to a 12 to 18 gap before people reliably guess who's got the better number (just based on experience and gut feelings, here.)
I think fear of missing out is a large part of it. Beyond that, though, I think a lot of us have been programmed to need those stats. Most of us here on the forum are long time players, going at least as far back as 3e and in many cases 1e or before. Stats used to matter a whole lot more and we've got decades of game play behind us telling us that we need that extra +2 to the prime stat. 5e changed that, but one edition where you don't need the extra +1 isn't going to change the way most people have been trained to think and feel about stats.
 

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