D&D 5E How quickly should ability scores increase in 5e?


First Post
That said, it will be interesting to see who that will fit into balancing

I think a cap would be the easiest way to balance it. You need to allow at least 8-18 range of abilities in any case, so as long as abilities increase only within that (or a slightly larger) range, further balance issues are small.

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Better than the idea that "hah, look at these muscles, looks as if all this fighting with swords against dragons and free-climbing cliffs did help!"?
I don't mind some ability to increase stats. I just didn't care for the inflation that happened in 3e and beyond. I've always viewed 18 as the human limit, barring something supernatural, so a character starting with an 18, then passing to 23 naturally, and having the +6 belt assumed rubs me a bit wrong.

I actually am in favor of a str 16 character being able to bump his strength to 17 or even 18. I also don't really have a problem with the strength 18 character working to 20, I guess. It's a matter of scale, which is why I suggested a cap.

It would also be interesting to require a character to spend a precious feat on a stat boost. That turns it from a ubiquitous, assumed freebie to an option that must be weighed against other options.


Victoria Rules
I prefer a modest increase, if any.

I would do something like the 1e Unearthed Arcana rules for cavaliers but make it universal.

Every character starts with a stat and a percentile die roll. Every level, roll 2d10 and add to the percentile.

Cap it at racial maximum.

This is almost exactly what we've been doing for ages, except the percentile increments can take you beyond your racial maximum. At roll-up you can choose two or three stats to advance via percentiles, of which one must be your "primary" stat e.g. Str for Fighters, Int for Wizard types, etc.; if you choose two they go up a bit faster than if you choose three*. But, some things to consider:

- this works better in a game with fewer levels
- this interacts VERY badly with 1e 18.xx percentile Str scores; we ended up breaking the various 18.xx's into their own whole numbers (thus 18.41 became 19 etc. up to 18.00 becoming 24) and jumped Hill Giants that used to be 19 up to 25
- it is really easy to speed up or slow down the stat advances by tweaking what dice are rolled for increase at each level. The 1e Cavalier used 2d10 per level above 1st; if you want faster increase you could use 4d6 or even 4d8, for slower use 2d6, and so on

* - in my current game if you choose to advance two stats the primary gets 3d8 per level after 1st and the secondary 2d6; if you have three advancing the primary gets 2d8 and the other two get 1d10 each

And yes, I too prefer very modest by-level stat increases. I don't mind them coming from one-shot magics such as those found in some classic modules, and I've mostly made wishes almost a random interrupt rather than something you can just go and buy or know where to find; most of the time people don't even know they have a wish available (e.g. from a Luckblade) until they say "I wish..." at some point and it happens** - by which time it's too late! I can't remember the last time - if ever - a wish was used in one of my games to increase a stat.

** - and even if there are no outstanding wishes, every time I hear someone say "I wish ..." at the table I roll some dice anyway and say "no", just to keep 'em guessing.

Lan-"brought half a party back to life with a wish while field-testing a magic item"-efan


Demon Lord
+1 / 4 levels, but not above racial maximum (18 for humans).

This allows a nice increase over the life of the campaign, but mainly allows those who rolled worse to catch up. If your Wizard started with Int 18 you'll be increasing secondary abilities instead.

I agree, though I might say +1 per 5 levels not 4. But definitely not above racial max.


I prefer Ability Scores to remain the same from character creation but Ability Score Bonuses to be potentially increased during leveling depending on the focus of the player/character during gameplay and advancement.

I agree with this. If someone wants to run a gritty campaign, have it few and far in between. Have a high-powered campaign, the go for the 4e treatment.

Voidrunner's Codex

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