Killing the sacred cow: playing D&D with only 4 abilities instead of 6. And returning to 3 saves instead of 6.

Horwath

Explorer
Yes, D&D was played with 6 abilities for 40+ years, but maybe some of them can be removed.

  • Constitution; This should be merged with strength. To get big strength score, you need to work out and working out boosts your stamina.
If you want to describe Con as "meat", well to get big strength, you need big muscles, so more str means more meat to cleave before bones/vital organs. If you worry how to describe mechanically character that is more though than strong there are Though feat, proficiency in Fortitude saves. Also more athletic than resilient? Proficiency in athletics skill.




  • Charisma; This score is the king of "tanked scores" because tanking cha means almost nothing unless your class is tied mechanically to cha score. all others can have it at 8 at go happily along. Cha should be split between int(now it will be called cunning) and wisdom(now willpower).
Same as for strength, difference between wise, bookish, slick or practical character would be in various skill proficiencies.


New 4 abilities would be;


  • Strength(str);

  1. applies for melee attack and damage,
  2. thrown attack and damage,
  3. bonus or penalty to total HPs(as current con),
  4. carrying capacity,
  5. armor limitation,
  6. Fortitude saves(current all str and con saves).
  7. skills;
athletics.



  • Dexterity(dex);

  1. applies for ranged attack and damage,
  2. finesse melee weapon attack and damage,
  3. AC bonus(limited by type of armor),
  4. Initiative bonus,
  5. Reflex saves(current dex saves),
  6. skills;
Acrobatics,
Thievery(current sleight of hands and thief tools),
Stealth,




  • Cunning(cun); your mental finesse and ability to learn new tricks and knowledge. Choice of skills under this ability would define mental aptitude of your character.

  1. Extra trained skills or tools per point of bonus,
  2. Extra known languages per point of bonus,
  3. Skills;
arcana,
history,
investigation,
nature,
religion,
animal handling,
insight,
medicine,
perception,
survival,
deception,
intimidation,
performance,
persuasion,
almost all tools,


  • Willpower(will);

  1. Spellcasting ability for all classes. No matter what is the source of magic you need strong will to bend the raw magical energy to your will. Also defense from all mental control.
  2. Will saves(all current int,wis and cha saves).
  3. Forcefull and inspiring part of charisma. I.E. Bardic inspiration, paladins auras, Inspiring leader feat,




This would put equal weight(more or less) on all 4 abilities equally.

now it will be bigger price for tanking any of the scores:

str 8; poor health and all athletics options. Even bookish wizards would aim for str12, which is great as all adventurers have to have some brawn to go around slaying everything.

dex 8; poor AC(I would put penalty to AC even in heavy armor), slow reactions, weak ranged options,

cun 8; "you know nothing Jon Snow", no bonus skills and starting -1 on 14 skill checks and tool usage,

will 8; weak minded coward, target of all mind control, no chance to have any meaningful magical ability. Even pure fighting classes would be afraid to tank this one as it now cover saves for entire "mental" part of the spell saves.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

akr71

Explorer
It is certainly an interesting idea. For me it is not worth the effort to switch stats and re-train my players though.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Nah. I know people who would have a higher CON score yet a typical STR score, ie they do long distance running and stuff that requires a lot of endurance but not huge ripped muscles. And there are spells and effects that force CHA based saves so dumping there isn't always the best idea. But I don't see what this adds to my game to make it more fun so no, I'm happy with the current system.
 

Horwath

Explorer
Nah. I know people who would have a higher CON score yet a typical STR score, ie they do long distance running and stuff that requires a lot of endurance but not huge ripped muscles. And there are spells and effects that force CHA based saves so dumping there isn't always the best idea. But I don't see what this adds to my game to make it more fun so no, I'm happy with the current system.
In dnd terms that would be described as proficiency in CON(or this case str saves) or feature that gives you resistance to fatigue. Point that they can run farther doesn't mean they have more "HP" or other benefits of constitution.
 
Yes, D&D was played with 6 abilities for 40+ years, but maybe some of them can be removed.
That'd be killing a heavily armored sacred cow, indeed, even 4e barely took a swipe at it (in a stealth sense, 4e could have been said to have had only 3 stats, because of the way they were paired off).

Call it a sacred Gorgon maybe.


And returning to 3 saves instead of 6.
Checks as saves is a bit of sacred cattle mutilation, in itself, and 3 saves, as in 3e (and 3 non-AC defenses in 4e) would arguable be a holy bovine in its own right.

Anyway, coincidentally enough, I was thinking about alternate approached to characteristics today, anyway. My train of thought was totally different. Y'see, there was this pretty terrible game in the 80s called DragonQuest, and it had a Magical Aptitude, I think it was, magicky something, stat, that only casters needed, so everyone else could dump it, and none of the other stats were that dump-worthy, so casters were always hurt'n for stats.

In D&D, if you're a caster, you need one caster stat for all your important stuff, while CON, DEX & WIS are critical for saves, and DEX for initiative & AC, and CON for hps, and WIS for perception. STR, INT & CHA are potentially dumpable. Upshot is you have SAD classes and MAD classes. If casters were always MAD, that'd go a ways towards balancing out their power/versatility, or at least jacking up the price of it.

Vague idea, 6 stats:

Physique - size, strength, stamina, health, durrability
Agility - speed, dexterity, wit, adaptability, reactions
Psyche - will, personality, memory
Magical Aptitude - ability to learn magic (low magical aptitude means you can handle the odd superstitious practice, him magical aptiutde lets you learn complex, dependable, almost scientific sorts of magic)
Magical Power - exactly what it sounds like, when you use magic, how much sheer power can you put behind it or channel through yourself.
Magic Resistance - how hard is it to affect you with magic, usually inversely related to the other two.

Then comes some /real/ complexity. Every task has a governing stat (possibly even two) and contributing stats. All those stats add to the roll to perform the task, but no single stat can add more than the governing stat. So fighting with heavy weapons & armor would be Physique governing, Agility & Psyche, while dueling with a rapier might be Agility governing Psyche & Physique. Casting a long Ritual could be governed by both Physique (endurance) and Magical Aptitude, somatic components require agility as well MA, illusions & enchantments Psyche as well as MA, and all magic needs MP, etc... That sort of thing. Part of the idea is that non-casters can dump both MA & MP, and take a high MR, while casters can't afford any dump stats without sacrificing some of the range of magic they can do well.

:shrug: Nothin'll ever come of the idea.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Rolling Str and Con together would fix a lot of my problems with it. No one would want to tank it. 4 scores would all have a viable amount of weight to them. Str and Dex would both have some offense and defense, and the offense can be ignored for some characters, but the defense is more prevalent (you can ignore Dex penalties to AC, but not initiative and reflex). I wouldn't give all mental skills to an intelligence stat, though; I'd split them between the two mental stats. I wouldn't want one stat to hold onto all of the social stuff, either. No Charisma stat means a player can have their character be as likable or as unlikeable as they want. That's a good thing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Horwath

Explorer
Rolling Str and Con together would fix a lot of my problems with it. No one would want to tank it. 4 scores would all have a viable amount of weight to them. Str and Dex would both have some offense and defense, and the offense can be ignored for some characters, but the defense is more prevalent (you can ignore Dex penalties to AC, but not initiative and reflex). I wouldn't give all mental skills to an intelligence stat, though; I'd split them between the two mental stats. I wouldn't want one stat to hold onto all of the social stuff, either. No Charisma stat means a player can have their character be as likable or as unlikeable as they want. That's a good thing.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I don't see nothing wrong with all mental skills to be from one ability. It's like your baseline talent then you can make your character anyway you like with skills.

Want to be bookish wizard? take arcana, history, religion, nature.

wanna be outdoor survivalist? take nature, survival, perception, animal handling,

wanna be diplomat? take insight, deception, persuasion,

wanna be trap master? take arcana, investigation, perception,

wanna be street thug? take intimidate, deception,
 
If you're killing sacred cows, you might as well just bite the bullet and remove Intelligence from the game entirely, on the grounds that that is supplied by the player. Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower are the only attributes you strictly need.
 

Horwath

Explorer
If you're killing sacred cows, you might as well just bite the bullet and remove Intelligence from the game entirely, on the grounds that that is supplied by the player. Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower are the only attributes you strictly need.
don't want that. I left intelligence(cunning) in game to give options to make skill monkeys.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
Lots of games have other stats. Three seems to be common, either merging Strength and Dexterity or Intelligence and Wisdom. Mind, body, spirit are handy. Strength, agility, and mind are another option.

Con is a good one to drop as no one dumps it. For math, just assume it's a 12.

If I were doing this I'd have ability scores and saves three different stats. So Athletics, Mind, and Charm for ability scores and Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower for saves. Disassociate the two. Give each class a proficient save.

The only problem with this is it associates dexterous skills and strength based skills. And clerics and wizards become more samey...
 

Mercule

Adventurer
  • Charisma; This score is the king of "tanked scores" because tanking cha means almost nothing unless your class is tied mechanically to cha score. all others can have it at 8 at go happily along. Cha should be split between int(now it will be called cunning) and wisdom(now willpower).
Not my experience, at all. I almost never see Charisma get used as a dump stat. Most groups I've played with use Charisma as how "cool" their character is. It augments everything, in a narrative fashion. The guy with an 18 Strength, but 8 Charisma is just an oaf. The guy with a 16 Strength and 14 Charisma, though, gets to flex a bit and get people's attention. When he bashes in the door, he makes an entrance, not just an opening.

We're telling a story. There may be exceptions, but people want to play Sirius Black, not Peter Petigrew.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Charisma; This score is the king of "tanked scores" because tanking cha means almost nothing unless your class is tied mechanically to cha score. all others can have it at 8 at go happily along. Cha should be split between int(now it will be called cunning) and wisdom(now willpower).
No need to get complicated. Just merge it all with Wisdom. Lying and persuading successfully is about being self-assured, not about being smart. (*insert political joke here*)
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Some thoughts;

1) Combining the stats. Why?
What actual problem are you trying to solve?

2) It'd be a helluva lot of work to implement this combining of stats & then change everything else in the game that touches them. And in the end? There won't be enough benefit for the effort. It'll also lead to:

3) The game now being played won't "feel" like D&D. This is important because we all came here to play D&D.....
Don't believe me? Go ask WoTC how 4e worked out for them. One of the major observations was that it "felt" like a different game with the D&D logo slapped on it.

4) So you &/or your players don't understand the Cha score.....
If you're a DM & you're tired of seeing players tank their Cha score? THEN MAKE THAT CHOICE MATTER DURING PLAY. If you do that, you'll see players invest in it. If the DM ignores it? Then yes, you'll see Cha8 (or less) characters happily going about their business.
Cha, it's not just a casting stat....
 

Shasarak

Villager
4) So you &/or your players don't understand the Cha score.....
If you're a DM & you're tired of seeing players tank their Cha score? THEN MAKE THAT CHOICE MATTER DURING PLAY. If you do that, you'll see players invest in it. If the DM ignores it? Then yes, you'll see Cha8 (or less) characters happily going about their business.
Cha, it's not just a casting stat....
You know that an 8 Stat is just a little below average, right?

Having a 8 Cha does not suddenly make you look like a Quasimodo or anything.
 

Krachek

Explorer
A sacred cow is sacred by definition.
We get over tac0, and a lot of old feature. But the six abilities are there for ever.
 

Horwath

Explorer
No need to get complicated. Just merge it all with Wisdom. Lying and persuading successfully is about being self-assured, not about being smart. (*insert political joke here*)
yes, it could be described that way, but I see politicians with proficiencies and expertise in deception and performance. And majority with no proficiency in any knowledge skills.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
I like the idea of merging these stats into one big stat. But I also like something that Dark Souls did, which is to have multiple stats increase multiple attributes. So for example, you could make it that both strength and dexterity increase your hitpoints, and both can increase your damage. Because muscle-mass makes you more hardy, but being athletic and nimble can also make you healthy. And dealing damage is about more than just hitting things really hard, it is also about being quick and precise.

This ensures that people are not forced down one particular attribute path. They can focus on any stat, and still do decent damage and have decent health.
 

Advertisement

Top