More uses for ability scores?

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Hey,

so one thing I dont like with 5e is the lack of use for ability scores beyond character generation; most of the game relies on modifiers. I really love OSR games that still use ''roll under'' because it makes a character with 13 str and 12 str different, if ever so slightly.

Do you use ability scores in your game? What game mechanics have you houseruled/added to make scores more relevant?

What I have in mind for now:
Str: Number of inventory slots or weight allowance, per the rules
Dex: ?
Con: Number of hours without sleep or food before rolling to avoid exhaustion.
Int: Number of ''background points'' (ala 13th Age) to spend.
Wis: ?
Cha: Number of ''relation/contact points'' to spend.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Feats and multiclassing both use odd-numbered ability scores.

Dex: Used to break initiative ties. (I have a large group and it seems like we have to fall back to Dexterity scores to break initiative ties roughly every other combat.)

Cha: Initial and maximum Loyalty score if you're using the DMG Loyalty rules. (I've found these rules to work surprisingly well.)

Wis: I got nothin'.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
Yeah, there are very few cases where the actual score for an ability comes into play instead of simply the modifier. I like some of your ideas so I'll keep watching to see how you might expand on it and if anything comes to mind I'll add my 2 cp. :)
 

S'mon

Legend
I think the barbarian "can't roll under actual STR score" ability is great for checks and could be granted more widely.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think I might use Dex score as fixed Initiative. Maybe add +level/ +CR.

I love the Charisma score for Loyalty rules, never knew it existed. I might extend it to other important NPC.

Maybe Wis score as Morale? When an enemy damage a PC for more than its Wis score with a SINGLE hit, the PC is frightened of that enemy until the end of its next turn.

Intelligence score could be Appraisal: the score is a % on the basic buy/sell price of items. Or an Appraise Hoard score? Like, you add your Int score to your result when you roll on a d100 table for Individual treasures or Treasure hoard in the DMG.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Building on what [MENTION=12377]77IM[/MENTION] mentions above, ability scores come into play in a few more (but, to the OP's point, not many) direct ways:

STR score: how far the character can jump (PHB 182). How much weight they can carry, push, drag, lift (PHB p 176). There are minimums for certain armors (PHB p144). Monster that drains STR: Shadow

CON score: how long a creature can be submersed in frigid water (DMG p 110)

INT score: how far a PC can travel in the Astral plane (DMG p 46). Monster that drains INT: Intellect Devourer. Spell that drains INT (and CHA): Feeblemind


Of course, a DM could always create a particularly nasty trap or add a feature to a monster that drained an ability score.


I'll second the praise for the Loyalty Score optional rule (DMG p. 93)
 

Horwath

Explorer
Feats and multiclassing both use odd-numbered ability scores.

Dex: Used to break initiative ties. (I have a large group and it seems like we have to fall back to Dexterity scores to break initiative ties roughly every other combat.)

Cha: Initial and maximum Loyalty score if you're using the DMG Loyalty rules. (I've found these rules to work surprisingly well.)

Wis: I got nothin'.
That requirement is just annoying.

having 13 as requirement just says, requirement is actually 14, but if you really insist having an odd score or you are metagaming your 1st feat that will raise that to 14, but it really says; we have to cling to tradition so we must have 3-18 starting scores and as odd scores have next to 0 value here are some feat and multiclass requirements as we cant think something better or just remove 3-18 ability score array.

Average ability score can stay at 10 with +0 modifier, but it should scale from that on 1-on-1 basis;
11 is +1 mod
12 is +2 mod

then some really bad scores that are expected, I.E: fly with 1 str will have -9 modifier and some centipede with 1 int will have -9 mod.

It can also give finer spread of animal intelligence from insects to higher primates(humans) :p , 1 to 10 on average.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Building on what [MENTION=12377]77IM[/MENTION] mentions above, ability scores come into play in a few more (but, to the OP's point, not many) direct ways:

STR score: how far the character can jump (PHB 182). How much weight they can carry, push, drag, lift (PHB p 176). There are minimums for certain armors (PHB p144). Monster that drains STR: Shadow

CON score: how long a creature can be submersed in frigid water (DMG p 110)

INT score: how far a PC can travel in the Astral plane (DMG p 46). Monster that drains INT: Intellect Devourer. Spell that drains INT (and CHA): Feeblemind


Of course, a DM could always create a particularly nasty trap or add a feature to a monster that drained an ability score.


I'll second the praise for the Loyalty Score optional rule (DMG p. 93)
This make me think that I should use more temporary stat damage with poison and disease (and some monster attacks). I use a lot of exhaustion in my games, but that would give me another player ressource to damage while adventuring.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
OK, for now this what I have:

Score Use
Strength; Number of Inventory slots (some items with the heavy tag or that have a str requirement use 2 slots), long jumps, push,lift, drag.

Intelligence; Astral travel time, Appraise Hoard (when you roll on a d100 hoard table, add the score too the roll)

Dexterity; Score+level (or CR for creatures)= Initiative score

Constitution; Travelling hours without sleep or food, number on hours in hostile temperatures.

Wisdom; Balance: A character will receive ''shock point'' (name to be decided) when under heavy stress. When ''shock points'' go over the PC wisdom score, the PC roll for: 1st time -> short-term madness 2nd time-> long term madness 3rd time -> indefinite madness. After X time may become an NPC.

Charisma; NPC Loyalty
 
Hey,

so one thing I dont like with 5e is the lack of use for ability scores beyond character generation; most of the game relies on modifiers. I really love OSR games that still use ''roll under'' because it makes a character with 13 str and 12 str different, if ever so slightly.
Roll under runs into some numerical issues, like a stat of 20 being problematic, and modeling varying difficulties being a bit fraught. Open-ended bonuses and DCs leave a lot more room to work with, mechanically.

A simpler, more honest solution to the 'odd stat out problem,' is just to toss them. Replaces stats with their bonuses: PC stats range from -1 to +5, end of story.

Do you use ability scores in your game? What game mechanics have you houseruled/added to make scores more relevant?
I certainly have in the past. I've pegged odd number stats to preqs for Feats, PrCs, PPs, riders on powers, etc in 3e & 4e. I've used them as tie-breakers in contested checks (hardly worth it).

And, in older pre-d20 games that didn't have standardized checks, I used a variation on roll-under:

Roll as high as you can without going /over/. It's the same chance of success as roll-under, but it gives you degrees of success that can be intuitively compared across different stat and lets you set a "difficulty" (so, like "roll over 5 without going over your stat."

What I have in mind for now:
Str: Number of inventory slots or weight allowance, per the rules
Dex: ?
Con: Number of hours without sleep or food before rolling to avoid exhaustion.
Int: Number of ''background points'' (ala 13th Age) to spend.
Wis: ?
Cha: Number of ''relation/contact points'' to spend.
Sounds reasonable, I suppose you're looking for ideas on the other two?

WIS: Number of downtime days (or min or hrs depending on the situation) you can spend focused on one task without break before you need to start making WIS checks to avoid careless errors or just giving up.

DEX: … Really has enough going for it, already. ;P Heck, DEX grants it's bonus to so many things you might split them, push some bonuses by one to an odd break-point? So your damage bonus could +1 at DEX 12, but the hit bonus kicks in at 13, save bonus is +2 at 14, but the AC bonus of +2 starts at 15. Needlessly complicated, but DEX deserves to be picked on a bit.
 

Ashrym

Hero
For my next game I may consider using Int for Init instead of Dex, to balance those stats out a bit.
I would argue a DM could allow it now under the use of alternative ability score guidelines. It's a question of justifying it by making a plan beforehand. Convincing the DM your intelligent and well thought out plan prepares you for such an encounter should allow for the ability check swap.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I would argue a DM could allow it now under the use of alternative ability score guidelines. It's a question of justifying it by making a plan beforehand. Convincing the DM your intelligent and well thought out plan prepares you for such an encounter should allow for the ability check swap.
Perhaps. Except a party can’t plan for every combat. Sometimes the party gets jumped and just needs to react.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Perhaps. Except a party can’t plan for every combat. Sometimes the party gets jumped and just needs to react.
That's why a case needs to be made for it.

For example, the party is in familiar territory and knows the area contains patrols of hobgoblins and they lead with "this is what we plan on doing if we meet a patrol..." in advance I would consider the viability of the plan. If it's good I woild allow for the INT bonus substitution.

My expectation is a specific and reasonable plan.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Just to be sure to keep the thread on topic: this is not about switching one mechanic from one stat mod to another. I think we all know that Dex is a power stat and Int is under-represented in general, but I'm looking for idea to use the scores, no matter from which stat.

Anymore ideas?
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Average ability score can stay at 10 with +0 modifier, but it should scale from that on 1-on-1 basis;
11 is +1 mod
12 is +2 mod
This. In addition to making odd scores matter, it reduces the relative importance of the die roll, which, IMO, is all to the good. Problem is, for ability checks it requires rethinking about what particular DC values mean. I think that is feasible, though, and I have been thinking about doing something like this.

Bigger problem is if you use this for attack rolls, you have to somehow adjust all AC values. To me, that seems like too much of a chore. Unfortunately, that would leave one using scores in some contexts and modifiers in others, which is a bit inelegant in its own right.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
You could use following house rule. ability check bonus increase on odd numbers.
So 11-12 is +1, 13-14 is +2 etc.
That would also throw a bone to the standard human, because with standard array you get +1 to 4 stat bonuses.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You could use following house rule. ability check bonus increase on odd numbers.
So 11-12 is +1, 13-14 is +2 etc.
That would also throw a bone to the standard human, because with standard array you get +1 to 4 stat bonuses.
That doesn’t actually address the problem though, it just makes even numbered scores the mostly-useless ones instead of odd.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Just to be sure to keep the thread on topic: this is not about switching one mechanic from one stat mod to another. I think we all know that Dex is a power stat and Int is under-represented in general, but I'm looking for idea to use the scores, no matter from which stat.

Anymore ideas?
Here’s one:

First, get rid of saving throws. Use an “attacker always rolls” system where the ability score is the target number for any attacks that target that ability. So sacred flame, for example, would be a ranged spellcasting attack against the target’s Dexterity instead of forcing a Dexterity save.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
That doesn’t actually address the problem though, it just makes even numbered scores the mostly-useless ones instead of odd.
No. Only ability checks. Attack rolls and saving throws and DCs are still the same as now. 10-11 +0, 12-13 +2.
I mean, if don't value combat as high as most people, better for you.
I hope you know the difference between an ability check and an attack roll or saving throw. Otherwise HEX is probably quite overpowered in your game.
 

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