More uses for ability scores?

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
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.
And maybe go with 4e saving throw (roll 10 or more on a flat d20) for ongoing effects? Yes, that could work. Would ST proficiency still apply? Like, if a class gave you prof in Dex saves, would you add your proficiency to your score? Maybe 1/2 prof, or only +2? Just to be sure to avoid having caster needing to hit a total Dex score of 26 to land a fireball, for example.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
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.
This isn't a bad idea, as basically the DC for the save would work like AC does in combat with the attacker always rolling. But I think there might be some problems with this in the mechanics. First, most characters are only proficient in two saves. So for a character without proficiency in DEX saves, but with a DEX 16, would have a big advantage doing it as you suggest. Also, how would proficiency help? If the same character had a proficiency bonus of +4, would their DEX save DC be 20 instead of 16?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
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.
Oh, I see. But then you’ve got different modifiers depending on whether you’re rolling an attack/save or a check.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
And maybe go with 4e saving throw (roll 10 or more on a flat d20) for ongoing effects? Yes, that could work. Would ST proficiency still apply? Like, if a class gave you prof in Dex saves, would you add your proficiency to your score? Maybe 1/2 prof, or only +2? Just to be sure to avoid having caster needing to hit a total Dex score of 26 to land a fireball, for example.
This isn't a bad idea, as basically the DC for the save would work like AC does in combat with the attacker always rolling. But I think there might be some problems with this in the mechanics. First, most characters are only proficient in two saves. So for a character without proficiency in DEX saves, but with a DEX 16, would have a big advantage doing it as you suggest. Also, how would proficiency help? If the same character had a proficiency bonus of +4, would their DEX save DC be 20 instead of 16?
I wouldn’t add proficiency bonus to target numbers. The math works out so that the target number is within about 1.5 of the average roll the character would get on a proficient save.

16-17: 10.5 avg + 3 mod +2 prof = 15.5
14-15: 10.5 avg + 2 mod +2 prof = 14.5
12-13: 10.5 avg + 1 mod +2 prof = 13.5
10-11: 10.5 avg + 0 mod +2 prof = 12.5
8-9: 10.5 avg -1 mod +2 prof = 11.5

With point-buy, scores of 18-19 and 20 are only possible at levels 4 and 8 at the earliest, with +3 prof bonus coming at level 5 and +4 at level 9.

18-19: 10.5 avg + 3 mod + 2 prof = 16.5
18-19: 10.5 avg + 4 mod + 2 prof = 17.5

20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 3 prof = 18.5
20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 4 prof = 19.5

So this system would make it a little harder to hit untrained and high-ability targets, and a little easier to hit trained and low-ability targets on average, but it comes pretty close in the middle ranges.

If you want save proficiencies to still matter under this system, I’d suggest adding them to rolls to end ongoing effects.

This system would also make it very difficult to affect certain monsters with spells that target certain scores. That would make choosing the right spell for the right enemy far more important, as it could make a difference of 10 or more in the DC. YMMV on if that is an acceptable change or not.
 
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Nebulous

Hero
Some official adventures will have a heavy portcullis and say that characters need a combined Strength score of 20 (or higher) to lift it.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I wouldn’t add proficiency bonus to target numbers. The math works out so that the target number is within about 1.5 of the average roll the character would get on a proficient save.

16-17: 10.5 avg + 3 mod +2 prof = 15.5
14-15: 10.5 avg + 2 mod +2 prof = 14.5
12-13: 10.5 avg + 1 mod +2 prof = 13.5
10-11: 10.5 avg + 0 mod +2 prof = 12.5
8-9: 10.5 avg -1 mod +2 prof = 11.5

With point-buy, scores of 18-19 and 20 are only possible at levels 4 and 8 at the earliest, with +3 prof bonus coming at level 5 and +4 at level 9.

18-19: 10.5 avg + 3 mod + 2 prof = 16.5
18-19: 10.5 avg + 4 mod + 2 prof = 17.5

20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 3 prof = 18.5
20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 4 prof = 19.5

So this system would make it a little harder to hit untrained and high-ability targets, and a little easier to hit trained and low-ability targets on average, but it comes pretty close in the middle ranges.

If you want save proficiencies to still matter under this system, I’d suggest adding them to rolls to end ongoing effects.

This system would also make it very difficult to affect certain monsters with spells that target certain scores. That would make choosing the right spell for the right enemy far more important, as it could make a difference of 10 or more in the DC. YMMV on if that is an acceptable change or not.
I think I'll try that, with my other ideas and suggestions from other posters in my next game.

Anyway my players always forget what their DC is and dont always understand why in case X they are rolling the dice and other case I'm rolling the dice. This new idea might make it easier for them as they will always be the one attacking.
 
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.
Has the virtue of simplicity.

What about 'good' saves? Those could get pretty high if you added proficiency - and, if you don't, there's no progression, at all (rather than just none with bad saves).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think I'll try that, with my other ideas and suggestions from other posters in my next game.

Anyway my players always forget what their DC is and dont always understand why in case X they are rolling the dice and other case I'm rolling the dice. This new idea might make it easier for them as they will always be the one attacking.
Nice! I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

Has the virtue of simplicity.

What about 'good' saves? Those could get pretty high if you added proficiency - and, if you don't, there's no progression, at all (rather than just none with bad saves).
As I pointed out in my other post, the math works out such that ability score as target number is within about 1.5 of the average roll for a proficient check with the same ability, so adding proficiency to the target number would, I think, make it too difficult to hit with spells and abilities that target a score. The math does start to favor the attacker a bit at high levels, so maybe having a slower proficiency progression for non-AC defenses could work, but at that point you lose the simplicity that ability scores as NADs gives you. I would probably just accept that NADs will have no progression outside of ability score increases and magic items that give bonuses to saves.

If you want to keep save proficiencies relevant under this system, I would recommend allowing save proficiency to apply to rolls to end ongoing effects. In fact, on further reflection, I don’t think I’d get rid of saves, I’d just have them be the thing you do to end ongoing effects, while attacks against NADs replace the initial save to see if you’re affected in the first place.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
*shrug* seems like more cognitive load than its worth to me.
That may happen. But actually it is not that difficult. Just write two numbers +2/+3 for 15 Dex for example.
Now you know: +3 for ability checks, +2 for everything else.
If you have spells (a cantrip) and conditions that can grant advantage to only ability checks, I am sure you can handle giving a +1 bonus too.
And in the standard character sheet, saving throws and attacks are listed seperately, so actually you probably only use the higher value when you look at the stats during a gaming session.
 
A campaign I played in used CON in a slightly alternate HP system where your CON score represented an additional pool of HP that was actual physical damage that you entered into after went to 0 normal HP. The CON HP healed at a rate of 1/day, and you normal HP were more like speed, luck etc, and healed with a nights rest. This was back when non-magical healing took a month of Sundays. There were some additional rules about how healing magic interfaced with the CON HP but I'm fuzzy on the details after 20 years.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I wouldn’t add proficiency bonus to target numbers. The math works out so that the target number is within about 1.5 of the average roll the character would get on a proficient save.

16-17: 10.5 avg + 3 mod +2 prof = 15.5
14-15: 10.5 avg + 2 mod +2 prof = 14.5
12-13: 10.5 avg + 1 mod +2 prof = 13.5
10-11: 10.5 avg + 0 mod +2 prof = 12.5
8-9: 10.5 avg -1 mod +2 prof = 11.5

With point-buy, scores of 18-19 and 20 are only possible at levels 4 and 8 at the earliest, with +3 prof bonus coming at level 5 and +4 at level 9.

18-19: 10.5 avg + 3 mod + 2 prof = 16.5
18-19: 10.5 avg + 4 mod + 2 prof = 17.5

20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 3 prof = 18.5
20: 10.5 avg + 5 mod + 4 prof = 19.5

So this system would make it a little harder to hit untrained and high-ability targets, and a little easier to hit trained and low-ability targets on average, but it comes pretty close in the middle ranges.

If you want save proficiencies to still matter under this system, I’d suggest adding them to rolls to end ongoing effects.

This system would also make it very difficult to affect certain monsters with spells that target certain scores. That would make choosing the right spell for the right enemy far more important, as it could make a difference of 10 or more in the DC. YMMV on if that is an acceptable change or not.
Just to make sure I am following you correctly, let's look at a concrete example:

Suppose your character is a 5th-level Cleric (WIS 16) casting Sacred Flame (DC 14 save) against a Drow Elf (CR 1/4) which has a DEX 14. The Drow is not proficient but has a +2 Dexterity modifer, so needs to roll a 12 or higher (45%) to save. With your idea, you are +6 for your spellcasting modifier and rolling against the Drow's DEX 14. You need an 8 or higher (65%). You are more likely to hit and reducing the Drow's chances for avoiding the spell from 45% to 35%.

Take the more extreme example of an Ogre with DEX 8. You only need a 2 to succeed (95%), but in the current system the Ogre could roll a DEX save (DC 14) and succeed on a 15 or higher (30%). You are six times more likley to injure the Ogre with your idea. While that might sound great, remember that what works for you works against you as well.

I'm not saying it won't work at all, but it might make the way people look at such effect differently.

I think I'll try that, with my other ideas and suggestions from other posters in my next game.

Anyway my players always forget what their DC is and dont always understand why in case X they are rolling the dice and other case I'm rolling the dice. This new idea might make it easier for them as they will always be the one attacking.
I hope it works out. We've never had any issue with the difference between attacking and saving, but if it makes this easier for your table that's great.

A campaign I played in used CON in a slightly alternate HP system where your CON score represented an additional pool of HP that was actual physical damage that you entered into after went to 0 normal HP. The CON HP healed at a rate of 1/day, and you normal HP were more like speed, luck etc, and healed with a nights rest. This was back when non-magical healing took a month of Sundays. There were some additional rules about how healing magic interfaced with the CON HP but I'm fuzzy on the details after 20 years.
We've adopted various systems such as this and used one similar to it. Basically you remain conscious at 0 and make a check to see if you are knocked out after any hit. You can go negative up to your Con score before dying. Makes the game grittier which we like.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Just to make sure I am following you correctly, let's look at a concrete example:

Suppose your character is a 5th-level Cleric (WIS 16) casting Sacred Flame (DC 14 save) against a Drow Elf (CR 1/4) which has a DEX 14. The Drow is not proficient but has a +2 Dexterity modifer, so needs to roll a 12 or higher (45%) to save. With your idea, you are +6 for your spellcasting modifier and rolling against the Drow's DEX 14. You need an 8 or higher (65%). You are more likely to hit and reducing the Drow's chances for avoiding the spell from 45% to 35%.
I’d call that a tolerable variation from the standard. YMMV, of course, but + or - 10% chance to affect the target seems like a reasonable amount of flex.

Take the more extreme example of an Ogre with DEX 8. You only need a 2 to succeed (95%), but in the current system the Ogre could roll a DEX save (DC 14) and succeed on a 15 or higher (30%). You are six times more likley to injure the Ogre with your idea. While that might sound great, remember that what works for you works against you as well.

I'm not saying it won't work at all, but it might make the way people look at such effect differently.
Oh, undoubtedly. That’s why I made sure to point out that this system would make picking the right spell for the right opponent significantly more important, as it could make a huge difference in your chance of success. This might or might not be an acceptable tradeoff in exchange for making all ability scores relevant with a single, simple house rule, depending on your goals and your group’s preferences. I don’t use this rule myself, but since the question was being asked, I offered the idea.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Just to make sure I am following you correctly, let's look at a concrete example:

Suppose your character is a 5th-level Cleric (WIS 16) casting Sacred Flame (DC 14 save) against a Drow Elf (CR 1/4) which has a DEX 14. The Drow is not proficient but has a +2 Dexterity modifer, so needs to roll a 12 or higher (45%) to save. With your idea, you are +6 for your spellcasting modifier and rolling against the Drow's DEX 14. You need an 8 or higher (65%). You are more likely to hit and reducing the Drow's chances for avoiding the spell from 45% to 35%.

Take the more extreme example of an Ogre with DEX 8. You only need a 2 to succeed (95%), but in the current system the Ogre could roll a DEX save (DC 14) and succeed on a 15 or higher (30%). You are six times more likley to injure the Ogre with your idea. While that might sound great, remember that what works for you works against you as well.

I'm not saying it won't work at all, but it might make the way people look at such effect differently.



I hope it works out. We've never had any issue with the difference between attacking and saving, but if it makes this easier for your table that's great.
I think this is why I love the idea: learn to fight the creature, use the right spell, and you are mostly sure to land it (at least for 1 turn). I hate when my players miss their whole turn because I made a save, this break their fun a little each time.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I’d call that a tolerable variation from the standard. YMMV, of course, but + or - 10% chance to affect the target seems like a reasonable amount of flex.

Oh, undoubtedly. That’s why I made sure to point out that this system would make picking the right spell for the right opponent significantly more important, as it could make a huge difference in your chance of success. This might or might not be an acceptable tradeoff in exchange for making all ability scores relevant with a single, simple house rule, depending on your goals and your group’s preferences. I don’t use this rule myself, but since the question was being asked, I offered the idea.
Well, it makes casting a Lightning Bolt or Fireball against dragons a no-brainer! The best DEX a chromatic dragon has is 14 for Black dragons. Even at lower levels with a modest +6 spellcasting modifier you will be successful 65% of the time, but in the current system with the DEX save, the Black Young for instance has a +5 modifier because it is proficient and would need a 9 or higher against your DC 14, reducing your chance of "success" to 40%. Since 3 out of the 5 chromatics have DEX 10, you would only need a 4 to hit them with your spell or an 85% chance! But they all have save proficiency, even the worst (White with +3) would have a 50/50 chance of saving.

Basically, you are making spells much more effective since not as many targets have a high ability score without proficiency in the save as well. I've attached the spreadsheet if you want to look into it. Maybe there are other considerations you have that I am not seeing, but unless someone wants magic much more effective in their games, I would be very hesitant to implement such a system.

(I know you said you aren't using this, just your offered idea, so please understand the "you" is generic and plural. :) )

comparison.png
 

Attachments

5ekyu

Adventurer
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.
My viewpoint is that the two most common init attributes are dex and wisdom.

Dex is for quick and wisdom is for awareness. Depends on which is the scene's bigger factor. Reaction time and situational awareness seems to most always be valid concerns.

Allowing it to be based on Int if a planning setup is involved? Unless the plan was very complex that wouldn't be a thing I go for myself. If your part of the plan is "and Hulk, smash" or most any of your character's routine well familiar actions, I dont see that as an Int challenge myself.

But certainly, sometimes, case could be made.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I think this is why I love the idea: learn to fight the creature, use the right spell, and you are mostly sure to land it (at least for 1 turn). I hate when my players miss their whole turn because I made a save, this break their fun a little each time.
Sure, I get that as a player and DM as well, but fair warning is this idea makes spells more effective against the PCs as well! Non-DEX-based classes already have a hard enough time saving against an enemy's fireball for instance. Since most PCS will otherwise have a 10-14 DEX and the enemy spellcaster a +6 or better spellcasting modifier is not uncommon, it can be hard on the players, too.

For example, a MAGE (CR 6) has +6 spellcasting modifier so DC 14 for saves against. A character with DEX 12 would need 13 to make the save (40% chance) assuming no proficiency, but the Mage would only need to roll a 6 or better (75%) to "hit" them with the full effect of the fireball. From the player's perspective, the chance for half damage drops from 40% to 25%! As a player, I wouldn't want that personally.

The same argument can be made for other spells against other ability scores, so this isn't just about DEX and fireballs. Suggestion, or worse Dominate Person, used against a low-Wisdom PC can be devastating to the character. Warriors aren't known for having high Wisdoms or often have Wisdom save proficiency, but I'd rather my character have a 35% chance to resist it with normal saving throw rules than a measly 15%,

Just food for thought when you try this out. White-room analysis is always different in feel than actual game play, so maybe it will work out well for you. :)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Well, it makes casting a Lightning Bolt or Fireball against dragons a no-brainer! The best DEX a chromatic dragon has is 14 for Black dragons. Even at lower levels with a modest +6 spellcasting modifier you will be successful 65% of the time, but in the current system with the DEX save, the Black Young for instance has a +5 modifier because it is proficient and would need a 9 or higher against your DC 14, reducing your chance of "success" to 40%. Since 3 out of the 5 chromatics have DEX 10, you would only need a 4 to hit them with your spell or an 85% chance! But they all have save proficiency, even the worst (White with +3) would have a 50/50 chance of saving.

Basically, you are making spells much more effective since not as many targets have a high ability score without proficiency in the save as well. I've attached the spreadsheet if you want to look into it. Maybe there are other considerations you have that I am not seeing, but unless someone wants magic much more effective in their games, I would be very hesitant to implement such a system.

(I know you said you aren't using this, just your offered idea, so please understand the "you" is generic and plural. :) )

View attachment 106656
This is a very good analysis, I appreciate the feedback. This made me reflect on why the probabilities are so far off, when the ability scores are so close to the average roll of 10.5 + mod + prof. I think part of the problem is that in 5e as written, spell DCs are 8 + mod + prof. In order to properly reproduce those probabilities in an attacker always rolls system, a NAD would need to be 14 + mod + prof, not 10.5 + mod + prof. As a result, the caster’s chance of successfully affecting the target is 17.5% higher than I was expecting it to be across all values. This could be fixed simply by making the target number [ability score + 4], but that no longer feels as elegant. Maybe you add prof to all your NADs, and double-prof to NADs of abilities you have prof in saves for? Again, feels less elegant than a simple spellcasting attack against the target’s ability score. I’ll have to noodle on this more.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
This is a very good analysis, I appreciate the feedback. This made me reflect on why the probabilities are so far off, when the ability scores are so close to the average roll of 10.5 + mod + prof. I think part of the problem is that in 5e as written, spell DCs are 8 + mod + prof. In order to properly reproduce those probabilities in an attacker always rolls system, a NAD would need to be 14 + mod + prof, not 10.5 + mod + prof. As a result, the caster’s chance of successfully affecting the target is 17.5% higher than I was expecting it to be across all values. This could be fixed simply by making the target number [ability score + 4], but that no longer feels as elegant. Maybe you add prof to all your NADs, and double-prof to NADs of abilities you have prof in saves for? Again, feels less elegant than a simple spellcasting attack against the target’s ability score. I’ll have to noodle on this more.
Thanks. Like I said there nothing inherently wrong with doing it the other way, but it would change the nature and feel for magic use quite a bit in many cases. I agree that finding a universal and elegant solution would be best. I'll continue to think on it as well and maybe one of us will come up with a good mechanic.
 

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