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D&D 5E My theory on 5e's core mechanic

Dragonblade

Adventurer
While your method is interesting, if you're gonna map ability scores and ability modifiers 1=1, a designer might as well rework the math and completely scrap the idea of modifiers.

If:

6=-4
9=-1
10=0
11=+1
12=+2
18=+8
and so on...

Why do we even need both a score and a modifier? It's clutter for generation of characters, stat blocks and everything else. Might as well work the probabilities and make it work with a single stat, no?

You absolutely could. But stats are iconic D&D, so I doubt they would go quite so far. Plus by keeping them, you can still generate stats using classic methods like 4d6 drop the lowest and it makes it easier for players to see how the stat maps back to your abilities in a prior edition.

Plus there is something cool and elegant about having your stat effectively be a Take 10 on your ability score bonus. At least to me anyway. ;)

I like elegance, simplicity, and symmetry at the core of my game mechanics. Even better if that simple core can have options added to it such that the resulting emergent complexity also works smoothly. :)
 

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Consonant Dude

First Post
You absolutely could. But stats are iconic D&D, so I doubt they would go quite so far. Plus by keeping them, you can still generate stats using classic methods like 4d6 drop the lowest and it makes it easier for players to see how the stat maps back to your abilities in a prior edition.

Plus there is something cool and elegant about having your stat effectively be a Take 10 on your ability score bonus. At least to me anyway. ;)

I like elegance, simplicity, and symmetry at the core of my game mechanics. Even better if that simple core can have options added to it such that the resulting emergent complexity also works smoothly. :)

I totally get what you are saying. It does make sense. They are indeed iconic although out of any iconic DnD element, they are the one who has been most underused. Good point on conversions! Your suggestion has merit in that it does make ability scores relevant! I remember scratching my head when 3e came out and wondering why they even bothered with them.

Take 10 was a good addition to the game in concept. In execution, it doesn't matter to me whether it's "take 1" or "take your ability score" or "take 10". What's awesome is you don't roll, you don't risk much but you can't really push yourself to your limits.

Cheers for your ideas! Not sure I can give XP yet :)
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
If:

6=-4
9=-1
10=0
11=+1
12=+2
18=+8
and so on...

Why do we even need both a score and a modifier? It's clutter for generation of characters, stat blocks and everything else. Might as well work the probabilities and make it work with a single stat, no?

Quite simply the reason you need both is that the stat IS the static DC (take 10 as DB calls it) and the modifier is what you'd add to your d20 roll. Both numbers could be used for different (but similar) things, therefore both would be needed.

Easy enough to calculate, though.

Edit to add: I've been playing a game I created called "TWERP" (The World's Easiest Role Play") with my 5 and 7 year old that basically uses this system. (Though not with stats, just with attack/defense skills) and I haven't found the opposed rolls to be time consuming. And that's with kids doing their math.
 
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Crazy Jerome

First Post
Quite simply the reason you need both is that the stat IS the static DC (take 10 as DB calls it) and the modifier is what you'd add to your d20 roll. Both numbers could be used for different (but similar) things, therefore both would be needed.

Easy enough to calculate, though.

Set the numbers right, perhaps on a scale that is not linear, and you can also use the ability score to simplify some otherwise fairly complex stacking rules, while keeping it simple at the table. Then you use the mod that results when you want those stacking rules to apply. That is, if it is +1 per 2 points of stat (even if only canceling out a negative), then you don't get this.

Personally, I'd like to see them do this while also getting rid of negative mods, so that scores from 1 to around 20 translate into an uneven distribution of mods from +0 to about +5 or so (whatever works out with the game math). Then provide most of the mod benefits towards the lower end of the scale. This means that all you get going from, say 16 to 20, is a single +1 and the better checks based directly on ability score. Not that it is not useful, but it is diminishing in value as it goes up.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Opposed rolls on every single attack that goes on each round? That sounds ... time consuming.

You may be on the right track about stats and bonuses (but maybe not) ... but opposed rolls for attack and defense? Hmmm ... I struggle to see that happening.

Switching between opposed rolls and the static DCs might be part of a larger set of options to switch combats between a set of rules that are fast but less detailed and another set for more detail when you want to go into "slow motion" because the fight is so important, or potentially entertaining, or you just want to anyway.

It's also not a bad switch to have when an expected tense fight hits a prolonged "mop up" phase, but for whatever reason (maybe operational resource management), you still want to play it out somehow.

By themselves, I don't see opposed rolls being sufficient for that kind of switch, nor adding all that much to justify the cost. As part of a bigger package, though, the extra detail might be nice.
 

Traken

First Post
However, I don't think they will go to an opposed die roll system. For something easy to learn and quick to play, nothing beats 'roll a die, add modifiers, compare to target number.'

It is a bit more time consuming and difficult to make all attacks opposed rolls, but it has an advantage that I really like. The opposed roll is essentially making the DC a moving target.

As long as you aren't rolling out in the open, it becomes nearly impossible to determine the monster's stats. This will keep the player's from focusing on the stats and let them focus on the fact there's a monster in front of them. It brings back a bit of that mystery and DM interaction some are hoping for.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
It is a bit more time consuming and difficult to make all attacks opposed rolls, but it has an advantage that I really like. The opposed roll is essentially making the DC a moving target.

As long as you aren't rolling out in the open, it becomes nearly impossible to determine the monster's stats. This will keep the player's from focusing on the stats and let them focus on the fact there's a monster in front of them. It brings back a bit of that mystery and DM interaction some are hoping for.

Ooh, I didn't think of that. Opposed rolls does allow you to keep monster stats a bit more hidden. That's definitely old school right there. Good point! :)
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Want to stop focus fire over the course of a battle? Only roll the defense part of the opposed roll once per round. Suddenly, that umber hulk across the chamber that your rogue buddy hit with a natural 4 is looking like a really good target this time. It won't last, though.

I'm not entirely sure that would be a good thing, but it would certainly encourage a lot of movement during combat, and not focusing on things until they died. :D
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Ooh, I didn't think of that. Opposed rolls does allow you to keep monster stats a bit more hidden. That's definitely old school right there. Good point! :)

It's not only that, but rolling for your defences makes you feel like you are actually doing something. You're not just standing there waiting for the orc to hit or miss you with his axe. You are slamming your shield into his face to ruin his blow...
 

Ainamacar

Adventurer
There are other cool things about this system as well. So you are worried about stat dumping? I'm not. A PC could theoretically dump a stat, but due to the opposed roll system, the bonus disparity effect is lessened and there are diminising returns to min/maxing.

The statistical hit you take from lowering one stat, to further increase one that is already high quickly outweighs the benefit. Say you have a STR 16 and a WIS 10. Mathematically speaking you are worse off overall by going to WIS 9 and STR 17. The value gained by rolling d20 +7 instead of d20 +6 is less than the drawback of going from d20 to d20 -1 for WIS checks and saves.

Dumping a stat makes you far far more vulnerable to a spell that targets one of your dump stats. There is less incentive to try to get that 18 STR, if its going to leave you with a CHA of 8. A -2 penalty to all your charm saves? You'll get to roll that massive attack bonus all right. Against your allies because the DM's monster dominated you.

First off, that was a great post and I think you might be onto something. I do have a quibble with what you wrote above, though. I know you read my earlier post about opposed checks, but for everyone else I want to clarify this aspect:

In an opposed check, the further apart the attacker's bonus a and the defender's bonus b are, the less difference a small change in either of those bonuses makes. (For example, if a-d is 10, increasing the attack by 1 or decreasing the defense by 1 changes the probability of success by about 2.5%) When a and b are nearly the same, however, a +1 or -1 change does change the probability of success by close to the 5% with which we're familiar. (I've assumed that defenders win ties, and for simplicity ignored anything special that might happen on a natural 1 or 20).

What this means is that small changes to ability scores or other bonuses have the largest effect in closely matched contests, such as when a character is attacking a level-appropriate monster's best defense, and the least effect when there is already a large disparity.

Now, it is true that increasing a large ability score does have diminishing returns when attacking a poor defense, compounded by the fact that in general it is best to attack a target's weakest defense whenever possible. However, the exact same math applies to changing one's dump stats, meaning a small decrease to an already low stat won't greatly affect the probability of success against it.

Improving a dump stat by 1 when fighting an opponent with a low attack (a-d is close to 0) will improve the chance of saving by about 5%. Most creatures tend not to attack with such low scores, so this will be a rare occurrence. More common is fighting an opponent with a high attack (a-d close to 10), where increasing the dump stat by 1 will improve it only by about 2.5%.

Where does this leave the min-maxer? Suppose one is trying to decide whether to increase their best stat or a dump stat by 1. If they use their best stat every round for attacks, then every round they can expect to be at least 2.5% more successful if they increase it by 1. Although they try to attack a target's lowest score, sometimes that isn't possible so it is likely to actually be somewhere in between 2.5% and 5% overall. On those occasions where the high stat is used for defense, it probably gives closer to the 5% benefit because the attacker is probably attacking with a high stat. If they increase their dump stat, then they can expect to be at least 2.5% more likely to save when defending with the dump stat. Since an opponent's attacks are almost always made using their good ability scores and bonuses (so a-d is still large), they should probably expect this to stay close to the 2.5% mark. Furthermore, if they expect to use their good stat more frequently than their dump stat, the improvement of the good stat is expected to be more impactful in the long term.

Therefore your statement that "The value gained by rolling d20 +7 instead of d20 +6 is less than the drawback of going from d20 to d20 -1" is misleading. In any given situation the one that is better will depend on the magnitude of a-d, and even if we fix the initial a-d in the opposed check and assume each increase would be used equally often, improving the dump stat is only slightly better. For example, if a-d is +5, then an attack has a 70% chance of success. Increasing a by 1 (such as from improving the attack stat) gives a-d=+6, which has a 73.75% chance of success, a +3.75% change. Improving the defense by 1 gives a-d=4 and the attack has a 66% chance of succeeding, or a -4% change. In other words, the change due to improving one's defense is only .25% better than the change due to improving one's attack in these analogous situations. (This .25% advantage for improving the defense holds for any +/- 1 change in a-d when a-d is initially positive. If a-d <= 0, then improving the attack has the .25% advantage.) In short, this sort of one-to-one trade is basically a wash in terms of pure probability if all a-d situations were equally likely, but by the arguments in the last paragraph we expect situations that favor the higher stat to appear more frequently.

Having given it this additional thought, I suppose I need to modify the conclusion of my earlier post. Opposed rolls introduce some interesting tensions:
1) The greater returns for small changes in mid-range ability scores compared to those at either extreme will tend to incentivize players to keep the middle ground.
2) Despite this, decreasing an infrequently used low stat to increase a frequently used high stat on a 1-for-1 basis will be a favorable trade.
3) In any case, large disparities in scores have less impact than they would in 3.5/4e.

These suggest to me that opposed checks may tolerate min/maxing (and other wide disparities) more so than actively discourage it. For games with rolled stats that is a clear win. For point-buy games #2 suggests that some escalating cost for higher scores will still be needed.

Oof, for a quibble that took a bit more effort than I intended.
 

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