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D&D 5E On Attributes

Einlanzer0

Explorer
This is something that's come up around here before, but I don't see any recent discussions on the topic.

I know the 6 scores we have now are iconic, and very unlikely to officially ever change, but if you were to perform some sort of iteration - what would you do?

My biggest issues are:

1.) I do not believe Dexterity and Agility should be the same attribute. I actually think the distinction between them is greater than the distinction between str/con and int/wis. Something like a feline beast is a good illustration why. I know that, technically, you could separate all of the attributes into a lot more sub-components, but again, this is a much more significant distinction than most others.

2.) Wisdom is poorly defined and is too much of a grab-bag of things that don't neatly fit into Int and Cha. The two biggest problems are the inclusion of Perception (should be a passive, independent mechanic) and Willpower (more appropriately tied to Cha in most cases). Wisdom should be slightly reconcepted to revolve about sanity, empathy, composure, and conscientiousness. It specifically should not be about perception or willpower.

4.) I believe there should be an independent spellcasting stat that governs the primary components of spellcasting, irrespective of class. Stats like Int, Cha, and Wis should be rebalanced around the assumption that the benefits they provide to spellcasters are supplemental.

I think if I was to modify them, I'd do something like this:
Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Agility, Intellect, Awareness, Resolve, Thaumaturgy

I like the idea that you can effectively cull attributes for non-intelligent creatures, including most animals, and end up with a simplified list:
Strength, Constitution, Agility, Awareness
 
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Strength - Weapon damage, athletics, grappling, Fortitude save
Agility - AC, melee attack rolls, stealth, acrobatics, Reflex saves
Perception - Ranged attack rolls, initiative, noticing stuff
Mind - Skills known, spells known, knowledge skills
Willpower - Spell save DCs, social skills, Will saves
 

Xeviat

Adventurer
Supporter
It's a tough sell for most. I'll touch on your post without mass quoting it:

1) I used to agree with you, but now I'm not certain. What is an archetype for a person who is Dexterous, but not agile? A fat marksman? What about someone who is agile, but not dexterous? A clumsy runner? I'm not sure if these are best covered by attributes or flaws. You mention agile animals that may not be dexterous, but I think that may be a lack of thumbs or a misattribution of "agility = speed" (explosivity is part of strength).

2. Wisdom is definitely distinct from Intelligence and Charisma. Wisdom is about insight and perception. Plenty of smart people are not insightful. They're fast learners and have great memories, but they don't understand social queues or miss small details. You may say this is low int and low cha, but with training in numerous knowledge skills, and I might agree with you. I do agree that Perception should be a passive saving throw, and investigation should be the active skill. I'd get behind that. I don't want, though, Charisma to be the defacto social skill; having "social defenses" in Wis makes ability balance better. There are plenty of people who are not charming, convincing, or intimidating, but they're still stubborn and fearless. Again, you might say this is about skill training, but in that case, we might as well get rid of ability scores entirely.

3) ???

4) No. Sorry, that was harsh. Why should weapons combat use Str or Dex but magic combat use one stat? That limits the differences between different spellcaster classes. It means specialties will overlap if the standard party cleric and wizard have the same high stat.

The thought I've entertained for a while has been making most stats important to most people. Make weapon attack rolls always Dexterity; make weapon damage rolls always Strength (with Str requirements for projectile weapons like composite bows). Con is con. Int would be for spells prepared/known for all characters. Cha could be for spell DCs for all characters. Wis would be more important as a defense for non physical magic. But this would lend towards a classless system, not a class system.

If you want to make all offensive class power removed from stats, though, you may get more diversity in characters. Rather than assuming every class is going to max out the same skill, you could just have their power grow with level. That would be a big change, but then ability scores could be made even for everyone. A 20th level wizard would be of X power, no matter how smart. A smart wizard would be different than a charming wizard. Or something like that.


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Einlanzer0

Explorer
It's a tough sell for most. I'll touch on your post without mass quoting it:

1) I used to agree with you, but now I'm not certain. What is an archetype for a person who is Dexterous, but not agile? A fat marksman? What about someone who is agile, but not dexterous? A clumsy runner? I'm not sure if these are best covered by attributes or flaws. You mention agile animals that may not be dexterous, but I think that may be a lack of thumbs or a misattribution of "agility = speed" (explosivity is part of strength).

2. Wisdom is definitely distinct from Intelligence and Charisma. Wisdom is about insight and perception. Plenty of smart people are not insightful. They're fast learners and have great memories, but they don't understand social queues or miss small details. You may say this is low int and low cha, but with training in numerous knowledge skills, and I might agree with you. I do agree that Perception should be a passive saving throw, and investigation should be the active skill. I'd get behind that. I don't want, though, Charisma to be the defacto social skill; having "social defenses" in Wis makes ability balance better. There are plenty of people who are not charming, convincing, or intimidating, but they're still stubborn and fearless. Again, you might say this is about skill training, but in that case, we might as well get rid of ability scores entirely.

3) ???

4) No. Sorry, that was harsh. Why should weapons combat use Str or Dex but magic combat use one stat? That limits the differences between different spellcaster classes. It means specialties will overlap if the standard party cleric and wizard have the same high stat.

The thought I've entertained for a while has been making most stats important to most people. Make weapon attack rolls always Dexterity; make weapon damage rolls always Strength (with Str requirements for projectile weapons like composite bows). Con is con. Int would be for spells prepared/known for all characters. Cha could be for spell DCs for all characters. Wis would be more important as a defense for non physical magic. But this would lend towards a classless system, not a class system.

If you want to make all offensive class power removed from stats, though, you may get more diversity in characters. Rather than assuming every class is going to max out the same skill, you could just have their power grow with level. That would be a big change, but then ability scores could be made even for everyone. A 20th level wizard would be of X power, no matter how smart. A smart wizard would be different than a charming wizard. Or something like that.


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1. It's possible that a lot of the issue with Dex/Agility is a simple misnaming of the attribute. It really should be called Agility, since Agility is conceptually broader. Dexterity specifically carries a connotation of fine motor skills, which many creatures that are highly agile do not possess. Basically, Dexterity can kind of be included under the umbrella of Agility, mechanically reflected by proficiency in different skills and tools, but the opposite is significantly less true.

2. Your wording here implies a disagreement I don't think we have. I agree with pretty much everything you said here. My issue is more that there are certain things tucked under Wisdom that I don't really think belong there, such as willpower, and certain things missing, such as composure (which is very much a social skill).

3. I don't really see this as an issue, since all characters can make physical attacks, but not all characters can cast spells (I tend to run slightly lower magic settings than the core rules, which probably helps justify this). Besides, the goal would still be to have mental stats to provide supplemental benefits that provide more incentive to take them. The system I drafted last year basically includes three "primary" attack stats (str, dex, tha) and five supporting stats. Your non-primary primary stats become supporting stats as well, with the goal being that all attributes provide attractive benefits to all characters.
 
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Mallus

Hero
I'm fine w/the classic 6 attributes. I don't find much practical benefit in hairsplitting between ''dexterity' and 'agility'. However... I'd rename at least two of the mental stats.

First, in the interest of heading off any future idiotic arguments about the role of player vs. character intelligence vis a vis a player playing their PC "too smart", I'd change Intelligence to Education. Meaning it would have nothing to smart or dumb player choice/inputs. The stat would only apply to the character's in-world formal/practical learnin'.

Next, in the interest of heading off the similar sort of arguments involving Wisdom, I'd rename it Belief (or Faith). It would describe a PCs relationship to the spiritual powers and have nothing to do with whether a PC would charge into a roomful of trolls or start smoking.

I'd probably leave Charisma alone. It's a source of a fair bit of fruitless argumentation, too. But I'm not sure the problem is the stat itself. The issue is being charming isn't the only way to be persuasive, and it's perfectly reasonable to be an effective negotiator without being effortlessly glib.
 

User_Undefined

First Post
I personally like how W.O.I.N. split its attributes. You have three physical stats: Strength, Agility, and Endurance, three mental stats: Intuition, Logic, and Willpower, two social stats: Charisma and Reputation, and Luck that can help affect any roll. There's also a tenth floating stat if you're not a martial: Magic/Chi/Psionics depending on what you do.
 

Salamandyr

Adventurer
There is a good reason to keep using the 6 stats we have now. "We've always done it that way".

Once you move away from something everybody has acquiesced to; no particular set of stats has any weight of authority behind it. You wind up with dozens of competing standards, instead of one imperfect one.

But, leaving that aside--I'm personally partial to four.

Might--physical prowess, strength, toughness
Grace--agility, finesse, class
Cunning--mental quickness, mechanical aptitude, trickiness, breadth of knowledge
Wisdom--wisdom, insight, willpower

every once in a while I toy with adding another, optional stat, Presence--but I'd prefer to keep that and things like perception as their own unique mechanical systems outside of attribute array system.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I'd have zero stats. Junk 'em. Merge their skill/attack/save mods into the regular proficiency bonus, and the leftovers can become feats or class abilities. Something like this:

Level 1-2: Proficiency bonus +5
Level 3-4: Proficiency bonus +6
Level 5-6: Proficiency bonus +7
Level 7-8: Proficiency bonus +8
Level 9-12: Proficiency bonus +9
Level 13-16: Proficiency bonus +10
Level 17+: Proficiency bonus +11

  • When you make an attack roll, skill check, or saving throw, you either roll with proficiency, or without. If you roll with, you add your proficiency bonus to the roll. If you roll without, it's the number on the die, straight up.
  • All characters get +1 hit point per level (to make up for lack of a Con bonus), and can take Toughness up to twice.
  • All characters get +3 on weapon damage rolls (to make up for lack of attack stat).
  • Base unarmored AC is 12. Light armor has its AC increased by 2 and medium armor by 1.
  • A Strong feat grants +2 on damage with melee and thrown weapons, and doubles your carrying capacity.
  • An Agile feat grants +2 on damage with ranged and finesse weapons (not cumulative with Strong), and adds +2 to your AC when wearing light or no armor, or +1 when wearing medium armor.
  • Class abilities that add an ability modifier to something instead use a flat +4 for a primary stat, or +2 for a different stat. The primary stat is Strength for barbarians, fighters, and paladins; Dexterity for monks, rangers, and rogues; Intelligence for wizards; Wisdom for clerics and druids; Charisma for bards, sorcerers, and warlocks.
That's just off the top of my head, and would need a fair bit of balancing and polishing. I'm sure I forgot a ton of stuff. But you get the idea.
 
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For D&D, I wouldn't even consider changing the classic six - they're one of the game's truly sacred cows.

For other games, other combinations are, of course, possible.
 


I don't think I would change any of the iconic six. It may be that I'm just a grognard who wants the kids to stay off his lawn, but I'm comfortable with them the way they are.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I am not opposed to the attributes as is, but I would prefer 3 to be basically offensive and 3 to be basically defensive (and as long as we are at extremely unlikely to occur things, I would like each class to be strongly linked to 1 offensive and 1 defensive stat, although PC's would benefit by having high scores in all defensive stats, just extra benefit from 1). Dex damage could easily be int damage (studied the target and saw a weak spot) and spells that use wisdom could be restricted to defensive/healing. The two attribute dependency (TAD) is a little too 4e.

Tentatively it would work something like this (obviously class names are not final):

* the heavy fighter (str/con) gets some kind of benefit each round of combat until the # of rounds exceeds the con modifier,
* I haven't figured out what I want to do with the commando fighter (str/dex),
* the champion (paladin/bladelock) is str/wis and gets boons based on the patron type (celestial, fiend, fey, elemental, undead, aberration, primal spirit),
* the psychic's gig is to astrally project out of the body doing damage, but being vulnerable (offense is int based and how long you can maintain the projection is con based),
* I am thinking an assassin/ranger type for the int/dex combo,
* wizard is int/wis (so they can finally cast healing spells),
* the sorcerer is cha/con and is on a warlock grid where if you want to transform into something con makes your transformation stronger and if you don't (the other grid option), the more con you have, the longer you can cast spells continually without changing (similar [but not identical] list of types as champion patrons with primal spirit basically making you a druid),
* bard is cha/dex,
* the channeler (cleric/warlock mix) is cha/wis and is basically snagging powers from fiends, fey, celestials, elementals, primal spirits, and undead instead of getting toys/pets/mounts from them (champion) or changing into them (sorcerer).
 

ccs

41st lv DM
I wouldn't change them at all - except to walk the points where you start getting modifiers (+ or -) back to thier 1e versions.
I just think modifiers are given out way too soon in WoTC D&D.
 

GreenTengu

Adventurer
They are absolutely arbitrary and almost certainly not the best options.

But, unfortunately the classes are balanced based on them so if you go changing them, a lot of things change as a result.

It is actually quite disappointing that so many D&D knock-offs keep the same array as that is really the place where it would make sense to start over with a new array with attributes that are actually equally valuable rather than having the official "dump stats" that D&D has always had.
 


My favorite stat system so far was the one that was in Ragnarok Online:
STR - Carry capacity, melee damage
AGI - Dodge, attack speed
VIT - Max HP, damage reduction, resist status changes
INT - Max SP (magic points), magic damage
DEX - Accuracy, ranged damage, faster casting, minor impact on attack speed
LUK - Critical hit, critical defense, lucky dodge, minor impact on resist status changes

It was also made so that the higher a stat was the more expensive it was to increase it.
The great thing about that system was that pretty much class could benefit somehow from a stat. An archer e.g. does not need STR for damage, but he needs it to be able to carry more arrows with him. Mages don't need accuracy as spells always hit, but DEX also allows them to cast faster. etc.


As for Pen&Paper, stats seem rather unimportant in general. The main thing they do it increasing a modifier by 1 here and there. It seems to be such a waste to have such a granular system with 6 stats. I feel like it really only is in there because players like to play with numbers. Technically a much better balanced solution would be to just give each class like 10 subtypes and these subtypes just completely define the modifiers you have at each level.


In my free form Pen&Paper games I never had more than 3 stats, which I put into the Rock, Paper, Scissor principle:
Rock - Anything involving power
Paper - Anything involving your brain
Scissor - Anything speedy and sneaky
 

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