D&D 5E Possible Changes to Rebalance the Ability Scores

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I always had the feeling 5E was trying to downplay the system mastery elements of 3-4E. Are you sure Wizards cares whether stats are balanced? This observation is mostly in the context of the OP’s suggestion that the next edition must “fix” stats.
I'm not sure that WotC cares if the stats are unbalanced, but they are. IMO, in the next edition, all the ability scores should be equally important.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Way too many changes.

If you think Dexterity is the clear winner and Intelligence the clear loser, start by removing Dex bonus from something important and replace it with Int bonus. Initiative is a good start but I think AC is even more dramatic.
Is there a way to make the ability scores too balanced? Each of the suggestions I mention would help balance the ability scores, but are not significant enough to make Dexterity or Charisma be bad ability scores.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
  • Nerf ranged weapons and boost melee combat. Ranged combat already has the benefit of being away from all the action, and the majority of monsters are stronger at melee combat than ranged. This makes an imbalance. I recommend either decreasing the damage dice of most ranged weapons by one size, and/or increasing the damage dice of melee combat one size. For example: Greatswords/Mauls do 2d8 damage, Glaives/Halberds do 1d12, Greataxes/Lances do 1d12+proficiency bonus or something like that. Melee combatants should get an automatic Parry reaction to prevent damage. Ranged Combatants should gain other disadvantages of attacking at range. Both should be equal. Maybe even give an AC boost to melee combatants, or two different armor classes, one for ranged attacks and another for melee. There could be different mechanics to balance these styles of combat as well. These boosts to melee combat could also apply to Finesse Weapons, but this change would still help balance out STR and DEX a bit.

One of my DMs has jumped on this bandwagon and I think it is horribly misguided. How can the DM say ranged fighters are OP when it is the DM that controls every aspect of an encounter?

If you want to give melee characters a boost then use the optional flanking rule that gives them advantage. There is no easy way that I'm aware of for ranged fighters to gain such an advantage at a distance. Also, most DMs I've played with ignore rules for half and 3/4 cover. Start implementing rules as written and there should be no problem.

In our campaigns it's almost never the tank or barbarian that gets knocked out. It's usually the lightly armored rogue or ranged fighter that falls before them because most of the maps are too small to allow them to maintain distance from the enemy. Even in wilderness maps the distance is usually less than 100 feet. That's just two to three rounds of movement to overrun the archer. You can throw in a couple of extra meat shields or some fast moving monsters or mounted cavalry to run the archer down just like it was done throughout history.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
One of my DMs has jumped on this bandwagon and I think it is horribly misguided. How can the DM say ranged fighters are OP when it is the DM that controls every aspect of an encounter?
First, it's not a bandwagon. Second, because there are many more monsters in D&D that use melee than ranged. So, if the game is designed around the majority of monsters being in melee, if ranged characters are OP compared to melee characters, that is an issue.
If you want to give melee characters a boost then use the optional flanking rule that gives them advantage. There is no easy way that I'm aware of for ranged fighters to gain such an advantage at a distance. Also, most DMs I've played with ignore rules for half and 3/4 cover. Start implementing rules as written and there should be no problem.
Third, flanking is OP and requires multiple people in melee. Also, it's easier to hide at range than in melee, so that is a way to get advantage. Fourth, that's an anecdote, and I do use cover all the time. Fifth, I have strictly use rules as written, and there is a problem, as many others have noticed in this edition.
In our campaigns it's almost never the tank or barbarian that gets knocked out. It's usually the lightly armored rogue or ranged fighter that falls before them because most of the maps are too small to allow them to maintain distance from the enemy. Even in wilderness maps the distance is usually less than 100 feet. That's just two to three rounds of movement to overrun the archer. You can throw in a couple of extra meat shields or some fast moving monsters or mounted cavalry to run the archer down just like it was done throughout history.
Sixth, yet another anecdote. Seventh, does the archer let the enemies catch up to them? A rogue gets to dash as a bonus action and their movement, so they should never take melee damage.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If you want to give melee characters a boost then use the optional flanking rule that gives them advantage. There is no easy way that I'm aware of for ranged fighters to gain such an advantage at a distance. Also, most DMs I've played with ignore rules for half and 3/4 cover. Start implementing rules as written and there should be no problem.

In our campaigns it's almost never the tank or barbarian that gets knocked out. It's usually the lightly armored rogue or ranged fighter that falls before them because most of the maps are too small to allow them to maintain distance from the enemy. Even in wilderness maps the distance is usually less than 100 feet. That's just two to three rounds of movement to overrun the archer. You can throw in a couple of extra meat shields or some fast moving monsters or mounted cavalry to run the archer down just like it was done throughout history.
How many DMs even have (or enforce) significant penalties for firing into melee? Absent those, who in their right mind would ever play a front-liner when all you need to do is hire (or charm!) a bunch of expendable grunts to hold the line while you-as-PC stand back in safety and shoot the opponents like fish in a barrel.

Also, what's with this "maps are too small" bit? Indoors, sure, spaces are often confined, which means more melee and less opportunity for ranged anyway so no problem there. But outdoors? Barring severe terrain obstacles such as a cliff, the "map" is as big as outdoors itself! The world doesn't end at the edge of the battlemap...
 


Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
There are also some with a speed that can catch up to a dash-and-dash-and-moving rogue with just a dash-and-move.
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
Why not have STR dictate the range of most ranged weapons? Crossbows would be the probable exception - so make loading time dictated by STR.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I don't disagree, but I should point out that plenty of monsters can also dash as a bonus action.
How many is "plenty?" I've used most of the monsters in the Monster Manual, and have only ran into a few that can dash as a bonus action. In my experience, there were more monsters with dash as a legendary action than a bonus action dash, but my experiences might be different from yours.

In my experience, if a ranged character wants to stay out of melee, they normally can for most of the combat.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Why not have STR dictate the range of most ranged weapons? Crossbows would be the probable exception - so make loading time dictated by STR.
I like the idea, but I'm not sure how you would go about doing that. It seems like it would be a lot of math crunching for each character that wouldn't really benefit the game a ton.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
There are also some with a speed that can catch up to a dash-and-dash-and-moving rogue with just a dash-and-move.
Yes, there are some that do have very high speeds, but from my experience, they're not super commonly used. Anyway, it depends on how far apart they start combat.

This is mostly off topic. The point is that ranged combat is OP compared to melee combat, and part of this discussion is how it can become more balanced.
 



You could always allow Str to Add to AC as an alternative to Dex.

Then maybe give everyone Heavy Armour Mastery as part of proficiency to keep Heavy Armour worth using.

Another thing I've considered is base bonus hit points on the lowest of Strength or Dex.

It might be worth looking at 13th Age for some ideas as well.

In 13th Age AC is based on the middle of Con/Dex/Wis
 

Argyle King

Legend
I'd prefer that Initiative not be tied to any particular ability score.

Make initiative a flat d20 roll; feats and abilities could still exist to modify the results of the roll.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
  • Take away [Dexterity's] importance for Initiative. ...

Make it a skill, make it INT based. Classes that fight get proficiency for free, classes that are fast get to add a different ability or get Expertise.

  • Make heavy armor better. Dexterity is too useful when it comes to Armor Class...

In Rolemaster, armor actually makes you easier to hit-- in a system where margin of success matters-- but significantly reduces the severity of most hits. There's a tradeoff there with armor being a massive advantage against smaller attacks, and a slight disadvantage against "gonna kill you anyway" attacks.

Dexterity and Unarmored Defense class features add to AC. Armor adds to AC and reduces any damage that targets AC and/or Dex Save.

  • Allow characters to start with more skills/tools/languages/weapon proficiencies equal to their Intelligence modifier. This would just boost the stat and make it a lot more valuable.

Tools and languages I can definitely see working here. Skills is awkward, because as in 3.X you get the situation where being smarter makes you better at everything simply because you have more skill points-- Fighters don't get enough skill points to max out Climb, Jump, Swim, Balance, and Intimidate unless they are high INT humans.

  • First and most importantly, sever its ties to hit points. You can still add your Constitution modifier to your hit points, but only if you are a certain class.

In Shroompunk, which is (mostly) based on B/X rulesets with some adjustments, I'm using playing with some ideas:
  • You add your Constitution score (plus rolled HD) to hit points at 1st level, but not your Constitution modifier.
  • You add/subtract your Constitution modifier to your daily Hit Dice, 5e style. (Which limit magical healing, too, 4e style.)
  • You reroll your HD every level, taking the better of the new result or the old result plus a value derived from either class or CON.
  • Some healing abilities, especially self-healing, are improved by CON.

  • Make Sorcerers use Constitution as their spellcasting ability.

I don't mind this, but it makes Dwarves the best Sorcerers unless you're using the new ASI rules.

  • Add a skill called Endurance that is Constitution based. ...
  • Make Concentration more common. ...

I am all about these. Friendly reminder that in 3.X, Concentration was actually a skill, and it was CON based. I frequently ruled that the Endurance feat was a skill, and that Concentration was a separate skill combined with Autohypnosis from Expanded Psionics Handbook.

  • Make Death Saving Throws be Constitution based. This would make it so even though they don't necessarily need Con for their HP, it is still important for their survival.

This has the added benefit of making classes that are proficient in Constitution saves extra hard to kill-- and you look at those classes, Fighter, Barbarian, Sorcerer, high-level Monks (others I'm missing?) that is entirely appropriate.

Strength: half your ability modifier to hit / full ability modifier to damage.
Dexterity: full ability modifier to hit / half ability modifier to damage.

That is so elegant, I am awestruck and I am stealing this. Also key this into the function of the -5/+10 feats.
 

Endurance was a skill in 4E. It was probably removed in 5e because it tended to be reactive and therefore Constitution saves made it redundant.
 

Strength: half your ability modifier to hit / full ability modifier to damage.
Dexterity: full ability modifier to hit / half ability modifier to damage.
Wouldn't it just be easier to say Dexterity to hit, Strength to damage universally. Wouldn't it amount to the same?
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Wouldn't it just be easier to say Dexterity to hit, Strength to damage universally. Wouldn't it amount to the same?
Easier? Maybe. Wouldn’t it amount to the same? Mathematically, maybe (though im not sure).

But it isn’t the same. It feels different. And the feeling is important. Deciding to invest heavily in Strength OR Dexterity is different than thinking “oh I need both of these to hit and deal damage.”
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Someone else mentioned it earlier in the thread, but I find Pathfinder 2nd edition way of handling initiative to be really cool.

Instead of your initiative pulling the modifier from an ability score, it's tied to a skill. In most cases, you'll use your Perception skill as a modifier for your initiative, but in different situations you could use skills like Stealth, Deception, Athletics, etc.

Here's the link to the rule: Link.

I'll use this opportunity to echo back to something I enjoyed in D&D 4th edition. I think WotC overdid it a bit, but I really liked the idea of your saving throws taking the highest value between two ability scores. So your Fortitude would be the highest modifier between your Strength or Constitution, your Will was the highest between Charisma and Wisdom and your Reflex the highest between Dexterity and Intelligence.

I often like the idea of characters achieving the same end results but in different way. A fighter wearing plate and a monk being unarmoured both achieve a high AC in different ways that fit their classes. So back to the discussion of maybe toying with Initiative to nerf Dexterity a bit and give value to Intelligence.

How about simply allowing characters to take the higher modifier of either Dexterity or Intelligence? This could open up a different range of builds.

I also think the removal of certain skills based on Intelligence from 3rd edition and 4th edition hurt Intelligence a bit.
 

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