Put initial stat bonus in class not background

Ixal

Hero
It seems to me that the most logical place to put the stat bonuses from character creation are in class choice, not background.
The most logical place is race. Inborn, genetic things people are born with. Orcs are strong, Dwarves are though, Elves are agile because thats simply how their race works when compared to humans.

If people can't break out the minmaxer mindset to always take the race to optimize their attributes to their class so be it. Maybe at some point they will realize that the "role" in role play doesn't mean "ranged damage dealer", but WotC should not cater to this minmaxer, wargaming mindset.
 

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CubicsRube

Hero
Supporter
The most logical place is race. Inborn, genetic things people are born with. Orcs are strong, Dwarves are though, Elves are agile because thats simply how their race works when compared to humans.

If people can't break out the minmaxer mindset to always take the race to optimize their attributes to their class so be it. Maybe at some point they will realize that the "role" in role play doesn't mean "ranged damage dealer", but WotC should not cater to this minmaxer, wargaming mindset.
No it's not the most logical. It's the nature vs nurture debate that hasn't been fully solved in the real world. Perhaps if you have some scret knowledge of this you should share it with the scientific community.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It seems to me that the most logical place to put the stat bonuses from character creation are in class choice, not background.

Who cares what you did growing up - if you spent the last 5 years studying to be a wizard you're going to get a boost to your intelligence. Or if you spent however long it took learning how to be proficient in every martial and simple weapon then you'd likely get a bonus to your strength (or dex depending on where you focused your studies). Similarly, it would be super odd if cleric or druid training did not increase your wisdom. It makes sense. Even for warlocks it makes sense to put the stat bonus in class - the first gift from their patron being a boost to their charisma.

The way I would do it is this:
You can increase certain stats, determined by your class, by 3 points. You can put one point in each stat, or increase one stat by 2 and one stat by 1.

This would be my breakdown (open to suggestions on this);

Artificer: Int, Dex, Con
Barbarian: Str, Dex, Con
Bard: Cha, Dex, Con
Cleric: Wis, Dex, Con
Druid: Wis, Dex, Con
Fighter: Str, Dex, Con
Monk: Dex, Wis, Con
Paladin: Str, Cha, Con
Ranger: Str, Dex, Con
Rogue: Dex, Cha, Int
Sorcerer: Cha, Dex, Con
Warlock: Cha, Dex, Con
Wizard: Int, Dex, Con

Apart from making sense, it solves a couple of problems;
1. You don't have to worry about a players story choice (race/background) reducing their game effectiveness
2. No more bio-existentialism.
3. It works with all methods of stat generation (standard array, point buy, rolling)
4. Makes it difficult for new players to inadvertently make choices in character creation that substantially reduce their game effectiveness
5. The stat bonus still feels meaningful

(Plus people can still easily have low scores in their primary stats if they want)

What do you think?
It makes sense to associate the ability improvements with the class. And the list is fair. But even here I want the class to have more ability fluidity.

For example, Int, Con and Dex, probably are the most important abilities for a Wizard. But what if I want a particular Wizard character to be an enchanter, thus need the improvement to go to Charisma? For an eladrin enchanter culture, a Cha Wizard is a trope. Alternatively, I would want an illusionist Wizard to be perceptive, requiring Wis. A high elf military culture Wizard might have higher Str from longsword training.

Ultimately, it is the specific individual concept that requires the ability improvements, not the statistical average.

Associating the ability improvements with the background actually is freefloating, because the default is to design ones own background, thus placing the improvements wherever they make sense narratively.

One can locate the ability improvements with the ability score generation itself, thus free floating.

But making the improvements part of a background that the player oneself designs for a unique character, helps assign narrative reason for why the background happened to develop these particular abilities.

All in all, I didnt expect free-floating ability improvements to be part of the background creation, but it makes enough sense, and I am pretty happy with this decision.
 

Ixal

Hero
No it's not the most logical. It's the nature vs nurture debate that hasn't been fully solved in the real world. Perhaps if you have some scret knowledge of this you should share it with the scientific community.
Nature vs. Nature has been thoroughly solved when it comes to different races. A bulldog is stronger than a poodle because of its race. No one would deny that. The same would apply to fantasy races.
Are there strong poodles and weak bulldogs? Sure, but genetics still affect both breeds on all parts of the scale (the weak, the average and the strong ones).
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Nature vs. Nature has been thoroughly solved when it comes to different races. A bulldog is stronger than a poodle because of its race. No one would deny that. The same would apply to fantasy races.
Are there strong poodles and weak bulldogs? Sure, but genetics still affect both breeds on all parts of the scale (the weak, the average and the strong ones).
A bulldog and a poodle are the same species, yet differ from each others ability scores.

Ironically, the example supports how a D&D race likewise needs floating ability score improvements to adequately represent the diversity within a race.
 

Ixal

Hero
A bulldog and a poodle are the same species, yet differ from each others ability scores.

Ironically, the example supports how a D&D race likewise needs floating ability score improvements to adequately represent the diversity within a race.
Different dog breeds is the closest real world equivalent to D&D races, now that they can freely interbreed with each other.
And the same way dog breeds have different biological characteristics which would be represented by ability score so would D&D races.

Is there variance within a breed? Yes. Thats what the standard array is for, but there are still characteristics which apply to the whole breed.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Different dog breeds is the closest real world equivalent to D&D races, now that they can freely interbreed with each other.
And the same way dog breeds have different biological characteristics which would be represented by ability score so would D&D races.

Is there variance within a breed? Yes. Thats what the standard array is for, but there are still characteristics which apply to the whole breed.
The D&D term "race" absolutely doesnt mean "breed".

To make race mean breed would be full-on reallife racism.

The D&D term "race" is a quasi-medieval-esque term for "species".
 

Ixal

Hero
The D&D term "race" absolutely doesnt mean "breed".

To make race mean breed would be full-on reallife racism.

The D&D term "race" is a quasi-medieval-esque term for "species".
Except for the interbreeding issue.
I wouldn't care about that but I know from the past if I would use different species as examples someone who does not want to discuss it and seeks a way to halt the discussion would try to bring up "But Humans and Elves can interbreed while species X and Y can't so your entire argument is invalid, end of discussion".
Hence I use dog breeds as examples.

But no matter if you use dog breeds or different species, both of them feature inborn, genetic differences to strength, agility, intelligence, ect. which are not "nurture". So it just common sense that different D&D races would have the same instead of every race being exactly the same (nature) and all coming down to nurture. Racial ASI just make the most sense.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Except for the interbreeding issue.
I wouldn't care about that but I know from the past if I would use different species as examples someone who does not want to discuss it and seeks a way to halt the discussion would try to bring up "But Humans and Elves can interbreed while species X and Y can't so your entire argument is invalid, end of discussion".
Hence I use dog breeds as examples.

But no matter if you use dog breeds or different species, both of them feature inborn, genetic differences to strength, agility, intelligence, ect. which are not "nurture". So it just common sense that different D&D races would have the same instead of every race being exactly the same (nature) and all coming down to nurture.
Elves are ultimately immaterial astral spirits made out of thought, or fey spirits. They dont have genetics.

That said. Some chose to materialize and take on bodies of flesh and blood. But these elves can have whatever genetics they want, because magic.

Indeed, according to D&D, the elves adapt fluidly to any environment, implying that while material, their genetics are fluid. Elves use magic to intentionally genetically engineer their own DNA.



In any case, it is the individual character concept that determines where the ability score improvements belong. A statistical average is irrelevant because outliers are outliers.



Personally, I resent "agile elves". According to my reallife culture, elves are personifications of fate and magic, and sunlight. Arrows and Dexterity are irrelevant, and belong to the folkbelief of someone elses culture. I dont want someone elses fantasy racism to interfere with my cultural understanding of what an elf is.

If the default ability score improvements for an elf are +2 to Intelligence, Charisma, or Wisdom, and +1 to any other, I wouldnt complain. Essentially the elf is a "mental race" that specializes in magic. But this predeterminism would also be wrong, because D&D also has traditions of elves with high Strength and high Dexterity, and there is no reason for any fantasy racism to interfere with these elf concepts either.

D&D has many different kinds of elf. There are Intelligence sun elves central to the 3e Forgotten Realms setting, and Intelligence-Charisma eladrin elves central to 4e core. These elves lack Dexterity, and as mental races, are closer to personifications of magic.



Allowing every D&D race to include individual character concepts with floating ability score improvements is a win for the D&D game as a whole.
 
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Branduil

Adventurer
Elves and Dwarves are not real. There is no "makes the most sense," everything is a choice made by the designers. If we try to bring supposed physical realism into it, every single dragon should just instantly collapse under its own weight.

In the past, the designers did make the choice that races should have different stats (actually it was even weirder, since races were their own class at first). Now they are making the choice not to, and for good reason, because racial stats have become fodder for people who want to make comparisons between real-life humans. It's a fictional game, there's no such thing as "18 Strength" in reality. People don't have ability scores.
 

Ixal

Hero
In any case, it is the individual character concept that determines where the ability score improvements belong. A statistical average is irrelevant because outliers are outliers.
Its still relevant because, ideally, you are still playing a member of that race and thus are affected by the attributes of said race no matter how relevant or irrelevant they are to your class.
Personally, I resent "agile elves". According to my reallife culture, elves are personifications of fate and magic, and sunlight. Arrows and Dexterity are irrelevant, and belong to the folkbelief of someone elses culture. I dont want someone elses fantasy racism to interfere with my cultural understanding of what an elf is.

If the default ability score improvements are +2 to Intelligence, Charisma, or Wisdom, and +1 to any other, I wouldnt complain. Essentially the elf is a "mental race" that specializes in magic. But this predeterminism would also be wrong, because D&D also has traditions of elves with high Strength and high Dexterity, and there is no reason for any fantasy racism to interfere with these elf concepts either.

Relatedly, D&D has many different kinds of elf. There are 3e Intelligence sun elves, and 4e Intelligence-Charisma eladrin elves. These elves lack Dexterity and are closer to personifications of magic.



Allowing every race to include individual character concepts is a win for the D&D game as a whole.
And yet D&D basically invented the dexterous elf.
And no its not a win for D&D but a huge loss. You lose history, you lose the flavor of different races and you lose the role in role playing because this change signals that WotC is now considering roll playing the default, playing optimized combat stats. Because there is no other reason (except for a minority who think fantasy elves being different from humans is racism) to have floating ability scores except to minmax your combat power and many people on this board have in the end advocated for floating ASI because "it will allow them play different race/class combinations" as for them playing something not optimized is unthinkable (because they would suck and not be competent. Their words...)

Sadly WotC seems to (probably rightly) think there is more money in tactical boardgames instead of RPGs and thats the direction where they are going. Not playing the "elven blacksmith who picked up a blade himself" as a role, but the "+5 attack AC 16 damage dealer" role.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Its still relevant because, ideally, you are still playing a member of that race and thus are affected by the attributes of said race no matter how relevant or irrelevant they are to your class.
No. That isnt how magic works.



A magically fluid race is magically fluid.

There are many different ways of being an elf, with D&D traditional examples to improve every ability score.

A 5e player can be whatever kind of elf they want to be. And because elves are magic. Whatever the player wants "makes sense".

No one is stopping you from creating a high Dexterity elf.

Other players want other kinds of elf concepts.



And yet D&D basically invented the dexterous elf.
In Original D&D and in Basic D&D, the elf is Strength-Intelligence.

The D&D 1e high elf went with Dexterity to correlate the bow and hiding. However the high elf also needs Strength for longsword. Properly, according to the flavor, the high elf uses magic to hide, not stealth skill checks. 1e intentionally avoided granting mental ability score boosts because they so dramatically empowered spellcasters with extra spells. But flavorwise, the high elf is a mental race with wizardry and high Intelligence. The NPC grey elf has this Intelligence bonus.

D&D has many different kinds of elf concepts with every one of the ability score improvements.



And no its not a win for D&D but a huge loss.
Floating ability scores are a huge loss for racism.

And a huge win for D&D players.



You lose history, you lose the flavor of different races and you lose the role in role playing because this change signals that WotC is now considering roll playing the default, playing optimized combat stats.
All of these different kinds of elf are the same D&D elf race!

The D&D elf race especially has floating ability scores.



Because there is no other reason (except for a minority who think fantasy elves being different from humans is racism) to have floating ability scores except to minmax your combat power and many people on this board have in the end advocated for floating ASI because "it will allow them play different race/class combinations" as for them playing something not optimized is unthinkable (because they would suck and not be competent. Their words...)
I care about flavor first. I require crunch to actualize the flavor during typical gameplay.

I require floating ability scores for narrative reasons. And to adequately represent the history of D&D concepts, as well as unique character concepts.

Free floating ability score improvements benefit me and others.



Sadly WotC seems to (probably rightly) think there is more money in tactical boardgames instead of RPGs and thats the direction where they are going. Not playing the "elven blacksmith who picked up a blade himself" as a role, but the "+5 attack AC 16 damage dealer" role.
Wait. A cookie-cutter race with mechanically racist predeterminism is more like a tactical boardgame, with color coding, and less like a storytelling game where an individual individuates to become ones own person.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
What’s the point of that?
13th Age made gave both racial flavor but also removed sub-optimal choices where what the race didn't match up with any of the ability scores the class needed, allowing playing any race/class combo without penalty. Tasha's eventually did something to meet that goal for 5e a good number of years later, but did it by giving up the racial flavor aspect while 13th Age did both.
 

Branduil

Adventurer
Its still relevant because, ideally, you are still playing a member of that race and thus are affected by the attributes of said race no matter how relevant or irrelevant they are to your class.

And yet D&D basically invented the dexterous elf.
And no its not a win for D&D but a huge loss. You lose history, you lose the flavor of different races and you lose the role in role playing because this change signals that WotC is now considering roll playing the default, playing optimized combat stats. Because there is no other reason (except for a minority who think fantasy elves being different from humans is racism) to have floating ability scores except to minmax your combat power and many people on this board have in the end advocated for floating ASI because "it will allow them play different race/class combinations" as for them playing something not optimized is unthinkable (because they would suck and not be competent. Their words...)

Sadly WotC seems to (probably rightly) think there is more money in tactical boardgames instead of RPGs and thats the direction where they are going. Not playing the "elven blacksmith who picked up a blade himself" as a role, but the "+5 attack AC 16 damage dealer" role.
Well I think now you are hitting on the real reason for removing racial ASI, but maybe not in the way you think. The issue for many people is not "oh no I can't play a suboptimal character," frankly very few people truly min-max their characters to the fullest degree. The issue is that if someone does decide to play an Elven swordsman, some people seem to think "Ah that's cute! Tremendous roleplaying! (It's funny though because he'll never be as good as a real swordsman." I really don't know how to describe that kind of attitude other than fantasy racism. I mean it's literally saying that someone will always be worse at a job than other races, simply because of their heritage. Obviously being racist against fictional races isn't the same as being racist in real life, but it's pretty obvious why many people have been pushing D&D to move away from that kind of design.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
And as we've talked about before... a bonus +1 to a racial PC stat in no way denotes what kind of a person you are. You can't say "All dwarves are tough!" and then create a dwarf PC with a CON 9 (stat buy 8 + the bonus +1 from a supposed racial bonus). That mechanical +1 in no way accomplishes the narrative ideal the statement "All dwarves are tough" was going for. So there's no point in even giving in to the illusion that it does. Which is why WotC has removed racial bonuses to races.

If a person wants the idea that 7' goliaths should be stronger than 3' halflings just by their size if nothing else... they ONLY way to accomplish that mechanically would be to like set Goliath STR minimums at like 14 and Halfling STR maximums at like 8, so there's never any Halfling that is stronger than a Goliath. But how many people would actually go for that kind of rule if THAT was put in the game?

And you know what's even stupider about a rule like that? Even if the game DID put in a rule that that said Goliaths must have a minimum STR of 14 and Halflings a maximum STR of 8... that's only 3 modifier points of difference! Which means you're STILL going to have contested STR checks where the Halfling in going to best the Goliath in strength more than a third of the time! And thus your whole narrative ideal of "all goliaths are stronger than halflings based on sheer size alone!" gets completely stomped in the mud AGAIN. So attempting to use game mechanics to reflect a narrative ideal fails miserably once more.

This is another one of those times where attempts at modeling any sort of "reality" in D&D are ignored in the rules in order to make the game fun. The game wants and needs the mechanics to be more equitable for the most amount of players. And that means yes, we can and will have clumsy elves, brilliant orcs, sickly dwarves, and strapping halflings. So be it. And if an individual DM doesn't want that for their campaign world... they can set up their own rules for their players to make it happen, rather than demand WotC to do it for them.
 

Ixal

Hero
And as we've talked about before... a bonus +1 to a racial PC stat in no way denotes what kind of a person you are. You can't say "All dwarves are tough!" and then create a dwarf PC with a CON 9 (stat buy 8 + the bonus +1 from a supposed racial bonus). That mechanical +1 in no way accomplishes the narrative ideal the statement "All dwarves are tough" was going for. So there's no point in even giving in to the illusion that it does. Which is why WotC has removed racial bonuses to races.
Wrong, because compared to the CON 8 notdwarf the dwarf is though.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
13th Age made gave both racial flavor but also removed sub-optimal choices where what the race didn't match up with any of the ability scores the class needed, allowing playing any race/class combo without penalty. Tasha's eventually did something to meet that goal for 5e a good number of years later, but did it by giving up the racial flavor aspect while 13th Age did both.
Exactly. It made race/class combos pointless. There’s really a point in having them anymore.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Exactly. It made race/class combos pointless. There’s really a point in having them anymore.
I'm not sure which direction your point is facing.

Personally, my direction is "I enjoy that I am no longer limited in picking froma particular set of races for each class so as not to nerf my character and instead have the freedom to pick from the full list of races for any class". I remember back with AD&D and AD&D 2nd when you just were not allowed to play certain combos, like dwarven wizards, and it was a drag.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Wrong, because compared to the CON 8 notdwarf the dwarf is though.
So you just wants "averages". The "average" dwarf is tougher than the "average" nondwarf. Well guess what? PCs aren't average. You want the "average" dwarf, you go to the Monster Manual where the book can present thousands more "average" dwarves with a simple statblock than the dwarves we get from the Player's Handbook. Cause if the dwarf statblock has their CON set at 12 and the human commoner at 10... pretty sure most people would be fine with that. So let's let the MM do the dirty work and stop demanding the character creation rules attempt to do it but fail miserably.
 

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