D&D (2024) 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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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

🇮🇱He-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

🇮🇱He-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

🇮🇱He-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

🇮🇱He-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

Hero
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.
 

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