5E Rethinking Attributes

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I agree with everyone who says the Six Stats are never going to change--they are the sacredest of cows. WotC knows better than to mess with them.

But in the event that Mike Mearls went temporarily insane and did decide to modify the stat lineup... your proposal results in increasing the number of stats from six to nine. That's way too many IMO. Six is already pushing the limit of what's reasonable. I would instead focus on rebalancing the stats better, something like this:

Strength: As written.
Dexterity: No longer affects initiative.
Constitution: Eliminate Con mod to hit points beyond 1st level. Your 1st-level hit points are modified by your Con, but after that you just get your class hit die.
Awareness: All-new stat. Insight, Investigation, and Perception are all based on Awareness, and Awareness determines your initiative modifier. Disbelieving illusions is an Awareness save.
Wisdom: Merges Intelligence and Wisdom into a single stat. No longer affects Insight, Investigation, or Perception.
Charisma: As written.
I think this is a matter of preference. My main issue with the existing attributes is that the granularity is arbitrary. If Str and Con are separate, why are Dex and Agi not? Personally, I like increased granularity in attributes because, to me, it makes character building more interesting. I can definitely understand the argument for simplicity, though, especially if the granularity is present in other mechanics, so I'm going to work up a 5 attribute system for broader ability scores.
 

Dausuul

Legend
If I were undertaking a more radical overhaul, I would redesign the ability scores as "archetype scores." The idea would be that instead of having each score represent a single defined trait, the score represents how well you match a general archetype:

Prowess: The high-Prowess archetype is an athlete or warrior: Tough, strong, skilled with all forms of weapons.
Edge: The high-Edge archetype is a scout or assassin: Agile, stealthy, alert, skilled with light and ranged weapons.
Lore: The high-Lore archetype is a sage or wizard: Learned, strong-willed, intelligent, good at dealing with magic.
Charisma: The high-Charisma archetype is a "face" or spy: Engaging, compelling, articulate, attuned to social nuances.

It would be routine for checks and saves to give you multiple options for which archetype score to use. For example:

  • Attacking with a bow: Choose Prowess or Edge.
  • Seeing through an illusion: Choose Edge or Lore.
  • Climbing a rock wall: Choose Prowess or Edge.
  • Sensing when someone is lying: Choose Edge or Charisma.
  • Resisting a death spell: Choose Prowess or Lore.
The idea would be to break the tight definitions of ability scores and allow a lot more fluidity in how PCs are defined, while also making the system more newbie-friendly. It would mean sacrificing some granularity, but I don't think that would make much difference in practice. Granularity in RPG design is hugely overrated IMO.
 
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the Jester

Legend
I don't really think that's a good enough reason to not iterate on the concepts. Besides, these are mostly additions rather than replacements. (i.e. saying someone has an 18 charisma would still apply)
You don't think alienating a significant number of fans is a good enough reason to not change the ability scores?

And yes, changing the basic six attributes would alienate a number of fans. Probably quite a few.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
You don't think alienating a significant number of fans is a good enough reason to not change the ability scores?

And yes, changing the basic six attributes would alienate a number of fans. Probably quite a few.
Look, I understand your PoV, but I'm not WotC. I'm taking D&D's "iconic" system and rewriting it so that it works better for my aesthetic preferences. They should have been doing this all along and it probably would be less of an issue now.
 
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chriton227

Villager
* I don't think there are many games with more than six stats in print today. Hero System have a lot, but most of them are just derived from the basic stats.
GURPS has four. FATE none.
In the 80's many games had a slew of stats.
This is a complete tangent, but in Hero System 6e (the latest version), they converted the derived characteristics to regular purchased characteristics, so now your Con has no bearing on your Stun and your Dex has no bearing on your OCV or DCV. So as a result characters have a truckload of effectively basic characteristics (22 listed in the characteristics portion of the character sheet). Personally I preferred the derived characteristics, but with the option of purchasing improvements (or penalties) to those derived values where it makes sense for the character.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
There's a concept called Fantasy Heartbreaker (go ahead, google it) which is basically where people make RPGs "like D&D, but better". It's beyond house rules into your own system to do what D&D does with rules that fit your gaming style better, be that lighter or crunchier, more realistic or cinematographic, or whatever your table might define as better. It's a cool place to explore. You've got some cool ideas there.

A problem with Fantasy Heartbreakers is that this particular niche is already well filled, so it will take an extraordinary effort to spread a game beyond friends and friends-of-friends. But that's not why many people do it, so don't take that as a negative. On the flip side though, don't dismiss others simply because they do like some of the existing games in the niche.

To get back to your ideas, is your concept that Thamaturgy be a dump stat for non-casters, or do you want to make it viable for them? As a dump stat it can give your non-casters a leg up and something unique for them there. Alternately, you could link it to magical resistance, or magic items slots allowed, or something.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
If I were undertaking a more radical overhaul, I would redesign the ability scores as "archetype scores." The idea would be that instead of having each score represent a single defined trait, the score represents how well you match a general archetype:

Prowess: The high-Prowess archetype is an athlete or warrior: Tough, strong, skilled with all forms of weapons.
Edge: The high-Edge archetype is a scout or assassin: Agile, stealthy, alert, skilled with light and ranged weapons.
Lore: The high-Lore archetype is a sage or wizard: Learned, strong-willed, intelligent, good at dealing with magic.
Charisma: The high-Charisma archetype is a "face" or spy: Engaging, compelling, articulate, attuned to social nuances.

It would be routine for checks and saves to give you multiple options for which archetype score to use. For example:

  • Attacking with a bow: Choose Prowess or Edge.
  • Seeing through an illusion: Choose Edge or Lore.
  • Climbing a rock wall: Choose Prowess or Edge.
  • Sensing when someone is lying: Choose Edge or Charisma.
  • Resisting a death spell: Choose Prowess or Lore.
The idea would be to break the tight definitions of ability scores and allow a lot more fluidity in how PCs are defined, while also making the system more newbie-friendly. It would mean sacrificing some granularity, but I don't think that would make much difference in practice. Granularity in RPG design is hugely overrated IMO.
Sounds fairly similar to the core of Warrior, Rogue, Mage. In WRM, you have three stats, surprisingly named Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. :)
 

Henrix

Villager
This is a complete tangent, but in Hero System 6e (the latest version), they converted the derived characteristics to regular purchased characteristics, so now your Con has no bearing on your Stun and your Dex has no bearing on your OCV or DCV. So as a result characters have a truckload of effectively basic characteristics (22 listed in the characteristics portion of the character sheet).
But, ah, uh... What a weird thing to do, I always thought that was one of the good parts of the game.

That means that Hero System probably leads in number of base stats today.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Why six scores? It sort of seems to be a good compromise - many games have reached about the same conclusion*.


And it has a long tradition - just like other bits and pieces that are often considered silly, but work well in the game, like HP, AC and levels.

* I don't think there are many games with more than six stats in print today. Hero System have a lot, but most of them are just derived from the basic stats.
GURPS has four. FATE none.
In the 80's many games had a slew of stats.
Actually, Hero has 8 primary - bought directly, no figuring - in editions 1-5.
In 6th ed, all 14 are bought directly; there are no figured atts in Hero 6th.

A lot of games go to 8 stats. Of the most major: Star Frontiers, Hero.
9's a bit unusual, but used in several major lines: everything by White Wolf (Vampire, etc), the 40K line by Fantasy Flight
And 10 is Rolemaster.

Many more "modern" designs are running 3-4 attributes, not 6. Firefly, One Ring, GURPS, TriStat.
 

SirAntoine

Villager
Hey, this is my first post here,
I have been only reading for a while and English is not my first language, so please excuse me if I make some mistakes :)

After 5e was released and I looked at the rules, I had basically the same idea as the OP (that's why I decided to register and log in).

The difference is, i felt like the game had a 'strange' granularity. This is, Strength being separated from Constitution (because both abilities are powerful), Intelligence being separated from Wisdom (in order to let wisdom manage perception and saves).

So my idea was: what if I made a game which is basically the same but with only four attributes:
-Vigor (including Strength and Constitution).
-Agility (Dex, speed, aim, etc).
-Intellect (knowledge, reason, perception maybe?).
-Charisma (including the 'willpower' aspect of wisdom).

That seems balanced enough. The granularity would come in proficiencies, which are a core part in 5e. So you can have lots of Vigor, and be tought and resistant, but not very athletic, or vice versa.

I even thought about making 4 core classes, each one focused in both one ability score and one aspect of the game:
-Vigor classes are Fighters, focused on combat. Subclasses being: Barbarian, Warrior, Monk, etc...
-Agility classes are Explorers, focused on exploration and mobility. Subclasses: Rangers, thieves...
-Intellect classes are Mages, focused on magic and utility. Subclasses: Healer, Diviners, Conjurers, Warlocks, Fire Mages...
-Charisma classes are Leaders, focused on social encounters and getting the best of their companions. Subclasses: Noble, priest, warlord, bard...

I was even hesitating to make Int classes more mundane, like Sages. Some are Healers, other Artificers, etc. and make them good at Downtime Tasks. That would make Magic an optional stat that could (or not) be included in your games, with the class of the Mage being optional leaving room for more 'mundane' campaings.

I have some sketch notes, but didn't write anything yet. It's probably too homebrew to be considered D&D, some core aspects of the game change, but I felt it would work.

What do you think? :)
Very sharp.
 

Aandarius

Villager
Very sharp.
Thanks! :)

I only sketched the skeleton of it. I have many doubts about how to give it shape, and was thinking about starting a blog or wiki to playtest it and have some feedback.

My main problem is Perception/Awareness, I feel like it should be a part of Agility, or maybe Intellect. Maybe splitting Awareness into Agility (perception), Intellect (Investigation), and Charisma (Insight) would fit nicely, giving each score significant importance depending on the context.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
I definitely think WotC dropped the ball in not updating attributes for 5e. They've never been particularly well handled. Here are my biggest complaints in a nutshell:

1. They aren't very well balanced. Some attributes (Dex, Con) are much more generally useful than others (Int, Cha). This is in part due to the way the mental stats are caster-based (see below)
2. Dex is too broad relative to other scores. It really should be split into Dex and Agility, the same way Str and Con and Int and Wis are separated.
3. There is no ability score governing aptitude with magic. This is a personal preference, but IMO it makes no sense that, say, Int, governs literally everything about how proficient you are at casting spells, with no measure for innate ability outside of how smart you are. it also leads to Int being a dumpstat for every besides wizards, which is goofy.
4. The mental stats are all weirdly conceived, poorly defined, and aren't even utilized well within the poor definitions used. As an example - Wis is actually an aspect of Int, and has nothing to do with perception, and is inversely correlated with zeal.

So, here I present my ability score system designed for granularity (there is an option to come for reduced granularity, featuring 3-4 attributes instead of 6). This expands the 6 current scores into 9 (which scales neatly), with one of those 9 (Thaumaturgy) being used only for spellcasters. This is intended for two things - a.) to help balance spellcasters relative to non-spellcasters, and b.) to allow other attributes to be better balanced and desirable for all classes. All spellcasters will use Thaumaturgy to set save DCs and attack rolls for spells, but may use other attributes as well - such as a wizard receiving bonus spells based on Int. It's worth noting that virtually all classes will face increased MAD from these changes, which is actually intended. Character building should involve tough choices, which makes it more interesting and leads to greater diversity among characters. I am well aware that there will probably need to be tweaks to some class features to make sure none are unjustly boosted or nerfed by these changes. It will be a work in progress.

Strength - Muscle power and stamina. Attack Rolls - melee and thrown ranged Skill - Athletics. Secondary Mechanics - Encumbrance.
Dexterity - Hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Attack rolls - finesse melee and ranged. Skill - Legerdemain. Secondary Mechanics - Crit range.
Thaumaturgy - Aptitude for channeling magics. Attack rolls - all spells. Skill - Spellcraft. Secondary Mechanics - Rituals
Constitution - Endurance, health, and tolerance of discomfort. Skills - Focus, Tolerance. Secondary Mechanics - HP and HD
Agility - speed, physical reflexes, grace, and balance. Skills - Acrobatics, Stealth. Secondary mechanics - light/no armor AC, Initiative
Instinct - Awareness, mental reflexes, sensory processing - Skills - Perception, Survival. Secondary mechanics - passive perception
Intellect - education, memory, problem solving. Skills - Lore, Logic. Secondary mechanics - Tactics (variant Hero Points)
Wisdom - judgment, maturity, and empathy. Skills - Caregiving, Investigation. Secondary mechanics - Sanity (resource for mental damage)
Charisma - presence and magnetism. Skills - Influence, Performance. Secondary mechanics - Reknown and Loyalty (charisma also takes on more will based saves)

That's all! As you can see, all "primary attributes" (Str, Dex, and Tha) are tied to one type of attack/dmg roll and 1 skill. "Secondary" attributes (Con, Agi, Awa, Int, Wis, Cha) are all tied to two skills. All attributes have at least one sub-mechanic making them worthwhile for anyone who wants to take them. It's also worth noting that 4 attributes (Str, Con, Agi, Ins) are applicable to pretty much all ambulatory life forms while the other 4 (Dex, Int, Wis, Cha) are specific to intelligent life.
If you're giving magic its own attribute why not combat/fighting as well? Wwhy leave it tied to Str and Dex? That way you could have an average Strength PC/NPC/monster who's good at combat.
 

DracoSuave

Villager
Your reason for untying magic from Intelligence isn't sound--it's only a spellcasting stat for Wizards, EKs, and ATs. Everyone else uses something different.

Your solution is to make all magic one stat--which causes the problem you state. That means that Thaumaturgy would be the primary stat for every character except for Barbarians, Rangers, and most Fighters and Rogues.
 

exile

Villager
Sacrificing the six basic stats would have been the same as handing the keys to the kingdom to Paizo... again.
 

exile

Villager
That last post was a little flip... sorry. I do believe though that sacrificing the six basic stats would have run counter to trying to create a unifying edition of D&D.
 

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