D&D (2024) Should classes have primary ability scores?

Should D&D classes be mechanically associated with specific ability scores?

  • Absolutely, and these associations should be stronger than they are in 5e.

    Votes: 14 15.7%
  • Yes, 5e gives these associations roughly the right strength.

    Votes: 26 29.2%
  • To some degree, but there should be more flexibility than 5e provides.

    Votes: 35 39.3%
  • No, any class should have the capacity to be effective with any ability distribution.

    Votes: 14 15.7%

Remathilis

Legend
So if you want to do this, you're going to need to make some sacred hamburger.

1. You would need to remove the concept of spellcasting stats. Less hard than you think, since you could take the +0 - +5 you'd get from your ability mod and add it into the spell save/attack mod. You would completely divorce spellcasting from stat and allow for smart sorcerers, charismatic clerics and wise warlocks.
2. You'd likewise need to break the link between class features and ability scores. Things like ability score uses per day (replaced by proficiency per day) is a good start. You'd have to do something about unarmored defense as well.
3. You have to deemphasize physical scores to combat. Primarily, I'd get rid of Str/Dex to hit and AC. Leave Str adding to damage and Dex to initiative. Con can still add to HP. Make it so a fighter doesn't feel he needs sky high strength or Dex to be relevant and add to hit and AC bonus to level and class.

Otherwise, you're just going to create 300 micro features that say "swap x score for y" which is fiddly and only a bandaid. If the goal is for classes to be divorced from a specific ability score, it needs to be from ALL ability scores.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Otherwise, you're just going to create 300 micro features that say "swap x score for y" which is fiddly and only a bandaid. If the goal is for classes to be divorced from a specific ability score, it needs to be from ALL ability scores.
My least favorite thing from PF1. They basically came up with a myriad of make your character SAD feats and abilities which defeated the purpose. They "fixed" it by going full SAD and severely hampering multiclass in PF2. Not my preferred route.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
I chose To some degree, but there should be more flexibility than 5e provides. I'd say for instance a wizard who is intelligence based or a fighter who is strength based will get the typical perks associated with previous editions but if they play off their traditional ability scores they'll get other benefits but not ones they'd normally get. Regardless they shouldn't be penalized, the character will just play different.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I'm probably between 3 and 4. I think concepts like "Int fighter" and "Str wizard" should definitely be supported, but I'm OK if there's a few combinations that don't work. I'd be OK if every class had a choice between 3 stats as their main, for example.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I prefer systems where each ability score has some benefit to what you are trying to do. For example, what if spellcasters needed one ability score to determine how many spells they could prepare, another to determine how efficacious their spells were, and a third that governed how quickly their spell slots recharged?

What if all weapon attacks were Dex to hit and Strength to damage? Or Wis to hit for long ranged attacks? What if you had to make Con checks at the end of every combat to avoid taking a level of exhaustion?

What if Intelligence determined how many tools one could become proficient with?

I'm just throwing out possibilities, I have no idea if any of these are viable, but it seems like the current system of making the system so that people have to scrape to be good at 2 or 3 ability scores at the expense of all others and having ability scores that are mostly pointless to a class is really strange. Or making it so that there is only one "correct" way to build a character.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I cordially detest the existence of ability scores, but I recognize they will never be removed from the game. So I favor any change which reduces their impact. I would like to see the mechanical link between classes and ability scores fully severed.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
We'll probably never be rid of ability scores, since people want to have a way to model one character being stronger, or faster, or more cunning than another. But making it so that one can succeed by having different strengths and weaknesses sounds much more interesting to me.
 


Amrûnril

Adventurer
To a very large extent, I think those associations are inevitable. I think 5e more or less has the strength of the associations about right. Certainly, if contemplating a "wisdom-based fighter", for instance, I'd be inclined to suggest it might be easier to introduce a new class to fill that niche, rather than trying to force the existing Fighter class to do both.

YMMV, of course.
The idea feel like another step towards just choosing from a list of skills instead of having a defined role in the world. If you want a fighter with a Wisdom coolness, you can be a monk.
As I see it, a Wisdom based Fighter would still very much be filling the role of a Fighter. Thematically, they'd be a nonmagical warrior drawing their adventuring capabilities through training with arms and armor. Mechanically, abilities like action surge and second wind and subclasses like Battlemaster or Champion would still be good fits. All of those things seem more important to me in defining what a D&D Fighter is than having a high Strength score.

MAD is an ideal state for class design, with the understanding that you're actually not expected to have three really good stats to pad out the options. The stat array option seems designed for this. As you increase in level, you can pad out the #2 or #3 attribute to enhance the full capabilities of the class.

The MAD classes come closest among the current game's options to giving the sort of flexibility that I'm looking for. A Paladin, for instance, can prioritize STR for their regular attacks, CHA for their aura and save DCs, CON for concentration and general tankiness, or DEX as a substitute for STR. The flexibility in placing these scores comes at the cost of making INT and WIS unappealing even as secondary/tertiary stats, but if these scores were included in the trade-offs as well, that would be a good example of how different ability distributions could distinguish characters within a class while all being mechanically effective.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I prefer systems where each ability score has some benefit to what you are trying to do. For example, what if spellcasters needed one ability score to determine how many spells they could prepare, another to determine how efficacious their spells were, and a third that governed how quickly their spell slots recharged?

What if all weapon attacks were Dex to hit and Strength to damage? Or Wis to hit for long ranged attacks? What if you had to make Con checks at the end of every combat to avoid taking a level of exhaustion?

What if Intelligence determined how many tools one could become proficient with?

I'm just throwing out possibilities, I have no idea if any of these are viable, but it seems like the current system of making the system so that people have to scrape to be good at 2 or 3 ability scores at the expense of all others and having ability scores that are mostly pointless to a class is really strange. Or making it so that there is only one "correct" way to build a character.
I kind of like this, if we were starting with a tabula rasa I would like INT or WIS for attacks (martial and spell), STR and CHA for save against effects, CON for HP and tough it out defences and DEX for AC and Reflex defences or something along those lines.
 

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