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%

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Sure. But now there are four Charisma classes.

Not that I actually expect or hope for a change like this. Just blue sky brainstorming for amusement.

Trying to think...paladin, warlock, sorcerer, bard, yeah good point. It's more common as a spellcasting ability than Wis (cleric, druid, ranger) or Int (really just wizard at this point unless you add in artificer). One of these things where the previously missing thing now becomes more common. I do think the bard is the most 'social skills' one who tries to supernaturally sway emotions...for paladin, warlock, and sorcerer Charisma is standing in for force of will and therefore personality.
 

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Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Well... if you count classes and subclasses, there's already 35-40. Arguably, if you wanted a Charismatic wizard you could pick sorcerer. It makes sense to me that a particular class be tied to a specific attribute, but that's why I mentioned making sure that there were ways to allow other themes that could take advantage of other attributes. So an intelligent fighter would need a good strength to do damage, but might have 1 + INT bonus in reactions. With some other martial maneuvers to use those reactions on, this would allow the fighter to simulate someone who has high tactical or situational foresight due to their intellect. So, not only could they interrupt some else's plans (I knew you were going to do that by the shift in your weight) but also in a more explorative context (This rope bridge / earthen dam / whatever is weaker than it appears. See there, there, and there? That needs to be reinforced before we cross.).
Most of those things seem like they'd be more in the roleplaying though. There's nothing in the rules that says your fighter can't be your tactical and engineering genius, it just doesn't fit the existing stereotypes.
 

Most of those things seem like they'd be more in the roleplaying though. There's nothing in the rules that says your fighter can't be your tactical and engineering genius, it just doesn't fit the existing stereotypes.
There isn't a lot of rule support for that, I would agree. As far as I know, only the battlemaster subclass approaches this. Other than that, I'm not sure what you mean by stereotypes in this context.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
The current non-magic archetypes are:

*Brawny Guy.
*Agile Guy.

There's a few archetypes that might make you want a little Int, Wis, or Cha, mostly for skills, but the occasional thing like Battlemasters granting temp hit points or Arcane Tricksters wanting decent save DC's do exist.

It's all fairly vestigial however. You can certainly create a non-magic guy who isn't brawny (Dex based Fighters, Rogues), or a non-magic guy who isn't agile (Fighters with heavy armor). About the only ability score you'd probably not want to do without is Constitution...maybe.

In a group with ample magical healing, maybe a Fighter with only average Constitution would be fine.

You can even make spellcasters without a heavy investment in their spellcasting ability, depending on your spell loadout.

Sometimes a class will reward you greatly for having a certain ability score (like Charisma for Paladins), but not always. It's always struck me as an odd way of doing things.

I remember playing in AD&D, when every ability score granted some kind of useful advantage (at least in theory), no matter what class you were, but even then, some were weighted more than others- only Clerics and Druids got bonus spell slots for high Wisdom, for example.

I remember playing Earthdawn, and I was really impressed how every attribute added something to your character, from basic stuff like carry capacity for Strength, to movement speed and Physical Defense from Dexterity, Magical Defense for Perception, Magical Armor for Willpower, Social Defense for Charisma, etc. etc..

Or when I played games like Stormbringer, which had secondary characteristics that were derived from several different primary ones.

I don't see D&D going in this direction, but it would be nice.
 



I've been reading an rpg called Quest (Home). It's d20 based, and the DC is the same for everything (with degrees of success). Then each class has it's own feat chains, and different feats improve various actions you can take...such as attacking with melee weapons, casting spells, sneaking around, etc.
Funny timing. I also started looking into Quest a few weeks back (because I saw this article: Salvage Union Design Blog Discussing Being Statless - from an upcoming mech game using it). I'd previously dismissed Quest because it tried so hard to paint itself as newbie-friendly and light and everything. Something that is crunchy without using modifiers for its rolls is definitely a thing I could go for right now...

On the DnD front, having just made a new point-buy character for a game about to start, and being delighted something like a Wisdom Ranger is a valid option now (for better spells / primal companion), I wish every class had a similar option of at least two stat approaches.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I do think the bard is the most 'social skills' one who tries to supernaturally sway emotions...for paladin, warlock, and sorcerer Charisma is standing in for force of will and therefore personality.

I agree, which is why I think they should be MAD: Int for spellcasting, Cha for skills.

If more of their magic involved performance-based enchantments (singing songs to charm people, for example) I could see Cha making sense as the spellcasting stat. But that’s not how they work.

Imagine if spell save DCs were set not using the primary attribute of the caster, but the nature of the spell. Hmmmm.
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
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.
Fantasy Craft does almost exactly that. Not sure if I'm remembering 100% correctly, but the way spells work in Fantasy Craft, Intelligence governs how many spells you know, Wisdom governs how many different spells you can prepare at once, and Charisma governs how powerful they are. You wouldn't need to go quite that far for D&D, but I do think that classes should be moved away from single attribute dependency, not towards it. I really like how 4E did it, where each class had a primary attribute and two secondary attributes that their abilities could alternatively key off of for bonus effects.

Having said that, to answer the OP, I personally believe that each class should offer a +2 bonus to one of two attributes when chosen as the character's first level. Or maybe just a +1 to two. It makes a lot more sense to me that the floating attribute bonus should come from the class the character has trained in rather than their background (which is where 1D&D appears to be going).
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Fantasy Craft does almost exactly that. Not sure if I'm remembering 100% correctly, but the way spells work in Fantasy Craft, Intelligence governs how many spells you know, Wisdom governs how many different spells you can prepare at once, and Charisma governs how powerful they are. You wouldn't need to go quite that far for D&D, but I do think that classes should be moved away from single attribute dependency, not towards it. I really like how 4E did it, where each class had a primary attribute and two secondary attributes that their abilities could alternatively key off of for bonus effects.

Having said that, to answer the OP, I personally believe that each class should offer a +2 bonus to one of two attributes when chosen as the character's first level. Or maybe just a +1 to two. It makes a lot more sense to me that the floating attribute bonus should come from the class the character has trained in rather than their background (which is where 1D&D appears to be going).
Ah, yeah, it does, and for a while I thought it was a great system. Then I realized in addition to how horribly formatted the rulebook was, there were some facets of the system that weren't what they presented themselves as.
 

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