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 15.9%
  • Yes, 5e gives these associations roughly the right strength.

    Votes: 27 30.7%
  • To some degree, but there should be more flexibility than 5e provides.

    Votes: 33 37.5%
  • No, any class should have the capacity to be effective with any ability distribution.

    Votes: 14 15.9%

payn

Legend
I kinda don't mind it if it means balancing things that are sort-of equally important. For example, one stat determining accuracy, another power (damage), and a third endurance, and needing to balance these against one another.

There are two problem with this, though. One is that it's only interesting as long as the stats are reasonably balanced against one another. In D&D, they're generally not. Accuracy and power are generally the same stat, which skews the balance. The other is that if you add stats outside the prime ones, they tend to become dump stats by necessity. So a fighter will have great Strength or Dexterity, good Con, and likely mediocre stats otherwise. It really isn't possible to be good at both social stuff and a competent fighter – no popular jocks or himbos here.

That's why I like the way the Troubleshooters does it: there are no interdependencies between skills. You want to be the world's best lockpick while also being loud and clumsy? Just get yourself a good Prestidigitation skill and don't worry about the Agility or Stealth skills. It also neatly bypasses the discussion about what skills should be based on what stats. Should Intimidation be Strength, Charisma, or either? None! That way, things are open for both the Gentle Giant (strong but non-scary), the Thug (strong and scary), the Creep (verbal and scary), and the Bard (verbal and non-scary).
Yeah I dont think I like the idea of troubleshooters at all. It sounds very min/max. I like stat and skill dependency because I want MAD characters. The troubleshooter method sounds like you can have your cake and eat it too, but that totally depends on the player playing up the dumps. Im seeing red flags already with players I know.

I would prefer to leave skills as is (well actually greatly expand the skill system but that's another thread) and look more at damage, accuracy, perception, and initiative. I'd prefer to remove stat dependency from those things. I really like the idea up thread about having a primary stat, a secondary stat, and a tertiary stat based on sub-class. I'd lvoe to go even beyond that, but due to 5E design thats just not in the cards. Essentially, I want to get away from every fighter has x,y,z array and every wizard has a,b,c array like we have in most modern games now.
 

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Staffan

Legend
Yeah I dont think I like the idea of troubleshooters at all. It sounds very min/max. I like stat and skill dependency because I want MAD characters. The troubleshooter method sounds like you can have your cake and eat it too, but that totally depends on the player playing up the dumps. Im seeing red flags already with players I know.
The thing is that there are no dump stats, because there are no ability scores. Mechanically, there are skills (28 of them) on a percentile scale, and binary abilities (sort of like feats that let you improve certain skill rolls, use skills in different ways, and similar benefits). So if you want to be a lockpicking lawyer, you make sure you have a good skill level in Red Tape, Prestidigitation, and/or Security. Red Tape would cover both knowledge of law and bureaucracy, arguing in court, and (with the Called to the Bar Ability) having contacts in the realms of law. You don't need to have a high Agility, because that's a different skill (covering parts of what D&D calls Athletics and Acrobatics), and you certainly don't need to have a high Intelligence or Charisma because those don't even exist.

You still get plenty of differentiation of character, but you don't get the "Bard" syndrome where the guy with high Charisma grabs all the social skills and monopolizes all the social interaction.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
No one is preventing anyone from building the character concept they want. Unfortunately, the reality is, a fighter with an 19 Strength is likely to be more effective in combat than one with a strength of 8.

It would be feasible to give a fighter with a high wisdom some advantages in combat, but that would really complicate the tables.

Of course we could do away with ability score bonuses all together so that everyone is equal....
 

Undrave

Hero
No one is preventing anyone from building the character concept they want. Unfortunately, the reality is, a fighter with an 19 Strength is likely to be more effective in combat than one with a strength of 8.

It would be feasible to give a fighter with a high wisdom some advantages in combat, but that would really complicate the tables.

Of course we could do away with ability score bonuses all together so that everyone is equal....
Who was it that said 'players will optimize the fun out of your game'? That's pretty much how it goes when certain stats can be more important than another.
 

No one is preventing anyone from building the character concept they want. Unfortunately, the reality is, a fighter with an 19 Strength is likely to be more effective in combat than one with a strength of 8.

It would be feasible to give a fighter with a high wisdom some advantages in combat, but that would really complicate the tables.

Of course we could do away with ability score bonuses all together so that everyone is equal....
Fighters and Strength have always been their own kettle of fish compared to other classes and attributes, O-3e, anyways.

Except for strength, a bonus was nice but not really important. The bonus that you received from level soon matched or outweighed whatever impact your attributes had. Bonus spells from wisdom? Awesome at second level, not so big at 9th. Magic items could boost an attribute by 1-2 points, but again, it was a relatively minor change.

Strength, however, was the main boost to fighter damage. Gauntlets of Ogre Power and Girdles of Giant Strength allowed for significant boosts to damage output. The bonus to hit was nice, but at high level you were going to hit anyways. The question was are you going to do enough damage soon enough. That's why strength items, of all the stat boosting items, were the only ones that increased the Strength attribute where you could get +6, +9, +12 to the die roll just from the attribute.

With 5e, rather than having the bonus from level soon outweigh the bonus from attributes, they're fairly matched. A third to a half of your bonus comes from the attribute throughout all the levels.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I just think Secondary and Tertiary scores s the way.

For example Fighter
  • Primary
    • Strength- For Powerful Melee Attacks
    • Dexterity- For Powerful Ranged Attacks.
  • Secondary
    • Constitution- For bonus HP and Runic DC (for Rune Knight)
  • Tertiary
    • Intelligence- For bonus Fighting Styles, Spell DC (For Eldritch Knight), and Psi DC (for Psi Warrior)
    • Charisma- For Morale bonus and DC (For Knight Commanders) and Spell DC (for Shadow Warriors)

But a Cleric
  • Primary
    • Wisdom- For Spell DCs
  • Secondary
    • Strength- For Melee Attacks
    • Charisma- Channel Divinity
  • Tertiary
    • Dexterity- For AC for Light and Medium Clerics
    • Constitution- For HP
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
Who was it that said 'players will optimize the fun out of your game'? That's pretty much how it goes when certain stats can be more important than another.
Stats by themselves don't drain the fun out of a game. It's primarily from the mixing and matching of abilities from multi classing. Eliminate multi classing, and you reduce a big part of that issue.

Also, some classes are intrinsically stronger than others, such as the Paladin. That's a game balance issue, not the fault of the player.

It's also up to the DM to limit the magic items available to the players.

A skilled DM can provide a challenge to players at any optimization level, but it's ultimately up to the DM to reign things in before they get out of hand.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I played around with the idea of Dexterity only contributing to attack rolls, and Strength only contributing to damage. I generated some graphs showing every combination with modifiers totally +5 (e.g. Str 10/Dex 20, Str 14/Dex 16, etc.), vs. AC that ranges from 10 to 20.

In general, and unsurprisingly, Strength was more important against low ACs, and Dex against high ACs. Other unsurprising takeaways:
- Increasing PB was equivalent to lowering AC (i.e., it benefits Str builds more than Dex builds)
- The break-even point between Str and Dex shifts in favor of Dex with 2H weapons (because the bonus damage is a lower % of base damage)

(It should be obvious that increased +hit has diminishing returns, whereas +dmg does not, except in the sense of overkilling enemies.)

Two other things I played with:
- Minimum strength of 13 for wielding a 1d8 weapon one-handed, and I added a new category of 1d10 weapons with Str 17+. (One thing I liked about this is that it gave something to odd scores.)
- Increased Crit range with high Dex. I both tried a tiered thing like the above, and also just a Crit range of 20 - Dex mod.

Both of those changes shifted around the graphs and had the sort of impacts you would expect, but nothing that really shook things up.

The most interesting takeaway is that in many cases the optimum setup was a blend of Str and Dex. E.g., depending on armor class and which of the optional rules I added, sometimes 16/14 or 14/16 outperformed either 10/20 or 20/10. Which is kinda cool. I mean, you should be able to build your character the way you like, without feeling like you have to maximize a particular stat.

BUT....

If ultimately it doesn't matter which blend of stats you take, doesn't that make the choice as meaningless...from a game design perspective...as if you have to maximize one over the other?

So really this experiment just pushed me more toward the conclusion that attributes are poor game design, unless you are going old school and rolling dice for stats, in order. As soon as you make ability scores a player choice it becomes meaningless. IMO.
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
And now the UA has "Primary Ability" as a codified class element. That's disappointing, though not unexpected. On the plus side, this means it's potentially a topic for the next survey.
 

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