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%

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I’d like more MAD in classes but in a way that changes the feel depending on how you prioritise, two of your ‘required’ stats are based on class and your third your subclass, like maybe, all rogues require DEX and INT for stealth and more skills but the deceptive rogue needs CHA, a spy rogue needs WIS, the thug rogue needs STR...
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I’d like more MAD in classes but in a way that changes the feel depending on how you prioritise, two of your ‘required’ stats are based on class and your third your subclass, like maybe, all rogues require DEX and INT for stealth and more skills but the deceptive rogue needs CHA, a spy rogue needs WIS, the thug rogue needs STR...
This. I think you hit on an awesome way to use subclasses to differentiate the classes a bit so they are not so one note.
 

Staffan

Legend
Is this where I plug the Troubleshooters again? Because Troubleshooters doesn't have ability scores the same way D&D does. Strength, Agility, Endurance, and Willpower exists, but they're skills just like any other. Want to punch people? That's the Melee skill. Want to lift heavy things? That's the Strength skill. There's no mechanical correlation between the two.

Mind you, it's a very different game from D&D, but I like that there's no correlation between e.g. the Red Tape skill and the Science skill.

Come to think of it, that's my main problem with stats being so strongly tied to classes in D&D: it reduces your options in other areas. It's basically impossible to be a well-rounded knight in D&D, because in addition to Strength and Constitution for fighting, you'd need Charisma (for leadership and court stuff), Intelligence (for history), and Wisdom (for animal handling/riding).
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Is this where I plug the Troubleshooters again? Because Troubleshooters doesn't have ability scores the same way D&D does. Strength, Agility, Endurance, and Willpower exists, but they're skills just like any other. Want to punch people? That's the Melee skill. Want to lift heavy things? That's the Strength skill. There's no mechanical correlation between the two.

Mind you, it's a very different game from D&D, but I like that there's no correlation between e.g. the Red Tape skill and the Science skill.

Come to think of it, that's my main problem with stats being so strongly tied to classes in D&D: it reduces your options in other areas. It's basically impossible to be a well-rounded knight in D&D, because in addition to Strength and Constitution for fighting, you'd need Charisma (for leadership and court stuff), Intelligence (for history), and Wisdom (for animal handling/riding).
I dont mind MADness at all. I just think the system has to account for it. Since 3E, there is this idea you must max primary and forget about the rest. I dont think that's quite as punishing in 5E, but neither is it rewarded in play.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I dont mind MADness at all. I just think the system has to account for it. Since 3E, there is this idea you must max primary and forget about the rest. I dont think that's quite as punishing in 5E, but neither is it rewarded in play.
I think the shift from magic items are expected to churn over to magic items are "OpTiOnAl" actually makes the pressure to maximize prime scores even greater. Now a player can't do things like find small magic items that shore up their weaknesses here & there while the GM doesn't have room mechanically to hook such things safely if they see a need thanks to attunement only proficiency bonus only & a complete lack of prerequisites anywhere

Lets say that the GM notices bob's interesting character needs some help with underwater basket weaving & it seems like a good idea to give bob a magic item that will help him with that. The GM can expect one of three situations... A: bob realizes he no longer needs to strive towards the underwater basketweaver hybrid & can take that magic item to jump into a completely different now overtuned hybrid. B: Alice is already pretty good at underwater basketweaving & the group gives it to alice who can use it without issue to be iover the top at it. C The gm tried to insulate the game from problematic situation A or B & the entire group turns their nose up at the "not objectively better in every way" trash magic item.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
I dont mind MADness at all. I just think the system has to account for it. Since 3E, there is this idea you must max primary and forget about the rest. I dont think that's quite as punishing in 5E, but neither is it rewarded in play.

The biggest problem is when you tie important aspects of the class's power to higher ability score.

In 5e, the number of spells you can prepare, as well as the Spell DC/to Hit, is partially governed by Intelligence. In 4e, it was spell rolls. In 3e: not only was DC determined, it was a factor in starting spells known and bonus spells. In AD&D, the number of spells you could learn, max spell level, and chance to learn spells were all governed by it. In Basic: you got a bonus to your Xp.

In every edition but Basic, high Intelligence literally defined how good a wizard you were. The gulf between a 13 and a 16 was massive: it determined how hard your spells were to resist, how many you know, and even how often you can use them. In Basic; it was 5% xp. Every edition but Basic all but demands you put your highest score in Int and do nothing but improve said score (either because it would become a roadblock if you reached high level without an equally high Int score or because the monster/save math demands you max your saves/attack). Basic just meant you'd level a little faster.

If D&D returned back to decoupling raw spell power with Intelligence (for wizards, replace caster stat as appropriate for other classes) you wouldn't see the raw dash to get 20+ Int scores as soon as possible. And I think that would be healthy for the game. But I don't suspect people are quite willing to have Int be a minor or non-factor in spellcasting just yet...
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
The biggest problem is when you tie important aspects of the class's power to higher ability score.

In 5e, the number of spells you can prepare, as well as the Spell DC/to Hit, is partially governed by Intelligence. In 4e, it was spell rolls. In 3e: not only was DC determined, it was a factor in starting spells known and bonus spells. In AD&D, the number of spells you could learn, max spell level, and chance to learn spells were all governed by it. In Basic: you got a bonus to your Xp.

In every edition but Basic, high Intelligence literally defined how good a wizard you were. The gulf between a 13 and a 16 was massive: it determined how hard your spells were to resist, how many you know, and even how often you can use them. In Basic; it was 5% xp. Every edition but Basic all but demands you put your highest score in Int and do nothing but improve said score (either because it would become a roadblock if you reached high level without an equally high Int score or because the monster/save math demands you max your saves/attack). Basic just meant you'd level a little faster.

If D&D returned back to decoupling raw spell power with Intelligence (for wizards, replace caster stat as appropriate for other classes) you wouldn't see the raw dash to get 20+ Int scores as soon as possible. And I think that would be healthy for the game. But I don't suspect people are quite willing to have Int be a minor or non-factor in spellcasting just yet...
I hear ya. I do think stat caps helps in this regard compared to 3E/PF1, but also see that every wizard has nearly identical stats issue. Its not just wizards either, any caster or non-caster is going to have an array or two that every player chooses. I think decoupling some of stat mod weight and placing it on class would help out. Though, I do think there ought to be more that the stats do for characters in general. Each stat should be attractive and dumping should be painful, IMO of course.
 

Staffan

Legend
I dont mind MADness at all. I just think the system has to account for it. Since 3E, there is this idea you must max primary and forget about the rest. I dont think that's quite as punishing in 5E, but neither is it rewarded in play.
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).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
To me each class should have an important choice of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary scores.

To the point that the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary scores of every member of a class should tell you more or less how it plays.
 

I like some flexibility. A fighter, paladin, artificer, or ranger should work fine as strength or dex. Maybe warlock should be able to choose int or cha as their casting modifier.

But I don't want it completely freeform. Barbarians hitting people with their int, or wizards casting with their strength is a complete no go for me. I already hate it how certain subclasses do weapon attacks with their casting stat (hexblade, battlesmith, and armourer).
 

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