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Stat Balance

keterys

First Post
I was recently noticing in game the stat imbalance between those who can be focused on Dex and Con, and those who cannot, and it's led to me pondering minor rule changes. Or at least discussing them, cause that's the fun part, and maybe something will get into a game some day, or not.

Problem:
At the moment, several stats are derived from a median value of statistics. This is a good thing, in that it prevents overfocus in one ability to dominate your statistics. Those stats are:

AC: Dex, Con, Wis
PD: Str, Dex, Con
MD: Int, Wis, Cha

However, two other important combat statistics do not see similar treatment:
HP (and Recovery bonus): Con
Init: Dex

Further, those same two stats (Dex + Con) allow you to maximize your AC and PD, the two most attacked defenses.

Ergo, mathematically speaking, those who can focus on Dex and Con may choose to gain a notable advantage in statistics over those who do not.

--

Solution Idea 1)

Add HP and Init to the same stat treatment as the other stats:
Init: Dex, Int, Wis
HP: Str, Con, Cha

Note, I picked those stats based on what I felt made sense for them first, in case you're wondering.

I now examine to see if that helps balance things at all. We now see that of the 15 ability spots, each stat shows up 2 or 3 times, and further that there's no additional overlap between Dex and Con. Dex, Con, and Wis have a slight potential edge, but overall that's a better spread than I expected at first pass.

Anyone see any problem with that approach? Somewhere it screws up?

Solution Idea 2 is a little more wild)

For each of your abilities (Str,Dex,Con,Int,Wis,Cha), choose one derived statistic to apply it - probably limited to the ranges mentioned in #1. Note that there's only 5 derived, so you can skip one stat. One dump stat seems reasonable, but you _could_ choose to add yet another derived statistic to further the exercise.

Example:

The elf ranger (S12, D20, C16, I10, W14, Ch8) looks at the list and decides his Cha is his dump stat, so splits the other 5 up like so:

AC: Dex +5
PD: Str +1
MD: Int +0
Init: Wis +2
HP: Con +3

Note that #2 will result in a greater deviation than standard play. Comparison using the above character:

Standard:
AC uses Con for +3
PD uses Con for +3
MD uses Int for +0
Init uses Dex for +5
HP uses Con for +3

It is worth note that a standard version of the character might instead choose to have a Dex 20, Con 18, upping AC, PD, and HP at the cost of -1 to some skill checks, since their Str, Wis, and Cha are immaterial for their figured statistics.

Any other ideas much appreciated.
 

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Shadeydm

First Post
An interesting take on the game. No derailment intended but does anyone at your table take issue with the notion that a dexterity focused character should have a better initiative or a constitution one have better hit points or is this just a purely mathematical exercise?
 

keterys

First Post
It was noticed that the Dex/Con characters were more effective. Not enough that it caused strife, but that it was casually observed by people without actually analyzing the math was telling. Having 30% more hp, +3 initiative, and +2 to AC and PD isn't trivial.

But, yes, alot of it is a math exercise. I had a few cycles and I'm trying to examine the system for possible improvements. Cause I have fun doing that.

Note that it's not a "Dex-focused character" or a "Con-focused character". It's a Dex/Con focused character. And they're better at everything except MD :)
 

Dungeoneer

First Post
I dunno, your solutions seem like they work fine balance-wise but they don't feel right. I mean, 13A is supposed to be a "love letter to D&D," so having a situation where HP could be based on CHA seems very strange. And I say that as someone who doesn't mind slaughtering sacred cows!

13 True Ways suggests a third solution: give some kind of bonus for choosing certain stats. For example, if you have an 18 in a stat that isn't DEX/CON you may take a +2 to one derived stat. Or get a bonus feat slot, or something of equal value.
 

keterys

First Post
Poor Charisma, no one ever loves you. I mean, they're supposed to; by definition, really, but maybe it's part of the geekzeist to deny it :)

Given that hp "measure more than your physical capacity to suffer wounds; they also represent intangibles like your will to fight" and your ability to rally back from the brink, it being a combination of the stats indicated seemed reasonable. I'm not too surprised at the objection.

13 True Ways suggests a third solution: give some kind of bonus for choosing certain stats. For example, if you have an 18 in a stat that isn't DEX/CON you may take a +2 to one derived stat. Or get a bonus feat slot, or something of equal value.
Where in 13 True Ways does it mention that? I couldn't find it, but I'd be curious to read it.
 
Last edited:

Dungeoneer

First Post
Poor Charisma, no one ever loves you. I mean, they're supposed to; by definition, really, but maybe it's part of the geekzeist to deny it :)

Given that hp "measure more than your physical capacity to suffer wounds; they also represent intangibles like your will to fight" and your ability to rally back from the brink, it being a combination of the stats indicated seemed reasonable. I'm not too surprised at the objection.

Yeah, I get what you're saying I guess... it just seems very weird. Traditionally HP has been strictly CON-based.

Where in 13 True Ways does it mention that? I couldn't find it, but I'd be curious to read it.
So this isn't a general guideline or anything, but I noticed it in the Druid's class write-up. Because the Druid is such a flexible class that can be built numerous different ways, they gave you your choice of what stat to use for Melee Basic Attacks:

You choose whether you want to use Strength or Dexterity as the ability score you will use to determine attack and damage for your basic attacks. That choice also determines the ability score you will use in various spells and in attacks you make while in beast form from the Shifter talent.

Strength is strong: Choosing Strength as your melee attack ability score provides one significant benefit: your recovery dice become d10s instead of the d6s used by other druids.

Dexterity pays its own way: Choosing Dexterity as your melee attack ability score works well because Dexterity already boosts your initiative and ranged weapon attacks and might help your AC.
It seems like they're acknowledging the issue with DEX/CON superiority and addressing it, at least for this class.
 

keterys

First Post
Yeah, I get what you're saying I guess... it just seems very weird. Traditionally HP has been strictly CON-based.
Traditionally, AC has been very Dex-based, and now Wis can help... and Con. What does Con have to do with AC? :)

Interesting point on the druid, yes - "This stat is worse, so have d10s instead of d6s".
 

Dungeoneer

First Post
Traditionally, AC has been very Dex-based, and now Wis can help... and Con. What does Con have to do with AC? :)

A fair point! Actually, using the WIS score bothers me more than the CON score. CON I can justify as maybe just an innate ability to absorb a certain number of hits. WIS... well I suppose one could claim it's a monk-like ability to anticipate and avoid attacks??

But at least the number of cases where a PC's AC actually depends on their WIS score is going to be small. In a sense two of the ability scores are there just to set a limit on the third.

I suppose you could claim that about using CHA as one the scores for HP too... I dunno, it's still too big of a mental leap for me though, somehow. CON sets your HP. That's what CON does. Any other bonuses it provides are sort of incidental to its central purpose.

Interesting point on the druid, yes - "This stat is worse, so have d10s instead of d6s".

Note it's quite a big bonus. You don't get bumped up just one dice size, but two!

The more I think about it the more I think I would like to house rule a similarly generous bonus for non DEX/CON builds. Of course I would need to define what that means. A simple rule of thumb would be "If neither DEX nor CON are one of your two highest ability scores you may take this bonus."

Then there's the question of the bonus itself. A boost to a derived stat seems like the obvious choice. But then we have the Druid offering increased damage dice. So it might be worth exploring other kinds of bonuses.
 

keterys

First Post
But at least the number of cases where a PC's AC actually depends on their WIS score is going to be small. In a sense two of the ability scores are there just to set a limit on the third.
Indeed. The PCs that would use it explicitly are paladins and skalds.

And I'm kinda okay with those examples.

It would also reinforce Str/Con characters as hardier than mere dabblers like Int/Con wizards.

Then there's the question of the bonus itself. A boost to a derived stat seems like the obvious choice. But then we have the Druid offering increased damage dice. So it might be worth exploring other kinds of bonuses.
Recovery dice, actually. So, more directly making up for the choice not to invest in Con and hp with better ability to recover from damage.
 


mlund

First Post
I think it generally shakes out OK on the DEX/Con front vs. other classes.

Among the standard character classes the characters who use Strength as their primary attack stat have good Heavy Armor and shield options to help their AC. They can dump Dex and push Con and Wis along with another mental stat and support 18-20 AC without tanking their Physical or Mental Defenses and still have +3 to hit.

The Ranger can take 16 Dexterity and 16 Constitution, but he's only hitting 18 out of the gate and he's not blowing out anybody else's PD or MD stats by much.

When you try to multi-class, though, things get UGLY with key stats since you are forced to take a 16 in 2 stats just to get your +3 to hit. All the Physical / Physical combinations (except Fighter / Barbarian) are Strength + Dexterity, leading you dumping Constitution or Mental Defense. The classes without Dexterity or Wisdom in their primary abilities find balancing offense and defense extra challenging. Nobody but the Fighter / Barbarian can really take a 16 Constitution and most attempts to dual-class warriors with less-elite combat classes force you to give up Heavy Armor and eat 1d6/1d8 weapon damage instead of 1d8/1d10. Primary casters have to deal with their spell progression lagging so their spell damage-per-level lags too.

So ideally for HP and Defenses you want Dex + Mental Stat as your key. That way you can take Con and an off-mental stat, pushing HP, AC, MD, and PD. The only characters that actually pull that off without sacrificing weapon or spell damage are Rogue / Commanders, Rogue / Bards, and Bard / Rangers. Two Rogue + X builds have their powers work so badly together it's more than made up for (no combining Rogue powers or Sneak Attack with Flexible Attacks or the Command-point generating attacks, you also wind up with worse AC that either class on their own).

The Ranger / Bard is actually pretty effective as long as you aren't in it for the Ranger's dual-attack options. You don't lose damage or HP. You give up the 16 DEX / 16 CON builds of either class, but you get solid 17 AC and good PD / MD from a S10/C14/D16/C14 + 14 INT or WIS.

You get diversity at a cost: some combination of damage dice, defense stats, and hit points (or attack bonus, but it's highly unlikely anyone skips paying the To-Hit-Tax of multi-classing.)

- Marty Lund
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I was recently noticing in game the stat imbalance between those who can be focused on Dex and Con, and those who cannot, and it's led to me pondering minor rule changes.
That's an interesting observation, and I also happen to be interested in that kind of thing.

Actually, I was already a bit worried when I noticed that DEX/CON/WIS was used for AC, making these three stats potentially more desirable than the other three.
And after the seeing the monster damage progression, I was even more worried about the importance of CON: your character might easily end up as a one-hit-kill for some of the higher level huge monsters...
(I wonder how necromancers manage to survive in the epic tier?)

I don't really like your second solution idea, but I think the first has merit. I'm just not sure about the exact stats to be used for Initiative and HP.
Perhaps a mix of both ideas might be best:
Allow for different stats to be applied depending on a character's class. It's just an extension of the idea that different classes use different stats for attack and damage, after all.

The big question for me that remains, though: how much of this perceived imbalance is intentional?
As the druid example shows, the designers are aware that not all stats are equally valuable.

I guess it's best not to make any changes before playtesting confirms that there is indeed a problem. Too much prophylactic theorycrafting may hurt balance more than using the rules as written.
 

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