The Only Thing I Don't Like About 5e! (Hint- ASIs)

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So, a quick bit of background. I'm a long, long, long time 1e player.* And I've been playing 5e for, what, three years now? And for the most part, it has been great! I migrated old timers to it. I've taught young 'uns how to play it. And yet ... there is one thing I don't like about it.

And I'm not talkin' 'bout the lack of negative armor class, the way God, and Gygax, intended.

It's ASIs, and level advancement. See, the problem I'm having is something that is deep and fundamental to 5e, and, well, to all D&D after 2e. The coupling of so many mechanics to ability scores, as opposed to levels.

Now, for the whippersnappers out there who are both unfamiliar with what I am describing, and, more likely than not, on my lawn at this very minute,** allow me to explain.

Back in the day, how awesome you were was largely dependent on your level.*** Everything flowed from that. Saving throws? Based on level. How good you were at hitting stuff? Level. Hit points? Level. Spells you could cast? Level. Turning undead? Level. And so on. You gained not just certain class abilities, but generic levels of awesome just due to your level.

Which had a number of effects. One, of course, is that it made so-called stat blocks for monsters ridiculously easy. Another is that it made understanding the "general" power of a character, or a party, pretty easy as well. And we still see echoes of that in our current leveling system (additional hit points, spells, class abilities).

But, and this is a big but,**** most things have now moved into the category of ability scores. Which does, in many ways, simplify the mechanics and make them more uniform.***** But it also makes for unsatisfying game play, for me. For several reasons:

a. ASIs are stupid. Really. I know many people don't care about things conceptually, but the idea of every character gaining "demigod like" abilities is stupid from a narrative standpoint. Does every fighter have to be Hercules?

b. ASIs create sameiness. Again, bounded accuracy should resolve this dilemma, but ... I have seen many games now, and it seems that all PCs take roughly similar ASI paths. BORING.

c. High level characters are weak, and so are some of the monsters. This has been brought up before, but ... stat dumping? One of the advantages of becoming THUNDARR, DESTROYER OF WORLDS is that you shouldn't have to worry that any rando intellect devourer will kick your corn-fed behind.

d. It makes point-buy/standard array to appealing. I really love character creation, and I really love rolling up characters. But we can't do that in 5e, because, well, it matters too much. What with ASIs.

I'm sure that there are other reasons, but that's what I've been thinking about, and I want to get the conversation started. So, does anyone else feel like this? Am I alone?



*Using the term loosely, to also include Red/White/Blue, BECMI, OD&D, Retro, but mainly 1e. BUT NOT 2e! 2e is an abomination that must be destroyed with fire, like, um, gnomes.

**GET OFF OF IT!

***And, of course, dependent on whether or not you were me.

****I like big buts, and I can't deny ....

*****HOW HARD IS IT TO LOOK SOMETHING UP ON A TABLE? Gygax wants to know.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Wait, did I say the only thing I hate about 5e is the ASI/ability score system?

HA! I also hate Paladins.

Two things.

ASIs, Paladins, and Gnomes. Gnomes? Okay, three things.

ASIs, Paladins, Gnomes, and Rapiers. Rapiers?

Okay, other than ASIs, Paladins, Gnomes, and Rapiers, what else could I possibly hate on from 5e?

Sorcerers?

Oh, sorcerers.... SHUT UP! But otherwise, I'm solid!
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Proficiency bonus going up after every four levels kinda sorta replaces the "getting better with level" mechanic of 1e. Don't get me wrong, I loved me some matrices back in the day, but the Prof bonus + Ability modifier tandem of 5e seems to simplify the process.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
a. ASIs are stupid. Really. I know many people don't care about things conceptually, but the idea of every character gaining "demigod like" abilities is stupid from a narrative standpoint. Does every fighter have to be Hercules?
They actually did solve that problem, which had been exacerbated in third edition, by capping everyone out at 20. A stat of 20 isn't like a demigod at all. A stat of 20 just means you're in the top half a percentile for your race.

If your half-orc has Strength 20, then he's 1-in-216 in terms of Strength. If you walk into a city that has 2160 half-orcs in it, then there are ten more just like you. You're not really anything special, just for being the very strongest you could possibly be, because you're really not all that strong relative to anyone else. (That's setting aside this issue of humans and halflings and whatnots that have improved their stats with level.)

Of course, being that strong is still absolutely necessary if you care about doing the things you want to do, because there are so few ways to get any meaningful bonus within the system. You're rolling a d20, and you only get between +2 and +6 from your level, so of course you need +5 from your stat if you want to do anything reliably at all.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I have an idea that might help. It wouldn't completely eliminate the connection between ability score and capacity, because I do think stronger people should be better at things requiring strength, ect. But cpuld be useful.

1) Half ability modifiers. A +2 becomes the highest modifier one could achieve through stats. Likewise, the worse a player can do is maybe -3 if they REALLY dump in the bed with rolled stats.

2) Change the proficiency bonus advancement from +2 - +6 to +2 - +9. If you want even more difficulty at lower levels, maybe even start proficiency bonus at +1 but allow for increased advancement. This would provide the feel of your power being more linked to your level, but also woulf be mathematically similar enough to current monster stat blocks as to not require much adjustment to enemy encounters of challenge DCs.

This also has the benefit of allowing players to take ASIs, but makes feats more appealing.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Proficiency bonus going up after every four levels kinda sorta replaces the "getting better with level" mechanic of 1e. Don't get me wrong, I loved me some matrices back in the day, but the Prof bonus + Ability modifier tandem of 5e seems to simplify the process.
I just ... I don't know. You're right re: proficiency bonus, and it does simplify things.

But something has been gnawing at me for a while, and I've been trying to figure it out, and this is it. It's definitely ASIs.

...and paladins.
 

Gradine

Final Form
I smell a "Survivor Tables" thread in the future.

Although knowing this board the Random Harlot table would be a runaway
 

Sadras

Adventurer
So the solution would be quadratic classes which would disempower ability scores.
Additional you you would need to increase the proficiency bonus and limit ability bonuses to max +3

Abilities would require a slight make-over
Strength - affects weight allowance, weapon usage and damage (including ranged) and str-based skill checks
Dexterity - affects to hit, initiative, armour class and dex-based skill checks
Constitution - affects recovery time, system shock and exhaustion checks
Intelligence - affects Int spell level limit, additional proficiencies, languages and int-based skill checks
Wisdom - affects Wis spell level limit, wis-based skill checks, limits no of background flaws
Charisma - affects Cha spell level limit, attunement, cha-based skill checks

Casters characters - spell DCs affected by level, every 3 levels = +1DC, specialists gain +1DC on their chosen school
Martial characters - damage affected by level and proficiencies/expertise/specialisation
Hit Points based on Level + Size

Races would also require a retool.

EDIT: I'm just gonna add this here before anyone else does

Or you can wait for 6e
 
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Grognerd

Visitor
I get what you are saying, but I don't know that there isn't a little rose-coloring going on here. While much of what you said is true, stats had quite an impact on 1e...

Magic-Users (take that "Wizards"!) DID rely on their INT to get higher level spells. It also added to their chance to learn spells and their XP modifiers. Same for WIS and Clerics.
Fighter's STR made major impacts on their abilities, and at lower levels were just as vital then as they are now. My 18/91 dwarven fighter (that was a good day for character creation!) typically played as a level or two higher just because of the impact of his stat. Not to mention - still on dwarves - the Saving Throw modifiers were based on CON (what was it... +1 / 3.5 CON, IIRC?).

Now I'm not saying that ASI's are good things (though I do like them), but I don't think that the argument that 5e is more state dominant than 1e is necessarily entirely accurate.

Interestingly, though, the other day I random rolled my stats for a 5e character for the first time and ended up with an 18 and 16 (20 and 18 when modified by [mountain dwarf] race), so I might could get back onboard with random chargen!

DISCLAIMER: I love Paladins, so Lowkey13 may not want to listen to me anyway. ;)
 
100% agree.

I'll give you one more reason:
- ASIs are so powerful that it's too much of a sacrifice if you want fun/interesting/colorful feats. Which means only level 12+ characters get the fun feats, and most games never reach those levels. And/or you have to play variant humans (which is how I resolve it.)

It should be the other way around: you should get Feats below level 10, and once you're 11-20 you can start getting godlike stats.

Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford...are you listening? Think hard about this for 6e. If I could only have ONE change in 6e it would be ASIs.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
If you want stat-independent, level-dependent 5e, make the following simple changes.

1) Every check that normally adds a stat modifier doesn't. You add double your proficiency bonus instead. Whenever you would use your stat modifier as a bonus to damage rolls, or for determining uses per day, use your proficiency bonus instead.

2) Your stat modifier is now purely a freeform descriptor. High Charisma means people like you, strong people can lift open doors easily. Resolution is squarely on the DM, where a 1e DM likes it. :)
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I get what you are saying, but I don't know that there isn't a little rose-coloring going on here. While much of what you said is true, stats had quite an impact on 1e...

Magic-Users (take that "Wizards"!) DID rely on their INT to get higher level spells. It also added to their chance to learn spells and their XP modifiers. Same for WIS and Clerics.
Fighter's STR made major impacts on their abilities, and at lower levels were just as vital then as they are now. My 18/91 dwarven fighter (that was a good day for character creation!) typically played as a level or two higher just because of the impact of his stat. Not to mention - still on dwarves - the Saving Throw modifiers were based on CON (what was it... +1 / 3.5 CON, IIRC?).

Now I'm not saying that ASI's are good things (though I do like them), but I don't think that the argument that 5e is more state dominant than 1e is necessarily entirely accurate.
It's ... different. For example, having at least one high-ish score matters. Like a 16 in your prime requisite. But that's ... not that uncommon. But (for example) once you cleared a 13 Wisdom for clerics, you were fine, and MUs ... well, you probably wanted at least a 14 intelligence (7th level spells).

But I think sometimes we forget some things- like, for example, dwarves didn't get the modifier to saves v. everything, it was only against spells (incl. RSW) and poison.

The point is that ability scores were great, but not necessary (needing ASIs).



DISCLAIMER: I love Paladins, so Lowkey13 may not want to listen to me anyway. ;)
I knew that your opinion had some issues, but little did I know ... FOR SHAME!!!!!! :)
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
I don't like the sameiness that ASIs can create (Though I don't see much of that in my group--we tend to focus our optimizing on the parts of our characters that we aren't already making non-optimal for role-playing. Ie, if my fighter mage has a high Charisma, because I want him too, I'm pretty careful about where the other stats go, but I don't dump Charisma in order to optimize.)

However, they need to mean something. There needs to be a big difference between someone with a 10 and someone with an 18. Now, one way of adjusting it to be more old-school would be to half ability modifiers for most purposes, but use some method where every point counts for skill-like checks. Like the old roll under your attribute method. In 5e, it might be easier to just give double the listed ability modifier. So half them for attacks, saves, initiative, spell DCs, double them for ability and skill checks, and then figure out how to deal with outliers like opposed Strength (Athletics) for grappling. It's too messy for my taste, but if I were playing with a group that wanted to devalue the combat effects of ability scores, I would absolutely argue for something boosting the ability and skill check parts of them.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
The point is that ability scores were great, but not necessary (needing ASIs).
A lot of it comes down to expectations. Without any way to increase your stats over time, nobody could assume that your fighter would end up with 18/00 Strength; so it was great if you were lucky enough to roll it, but you weren't missing out on anything if you didn't. There was nothing you could do about it, so it would be unreasonable for anyone to expect it of you.

With the ability to increase your stats over time, the expectation has shifted. If your fighter ends up with Strength 20, then that's entirely normal. If your fighter doesn't end up with Strength 20, then everyone knows that you had plenty of opportunities to make it happen, so they can blame you for not meeting expectations.
 

Gradine

Final Form
My biggest sadness is the death knell of Intelligence as a meaningful stat. Charisma's always been the "traditional" dump stat, but I feel like CHA is a whole lot more meaningful than INT, which is really only relevant to Wizards, Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters. I wish that it had some kind of outside relevance (other than maybe being used for illusion/psionic saving throws, if the designer is feeling like it at that particular moment).
 

Mistwell

Legend
I came to the thread thinking, "OK what is this rando wrongly alleging.."

And came away nodding my head and thinking, "Yup, make sense. It's a fair argument."*

*Not the paladins, gnomes, rapiers, and sorcerers part though. But that's OK. You're allowed to be oh so wrong on those. So says my Dexadin gnome rapier wielding paladin/sorcerer who rides a mastiff into battle.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I came to the thread thinking, "OK what is this rando wrongly alleging.."

And came away nodding my head and thinking, "Yup, make sense. It's a fair argument."*

*Not the paladins, gnomes, rapiers, and sorcerers part though. But that's OK. You're allowed to be oh so wrong on those. So says my Dexadin gnome rapier wielding paladin/sorcerer who rides a mastiff into battle.
You say that now. But I've got my foot in your door!

Um, my argument ... foot ... in your ... brain ... door.

Hmmm...

First, Lowkey came for the ASI, and I said nothing, because it's a fair argument.

Then, Lowkey came for the Paladins, and I said nothing, because Paladins suck.

Then, Lowkey came for the gnomes, and I said nothing, because, I mean, screw 'em.

Then ... oh, man, probably not the analogy I want to go with either.

Hmmm... THIS FORUM POST IS COMING FROM INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!!!??!!!

That works! :)
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Totally crazy idea that may or may not be relevant to this thread:

* Roll stats instead of using standard array or point-buy, as in the old days.
* When you get an ASI, roll for it. Yes, roll 1d6, where each number corresponds to a particular ability, and whatever ability you roll gets a +2.*

Yes, your fighter might get +2 Intelligence, your wizard might get +2 Strength, but why the hell not? There's no telling how a person will develop and mature over the years.

* If you want to leave the option for a +1/+1 split open, then have the player pre-roll to decide whether the character gets a +2 or +1/+1, using whatever odds you think are fair. Maybe 1d100, where 1-80 = +1/+1, and 81-100 = +2.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I'll always take a feat over an ASI as my first choice. A plus one at somethings everytime is not as useful as a re-roll three times a day IMHO, or getting bonus action attacks or reaction attacks.

I suppose If I played more casters I might feel different, but getting PAM and/or GWM and or sentinel will up my contributions far more than a +1 or even +2 to attack rolls, damage, rolls, strength checks, and saves.
 

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