5E The Slaughter House: How dropping attributes will improve DnD

Meatboy

Villager
This may ruffle some feathers across all spectrums of play, but I have had an epiphany of late. I believe that adherence to attributes as they are now and by association their modifiers is a chain that is shackling the game of DnD. And I feel it contributes to problems like min/maxing, numbers bloat, and unbalancing of the game in general.

As of 3e and 4e attributes have become vital to the game. Where once they were kept some what in check by lower limits or by generally not being applicable to most characters. With the introduction of skills and the save/defenses mechanic having high stats, not just in your main attribute but in secondary attributes, can be the difference between being effective to the group or being dead.
In terms of effectiveness increasing your attributes was at least, if not more effective than, gaining a level. For example: In 3e a fighter with 18 strength is effectively 4 levels better at fighting in melee than a character with a score of 10. In 4e this is somewhat lessened with the introduction of powers, but having a high score in your main attribute still leads to increased effectiveness. Combined with random rolls or even buying stats we get players who will neglect certain stats in favor of being more effective in their chosen area. In effect the way stats are now we have two power scales in the game. One tied to level the other tied to attributes.

5e tries to get around this with Bounded Accuracy. An arbitrary cap that some people are not thrilled with. For me this merely puts a lid on the problem, its still there but it won't get worse after a certain point.

My solution is to get rid of attributes and their modifiers. We can still have the traditional six but instead of a numerical scale that rewards players for getting big numbers as soon as possible. I'd suggest an on/off trait system whereby characters would get a flat bonus, or maybe something tied to level. So instead of a player doing what the can to ensure that their wizard is as smart as possible they can simply check the box next to intelligent and reap some mechanical benefits. The few things tied to a stat but not a skill or something for combat, namely weight allowance and encumbrance, could easily be handled by backgrounds and size.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
This may ruffle some feathers across all spectrums of play, but I have had an epiphany of late. I believe that adherence to attributes as they are now and by association their modifiers is a chain that is shackling the game of DnD. And I feel it contributes to problems like min/maxing, numbers bloat, and unbalancing of the game in general.

As of 3e and 4e attributes have become vital to the game. Where once they were kept some what in check by lower limits or by generally not being applicable to most characters. With the introduction of skills and the save/defenses mechanic having high stats, not just in your main attribute but in secondary attributes, can be the difference between being effective to the group or being dead.
In terms of effectiveness increasing your attributes was at least, if not more effective than, gaining a level. For example: In 3e a fighter with 18 strength is effectively 4 levels better at fighting in melee than a character with a score of 10. In 4e this is somewhat lessened with the introduction of powers, but having a high score in your main attribute still leads to increased effectiveness. Combined with random rolls or even buying stats we get players who will neglect certain stats in favor of being more effective in their chosen area. In effect the way stats are now we have two power scales in the game. One tied to level the other tied to attributes.

5e tries to get around this with Bounded Accuracy. An arbitrary cap that some people are not thrilled with. For me this merely puts a lid on the problem, its still there but it won't get worse after a certain point.

My solution is to get rid of attributes and their modifiers. We can still have the traditional six but instead of a numerical scale that rewards players for getting big numbers as soon as possible. I'd suggest an on/off trait system whereby characters would get a flat bonus, or maybe something tied to level. So instead of a player doing what the can to ensure that their wizard is as smart as possible they can simply check the box next to intelligent and reap some mechanical benefits. The few things tied to a stat but not a skill or something for combat, namely weight allowance and encumbrance, could easily be handled by backgrounds and size.
And while they're at it they can add machine guns and laser pistols for all, do away with Gold Pieces and use credits, and call it Gurks or Realmaster, or something also!!!

(For those of you with low sarcasm meters...readjust your meters).

More seriously, this idea has been suggested repeatedly for over a decade since 3e was first released. I'm pretty certain it's been looked at and the stat system kept for good reasons.
 

Meatboy

Villager
More seriously, this idea has been suggested repeatedly for over a decade since 3e was first released. I'm pretty certain it's been looked at and the stat system kept for good reasons.
I was unaware, but unsurprised, that this has been brought up before. With balance being such a big deal to a lot of people why not get rid of something so obviously unbalancing? I still think its important to keep the attributes, as it will help maintain the feel of DnD. What exactly those attributes mean and how they are measured is something that has changed with almost every edition of the game.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
As Mr Mearls will probably tell you, maintaining a balance between expectations, and pushing the envelope forward is a tricky thing.

I think these ideas were heavily considered (or at least more so than any other time previously) with 4e, and they still were kept overall as that 3-18 range that goes back through D&D's legacy. We see how many were upset with the changes that 4e made. IF that many folks were upset about the changes with 4e where these stats were preserved, such as they were, I imagine the furor over changing them would have made an outrage far unheard of previously.

IN MY OPINION, of course.

Hence, probably why they won't change them now.

Even more important, as Mearls tries to make an edition which appeals to many different segments, the last thing they probably want to do is slaughter sacred cows, especially ones with so much background as the big six.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
After the past few years' gleeful romp to the abattoir with D&D and the results of trying to make sacred hamburger, I wouldn't think that sort of radical change is even in the cards as far as WotC is concerned.
 
S

Sunseeker

Guest
How do we determine which boxes people can check? How do we determine how many boxes a person can check?

It sounds fine for a largely skill-based game, but I don't see D&D moving in that direction.

IMO there's no middle ground. Either numbers matter, or they don't. You can't have a system where numbers "kinda" matter or where there's some sort of bell curve. Bigger is either better, or the number system isn't work keeping.

We could easily assign a flat amount of skill points per class, and allow players to take feats to increase their skill points.
We could easily assign bonus damage based on non-stat things, like BAB, the fighter hits harder with pointy things because he's a fighter, the mage hits harder with spells because they're a mage.
We could assign how many/which boxes you get access to based on class, and again, allow for feats to open up more boxes.

But if you're going to include numbers, bigger IMO, must mean better. Otherwise there's no point in using numbers at all.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And, of course, there's the problem that one person's "improvement" is another's crud-on-a-stick. There's a lot of people out there who *like* the game of "how do I make this character kick butt?" Playing with the rules is something the find fun! Eliminating that would take away some of their fun.

Now, you may say, "Well, WotC wins if fun is taken from them, and given to me!" But maybe WotC doesn't see it as that clean cut.
 

Meatboy

Villager
[MENTION=4348]GreyLord[/MENTION] and [MENTION=11697]Shemeska[/MENTION]

All too true. As much as I feel the way stats are set up isn't helping I really couldn't see WoTC doing anything so drastic. But with a new edition around the corner, especially one supposedly set up around modularization a guy can dream.
[MENTION=93444]shidaku[/MENTION]

I wasn't really thinking along the lines of multiple boxes. More like if your character is "strong"+x to hit and damage and strength skills or something. Maybe one for class, one for race and one for fun? There'd still be numbers I just feel that we don't roll a d6 to determine starting level so why do it for the rest of the stuff?
[MENTION=177]Umbran[/MENTION]

Yes most stuff in the game is a personal preference. But with the touted modularity why not make stats a module? ;)
 
S

Sunseeker

Guest
@shidaku

I wasn't really thinking along the lines of multiple boxes. More like if your character is "strong"+x to hit and damage and strength skills or something. Maybe one for class, one for race and one for fun? There'd still be numbers I just feel that we don't roll a d6 to determine starting level so why do it for the rest of the stuff?
I still feel like it's all or nothing. And frankly I think a game where a d20 is the only die you ever roll could be pretty fun, but I don't think it's D&D.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes most stuff in the game is a personal preference. But with the touted modularity why not make stats a module? ;)
I might turn around and say, why not make *lack* of stats a module?

The answer is that "just make it a module" is a glib statement, and the presence of stats (or lack thereof) is probably too central to the game to make into a module.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
There are games without stats (at least as D&D knows them) out there - but here's the rub - they're not D&D. Believe it or not, there is a substantial group of people out here who still prefer to roll our stats and generate a number on the 3-18 curve.
 

MJS

Villager
I think the point is confused - the OP seems to advocate dropping stat modifiers,
not stats themselves, which is indeed how D&D is originally designed. I think there are good reasons for this, and it shouldn't be too hard to drop said modifiers in B/X or even AD&D, if being used without skill rules.

a +1 for a 14 is so nu-skool : )
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I think that the issue here is that questions of "what makes the game (or at least my game) better?" are completely different from "what is D&D?"

This is important, because it drives home the fact that there can, quite easily, come a point where a positive answer to the former question is a destructive one to the latter.

Leaving aside all sorts of personal anecdotes about what the game feels like, what it is tends to be the particular aspects of its rules (and trade dress, and intellectual properties - but for this discussion, it's mostly the rules) that become well-known to the point of being so associated with the game that they become integral to its popular identity. You can eliminate THAC0 because it never reached that level - the six ability scores are something else again.

Improving the game is (at least, I suspect, to the designers) no good if the end product isn't "recognizable" as D&D.
 

Incenjucar

Villager
I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I feel that attributes need to become add-ons to a character rather than the determinant of whether or not they can function. Each attribute needs to provide a distinct and equally-useful bonus to any character, though specialized characters will naturally gravitate towards specific attributes, but because of their build rather than their class.

I would love to see dump stats designed out of the game - you should always wish you had more of ANY stat, even when you need to make a sacrifice for your focus.
 
After the past few years' gleeful romp to the abattoir with D&D and the results of trying to make sacred hamburger, I wouldn't think that sort of radical change is even in the cards as far as WotC is concerned.
Sacred hamburger, as it turns out, spoils much faster than was originally thought.
 

Meatboy

Villager
[MENTION=6747144]MJS[/MENTION]

I'm really trying to advocate specificity in the game rules. In dnd power is tied to level. Higher level more power. Then problem is stats modifiers basically toss a monkey wrench into this.

What's more powerful a level 1 goblin or a level 1 orc? Despite both being of supposedly equal footing an orc is more powerful simply because of attributes. So level stops being an accurate indicator of ability which is how we got Challenge Ratings.
I feel this lack of accuracy leads to many of the problems in crafting a balanced game. especially today where games are more focused on campaigns or exploring character concepts. In Ye Olden Days having a good or bad stat had less impact on the game simply due to the fact that your character was almost certainly going to die.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
This may ruffle some feathers across all spectrums of play, but I have had an epiphany of late. I believe that adherence to attributes as they are now and by association their modifiers is a chain that is shackling the game of DnD. And I feel it contributes to problems like min/maxing, numbers bloat, and unbalancing of the game in general.

As of 3e and 4e attributes have become vital to the game. Where once they were kept some what in check by lower limits or by generally not being applicable to most characters. With the introduction of skills and the save/defenses mechanic having high stats, not just in your main attribute but in secondary attributes, can be the difference between being effective to the group or being dead.
In terms of effectiveness increasing your attributes was at least, if not more effective than, gaining a level. For example: In 3e a fighter with 18 strength is effectively 4 levels better at fighting in melee than a character with a score of 10. In 4e this is somewhat lessened with the introduction of powers, but having a high score in your main attribute still leads to increased effectiveness. Combined with random rolls or even buying stats we get players who will neglect certain stats in favor of being more effective in their chosen area. In effect the way stats are now we have two power scales in the game. One tied to level the other tied to attributes.
I agree. 3e and 4e put a lot of focus on this and the numbers went too high too fast.

My solution is to get rid of attributes and their modifiers. We can still have the traditional six but instead of a numerical scale that rewards players for getting big numbers as soon as possible. I'd suggest an on/off trait system whereby characters would get a flat bonus, or maybe something tied to level. So instead of a player doing what the can to ensure that their wizard is as smart as possible they can simply check the box next to intelligent and reap some mechanical benefits. The few things tied to a stat but not a skill or something for combat, namely weight allowance and encumbrance, could easily be handled by backgrounds and size.
This is hard because the numbers are well known. Even to people who don't play D&D the idea of "18 Strength" means something. It's a cultural zeitgeist of sorts, which makes it really hard to remove.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
There are games without stats (at least as D&D knows them) out there - but here's the rub - they're not D&D. Believe it or not, there is a substantial group of people out here who still prefer to roll our stats and generate a number on the 3-18 curve.
I know perfectly well that removing the stats won't happen, but an argument that they have to stay because some people roll them has a rather obvious retort. Roll the dice to get your modifier instead of the raw stat. It's not as if the stat itself is used for very much, while the modifier is used all the time.
 

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