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5E Weird Interpretations for High/Low Ability Scores

Fauchard1520

Explorer
One of my favorite parts of character creation is coming up with justifications for unusually high or low ability scores. Maybe high Dexterity just means you're Mr. Magoo lucky, stumbling your way out of a fireball’s blast radius rather than dodging it like every other Legolas out there. Maybe that low Con means you've got that Doc Holliday chronic cough. Or that your character is old and infirm. Or that you’re overweight, or unusually thin, or cursed by dark magic, or any of a thousand other options. Possibilities abound.

So my question to the board: Have you ever encountered an especially unconventional interpretation of an ability score? What was it?

Comic for illustrative purposes.
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
 

I always thought that Kragar from the Vlad Taltos novels had an especially low Charisma. You just didn't notice the guy until he said something, even when standing in the same room. He just blended into the crowd.
 




Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
He has the Reliable Talent ability and the Lucky feat?

Reliable Talent gives you an average die roll. If you have an Int penalty, your overall result will not be high.

Lucky may be helpful, but I'm looking right now at my 18-Int artificer with a passive Investigation of 22 (7th level, Int 18, proficient, and Observant Feat), and I don't think being Lucky is going to cut it.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Reliable Talent gives you an average die roll. If you have an Int penalty, your overall result will not be high.

Lucky may be helpful, but I'm looking right now at my 18-Int artificer with a passive Investigation of 22 (7th level, Int 18, proficient, and Observant Feat), and I don't think being Lucky is going to cut it.
I thought it let you treat any skill roll less than 10 as a 10, if you are proficient? The theory being that an artificer might roll a 1 or a 2, but the Sherlock Rogue would never roll less than 10...

But I agree about Lucky; it isn't as reliable as my players want it to be. Observant might be a better choice, come to think of it. (But why not both?)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Is that the character's goal?

Oh, do give us a break. You were the one who invoked Holmes. That sets an expectation of performance.

Now, back up how this happens. How is it that this Int 5 character (-3 ability modifier to Investigation skill) is far superior in Investigation to Watson, Lestrade, and indeed the entire London Police force (which, as a large law-enforcement, should be expected to have several high-Int officers proficient in the skill among them). How is the iconic mastermind Moriarty under any threat of Holmes finding out what's going on.

Why is it that people are engaging Holmes, and not Mrs. Hudson?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Oh, do give us a break. You were the one who invoked Holmes. That sets an expectation of performance.

Now, back up how this happens. How is it that this Int 5 character (-3 ability modifier to Investigation skill) is far superior in Investigation to Watson, Lestrade, and indeed the entire London Police force (which, as a large law-enforcement, should be expected to have several high-Int officers proficient in the skill among them). How is the iconic mastermind Moriarty under any threat of Holmes finding out what's going on.

Why is it that people are engaging Holmes, and not Mrs. Hudson?

Does figuring out what's going on require an Intelligence (Investigation) check? Could not savvy players put together the clues themselves to solve the mystery?

There's also a whole thread on this topic you're free to read. It was linked upthread and inspired by a thread prior to that. It needn't be rehashed here. So there's the break you impertinently demanded, moderator.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Does figuring out what's going on require an Intelligence (Investigation) check? Could not savvy players put together the clues themselves to solve the mystery?

No it does not and yes they could. For one, Holmes famously made use of connections, disguises, agents, and very acute observation. Dat magnifying glASS, tho. He’s also keen on animal behavior and inferring motivations.

hes definitely got some medicinal and poison knowledge, tobacco knowledge too (I suppose you could use those in a safe environment that takes enough time to not require a roll).

And he uses intuition more than logic. Makes conclusions like “the dog didn’t bark at the thief, so the dog must have known the thief, so the thief is actually the victim and this is fraud.” Which might fit under a reasonable use of Animal Handling, Insight, or some other Wisdom based ability.

“It’s just high wisdom” seems like a cop out to me. But the use of disguises, agents, and connections would be legit. And in conjunction with exceptional Perception, he could practically ignore Int checks altogether.

And even that leaves out divination spells.
 


Bitbrain

Black Lives Matter
My dad has always equated low Charisma with having psychopathic tendencies... which in one campaign nearly got his half-elf ranger’s skin flayed off when he brought the wrong character sheet to one session, deliberately pissed off a VERY POWERFUL nobleman, and didn’t notice his out-of-game mistake until he looked down and saw the PC’s name and race were wrong.
 

Saelorn

Hero
Maybe high Dexterity just means you're Mr. Magoo lucky, stumbling your way out of a fireball’s blast radius rather than dodging it like every other Legolas out there.
That's not what that means. You're being disingenuous. Mutable fluff died out with 4E. Changing the definition of Dexterity is beyond the scope of playing.
 



I recall a halfing with an 18 Str still looking like a thin child. The player's explanation was that his strength was more like a martial artist, where it was more about understanding weaknesses than raw power.
 

And he uses intuition more than logic. Makes conclusions like “the dog didn’t bark at the thief, so the dog must have known the thief, so the thief is actually the victim and this is fraud.” Which might fit under a reasonable use of Animal Handling, Insight, or some other Wisdom based ability.

No, it clearly fits under:

Investigation.
When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check.


Making deductions based on observed clues is Intelligence (investigation).
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
No, it clearly fits under:

Investigation.
When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check.


Making deductions based on observed clues is Intelligence (investigation).
Ok, let’s get semantic about it, then.

I didn’t say he makes deductions, I said he makes conclusions. The example I gave about the thief and the dog comes from The Adventure of Silver Blaze. In that story, Holmes concludes that Silver Blaze (a horse) was stolen and a trainer was murdered.

Lestrade, the cop, uses deductive reasoning and arrives at a suspect. He tells Holmes his theory of the case. Holmes, however, uses abduction in order to prove that the cops’ suspect is innocent. The actual culprit was the deceased trainer who had stolen and injured the horse to influence the outcome of (and win a bet on) the next big race. The guard dog did nothing while the theft took place.

in the end, Holmes compliments Lestrade’s deductions (even says he’s a good cop), but points out that he lacks imagination and intuition. Logical deductions pointed to the wrong conclusion - Holmes solved it by imagining what might have happened that would also create the same evidence and clues.

The story goes out of its way to make the point that the Intelligence (Investigation) check didn’t work while intuition did. Not in D&D terms, but yeah.
 

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