D&D 5E What is +1 Strength worth?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
yeah... that annoys me too.

If the assumption of the designers is "Start with 16 attack stat increase to 18 at level 4 and 20 at level 8" then why not just build that +3/4/5 into prof?

its worse still because there is nothing about Strength that says "Can hit more accurately" by any common understanding
Because those numbers are not assumed. The baseline for 5e is either +2 or +3. After that, it's gravy. You can pursue the minor damage increases at the expense of better stats, or you can pursue the better mental stats and/or get feats without suffering reduced effectiveness.
 

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You know as much as I'd hate to be rid of the ability score system, maybe it should go away.

I'm considering playing Quest with my kids. No ability scores, none. No skills either. Each of the "classes" has its own set of feats (arranged in chains) that give you various different strengths. It's quite simple and clean and I'm looking forward to try it.

I would love it if D&D used ability scores in a more complex way, so that (for example) a smart fighter could hold it's own against a pure strength fighter. So that it would be impossible to do a meaningful analysis similar to what I've done here. But I don't expect that to happen, and honestly it wouldn't really be D&D anymore, either.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I'm considering playing Quest with my kids. No ability scores, none. No skills either. Each of the "classes" has its own set of feats (arranged in chains) that give you various different strengths. It's quite simple and clean and I'm looking forward to try it.

I would love it if D&D used ability scores in a more complex way, so that (for example) a smart fighter could hold it's own against a pure strength fighter. So that it would be impossible to do a meaningful analysis similar to what I've done here. But I don't expect that to happen, and honestly it wouldn't really be D&D anymore, either.
I don't know, I mean, in the past D&D has allowed classes to leverage ability scores in different ways. Right now, the only examples I can think of in 5e is Unarmored AC for Monks and Barbarians, Hexblades, and Bladesinging.

But if more things like "use X instead of Y" or "add A to B" existed, ability scores would be a little more dynamic.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
But if more things like "use X instead of Y" or "add A to B" existed, ability scores would be a little more dynamic.
It would also be nice if all ability scores were equally useful to all classes. Like Constitution, for example: regardless of who you are and what you are doing for a living, Constitution matters...and matters a lot. I wish Strength, Intelligence, etc. got the same treatment.

I wish there wasn't a such thing as a "dump stat," that every character with a great strength also had an equally great weakness.
 
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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Arguably carry capacity is important, but the game has two levers. Super generous or the highly restrictive Encumbrance variant.

Ability checks and saves are meant to be the balance point for having bad ability scores, but these tend to seem punitive- nobody can have good numbers everywhere, and I doubt a character with all 12's and 14's will feel happy about their decision, even if they have bonuses to everything.

The problem is, some saves are important and others are less so, based on frequency and effect.

Strength saves are infrequent, and unless you're about to be punted into a pit or off a cliff or into a fire, the effect is usually minor.

Dexterity saves are common, but the effect is usually damage.

Constitution saves are common, and the effects generally suck.

Ditto for Wisdom.

Intelligence and Charisma saves are rare, but you really don't want to fail them!

But then on the ability check side, some Skills come up more often than others, though this varies based on the campaign.

And then passive benefits, well, Strength has one and is important for heavy armor and weapon users.

And Dexterity doesn't have one, but it does affect initiative as well as being important for light armor and weapon users.

Constitution adds some staying power. But you really don't need a lot of this, because 5e is very generous here.

Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma passively do nothing, but are important for spellcasters (I'm not including passive checks here, even though passive Perception is common, because while that might be the best skill, skill use can be variable, as already stated).
 

It would also be nice if all ability scores were equally useful to all classes. Like Constitution, for example: regardless of who you are and what you are doing for a living, Constitution matters. I wish Strength, Intelligence, etc. got the same treatment.
Or at least close enough that only the hardest core of optimizers would care.

I would also want the bonuses to be active. While prioritizing Con above Strength is valid in a fighter, for example, the benefit just isn’t very exciting. You don’t “use” it (except to make Con saves, of course.)

I mean, tbh the Strength bonus is pretty passive, too, but at least you get to add it to lots of rolls. All in all I’d rather have feats that let you do cool things.

Pointy ears and darkvision, though? Not so much.
 

Arguably carry capacity is important, but the game has two levers. Super generous or the highly restrictive Encumbrance variant.

Ability checks and saves are meant to be the balance point for having bad ability scores, but these tend to seem punitive- nobody can have good numbers everywhere, and I doubt a character with all 12's and 14's will feel happy about their decision, even if they have bonuses to everything.

The problem is, some saves are important and others are less so, based on frequency and effect.

Strength saves are infrequent, and unless you're about to be punted into a pit or off a cliff or into a fire, the effect is usually minor.

Dexterity saves are common, but the effect is usually damage.

Constitution saves are common, and the effects generally suck.

Ditto for Wisdom.

Intelligence and Charisma saves are rare, but you really don't want to fail them!

But then on the ability check side, some Skills come up more often than others, though this varies based on the campaign.

And then passive benefits, well, Strength has one and is important for heavy armor and weapon users.

And Dexterity doesn't have one, but it does affect initiative as well as being important for light armor and weapon users.

Constitution adds some staying power. But you really don't need a lot of this, because 5e is very generous here.

Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma passively do nothing, but are important for spellcasters (I'm not including passive checks here, even though passive Perception is common, because while that might be the best skill, skill use can be variable, as already stated).

The reason I am only evaluating the impact on attack and damage rolls is that all six ability scores have secondary benefits, and while it’s interesting to discuss those benefits there’s no good weigh to objectively compare or quantify them.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The reason I am only evaluating the impact on attack and damage rolls is that all six ability scores have secondary benefits, and while it’s interesting to discuss those benefits there’s no good weigh to objectively compare or quantify them.
And I'm not saying your evaluation doesn't have merit, it really does! I'm very glad that you attempted this exercise. I'm the kind of person who really enjoys learning about the nuts and bolts, and what makes rules systems work.

One thing that confuses me greatly with 5e is why certain elements that seem to break the limits of the game are accepted with no fuss, and others are vilified.

Like, a Wolf Totem Barbarian can provide easy advantage for his melee allies all day long. This, apparently is fine.

Pack Tactics, even with the downside of Light Sensitivity, was something I've heard people regard as stinky cheese.

But a Mastermind Rogue is barely a blip on the radar.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
+1 to hit and damage is much more powerful than it looks or feels like.

Also, +1 to hit and damage is often less fun than an active ability with the same impact.

This is why I prefer that the boring math be relatively unoptimizable, and the bits you tweak about a PC are the fun stuff like action surge. Action Surge is about as strong as +1/+1, but it feels more impactful.

Finally, you built high-AC foes -- 19 AC is very very high for a T1 foe -- with low-ATK PCs. This magnifies the effect of accuracy.

You could have built the PCs offensively -- say, made them both duelists, or two weapon fighters -- and you'll find that the benefit of +1 to hit/damage isn't nearly as large (action surge starts catching up).

The mid-T1-dip in offence vs defence also boosts the "endurance" ability of +1 to hit/damage every round. By level 5 offence catches up.

A L 5 duelist fighter with 17/18 AC wearing chain mail and shield and a longsword has +6/+7 ATK, 18 AC, and does 2d8+10/12 damage per action.

That is 45%/50% hit rate and 19/21 damage per hit. Instead of the insane ~35% change in DPR of your model, this case has a 9/10.95 (22%) change in DPR from +1 to hit/damage. Both have 44 HP. Fights are also shorter, making each action count for more; over 4 rounds the low-strength PC with action surge does an average of 45 damage, and the high-strength without action surge does an average of 44.
 

+1 to hit and damage is much more powerful than it looks or feels like.

Also, +1 to hit and damage is often less fun than an active ability with the same impact.

This is why I prefer that the boring math be relatively unoptimizable, and the bits you tweak about a PC are the fun stuff like action surge. Action Surge is about as strong as +1/+1, but it feels more impactful.

Agree with all of that (except that Action Surge is noticeably less impactful than +1/+1...and that's in a single fight.)

You could have built the PCs offensively -- say, made them both duelists, or two weapon fighters -- and you'll find that the benefit of +1 to hit/damage isn't nearly as large (action surge starts catching up).

Yeah, I tried that and it did indeed begin to close the gap. It's somewhere in the thread.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Agree with all of that (except that Action Surge is noticeably less impactful than +1/+1...and that's in a single fight.)
In the white room combat you set up it's less impactful. In actual gameplay that action surge will allow additional movement that will often put the fighter in position to make more attacks and/or be in a more effective position. It's more powerful in actual game play than the white room combat indicates. Is it equal to +1/+1? That's going to be subjective opinion, since you can't really quantify all of the other circumstances action surge can help with.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It depends on how you use it. I've seen a lot of combats where that extra movement isn't being used, and it's just another hit on an enemy to try and burst them down. But that's anecdotal- it has more potential use, and you may have seen that.

Just as in games with more or less combat, a 20 Strength vs. an 18 Strength is potentially a big deal or barely worth mentioning. All anyone can do is point towards trends, but even if we were to run a whole campaign, from 1st to 20th level, with two characters who are clones of each other, save one has 18 Strength and the other 20, and come up with actual numbers of how that mattered over the course of the game, no matter how great or small the effort, that's still not what happens in your game.

No one can predict the future. Maybe Starsky is played by that one guy who should go to Vegas every weekend, and Hutch can't roll above a 7 to save his life.

All anyone can say is "in general, this is probably better from a pure math standpoint". The player has to make the individual choice, and live with the consequences.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Agree with all of that (except that Action Surge is noticeably less impactful than +1/+1...and that's in a single fight.)
The fights where 5 - 13 rounds long. An extra turn on a 5-13 round fight, vs a 35% boost in per-turn effectiveness...

The problem, as I said, is that the impact of accuracy is massively magnified on hard to hit (high AC) foes. And you accidentally made pretty much the highest AC target a L 1 fighter would ever attack, +1.
 

In the white room combat you set up it's less impactful. In actual gameplay that action surge will allow additional movement that will often put the fighter in position to make more attacks and/or be in a more effective position. It's more powerful in actual game play than the white room combat indicates. Is it equal to +1/+1? That's going to be subjective opinion, since you can't really quantify all of the other circumstances action surge can help with.
Yep. An active feature which allows you to be extra killy when you need it and/or when you're in optimal position is in practice much better than a passive boost that makes you always a bit better whether you need it or not.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Yep. An active feature which allows you to be extra killy when you need it and/or when you're in optimal position is in practice much better than a passive boost that makes you always a bit better whether you need it or not.
I can see this. It's probably why a Bard's floating dice are so well loved by the groups I've played with, when Bless for a whole fight is a better bonus, numerically speaking.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It is also more fun (up to a certain limit). Being able to "turn on the awesome" gives the player agency.
The weird part is that it's better for non-traditional Fighters. I often wonder if Extra Attack should be allowed with it (I know, that's a question for another thread), since I've seen Eldritch Knights and multiclassed Fighters get some serious mileage out of Action Surge (a friend of mine plays a Devotion Paladin and went Fighter 2 just so they can enchant their weapon and attack with it in the same turn).
 

It is also more fun (up to a certain limit). Being able to "turn on the awesome" gives the player agency.
I completely agree with the agency. However, the flip side is when you keep saving it for a better moment and end up not used by it. (Which is the primary reason I don’t like “X uses per rest” mechanics.)
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I completely agree with the agency. However, the flip side is when you keep saving it for a better moment and end up not used by it. (Which is the primary reason I don’t like “X uses per rest” mechanics.)
You run into similar issues as a spellcaster though. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run. It applies very well to the D&D experience.
 


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