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Level Up (A5E) Where to put ability bonuses during character creation

Where should ability bonuses go?

  • In the race/species

    Votes: 26 17.0%
  • In the culture

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • In the background

    Votes: 12 7.8%
  • Totally freeform, wherever you like

    Votes: 24 15.7%
  • No ability bonuses, maybe an extra species feature instead

    Votes: 22 14.4%
  • Split between species/culture/background (say +1 from each?)

    Votes: 42 27.5%
  • Some other option

    Votes: 25 16.3%

  • Total voters
    153

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is just a quick dirty poll. It doesn't replace the survey we'll do later, or the actual playtest packet we'll put out. I just wanted to do a quick straw poll to get the sense of consensus on it.

We're referring to the ability score bonuses currently assigned to races in the existing 5E core rulebooks. Most get +3/+4 in total at present, usually split into a +2 and another +2 or +1, with some exceptions.
 

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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Probably the only one to vote this option, but I would remove the chargen ASI. Stats generally start high enough to be relevant at first level, and proficiency and bounded accuracy takes care of the rest. Having starting stats a little lower would allow for more space to develop you character stat wise instead of capping your 20 in your main stat by level 4 or 8.

Extra racial/background/culture features are way more interesting and influence the narrative in a way that no pluses would ever do.
 


aco175

Hero
I voted to place them in with race. Why have different races if you cannot have them be different.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Probably the only one to vote this option, but I would remove the chargen ASI. Stats generally start high enough to be relevant at first level, and proficiency and bounded accuracy takes care of the rest. Having starting stats a little lower would allow for more space to develop you character stat wise instead of capping your 20 in your main stat by level 4 or 8.

Extra racial/background/culture features are way more interesting and influence the narrative in a way that no pluses would ever do.
You are not alone. :)

Racial ASIs are pointless IMO, as they neither represent racial improvements over others which cannot be made up for later nor affect maximums.
Background ASIs are pointless IMO because backgrounds are completely customizable so you can put the modifiers wherever you want anyway.
Class ASIs are pointless IMO because you already are putting your best scores (typically) in the scores you need, so you are inflating them.
Floating ASIs are pointless IMO because PCs already are superior to the norm due to the ability score generation methods.

I would rather just see (at best) another racial trait, but frankly you can just remove them from the game and everything plays out just fine. They simply are not needed at all.

If you want even better scores, then just have the ability score generation methods bumped up.
 

EscherEnigma

Explorer
I chose "totally freeform", but what I actually have in mind is something like all (species, culture/background/whatever-you-call-it, class) having a bonus, and then during character creation you choose one.

The consequence is probably close to "players just assign it wherever they want", but it does still push the fantasy that certain species/cultures/background/class/whatever are associated with being stronger/smarter/wiser/more-bodacious/whatever.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Probably the only one to vote this option, but I would remove the chargen ASI. Stats generally start high enough to be relevant at first level, and proficiency and bounded accuracy takes care of the rest. Having starting stats a little lower would allow for more space to develop you character stat wise instead of capping your 20 in your main stat by level 4 or 8.

Extra racial/background/culture features are way more interesting and influence the narrative in a way that no pluses would ever do.
I feel the opposite way, but for similar reasons. I think that lowering the starting ability score spread would increase the pressure to put every ASI into one's main Ability Score, causing more players to not even consider any other option as a possiblity until later in the game, reducing willingness to play even marginally MAD characters, and overall increase sameyness of build choices.

Going the other way, however, has the opposite effect. The folks who see maximizing their main stat as too important to ignore can get that out of the way more quickly, and then look at secondary and tertiary stats, and feats, at earlier levels, as well as being more willing to do things like play a strength rogue, or bump Int solely for int skills, etc.
 

glass

(he, him)
I voted other.

My preference would be Species, Class, and Profession (background minus the bit that end up in Culture) all contributing. Definitely no ASIs for Culture though!

_
glass.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I feel the opposite way, but for similar reasons. I think that lowering the starting ability score spread would increase the pressure to put every ASI into one's main Ability Score, causing more players to not even consider any other option as a possiblity until later in the game, reducing willingness to play even marginally MAD characters, and overall increase sameyness of build choices.

Going the other way, however, has the opposite effect. The folks who see maximizing their main stat as too important to ignore can get that out of the way more quickly, and then look at secondary and tertiary stats, and feats, at earlier levels, as well as being more willing to do things like play a strength rogue, or bump Int solely for int skills, etc.
I agree with you, and I think the source of that is the way that in 5e, you have to choose between ASI or Feats. I think a good compromise would be to remove the racials ASI, but allow for both feats AND ASI to be part of a character progression in A5E.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I agree with you, and I think the source of that is the way that in 5e, you have to choose between ASI or Feats. I think a good compromise would be to remove the racials ASI, but allow for both feats AND ASI to be part of a character progression in A5E.
That would help, but you'd still have the issue of a smaller point buy making MAD characters harder to play, and you'd weaken classes that are inherently more MAD.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I agree with you, and I think the source of that is the way that in 5e, you have to choose between ASI or Feats. I think a good compromise would be to remove the racials ASI, but allow for both feats AND ASI to be part of a character progression in A5E.
I think this is best myself. At the ASI levels, you gain a feat and a +1 ASI. This would give you more overall, but keep the lower levels more challenging. I might just do this for our tables and see what others think.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
That would help, but you'd still have the issue of a smaller point buy making MAD characters harder to play, and you'd weaken classes that are inherently more MAD.
This can be handled in many ways, really.

One idea: remove the tie of CON to HP. Have your bonus HP be given by your highest ability modifier at the time you level.
Then, no class would need more than two scores really.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This can be handled in many ways, really.

One idea: remove the tie of CON to HP. Have your bonus HP be given by your highest ability modifier at the time you level.
Then, no class would need more than two scores really.
It just seems much simpler to just increase the pool of points.
And your solution doesn't help at all with a character that wants to have a good physical stat, spellcasting stat, and a tertiary mental stat related to skills.

And the game is already balanced to assume both point buy and rolled stats, so using effecively a higher point buy (by having a +1 from race, subrace, culture, background, and class, or whatever) isn't going to change CR calculations, much less break the game. It just means more concepts are viable. No one considers their character Strong when they have a 10 Strength.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
That would help, but you'd still have the issue of a smaller point buy making MAD characters harder to play, and you'd weaken classes that are inherently more MAD.
Maybe something that would help MAD character is to have more class feature affected by proficiency instead of a stat, like we've seen in the last few UAs (this also make multi-classing less fiddly because it removes a little pressure on MAD-ness if you have more than one class which abilities requirement dont align all that much). Maybe the aura of the Paladin could improve with Prof instead of CHA, meaning a Paladin could forgo CHA entirely if he wishes to only use its slots as smite fuel. Maybe the monk DC should come from its Dex or Str, like the battlemaster's maneuver instead of Wis, meaning a monk could go STR over DEX without splitting to much its stats.

As @dnd4vr says in following post, removing CON from HP (line in 4e, lets say) would also allow classes to ease up a little on having a competitive CON score in addition to their other important ability. I'm a big fan of CON score + average HD at 1st level, myself.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
It just seems much simpler to just increase the pool of points.
And your solution doesn't help at all with a character that wants to have a good physical stat, spellcasting stat, and a tertiary mental stat related to skills.

And the game is already balanced to assume both point buy and rolled stats, so using effecively a higher point buy (by having a +1 from race, subrace, culture, background, and class, or whatever) isn't going to change CR calculations, much less break the game. It just means more concepts are viable. No one considers their character Strong when they have a 10 Strength.
Sure, if you want them increased. I don't and don't think they need to be.
With current point buy a character can have three 14's and three 10's. How good do you want them to be?! 14 IS good IMO, so you can have three good stats even without racial ASIs. If you are rolling scores (the default), you can easily have even better scores!

Having higher scores won't "break" anything, of course, but for myself it makes it much less enjoyable because there is less challenge.

If everyone else has STR 8, STR 10 is strong, isn't it? ;)
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Maybe something that would help MAD character is to have more class feature affected by proficiency instead of a stat, like we've seen in the last few UAs (this also make multi-classing less fiddly because it removes a little pressure on MAD-ness if you have more than one class which abilities requirement dont align all that much).
This is why we changed Unarmored Defense for Monks to 10 + (choice of WIS or DEX) + Proficiency. If you focus on DEX, you will be better at fighting, if you focus on WIS, your DC saves will be higher.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I also agree stat increases via species / background / class is pointless. People are going to go after the stats they want, so just give them a certain amount of point buy points and let them buy what they want. Don't waste time making them decide which combination of this and that species or class to take to gain this or that bonus. Or if people are rolling stats and the DM wants them to have higher stats than 4d6 drop lowest, there are dozens of other rolling method combinations they can use.

And as far as the argument that if you don't let a PC have an exceedingly high stat from the get-go they will just spend their first ASIs to boost their primary stat... isn't that all dependent on how worthwhile you make your feats? If players keep buying up their max stat, it's because your feats aren't worth a damn. Make your feat options better and players won't automatically go straight to +2 to their ASI.

And then for the MAD classes? If this game is being rebuilt to be "Advanced"... build the classes in such a way that the MAD classes who may start with their primary modifier one less than another class (because they have to split their points more evenly) has other abilities to compensate. Either that... or make all the classes MAD by putting some of their class features behind secondary and tertiary stats.

If you go into this project thinking that all the build tropes of current 5E are still going to be there... you've obviously not thought hard enough on how to fix them so that they no longer are a thing in A5E.
 

Just get rid of them and give each character a feat at 1st level that can be traded by a +2 bonus to any ability score. If we're killing this sacred cow because we don't want to tell players that if you're a dwarf you must be sturdy and strong, telling the same players that all fighters are strong or that all nobles are charismatic is not much better.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sure, if you want them increased. I don't and don't think they need to be.
With current point buy a character can have three 14's and three 10's. How good do you want them to be?! 14 IS good IMO, so you can have three good stats even without racial ASIs. If you are rolling scores (the default), you can easily have even better scores!

Having higher scores won't "break" anything, of course, but for myself it makes it much less enjoyable because there is less challenge.

If everyone else has STR 8, STR 10 is strong, isn't it? ;)
Well, no, it's not strong unless most players see it as strong.

And I don't think most people see 14 as good enough for a main stat, and it's pretty hard without race ASIs to have a starting 16 somewhere and have anything else be good.

I think that conflict is more common than being happy with 3 14s.
 

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