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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

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For any one score, sure, but the cumulative effect is about 1.5 as I wrote depending on which methods you are comparing, and 1.5 is nearly the 2 you need for a +1 modifier. So, while the differences are not necessarily enough to make one system better to another, they can be used as such.

For example, the standard array is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 or +2, +2, +1, +1, and -1, for a total of +5 modifiers. Point buy can give you 14, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, for a total modifier sum of +7, which is +2 greater than the standard array. Even the accepted standard array equivalent for 4d6-L is 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 9, totaling +6 in modifiers.

Thus, point-buy can give you +7, the "standard array" of 4d6-L gives you +6, and the standard array is +5. Each system can show a +1 total modifier better than the other. Is the difference meaningful? That is up the the individual to surmise, but the systems are not really equivalent. I would never use the standard array, for example, if point-buy was an option.
I think the issue is what you can get, not what you're statistically most likely to get. You can always roll an 18, plus ASIs. That's not an option with any other method.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I think the issue is what you can get, not what you're statistically most likely to get. You can always roll an 18, plus ASIs. That's not an option with any other method.
But you can also roll below an 8, which isn't possible with the other methods (except for a few races with -2 to an ability score...).

The REAL issue, is when people roll, IME they don't want to accept the possible low rolls as the trade off for the high rolls. They roll a 5 or 6, and maybe an 8, and even if they have two 16's, they will want to roll again instead of accepting the low rolls. Most games even allow players to roll a few sets of ability scores using 4d6-L, and then choose the set they want to keep. This artificially increases the impact of 4d6-L because now you can choose the best of 3 sets, for example.

If DMs were all absolute in the 4d6-L, one set of scores ONLY, you would not see as much desire to do it IMO. If you rolled a 3 or 4, it can be severely harmful to a PC, even if you have a couple great score to make up for it. A lot of players say "Oh, no, I would play it" or "We only roll one set, take it or leave it." IME that is crap. It isn't like the DM will forbid them from playing if they won't accept a set of with bad rolls. At worse, the DM then resorts to "Fine, but then you are stuck with the standard array" or something.

This has been the real issue since the beginning of rolling stats.
 

If DMs were all absolute in the 4d6-L, one set of scores ONLY, you would not see as much desire to do it IMO. If you rolled a 3 or 4, it can be severely harmful to a PC, even if you have a couple great score to make up for it. A lot of players say "Oh, no, I would play it" or "We only roll one set, take it or leave it." IME that is crap. It isn't like the DM will forbid them from playing if they won't accept a set of with bad rolls. At worse, the DM then resorts to "Fine, but then you are stuck with the standard array" or something.

This has been the real issue since the beginning of rolling stats.
I think one really bad stat is fine, hell for most characters you can just toss that 3 into int, and other than the roleplaying aspect wouldn't even notice.

What really gets you is when you have 2 or 3 crappy or mediocre stats. Its hard to hide those, and then characters look weaker.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
This has been the real issue since the beginning of rolling stats.
The real issue is that people are bad at math and worse at probabilities.

And that they want to play an "objectively" random hero. Just not one that had bad luck during generation.

Which is what we call "not random" :sneaky:

So when people say they like random chargen, you should interpret that as the opposite.

At worse, the DM then resorts to "Fine, but then you are stuck with the standard array" or something.
If standard array is the fall-back option, rolling will produce significantly better results than "average".

Roll two sets of scores and pick the best isn't nearly as impactful as this.

(Yet another example of how unintuitive math is)

As The Kind GM puts it
https://thekindgm.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/determining-ability-scores/ said:
The standard array is a bit lower than the median of that dice method. That’s because the standard array provides you with playable stats without having the risk of getting really bad ones if you had used the dice method.
If you get to pick the standard array after rolling, you've just negated the risk he mentions.

Since you're getting the rewards without having to pay the (potential) cost, you've short-circuited the system.

Since a player who's stuck with [10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10] will like suicide her character at the earliest opportunity, the question becomes: What is the poorest, "most average", set of scores your players can abide? Then use that as your fall-back array.

And if the answer is "standard array", you should not allow rolling! Any player unwilling to risk worse starting scores than the standard array should be directed towards the standard array.
 

Minigiant

Legend
But you can also roll below an 8, which isn't possible with the other methods (except for a few races with -2 to an ability score...).

The REAL issue, is when people roll, IME they don't want to accept the possible low rolls as the trade off for the high rolls. They roll a 5 or 6, and maybe an 8, and even if they have two 16's, they will want to roll again instead of accepting the low rolls. Most games even allow players to roll a few sets of ability scores using 4d6-L, and then choose the set they want to keep. This artificially increases the impact of 4d6-L because now you can choose the best of 3 sets, for example.

If DMs were all absolute in the 4d6-L, one set of scores ONLY, you would not see as much desire to do it IMO. If you rolled a 3 or 4, it can be severely harmful to a PC, even if you have a couple great score to make up for it. A lot of players say "Oh, no, I would play it" or "We only roll one set, take it or leave it." IME that is crap. It isn't like the DM will forbid them from playing if they won't accept a set of with bad rolls. At worse, the DM then resorts to "Fine, but then you are stuck with the standard array" or something.

This has been the real issue since the beginning of rolling stats.
The other issue is that main classes in D&D historically required or were dependent on having multiple good ability scores. Whereas some classes only needed one ability score. So depending on what you roll, your options for classes and even races were determined.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
And if the answer is "standard array", you should not allow rolling! Any player unwilling to risk worse starting scores than the standard array should be directed towards the standard array.
Agree completely.

The other issue is that main classes in D&D historically required or were dependent on having multiple good ability scores.
While no longer any requirements, the way some people feel (apparently) nothing has changed.

for most characters you can just toss that 3 into int, and other than the roleplaying aspect wouldn't even notice.
Which is a true, but sad, fact IMO.

Enforcing a house-rule of losing a skill for each negative modifier would help a lot since in this case your character would likely only have one proficient skill with INT 3.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Here's a Q.

What would we use as culture?

  1. Is it just subraces renamed (elves get dark, wood, and high but not mountain and swamp)
  2. Would every species get access to all cultures?
    • If so would it be based on fantasy archetypes? (High, Dark, Light, Nature, Warrior, City)
    • tropes? (stout, lightfoot, smart, magical, sneaky, normal)
    • terrain? (arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, underdark, urban)
    • caste? (royal, noble, priest, warrior, merchant, craftsman, commoner)
    • class? (warrior, thief, mage, priest, bard)
    • psuedo background? (foreign, urban, classy, tribal)
    • a mix? (arctic, high, dark, tribal, commoner, stout)
Because to me, it kinda matters. It would determine the logical spread of ability score bonuses.
 

But you can also roll below an 8, which isn't possible with the other methods (except for a few races with -2 to an ability score...).

The REAL issue, is when people roll, IME they don't want to accept the possible low rolls as the trade off for the high rolls. They roll a 5 or 6, and maybe an 8, and even if they have two 16's, they will want to roll again instead of accepting the low rolls. Most games even allow players to roll a few sets of ability scores using 4d6-L, and then choose the set they want to keep. This artificially increases the impact of 4d6-L because now you can choose the best of 3 sets, for example.

If DMs were all absolute in the 4d6-L, one set of scores ONLY, you would not see as much desire to do it IMO. If you rolled a 3 or 4, it can be severely harmful to a PC, even if you have a couple great score to make up for it. A lot of players say "Oh, no, I would play it" or "We only roll one set, take it or leave it." IME that is crap. It isn't like the DM will forbid them from playing if they won't accept a set of with bad rolls. At worse, the DM then resorts to "Fine, but then you are stuck with the standard array" or something.

This has been the real issue since the beginning of rolling stats.
You're absolutely correct. Even so, I've never run a game where everyone was ok with point buy or the standard array, so rolling is what we get. Maybe I can get away with point buy in a non D&D game where it's not a listed option, but to my players, rolling stats is a sacred cow of the game. I'm sure if we play Level Up it will be the same.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
You're absolutely correct. Even so, I've never run a game where everyone was ok with point buy or the standard array, so rolling is what we get. Maybe I can get away with point buy in a non D&D game where it's not a listed option, but to my players, rolling stats is a sacred cow of the game. I'm sure if we play Level Up it will be the same.
In games d20-style games, I've seen point-buy used about 50/50 with rolling. I prefer point-buy myself just because you won't have "lucky" PCs who can overshadow ones with lower rolls, which can especially happen at lower levels.

For example, in our main campaign (which started nearly two years ago), one player rolled 19, 16, 18, 13, 13, 13 or something like that after racial bonuses, while another player had 10, 10, 15, 12, 13, 16 after modifiers. That is a huge difference in points--just because of luck. shrug
 

In games d20-style games, I've seen point-buy used about 50/50 with rolling. I prefer point-buy myself just because you won't have "lucky" PCs who can overshadow ones with lower rolls, which can especially happen at lower levels.

For example, in our main campaign (which started nearly two years ago), one player rolled 19, 16, 18, 13, 13, 13 or something like that after racial bonuses, while another player had 10, 10, 15, 12, 13, 16 after modifiers. That is a huge difference in points--just because of luck. shrug
I'd love to run point buy some day, but my wife plays with us and hates it with the fury of a thousand suns. The ironic thing is, she's also scrupulously honest about her rolls. Hard to argue her point.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I'd love to run point buy some day, but my wife plays with us and hates it with the fury of a thousand suns. The ironic thing is, she's also scrupulously honest about her rolls. Hard to argue her point.
That's great! If a player is willing to roll and honestly accept the risk and not bitch and whine later on because of one or two bad scores, I am all for rolling. But, as I said, IME that is definitely the exception to the rule.

We do allow either point-buy or rolling, the player decides, so why not run a game where the player can choose which method they want to use? I see no reason why every player has to use the same method since (roughly) over all the scores are closely equal. shrug
 
Last edited:

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Here's a Q.

What would we use as culture?

  1. Is it just subraces renamed (elves get dark, wood, and high but not mountain and swamp)
  2. Would every species get access to all cultures?
    • If so would it be based on fantasy archetypes? (High, Dark, Light, Nature, Warrior, City)
    • tropes? (stout, lightfoot, smart, magical, sneaky, normal)
    • terrain? (arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, underdark, urban)
    • caste? (royal, noble, priest, warrior, merchant, craftsman, commoner)
    • class? (warrior, thief, mage, priest, bard)
    • psuedo background? (foreign, urban, classy, tribal)
    • a mix? (arctic, high, dark, tribal, commoner, stout)
Because to me, it kinda matters. It would determine the logical spread of ability score bonuses.
The first playtest candidate has Elf as a heritage, and wood, high, dark elves etc. as cultures. Any heritage can take any culture, so you can have the dwarf heritage and the wood elf culture. All biological features reside in heritage, and all learned features reside in culture.
 

That's great! If a player is willing to roll and honestly accept the risk and not bitch and whine later on because of one or two bad scores, I am all for rolling. But, as I said, IME that is definitely the exception to the rule.

We do allow either point-buy or rolling, the player decides, so why not run a game where the player can choose which method they want to use? I see no reason why every player has to use the same method since (roughly) over all the scores are closely equal. shrug
Yeah, but most of my players like the possibility of high rolls, and know I won't make them play a character whose stats they don't like. I might be able to make a game fly where my wife gets to roll and everybody else uses point buy. It's not like she's ever made an overpowered character.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
The first playtest candidate has Elf as a heritage, and wood, high, dark elves etc. as cultures. Any heritage can take any culture, so you can have the dwarf heritage and the wood elf culture. All biological features reside in heritage, and all learned features reside in culture.
I would imagine for now using terms like Wood for a wood elf culture would eventually translate to more generic terms for culture such as nomad, rural, street, etc.?
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
most of my players like the possibility of high rolls, and know I won't make them play a character whose stats they don't like
Which means if you allow them to roll and they get bad results that they won't want to play, giving them multiple rolls or defaulting to a standard array, etc. means they have a chance for reward with no risk. Personally as a DM I wouldn't do that, but ultimately everyone wants to have fun so if you're happy with it, no issues here. :)

where my wife gets to roll and everybody else uses point buy.
I would suggest it. I don't see why any one would take issue with it, but I could be wrong since I don't know your table.
 

Minigiant

Legend
The first playtest candidate has Elf as a heritage, and wood, high, dark elves etc. as cultures. Any heritage can take any culture, so you can have the dwarf heritage and the wood elf culture. All biological features reside in heritage, and all learned features reside in culture.
So coolcoolcool. I can't wait to see how you guys did it.

I tried to do a species/culture/background split just to see how it would look. Both +1 to each and for +2 to species and +1 or +2 culture.
I had trouble getting the ability scores to spread around enough with a player driven 16 prime ability assumption. Some abilities were over represented.

But I did it based on fantasy archetypes and terrains.
 

Which means if you allow them to roll and they get bad results that they won't want to play, giving them multiple rolls or defaulting to a standard array, etc. means they have a chance for reward with no risk. Personally as a DM I wouldn't do that, but ultimately everyone wants to have fun so if you're happy with it, no issues here. :)


I would suggest it. I don't see why any one would take issue with it, but I could be wrong since I don't know your table.
I'm not really happy with it, but I've been out-voted, and I can live with it. I just struggle making combat challenging sometimes.
 

I like the terminology: heritage and culture. The heritage is like the hardware, and the culture is like the software. Really the heritage is morelike "firmware", in the sense that a magical culture can modify the inherited biology if it so chooses. Even so, there is a sense of ancestral traits versus generational traits.

I would probably prefer to rename the background, as individual "experience", in the sense of a job resume. But I can live background, in the sense that the foreground job is "adventurer".
 

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