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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

Undrave

Hero
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.
I agree, this is also why I don't like rolling for stats. Also, a player with a bad roll could just play recklessly and suicide their character early.

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.
they could always go for a Moon Druid since your stats don't matter...

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.
Personally I'd rather see more abstract cultures that can be plopped into any new setting. Probably with a combination of ideals, societal structure and a dash of terrain (so Militant by the sea and Militant in the mountains are slightly different flavor). Maybe even give building blocks so a DM can create their own race/culture set specific for their games.

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.
They wouldn't like to play in the Adventure League :p

Not a "big" fan of customizing races, as I feel some species in a fantasy world would share similar traits, but we won't let it stop our game and might use some bits of the idea.
I'm pretty sure some aspect will be inherent, it's the more cultural stuff like proficiencies and languages that'll change.
 

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I agree, this is also why I don't like rolling for stats. Also, a player with a bad roll could just play recklessly and suicide their character early.



they could always go for a Moon Druid since your stats don't matter...




Personally I'd rather see more abstract cultures that can be plopped into any new setting. Probably with a combination of ideals, societal structure and a dash of terrain (so Militant by the sea and Militant in the mountains are slightly different flavor). Maybe even give building blocks so a DM can create their own race/culture set specific for their games.



They wouldn't like to play in the Adventure League :p



I'm pretty sure some aspect will be inherent, it's the more cultural stuff like proficiencies and languages that'll change
No, AL would not sit well with any of them.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Personally I'd rather see more abstract cultures that can be plopped into any new setting. Probably with a combination of ideals, societal structure and a dash of terrain (so Militant by the sea and Militant in the mountains are slightly different flavor). Maybe even give building blocks so a DM can create their own race/culture set specific for their games.
Well military based on terrain seems more like a ranger exclusive thing.

But I agree that I'd prefer more abstract culture. Kind of like how Age of Wonders 3 and Planetfall did it. Your choose of main hero determined the culture of your race and each hero was based on a common abstraction of a fantasy or scifi culture

Arcane (INT) + Elf (DEX)= High Elf Dex/Int
Druidic (WIS) + Elf (DEX) = Wood Elf Dex/Wis
Warrior (STR) + Elf (DEX) = Wild Elf Str/Dex
Fey (INT) + Elf (DEX) = Eladrin Dex/Int
Dark (CHA) + Elf (DEX) = Drow Dex/Cha
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
they could always go for a Moon Druid since your stats don't matter...
FWIW, your mental ability scores don't change in Wild Shape, so 10's for INT, WIS, and CHA aren't going to do much for you.

However, it would be an interesting character whose spells all revolved around utility/buffs and then relied on Wild Shape for much of combat when possible. Such a PC might not even be less efficient due to average mental scores. :unsure:
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
in my experience all of the rolling pros don't really hold up in practice.
Alice will have 12 12 13 8 6 3
Bob will have 18 15 12 16 10
chuck dawn & edie will be somewhere between the two. Then five or six games in it goes from coincidence to fact that bob had stats like that every game. Sure you can mandate they be rolled in order at the start but bob still winds up with optimal or near optimal order of those stats
 

in my experience all of the rolling pros don't really hold up in practice.
Alice will have 12 12 13 8 6 3
Bob will have 18 15 12 16 10
chuck dawn & edie will be somewhere between the two. Then five or six games in it goes from coincidence to fact that bob had stats like that every game. Sure you can mandate they be rolled in order at the start but bob still winds up with optimal or near optimal order of those stats
The biggest "pro" is when your players like rolling and dislike point buy (and HATE the standard array). Combine that with being unwilling to force a player to run a character with "bad stats" if they don't want to, and it is what it is.
 

Undrave

Hero
Well military based on terrain seems more like a ranger exclusive thing.

But I agree that I'd prefer more abstract culture. Kind of like how Age of Wonders 3 and Planetfall did it. Your choose of main hero determined the culture of your race and each hero was based on a common abstraction of a fantasy or scifi culture

Arcane (INT) + Elf (DEX)= High Elf Dex/Int
Druidic (WIS) + Elf (DEX) = Wood Elf Dex/Wis
Warrior (STR) + Elf (DEX) = Wild Elf Str/Dex
Fey (INT) + Elf (DEX) = Eladrin Dex/Int
Dark (CHA) + Elf (DEX) = Drow Dex/Cha
Well by 'militant' I meant a culture who puts emphasis on military strength, glorifies military conquest, and would conscript anybody of sound body for its militia. Someone raised on that kind of culture would obviously have some sort of martial weapon proficiency.

But if they were raised by the sea they would have some type of swim speed, and if they were raised on the mountains they would probably have climbing skill, like proficiency in Athletics.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Well by 'militant' I meant a culture who puts emphasis on military strength, glorifies military conquest, and would conscript anybody of sound body for its militia. Someone raised on that kind of culture would obviously have some sort of martial weapon proficiency.

But if they were raised by the sea they would have some type of swim speed, and if they were raised on the mountains they would probably have climbing skill, like proficiency in Athletics.
Well a swim or climb speed would be generic and thus a heritage trait. However I could see mountain, coastal, and woods cultures having different proficiencies, ASIs and other features works.

Although I don't see the point of them being Militant. I can't see any of the possible terrain or location based cultures not having a noticeable lean to combat. Especially since Morris said they would contain the learned aspects and backgrounds will still exist.
 

Xeviat

Adventurer
Supporter
Coming up with racial stats that don't work better when doing some things compared to others is going to be rather tricky though. Off the top of my head, I can't think of many in the current 5E races that appear to meet your criteria.
The trick is to have a mixture of things that are useful to some and not really useful to others. Elven weapon proficiencies don't do anything for the warriors, but they offer a boost for the semi-warriors.
 

Undrave

Hero
Well a swim or climb speed would be generic and thus a heritage trait. However I could see mountain, coastal, and woods cultures having different proficiencies, ASIs and other features works.

Although I don't see the point of them being Militant. I can't see any of the possible terrain or location based cultures not having a noticeable lean to combat. Especially since Morris said they would contain the learned aspects and backgrounds will still exist.
In my version the environement and culture would be two parts you can mix and match, and 'Militant' would be one of the generic culture. You'd have one for Theocratic cultures and Magocratic cultures and Mercantile cultures, etc. the Environement is just there to spice thing up a bit. It would be overly minor bonuses compared to Culture.
 

The trick is to have a mixture of things that are useful to some and not really useful to others. Elven weapon proficiencies don't do anything for the warriors, but they offer a boost for the semi-warriors.
Kind of like how Mountain Dwarves balance an armour proficiency that is only useful to non-warriors with an ability bonus that is only of primary importance to warriors?

This is one of the reasons I am hesitant when it comes to mix-and-match, build your own races. Most races have a mix of benefits to various concepts rather than optimising for one. You can break down the dwarven benefits into points, but any race built on that total by an optimiser will be more powerful than a dwarf, since they will have traded away the abilities that don't benefit them for abilities that do directly benefit them.
 

Horwath

Hero
Kind of like how Mountain Dwarves balance an armour proficiency that is only useful to non-warriors with an ability bonus that is only of primary importance to warriors?

This is one of the reasons I am hesitant when it comes to mix-and-match, build your own races. Most races have a mix of benefits to various concepts rather than optimising for one. You can break down the dwarven benefits into points, but any race built on that total by an optimiser will be more powerful than a dwarf, since they will have traded away the abilities that don't benefit them for abilities that do directly benefit them.
Fair point, but I would rather see more open ended bonuses that all can have some benefit.

So for dwarves I would put +1 category from starting class armor proficiency:

none->light
light->medium
medium->heavy
heavy->extra class skill+tool

Bonus weapon proficiency or if you start with all martial weapons extra 2 tools or languages.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Kind of like how Mountain Dwarves balance an armour proficiency that is only useful to non-warriors with an ability bonus that is only of primary importance to warriors?

This is one of the reasons I am hesitant when it comes to mix-and-match, build your own races. Most races have a mix of benefits to various concepts rather than optimising for one. You can break down the dwarven benefits into points, but any race built on that total by an optimiser will be more powerful than a dwarf, since they will have traded away the abilities that don't benefit them for abilities that do directly benefit them.
Yes.

Freely mixing and matching is the death of the D&D feeling

D&D is defined by not offering generic classes or point based character build options.

D&D is defined by forcing players to select highly idiosyncratic packages where you have to take the bad with the good.

That "resistance" is what's offering the "texture" that makes the game feel like D&D as opposed to some generic fantasy d20 game (with classes like Strong, Fast or Smart).
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Throughout the history of D&D, there have always been strong voices to allow players to freely mix and match to get it exactly how they like it.

Please keep not listening to them, Level Up.

(The idea in itself is fine. For a stand-alone game such a change would be fine. At least if you by "fine" mean "being regarded as a not-D&D game that sells not even 1 percent of what D&D sells", but still fine.)

But Level Up isn't its own thing. It would be a huge mistake to stop asking players interested in playing Mountain Dwarf Rangers to cope with slow speed, or lower Charisma than Constitution, or stronger abilities regarding shooting arrows than magic bolts, or skills regarding the gods and the natural world, than, say, questions revolving around artificial constructs and the arcane.
 

Horwath

Hero
I'm personally against any ability boosts in character creation, but if all are certain that it needs to be done then

Race+subrace(heritage) 2 pts
Culture 1pt
Background 1pt

No ability can be raised by more than +2.


I.E.

race: Elves:
+1 dex or int

subrace: wood elf
+1 to one ability out of str, dex or wis

Culture: forest
+1 to dex, int or wis

Background: Outlander
+1 to str, dex or con
 

OK. may not be relevant now, but I've changed my opinion on this, and my vote after doing some rough maths.

The difference between a halfling and a half orc is the one often used as the comparison: a 2 pt difference in Str score.
The Strength (based on lifting) difference between men and women is more than 4 points of Str.

Since I'm happy to not apply a Str score difference between human males and females, I'm happy to handwave away the lesser difference between races.

Just remove ASIs during character creation completely.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I consider ASIs a significant part of crunch during character creation and that this should be retained.

The fact that not every D&D race has equal potential for every "job" is an important and valuable part of the game that is building your character.

Restrictions and limitations are good for the game, since it is the backbone of why a game looks and feels like D&D, rather than some generic (high) fantasy game.

It also helps world building and is a core part of D&D's legacy.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
While not crucial to generic D&D, I believe there is nothing wrong with sword & sandals campaigns (like Conan, or maybe ancient Greece) that add in a marked strength disparity between genders.

At least for humans (and these campaigns are often much more human centric, offering few to no non-human humanoid choices during character generation)

5th Edition already provides ample support for "Dex fighters". Barring females from "hulking brute" strength builds is therefore a much smaller limitation than in many other editions of the game. Small enough that enforcement of gender disparity on Strength is a non-fatal intrusion in the game's menu of choices, in my opinion.
 
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Horwath

Hero
While not crucial to generic D&D, I believe there is nothing wrong with sword & sandals campaigns (like Conan) that add in a marked strength disparity between genders.

At least for humans (and these campaigns are often much more human centric, offering few to no non-human humanoid choices during character generation)
Might work, but I would not go with penalty/bonuses, rather with limit on maximum score at character creatiton or general max score.
 

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