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D&D 5E With Only 4 Ability Scores, How Would You Handle Spellcasting Abilities (+)


I'd go with Brawn (basically combining Strength + Constitution), Dexterity, Intelligence (including aspects of Wisdom), and Presence (Charisma-ish), and then go with one of two approaches to magic:

1. Decouple it from stats entirely, or maybe have situational uses of stats. This would more easily open the door to classes/character types that use magic without being brainy – for example, something like the Gloomhaven Cragheart, which uses Earth magic to bolster their attacks, heal, create obstacles, and things like that.

2, Have Intelligence cover magic knowledge, while Presence covers magic power. In 5e terms, Intelligence would determine how many spells you can prepare, while Presence would be used to set their DC/spell attacks. If you had some mechanic that let you get tricksy with magic (e.g. metamagic), it should be tied to Intelligence.

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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I'd maybe try something like this:

Might (athletic, melee attacks, riding, ranged weapon range, armor and weapon proficiencies, HP)
Precision (use tools, AC, ranged and finesse attack)
Cunning (lore, riddles, coerce, search/spot)
Magic (both offense and magic defense against spells)

Then all magic users would use Magic as their casting stats.


Guide of Modos
I'd use Body, Soul, Mind of the likes of BESM if we're going to drop ability scores. Spellcasting could use any of the three. Body might be used by Sorcerers, Shamans or Druids; Soul might be used by Sorcerers, Warlocks and Clerics; Mind might be used by Wizards, Warlocks and Artificers.
Yuuup. Three attributes are short and sweet.

As an example, let's say you changed the six ability score to four in this manner:
  • Charisma (same)
  • Dexterity (same)
  • Might (was Str & Con)
  • Savvy (was Intelligence and Wisdom)
Physical/Body: STR, DEX, CON
Mental/Mind: INT, WIS
Metaphysical/Soul: CHA, WIS

Fourth attribute candidates could be Comeliness, Wealth, or my favorite, Geralt.

Then the 5E spellcasting classes would have to pick from just these four:
  • Bard - Charisma
  • Cleric - Savvy
  • Druid- Savvy
  • Sorcerer - Charisma (or Might?)
  • Warlock- Charisma
  • Wizard- Savvy
And of course we have Paladin and Ranger to consider as well.
Physical: paladin, ranger, barbarian (c'mon, Rage is a spell).
Mental: sorceror, wizard, warlock.
Metaphysical: cleric, druid, bard.


Offense: apply damage
Defense: resist damage
Manipulate: applying conditions.
Wary: resist conditions.

All classes use a combination of stats. Most spells and abilities should have multiple stats in them.


Armor of Agythis
You gain temporary hit points equal to Defense + Wary. If you are hit you deal damage equal to Offense + Manipulate.

Size: 5' radius * your Manipulate
Damage: 1d6 per Offense.

Argyle King

If it were up to me, Charisma wouldn't be an ability score.

It's something you could pick up via feats, features, backgrounds, or something else; but it wouldn't be an ability score. However, implementation of that would radically change how D&D works.

If I could reduce the amount of ability scores to 5, I would keep the following:


*Initiative would no longer be based on Dex. Instead, it would be derived from various things that are not directly connected to ability scores.

I would have knowing how to perform spellcasting be linked to mental ability, learned skills, or a combination of both.

At the same time, the capacity to perform spellcasting would have some link to physical stats, because channeling cosmic energy through a body is taxing.

Spell components, holy symbols, inborn bloodline abilities, spell foci, pacts with otherworldly entities, studying knowledge(arcana), casting as a ritual*, casting as a group*, and a variety of other methods could/would allow some ability to push through normal limits of a body.

**There may be some higher level spells that I would have require one or both of these to safely cast. Trying to cast them without those things would still be possible but come with a lot of risk.



Split the spellcasters between will and awareness types. And this would depend on just how many caster types you’re going to include.

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