Let's Get Rid Of Stat Scores

The more I play D&D Next, the more I'm in favor of eliminating stat scores and going totally bonus-based. It wouldn't take much tweaking to the rules as currently existing to eliminate the need for scores entirely, because they're already practically there.

What say you?

I'd rather make the ability scores more relevant, such as for DCs, which was discussed early on in the development.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
Nah.  There's more to scores than just their bonus conversion.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Nah.  There's more to scores than just their bonus conversion.

Such as? I'm talking mechanically, of course.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
They did this in the latest edition of Mutants & Masterminds, it works. But I like the stat scores, they just need to find ways to incorporate them a little more into the Core Rules.

There is also allot of tradition, nostalgia behind those scores.

If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
Well, in prior editions there were lots of tertiary relationships among things that weren't tied to the ability modifier.  Carry weights, etc. 

If your argument is that not enough things use the score and not the modifier, then the solution is to make the score more important, not less.

Beyond that, the idea behind 3d6 stats is that it represents a typical population distribution, with 10.5 as the mean.  You can't really do that with the modifiers, not with a convenient way of using dice to represent it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Think of Hit Dice for example, its always had little effect on the game other then Hit Point progression, now they have incorporated it into Healing.

Its stuff like that, that they need to do with the Ability Scores to give them more mechanical weight. I don't think the solution is to remove them since they work and have been part of the game since day 1.
Well, in prior editions there were lots of tertiary relationships among things that weren't tied to the ability modifier.  Carry weights, etc. 

If your argument is that not enough things use the score and not the modifier, then the solution is to make the score more important, not less.

Beyond that, the idea behind 3d6 stats is that it represents a typical population distribution, with 10.5 as the mean.  You can't really do that with the modifiers, not with a convenient way of using dice to represent it.

+1. In keeping with the spirit of simplicity, ability scores could be used as DCs, similar to Pathfinder's combat maneuver system. Add class/specialty bonuses as appropriate, and now we might be able to make ability score modifiers the lesser aspect instead of the greater.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
If your argument is that not enough things use the score and not the modifier, then the solution is to make the score more important, not less.


My argument is that in the ruleset we have now, they basically don't mean anything *at all*, and +1 stat bumps feel like wasted efforts unless you're statting an odd-numbered skill.

Making them more relevant is *one* solution. The other is to embrace the bonus and eliminate the score. The question is, which way should the rules go? I argue that, as they currently exist, it would be easier to eliminate them entirely than to build in extra layers just to justify the score.

Ability scores honestly are a relic of the past that haven't been needed since AD&D. Once 3E unified the bonuses and made ability checks into just "use your ability modifier", there hasn't ever been a need for abiltiy scores. All they exist for now is to confuse people, because there's a strength modifier (which matters) and a strength score, which exists purely as a sub stat.

The game has outgrown ability scores, and unless we're going to go back to AD&D style ability checks, I don't see any reason for keeping them around.

It's the kind of mindless nostalgia that the game needs to be willing to drop to streamline it.
There was already a thread about this, that was quite long if I remember. I will pose this issue with going pure bonuses.

How will you handle negative modifiers?
My two copper.
Easy enough to decide there are no negative modifiers.

Where you set "zero" is completely arbitrary.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
There was already a thread about this, that was quite long if I remember. I will pose this issue with going pure bonuses.

How will you handle negative modifiers?


Explain. You mean like the -1 for a score of 8? It's a -1.

Ability scores honestly are a relic of the past that haven't been needed since AD&D. Once 3E unified the bonuses and made ability checks into just "use your ability modifier", there hasn't ever been a need for abiltiy scores. All they exist for now is to confuse people, because there's a strength modifier (which matters) and a strength score, which exists purely as a sub stat.

The game has outgrown ability scores, and unless we're going to go back to AD&D style ability checks, I don't see any reason for keeping them around.

It's the kind of mindless nostalgia that the game needs to be willing to drop to streamline it.



I agree, but, alas, ability scores are one of the more popular of the sacred cows.
There was already a thread about this, that was quite long if I remember. I will pose this issue with going pure bonuses.

How will you handle negative modifiers?


Explain. You mean like the -1 for a score of 8? It's a -1.




That's too simple.  Can't we have something more obfuscated? =)
Let's Get Rid Of Stat Scores

No thanks.
Color me flattered.

LIFE CYCLE OF A RULES THREAD

Show
Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

While I'm old school and prefer the chart method of ability bonuses rather than the flat bonuses introduced by 3E, I understand where this is coming from. You could easily set the ability scores from 1-10 (think current modifiers +5). AC & DCs would be increased by 5 to keep the math the same.

However, there is one HUGE flaw with this plan. How do you determine your starting modifiers? If the game is pure point buy, ala 4E, this works, but many gamers like rolling. To keep the current bell curve of modifiers, you would have to roll 4d6 (dropping the lowest) then divide by 2 (round down). It's just easier to keep the current system instead.
I agree. I have never seena huge issue with dropping ability scores, but I think that the amount of actual improvement just doesn't warrant the change. It's too much trouble for too little gain.
My two copper.
However, there is one HUGE flaw with this plan. How do you determine your starting modifiers? If the game is pure point buy, ala 4E, this works, but many gamers like rolling. To keep the current bell curve of modifiers, you would have to roll 4d6 (dropping the lowest) then divide by 2 (round down). It's just easier to keep the current system instead.



You can easily just map it onto a rolling table. You can still roll 3d6/4d6 whatever to get a result on a table that tells you what your final score is. Basically you'd just only concern yourself with that table for character creation though, and not in the game, but it'd be fundamentally the same as the ability score to modifier conversion table we have now.

The main thing is that once you convert your 17 to a +3 you never ever need to care that you rolled a 17.
I agree. I have never seena huge issue with dropping ability scores, but I think that the amount of actual improvement just doesn't warrant the change. It's too much trouble for too little gain.



I can see if you have a setimental attachment to them, but to say that it's too much trouble for too little gain I'd like to see an explanation.  This is what I see:

What would have to be done (i.e. cons):


  • Add a table to the ability score generation section that relates a 3d6 die roll to a modifier.

  • Remove the table that relates an ability score to a modifier.

  • Add a table to the Strength section that relates an ability modifier to a carrying capacity.


I could personally do this during a coffee break.


Here are some of the benefits (i.e. pros):



  • Fewer numbers on your character sheet means it's cleaner and easier to use.

  • Ability scores are easier for new players to understand (this is a big one).


Did I miss some big issue that actually makes this idea "too much trouble"?

 No, non, nyet although if it works in your home games and you like the change all power to you.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Oh look, more wasted electrons. This is D&D. D&D can mean plenty if things. None of them include a game without the primary six stats. Next thread.



When the six stats become redundant and only exist for the sake of tradition, perhaps it is time to evolve. If the end math is the same, but much more user friendly (especially to newer players), why is it such a terrible thing?
The Big Six were identified early on as one of the core element of D&D. I don't see them go anywhere. Wink


I agree with those that would like to put more focus on the ability scores. 

A couple weeks ago I saw someone championing a seperation of the bonus to d20 checks and the bonus to damage in ability scores that looked really good.  I think the unification of ability scores into one modifier was a mistake as the scale of this modifier can be drastically different from one mechanic to another.

Also I wouldn't mind seeing the return of ability damage, especially in the area of save-or-die effects much as described on The Alexandrian.
I would rather see the removal of the bonus scores, since I always though the difference between someone with a low score and someone with a high score was too few.
One example:

To cast a spell you have to have a score >= spell level + 10.


These scores are needed for more than a modifier.  
However, there is one HUGE flaw with this plan. How do you determine your starting modifiers? If the game is pure point buy, ala 4E, this works, but many gamers like rolling. To keep the current bell curve of modifiers, you would have to roll 4d6 (dropping the lowest) then divide by 2 (round down). It's just easier to keep the current system instead.



You can easily just map it onto a rolling table. You can still roll 3d6/4d6 whatever to get a result on a table that tells you what your final score is. Basically you'd just only concern yourself with that table for character creation though, and not in the game, but it'd be fundamentally the same as the ability score to modifier conversion table we have now.

The main thing is that once you convert your 17 to a +3 you never ever need to care that you rolled a 17.



But to what end? You still have to figure out your ability score (as calculated now). It's not like having the score with the correlating bonus takes up lots of space or is confusing. This is just change for change's sake. Additionally, by doing so, you've removed all half bonus increments (+1 to scores from Race, Class, and Level), meaning you either ramp up the ability bonus or give it out half as often. This would be a good idea only if they were radically altering the way ability scores are generated and/or work, and I expect that too many people would venomously object to such a change (I remembered hearing it when 4E came out).

I would be for this. We don't use the actual ability score for anything so we could just roll for bonuses.

We could say that an average humanoid has a strength bonus of +0,
The greatest beast has a strength bonus of +5.

My D&D5E JavaScript Roll Tracker http://dnd5.weebly.com/

I suppose one could roll d6-2 for starting bonuses, which gives the same range of -1 (8) to +4 (18).

The better solution IMO is dropping bonuses and using the scores directly. Perhaps a new general formula would be d20 + [ability score] + [misc mods] - [AC, DC, or target's contested ability score] - [misc mods] >= 10 for success.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
When the six stats become redundant and only exist for the sake of tradition, perhaps it is time to evolve. If the end math is the same, but much more user friendly (especially to newer players), why is it such a terrible thing?



Yeah, really, the same "It's tradition" argument could have been made for negative-scale ACs, percentile strength, saves vs wands or THAC0. If something has become redundant in the system, then it should really be streamlined.

Nostalgia alone isn't a good enough reason to keep something. All the "It's tradition" argument boils down to is a hatred of change.
As it stands now, I would prefer not to change it.

However, if one generates a set of playtestable rules here to try, I would give it a go, as one should at least give it a try before a hard-line answer, whether yea or nay. 

Just roll some dice.

 

RADIO FREE BORDERLANDS:

Explore the new D&D podcast that is a celebration of all eras of the game! Discussing the loves, challenges, topics, ideas, and news of this great hobby in both a contemporary and historical view.

http://radiofreeborderlands.libsyn.com/

Keep the six ability scores. They have been around since the beginning of D&D, and rolling 3d6 gives a decent bell curve for stats. I haven't seen a good enough reason to get rid of them.

The idea of using the modifier unless the base score is high enough, and then you automatically succeed was a good one.
I've removed content from this thread. Trolling/Baiting is a violation of the Code of Conduct.

You can review the Code of Conduct here: company.wizards.com/conduct

Please remember to keep your posts polite and on topic and refrain from making personal attacks. 
When the six stats become redundant and only exist for the sake of tradition, perhaps it is time to evolve. If the end math is the same, but much more user friendly (especially to newer players), why is it such a terrible thing?



Yeah, really, the same "It's tradition" argument could have been made for negative-scale ACs, percentile strength, saves vs wands or THAC0. If something has become redundant in the system, then it should really be streamlined.

Nostalgia alone isn't a good enough reason to keep something. All the "It's tradition" argument boils down to is a hatred of change.


I think a lot of the individual responses I would have given to some of the arguments in this thread can really be summed up by the above exchange. Well put.

I'm looking beyond the tradition here, at the rules they're putting out, and I'm seeing zero need for those numbers beyond the moment of character creation. They've stated that keeping the rules streamlined is one of their goals. Eliminating redundant numbers seems like a fair step in streamlining.
I think we need to keep the ability scores just as we need to keep the level numbers. It gives us perspective. 20 is a natural humanoid ability.

Download my dnd tracker @ kira3696.tripod.com

My D&D5E JavaScript Roll Tracker http://dnd5.weebly.com/

If you get rid of the scores themselves, then the "+1 to two Ability Scores" a character gets at certain levels becomes.....what, exactly? If it goes to a straight bonus to the modifier itself, that's a potentially faster progression than the rest of the game's math is presently prepared for. Otherwise, how do you handle it? A half bonus? That doesn't work.

There's a lot more involved in chucking the ability scores out than simply reconfiguring a chart, I feel. I don't see the benefit to this, and wouldn't expect it to really go anywhere anyway. I'd expect to see a classless module well before anything removing the six Ability Scores. Just my opinion.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

I agree that pretty much since 2000, the ability scores have had virtually no mechanical significance.

But they still one thing that means we'll never get rid of it: brand significance.

The concept of an "18" has permeated geek culture.  Even nerds who do not currently play D&D will get the reference "what his 18 Charisma is worth 'under the hood'".  Heck, it's even in popular culture (and here as well and here). That sort of cultural permeation is gold.  It's what makes D&D the gateway RPG.

Wizards will never give up the Ability Score.  Even if it has absolutely no use in the game whatsoever.  Because it's one of the cultural icons that D&D has contributed.  It's probably a very large reason that the nine alignments are returning.  They have cultural significance.  They are identified intimately with the D&D brand.  

Look at it this way: At worst, the Ability Score is just taking up 12 characters of space on your sheet.  Just live with it.  It's not going anywhere.  Ever.
Look at it this way: At worst, the Ability Score is just taking up 12 characters of space on your sheet.

This is the correct answer.

Look at it this way: At worst, the Ability Score is just taking up 12 characters of space on your sheet.

This is the correct answer.



Twelve horribly, terribly inefficient characters. Grrrr!
I don't have a problem with keeping them. Just make them mean something. Right now, they serve almost no purpose and are just needless complexity. It's extra math for nothing.
Nostalgia alone isn't a good enough reason to keep something. All the "It's tradition" argument boils down to is a hatred of change.



Malarkey.

Accusing those of arguing in favor of ability scores as people that hate change is misdirecting the argument. 

I change alot of game systems.  In fact I study change ITSELF.  So leave the dramatic malarkey behind.

If you want a changed system so bad, do what I do, and play a NEW one.  People can actually CHANGE game systems when they want.  Some do not even have ability scores.  That is fine if it does not have the D&D label upon it.

Tradition is a very valid reason to keep the ability scores.  Shall we go in circles, in you trying to make your case again?  So far there has not been a good case as why NOT to keep them other than the mistaken idea that "If its change it must be good."

If D&D gets rid of ability scores it will be an easy decision for me to stick with Pathfinder.

Good Riddance?  Perhaps to some, but WOTC already saw the problem with changing the game radically.  It was rejected and they lost revenue. 

so if you change ability scores good luck with keeping the game alive.

All of us had to learn the game at somepoint.  Ability scores does not complicate things at all.  Find ONE new player that rejects the game BECAUSE ability scores are too hard.

The obsession with change is no better than the obsession to stick with tradition.  Seeking change does not make one suddenly more enlightened or a better designer.

Get over the "They hate change" thing and come up with a better challenge please.




CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
Sign In to post comments