- Jun 2005 -
19235 Posts

How Bounded Your Accuracy Is

Over a month ago, I ran a poll designed to see what the community felt was an appropriate rate of progression for players in three areas: attack bonuses, skill checks, and saving throws. More than a hundred of you responded and now I am going to examine the responses.  You can discuss my evaluation in the comments below or in the related discussion thread

More than a third of the respondents felt that attack bonuses should not appreciably scale.  However, an equal number felt there should be some scaling.  Of these, there was broad variation, but the median scaling appeared to be about +1 every 3 levels.  That would translate to level-based attack bonuses tapping out at +6 over a 20-level career, which is a slower progression than the slowest class-based progression in either 3e or 4e, and a little faster than the slowest progression in AD&D.

A +6 spread is still pretty significant when it comes to setting AC for opponents.  Let's look atthe component of an attack bonus (exclusing the level-based bonus).  Basically, you have martial attack (if you're not a wizard) ranging from +0 to +5 and Ability bonus ranging from -1 to +5.  That's a spread of -1 to +10, or 11 points.  Very few powers add to a martial attack (for example, Shape of the Dire Beast), and even those are limited in impact (Shape of the Dire Beast only adds to the attack bonus of a wildshaped form, which is already limited to about +4 to +6).  Really, the only ones that stretch the upper bounds are the fighter powers Attack Orders, Careful Attack, and Shield Swipe.  

Let's say we think the best martial character should be hitting a typical level-appropriate encounter with a 5. The worst martial character should be hitting that same foe with a 16.  Sounds good.  ACs should thus average around 16, which lets you simply use normal AC ranges. 

Add in a sliding level-based bonus and AC will have to scale to match.  With an additional +6, the worst martial characetr will be hitting enemies 50% of the time, and  topped out martial characters will miss only on natural "1's".  This will require a module.

So here's the attack bonus module I would propose.

Combat Experience Module: All creatures gain a level bonus to their attack rolls equal to one-third their level.  Moreover, PCs add any martial attack bonus they receive from their class to their AC as a dodge bonus.  Creatures that are not primarily spellcasters add their level bonus to AC as a dodge bonus.  This bonus applies only when the creature is aware of its surroundings and not immobilized.

The most popular result in this poll was still that there be no scaling.  however, it was less popular than no scaling in attack bonuses.  Among those who sought some scaling, the 1:3 progression still seems to be about the median (and the range was not as broad as in the prior poll).  Right now the only bonuses available to saving throws are ability modifiers.  This does have some unusual ramifications, in that there is really no way to get better at resisting spells.  Thus, as you level up, the save-or-suck spells you face become more potent.  Again, a +6 bonus over 20 levels will require some serious scaling...

Magic Experience Module: All creatures gain a level bonus to their saving throws equal to one-third their level.  When using this module, spellcasters should double the spellcasting bonus they get to their class.  For NPCs, add the level bonus to any attack rolls and DCs associatd with magic attacks.

In this poll, the clear preference is that there be no scaling.  Even among the minority who want some scaling, the pace is much slower than what was prefered in the prior polls.  Here, the preferred progression is only 1:4, or +5 over 20 levels.

Skillful Experience Module: All creatures gain a level bonus to ability checks equal to one-quarter their level.  Ratehr than designate DCs as easy, moderate, and hard, they will be designated by the level of adventurer that should find them appropriately challenging.  So the DCs are: Commoner (8), Apprentice (13), Adventurer (18), Legacy (23), and Demigod (28).

A caution:  Using these modules will severely impact the way encounters occur.  Players should be warned that creatures that are several levels above them will be TPKs.  DMs should understand that sending creatures more than a few levels under the party's average level will become cakewalks.  In addition, it is inadvisable to have parties mixing characters of differing levels.

I look forward to your comments!

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