Thinking about racial attribute mods (4e)

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IMHO the attribute modifiers is the #1 "pidgeon-holeing" factor for races in 4e. There are some exceptions (like Dwarf Fighters), but generally chosing a race that doesn't have a +2 bonus to your class primary stat is a really bad idea.

I could see just dropping the attribute modifiers, but that makes a lot of races rather bland IMHO. Halflings just as strong as Goliaths? That just doesn't sit right with me...

So I was thinking, could attribute modifiers be replaced with more general racial traits? Instead of remaking every race with some unique traits to replace attribute modifiers, making up six (sets of) traits, one for each attribute?

Something along the lines of:

Very Strong: +1 to Fortitude defense, +1 Melee damage, +1 to grabs and bull rush attempts, +20 lbs carrying capacity.

Instead of a straight +2 to Strength.

The idea being that the modifiers should be general enough to cover a wide varety of classes. F.ex. strong races could get +1 to all melee damage no matter what stat the attack power is based on, which should be useful (althought to a very limited degree) even for ranged classes.

But I'm having trouble figuring out what the other attributes could remade as... Bonus to ranged damage seems like a logical DEX feature. CHA might give a bonus to Charm effects? CON... just a couple of extra HP? INT, WIS... Maybe somthing with saving throws?

Does this seem like a workable idea? And does anyone have ideas for how to do it?
Wouldn't the easiest thing be to just give every race (even humans) two floating +2 bonuses?  I mean, that'd solve pretty much all the issues.
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Wouldn't the easiest thing be to just give every race (even humans) two floating +2 bonuses?  I mean, that'd solve pretty much all the issues.



Or, to keep humans as the versatile guys, give everybody one fixed and one floating, like the PHB3 races, except that the floating can be anything rather than a choice between two, and humans would just have two floating bonuses. That way no matter what class and race you choose to play you can always get a +2 to your primary stat, but Goliaths can still have +2 Str to show that they're generally stronger than Halflings.

Nothing.

That is all.

Wouldn't the easiest thing be to just give every race (even humans) two floating +2 bonuses?  I mean, that'd solve pretty much all the issues.



Or, to keep humans as the versatile guys, give everybody one fixed and one floating, like the PHB3 races, except that the floating can be anything rather than a choice between two, and humans would just have two floating bonuses. That way no matter what class and race you choose to play you can always get a +2 to your primary stat, but Goliaths can still have +2 Str to show that they're generally stronger than Halflings.

Well, the beauty of the way races are designed (or at least the well designed ones, like Goliaths) is that even without actually getting a +2 bonus to Strength 100% of the time, they are still far more likely to be Strong than Halflings, and the average Goliath will be stronger than the average Halfling.  And even without the strength bonus, they will still come across as stronger in game.

For example:
Goliaths are built towards using two-handed weapons.  So far, the only classes that can really take advantage of two-handed weapons (excepting the Ardent, Assassin, and Avenger) are those that use Strength.  And when using big two-handed weapons, even without actually using the Strength attribute, it still appears strong.  On top of that, Goliaths also get a benefit with Athletics checks, so they'll still appear stronger.

Meanwhile, Halflings are small, which means they are penalized when using weapons, especially big ones.  The only classes that use Strength are ones that generally want bigger weapons.  Thus, it is most likely that Halflings will not play those classes, and will thus not put their bonuses into Strength.

So, you'll still have Goliaths generally be stronger than Halflings, which is exactly what you have now, as nothing stops a Halfling from buying an 18 Strength while a Goliath puts his 8 in Strength.  The only difference will be that the strongest Goliath will no longer be stronger than the strongest Halfling, and the weakest Halfling will no longer be weaker than the weakest Goliath.  That's it.

Heroes Don't Need Special Gear to Be Heroic - A guide to removing magic item dependency and smoothing out advancement. Reinventing the Workday: A Shift Towards Encounter-Based Resources - A guide to abandoning daily resources
IMHO the attribute modifiers is the #1 "pidgeon-holeing" factor for races in 4e. There are some exceptions (like Dwarf Fighters), but generally chosing a race that doesn't have a +2 bonus to your class primary stat is a really bad idea.

I have to disagree with your premise. Multiple people can tell you that I hate racial pigeon-holing to the point where I alter most races to further get away from it (eliminate small size weapon restrictions, allow all racial attack powers to use the character's highest ability score, alter or replace features only useful to some classes or roles, etc.). But I don't think that racial ability score modifiers do that as much as most people think that they do. Rather, the real problem here is that people think that getting +1 to their primary and secondary ability score modifiers is waaay more significant than it really is. Sure, if you're on the Character Optimization boards, every point counts, but for most real games, a Goliath Barbarian honestly won't be thaaat much more competant than a Deva Barbarian will. Now, if INT and WIS did absolutely nothing for a Barbarian, then that would be a different story, but the beauty of ability scores is that they all do something for everybody, even if only in the form of improving skill checks.

That being said, because this flawed perception is a problem that is extremely difficult to fix, I think that the idea of giving every race one static ability score boost and one floating ability score boost, as Fedosu suggested, is probably the best option if it's really a big problem for your group. I don't, however, think that racial features like Very Strong do anything at all to fix the perceived problem. If the perception before was that Goliaths are only good at playing melee classes, then giving them a racial features  that grants +1 to melee attack and damage doesn't really do anything at all to change that. (EDIT: In fact, it actually makes the problem worse by making the Goliath's melee focus explicit instead of merely incidental.)

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I think you're all missing a point, here... I want to lessen the race-class link that currently exists, without making every race almost identical. Which is a result of giving everyone one or two floating bonuses (or just removing the bonuses).

I concede that small races are unlikely to be good STR-based fighters as they can't use good weapons, but with floating stat bonuses you can still see a, f.ex., a Halfling two-blade ranger that can outwrestle a Goliath!

And then IMHO a massive Goliath, Dragonborn or Half-orc should be at least an as dangerous Avenger as an Elf - which they aren't as is.

Going by the outline of my ideas above Goliaths will make great Avengers, as will Elfs - but instead of them being essentially identical (same or no stat bonuses) the Goliath will have better damage and HP, the Elf will have better defences.

(Hopefully!) just as good, but different!
IMHO the attribute modifiers is the #1 "pidgeon-holeing" factor for races in 4e. There are some exceptions (like Dwarf Fighters), but generally chosing a race that doesn't have a +2 bonus to your class primary stat is a really bad idea.

I have to disagree with your premise. Multiple people can tell you that I hate racial pigeon-holing to the point where I alter most races to further get away from it (eliminate small size weapon restrictions, allow all racial attack powers to use the character's highest ability score, alter or replace features only useful to some classes or roles, etc.). But I don't think that racial ability score modifiers do that as much as most people think that they do. Rather, the real problem here is that people think that getting +1 to their primary and secondary ability score modifiers is waaay more significant than it really is. Sure, if you're on the Character Optimization boards, every point counts, but for most real games, a Goliath Barbarian honestly won't be thaaat much more competant than a Deva Barbarian will. Now, if INT and WIS did absolutely nothing for a Barbarian, then that would be a different story, but the beauty of ability scores is that they all do something for everybody, even if only in the form of improving skill checks.



4e is basically a tactical wargame, and a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

That's not a minor difference, that's like fighting at one level below the one on your character sheet!

Sure you get some secondary scores, but a +1 to one NAD and +1 to a couple of skills don't really help.

That being said, because this flawed perception is a problem that is extremely difficult to fix, I think that the idea of giving every race one static ability score boost and one floating ability score boost, as Fedosu suggested, is probably the best option if it's really a big problem for your group. I don't, however, think that racial features like Very Strong do anything at all to fix the perceived problem. If the perception before was that Goliaths are only good at playing melee classes, then giving them a racial features  that grants +1 to melee attack and damage doesn't really do anything at all to change that.



The "Very Strong" example I posted wouldn't make any difference - if it only applied to STR-based classes! However when it applies to all melee damage things changes a lot! Yes, a Goliath still won't be as good at ranged combat, but IME even dedicated ranged fighters make melee attacks fairly often.

So you could make a Goliath Avenger, give him 18 WIS, and reap some benefit from your massive build. While the Elf, rather than just being better (20 WIS, thought with slightly worse basic melee attacks), ends up with 18 WIS as well, a little less damage, but other advantages!

I concede that small races are unlikely to be good STR-based fighters as they can't use good weapons, but with floating stat bonuses you can still see a, f.ex., a Halfling two-blade ranger that can outwrestle a Goliath!

You already can...?  If a Halfling buys an 11+ and the Goliath dumps strength.  Or even if the Goliath starts with a 14(that gets bumped to 16), and the Halfling buys 17 or 18.  It's still doable now.  And it would happen just as much without the stat mods thanks to the other racial traits.

And then IMHO a massive Goliath, Dragonborn or Half-orc should be at least an as dangerous Avenger as an Elf - which they aren't as is.

Going by the outline of my ideas above Goliaths will make great Avengers, as will Elfs - but instead of them being essentially identical (same or no stat bonuses) the Goliath will have better damage and HP, the Elf will have better defences.

(Hopefully!) just as good, but different!

Except that you'd essentially totally change the racial balance.

+1 to melee is insanely more valuable than +1 to ranged.  Well over half of the classes use melee just about exclusively, and even the portion that are ranged still use melee sometimes.

Not to mention that +1 to melee damage is also significantly better than a couple extra hit points, or really any of the other things you suggested.

I don't think you can balance this new idea of yours.

4e is basically a tactical wargame, and a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

Er...what?  20%?  How are you getting that?  In reality, it's just barely 5% better.  Where's your mat on this 20% figure?

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4e is basically a tactical wargame...

I'd be more careful with statements like that if I were you.

...a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

That sounds like quite a dramatic exaggeration to me. Unless you can show me some math, I have no idea where you pulled that number from. Of course, this depend on the characters' levels. I could even maybe believe the difference to be that big at level 1, but I don't buy that it'll last much longer than that.

The "Very Strong" example I posted wouldn't make any difference - if it only applied to STR-based classes! However when it applies to all melee damage things changes a lot! Yes, a Goliath still won't be as good at ranged combat, but IME even dedicated ranged fighters make melee attacks fairly often.

If "+2 STR" was pigeon-holing Goliaths into melee classes before, then how do you think that "+1 to melee damage" is going to look? At least with +2 STR and +2 CON Goliaths could make good Warlocks, Wizards, Bards, Druids, Invokers, Shamans, Sorcerers, Artificers, and Seekers too due to getting secondary ability score boosts (primary for the Warlock!). With "Very Strong", the Goliath offers almost nothing at all to these classes.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm more inclined to feel that "you get +2 to one of these two stats" on the race, and then the same done with the class, would be a better solution when it comes to ensuring that stat modifiers don't get in the way. "Fighter: +2 Str or +2 Dex" means that it doesn't matter whether you're playing a "Goliath: +2 Str or +2 Con" or a "Deva: +2 Int or +2 Wis" - they'll both be able to have that +2 Str along with their second stat bump.

Edit: I forgot to add: This suggestion assumes that you can't choose the same stat bump twice - you can't grab +2 Str for Fighter and +2 Str for Goliath, etc.
"Fighter: +2 Str or +2 Dex"

This is exactly the trap you'd fall into with a class based stat system.  Fighters use only Strength as their primary, but use Dexterity, Constitution, or Wisdom as secondaries.  Why would you pick Dexterity over any other?

Fighter is not the only class with three secondaries, and that doesn't even talk about the V classes.  Do they get to choose from the primaries, but not a secondary?  That would mean races with the secondary bonus and neither primary would end up better than those with just a primary, and equal to those with both a primary and secondary.

This seems way too messy to really do properly.
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If you're concerned about that, and the Fighter one was just a random example, then the class +2(s) can simply be whatever the attack stat is (or a choice of one, in the case of V-classes - though those appear to be on the way out anyhow). As long as the race can pick from two then there'll always be an off-option.

No, they won't always have 'perfect' secondary lineups, but the attack stat is the one that causes real issues.
If a Halfling buys an 11+ and the Goliath dumps strength.  Or even if the Goliath starts with a 14(that gets bumped to 16), and the Halfling buys 17 or 18.  It's still doable now.  And it would happen just as much without the stat mods thanks to the other racial traits.



I was of course assuming that both would have the same priority to the stat in question. Thought of course with my idea the Goliath with benefit from being "strong" even if he dumped his strength!

And then IMHO a massive Goliath, Dragonborn or Half-orc should be at least an as dangerous Avenger as an Elf - which they aren't as is.

Going by the outline of my ideas above Goliaths will make great Avengers, as will Elfs - but instead of them being essentially identical (same or no stat bonuses) the Goliath will have better damage and HP, the Elf will have better defences.

(Hopefully!) just as good, but different!



Except that you'd essentially totally change the racial balance.



Actually, the "absolute value" balance will only change if the new traits are unbalanced. Assuming it can be done well (and there's no reason it shouldn't be possible) then all races will still be balanced. The race choice will just have less impact on how effective the class choice will be.

+1 to melee is insanely more valuable than +1 to ranged.  Well over half of the classes use melee just about exclusively, and even the portion that are ranged still use melee sometimes.

Not to mention that +1 to melee damage is also significantly better than a couple extra hit points, or really any of the other things you suggested.

I don't think you can balance this new idea of yours.



And? I stated in the OP that I was just throwing out ideas and wanted help with more ideas, and how to balance them. If +1 melee damage is extremely powerful then the bonuses for other traits have to match that, or the bonus has to be changed some way.

4e is basically a tactical wargame, and a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

Er...what?  20%?  How are you getting that?  In reality, it's just barely 5% better.  Where's your mat on this 20% figure?



Basic math: A normal character has about 50% chance of hitting. +5% hitting chance = 10% more hits.

Average damage for a normal attack is around 10, at least at heroic (IME a little less for leaders/controllers, a bit more for strikers). +1 damage means 10% more damage to the target(s).

Sum: ~20% more damage to the target(s). Of course it drops at higher levels due to other damage bonuses - at the top of epic level a +2 to primary stat nets you only a little more than 10% more damage. But as far as I can see most games are played at heroic up to paragon level, where the damage increase is significant.

4e is basically a tactical wargame...

I'd be more careful with statements like that if I were you.



I was careful - I could have said "it is a tactical wargame". But it's got enough support for non-combat actions that that would be a lie.

But it is very heavily weighted towards combat and conflicts - you don't see many threads about how to optimize your merchant character in the optimization forums, do you? The rulebooks make that clear as well, the space taken up by pure combat rules outweight the rest several times over (yes, combat power lists do count!).

Of course you can roleplay just as much in 4e as in any other game. But then you're not relly using the game, you're pretty much freeforming with a 4e character sheet in front of you. I roleplay just as much when playing Imperial Starfire (strategic space combat wargame). But I sure don't count ISF as a RPG!

...a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

That sounds like quite a dramatic exaggeration to me. Unless you can show me some math, I have no idea where you pulled that number from. Of course, this depend on the characters' levels. I could even maybe believe the difference to be that big at level 1, but I don't buy that it'll last much longer than that.



See above. But true, I was really only looking at heroic level - it drops fiarly linearly towards ~10% better at level 30.

The "Very Strong" example I posted wouldn't make any difference - if it only applied to STR-based classes! However when it applies to all melee damage things changes a lot! Yes, a Goliath still won't be as good at ranged combat, but IME even dedicated ranged fighters make melee attacks fairly often.

If "+2 STR" was pigeon-holing Goliaths into melee classes before, then how do you think that "+1 to melee damage" is going to look? At least with +2 STR and +2 CON Goliaths could make good Warlocks, Wizards, Bards, Druids, Invokers, Shamans, Sorcerers, Artificers, and Seekers too due to getting secondary ability score boosts (primary for the Warlock!). With "Very Strong", the Goliath offers almost nothing at all to these classes.



As said, +2 STR doesn't push a race towards melee classes, it pushes them towards Strength classes. And far stronger than just +1 damage does, since the STR bonus gives +1 damage and +1 attack!

I'd also dispute that Goliaths make good Wizards, Bards or any WIS-based class. -1 to hit and damage with all class powers! And it's even worse for controller or leader classes which typically have lower damage to start with!

Goliaths do not get -1 to wizard powers.

They don't get an int bonus, that is not the same thing as a penalty.

The idea of using features instead of ability score adjustments is a marvelous idea. However let's not turn around and make the same mistakes you complain of from the ability scores.

You believe ability scores pigeon-hole races into certain classes. Thus the system you replace them with should not.

Things like melee or ranged damage bonuses are just as bad if not worse, because they force specialization down to not just whole classes but specific builds and powers within those classes. 

Looking at the alternat goliath you have I think if you drop melee damage boost you can increase the other bonuses, and possibly add another racial power or power like feature.
As said, +2 STR doesn't push a race towards melee classes, it pushes them towards Strength classes.

But that push isn't as dramatic as you think that it is. If you think that this slight push towards STR-using classes is bad, consider that at least classes that don't use STR do actually benefit from having a STR boost (Fortitude defense, Athletics skill checks, carrying capacity, etc.). Compare this to +1 to melee damage rolls? That's something that non-melee character don't ever benefit from at all. Your proposal pigeon-holes characters waaay worse than they already are. You've gone from a race that still has excuses to play non-STR- and non-CON-based classes to a race that has no excuse not to play a melee class. You are doing the opposite of what you want to do.

I'd also dispute that Goliaths make good Wizards, Bards or any WIS-based class. -1 to hit and damage with all class powers!

A) Goliaths also have a CON bonus. This means that they have a secondary stat boost for Wizards (Staff of Defense, Tome of Binding), Bards (Virtue of Valor), Druids (Primal Guardian, Primal Swarm), Invokers (Covenant of Wrath, Covenant of Malediction), Shamans (Protector Spirit, World Speaker Spirit), and Artificers. That STR boost also gives them the secondary stat boosts for Sorcerer (Dragon Magic, Cosmic Magic) and Seeker (Spiritbond). And these are all non-melee classes. If I also include melee classes that are not STR- or CON-primary, I can also add in Rogue (Brutal Scoundrel, Ruthless Ruffian), Swordmage, Ardent (Mantle of Elation), Monk (Stone Fist), and Assassin (Bleak Disciple). In fact, the only classes that don't use neither STR nor CON for any of their class abilities are Avenger and Psion, and even they both benefit from +2 STR and +2 CON in the form of +1 to Fortitude defense, +1 to Athletics and Endurance skill checks, increased carrying capacity, +1 Hit Point, +1/4 to Healing Surge value, and +1 Healing Surge per day. That still sounds like a bunch of bonuses to me.

B) Not getting a bonus is not the same as getting a penalty. The Goliath has zero penalties to playing "Wizards, Bards or any WIS-based class", not a single one.

And it's even worse for controller or leader classes which typically have lower damage to start with!

Controller and Leader classes are typically less concerned with their damage output to begin with.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Goliaths do not get -1 to wizard powers.

They don't get an int bonus, that is not the same thing as a penalty.

The idea of using features instead of ability score adjustments is a marvelous idea. However let's not turn around and make the same mistakes you complain of from the ability scores.

You believe ability scores pigeon-hole races into certain classes. Thus the system you replace them with should not.

Things like melee or ranged damage bonuses are just as bad if not worse, because they force specialization down to not just whole classes but specific builds and powers within those classes. 

Looking at the alternat goliath you have I think if you drop melee damage boost you can increase the other bonuses, and possibly add another racial power or power like feature.



Sure Goliaths - and any other race without an INT bonus - gets a -1 penalty. Game design 101: Do not compare with the average, compare with the extreme.

Having 2 less INT than the best races is functionally equivelent to having a -1 penalty. That's a fact, not an opinion. Just try giving every race without an INT bonus -2 to INT and remove the INT bonus to those who have. Game works exactly the same.

As for damage bonus, maybe +1 melee is bad - since it pushes the race towards half the available classes (at least at low levels, where the bonus is significant). But compared to pushing them towards, what, 6 out of 30 (?) classes as the STR bonus does? One similar possibility would be a per encounter melee bonus, which should be much more useful to non-melee classes.

As said, +2 STR doesn't push a race towards melee classes, it pushes them towards Strength classes.

But that push isn't as dramatic as you think that it is. If you think that this slight push towards STR-using classes is bad, consider that at least classes that don't use STR do actually benefit from having a STR boost (Fortitude defense, Athletics skill checks, carrying capacity, etc.). Compare this to +1 to melee damage rolls? That's something that non-melee character don't ever benefit from at all. Your proposal pigeon-holes characters waaay worse than they already are. You've gone from a race that still has excuses to play non-STR- and non-CON-based classes to a race that has no excuse not to play a melee class. You are doing the opposite of what you want to do.



...and my basic idea was that races with a STR bonus would still get several STR-based benefits, such as defenses.

Which means that by your logic my original hypothetical example would be functionally identical to a STR bonus for all non-melee classes, slightly worse for STR-based classes, and slightly better for non-STR-based melee classes.

I'd also dispute that Goliaths make good Wizards, Bards or any WIS-based class. -1 to hit and damage with all class powers!

A) Goliaths also have a CON bonus. This means that they have a secondary stat boost for Wizards (Staff of Defense, Tome of Binding), Bards (Virtue of Valor), Druids (Primal Guardian, Primal Swarm), Invokers (Covenant of Wrath, Covenant of Malediction), Shamans (Protector Spirit, World Speaker Spirit), and Artificers. That STR boost also gives them the secondary stat boosts for Sorcerer (Dragon Magic, Cosmic Magic) and Seeker (Spiritbond). And these are all non-melee classes. If I also include melee classes that are not STR- or CON-primary, I can also add in Rogue (Brutal Scoundrel, Ruthless Ruffian), Swordmage, Ardent (Mantle of Elation), Monk (Stone Fist), and Assassin (Bleak Disciple). In fact, the only classes that don't use neither STR nor CON for any of their class abilities are Avenger and Psion, and even they both benefit from +2 STR and +2 CON in the form of +1 to Fortitude defense, +1 to Athletics and Endurance skill checks, increased carrying capacity, +1 Hit Point, +1/4 to Healing Surge value, and +1 Healing Surge per day. That still sounds like a bunch of bonuses to me.

B) Not getting a bonus is not the same as getting a penalty. The Goliath has zero penalties to playing "Wizards, Bards or any WIS-based class", not a single one.



A) those bonuses are very minor compared to +1 attack and damaged. They're nice to have, but it's going to take some pretty darn extreme builds to have a major impact on the character's performance!

And of course my idea assumes that the races would still get many of the benefits of their attribute bonuses.

B) See above. To put it simply, you're wrong. If x = y+1 then also x-1 = y.

And it's even worse for controller or leader classes which typically have lower damage to start with!

Controller and Leader classes are typically less concerned with their damage output to begin with.



But even more concerned with hitting, so the +1 attack bonus goes even farther...


Having 2 less INT than the best races is functionally equivelent to having a -1 penalty. That's a fact, not an opinion. Just try giving every race without an INT bonus -2 to INT and remove the INT bonus to those who have. Game works exactly the same.



Hardly the same, since all Wizards now have a -1 to hit over all other classes.

Also, thinking from the extreme only works if you're trying to win, which D&D is not about. There's optimizers call D&D "easy" and DMs have to resort to using n+5 encounters to challenge them.

It's because the game is designed around being optimized averagely, not extremely.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
...and my basic idea was that races with a STR bonus would still get several STR-based benefits, such as defenses.

But not anything related to class features and rider effects. That's a problem.

Which means that by your logic my original hypothetical example would be functionally identical to a STR bonus for all non-melee classes

As there are non-melee classes that still use STR for rider effects, it is objectively inferior.
slightly worse for STR-based classes

Yes, it is worse.
and slightly better for non-STR-based melee classes.

No, many non-STR-based melee classes such as Rogue and Monk use STR for rider effects that are superior to simply getting +1 to melee damage rolls. Your version is just worse for almost everybody while also pigeon-holing in a much stronger way.

Sure Goliaths - and any other race without an INT bonus - gets a -1 penalty. Game design 101: Do not compare with the average, compare with the extreme.

Having 2 less INT than the best races is functionally equivelent to having a -1 penalty. That's a fact, not an opinion.

B) See above. To put it simply, you're wrong. If x = y+1 then also x-1 = y.

If you're so far gone that you really believe this, then I'm afraid that none of us can help you.

Everybody but Dragonborn gets a -1 penalty to attack while bloodied. Everybody but Dwarves gets a -5 penalty to saves versus poison effects. Everybody gets -1 trained skills except for Eladrin. Everybody but Elf gets a -1 penalty to speed. Everybody but Half-Elf is restricted to taking racial feats from two fewer races than normal. Everybody but Halflings have a -2 penalty to AC against opportunity attacks. Everybody but Humans get 1 fewer class at will power. Everybody but Tieflings get vulnerability to fire equal to 5 + 1/2 level. Everybody but Deva gets a -1 penalty to defenses against attacks made by bloodied creatures. Everybody but Gnomes can use Ghost Sound one fewer time per encounter. Everybody but Goliath have to roll one fewer die to jump or climb. Everybody but Half-Orc gets -2 speed while charging. Everybody but Shifter take either a -2 penalty to melee attack rolls and 2 ongoing damage while bloodied or -1 AC and Reflex and -2 speed while bloodied. Everybody but Githzerai takes a -2 penalty to initiative checks. Everybody but Minotaurs has a one healing surge penalty. Everybody but Shardmind has scaling psychic vulnerability. Everybody but Drow treats everybody has having total concealment in darkness. Everybody but Genasi has 8 fewer racial power options at first level. Everybody but Changelings takes a -5 penalty to bluff checks to impersonate somebody. Everybody but Kalashtar makes one fewer save against dazing and dominating effects. Everybody but Warforged take a -10 penalty on death saving throws.

My lord, typing all of that was depressing. Your perspective is absolutely dismal. You need lots of hugs.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
...and my basic idea was that races with a STR bonus would still get several STR-based benefits, such as defenses.

But not anything related to class features and rider effects. That's a problem.



Actually, that is only a problem if some attribute traits were to give more bonuses than others. If not all races would still be balanced.

Which means that by your logic my original hypothetical example would be functionally identical to a STR bonus for all non-melee classes

As there are non-melee classes that still use STR for rider effects, it is objectively inferior.
slightly worse for STR-based classes

Yes, it is worse.
and slightly better for non-STR-based melee classes.

No, many non-STR-based melee classes such as Rogue and Monk use STR for rider effects that are superior to simply getting +1 to melee damage rolls. Your version is just worse for almost everybody while also pigeon-holing in a much stronger way.



Well, you've got a good example of a DEX 18/STR12 Rogue build that is better than a DEX20/STR10 build? That seems to be your point...

Also, I've never seen the Rogue or Monk being refered to as "non-melee" classes. I do know that the Rogue has ranged builds, thought. But does that build have an STR-based powers?

Sure Goliaths - and any other race without an INT bonus - gets a -1 penalty. Game design 101: Do not compare with the average, compare with the extreme.

Having 2 less INT than the best races is functionally equivelent to having a -1 penalty. That's a fact, not an opinion.

B) See above. To put it simply, you're wrong. If x = y+1 then also x-1 = y.

If you're so far gone that you really believe this, then I'm afraid that none of us can help you.

Everybody but Dragonborn gets a -1 penalty to attack while bloodied. Everybody but Dwarves gets a -5 penalty to saves versus poison effects. Everybody gets -1 trained skills except for Eladrin. Everybody but Elf gets a -1 penalty to speed. Everybody but Half-Elf is restricted to taking racial feats from two fewer races than normal. Everybody but Halflings have a -2 penalty to AC against opportunity attacks. Everybody but Humans get 1 fewer class at will power. Everybody but Tieflings get vulnerability to fire equal to 5 + 1/2 level. Everybody but Deva gets a -1 penalty to defenses against attacks made by bloodied creatures. Everybody but Gnomes can use Ghost Sound one fewer time per encounter. Everybody but Goliath have to roll one fewer die to jump or climb. Everybody but Half-Orc gets -2 speed while charging. Everybody but Shifter take either a -2 penalty to melee attack rolls and 2 ongoing damage while bloodied or -1 AC and Reflex and -2 speed while bloodied. Everybody but Githzerai takes a -2 penalty to initiative checks. Everybody but Minotaurs has a one healing surge penalty. Everybody but Shardmind has scaling psychic vulnerability. Everybody but Drow treats everybody has having total concealment in darkness. Everybody but Genasi has 8 fewer racial power options at first level. Everybody but Changelings takes a -5 penalty to bluff checks to impersonate somebody. Everybody but Kalashtar makes one fewer save against dazing and dominating effects. Everybody but Warforged take a -10 penalty on death saving throws.

My lord, typing all of that was depressing. Your perspective is absolutely dismal. You need lots of hugs.



Sad fact. All the above is true (with the provision that to make it completely identical the base value of many of those things would have to be increased by the penalty - the system isn't linear)! It's just a horribly complicated way of writing things, which is a major reason not to do it that way.

As you see there's also a big psychological aspect. People (usually) belive getting a +1 is better than everyone else getting a -1.

Pluisjen:
Having 2 less INT than the best races is functionally equivelent to having a -1 penalty. That's a fact, not an opinion. Just try giving every race without an INT bonus -2 to INT and remove the INT bonus to those who have. Game works exactly the same.

Hardly the same, since all Wizards now have a -1 to hit over all other classes.



It should have been obvious that this would of course apply to all attributes... And add to that that giving everyone a -1 penalty to everything means that NPC would have to be modified the same way to make it work the same!


But the basic math that a bonus to something is the same as a penalty to everyone else is true. Because it's actually semantics we're talking about - you can call it a bonus or penalty, it doesn't matter to the actual function.



Pluisjen:

Also, thinking from the extreme only works if you're trying to win, which D&D is not about. There's optimizers call D&D "easy" and DMs have to resort to using n+5 encounters to challenge them.

It's because the game is designed around being optimized averagely, not extremely.


Which is a problem with a lot of RPG design. Assuming that you're trying to mechanically balance things (which races and classes in 4e is very obviously intended to be) you have to balance against the extremes - otherwise it won't be balanced!

If you're balancing "against the middle" you're essentially giving up and letting the individual GMs handle the problems when you get players that aren't content to stay in the middle.

Btw, love your .sig - so true! I wonder if they could look at the software that Classicbattletech.com uses? That one works fairly well...

Anyway, rather than discussing game design philosophy, does anyone have any ideas about the OP other than "I don't like it"?

Even if you don't agree with my views about game balance, could you ignore that and think about how to make trait-based attributes? If there's a complete set aviable it will be a lot easier to discuss the pros and cons of it!
Basic math: A normal character has about 50% chance of hitting. +5% hitting chance = 10% more hits.

Average damage for a normal attack is around 10, at least at heroic (IME a little less for leaders/controllers, a bit more for strikers). +1 damage means 10% more damage to the target(s).

Sum: ~20% more damage to the target(s). Of course it drops at higher levels due to other damage bonuses - at the top of epic level a +2 to primary stat nets you only a little more than 10% more damage. But as far as I can see most games are played at heroic up to paragon level, where the damage increase is significant.

Yeah, I thought you might be doing something silly like this.

That's like saying, "+1 to hit and damage is like doubling my offense (assuming I only hit on a 20 and deal 1 average damage on a hit)."

If your average damage on a hit is D, and your chance to hit is H, then +1 to hit gives you +.05D dpr, and +1 damage gives you +H dpr.  So +1 to hit and damage gives you +(.05D + H + .1) dpr.

That way, when you talk about what +1 to hit and damage equals, it's not a fluctuating increase based on your current stats.

About the Bonus = Penalty thing, I do completely agree when it comes to design.  Just look at any MMO ever and think about all the "nerfs."  They could just as easily give everyone else a bonus so they're equal to the thing that's too powerful, but they penalize the one instead.

Personally, I would always go in favor of making everyone better rather than making everyone worse, because it psychologically better for players, but it does not actually change anything other than the amount of things you'd need to alter.
Heroes Don't Need Special Gear to Be Heroic - A guide to removing magic item dependency and smoothing out advancement. Reinventing the Workday: A Shift Towards Encounter-Based Resources - A guide to abandoning daily resources
Which is a problem with a lot of RPG design. Assuming that you're trying to mechanically balance things (which races and classes in 4e is very obviously intended to be) you have to balance against the extremes - otherwise it won't be balanced!



You can't balance against the extremes, it unbalances everything but the extremes. Balance is a bellcurve, and the average are in the center, with a few outliers. What you want to do is try to keep as many options in the center and let the DM deal with the few outliers that come up, instead of balancing everything around the few outliers and letting the DM deal with everyone who doesn't want an 18+2 starting stat.


Anyhoot; as to your issue. I've found a very interesting fix for it. Don't apply starting stats higher then a 16 to your to-hit, but do apply to everything else. Increase the max that you can apply to attack rolls to the number you'd get starting with a 16 and increasing it every freely available point (ie 17 at lvl4, 18 at lvl8, 19 at lvl11, etc) 

That way investing in an 18 or aligning your stats to get that 18 cheap or even a 20 is still a bonus, but no longer so large that you pretty much need to line up your stats to work.

The main offender is the to-hit bonus; if you take the edge off that, everything else works out. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.

4e is basically a tactical wargame, and a +2 to your primary stat (+1 to hit and damage) means roughly 20% more damage to the enemy. 20%!

That's not a minor difference, that's like fighting at one level below the one on your character sheet!

Sure you get some secondary scores, but a +1 to one NAD and +1 to a couple of skills don't really help.



Someone has been spending way too much time in char-op.  There are plenty of perfectly acceptable class/race combinations that don't include perfectly matching racial bonuses with a classes primary stat.  Having created and played a halfling thaneborn barbarian, I can tell you they work just fine. +1 dex/cha is +1AC/Ref/Will, several skills and the thaneborn riders on the powers.

Also, 4E is a tactical wargame if you want it to be, and that's fine, but it doesn't have to be.  We once went a gaming session without a single combat (and our sessions are ~12hours) and we had a lot of fun.  It involved a lot of skill challenges (you know, those skills that are on the character sheet) so just because you are out of combat does not mean that you are "freeforming with a 4e character sheet in front of you."

Basic math: A normal character has about 50% chance of hitting. +5% hitting chance = 10% more hits.

Average damage for a normal attack is around 10, at least at heroic (IME a little less for leaders/controllers, a bit more for strikers). +1 damage means 10% more damage to the target(s).

Sum: ~20% more damage to the target(s). Of course it drops at higher levels due to other damage bonuses - at the top of epic level a +2 to primary stat nets you only a little more than 10% more damage. But as far as I can see most games are played at heroic up to paragon level, where the damage increase is significant.



This is theory-op because as a practical matter, a great deal of that "20%" is wasted.  Minions don't care and the other creatures are rarely killed at exactly 0hp.  If your party is playing tactically and focusing fire, those couple of points of extra damage your character did will be lost in the overkill.

Sure Goliaths - and any other race without an INT bonus - gets a -1 penalty. Game design 101: Do not compare with the average, compare with the extreme.



Uhm, no.  You compare with whatever target the developers designed the game around.  In 4E that is an 18 at first level for the primary stat.  It doesn't matter if you buy an 18 or buy a 16 and get a +2 racial bonus, your character is still where it was expected to be.
I've seen characters with 16s in their primary do just fine even without the accuracy feat, and with level appropriate to under-leveled gear, against soldiers and similar high defense monsters. With the feats I bet I could get away with a 14.

Yes the riders are important sometimes more so than pure damage out put. Who cares if the baddy takes one more point of damage from the attack when the extra square you push them sets them right down next to or inside a terrain hazard that keeps them from mauling the squishies?

Now as to trying to weasel around ability mods by handing out bonuses to the things they modify, it just doesn't accomplish what the OP sets out to do. 
1.) Avoid pigeon holing (regardless of if you believe the ability scores do that or not)
2.) Remove ability adjustments.

See the problem you run into is that by only making changes to things like defenses, attack and damage rolls and such you cut out the extra benefits having high scores allow, especially things like secondary stats influencing riders. You actually make the races weaker over all, especially when you consider how many feats have ability score requirements.

If you're going to design a race without ability mods you have to tear it apart and put it back together. 

Let's try the Dragonborn

Ok without considering the class issue the loss of strength and charisma means they're out will and fortitude points, and have slightly weakened their racial powers.

Skill  Bonuses stay
Vision still normal
speed stays 6
size stays medium
Zeal stays
Breathweapon/fear powers will need overhauling
The healing surge ability needs tweaking anyway so lets scrap that now too.
Languages stay
 
Pretty sure that's everything 

Now Since all races will now be out defense bonuses I advise making that a racial description entry like size or speed.

Dragon born (no-ability adjustment version)

Racial Defense Bonuses: +1 Fortitude and +1 Will
Skills: +2 History +2 intimidate
Size: Medium
Speed: 6
Vision: Normal
Languages: Draconic, Common
Dragon Born Zeal: +1 to attack Rolls when Bloodied
DragonBlood: Your surge Value is equal to 1/4 your max Hp +3, +6 at level 11, and +9 at level 21.
Elemental Resistance: You gain Resistance 5 +1/2 level to the damage type you choose for your dragon breath power.
Dragon Heart: You gain a +2 on saving throws vs. effects caused by powers with the fear keyword.
Dragon Descendent: You gain the dragon breath and Dragon Fear racial powers (same as existing powers but with +3/+6/+9 attack bonus, and dragon Breath now does an additional dice of damage on a crit, +2 dice at level 11, and plus 3 dice at level 21. And both are tied to your highest ability score for attack/damage).


May still be a touch weak but I think it's a start. What you gotta do here is focus on the parts of racial design that don't (according to the OP) pigeon hole. And if the Ability scores are pigeon holing that leaves features to work with, so focus on giving fun features.
As you see there's also a big psychological aspect. People (usually) belive getting a +1 is better than everyone else getting a -1.

People believe that because it's true. In fact, it's true because people believe it. That's the crazy thing about psychology. Even if two options are statistically identical, one can still be better than the other simply because it is believed to be better than the other.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Which is a problem with a lot of RPG design. Assuming that you're trying to mechanically balance things (which races and classes in 4e is very obviously intended to be) you have to balance against the extremes - otherwise it won't be balanced!



Anyhoot; as to your issue. I've found a very interesting fix for it. Don't apply starting stats higher then a 16 to your to-hit, but do apply to everything else. Increase the max that you can apply to attack rolls to the number you'd get starting with a 16 and increasing it every freely available point (ie 17 at lvl4, 18 at lvl8, 19 at lvl11, etc) 

That way investing in an 18 or aligning your stats to get that 18 cheap or even a 20 is still a bonus, but no longer so large that you pretty much need to line up your stats to work.

The main offender is the to-hit bonus; if you take the edge off that, everything else works out. 



That's a pretty neat solution. As you point out, the attack bonus is the worst thing. Should probably hand out a free +1 attack bonus to everyone if you want the balance towards existing monster to stay the same, but that's easily done.

I've seen characters with 16s in their primary do just fine even without the accuracy feat, and with level appropriate to under-leveled gear, against soldiers and similar high defense monsters. With the feats I bet I could get away with a 14.

Yes the riders are important sometimes more so than pure damage out put. Who cares if the baddy takes one more point of damage from the attack when the extra square you push them sets them right down next to or inside a terrain hazard that keeps them from mauling the squishies?



Rider effects can of course be more important than damage. But then you have all the times when the rider effects aren't stat-dependent, or not important, or it's a power that just doesn't have any rider effects, and the damage is the only important effect.

Now as to trying to weasel around ability mods by handing out bonuses to the things they modify, it just doesn't accomplish what the OP sets out to do. 
1.) Avoid pigeon holing (regardless of if you believe the ability scores do that or not)
2.) Remove ability adjustments.

See the problem you run into is that by only making changes to things like defenses, attack and damage rolls and such you cut out the extra benefits having high scores allow, especially things like secondary stats influencing riders. You actually make the races weaker over all, especially when you consider how many feats have ability score requirements.



As noted, I haven't set anything in stone. In fact I'm fairly sure I've stated that the new attributes should be powerful enough that no race gets weaker than it is! Thought with the possible exception of the most optimized combos.

Exactly how to accomplish this was the reason I posted from the beginning!

If you're going to design a race without ability mods you have to tear it apart and put it back together. 

Let's try the Dragonborn

Ok without considering the class issue the loss of strength and charisma means they're out will and fortitude points, and have slightly weakened their racial powers.

Skill  Bonuses stay
Vision still normal
speed stays 6
size stays medium
Zeal stays
Breathweapon/fear powers will need overhauling
The healing surge ability needs tweaking anyway so lets scrap that now too.
Languages stay
 
Pretty sure that's everything 

Now Since all races will now be out defense bonuses I advise making that a racial description entry like size or speed.

Dragon born (no-ability adjustment version)

Racial Defense Bonuses: +1 Fortitude and +1 Will
Skills: +2 History +2 intimidate
Size: Medium
Speed: 6
Vision: Normal
Languages: Draconic, Common
Dragon Born Zeal: +1 to attack Rolls when Bloodied
DragonBlood: Your surge Value is equal to 1/4 your max Hp +3, +6 at level 11, and +9 at level 21.
Elemental Resistance: You gain Resistance 5 +1/2 level to the damage type you choose for your dragon breath power.
Dragon Heart: You gain a +2 on saving throws vs. effects caused by powers with the fear keyword.
Dragon Descendent: You gain the dragon breath and Dragon Fear racial powers (same as existing powers but with +3/+6/+9 attack bonus, and dragon Breath now does an additional dice of damage on a crit, +2 dice at level 11, and plus 3 dice at level 21. And both are tied to your highest ability score for attack/damage).


May still be a touch weak but I think it's a start. What you gotta do here is focus on the parts of racial design that don't (according to the OP) pigeon hole. And if the Ability scores are pigeon holing that leaves features to work with, so focus on giving fun features.



Something like this was actually my first idea - remaking every race with new features but no attribute mods.

The reasons I didn't go with that are:

1) It's a whole lot of work since there are a lot more races than attributes.

2) In many cases the new features would be the same for races with matching attribute bonuses anyway.

3) A finished set of features based on attribute bonuses would make it easy to modify any new races.

1.) Remaking the races at such a basic level is going to be a lot of work anyways.

2.) I'm not sure I follow this one honestly, I think you mean that there'd be a lot of overlap with racial features and powers. Well hows that any different form every single strength race getting the exact same abilities to comp for loosing strength? With this way there is at least some variation.

3.) See above, there's not a really good way around it. Such overhauls are difficult and involved.

NOw I'm willing to help if you'd like. 
1.) Remaking the races at such a basic level is going to be a lot of work anyways.

2.) I'm not sure I follow this one honestly, I think you mean that there'd be a lot of overlap with racial features and powers. Well hows that any different form every single strength race getting the exact same abilities to comp for loosing strength? With this way there is at least some variation.

3.) See above, there's not a really good way around it. Such overhauls are difficult and involved.

NOw I'm willing to help if you'd like. 



Well... I figured that at least for STR, DEX, CON and CHA it shouldn't be too hard to come with a set of traits that pretty much defined those abilities, irrespectively at race. After all "he's strong!", "he's tough!" or "he's fast!" ought to be pretty universal! "He's charismatic!" is wider, but I think that for game purposes there isn't many different things it can represent.

INT and WIS I find harder, they tend to crop up in so many different places. What exactly is a "wise person" anyway? Maybe traits based on those stats will have to be specific for each race.

This is what attributes currently add to (please add anything I miss!):

STR: Fortitude, Grab attacks, Basic melee attacks, carrying capacity, (powers, 1 skill)

CON: Fortitude, HP, Surges, (powers, 1 skill)

DEX: Reflex, AC, Initiative, Basic ranged attack, (powers, 3 skills)

INT: Reflex, AC, (powers, 3 skills)

WIS: Will, (powers, 5 skills)

CHA: Will, (powers, 4 skills)

Now, the first things could be kept (thought with some kind of provision to eliminate double defense bonuses). All stats can be a class primary, so from that point nothing really changes by reducing them (but something has to be done to compensate characters against monsters). Not having looked through every power in the books my impression is that CON, WIS and CHA are the ones that provides most rider effects, which does sort of seem resonable since they only provide one defence and extra offensive power...

So My idea would be something like:

STR: Fortitude+1, some bonus to carrying capacity, some kind of bonus to Grabs and Basic melee attacks, possibly a skill bonus, and something to compensate for lost general powers and rider effects.

CON: Fortitude+1, some bonus to HP and Surges, possibly a skill bonus, and I guess something a bit heftier to compensate for lost rider effects.

DEX: Reflex+1, AC+1 (armor dependent or not?), Initiative+1, some kind of bonus to ranged attacks, probably a skill bonus of some kind, and then something more.

INT (INT does seem to get a little "shorted" compared to DEX, doesn't it?): Reflex+1, AC+1 (armor dependent or not?), Maybe something a bit heftier than DEX for skills and powers if it doesn't help with ranged attacks?

WIS: Will+1, some kind of skill boost, and a really noticeable bonus for powers!

CHA: Like WIS, basically.

The possibility of attribute-based encounter powers came up earlier. I'm not sure about how I feel about adding even more powers, but it seems like it could be made fairly balanced and class-neutral. F.ex.:

FEAT OF STRENGTH:
Encounter, personal, free action
Add 1D6 to the damage of one melee attack, one STR roll or one STR-based skill check

Something like that would allow even a weak member of a "strong" race to show that he is in fact a big strong guy, even if he's usually to weak to wrestle a Kobold...
I think you'll find that giving bonuses to ranged or melee attacks will pigeon hole worse than +2 dex or +2 str.

I mean a high dex character could still play melee or ranged or both depending on his classes.
With your system you're gonna make it even worse since you'll only reward the character for making use of ranged weapon attacks, and a hand-ful of at-will implement attacks.
I think you'll find that giving bonuses to ranged or melee attacks will pigeon hole worse than +2 dex or +2 str.

I mean a high dex character could still play melee or ranged or both depending on his classes.
With your system you're gonna make it even worse since you'll only reward the character for making use of ranged weapon attacks, and a hand-ful of at-will implement attacks.



If it's made a static bonus. The encounter power idea means a range-based character only needs to make one melee hit during a whole fight to gain the full benefit! (Unless it's against a minion, of course.)

Your point is taken, thought. I don't think it actually pidgeonholes that much since currently having a +2 STR pretty much means a melee class or the bonus is wasted - so wasting a 1-point damage bonus isn't really worse (in both cases it will benefit melee basic attacks). It will make it more obvious what the race is best for, thought. And that might not be such a good thing.

What do you think about making an encounter power for each attribute as I suggested? In that way the chance of getting to use the bonus is pretty high for all classes (since you only need one chance), but the classes that matches the bonus probably gets more use from it?

I'm just not at all interested in this idea of finding one ability or set of adjustments to replace every instance of a race getting +2 to a given stat. One size doesn't fit all.

I'm liking the rebuild each race without ability score adjustments thing.
I'm just not at all interested in this idea of finding one ability or set of adjustments to replace every instance of a race getting +2 to a given stat. One size doesn't fit all.

I'm liking the rebuild each race without ability score adjustments thing.



Well... We can try. How about looking at the PHB1 races for a start? We've got:

Dragonborn (STR/CHA)
Dwarf (CON/WIS)
Eladrin (DEX/INT)
Elf (DEX/WIS)
Half-elf (CON/CHA)
Halfling (DEX/CHA)
Human (one +2)
Tiefling (INT/CHA)

As general observations... Well, I can't really come up with a lot.

Dragonborn: Something to show how strong they are?
Dwarf: Obviously something really impressive toughness-wise!
Eladrin: Something with magic?
Elf: If you don't want static mods, maybe another encounter power that emphasizes their perceptive powers?
Half-elf: Uh... no idea...
Halfling: Maybe something more that plays to their small size and speed?
Human: No idea here either.
Tiefling: Maybe something "sly"? Some kind of bluff/trickery power?


Well You saw What I did with the d-born. Was that a good start?

Would anyone play that instead of a normal one?


Dwarf:
Give a bonus on the save to avoid falling prone from Stand your  ground.
Bonuses against charms and similar mental effects
Darkvision
Ability to spend a healing surge when critted? 
Well You saw What I did with the d-born. Was that a good start?

Would anyone play that instead of a normal one?



The damage resitance is a nice touch. But personally I would really have liked something to show that they're big and strong and/or have a lot of "presence".

Playing it... Well, it's going to be outclassed for a STR- or CHA-based class. Honestly, I don't think the DR and beefed-up breath is going to compete even for other classes!

Dwarf:
Give a bonus on the save to avoid falling prone from Stand your  ground.
Bonuses against charms and similar mental effects
Darkvision
Ability to spend a healing surge when critted? 



I think a bonus to Stand Your Ground is a bit of overkill, I mean it should be at least possible to knock them down!

A bonus against Charm/Psychic sounds Dwarvish to me, and the last idea about spending a surge when critted sounds interesting as well. Maybe give them a few bonus healing surges as well?

Extra surges is already a racial feat for dwarves.

As for the D-born I figured the presence came from adding on the fear aura power.
As for strength, I felt zeal  implied that at least. 
Aren't you afraid that by making each power unique race is going to be even more important to optimizers then it is now? Afterall; if you want +2 Con you have a bunch of options but if you want the race that gets a certain bonus feature then there's only one choice left.

You'll have to be very careful in balancing this stuff I think. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Well they don't have to be all unique, I'm just saying there should be some variation. D-borns and Goliaths should show their physical power differently.

Well the OP asserts that ability score adjustments are vastly more important than racial features in pigeon holing classes. Now I don't agree, I just like trying to mess with the races, but it seems to me that as long as we don't orc it up (seriously look at the orc racial write up in the MM) then there should be less pigeon holing if all we use is features.
Well Racial Bonusses are the most important one because they're most important now. If you remove them, focus will simply shift to something else.

Instead of "Play a Goliath because you get +2 Str and +2 Con!!!" it will be "Play a Goliath because you get Resist All and +2 Melee Damage!!!"

The only way to get rid of pigeonholing is by removing powergamers, or by removing all racial features. As long as there's something distinct about races, the powergamers will base their choice solely on that distinction. It's what they do.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I never suggested +2 melee damage, that would a horrible racial feature.

And yes power gamers are going to do that. What part of "more interested in tweaking the races for fun" did you not get? 
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