Is 20 worth it?

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I know that different classes and scenarios change what is worth what, but as a general rule, is 20 worth it?

I know that +5 at level 1 is really nice; however, the rest of the build really feels it.  I, personally, am hard pressed to find a reason to ever start off with a 20 in any attribute for any character that is going to be played in multiple situations.   I can see a benefit in one time encounters where there is a known situation.  I have a hard time finding use when it comes to a level 1 starting character in an ongoing campaign. 

Thoughts.
It's most commonly used for Dex or Int primary characters, as besides +1 attack and damage, it also usually gives them +1 AC, which makes it worth it. For anything else, it's generally better to go with a more even spread. This also counts for characters that have almost as useful secondaries as primaries, such as Brutal Scoundrel Rogues, or Genasi Blaster Wizards.
As a general rule?  Worth it for classes that key their AC off of their primary and therefore have subcritical secondaries.  Generally this means any Dex or Int light-armor class.  There really is very little reason to not start with an 18 pre-racial for these classes, with the exception of some pretty specific stat requirements for feats.

For everyone else, 18/18 is generally preferred as they tend to have very important secondaries. 
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition


...18/18 is generally preferred as they tend to have very important secondaries. 


I hope those 18/18 are post racial?

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Right, 16/16 preracial, with 18/18 or 18/16 depending on how well your stats line up.  You don't have the points to go 18/18 preracial, or I would nearly every time.

Oh, another reason to start with 18 preracial is if your race doesn't grant a bonus to your primary.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Yes, I use:

16, 14, ... if the race has both ability bonuses

18, 13, ... if the race has only secondary ability bonus

18, 14, ... if the race has no bonuses at all.


And for those that use Implements(No Proficency) I end up using:

18, 13, ... if the race has both ability bonuses

18, 14 ... if the race has only sencondary bonuses
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There are many situations where it's worth it, the most striking being a characters whose primary stat is Int or Dex (meaning you get a boosts to two defenses, including the most commonly targetted defense, in addition to the attack and damage boost) and who does not rely heavily on a secondary stat or need high stats for a feat prerequisite.  Wizard secondary stats tend to only matter once per encounter, for instance, and an Artful Dodger rogue just ends up shifting one square less on most powers (and, having seen an AD rogue in practice from level 7-26, I can say the shifts they have are overkill more often than not); they don't suffer having 1 point lower bonus to AC on OAs because they have a point higher on base AC. 

I'd say it's rarely worth it for a light armored character that uses its secondary stat for AC, for much the same reason it's more likely to be worth it for an Int or Dex character.  Heavily armored characters can get away with it if they don't rely heavily on a secondary stat (or, again, need the stats for feat requirements).  All in all, though, going from a 16/16/13 array to a 18/14/11 array gives you -1 to two NADs in exchange for +1 to one NAD, +1 to hit, and +1 to damage; the bonus to hit is likely to serve you better than having an extra point in your low NADs.
Post battle clerics lore some clerics can get away with a starting 20.  It depends on whether you plan on taking powers with lots of riders and what feats you want.  Dwarf with 10 16 11 8 20 10 works well for most zealot builds.

A big case where it does not is if the class is in light armor, but not using dex/int as an attack stat.  Barbarians, most shamans, sorcerers, wardens, etc need the points for AC/nads
16/14/14/13(or 18/16/14/13 after boosts) is also very good for builds that want a lot of feats with stat prereqs or weak or multiple secondary stats. A Fighter as an example who is only planning to pick up one armor feat can put a 14 in Dex and get a 15 Dex for Paragon for getting Scale Specialization independent of build choice.
I find that it's frequently not true that the rest of the build feels it. I use the so-called expert array (18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8) for most of my characters - because if your character has other defense mechanisms, or is not a frontliner, or has good defenders in his team, then +1 to hit and damage is a pretty good trade for +1 AC.

As a compromise, it is worth considering to start with a 17 (+2 racial) in your primary. Sure, it's subpar at level 1; but once you hit level 4 you're ahead. Of course, this depends on the campaign's level range.
What amazes me is that everything that was posted was completely combat oriented.  I thought I covered that in the one shot encounter comment, I guess it should have been explicitly stated. 

For Dex we have:
Acrobatics
Stealth
Thievery

So useless in most skill challenges.  Acrobatics is nice because it is loose enough that you get checks with it in harry situations but will not give you nearly the usefulness of perception or the critical nature of an endurance check.

Which leads me to my next point, and I am surprised how little it actually it gets brought up on this board, perception is probably the most rolled skill in the game.  Outside of  attack/damage rolls and initiative is there something people roll more? 

INT we have:
Religion
History
Arcana

Nice for skills challenges but awful for anything that can save your life. 

I have no clue how the rest of the world plays D&D or what people look for in a game.  I may have a different expectation and play with a different group than.  I cannot really be sure because I only have my lens to look through.  It seems to me though that most games should probably be 1 skills challenge per 2 maybe 3 combats.  Moreover, I would think that at least half of those combats should be outside the realm of defender walks in the room, gets surrounded, every dumps damage rinse and repeat.  Honestly, I think less than 10% of the games should be like that.

Even at level 1 the party can be tested with stealth heavy mobs that test perception over and over again.  Even at level 1 players could have to cross a fallen tree or risk falling into a hazard.  In reality they probably should. 

If we walk into a campaign knowing that we will be solid footing, walk from room to room and clear out the baddies I guess a 20 is perfect.  That seems far fetched to me that a long term level 1 character would spent their existence in this manner.  I might have a very skewed idea of the modern world of D&D. 

I always felt optimizations should be about getting the most out what you have.  Does optimization only exist in combat--I guess if that is all you play it does.  Don't we have to balance the need for strong combat with the other needs that a character will come across? 

It seems as though I may have stumbled upon the inherent fault of my thinking.  I think my expectations of a players life may be different than a lot of the people that frequent these forums.  Definitely my error. 
I don't typically play 20 starting stat characters. I find I can't do as much with them as I want to. The only character I have that uses a 20 is my Tiefling Paladin for LFR. Other than Charisma and Wisdom Skills, there really wasn't much point in trying anything else, as I have a -4 to all strength, dexterity, and constitution skills anyway. I even stuck an 8 in Dex, don't care.

But for my typical campaign characters (non LFR), I have a lot of criteria for skills, which are pretty hard to meet, so I'm never likely to sink a 20 into anything, and my typical stat array is likely to be 16 14 14 13 10 8. I like skilled adventurers for my characters.

I could *maybe* make an exception for a wizard using arcana for other skills, like a Phantasmagoric Scoundrel or something.

It's important to note, on these message boards we discuss optimization often as it relates to combat. There is the occasional skill monkey optimization, but that is also usually done to the extreme, at the expense of combat abilities. There are a few practical optimization builds that balance offense, defense, and skills. But many here would emphasize that class guides, build guides, race guides and the like are simply that, guides to help you optimize your combat potential. The fact that your average cleric doesn't train in stealth or sink a 12-14 into dex, doesn't mean in your all stealth drow party, you wouldn't want to optimize your drow cleric's stealth also. Anything is possible. There isn't a single build that couldn't just drop one optimization feat for a skill training or skill focus that you might really want, and still remain perfectly competent.
What amazes me is that everything that was posted was completely combat oriented.  I thought I covered that in the one shot encounter comment, I guess it should have been explicitly stated. 

For Dex we have:
Acrobatics
Stealth
Thievery

So useless in most skill challenges.  Acrobatics is nice because it is loose enough that you get checks with it in harry situations but will not give you nearly the usefulness of perception or the critical nature of an endurance check.

Which leads me to my next point, and I am surprised how little it actually it gets brought up on this board, perception is probably the most rolled skill in the game.  Outside of  attack/damage rolls and initiative is there something people roll more? 

INT we have:
Religion
History
Arcana

Nice for skills challenges but awful for anything that can save your life. 

I have no clue how the rest of the world plays D&D or what people look for in a game.  I may have a different expectation and play with a different group than.  I cannot really be sure because I only have my lens to look through.  It seems to me though that most games should probably be 1 skills challenge per 2 maybe 3 combats.  Moreover, I would think that at least half of those combats should be outside the realm of defender walks in the room, gets surrounded, every dumps damage rinse and repeat.  Honestly, I think less than 10% of the games should be like that.

Even at level 1 the party can be tested with stealth heavy mobs that test perception over and over again.  Even at level 1 players could have to cross a fallen tree or risk falling into a hazard.  In reality they probably should. 

If we walk into a campaign knowing that we will be solid footing, walk from room to room and clear out the baddies I guess a 20 is perfect.  That seems far fetched to me that a long term level 1 character would spent their existence in this manner.  I might have a very skewed idea of the modern world of D&D. 

I always felt optimizations should be about getting the most out what you have.  Does optimization only exist in combat--I guess if that is all you play it does.  Don't we have to balance the need for strong combat with the other needs that a character will come across? 

It seems as though I may have stumbled upon the inherent fault of my thinking.  I think my expectations of a players life may be different than a lot of the people that frequent these forums.  Definitely my error. 



Bonuses to attacks and defenses are relatively hard to get, beyond those that are expected for scaling purposes (expertise, improved defenses, enhancement bonuses).  Bonuses to skills are easy to get, coming from backgrounds, themes, races, feats, and items, often just as a side benefit for more powerful effects.  Attack bonuses are more valuable not just because attacks get rolled more often than even perception checks in most campaigns, but because being a point or two behind in a skill is so easy to make up for in other ways; you shouldn't give up an attack bonus, which is a rare thing, in order to get a higher skill bonus, which comes from any number of things.
It depends on your goal for the character. A character with a very narrow focus might benefit from a 20 but a character who relies more on secondary effects will be fine with an 18 in a primary and varying levels of secondary stats.

My personal favorite stat allocation is 16, 14, 14, 13, 10, 8 pre racial. I think I only have one character who uses dual 16s and that character is a V build hybrid. 
I've not played a character with 20 in a stat at level 1 in a long time.

More often, I'm playing something that only gets a racial bonus to one of the two main stats, and end up with 17 post-racial in both.
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I know that different classes and scenarios change what is worth what, but as a general rule, is 20 worth it?

I know that +5 at level 1 is really nice; however, the rest of the build really feels it.  I, personally, am hard pressed to find a reason to ever start off with a 20 in any attribute for any character that is going to be played in multiple situations.   I can see a benefit in one time encounters where there is a known situation.  I have a hard time finding use when it comes to a level 1 starting character in an ongoing campaign. 

Thoughts.

Depends on the class. For a barbarian, 20 str and 16 dex post-racial is pretty much optimal. For something like a paladin where you have three stats to put things in, an 18 might be a better idea.

For Dex we have:
Acrobatics
Stealth
Thievery

So useless in most skill challenges.

More to the point, in SCs most characters will try to use their best skills (because if you're the low-cha fighter, you leave diplomacy checks to your bard ally, yes?). This means that a +1 to your good skills is better than a +1 to your bad skills. If you're, say, a str/wis focused character, then +1 to your dex skills or int skills is not going to do much for you, because you won't be using those skills nearly as much.

Even at level 1 the party can be tested with stealth heavy mobs that test perception over and over again.

Not necessarily: frequently only the highest perception score in the party matters. If that isn't you, then your perception can be low as you want.
I enjoy playing characters with an Odd and an Even score.  Therefore, every-time there is a level where I get a stat increase I can immediately see the difference. 
I hate when I play a character at level 1 with even stats then make it all the way to level four(which in our home games takes a significant amount of time) and add a virtually useless point to my Primary and Secondary.  So, to the OP - I grab a 17/16 pre-racial usually.

Even at level 1 the party can be tested with stealth heavy mobs that test perception over and over again.

Not necessarily: frequently only the highest perception score in the party matters. If that isn't you, then your perception can be low as you want.



I'm pretty sure I got this right looking over the stealth rules again real quick, but I believe that having a hidden creature pointed out to you does not stop it from being hidden (and thus invisible and silent) from you, leaving you at -5 attack and granting CA unless you can actually do something to fix that (like moving to break cover).


In a broader sense, people being forced to make skill checks with uncomfortably low skills is not unheard of, though the DCs are usually mercifully low (i.e the Easy DC track).  

Even at level 1 the party can be tested with stealth heavy mobs that test perception over and over again.

Not necessarily: frequently only the highest perception score in the party matters. If that isn't you, then your perception can be low as you want.



I'm pretty sure I got this right looking over the stealth rules again real quick, but I believe that having a hidden creature pointed out to you does not stop it from being hidden (and thus invisible and silent) from you, leaving you at -5 attack and granting CA unless you can actually do something to fix that (like moving to break cover).


In a broader sense, people being forced to make skill checks with uncomfortably low skills is not unheard of, though the DCs are usually mercifully low (i.e the Easy DC track).  

I note having High perception to see through hidden doesn't get round a creatues cover or concealmet either, it just allows you to pinpoint a square.  All hidden does over invisibility/concealment/cover is disguise your square.

Hidden is more than just disguise of which square you are in - it is hiding that you are even on the map.  The extensive thread on the hidden condition is a good read.  The hidden condition needs better coverage in the rules, and there are a lot of players that would be much better off using them more often. 
 
On the original topic:

A 20 makes sense for characters that get little use out of secondary abilities in an offensive capacity and do not need much from their secondary stats (not commonly attacked, not skill intensive PCs, etc...)   A wizard is the classic example, I would say.

My preference for an attribute blend is: 19/16/14/10/10/8.  This is not commonly suggested by the boards, but I feel it has some real nice benefits.  I like gaining a significant benefit every 3 or 4 levels (instead of only at levels 8, 14, 21 and 28) when you raise your top 2 attributes whenever possible.  

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I'm pretty sure I got this right looking over the stealth rules again real quick, but I believe that having a hidden creature pointed out to you does not stop it from being hidden (and thus invisible and silent) from you, leaving you at -5 attack and granting CA unless you can actually do something to fix that (like moving to break cover). 
  



That's true as far as it goes, but very frequently knowning what square an enemy is hidden in is all you need (especially if you are a wizard or otherwise have easy access to AoE type attacks).  After all, an AoE type attack doesn't care if you are hidden/concealed or not.

-Polaris
What amazes me is that everything that was posted was completely combat oriented.  I thought I covered that in the one shot encounter comment, I guess it should have been explicitly stated. 

For Dex we have:
Acrobatics
Stealth
Thievery

stuff

INT we have:
Religion
History
Arcana
stuff2



Thievery is important for disabling traps.  Stealth is very important for many rogue types.  Acrobatics is combat situational.

Arcana can easily be used to also work with all social skills with the 2nd level skill utility.

Also skill bonuses are incredibly easy to get, so unless you are building your character around a skill its not a huge consideration. 

I'm pretty sure I got this right looking over the stealth rules again real quick, but I believe that having a hidden creature pointed out to you does not stop it from being hidden (and thus invisible and silent) from you, leaving you at -5 attack and granting CA unless you can actually do something to fix that (like moving to break cover). 
  



That's true as far as it goes, but very frequently knowning what square an enemy is hidden in is all you need (especially if you are a wizard or otherwise have easy access to AoE type attacks).  After all, an AoE type attack doesn't care if you are hidden/concealed or not.

-Polaris



It varies quite a bit.. though I'll admit I don't see it come up too often in play. The wizard may know what square to target (and can even hit around a corner by placing an area burst just right) but is still subject to CA and possibly bonus damage as a skirmisher moves and attacks with one of the skirmisher moves and attacks powers. Or for the non AOE people, spotting the hidden creature may drop ranged attacks to a -2 for cover rather than -7 for cover & 'invisible' due to hidden (since cover and concealment stack).

In other cases, since you know where they are you walk around the corner and have no penalty. Or you don't attack (because of the minuses.. attack someone else instead) and grant CA no matter what you do because they are invisible for real.

It's definitely a mixed bag: one good perception guy makes a big difference for the whole party, while second-best perception guy will sometimes make a big difference for himself above and beyond.   
Oh, to always be a bard ...

Both of my strikers have 20s, my Controllers have 20s, my Bard has a 20 but I don't think my Shaman does, my Paladin|Warden has an 18, all my other characters are V Hybrids with 18/18 (except my lazylord|bard who's a 20).  LFR, so variance to eliminate odd numbers when possible.
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