Ability Scores

Ability Scores in D&D Next have a number of problems, most of which are carried over from previous editions. 

1) Unintuitive:  Just as THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) made mathematical sense but was difficult for new players to remember, the ability scores are pointlessly confusing.   It makes no sense that an 18 Strength would give you a +4 bonus, or that a 3 Strength would give you a -4 penalty.  Ability scores should provide a bonus equal to the score. 

2) Inequality: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution apply to a large number of important things, whereas Intelligence, Charisma, and (to a lesser degree) Wisdom are only important if it's your class's primary attribute, which makes that attributes weaker.  Previous editions have tried to balance out this inequity by making Strength bonuses more difficult to get (I'm looking at you, 3.5 Half-Orc) and Str/Dex based classes weaker.  This actually ends up messing with balance in innumerable ways, and punishes players for making roleplaying decisions (I want my Rogue to be a dashing leader.  Wait, Charisma sucks.  Never mind, I'll just use Dex/Con like I'm "supposed" to).    Balance between attributes can be accomplished in a wide variety of different ways - Action Points, additional Reactions, bonuses to key checks (Initiative, Aid Another, Attack of Opportunity, whatever). 

3) Lack of Variance: Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers is spread out.  To the degree that variance is determined randomly (by rolling a d20) is the degree to which a game is luck based.  For example, an 18 Strength Human should win an arm wrestling almost all of the time against a 3 Strength Halfling.  But in D&D Next, the Halfling will win 16.5% of the time.  So it makes more sense to have a broader range of ability scores.  For example, if 18 Strength gave you an +18 bonus to Strength checks, then the 3 Strength Halfling would only win 2.5% of the time.  It also means that you can set a broader range of Difficulty Chances (DC's) for various tasks, with high scores having a much easier time with simpler tasks without the need to invest in a Skill/Trait/Feat (+5ish?) to improve it, and low scores being unable to complete more difficult tasks unless they do so. 


I would also say that actual gameplay choices (which abilities/spells/powers to use, movement, positioning, etc) should carry high bonuses or penalties which stack, because doing so makes those choices meaningful.  You can do so in a number of different ways without resorting to the jumble of charts from previous editions, or the ultra simplification of the current Advantage system.  For example, each Advantage could provide you with a d6 bonus to your roll (or a flat +3 bonus, or something else), and each Disadvantage could provide you with a d6 penalty.  Thus, if you had 3 Advantages and 1 Disadvantage, you would roll 1d20 + Ability Score + Trait/Feat + 2d6.  This gives you fairly equal weight to luck, ability, training, and choice.  And it's quite easy to adjudicate, without resorting to any secondary charts.   



Thoughts?

Ability Scores in D&D Next have a number of problems, most of which are carried over from previous editions. 

1) Unintuitive:  Just as THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) made mathematical sense but was difficult for new players to remember, the ability scores are pointlessly confusing.   It makes no sense that an 18 Strength would give you a +4 bonus, or that a 3 Strength would give you a -4 penalty.  Ability scores should provide a bonus equal to the score. 

2) Inequality: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution apply to a large number of important things, whereas Intelligence, Charisma, and (to a lesser degree) Wisdom are only important if it's your class's primary attribute, which makes that attributes weaker.  Previous editions have tried to balance out this inequity by making Strength bonuses more difficult to get (I'm looking at you, 3.5 Half-Orc) and Str/Dex based classes weaker.  This actually ends up messing with balance in innumerable ways, and punishes players for making roleplaying decisions (I want my Rogue to be a dashing leader.  Wait, Charisma sucks.  Never mind, I'll just use Dex/Con like I'm "supposed" to).    Balance between attributes can be accomplished in a wide variety of different ways - Action Points, additional Reactions, bonuses to key checks (Initiative, Aid Another, Attack of Opportunity, whatever). 

3) Lack of Variance: Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers is spread out.  To the degree that variance is determined randomly (by rolling a d20) is the degree to which a game is luck based.  For example, an 18 Strength Human should win an arm wrestling almost all of the time against a 3 Strength Halfling.  But in D&D Next, the Halfling will win 16.5% of the time.  So it makes more sense to have a broader range of ability scores.  For example, if 18 Strength gave you an +18 bonus to Strength checks, then the 3 Strength Halfling would only win 2.5% of the time.  It also means that you can set a broader range of Difficulty Chances (DC's) for various tasks, with high scores having a much easier time with simpler tasks without the need to invest in a Skill/Trait/Feat (+5ish?) to improve it, and low scores being unable to complete more difficult tasks unless they do so. 


I would also say that actual gameplay choices (which abilities/spells/powers to use, movement, positioning, etc) should carry high bonuses or penalties which stack, because doing so makes those choices meaningful.  You can do so in a number of different ways without resorting to the jumble of charts from previous editions, or the ultra simplification of the current Advantage system.  For example, each Advantage could provide you with a d6 bonus to your roll (or a flat +3 bonus, or something else), and each Disadvantage could provide you with a d6 penalty.  Thus, if you had 3 Advantages and 1 Disadvantage, you would roll 1d20 + Ability Score + Trait/Feat + 2d6.  This gives you fairly equal weight to luck, ability, training, and choice.  And it's quite easy to adjudicate, without resorting to any secondary charts.   



Thoughts?



Having math on DCs that goes from 3-30 (high level play can get that high in some editions) is going to be some awfully hard math.

All in all, I do like the concept of normalizing the ability scores. One thing I've seen suggested is just dispense with ability scores and use the ability modifiers naked. I think another option is that instead of adding numbers over 10, you just add the numbers when making the scores.

So if your high scores are an 18 and a 16 in the existing systems, they are instead an 8 and a 6 in this system.

I do like lowering the variance given from Advantage/Disadvantage. It's too strong if your target number is around 11, and too weak if your target number is on the fringes of the d20. The d6 system you suggest sounds pretty fun to me, but I'm also for just adding flat -3/+3 for dis/advantage. This is about the average of what adding a second d20 does instead of being a +5 in the middle and barely a +1 on the outisde.

Thanks for posting your thoughts and ideas!

1) Unintuitive:  Just as THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) made mathematical sense but was difficult for new players to remember, the ability scores are pointlessly confusing.   It makes no sense that an 18 Strength would give you a +4 bonus, or that a 3 Strength would give you a -4 penalty.  Ability scores should provide a bonus equal to the score.  


All powers/damage ratings/etc. assume the "average" of 10 in an ability. For every two points up or down you add or subtract one point. It's fairly straightforward and is a good way to handle scores that go from 1-ish to 20-ish. Since this is D&D, leaving these stats behind (or their scale) isn't an option.


 

2) Inequality: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution apply to a large number of important things, whereas Intelligence, Charisma, and (to a lesser degree) Wisdom are only important if it's your class's primary attribute, which makes that attributes weaker.  Previous editions have tried to balance out this inequity by making Strength bonuses more difficult to get (I'm looking at you, 3.5 Half-Orc) and Str/Dex based classes weaker.  This actually ends up messing with balance in innumerable ways, and punishes players for making roleplaying decisions (I want my Rogue to be a dashing leader.  Wait, Charisma sucks.  Never mind, I'll just use Dex/Con like I'm "supposed" to).    Balance between attributes can be accomplished in a wide variety of different ways - Action Points, additional Reactions, bonuses to key checks (Initiative, Aid Another, Attack of Opportunity, whatever).  



This depends on when you are using the skill. In non-combat (social and knowledge) situations STR, CON, and DEX are useless. In addition you have the fact that every stat can now be a "defense stat" against something even in combat. You can also improvise your stats even when in combat, for example: using a CHA vs. WIS check to goad enemies into attacking you instead of the mage.

Skills are now usable by everyone, thanks to the bounded accuracy approach. So every bonus/penalty with a stat will be felt.

3) Lack of Variance: Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers is spread out.  To the degree that variance is determined randomly (by rolling a d20) is the degree to which a game is luck based.  For example, an 18 Strength Human should win an arm wrestling almost all of the time against a 3 Strength Halfling.  But in D&D Next, the Halfling will win 16.5% of the time.  So it makes more sense to have a broader range of ability scores.  For example, if 18 Strength gave you an +18 bonus to Strength checks, then the 3 Strength Halfling would only win 2.5% of the time.  It also means that you can set a broader range of Difficulty Chances (DC's) for various tasks, with high scores having a much easier time with simpler tasks without the need to invest in a Skill/Trait/Feat (+5ish?) to improve it, and low scores being unable to complete more difficult tasks unless they do so.



Any system that uses a single die for resolution will have this problem. There's no bell curve for rolling a d20. The offshoot of this is that 5% of all attacks miss and 5% of all attacks crit, regardless of the skill of an attacker. Again...this is just part of the idiom of D&D. The d20 is here to stay, so we make do.

I would also say that actual gameplay choices (which abilities/spells/powers to use, movement, positioning, etc) should carry high bonuses or penalties which stack, because doing so makes those choices meaningful.  You can do so in a number of different ways without resorting to the jumble of charts from previous editions, or the ultra simplification of the current Advantage system.  For example, each Advantage could provide you with a d6 bonus to your roll (or a flat +3 bonus, or something else), and each Disadvantage could provide you with a d6 penalty.  Thus, if you had 3 Advantages and 1 Disadvantage, you would roll 1d20 + Ability Score + Trait/Feat + 2d6.  This gives you fairly equal weight to luck, ability, training, and choice.  And it's quite easy to adjudicate, without resorting to any secondary charts.  



One thing (that I like) that D&DN is trying to do is get rid of all the fiddly pluses and minuses that would stack on die rolls. Many players find this tiresome or worky. Instead they now have the advantage/disadvantage system wich has a very large effect on die rolls.
1) I find the sacrifice of being unintuitive to be fine for not using artificially large numbers (were 10 is equal to 0 in all ways but must be writtent as 10).

Had you said that only the modifier should be used, giving ability scores ranging from -5 to +5, I might have agreed.

2) There has never been a perfect balance between ability scores... but it is better now than it once was since skills are based directly on Ability scores with very little other bonuses.

Sure, it might not be "good enough" but it is the absolute best that D&D has ever done.

3) Your described example is poor because a human, capable of reason, exists at the table and is meant to arbitrate the rules to prevent moments where the group feels that the rules "ruin" a situation - or to phrase that differently, most DMs would prevent any dice from being rolled in the situation you describe... and might even use the auto-success on ability check rules to justify that choice - basically saying "okay Mr. 3 strength, go ahead and roll... if you don't get at least a total of 14 then Mr. 18 automatically wins." if not just shutting it down entirely.

On variance in general... less is more - variance for the sake of variance almost always becomes the root of a system break down, like in 3.5 where you get to a point that either you require 3/4 BAB in order to reasonbly hit a relevant level of monster... so Full BAB almost never misses and 1/2 BAB can almost never hit... or you require Full BAB to reasonably hit, and no one else stands a chance.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

Point 1: Not going to happen.  The 3-18 stat spread is iconically D&D, and this edition is all about bringing back the iconic elements.  I agree that it's a bit strange, but I also like negative modifiers but dislike negative scores (and like how 0 Str or Dex is meaningful).

Point 2: True, to a certain extent.  Str isn't that critical anymore now that finesse weapons and decent at-will attack spells exist.  Con is less valuable than it appears due to the strange math.  Dex is probably too good.  So is Wisdom, IMO, since most mental attacks are resisted by it an it controls Perception.  Cha and Int are the default dump stats, as always.  I'd love to see a fix, but it has to be an inuitive one (action points don't really make any sense being tied to a stat).

Point 3: The DM always has the option of using threshholds, or comparative stats, instead of contests or checks.  This edition really stresses that.  So you wouldn't roll in an arm-wrestling contest, the stronger character would just win.

The problem with increased variance is that it makes characters with low scores have no chance at succeeding at moderately difficult tasks, while characters with high scores succeed every time.  For "active" skills, things you choose do do, like picking a lock, this makes sense.  For things you have to do whether you like it or not, like Diplomacy checks while role-playing, or moving past lava-filled fissures, it's a problem.  For saving throws, it's devastating. 

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

Howdy folks,

I've moved this thread to the Playtest Packet Discussion forum where it is more on topic.

Thanks.    

All around helpful simian

1. The unintuitive nature of ability scores and modifiers is trumped by the fact that "18 Charisma" is well-established in the geek lexicon.  It's not going anywhere.

2. I find the topic of inequality interesting.  It seems to be that Constitution (healing, hp) and Dexterity (init, AC, reflex attacks) are the key combat abilities (with Dex beating Con), Strength (climbing, jumping, swimming, breaking) and Wisdom (searching, finding, perceiving, tracking) are the key exploration abilities (with Wis beating Str) and Intelligence (knowledges, languages) and Charisma (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate) are the key interaction abilities (with Cha beating Int).  And each class has a primary combat stat (so fighters make Strength their primary stat in combat, while sorcerers and bards use Charisma).

In a campaign that is primarily interaction, you'll see a lot more people buming Charisma and Intelligence.  In a campaign that is combat heavy you'll see people going for Dex and Con based characters.  I do think Dex is overpowered as it has so many uses.  I think there's plenty of time for the developers to rejigger things.  But I think sometimes we get too focused on combat utility.

3.  I think invariance is tempered by the fact that dice should only be employed when there is a greater than 5% chance of failure or success.  There should be no roll for the halfling/half-orc armwrestle unless the halfling is cheating somehow. 

4. Stacking has been the source of most problems in every edition since we've allowed it.  Once you can stack bonuses, the game becomes about stacking bonuses.  Whether that means you light up like a Christmas Tree with your bracers of archery, longbow of accuracy, arrows of piercing, helm of farseeing, and quiver of manyshooting, or whether you stack item, feat, power, racial, ability, and background bonuses, stacking has issues.  I hope that getting advantage/disadvantage is difficult enough to make it worth the effort to obtain/impose, and players don't end up assuming they'll be able to gain advantage/disadvantage every round.
Ability Scores in D&D Next have a number of problems, most of which are carried over from previous editions. 


1) Unintuitive:  Just as THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) made mathematical sense but was difficult for new players to remember, the ability scores are pointlessly confusing.   It makes no sense that an 18 Strength would give you a +4 bonus, or that a 3 Strength would give you a -4 penalty.  Ability scores should provide a bonus equal to the score.



Doesn't work. Abilities should provide a bonus equal to their score - 10. So 18 / +8. Why? This places two characters with equal stats on equal footing when you use the score itself as the DC to affect a character. So you target their strength? Use their STR score as the DC. Attacker 18, defender 18, should give roughly 50% chance to succeed everything else being equal. This makes using static scores as defenses work. Straight contests work also, but this is smoother and can use static scores directly.


2) Inequality: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution apply to a large number of important things, whereas Intelligence, Charisma, and (to a lesser degree) Wisdom are only important if it's your class's primary attribute, which makes that attributes weaker.  Previous editions have tried to balance out this inequity by making Strength bonuses more difficult to get (I'm looking at you, 3.5 Half-Orc) and Str/Dex based classes weaker.  This actually ends up messing with balance in innumerable ways, and punishes players for making roleplaying decisions (I want my Rogue to be a dashing leader.  Wait, Charisma sucks.  Never mind, I'll just use Dex/Con like I'm "supposed" to).    Balance between attributes can be accomplished in a wide variety of different ways - Action Points, additional Reactions, bonuses to key checks (Initiative, Aid Another, Attack of Opportunity, whatever).


This is true only if you use the rules as a combat engine and nothing more. If you use the rules for interaction that are coming and the rules for exploration, and emphasize these activities at your table, things smooth out. Yes, Cha sucks compared to Str in combat, but Str sucks compared to Cha out of combat. Make sure your game balances the three pillars and the scores become more balanced. Also, go for more freestyling with ability checks an actions. Someone wants to use Int to search instead of Wis? Go for it. If they explain it well, say yes.


3) Lack of Variance: Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers is spread out.  To the degree that variance is determined randomly (by rolling a d20) is the degree to which a game is luck based.  For example, an 18 Strength Human should win an arm wrestling almost all of the time against a 3 Strength Halfling.  But in D&D Next, the Halfling will win 16.5% of the time.  So it makes more sense to have a broader range of ability scores.  For example, if 18 Strength gave you an +18 bonus to Strength checks, then the 3 Strength Halfling would only win 2.5% of the time.  It also means that you can set a broader range of Difficulty Chances (DC's) for various tasks, with high scores having a much easier time with simpler tasks without the need to invest in a Skill/Trait/Feat (+5ish?) to improve it, and low scores being unable to complete more difficult tasks unless they do so.


That's not entirely true. There are quite a few admonitions about not using the dice in the first place, letting characters with high scores succeed automatically, etc. If you specifically ignore all that great advice and still force a roll, then yes, your maths are accurate. As above, score as bonus doesn't work, but score - 10 as bonus does because it gives equally matched characters a roughly 50% chance of success. Besides, a +18 to a roll? At first level? I'm all for the modifiers being more important than the randomizer, but that's a bit extreme.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
Abilities should provide a bonus equal to their score - 10. So 18 / +8. Why? This places two characters with equal stats on equal footing when you use the score itself as the DC to affect a character. So you target their strength? Use their STR score as the DC. Attacker 18, defender 18, should give roughly 50% chance to succeed everything else being equal. This makes using static scores as defenses work. Straight contests work also, but this is smoother and can use static scores directly.



I really really like this idea.  It maintains the iconic 3-18 ability scores, allows for more variance because you're not dividing things by 2, and the math is much easier for newbs to remember.  Bravo. 


This is true only if you use the rules as a combat engine and nothing more. If you use the rules for interaction that are coming and the rules for exploration, and emphasize these activities at your table, things smooth out. Yes, Cha sucks compared to Str in combat, but Str sucks compared to Cha out of combat. Make sure your game balances the three pillars and the scores become more balanced. Also, go for more freestyling with ability checks an actions. Someone wants to use Int to search
instead of Wis? Go for it. If they explain it well, say yes.

I completely and utterly disagree with this.  A player should never have to "pay for" or be worse in combat because of a character choice (wanting to be intelligent, wise, or charismatic) or because they want to do something interesting outside of combat.  Conversely, every class should have something interesting to do outside of combat.  To make a counter example, should we bring back Cumliness from 1st edition?  That would give players another option that is useless in combat while improving their roleplaying options, right? 


Again, it's fairly simple to make a list of useful mechanics/modifiers, and then divvy up that list between the attributes.  There's no positive reason to leave the attributes unequal other then tradition.  And I'm not playing D&D because of tradition, and new players won't join the game because of tradition.  I play it because it's fun.  And having inequality between attributes makes it less fun for me in combat if I want to playa character that is useful out of combat.

There is too much variance between the abilities on a d20 system to allow for bonuses to be between -2 (8 Ability score) and +10 (20 ability score).  It makes it very difficult to come up with noncombat challenges were everyone has a chance to succeed.   I was actually surprised that they kep the 3e/4e bonus system.  Flatter math should require even flatter bonuses.

I like the idea of using the scores for DCs.  That generally works (though it means we have to replace AC with something like DR).  But the bonuses should be, imo, Score/6 (round down).  So 3-5 = +0, 6-11 = +1, 12-17 = +2, 18-23 = +3, and 24+ = +4.

Averge ability bonuses for adventurers will fall in the +2 ranges.  Hand out proficiency bonuses of around +2 with a weapon, and most people will be attacking with a +4.  Ability scores will average around 14-15, giving you a target roll of 11-12.  That's the peak bonus/penalty for (dis)advantage, making it very valuable. 

For skill checks, DCs would range from easy (5), average (10), difficult (15), monumental (20), to impossible (25).  Only roll skill checks out-of-combat if the DC exceeds your score.

Edited to add: the biggest problem with using Abilities as DCs is Intelligence when facing beasts, who generally have an Int of 0-2, making attacks targeting Intelligence overpowered, and causes wizards to run around with armies of dominated dinosaurs.  The answer is either to never have Int be a defense (which makes Int the go-to dump stat for everyone but the wizard), or to give beasts special protections against Int-based spells.  For example, all Int-based spells may be language dependent.  If the attacker doesn't speak in a language the target understands, the attack has a -10 penalty.  This makes Speak with Animals a useful spell to have available, and makes Int-based attacks not quite so overpowered.
I completely and utterly disagree with this.  A player should never have to "pay for" or be worse in combat because of a character choice (wanting to be intelligent, wise, or charismatic) or because they want to do something interesting outside of combat.  Conversely, every class should have something interesting to do outside of combat.  To make a counter example, should we bring back Cumliness from 1st edition?  That would give players another option that is useless in combat while improving their roleplaying options, right?



False dichotomy. All abilities are useful in and out of combat, certain abilities are more useful in certain situations though. Strength, for example, is much more useful in combat but it has uses in exploration and interaction as well. Strength is used to climb, to bend bars, lift gates, move boulders, and the like while exploring, and used to impress or intimidate while interacting with NPCs. This "usefulness scale" is almost completely reversed for Charisma with combat being it's least useful phase but interaction it's most useful phase. It's not about being useless in combat to be useful outside of combat. That's your false dichotomy at work.

Again, it's fairly simple to make a list of useful mechanics/modifiers, and then divvy up that list between the attributes.  There's no positive reason to leave the attributes unequal other then tradition.  And I'm not playing D&D because of tradition, and new players won't join the game because of tradition.  I play it because it's fun.  And having inequality between attributes makes it less fun for me in combat if I want to playa character that is useful out of combat.



Well, you could do that, I suppose, but then you'd have to rename several abilities. There is already a list of things you can do with each ability, and it's been fairly static since OD&D. The trouble is the game is often so heavily focused on combat that the non-combat explicit abilities get short shrift. Again, false dichotomy. You're not trading usefulness in combat for usefulness out of combat. Every ability has it's uses, some are more focused on one pillar than others, granted, but none are useless in any given area. Besides, we haven't even seen the vast majority of the system yet. It's a bit early to make claims like this.
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

Edited to add: the biggest problem with using Abilities as DCs is Intelligence when facing beasts, who generally have an Int of 0-2, making attacks targeting Intelligence overpowered, and causes wizards to run around with armies of dominated dinosaurs.  The answer is either to never have Int be a defense (which makes Int the go-to dump stat for everyone but the wizard), or to give beasts special protections against Int-based spells.  For example, all Int-based spells may be language dependent.  If the attacker doesn't speak in a language the target understands, the attack has a -10 penalty.  This makes Speak with Animals a useful spell to have available, and makes Int-based attacks not quite so overpowered.



I don't think it's a problem as long as WotC solves the Action Economy issue.  There needs to be some sort of limit on how many extra actions a Player can get.  Otherwise the game will be swamped by Summons, Dominate, Familiars, Companions, Spiritual Hammers, etc.  I don't care if Wizards or Druids have an easy time of dominating Animals, as long as they can only have 1 such animal at a time. 

Well, you could do that, I suppose, but then you'd have to rename several abilities. There is already a list of things you can do with each ability, and it's been fairly static since OD&D. The trouble is the game is often so heavily focused on combat that the non-combat explicit abilities get short shrift. Again, false dichotomy. You're not trading usefulness in combat for usefulness out of combat. Every ability has it's uses, some are more focused on one pillar than others, granted, but none are useless in any given area. Besides, we haven't even seen the vast majority of the system yet. It's a bit early to make claims like this.



I think we're stuck with six attributes named Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, because they're iconic.  Yet knowing that, we can slightly redefine what they mean, and add to their functions. 

But we as a community can come up with a list of useful things each attribute can do in order to achieve balance without sacrificing believability.  Here are some potential ideas:

Intelligence:

  • Knowledge: You gain a number of Knowledge abilities equal to your Intelligence score.  (Nature, Local, Magical Lore, etc).  You gain a +X or Advantage or Take 10 + roll or whatever when making a check for things based on that Knowledge.  In addition, at the start of each combat you may make one Intelligence check against a single enemy.  If you succeed on that roll, the DM tells you about the creature.  (Example: Make a Knowledge Dungeoneering roll to learn that the Fire Beatle is highly vulnerable to Cold).

  • Skills/Traits: You gain a number of Skills/Traits equal to your Intelligence score.  This should be in addition to Knowledges (essentially, they run on two separate tracks, and you get both, so that you never have to sacrifice more useful Skills/Traits to be knowledgeable about certain subjects).

  • Use Magic Devices: Could be put either here or in Charisma.  Require that some (All? Most?) magic devices other then weapons and armor be activated by a check of some sort. 

  • Languages: The ability to speak, read, and write multiple languages.

  • Insight: Gain your Intelligence bonus as a bonus (or penalty) to damage rolls against enemies with Resistance. 




Wisdom:



  • Initiative: Take it away from Dexterity (which already covers Finesse weapons, ranged attacks, the most common Saving Throw, and numerous "Skills" or traits) and put it in Wisdom, which reflects your "perception, intution, insight, and other less tangible senses." 

  • Attacks of Opportunity: This is one of the features which I would like added back into D&D next, even if it's limited to a Reaction (once per round).  You could add this to your attack or damage roll, or use it in place of Str/Dex for your attack or damage roll roll, or

  • More Reactions: Currently you're limited to one.  Instead, you could have a number of reactions equal to your Wisdom bonus or some forumula based on your Wisdom bonus.. 



Charisma:



  • Force of Personality: You die when your hit points drop to a negative number equal to your Constitution score plus your Charisma score plus your class level.  For example, a first level Fighter with a Constitution of 10 and a Charisma of 10 would die when your hit points hit -21.  (This highly discourages you from dumping Charisma, and it means that Paladins and other "leader" classes will be the least likely to die). 

  • Teamwork: When Flanking with an ally, you grant a bonus to his damage rolls equal to your Charisma bonus.

  • Morale:  When adjacent, you add your Charisma bonus (or penalty) to some Defense or Ability Checks for your allies.

  • Leadership points: Each day you get a number of Leadership points equal to your Charisma bonus.  As a Reaction, you can spend a Leadership point to grant yourself or an ally within your line of site Advantage on one die roll.  You must declare that you are using this ability before the dice are rolled.  And/or you could replace the Help or Aid Another actions with some sort of Charisma based . 

  • Intimidate: Same as Leadership, but can be used to force enemies into Disadvantage with an opposed Charisma check.  Could be combined with Leadership points as a single unified ability, or kept as a seperate ability or Feat or whatnot. 

  • Action Points: Lots of different ways to implement other bonuses based on Charisma.


 


I'm not saying that these are the best ideas in the world.  But I think it's clear that there doesn't need to be a tradeoff between Combat and Non-Combat.  We can design a system where every player is useful in both. 



3) Lack of Variance: Variance is a measure of how far a set of numbers is spread out.  To the degree that variance is determined randomly (by rolling a d20) is the degree to which a game is luck based.  For example, an 18 Strength Human should win an arm wrestling almost all of the time against a 3 Strength Halfling.  But in D&D Next, the Halfling will win 16.5% of the time.  So it makes more sense to have a broader range of ability scores.  For example, if 18 Strength gave you an +18 bonus to Strength checks, then the 3 Strength Halfling would only win 2.5% of the time.  It also means that you can set a broader range of Difficulty Chances (DC's) for various tasks, with high scores having a much easier time with simpler tasks without the need to invest in a Skill/Trait/Feat (+5ish?) to improve it, and low scores being unable to complete more difficult tasks unless they do so.




The variance of the dice is one aspect, but as the bonus to the dice approach the variance, or exceed it, the point of the variance (the swing between success/fail) becomes less important. D&D next is fixing the nonsensical 3 str halfing having a chance to beat the 18 str human in an arm wrestle by straight ability comparisons. DM fiat to determine if it should be rolled or a straight comparison. IIRC, the guidelines suggest that a difference of 5 or more exists (plus other conditions) you should consider it. In your case, the human would always win in a straight fight. Heck, for speed of play purposes an 18 str versus a 12 str would be enough to declare the 18 str winner. However, if fail or lose didn't matter, and it was the player with the 12 str trying some "hail mary" desperate attempt...I might let them roll.

Bottome line, any game that lets the variance be modified (pluses and minuses, including DC as a penalty) more than about 1/4-1/2 (the gray area) is entering dangerous broken territory.
I don't think it's a problem as long as WotC solves the Action Economy issue.


The action economy is separate.  The big problem is that there's a whole class of creatures (beasts) who have low Intelligence, which makes it trivial to defeat them by stocking up on attacks that target Intelligence.  Since it doesn't make sense to have dinosaurs running around with Intelligence 9, we have a problem.

Even then, solving the action economy issue the way 4e did is unlikely to happen.  It was a very common complaint about 4e.  My opinion is that the better solution be that extra action abilities (companions, henchmen, summons, etc.) be a rules module that you opt into.  So if you're willing to sacrifice bogging the game down in favor of allowing people to control multiple characters, you may choose to do so.
I think we're stuck with six attributes named Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, because they're iconic.  Yet knowing that, we can slightly redefine what they mean, and add to their functions. 


But we as a community can come up with a list of useful things each attribute can do in order to achieve balance without sacrificing believability.  Here are some potential ideas:


I'm not saying that these are the best ideas in the world.  But I think it's clear that there doesn't need to be a tradeoff between Combat and Non-Combat.  We can design a system where every player is useful in both.



And that's where we fundamentally disagree. You're operating under a false pretense, that is: combat is the way to balance all things. Your premise that abilities must be balanced within combat is flawed as the game isn't only about combat. That's simply not true. There is more to D&D than just combat; there are three areas across which to balance the abilities, namely: combat, exploration, and interaction.

Each of your suggestions is purely about balance within combat, which is why it will fail. Also, you're forgetting that players are a crafty, creative, and often annoying lot who can improvise actions using all sorts of ability combinations. Want to use your Int against your target's Wis to gain advantage? Why not. That's what 'rulings not rules' is all about. And that too is another way these are balanced in regards to combat: you can effect a target using "non-combat" abilities like Int, Wis, and Cha, which have in-combat effects.
"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge
about skill checks:

ability  #d6 to roll 
1-6       1
7-12     2
13-18   3 
19-24   4
25-30   5 

DC  score to reach 
1   automatic success
2   very easy
3   easy
4   medium
5   difficult
6   hard
7 = 6+6  very hard
8 = 6+6+6  almost impossible
9 = 6+6+6+6 unlikely
10=6+6+6+6+6 ...

you roll #d6 based on your ability score, keeping only the highest and counting the # of 6s; two 6 rolled give you one 7, three 6 rolled give you an 8, four 6 rolled give you a 9 and five 6 rolled give you a 10.

 
And that's where we fundamentally disagree. You're operating under a false pretense, that is: combat is the way to balance all things. Your premise that abilities must be balanced within combat is flawed as the game isn't only about combat. That's simply not true. There is more to D&D than just combat; there are three areas across which to balance the abilities, namely: combat, exploration, and interaction.

Each of your suggestions is purely about balance within combat, which is why it will fail. Also, you're forgetting that players are a crafty, creative, and often annoying lot who can improvise actions using all sorts of ability combinations. Want to use your Int against your target's Wis to gain advantage? Why not. That's what 'rulings not rules' is all about. And that too is another way these are balanced in regards to combat: you can effect a target using "non-combat" abilities like Int, Wis, and Cha, which have in-combat effects.



I get that you don't like my suggestion.  But I'm not sure I understand what you're arguing against, or why.  I agree with you that there is more to D&D then just combat.

But I don't see how balancing the Attributes for combat in any way detracts from exploration or interaction.  Why can't we do all three well? 

1) Unintuitive:  Just as THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) made mathematical sense but was difficult for new players to remember, the ability scores are pointlessly confusing.   It makes no sense that an 18 Strength would give you a +4 bonus, or that a 3 Strength would give you a -4 penalty.  Ability scores should provide a bonus equal to the score. 


Agree. Each times i introduce someone to D&D, the first thing he is astonished is the difference between Ability and Modifier. For sure, Ability should be used in the checks, because modifiers is a useless complication. I understand that WotC and old players are familiar to this old rule about modifiers, but if nobody wants to see the game evolve, then why making new editions ? It's just useless to stay in the old rules, just because they are iconic of D&D... It's a totaly stupid way of thinking.
And that's where we fundamentally disagree. You're operating under a false pretense, that is: combat is the way to balance all things. Your premise that abilities must be balanced within combat is flawed as the game isn't only about combat. That's simply not true. There is more to D&D than just combat; there are three areas across which to balance the abilities, namely: combat, exploration, and interaction.

Each of your suggestions is purely about balance within combat, which is why it will fail. Also, you're forgetting that players are a crafty, creative, and often annoying lot who can improvise actions using all sorts of ability combinations. Want to use your Int against your target's Wis to gain advantage? Why not. That's what 'rulings not rules' is all about. And that too is another way these are balanced in regards to combat: you can effect a target using "non-combat" abilities like Int, Wis, and Cha, which have in-combat effects.



I get that you don't like my suggestion.  But I'm not sure I understand what you're arguing against, or why.  I agree with you that there is more to D&D then just combat.

But I don't see how balancing the Attributes for combat in any way detracts from exploration or interaction.  Why can't we do all three well? 



This is what I would like to see as well.  I would like to see the rules help to support the "Intelligent Fighter" or the "Wise Thief".  Right now, if you take those abilities you are "gimping" your class in terms of mechanics and what the class functions as in game terms.

Considering all classes are based around combat in the first place, balancing the scores around combat seems like a good idea.  This doesn't mean that we want everyone to be just as good of a fighter as the Fighter is, but that everyone should feel useful in combat on their score cards as well as off them.

Yes, the DM can fiat rule anything, but if we make the rules to help support the DM, he doesn't need to be the arbitrator of everything.  He has enough on his plate.  Let the rules help him in some way.

You can also give feats and abilities to help support those character choices, to help support the idea that you can have the Intelligent verteran Fighter who has survived all these years do to his brains and tactics rather than brute strength, which is something the rules don't support at all currently.  If you are an Intelligent Fighter, you have less survivability in combat and you are less likely to make it to the next dragon, let alone through your first.

Playing a fighter, I may want to just wack monsters with a stick.  But it's the "how" that is important to me, and I want the rules to support it, not just be up to DM whim.