Ability score maximums why?

What's the deal with giving us a ability score table with a format that could be expanded on just to limit the maximum ability score to 20 ever! I thought Wizards was bringing back the original system not revamping it!
I prefer being able to build a character that can have stat's as high as I want them!

And what about the tomes of Clear thougth and the manual of Gainful Exercise magic Items I always thought these were a fun part of D&D!
Whether the reasons for an ability score cap are good or not, it would be the first rule that players universally ignore.
Caps based on what is racially possible is easy to justify. In return you have less threat of magic, high levels, and blessings boosting the score out of context. I agree an arbitrary 20 cap is bad.
Even in a world with magi, dragons, and elves there are probobly still limits to what one ca achieve.  A human being shouldnt be able to become as strong as a frost giant..... unless he has a girdle of frost giant strength..... a magical item.

there are incredibly agile gymnasts in the world but spiderman needed a radioactive spider bite to get to where he is, not just a 18 in dex to start
In earlier editions it was always possible to increase stats beyond normal maximums with magic (or a radioactive spider bite) and I suspect that this will still be possible but not on the open-ended scale of 3e.  I for one am VERY pleased with the basic cap.  The idea of 5e is to give characters breadth not super-human attack rolls and those who decide to tank one stat at level 1 will have to use their additional points to give their PCs a better spread of other abilities based, hopefully, on their character concept and not what gives them the highest bonus. 

I'd also be fine with variable level 1 racial caps personally but that's a whole other story.
I am good with the 20 ability cap. I would be all for there being ways to increase it above the maximum, like the belt of giant strength. By leaving the scores open you have the option to let the PC's stats skyrocket.
I really disliked the bimodal ability scores that developed in 4E.  You had PCs with 26 Charisma and 10 Int.  What do these ability scores suggest about this character?  How has she changed over the course of her adventure?  It felt too abstract.  I really prefer the more grounded ability scores of 5e.  It keeps the characters heroic.  Not superheroic.  How far can a level 12 fighter jump?  How far can Aragorn jump?  I would suggest that they ought to be one in the same.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

I really disliked the bimodal ability scores that developed in 4E.  You had PCs with 26 Charisma and 10 Int.  What do these ability scores suggest about this character?  How has she changed over the course of her adventure?  It felt too abstract.  I really prefer the more grounded ability scores of 5e.  It keeps the characters heroic.  Not superheroic.  How far can a level 12 fighter jump?  How far can Aragorn jump?  I would suggest that they ought to be one in the same.



He can't jump as far as he can toss a dwarf.  Or rather he can; he just rolled higher on his d20, most probably because Gimli used his action to grant him advantage.... ;/
I like the ability cap. It encourages putting points in several different stats, resulting in well-rounded characters. It also reduces the disparity between someone who rolled high ability scores and someone who rolled low: they'll both get the same primary stat eventually.
i don't like the cap at 20. a fighter starting with a 17 strength will cap it out at level 12. i'd rather have the cap expand to allow character to pump the same stat all the way to level 20 without hitting a ceiling.

 it could probably be a good case for an optional rule that a DM could pick when he starts a campaign.
I like the idea of a cap. It implies the idea that that is the absolute peak someone can reach
I do really like the idea of having a cap for the abilities.

I know that DnD Next's goal is to get back to a easier/more simple game but am wondering
if we should consider different caps for the different races, the way it has been done before.

Dwarves are usually more resilient, elves more nimble and so on. What about having Cap +1
on specific racial abilities ?

I like the idea of a cap. It implies the idea that that is the absolute peak someone can reach

Its primary purpose is to keep the numbers within a manageable range.

Dwarves are usually more resilient, elves more nimble and so on. What about having Cap +1 on specific racial abilities ?

If you want your dwarf to be "more resilient" you are more than free to spec it out that way.  There's just no arbitrary table preventing anyone else's guy from being just as "resilient", apart from poison immunity being a farily-exclusive dwarf gimmick.

I'd also be fine with variable level 1 racial caps personally but that's a whole other story.



I remember the racial and gender caps in 1st edition. I really liked that. It didn't prevent you from increasing your stats with magic items (tomes, belts, etc). I hope with DnD they will go that way. It was awesome and characters didn't reach unbelievable scores as they do in DD4 (the edition I prefer so far by the way).

In 1st edition, stats were more coherent than they are in DD3 and DD4. But in my experience as a DM, players have quite a difficulty roleplaying their stats. I hope they give different options so we can choose which one to use in our respective campaigns.

I like the idea of a cap. It implies the idea that that is the absolute peak someone can reach

Its primary purpose is to keep the numbers within a manageable range.

Dwarves are usually more resilient, elves more nimble and so on. What about having Cap +1 on specific racial abilities ?

If you want your dwarf to be "more resilient" you are more than free to spec it out that way.  There's just no arbitrary table preventing anyone else's guy from being just as "resilient", apart from poison immunity being a farily-exclusive dwarf gimmick.

I understand that you need to express the designers point o view, that you want to keep it simple. That is fine. However, if I am reading you well, you also imply that apart from getting specific bonus abilities, all the races should be treated as equal, that only the stats schould determine what they are able to do (or not).

I do really have difficulties with seeing a dwarf being as nimble as an elf or a halfling, or any other race as resilient as them. Racial traits help define the races. I do not consider them as gimmicks.

Am I the only one who would like to see some different caps ?

I do really have difficulties with seeing a dwarf being as nimble as an elf or a halfling, or any other race as resilient as them. Racial traits help define the races. I do not consider them as gimmicks.

Am I the only one who would like to see some different caps ?




I am with you on that one. It sure is wierd to imagine a dwarf as nimble as an elf or a halfling as strong as an orc. Stat limits in 1st editions prevented such incoherences. And they did not go to unnatural heights as they do in DD4. The only way was to use magic items (tomes, belts of stength etc...)

Video games broke most of such rules to allow players to play what they want when they want with the stuff they want otherwise they whine. It is sad to see such attitude in a RPG like DnD.

Even in DD4, I limit classes/races options depending on the region where the adventure takes place in the setting we play in and I even limit the class choices depending on races. I explain it to my players using the lore of each races and they understand and accept it.
Personally id prefer if adventurers ability scores would again cap at 18 without any magical aid like in AD&D.

It was setting a limitation where no human could ever be as strong as a Giant unless without the aid of magic to grant him supernatural strenght.

 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Personally id prefer if adventurers ability scores would again cap at 18 without any magical aid like in AD&D.

It was setting a limitation where no human could ever be as strong as a Giant unless without the aid of magic to grant him supernatural strenght.

 

Yes, but I think we would quickly reach this limit with the various ability increases (not even considering starting racial & class bonuses).

The bad being that the player will use the increase on other abilities and we will get a super-whatever with a lot of 18...
Exactly, i'd prefer if ability score increase was more of an horizontal benefit than a vertical one, if there is to be any. D&D rolled 26 years without it and if an option exist to play without it (i think there should be one), it would help reinforce this older core paradigm where stats post Racial capped at 18 and that many older gamers are attached to.

I'd go even further and say I think ability score increase and 20 cap should be optional instead of core.

Rule            Ability Score
Core           3-18
Optional     3-20 +1 /4 levels

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Also remember that the cap of 20 really supports their Bounded Accuracy system, which is kind of what everything is based around. I don't see it changing any time soon. I have a feeling they could have actually decreased the amount of stats you gain as you level, but they kept it so that players could increase other, less used stats.

My two copper.
My two copper.
If a fighter was not limited to 20 Strength, there would be no point to increasing any other stat.  It would remove the freedom to choose, which is a great appeal of the current system.
The metagame is not the game.
The caps are in place to keep a sense of realism. A human with the strength of a giant just doesn't make sense - even in fantasy.

Basically, stats are not just a plus to add to your die, they are there to gauge your character's capabilities, so that when you create an PC or NPC you can picture a personage like in a novel or movie and assign stats accordingly.

If your DM wants to condone power gaming and min/maxing then by all means, remove the cap - remember the rules are meant to be a guideline, its your game.

I think the cap is one of the best ideas in 5e and I am actually disappointed that certain items allow to break the cap.


With a cap of 20 it's much easier to balance monster AC for the Str 20 and the Str 16 melee character than in a party with a Str 26 and a Str 16 melee character

The caps are in place to keep a sense of realism. A human with the strength of a giant just doesn't make sense - even in fantasy.


And yet a Human with a STR 20 is as strong as a Giant. That's why i think the cap is still too high since we can't reduce the Strenght of Giants, the cap should go down to 18.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

The caps are in place to keep a sense of realism. A human with the strength of a giant just doesn't make sense - even in fantasy.


And yet a Human with a STR 20 is as strong as a Giant. That's why i think the cap is still too high since we can't reduce the Strenght of Giants, the cap should go down to 18.



Well yes that is definatelly a problem as well, either the cap needs to be adjusted or the creatures.
I agree, if they're going back to 1e giant strength then they should drop the cap to 18.  It makes more sense to up the giant cap so that the ogre strength starts at peak human (i.e. 20) and build giant strength on top of that (i.e. 21-26)
Here is what I am leaning toward.

Heroes use a slightly above average array: 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9.

Then +1 class.

Then +1 race.

So a maximum possible score at level 1 is 16 for the primary ability.

Then +1 background to a nonprimary ability.



Results include:

16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9
16, 13, 12, 11, 10, 10
15, 15, 12, 11, 10, 9



Then allow abilities to improve at levels 5, 10, 15, 20, so the primary ability possibly reaches 20, at level 20.

Magic could add on top of this, but magical boosts would make any expected ranges for abilities a joke, and DMs should probably avoid magical boosts. Items such as Books, Belt of Giant Strength, and Circlets of Intellect, can provide their effect temporarily, thus keeping the expected Strength and Intelligence within reason.

I hope the designers rethink the stats for the Human race, so it works more smoothly, using the same mechanics as other races. Hopefully the Human racial ability adjustment is +1 any, along with racial features that represent Human desire, aggression, cooperation, and adaptation. Several forumers have suggested excellent features along these lines.
The caps are in place to keep a sense of realism. A human with the strength of a giant just doesn't make sense - even in fantasy.


And yet a Human with a STR 20 is as strong as a Giant. That's why i think the cap is still too high since we can't reduce the Strenght of Giants, the cap should go down to 18.


While I would love the idea of capping it at 18, wouldn't that do wierd things to race/class bonus choices? Say you roll an 18, but your next highest score is a 14. If you put the 18 in intelligence, let's say, then it would pretty much force you to not play a high elf, since you would lose the bonus int. The same with the wizard int bonus. But if you put the 14 there, you can't get 18. 

Just something that jumped out at me. 
My two copper.
With stacking bonuses from race and class, the cap has to be there to retain balance.  Without it, if you don't pick a race that grants a bonus to your primary stat, and choose that stat for your class bonus, you'll always be less effective than someone of a difference race.  With a cap, at least you'll catch up later, so an "optimal" choice is less critical.

Personally, I prefer the 13th Age method, where both race and class grant +2 to a stat, from a list of appropriate choices, but they don't stack.  So an elf fighter would get +2 Str from being a fighter, and either +2 Dex or +2 Wis from being an elf, but an elf rogue might take the +2 Dex from being an elf, then take a secondary option from rogue (e.g. +2 Cha).

"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.

Do I have to remind every one that in earlier editions of D&D there was no ability max and the system worked and I don't like the idea of being told how to play a character or having any kind of maximum  stat! why is wizards completely redesigning something that worked quite well! I can see putting a maximum on a ability score eventually eliminating play-ability! The higher the monsters stats the harder they are to kill with limited character stats!
Do I have to remind every one that in earlier editions of D&D there was no ability max and the system worked and I don't like the idea of being told how to play a character or having any kind of maximum  stat! why is wizards completely redesigning something that worked quite well! I can see putting a maximum on a ability score eventually eliminating play-ability! The higher the monsters stats the harder they are to kill with limited character stats!



I see your point of view and raise you:

Do I have to remind every one that in earlier editions of D&D there were ability maxes and the system worked and I don't like the idea of being told how to play a character or having no kind of maximum  stat! why is wizards completely redesigning something that worked quite well! I can see putting a maximum on a ability score eventually defining bounded accuracy! The higher the PC stats the easier they can kill monsters with a bounded system!

Both are valid points of view but I'm not overly sure they add much to the debate.  I'm hugely in favour of a cap you're hugely not.  I'm hugely in favour of the bounded system and I can see that unbounded bonuses on your stats will strain that system.  I'm not against PCs exceeding the cap by magical means as long as there are limited, unstackable ways to do so.  I'm against them exceeding the cap by their normal level progression.  If they halve or cap attack bonuses exceeding the ability might work without breaking the system.

The caps are in place to keep a sense of realism. A human with the strength of a giant just doesn't make sense - even in fantasy.


And yet a Human with a STR 20 is as strong as a Giant. That's why i think the cap is still too high since we can't reduce the Strenght of Giants, the cap should go down to 18.


While I would love the idea of capping it at 18, wouldn't that do wierd things to race/class bonus choices? Say you roll an 18, but your next highest score is a 14. If you put the 18 in intelligence, let's say, then it would pretty much force you to not play a high elf, since you would lose the bonus int. The same with the wizard int bonus. But if you put the 14 there, you can't get 18. 

Just something that jumped out at me. 

I agree with Jenks and think that we would better adjust the giant's strength.

@ Haldrik - Where did you get these numbers ? We usually roll our abilities. Quite often, we get a character getting a 16 or 17 without racial/class bonuses. Where would this leave us if cap was at 18 ? Or where you proposing no longer rolling for abilities (the rest would then make sense) ?

Now, I am thinking about it, aren't there too many bonuses ? Why are we even getting a class bonus ?

We could then have a cap at 19... and 20 for specific race abilities (i.e. Con for dwarves, Dex for elves). I'd like that. 
Rolling a 3d6 is the problem in the first place. When it generates an 16, 17, or 18, the result is simply too high. And the spread between different heroes too wide.

In 1e, depending on the ability,
• a score of 16 would only grant a +1 ability bonus to the attack roll,
• a 17 a +2,
• and an 18 a +3.

But in 3e,
• a score of 12 grants a +1,
• a 14 a +2,
• a 16 a +3,
• and an 18 a +4.

If the bonuses for these scores could tone down a little, high ability scores would be less disruptive to the game.



Incrementing every 3 abilities seems about right. Hopefully in 5e,
• a score of 13 grants a +1 bonus to the attack roll,
• and a score of 16 +2.

Then superhumanly,
• a score of 19 +3,
• a score of 22 +4,
• and a score of 25 +5.



Moreover, the bonus can apply to AC-skills, to damage, and finally to attack bonus, at separate scores. So each improvement gains a benefit. Not just even scores.

• A score of 11 grants +1 to AC and skill checks.
• A score of 12 grants +1 to damage rolls.
• A score of 13 grants +1 to attack rolls.

• A score of 14 grants +2 to AC and skill checks.
• A score of 15 grants +2 to damage rolls.
• A score of 16 grants +2 to attack rolls.

• A score of 17 grants +3 to AC and skill checks.
• A score of 18 grants +3 to damage rolls.
Then superhumanly,
• a score of 19 grants +3 to attack rolls.

• A score of 20 grants +4 to AC and skill checks.

And so on.
 
Do I have to remind every one that in earlier editions of D&D there was no ability max

I fear your recollection are incorrect sir. AD&D 1st and 2nd edition has maximum ability score defined by Race (usually 18 or less) and the ability score overall was ranging between 1 to 25 max.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I think the cap is brilliant.

1) It is needed for the bounded accuracy system. Otherwise at high levels rogue AC and fighter to-hit make die rolls meeningless.

2) It discourages min-maxxing. 4e made attempts to prevent one-stat-to-rule-them-all character creation, and it never really worked. Classes ranged from "put a 20 in your prime or your crazy" to "its a pretty good idea."
With a real cap you are looking out, if you are thinking ahead it makes it much more sensible to spend your stat points where they will go farther since you will have a 20 there eventually no matter what.

3) It makes sense. In world where epic charecters are all running around with 26s and 28s, an 18 doesn't really seem that special. Setting a number as "the best" makes it clear where you stand. Obviously stats are not everything, as a 40' titan will still be able to do a lot more with his 20 strength than a human with 20 strength can, so the epic nature of super-hero proportions is still there, implemented in other ways.

My fear is that it gets ignored by home games and the game falls apart at high levels when the bounded acuracy system which is built on the assumption of the 20 cap gets bilked by 30+ AC characters running around, but hopefully they will quickly learn their lesson and implement it correctly.
They could always have a module that says if you want to ignore the cap, here are the changes you need to make to bonuses to avoid breaking the system... sure people want above 20 because they want to feel like a super-hero, not because they want loads of extra bonuses. ;/
As a Dungon Master & Player I don't see the need for an ability score cap!
Yes 1st edition stats maxed out at 18 with a maximum strength score of 18/00

2nd edition the abilities were from 1 - 25 with modifier -7 - +14

D&D 3.0 the Ability score table reads: ability 1 - 45 etc... with modifiers from -5 - +17 etc...

D&D 3.5 the ability score table reads 1 - 45 with modifiers from -5 - +17

In D&D 4.0 again the ability score table reads 1 - 33 and so on ... with modifiers  from -5 - +11 and so on ...

And now with D&D next we have a ability score  table with scores from 1 - 21 and so on... and modifiers from -5 - +5 and so on...

so again I ask why do we need a maximum ability score when historically the ability score tables far exceed scores of 20! 

Which allow for higher level campains and do not limit playability! 

If them maximum is enforced what happens to campains beyond level 10? level 20? level 30?
 
As a Dungon Master & Player I don't see the need for an ability score cap!
Yes 1st edition stats maxed out at 18 with a maximum strength score of 18/00

2nd edition the abilities were from 1 - 25 with modifier -7 - +14

D&D 3.0 the Ability score table reads: ability 1 - 45 etc... with modifiers from -5 - +17 etc...

D&D 3.5 the ability score table reads 1 - 45 with modifiers from -5 - +17

In D&D 4.0 again the ability score table reads 1 - 33 and so on ... with modifiers  from -5 - +11 and so on ...

And now with D&D next we have a ability score  table with scores from 1 - 21 and so on... and modifiers from -5 - +5 and so on...

so again I ask why do we need a maximum ability score when historically the ability score tables far exceed scores of 20! 

Which allow for higher level campains and do not limit playability! 

If them maximum is enforced what happens to campains beyond level 10? level 20? level 30?
 



How does an ability score cap not allow for higher level play, and how does it limit playability.
Dude, you may not see the need for an ability cap, but there are reasons for it. Did you know about the concept of Bounded Accuracy, which is something new and will be introduced in D&D Next? Because if you don't know what it is, you need to look it up. Many important design decisions are based on it.
There are other ways of dealing with Bounded Accuracy, aside from putting in a stat cap.  Just off the top of my head:


  • Remove ability modifier to attack rolls

  • Implement diminishing returns so that it takes more to gain each successive bonus

  • Put in a hard cap on attack bonuses


Any one of those would solve this particular issue.

The metagame is not the game.
There are other ways of dealing with Bounded Accuracy, aside from putting in a stat cap.  Just off the top of my head:


  • Remove ability modifier to attack rolls

  • Implement diminishing returns so that it takes more to gain each successive bonus

  • Put in a hard cap on attack bonuses


Any one of those would solve this particular issue.


While those may be solutions, they require a change to the established system that is more significant than the devs are willing to make.

Personally I would like to back to a system where attack bonus and damage bonus increase at different rates (attack bonus increases slower). But I don't think this will happen.

I am fine with stat caps. They make sense (you can only get so strong) and they achieve a goal. Magic can take you above the cap, but that is it.

In fact im thinking about capping starting stats at 18 (20 max after level 1) as a way to discourage min-maxing and, more importantly, a way to reign in player ACs (as well as reducing heavy armors above ringmail 1 AC) which I think are too high and too varied.