Do We Need Ability Score Increases?

Do level based ability score increases serve a purpose?

Yes they slightly scale up your PCs capabilities, but that could be taken care of in other ways or completely removed.

With a cap on stats of 20, ability score increases don't serve much value for differentiating high level PCs as they will all reach that 20 cap.

Ability score increases do not even make that much sense when you get right down do it.  An adventure is already in peak physical and mental health at the start of their career.  How does it make sense to have their ability scores randomly increase?

I would rather see PC advancement through other means and let the dice fall where they may.

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Ability score pops aren't really needed, no.
Honestly, we don't, that said I'd prefer removing the 20 cap rather than nixing by level upgrades.

Who says the character is at peak when they begin? Some farmboy might have decent strength and con when he picks up a shield and starts bashing goblins, but he's not exactly an olympian.
I like both the cap and the ability to increase. Especialy with rol,ing 4d6comeing back.

I roll a 15 str fighter, with a +1 at 1st level a +1 at 4th a +1 at 8th a +1 at 12th and a +1 at 16th
You roll a 20 str fighter, by level 16 I am not under performing you at all

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Do level based ability score increases serve a purpose?


I don't think they do and I'd rather not have them.  I didn't understand why 3e included them.  It just contributed to the gulf between a specialist and a nonspecialist making it harder to set DCs for skills checks all PCs were expected to have a chance to fail at or succeed at.
No, I'm not sure we need ability increases. That only started with 3e, and the versions before that were quite playable. I'd be okay if they weren't used.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

I would prefer just Ability Score Increases to up accuracy, Weapon Attack is fine, but I still think it's too high: a 1st level fighter able to start with +8 to attack.
I would prefer just Ability Score Increases to up accuracy, Weapon Attack is fine, but I still think it's too high: a 1st level fighter able to start with +8 to attack.



I would rather we remove ability score increases but have "skill" affect accuracy.  A level 10 fighter does not need to be stronger than a level 1 fighter to have an increased accuracy.
I can take them or leave them.
I would prefer just Ability Score Increases to up accuracy, Weapon Attack is fine, but I still think it's too high: a 1st level fighter able to start with +8 to attack.



I would rather we remove ability score increases but have "skill" affect accuracy.  A level 10 fighter does not need to be stronger than a level 1 fighter to have an increased accuracy.



So, just BAB/1/2 level?
OR actually implement a weapon skill.
No we don't need ability scores increase.

They can be useful to reach prerequisits you don't meet at 1st level as well as making you slightly better over time but i would prefer no ability scores increases/prerequisits altogheter personally. 

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I like them. It makes sense that my 12 strength farmboy who now has a sword and shield would be able to increase his strength or start reading books and become smarter.
Ability score increases are useful, alongside a stat cap, to prevent sub-optimal starting scores from completely hosing a character.

Left to grow unchecked, they are just a tax that forces you to specialize further in one concept - thus raising the bar and causing your other abilities to be relatively less useful.
The metagame is not the game.
I think the game would be better without "scheduled" ability increases.

However, as becoming stronger, smarter, etc. rather than just more skilled would fit some people's character concepts I think it should still be possible to increase your ability scores (but not outrageously).  I would be happy with these being the ways that you could improve your ability scores:

Boons
Essentially replaces a magic item with something that is now a part of you.  This could be training, a divine blessing, etc..  This idea taken from DMG2 4e.

Feats
D&D Next doesn't exactly have feats right now, but I could see having a class or background offer the option of increasing an ability score by 2 in place of gaining some other ability.
I like the ability score increases because, at least at the moment, they let the other races catch up to the humans, since everyone is capped at 20. Short-lived humans flare early, but the longer-lived races catch up sooner or later. They also mitigate the annoyance of getting an odd number when rolling stats.

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I believe there should be a way to increase ability scores, but it doesn't need to be part of the normal progression. Perhaps some specialties could grant a +2 ability score increase as a feat.
I don't have to have them, but it's one of the aspects of 3rd that I thought was an actual improvement over pre-3rd. Since the first day we started playing D&D people have asked "why don't I get better at something I practice all the time?" There's really no answer other than 'shut up and play'. Even something largely determined by genetics (like Intelligence) can still be fudged at least one full SD through concentrated effort. Other aspects (like strength, constitution, charisma) can be VASTLY improved. Wisdom arguably ONLY improves over time.

There are a couple ways to handle it. Aging effects, and level based bonuses (I'm sure something like feats would work as well, but we don't use anything like that). Personally we use both now. Having played a fair amount of 3rd I can easily see where the potential for abuse comes in, but putting the mechanic into a pre-3rd framework (ESPECIALLY one using 3d6 for attribute generation) prevents most problems.



I agree. I thought the ability increases was one of the best things they did in 3rd as well.


I do think that if people allow it to get out of control then it will, but that's true about everything. I agree that the attribute generation is really important, especially with 2 attribute increases in the playtest instead of 1.


I kind of like the idea that ceilings raise with level too. If the ceilings raise more slowly than you get attributes then it could be an interesting way to make stuff feel more epic if you want it without letting things get out of hand. Course, if you want stuff to feel more epic you can always just give 'em a magic item which is effectively the same thing but has the added advantage of being removable.

While I would like to say they aren't needed, as long as the game contains ability requirements for feats/abilities/spells/what have you higher than level 1, I think they are needed. If the only stat requirements were at level 1? Then we wouldn't need them, no.
My two copper.
I don't mind them but I'd rather they weren't used so that every character ends up with 20 in thier prime stat.  I don't want a bunch of carbon copy characters and points buy with stat boosts could lead to that.  I think minimising the effects of stats on attack rolls might help to mitigate this, possibly divorcing initiative from dexterity, so that saves and skills and concept play the largest role.  Possibly limiting PCs to an increase of 2 in any single stat might shake things up.
I don't have to have them, but it's one of the aspects of 3rd that I thought was an actual improvement over pre-3rd. Since the first day we started playing D&D people have asked "why don't I get better at something I practice all the time?" There's really no answer other than 'shut up and play'.



That is absolutely true. Ability score increases before 3rd edition were almost a taboo for a very unexplained reason. It wasn't as important however, since you needed to have really high Ability Scores in order to get any bonuses. With bounded accuracy and its standard DCs, Ability Score inflation is maybe something that needs to be looked into. 

I don't think ability increases should be part of the standard progression either. Making a Specialty like that sounds about right - though IMHO it should rather be a +1. Then you could combine it with a feat that imitates Mighty Exertion maneuver for STR or something like that. 
Strictly speaking no but people like their candy and 3rd ed, Saga, 4th ed and Pathfinder all use them. I imagine there would be a minor uproar if you took them away. I kind of like the cap at 20 though.

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Ability Increases Should be modular

1) None- No Increases
2) Level- Increases at 4th and 8th level
3) Age- Increase per Age catergory
4) Resource Training- Spend XP, gold and time to increase Ability
5) Point Training- Spend Ability point to increase Ability scores

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I like the boosts, and hope to see them continue.  Boosts with caps would be nice, though, to put a limit on specializing.  Another thing I'd like to see is if instead of "+1 to a stat of your choice" we got something more like additional point buy points, so that increasing that 11 to a 12 is cheaper than increasing your 19 to a 20. 


I don't mind them but I'd rather they weren't used so that every character ends up with 20 in thier prime stat.  I don't want a bunch of carbon copy characters and points buy with stat boosts could lead to that.


Eh, I don't think so.  The game includes enough mechanical ways of making characters distinct, even at this early stage, that ability scores just aren't that big of a deal in making characters distinct anymore.
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Yes, we need ability score increases. We need increases to everything to keep the game fun.
Here is a list of things that should increase when we level-up. Just one increase in 1 area per level.

1 hit die or half the maximum die result per level increase to hit points every level
damage should be static 1d12 damage should always be 1d12 damage but let the multiple actions make up for the static damage
range of projectile or spell should remain static

1st level ability score+1
2nd level skill+1
3rd level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

4th level ability score+1
5th level skill+1
6th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

7th level ability score+1
8th level skill+1
9th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

10th level 1 additional main/standard action and +1 square or +5ft. spell area damage
11th level 1 additional off-hand/minor action
12th level 1 additional reaction

13th level ability score+1
14th level skill+1
15th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

16th level ability score+1
17th level skill+1
18th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

19th level ability score+1
20th level skill+1
21st level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

22nd level 1 additional main/standard action and +1 square or +5ft. spell area damage
23rd level 1 additional off-hand/minor action
24th level 1 additional reaction

25th level ability score+1
26th level skill+1
27th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

28th level ability score+1
29th level skill+1
30th level 1 additional power(maneuver/skill/prayer/spell)

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Mathmatically, no they aren't really needed.

However, thematicly I like the idea that swinging a sword over several months (or years), or exercising your mental capacity, or because of adventuring you become better at noticing the world around you giving you increases over time.

I also do like the ability caps as well. It works at the mathmatic level so it's easier to balance around, but it does also feel like the races as they are now have a similar potential. This also makes exceptional strength of giants or other creatures exactly that, exceptional. A 25 Strength doesn't seem that big a deal if anyone can get it (outside of magic).

I also do like the ability caps as well. It works at the mathmatic level so it's easier to balance around, but it does also feel like the races as they are now have a similar potential. This also makes exceptional strength of giants or other creatures exactly that, exceptional. A 25 Strength doesn't seem that big a deal if anyone can get it (outside of magic).



I like the ability caps too.
20 for humanoid.
and up to 30 for beast and or magic enhancement of humanoids
I don't mind them but I'd rather they weren't used so that every character ends up with 20 in thier prime stat.  I don't want a bunch of carbon copy characters and points buy with stat boosts could lead to that.


Eh, I don't think so.  The game includes enough mechanical ways of making characters distinct, even at this early stage, that ability scores just aren't that big of a deal in making characters distinct anymore.



Yeah sorry, I meant carbon copy stats rather than characters.  I think attaching saving throws to all 6 abilities could mitigate against this although even then, they need to work harder at modifying saves to spread the load so that there is less of a hierarchy.
I think ability score increase are a very bad idea.  They make the difference between a primary stat and a non-primary stat grow over the course of the game.  This is poisonous for skill checks.  Consider something like Stealth - the DCs have to take into consideration Rogues, with Dex primary, and will probably be tought enough that Rogues can't autopass stealth checks.  That makes stealth further out of reach of non-Dex classes.  Without stat bumps the Dex difference between a Rogue and a non-Rogue will be lower, making it easier to make them stealthy characters.
Ability Increases Should be modular
1) None- No Increases
2) Level- Increases at 4th and 8th level
3) Age- Increase per Age catergory
4) Resource Training- Spend XP, gold and time to increase Ability
5) Point Training- Spend Ability point to increase Ability scores

+1, although I would add allowing specialties to increate ability scores as well. Maybe make it called "Core Training" where you pick two abilities to raise 1 point, or one ability gets +2.

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I think that while they aren't strictly needed, it's important to be wary of the extent to which you're thinning out the game's reward schedule. The game doesn't need to be a constant stream of getting stuff, but some of that is important. Next may already be devaluing gold as a reward element; removing other rewards is something that there needs to be some caution about.
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I think that while they aren't strictly needed, it's important to be wary of the extent to which you're thinning out the game's reward schedule. The game doesn't need to be a constant stream of getting stuff, but some of that is important. Next may already be devaluing gold as a reward element; removing other rewards is something that there needs to be some caution about.

This.

And because of bounded accuracy, we do not need as many bonuses. Each '+' is impactful. Just a point or two across the lifespan of the character is a big deal.

An adventure is already in peak physical and mental health at the start of their career.

I'm not really sure why you'd make that assumption.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

I think ability score increase are a very bad idea.  They make the difference between a primary stat and a non-primary stat grow over the course of the game.  This is poisonous for skill checks.  Consider something like Stealth - the DCs have to take into consideration Rogues, with Dex primary, and will probably be tought enough that Rogues can't autopass stealth checks.  That makes stealth further out of reach of non-Dex classes.  Without stat bumps the Dex difference between a Rogue and a non-Rogue will be lower, making it easier to make them stealthy characters.

Note that you currently get a +1 to two different stats. If you want Dex, you can put all your "extra" points into it, regardless of class, the same with any other ability. I really like how they do that. It encourages characters to diversify, maybe even overcoming weaknesses, rather than merely picking a stat and pumping it--something I hated about 3e.

I'm also a fan of the cap. I could never accept the uncapped stats of 3e/4e, with no actual in-world explanation. In 3e, for example, the only way to interpret the numbers was to say that 23 was maximum potential for a "normal" human, while once you went epic you were basically a demi-god with no maximum. 18 got downgraded to being close to "entry level" for adventurers, rather than representing what it had always previously represented: maximum human potential.



I prefer them to other increases (like attack bonus) actually. Makes my character feel mine and not the class's. I feel like you could completely get rid of the the level advancement to skills and attack bonus, and allow attribute bonuses to be the only way to get that type of progression.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

An adventure is already in peak physical and mental health at the start of their career.

I'm not really sure why you'd make that assumption.


True... there are even some who refer to 1st level characters as "mooks".
Do level based ability score increases serve a purpose?



Yes.  Fun and a sense of advancement, as well as others. 
I don't have to have them, but it's one of the aspects of 3rd that I thought was an actual improvement over pre-3rd. Since the first day we started playing D&D people have asked "why don't I get better at something I practice all the time?" There's really no answer other than 'shut up and play'. Even something largely determined by genetics (like Intelligence) can still be fudged at least one full SD through concentrated effort. Other aspects (like strength, constitution, charisma) can be VASTLY improved. Wisdom arguably ONLY improves over time.

There are a couple ways to handle it. Aging effects, and level based bonuses (I'm sure something like feats would work as well, but we don't use anything like that). Personally we use both now. Having played a fair amount of 3rd I can easily see where the potential for abuse comes in, but putting the mechanic into a pre-3rd framework (ESPECIALLY one using 3d6 for attribute generation) prevents most problems.



The problem is that level is a terrible proxy for what it takes to increase a stat.  For starters, my last campaign went from level 1 - 24 in about 4-5 months of game time.  Sure you can build muscle mass over time, but doubling your multiplier in 4 months?  Not wthout chemical help.  It makes even less sense for something like intelligence or wisdom - sure insofar as D&D intelligence has more to do with knowledge and memory capacity than with what we usually mean by the term, it is theoretically increasable, but that much in that little time?  In the end I couldn't take it anymore and created some supernatural in-game reason why the players were getting so powerful so quickly.  Other games take place over longer periods, so it's less of a problem, but still.  Then there's the fact that a fighter who spends the entire first three levels doing nothing but hacking goblins can decide to become smarter.    Granted he wouldn't, because intelligence is a useless stat to anyone but a wizard right now, but not the point. I'm not even sure hacking goblins should have an appreciable effect on the strength of a character that was already modestly strong (sure a weakling is going to build some muscle from swinging that heavy thing around, but someone with an 18?).  It makes a lot more sense to tie it into a training regimen during down time, balancing it out against treasure.  If you're going to have it at all.

Increases with a low cap are a good way of evening out good and bad rolls, but there are other things to tie the increases to.  That and I think rolling for stats is a terrible idea, but I recognize that it has a place as an option for tables that disagree with me.   
The problem with the "+1 to two" model is that it regresses towards every score being even.
Popping a +1 into an existing even isn't going to actually mean anything useful for at least four more levels, thus it's generally the better idea to put pops into any odd value, regardless of how important it is to the build.
I would rather have "skills" improve with experience than have ability score increases.  You could have combat ability scale with level (which it currently does), but also have other traits related to ability scores increase with level.  This would allow for a cleaner progression without necessariliy widening the gap between players that increased ability scores causes.
The problem with the "+1 to two" model is that it regresses towards every score being even.
Popping a +1 into an existing even isn't going to actually mean anything useful for at least four more levels, thus it's generally the better idea to put pops into any odd value, regardless of how important it is to the build.

I have 2 issues with this:

1) People overly focused on instant gratification over long-term benefits should not be a primary concern.

2) Were "+1 to two" the beginning and end of stat bumps, you may have a point. But thats not the only area during character creation where you are picking up a +1 bump. So in combination you have more flexibility to get where you want to go.