I've always been a home-brewer when it came to D&D and I've toyed with several house rules to alter D&D core rules to my tastes.
However, there is something that has always been that itch in my back that I can't reach to scratch.
And it's the Ability Score system, more precisely something about the Ability Scores system.
It's nothing game-breaking, and the system as it is has worked well for me since I started playing 3ed.
But it has a slight "flaw" that has always bugged me, and I've tried to improved it many times with no satisfactory success.
Odd numbers are completely useless!
You raise an Ability from 14 to 15, or from 12 to 13, and get... nothing! Absolutely nothing!
The very best you could get from an odd Ability Score was meeting some pre-requisite for a feat, such as Dodge or Two-Weapon Fighting.
But that's hardly satisfatory for a player gaining an Ability Point or spending their points at character creation.
It feels more like "oh well, I have to waste an Ability point here and put this 15 on Dex instead of 14 just to get Two-Weapon Fighting"... where raising an Ability Score should be something like "Wow! Great! I had 14 Dex and now I have 15!!!!!!!! Hell yeah!"
The unified Score/Modifier system of 3ed was a great improvement from the random modifiers from AD&D, no doubt, but it still left half of the possible Ability values practicaly useless.
And it seems 5ed is maintaining the exact same system, which as I said is not bad, but I'd love to see some improvement.
When first I read that 5ed would be more "Ability Score-focused" I hoped they had finally found a solution to that, or that Ability Scores would now perhaps work entirely different when adjusting rolls, or maybe a mix of AD&D and 3ed; but it seems the 3ed system remains intact here.
Has anyone ever toyed with house rules to work around that?
Come up with a system that could make every Ability point really count?
If so, please share with us. And who knows? Perhaps it could even lend the developers of 5ed some fresh ideas.
Here's what I've already tried (and none of that pleased me):
* Every point gives +1/-1
So a 15 would give you +5, where an 11 would give +1 and a 9 -1.
It removes the dead weight in ability scores, but...
The problem here is obvious. If basic Scores go up to 18, you could easily have a +8 which would be way too much.
* So make 15 the new 18
The "human top" number would be 15 (+5 is more reasonable than +8 already) instead of 18.
Otherwise it works like the system above. Every point gives +1/-1.
Monster abilities would have to be adjusted as well. Say, a giant's Str of 36 would have to be scale to a 23 or 25.
The problem here, to me, is that 18 has always been a magic number in D&D since time immemorial! And as an D&D player/DM of long time, losing the magical 18 as the high point of reference would simply make the game not feel like D&D somehow.
* Divide bonuses between odd and even numbers.
Say for example, Str confers a bonus to DMG at values 11, 13, 15, etc.
And a bonus to TH at values 12, 14, 16, 18, etc.
It keeps the balance of numerical values already in the game, but it's a "meh" solution at best, not really worthy the trouble of adapting the rules just for that.
* AD&D 2nd edition's Proficiency system made full use of Ability Scores.
Each point you had in an Ability counted for the Proficiency check, but it was too simple and limited a system (and kinda weird as it was a roll-under system).
I've thought about mixing that up with some general 3ed rules but also came up with nothing satisfactory.
So has anyone else felt that itch and strugled with coming up with a solution?