Ability Scores, Classes, and Distribution

Simple question.

Should creating a good distribution of Class Primary Abilities between the Ability Scores be a priority in D&D Next?

It has be decided that ability scores and ability checks are important fundamental aspects of D&D. Unfortunately, class or choice heavily controls which ability scores are focused on by a PC as the PCs gets the most mechanical benefit with the class' favored abilities.

Once flavor and ability score generation method are factored it, it becomes even more restrictive.

What ends up happening is class choice determines your ability score choices.

In Basic this shouldn't be a problem as it is a more prechosen preprogrammed character generation system. Your have High Str fighters, High Dex rogues, High Int wizards, and High Wis clerics 90% of the time. It is designed for that.

But should Standard and Advanced work like this? With Standard's additional classes and Advanced's additional rules, there is potential to either allow more class/ability variations or give ability scores more classes under their belts.

Should they do this? How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.

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I think that it's something to think about when classes are being put together, but should ultimately be secondary to other concerns. Humans naturally like symmetry and completed patterns. If there are classes whose primary combat function runs off of five of the stats, a part of the brain naturally wonders about a Con-primary class, which is probably part of what contributes to the fascination with the idea.

There are some advantages to making classes run off of lesser-used stats. It increases the chances that different members of the party will be good at different (non-fighting) things, which I think is a positive on the whole. The effect of stats on skill competance is pretty small, but it's something.

I don't think that box-checking should ever be the philosophy used, but I do think that mixing stats up a little can be something that's on the radar, especially when it comes to things like secondary stats.
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I want a multiple attribute system or primary/secondary attribute system for classes and not a mix of both. Attacks, saves, defenses should be available to each class based on the system chosen. But the problem overall is attributes vary on how they affect the game. Since that won't change then standardize the methods on how each class is influenced by them.
I would like suggest a module to add more abilties scores because I wish mixture d20 with other rpg systems.

How avoiding abuses by munchkins? Easy, the others would be in a secondary list, with a separated distribution, but some abilities of both list could be exchanged.

For example:

Main list - Wis, Dex, Str, Con, Int, Char

Second list - Astuteness, Technique, Karma and Courage.

Maybe Astuteness is the main abilitie for warlock class (a homebreed rule), technique for monk or Karma for favored soul. The exchange would allow one of the second goes to the main and one from the main abilities go the second.

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I didn't like box checking either but sometime the holes were nagging. And it wasnt just primary abilities, little support for Secondary abilities caused annoyance as well. It was weird that the system didn't mechanically aid smart warriors, agile clerics, or strong wizards because a second 16 meant you were slow, weak, or squishy.

Also, one thing I LOVED about 4e is between the fighter and the warlord, you could run warriors with an 17+ in any ability score and not loose any mechanical power. Your charming field commander could have 18 Charisma and not suck. You couldn't do that in earlier editions without sacrificing your offense or defense.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

they already tried a secondary ability score list look at the skills and powers book from 2nd editon it failed and wasnt really used. all people really need is commilness so charasima is just leadership and presence and looks are seperate. people really need to research all editions before comming up with stuff that isnt workable. the wheel was already invented so your idea is old and a failure

Simple question.

Should creating a good distribution of Class Primary Abilities between the Ability Scores be a priority in D&D Next?


Short answer: no. Qualification: attributes should serve how things are done in game rather than dictate any aspect of the design. The problem is you start filling in the grid, which is sometimes warranted but should be examined fairly ruthlessly to see if it actually is necessary.

So while I don't think it should seek to create a good distribution of class primary abilities, I don't think it shouldn't either, so long as it's done for the right reasons.

It has be decided that ability scores and ability checks are important fundamental aspects of D&D. Unfortunately, class or choice heavily controls which ability scores are focused on by a PC as the PCs gets the most mechanical benefit with the class' favored abilities.

I don't really see how that's unfortunate. I actually think that reinforces attributes as the most important set of numbers on the character sheet, which is as it should be. Players should focus on attributes and abilities that work with their attributes. I think the thing to do if this is perceived as unfortunate is allow partial and exceptional successes and keep DCs reasonable.
Once flavor and ability score generation method are factored it, it becomes even more restrictive.

Kinda depends on what method is used and how hard the game is, doesn't it?
What ends up happening is class choice determines your ability score choices. In Basic this shouldn't be a problem as it is a more prechosen preprogrammed character generation system. Your have High Str fighters, High Dex rogues, High Int wizards, and High Wis clerics 90% of the time. It is designed for that.

But should Standard and Advanced work like this? With Standard's additional classes and Advanced's additional rules, there is potential to either allow more class/ability variations or give ability scores more classes under their belts.


It's an itneresting idea but consider the importance of attributes in the game. We're told right from the start that the attributes determine everything. The're the first thing we generate for our characters and they're the thing that influences every single check we make. Class is the second major decision we make, and most of our options are influenced by it. So right now attributes influence the actual rolling of checks and classes influence what kind of checks we try.

Uncoupling these things would diminish the importance of either class or attributes in the game. Something's gotta give, so which is it? If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to pick, I'd pick class, but only reluctantly 'cause I like class as a platform for option selection. If attributes got the axe then you run into trouble with making checks in general, and any method of getting better checks for your chosen options is going to be heavilly stressed so if it's not attributes then whatever else is used to enhance check values will be the thing that class strongly coincides with.


Unless you eliminate the choices that lead to the correlation, which would be a shame 'cause options are something that we all actually want.

Should they do this? How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.

Well it depends on what you mean. I thought at first you were on about making sure there was a class that used each attribute for its primary, but now I'm not sure if you're on about just making attributes not figure into checks so much. You could go down the road of making each class use a range of attributes, but that creates a blurring effect on what attributes mean that we experienced in 4e. Depends on how keen you are to deal with that.

As for making a class that "represents" each primary stat possibility... eh. Like I said earlier, it's something you could do but I don't know if it's something that you should do.

How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.
How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

I agree that people using their Constitution scores to aim and damage things always bothered me.
Do they use their immune system ? lol

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How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

In fact, CON is an Ability that is equally important to all classes, as it affects their HP (survivability).

So, Abilities that are more unilateral, in their importance, don't have to have a focused recipient for even greater importance.

How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

In fact, CON is an Ability that is equally important to all classes, as it affects their HP (survivability).

So, Abilities that are more unilateral, in their importance, don't have to have a focused recipient for even greater importance.

That's true, but there comes a point where you're grid-filling again because you have to start finding a use for everything. It's OK that sometimes an attribute just isn't useful, just as it's OK that most folks focus on one or two attributes on their character sheets.

I find the unilateral approach works best in session because I'll ask players to make attribute checks all the time, and the variety of the attributes used highlight the choices made by the characters. As long as you keep things reasonably varied then players feel the consequences of their decisions.


@kadim

What I am referring to is two parts:

1) More Ability Score choices for classes

2) More class choices for ability scores.

Right now in the current playtest, if you wanted to play a smart character, you are only mechanically advantaged to play a wizard. Choosing barbarian, cleric, fighter, monk, or rogue* requires a power hit as you will have to sacrifice one of your high rolls that are normally placed in your class' primary scores into a non-class score. Your nonwizard scholar will either have only above average Intelligence or have the high intelligence and take the power hit. Unless you roll for stats and roll very well.

I prefer every Einstein to not be a wizard or there to be a good reason to go 18 Constitution.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

In fact, CON is an Ability that is equally important to all classes, as it affects their HP (survivability).

So, Abilities that are more unilateral, in their importance, don't have to have a focused recipient for even greater importance.



At the same time, an ability score that is always 14 or 16 seems pretty stupid to me.  Might as well throw it out and give everyone 2 or 3 more hp per level and a +2 to saves for poison.
Drop ability scores from attack rolls.

FREEDOM!! 

Danny

Drop ability scores from attack rolls.

FREEDOM!! 


Double down on the value of ability scores.  No more need to roll for attacks.  Simply use your primary ability score to replace your attack roll.

Fighter strength 20 gets a 20 for every attack roll.  Simple and elegant.

Freedom from the oppression of random rolling.  No need to experience the anxiety that occurs with dice rolling.  Ultimate freedom!!!! 
Double down on the value of ability scores.  No more need to roll for attacks.  Simply use your primary ability score to replace your attack roll.

Fighter strength 20 gets a 20 for every attack roll.  Simple and elegant.

Freedom from the oppression of random rolling.  No need to experience the anxiety that occurs with dice rolling.  Ultimate freedom!!!! 



LOL Taking freedom too far.

Danny



At the same time, an ability score that is always 14 or 16 seems pretty stupid to me.  Might as well throw it out and give everyone 2 or 3 more hp per level and a +2 to saves for poison.



It gives you options and choices.  If every player in the game valued it the exact same, it might be a minor issue, but I don't think that is the case.  Some players may try to get by with a lower con value, some may want to stack it to the max because they greatly fear death.  

It's wonderful to have that option, and I see NOTHING that would be gained by removing it and just assuming all characters have a 14 Con.

If anything, the problem is that the other ability scores are not inticing enough to encourage players to take a lower Con in exchange for them.  If Wis or Int had a more universal appeal there might be a reason to take a lower Con, but I think part of the reason you think everyone takes a 14 or 16 Con is because the other stats DO NOT MATTER AT ALL.  The problem is with the other stats though, not with Con.


At the same time, an ability score that is always 14 or 16 seems pretty stupid to me.  Might as well throw it out and give everyone 2 or 3 more hp per level and a +2 to saves for poison.



It gives you options and choices.  If every player in the game valued it the exact same, it might be a minor issue, but I don't think that is the case.  Some players may try to get by with a lower con value, some may want to stack it to the max because they greatly fear death.  

It's wonderful to have that option, and I see NOTHING that would be gained by removing it and just assuming all characters have a 14 Con.

If anything, the problem is that the other ability scores are not inticing enough to encourage players to take a lower Con in exchange for them.  If Wis or Int had a more universal appeal there might be a reason to take a lower Con, but I think part of the reason you think everyone takes a 14 or 16 Con is because the other stats DO NOT MATTER AT ALL.  The problem is with the other stats though, not with Con.


If Constitution is generally considered the 2nd most valuable ability score, it actually decreases its importance to the game since the value of an ability score depends on its functionality in comparison to other players.  If the distribution of consitution scores is very tight with very little standard deviation, its mechanical advantage is quite small.  
Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that every class has the opportunity to add +1 to a prime ability score or to constitution.  Constitution is setup to be #2. 
My solution would be to eliminate the hp bonus except for 1st level.  At 2nd and each additional level, when rolling for hit points, minimum hp gained is equal to con modifer.
Went back and looked at the pregenerated characters in the playest.  Every single one has a +2 Con modifier.  Just as I suspected.

If everyone used the pre-gens, you could eliminate Constitution in the Playtest and standardize it at +2.

I'll bet the mean constitution is 14.5 with a standard deviation of about 1.  The other ability scores probably have a mean of 12 with a SD of 2



@kadim What I am referring to is two parts: 1) More Ability Score choices for classes 2) More class choices for ability scores.

In principle, I'm with you, and I think that one tends to follow the other.

Right now in the current playtest, if you wanted to play a smart character, you are only mechanically advantaged to play a wizard. Choosing barbarian, cleric, fighter, monk, or rogue* requires a power hit as you will have to sacrifice one of your high rolls that are normally placed in your class' primary scores into a non-class score. Your nonwizard scholar will either have only above average Intelligence or have the high intelligence and take the power hit. Unless you roll for stats and roll very well. I prefer every Einstein to not be a wizard or there to be a good reason to go 18 Constitution.

I really liked some of the int classes in late 3e like the swashbuckler and the factotum. They were conceptually awesome. The dynamic and academic priest feats also worked against the "all divine casters are wise" axiom.

I see a lot of evidence in 3e's development to opening up the applications for stats, and I mostly thought they were pretty cool. I know 4e went the whole hog and decided to let you apply stats more broadly. I like the idea but I thought it went a little too far.


I all ready see space for a dex fighter as well as a str fighter and I think I can see a more str or cha based rogue. Clerics could be more martially inclined if they wish, so there's space for variety there. We have examples of int fighters from previous material and I see no reason why they won't reuse some of those concepts. Con sorta stands out as the one that's not been explored too much, but the barbarian being more con focused is interesting and shows evidence of them trying to explore it more.


In principle I agree that we should explore the possibilities, but I don't think that we should take it upon ourselves to force things to equally be accounted for unless the trend is so heavily in one direction such as everyone has a high wis score no matter what or everyone ignores cha no matter what that it's obvious that the abilities are crazy imbalanced.


And if that exploration takes us in a direction we like, then we keep it. If not, then we need to be honest enough with ourselves to step back and recognise what the limitations are.

What ends up happening is class choice determines your ability score choices.

This sort of thing kind of bugs me, because it increases the disparity between those who can and those who cannot. Fighters have the best attack bonus (with heavy weapons), and they're encouraged to have high strength, so they end up with being so much better than anyone else that nobody even attempts to swing a greatsword.

I would prefer if they did as much as possible to decrease synergy between each class and specific stats. I don't mean making it equally viable to run a Strength- or Dex- or Con- (or even Int- or Wis- or Cha-) based fighter, through some contrivance of adding whatever bonus you feel like to both your attack and damage roll; I mean decreasing the impact of each stat, so that focusing on any one would come at the expense of another. Maybe wisdom affects initiative for everyone, but doesn't appreciably impact class-specific features like divine magic. That sort of thing.

Removing the ability modifier to hit or removing the class bonus to hit would be a good place to start.

The metagame is not the game.

There is a bit of class/ability spread to be seen so that is good.

I'd hate to see DDN try to force the game to incentive an ability score if it is supposed to be all about ability scores. That would be sad. I'd hate for Next to forget all the progress of removing the super glue between ability scores and class. It makes the 6 score array look dumb because your class determines your score so why even have scores.

This is why I love finesse weapons, how rogues have Charisma skill tricks, and barbarians can add Constitution to Armor Class. I hope these and more stay for Standard. And Advanced could go nuts and extend the usage of all ability scores. If they can find another class that can benefit heavily for high values of each score, then hooray.

When i first started this game, I used to wonder why all the settings were in chaos. I came to the assumption that it was because all the kings are former dumb unwise fighters. The wizards live in tower to quarantine themselves for the dumbz.

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Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

they already tried a secondary ability score list look at the skills and powers book from 2nd editon it failed and wasnt really used. all people really need is commilness so charasima is just leadership and presence and looks are seperate. people really need to research all editions before comming up with stuff that isnt workable. the wheel was already invented so your idea is old and a failure

That's not what people are talking about when they say "secondary ability scores". They're talking about ability scores that a character class makes special use of, but which don't power the class's primary actions. For example, Wisdom is a secondary ability score for 3.5 Monks and 3.5 Rangers, who have special uses for it. You're talking about subabilities, which are unrelated. People call them subabilities, not secondary ability scores, because that's the name that Skills and Powers uses for them. Whether subabilities are useful or not is irrelevant, because nobody has mentioned them at all.
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Strength: Barbarian and Fighter
Dexterity: Monk and Rogue
Constitution: Sorcerer and some sort of Gish (like a Hexblade, but with a better name)
Intelligence: Bard and Wizard
Wisdom: Druid and Ranger
Charisma: Cleric and Paladin

What, too much sacred hamburger? 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Spreading things out will create less overlap between characters. If too many characters in the same party rely upon the same stats, then their strengths are similar in exploration/interaction, and thus they step on each others toes. Sure, they can compliment each other and support each other, but they also end up shining less (especially if one is just better at those things than the other, like if you have a high Charisma nobleman fighter in the same party as a Bard).

My suggestions above aren't for "primary" stats, but the stats that all members of that class utilize. All Fighters use strength, even archers, since you need to be strong to string and pull a longbow. All Bards should use intelligence in my opinion, for their spellcasting and the memory of their bardic knowledge. All rangers use Wisdom for their spells (and ranged combat might be suited by using Dex or Wis), and all Paladins use charisma in some fashion.

I've moved a few other things around for my own wants. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

the funny part...build a 14 strength barbarian with a 10 dex and a 10 con...still wreck people because rage is crazy.  It in fact seems to be a goal that you don't need to put the 18 in your main stats in order to be excellent.  That people always do is a psychology thing thats not really ever going to change.  Given the current fighter, and especially given the hinted at fighter, I'd be fine with throwing an 18 in int, wis, or cha and setting my strength to 14 at first level (pre mods).  I'll still be effective in combat and I'll be super effective at other things.  Now doing that does restrict some of my options, mainly weapon choice, if I'm going median strength I am going to want bigger weapons to make up for that 2 point disparity, but that's possible to cover.  You may not be the most power gamed, and most effective fighter build with that 14 strength, but you will still be an effective fighter.  This isn't toally worked out perfectly yet, but it does seem that they are aiming for performance in class related tasks to not depend on having the higest score in a related ability.  Instead they seem to be aiming for effectiveness to hing on median scores in related ability scores...while at the same time keeping the floor and cieling close between the effectiveness of someone with the median scores and someone with the tricked out overpowered scores.
I'd rather classes feel coherent and natural than have them need to bend to fit a certain ability score. As soon as we start trying to "no child left behind" everything in the system, we start getting all sorts of non sensicle, immersion breaking things, and that's just bloat. :P
My two copper.
How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

Thats me in the corner, thats me in the spotlight, losing my Constitution!

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Strength: Fighter and Paladin
Dexterity: Ranger and Rogue
Constitution: Monk and Barbarian
Intelligence: Warlock and Wizard
Wisdom: Druid and Cleric
Charisma: Sorcerer and Bard

And add mental abilities to DC checks for spells, and for physical abilities add con to light armor (monk and barb), dex to medium armor (rog and rang), and str to heavy for martial classes (fighter and pal).

I'd rather classes feel coherent and natural than have them need to bend to fit a certain ability score. As soon as we start trying to "no child left behind" everything in the system, we start getting all sorts of non sensicle, immersion breaking things, and that's just bloat. :P




True. I prefer everthimng in the Basic and Standard game to be natural and coherent.

I'd also prefer not for be class locked into ability preference array like a late 90s early 00's computer RPG video game.

If Ability Scores and Classes are major and fundamental aspects of D&D, then it should allow players and DMs to choose them independently. Right?

D&D next is on the right track though. It is a matter if the train derails.

Currently there are 3 classes that favor Strength (barbarian, fighter, cleric), 3 classes that favor Dexerity (fighter, monk, rogue), 1 for Intelligence (wizards), 2 for Wisdom, cleric, monk) and 1 for Charisma (rogue). Every class likes Constitution but only 1 class (barbarian) really benefits from it. In addition, any weapon user can gain mileage out of Strength or Dexterity. And those who don't wear heavy or medium armor can enough high Dexterity. There is some spread but it is very limiting.

in 2 of the 3 ability adjustment methods, you can't get a starting Intilegence over 15 without being an elf, human, or wizard. You have to start as a stout halfling or human to start with Charisma or 16 or over. Hopefully as more and more races and classes are released, more strong character choices will be available outside of broken humans and stereotypes.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

The problem with doing that is that those primary abilities don't accurately reflect what those characters are doing. 

Monks MIGHT use Constitution to use Ki Abilities (like how Ki Attacks drain Dragon Ball characters' power levels when they use them), but they definitely don't use them for their kicks and punches. 

Yes, Strength and Dexterity might be "over-used" for melee and ranged attacks, even ones empowered by divine or arcane magic, but they make more sense than having Wisdom or Intelligence or something drive those attacks entirely.

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Constituion to me represents prolonged training or endurance, which applies to the monk and barbarian. So they try to out last the brute strength of a fighter or paladin, or the finese of the rogue or ranger.
How much of a priority should distributing ability scores throughout player characters be? And much much flavor be bent in order to do it.


Zero.  There isn't some spirit of Constituion crying in a corner because there isn't a class that uses it primarily.  There's no need to make all Abilities feel special.

Thats me in the corner, thats me in the spotlight, losing my Constitution!


+1 for the REM reference

Constituion to me represents prolonged training or endurance, which applies to the monk and barbarian. So they try to out last the brute strength of a fighter or paladin, or the finese of the rogue or ranger.

That specific application of Constitution is already represented with HP, though. If you have a fighter and a barbarian engaging each other in combat, the one with the most HP is going to be the last one standing. If you have a very high Con, then even if your damage output is a little bit lower, you can still outlast your opponent.

The metagame is not the game.

There is no need to stop at hit points, it just means constituton based classes by their very nature would suffer more damage. That is why constitution can be used for a AC bonus as well for light armor, because that enforces sheer resilance when armor can not compensate, just like dex is evasive for medium and brute strength carries the character through when wearing heavy armor.

But to clarify my examples and comments are expressions on how primary stats can be assigned to classes, while at the same time extend out AC bonus, just like mental class attributes influence spell DC.

  
Given the cap of 20 and the +4/+4 you get from levels I think we should start the mental adjustment of 16 being the new lvl 1 cap instead of 18.
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