Ways to use odd ability score?

ADnD 2ed has its flaws, but IMHO one of its strong points is that every point (and not every second point) you pour into your Strength/Wisdom etc has its meaning. Yes, this leads to complicated ability score tables and the fact that character is defined by a dozens of parameters instead of a few, but as far as I remember since 3ed the feat prerequisites are the only reason to have 13 or 15 in any ability. I remember picking that +1 to Str at 4-th level as another way of saying 'I'll have that Str20 at 8th level'.

Is there a way to make odd-level ability score meaningful in DnD Next? So far I see:


  • Con score (and not modifier) affects the negative hitpoints you need to hit to finally die.

  • feat prerequisites as usual.

  • Str score used for carrying capacity (thx Orzel)


Any ideas on what else can or should be affected? From the top of my mind I can only think of particularly nasty spells (call them 'curses', it may have nothing to do with warlock) with save DC of ability score instead of 10+mod+spellcasting bonus. It may be the way to cast effectively for classes with no spellcasting bonus, for example.

Ideas from comments:


  • derive NADs as mean/maximum of Str/Con, Dex/Int, Cha/Wis, or have 6 separate NADs.

  • CHA score for followers, INT score for crafting, WIS score for sanity

  • ability check of out combat use score instead of roll+mod. 

  • mod=score-10 instead of mod=(score-10)/2

Ability scores as DCs has been tossed around since the beginning, but WotC decided to go in a different direction. I'd prefer using the scores directly in the formulas instead of converting to a bonus and dealing with odd scores, but it will at best be an advanced module, and that is unlikely, IMO.

I'd like to see a module that uses NADs instead of saves, and use a similar pairing as 4e (use average instead of highest, however). Str/Con for Fortitude, Dex/Wis for Reflex, and Int/Cha for Will. The conversion is fairly straight forward (and supports odd numbers), so even if it doesn't make it into an official module, building one shouldn't be too terribly complex.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
Str score is used for carrying.

I am a fan of:
CHA score for followers
INT score for crafting
WIS score for sanity

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!

Str score is used for carrying. I am a fan of: CHA score for followers INT score for crafting WIS score for sanity



my sugestion would be as folows:
the DC's for ability checks should be the  odd numbers 11/13/15/17
And when you take ability checks while not under presure ( out of combat) you automaticly see on check with a dc equal or less then your ability score.
Recently I've been leaning towards using "score - 10" as the modifier for checks (but not for attacks, AC, saves, etc.), as it addresses this problem as well as the issues with a high ability score not having enough of an impact on checks.  (A score of 20 only has a 25% better chance than a score of 10? Seriously?)

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

Str score is used for carrying. I am a fan of: CHA score for followers INT score for crafting WIS score for sanity

my sugestion would be as folows:
the DC's for ability checks should be the  odd numbers 11/13/15/17
And when you take ability checks while not under presure ( out of combat) you automaticly see on check with a dc equal or less then your ability score.

Also a reasonable option.

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

put standard ability array from 6 to 14, average 10(modifiers from -4 to +4) and be done with.

There's definitely a part of me that wishes they'd just cut the knot on this one and just use score for things as the default, even if it means redefining what scores mean. The holding pattern we've been in for two editions and a playtest now, in terms of how ability scores affect things, is a weird accident resulting from moving more and more stuff to operate off of your +X modifier to the extent that your +X modifier - your score minus ten, divided by two, rounded down - is effectively your "real" score, and your score itself only matters for random trinkety things that tend to be minor enough that nobody really chooses to have an odd score just to boost those things (with some minor exceptions.) The fact that the trinkety things exist at all is weird anyway. I'm stronger - but only for the purposes of determining how much I can lug around?

Like, I recognize that we're not designing from the ground up, but if we were, would anyone come up with the current system? If we had a system where you just had one score, and that was what mattered, would anybody suggest, "Hey guys. We should move to a system where we have two scores, one derived from the other. One of these will be presented like it's the main score, the actual representation of a character's abilities, but used for almost nothing. The other will be used for almost everything, and will also be coarser-grained than the first one, so changes in the first one will, half the time, have no effect on the second one. But we'll design almost every game element that modifies the fake score such that it modifies it by a multiple of two, so it'll always have some effect on the real score."
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Str score is used for carrying. I am a fan of: CHA score for followers INT score for crafting WIS score for sanity


I am a fan of this. Add in CON score for HP and DEX score for speed.

I like the idea of certain actions targeting your ability score. Example: Trip v DEX, Push v CON, Taunt v CHA. Some have suggested opposed rolls, I would think using the Ability score assumes you are attempting to avoid the action much like AC assumes you are avoiding the attack. Going with the Ability score as the target DC not only speeds up play by reducing die rolls, it also give use to odd Ability scores by increasing the DC to affect the target.

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.

I have said many times that I think the solution is to get away from the approach used by 3.x and 4E of 'one modifier fits all'.



This forces the same progression onto several different uses - and that is not a good thing.
This also creates 'dead ability score levels' - there is no benefit to increasing an ability score to an odd value and this feels like wasted effort (you can often go eight levels without seeing a change to your ability scores).



I'd rather see something change with each score change.

And this works better with bounded accuracy as well.


Proposal:

Attack bonuses increase every third point (+1 at 13, +2 at 16, +3 at 19).

Damage bonuses increase every point (+1 at 11, +2 at 12, +3 at 13, etc).


This is a better fit with bounded accuracy (which uses damage bonuses rather than accuracy bonuses to reflect improvement).
Although this looks like a damage boost, it is actually not really a boost overall (and is actually a reduction using the current MDD approach) as the increase in damage (3 points at 16, 4 points at 18) is offset by the decrease in accuracy (1 point - or roughly 10% at 16, 2 points or roughly 20% at 18 and 20).  


That leaves the checks  and saves - which can remain at the +2/ ability score improvement they are currently.


The result of this is an approach which is still easy to remember (an advantage over AD&D which, although easily memorized was not systematic), adheres to the bounded accuracy approach of rapidly scaling damage bonuses and slowly scaling accuracy bonuses  - and gives each ability score increase at least a damage improvement so that no increase ever feels wasted.


Carl      
My first move would be to make all skill checks and saves to be d10 + full ability score instead of d20 + modifier.

There should be a much better chance for the 21 str Hill Giant to succeed at a strength check than a 10 strength human commoner.

d10 + 21 (22-31) would be alot different than d10 + 10 (11-20).

d20 + 5 (6-25) vs d20 (1-20) succeeds much less frequently.

Other effects of odd ability scores:
HP at 1st level (class would only add +1 for cleric, monk, +2 for fighter, +3 for barbarian)
Movement (perhaps a chart)
Encumbrance and carrying capacities - double every 4 strength points.
My first move would be to make all skill checks and saves to be d10 + full ability score instead of d20 + modifier.

There should be a much better chance for the 21 str Hill Giant to succeed at a strength check than a 10 strength human commoner.

d10 + 21 (22-31) would be alot different than d10 + 10 (11-20).

d20 + 5 (6-25) vs d20 (1-20) succeeds much less frequently.

Other effects of odd ability scores:
HP at 1st level (class would only add +1 for cleric, monk, +2 for fighter, +3 for barbarian)
Movement (perhaps a chart)
Encumbrance and carrying capacities - double every 4 strength points.



My only objection to changing the die roll for ability checks is that the game uses ability checks and ability saves in very similar ways (including both to avoid the effects of spells) and although there is a distinction to when you use them (checks on your turn, saves on other people's turns) - I think that using a different die for ability checks and ability saves is bad design.


The problem you are trying to fix is real, I just don't like this particular solution.  The only counter solution I've come up with so far (which has different problems) is to double the ability score modifier for ability checks in which you are trained (your training makes you more able to benefit from your natural talent/ advantages).  And perhaps in a prime requisite for your class (fighters, strength checks; wizards, intelligence checks, etc).


This means that a character trying to do something in their classes area of expertise (fighters using strength) or in which they are trained gain a greater benefit from their strength.


I was also considering an approach which (instead) allowed characters to use their ability score as the 'floor' on an ability check for which they are trained (no skill die used).   I.e. a rogue with a Dexterity of 17 and training in stealth can either 'take 17' or roll and add their skill die - but not both.  This isn't quite as abusive as the reviled skill mastery approach - but it also gives a real advantage to the higher ability score in the abilities in which you are trained.



In both of the above approaches, it is likely that the DCs would have to be tweaked a bit.


Carl    

WIS score for sanity


Call of Dragons anyone? D&D needs more psycological horror
My two copper.

Make full use of ability scores for Skills and pure Ability Check rolls.

Example:
A character has Dex 15.
He rolls 1d20+5 for a pure Dex check.
For a skill like stealth he rolls 1d20+5+skill dice.
If he had Dex 9 it would be 1d20-1.

Or, you could use the whole ability score: 1d20+15 in the example above.
But then add 10 to all ability and skill checks.
It'll be the same math, works just as well.
I do prefer the first one, though, since it keeps DCs in the same range as other rolls, more or less, and makes it easier for players to grasp what's an easy and difficult task in general.


Everything else that's combat related retains the usual modifiers.
Ex: Str 16 still gets a +3 TH and damage.

Adding full ability or score-10 to checks makes powergaming high score too much of an inventive. You think anyone would dare run less than 18 on their main ability if it meant +18?

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!

I do not think it is nessecary to create a system to compensate for an odd ability score, it is just a representation that you are one step closer to attaining the next goal. Most prerequesites require an odd ability score. Maybe the feat Skill Mastery could give you your ability score instead of your roll. Maybe ties in contests go to the higher ability score. Maybe more magic items could give a +1 to an Ability score. Other way to benefit odd scores without having to expand the Ability charts.

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.

Most prerequesites require an odd ability score.

Most prerequisites are completely goddamn arbitrary and need to die in a fire.

If certain powers or maneuvers or even criticals altered your opponents Ability scores then it may make for a more interesting combat. Imagine you attack a foe lowering STR by 3 temporarily, now it can't Claw, Claw, Bite! Or lowering a Dragons CON causes it to lose its breath weapon! Or your Fighter loses DEX so now he cannot Parry!

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.

I have said many times that I think the solution is to get away from the approach used by 3.x and 4E of 'one modifier fits all'.



This forces the same progression onto several different uses - and that is not a good thing.
This also creates 'dead ability score levels' - there is no benefit to increasing an ability score to an odd value and this feels like wasted effort (you can often go eight levels without seeing a change to your ability scores).



I'd rather see something change with each score change.

And this works better with bounded accuracy as well.


Proposal:

Attack bonuses increase every third point (+1 at 13, +2 at 16, +3 at 19).

Damage bonuses increase every point (+1 at 11, +2 at 12, +3 at 13, etc).


This is a better fit with bounded accuracy (which uses damage bonuses rather than accuracy bonuses to reflect improvement).
Although this looks like a damage boost, it is actually not really a boost overall (and is actually a reduction using the current MDD approach) as the increase in damage (3 points at 16, 4 points at 18) is offset by the decrease in accuracy (1 point - or roughly 10% at 16, 2 points or roughly 20% at 18 and 20).  


That leaves the checks  and saves - which can remain at the +2/ ability score improvement they are currently.


The result of this is an approach which is still easy to remember (an advantage over AD&D which, although easily memorized was not systematic), adheres to the bounded accuracy approach of rapidly scaling damage bonuses and slowly scaling accuracy bonuses  - and gives each ability score increase at least a damage improvement so that no increase ever feels wasted.


Carl      

What about odd stats other than your attack stat?  Still doesn't look like there's a reason for fighters to have odd INTs or wizards to have odd CHAs.