Why do we need scores if we have modifiers?

(As i was typing the subject of this thread the answer hit me, but I may as well ask this anyway because I might be wrong).


Hi!

I'm new to both D&D and these forums, so this will likely come across as the question of a novice.  I've been studying the rules for D&D Next for several weeks, now.  On wednesday 27th my group had its first game under these rules with freshly rolled PCs and one of the players raised this point in frustration; if all the rolls for skill check or combat are d20 + ability modifier, why did we need to make a note of our ability score?  I had no idea what to tell him.  If there was something in the rules that called for your score instead of your modifier then I've somehow overlooked it completely.

But it has, just now, occurred to me that the DM might want to temporarily want to 'buff' a player's base ability score temporarily in order to affect the modifier.

But then, having typed that, why wouldn't the DM simply say "you have gained a +/-2 (or whatever) bonus/penalty to your modifier that will last X minutes"?

So that puts me back to square 1.

After you roll your abilities to determine modifiers (adding any you get from your class or race) then for what purpose do you still need to know the original dice score?



Thanks in advance
It's mostly a hold over from previous editions where odd ability scores were used as feat prerequisites and the like.
Just off the top of my head, there are the stat bumps (+1 to two different ability scores) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th.  There MAY be other places where odd numbered modifiers to abilities come in.  And I know in previous editions there have been prerequisites for feats and prestige classes that required specifi number or higher and were almost always odd numbers.
There are two possible responses to this. 

You're right! That 18 strength serves NO purpose but adding more math to figure out a +4 bonus. In fact, Mutants and Masterminds (based on the 3E Open Game License) already evolved to do away with stats, and instead just have the bonus. 

You're wrong! Although it's only been hinted at, there is the beginning framework of making your stats more interesting. Some rare instances:



  • When dying, your CON factors into the point at which you count as dead.

  • Barbarians have the Primal Might class feature, which lets them use their Strength score instead of a Strength check or Strength saving throw. You could imagine something similar for, say, a Bard using their Intelligence score instead of their check result on Lore. 

  • If we're going to have ths 18 strength, why not do more with it? Why not have a Meta-modifier using the tens digit of the score? So a 9 strength would be +0, a 19 strength would be +1, and a 20 strength would be +2. Useful for epic level things to separate the pros from the wimps. 

  • Or what about multiples of 5? With bounded accuracy, there's much less fear of the epic skill bloat of 3E. So you could have a module where, instead of 4 skills, you get a number of skills equal to 2 + (Int/5, rounded down.) So a 9 intelligence would get you 3 skills (below average), 10 intelligence would get you 4 skills (average), 15 intelligence would get you 5 skills (above average) and 20 intelligence would get you 6 skills (genius level.) Ooooh, 2 extra skills for a 20 intelligence, that's soooOOOOOooooOOOOooo broken! (sarcasm.) 


I'd love to see more examples like the ones we already have pop up. It's a way for WotC to extract the exact number they need for the right situation. 
It's mostly a hold over from previous editions where odd ability scores were used as feat prerequisites and the like.

There MAY be other places where odd numbered modifiers to abilities come in.  And I know in previous editions there have been prerequisites for feats and prestige classes that required specifi number or higher and were almost always odd numbers.

Just for clarity (and I can't believe I'm asking this) we're talking about odd numbers, right?  like in odds and evens?  Not 'i only drink the odd drop of sherry before bed''?

If the former then do you think you could possibly quote these to me (or just point me to the right PDF and the page number).

Just off the top of my head, there are the stat bumps (+1 to two different ability scores) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th.

Now that would be extremely useful to know, but I've missed this completely if it's in the playtest package.

thanks :D
It's mostly a holdover from earlier editions of the game, which used rolling 3d6 as the traditional method of stat generation. The stats themselves are not terribly important except in a few corner cases, usually you only need to worry about the modifier. But as you'll notice if you hang around these forums long, D&D fans often have visceral negative reactions to breaking tradition (I'll admit I'm no exception). The ability scores have been around from the beginning, so even though they've largely lost their purpose at this point, changing it would doubtlessly be met with cries of "doesn't feel like D&D"
There are two possible responses to this. 

You're right!
...
You're wrong!

this made me laugh, thanks :D

Although it's only been hinted at, there is the beginning framework of making your stats more interesting. Some rare instances:



  • When dying, your CON factors into the point at which you count as dead.

  • Barbarians have the Primal Might class feature, which lets them use their Strength score instead of a Strength check or Strength saving throw. You could imagine something similar for, say, a Bard using their Intelligence score instead of their check result on Lore.

  • If we're going to have ths 18 strength, why not do more with it? Why not have a Meta-modifier using the tens digit of the score? So a 9 strength would be +0, a 19 strength would be +1, and a 20 strength would be +2. Useful for epic level things to separate the pros from the wimps.

  • Or what about multiples of 5? With bounded accuracy, there's much less fear of the epic skill bloat of 3E. So you could have a module where, instead of 4 skills, you get a number of skills equal to 2 + (Int/5, rounded down.) So a 9 intelligence would get you 3 skills (below average), 10 intelligence would get you 4 skills (average), 15 intelligence would get you 5 skills (above average) and 20 intelligence would get you 6 skills (genius level.) Ooooh, 2 extra skills for a 20 intelligence, that's soooOOOOOooooOOOOooo broken! (sarcasm.)



i said I was new to this, didn't I?  I think you lost me around the word "Meta-modifier" :P  You can't really ask "Why not have a Meta-Modifier?" Until somebody says, "You can't have a meta-modifier" to begin with, at which point i'll say "What the hell is a Meta-modifier?"  :P

I'd love to see more examples like the ones we already have pop up. It's a way for WotC to extract the exact number they need for the right situation.

I'd like to see some as well.

I don't think these books are well written for a novice player like myself.

Actually, I've found I've always been quite good at simplifying certain things into easily digestible language for people, provided it can be adequately explained to me to begin with.  If WotC ever wanted to make a "D&D Next: For Dummies" then I'd like them to know I am available.
I kind of like the way DragonAge RPG does away with scores and just uses bonuses.   I also like how players roll for bonuses for all of the abilities in that game too.  They have to roll them in order and then they can switch two around to alter their character slightly.   Then, race and Class add to relevant bonus too.

Determining Abilities








































































3d6


Roll



StartingAbility



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–1






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7











8











9






1






10






1






11






1






12






2






13






2






14






2






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3






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It's not like you can't do that in D&D. "Play where they lay" is pretty common, especially among fans of older editions, and switchinf two scores is easi. After tha it would be pretty simple to set up tables so you can roll to randomly determine race, class, background, and specialty. I can't stand having such little control over my own character, but if that's fun for you, more power to you.
Well that doesn't seem all that dissimilar to the method in D&Dnext;

(Although this brings up a whole other issue; how do you add the sum of 3d5 and get 30?)

Somebody earlier mentioned that it might be possible to add to scores as you level up but, from the the racial and class bonuses as they are you probably couldn't have a base ability score of more about 20 or 21. 

So, unless I've missed it completely (and I wouldn't rule that out), there must be something yet to come similar to what Daxarth said.
You can't get an ability score above 20 at all. I forget where it is exactly, but there's actually a hard cap on ability scores, they cannot go above 20. At least not naturally - magic items can boost you above 20, but your character's actual score is in fact capped. And while it would be great if they added more things that care about ability scores and not just bonuses, there's not really any reason to assume there will be. Like I said, the reason ability scores are 3-20 is simply because it was that way in every previous edition of the game. It's a dumb sacred cow, but WotC is too gunshy about breaking with tradition to change something as well established as the ability score/ability modifier mechanic.
I'm not disputing whether that's a good or bad thing, it just seems a little odd that they've listed ability scores all the way to 30. I did read the part where it said that powerful monsters and godlike NPCs could have scores up to 30, but I didn't know if there were circumstances where it could apply to players.

(As I said; I'm practically a novice, so my experience in previous editions is limited).
To the question asked by the OP: we would need scores if they were defenses. This makes total sense with the concept of bounded accuracy and would provide spellcasters and the like a simple way to target a specific ability.

Speaking of hold overs from previous editions, the attack bonus from modifiers is just getting old and it is really fun seeing the developpers trying absolutely to fit this into their bounded accuracy. I just ask a simple question, but how I am supposed to give my players a belt of giant strength if it turns automaticaly anybody into a lvl 20 fighter in term of accuracy, in my mind - and in the playtest's Bestiary - Giants aren't really reknown for their accuracy.
To the question asked by the OP: we would need scores if they were defenses. This makes total sense with the concept of bounded accuracy and would provide spellcasters and the like a simple way to target a specific ability.

ah, the deeper I get the dumber I feel...  In what sense would these stats become defenses and why would the original scores be used over the modifiers in such a situation?

And what does "bounded accuracy" mean?
To the question asked by the OP: we would need scores if they were defenses. This makes total sense with the concept of bounded accuracy and would provide spellcasters and the like a simple way to target a specific ability.

ah, the deeper I get the dumber I feel...  In what sense would these stats become defenses and why would the original scores be used over the modifiers in such a situation?

And what does "bounded accuracy" mean?



The concept of bounded accuracy is that from lvl 1 to lvl 20 a character isn't progressing much in term of AC and overall defenses, in numbers. A pretty solid defense at level 1 can be as high as 18, and at lvl 20 maybe 20-22 max (there are +3 AC magic armors so...).
Take a look at the Bestiary too, there are high level monsters but they don't automaticaly get high level defenses. Therefore, characters don't have to progress much in accurary for it to be meaningfull. And at level 10, you can still fight goblins from level 1, but it would be in masses.

To be clear, with the way attacks and spells works by know, it would demands very less work to use the stats as bonus defenses. Actually, the spells more or less already do that with the save system.


In the packet rules, you use your characters str. number to determine how much you can carry. Your str. number also determines how far you can jump and your con. score determines when you die the big death. In past editions, monster and spells and such could drain your con or str or int or whatever and screw with your modifiers. Then there are magic items that can raise them. Most of this has already been stated. Other than that, the actual score is not used much during the game. I write my own character sheets up when I create characters. The stats are usually on another piece of paper and their attacks and skills (the stuff used very often) are on the top front page.
To the question asked by the OP: we would need scores if they were defenses. This makes total sense with the concept of bounded accuracy and would provide spellcasters and the like a simple way to target a specific ability.

ah, the deeper I get the dumber I feel...  In what sense would these stats become defenses and why would the original scores be used over the modifiers in such a situation?

And what does "bounded accuracy" mean?



he wame suggesting that one way to make ability scores more relevant (like in a future update) would be to use them as target numbers to hit for certain special attacks, just like AC works now for normal attacks. So, for example, they could make a spell that targets Wisdom. You would make a magical attack, and if the result is equal to or higher than the target's Wisdom score, the spell hits and the effect goes off. The advantage to using the ability score as the target number rather than the modifier is that ability scores are generally in a similar range to AC (at least, they're in the ballpark - closer to it than the modifier would be, at any rate.) 4th edition used a similar concept, they were often called non-AC-defenses.

As for bounded accuracy, the concept only really means anything in the context of how older editions handled accuracy. you'll notice that in the current playtest, certain classes get a bonus to attack rolls that increases with the character's level. In earlier editions of the game, these attack bonuses increased at a MUCH faster rate. As such, monsters that were an appropriate challenge for a low level character would rapidly become useless as the character gained levels and their attack bonus increased to the point where they would never miss those monsters. Similarly, monsters designed to be an appropriate challenge for higher level characters would have very high AC to compensate, and would therefore be near impossible for lower level PCs to hit. Normally this wasn't too big of a deal because the PCs would usually be fighting monsters appropriate to their level, but it could cause problems if the DM wanted to set up an encounter with a swarm of weak monsters or a single high level boss monster. It was workable, but it kind of limited encounter building options.

The same issue also applied to skills (which were formerly a flat bonus to trained checks that increased with your level, rather than a bonus die) causing an escalation of check DCs. A locked door may have been an obstacle for a low level party, but after a few levels that door had better be made of magically reinforced mithril with a dwarven-made puzzle lock with a dozen traps and failsafes or it wouldnt make the party bat an eyelash. (i am exaggerating for dramatic effect, but you get the idea.) Bounded accuracy is this edition's attempt to address that issue. By significantly flattening the system math, monster ACs and check DCs can remain more or less static, and getting bonuses to attacks and checks mean you actually get measurably better, instead of just keeping up with the expected baseline for your level in a weird bonus vs. target number arms race. In short, they "bound" accuracy.

Speaking of hold overs from previous editions, the attack bonus from modifiers is just getting old and it is really fun seeing the developpers trying absolutely to fit this into their bounded accuracy. I just ask a simple question, but how I am supposed to give my players a belt of giant strength if it turns automaticaly anybody into a lvl 20 fighter in term of accuracy, in my mind - and in the playtest's Bestiary - Giants aren't really reknown for their accuracy.



That's because this edition is still doing the nonsensical thing: using Strength bonus for attack rolls. It should be Dex that determines accuracy (and Strength that determines damage). The problem is, your ability bonus to damage gets less and less important as you gain deadly strike dice, so the value of Strength would greatly diminish. Unlike Dex, Str doesn't add to AC, is used far less often for saving throws, is used for far fewer ability/skill checks, and is just far less useful overall. Of course, as it is now a person can just use a finesse or ranged weapon and pretty much ignore Str altogether...  
(As i was typing the subject of this thread the answer hit me, but I may as well ask this anyway because I might be wrong).


Hi!

I'm new to both D&D and these forums, so this will likely come across as the question of a novice.  I've been studying the rules for D&D Next for several weeks, now.  On wednesday 27th my group had its first game under these rules with freshly rolled PCs and one of the players raised this point in frustration; if all the rolls for skill check or combat are d20 + ability modifier, why did we need to make a note of our ability score?  I had no idea what to tell him.  If there was something in the rules that called for your score instead of your modifier then I've somehow overlooked it completely.

But it has, just now, occurred to me that the DM might want to temporarily want to 'buff' a player's base ability score temporarily in order to affect the modifier.

But then, having typed that, why wouldn't the DM simply say "you have gained a +/-2 (or whatever) bonus/penalty to your modifier that will last X minutes"?

So that puts me back to square 1.

After you roll your abilities to determine modifiers (adding any you get from your class or race) then for what purpose do you still need to know the original dice score?



Thanks in advance

The reason for scores, instead of bonuses, is the same reason you have an appendix.

To the question asked by the OP: we would need scores if they were defenses. This makes total sense with the concept of bounded accuracy and would provide spellcasters and the like a simple way to target a specific ability.

ah, the deeper I get the dumber I feel...  In what sense would these stats become defenses and why would the original scores be used over the modifiers in such a situation?

And what does "bounded accuracy" mean?



he wame suggesting that one way to make ability scores more relevant (like in a future update) would be to use them as target numbers to hit for certain special attacks, just like AC works now for normal attacks. So, for example, they could make a spell that targets Wisdom. You would make a magical attack, and if the result is equal to or higher than the target's Wisdom score, the spell hits and the effect goes off. The advantage to using the ability score as the target number rather than the modifier is that ability scores are generally in a similar range to AC (at least, they're in the ballpark - closer to it than the modifier would be, at any rate.) 4th edition used a similar concept, they were often called non-AC-defenses.

As for bounded accuracy, the concept only really means anything in the context of how older editions handled accuracy. you'll notice that in the current playtest, certain classes get a bonus to attack rolls that increases with the character's level. In earlier editions of the game, these attack bonuses increased at a MUCH faster rate. As such, monsters that were an appropriate challenge for a low level character would rapidly become useless as the character gained levels and their attack bonus increased to the point where they would never miss those monsters. Similarly, monsters designed to be an appropriate challenge for higher level characters would have very high AC to compensate, and would therefore be near impossible for lower level PCs to hit. Normally this wasn't too big of a deal because the PCs would usually be fighting monsters appropriate to their level, but it could cause problems if the DM wanted to set up an encounter with a swarm of weak monsters or a single high level boss monster. It was workable, but it kind of limited encounter building options.

The same issue also applied to skills (which were formerly a flat bonus to trained checks that increased with your level, rather than a bonus die) causing an escalation of check DCs. A locked door may have been an obstacle for a low level party, but after a few levels that door had better be made of magically reinforced mithril with a dwarven-made puzzle lock with a dozen traps and failsafes or it wouldnt make the party bat an eyelash. (i am exaggerating for dramatic effect, but you get the idea.) Bounded accuracy is this edition's attempt to address that issue. By significantly flattening the system math, monster ACs and check DCs can remain more or less static, and getting bonuses to attacks and checks mean you actually get measurably better, instead of just keeping up with the expected baseline for your level in a weird bonus vs. target number arms race. In short, they "bound" accuracy.




This is another realm where I think Mutants & Masterminds got it right. Superheroes are an even better venue to see the problems of ability scores. On one hand, the Hulk should be able to throw trucks with his billion strength. On the other hand, an attack bonus from a billion strength means you may as well ignore dice entirely, since you'll always succeed. Instead, they separated it out into "strength" and "supernatural strength." I think THIS is what a Giant's Belt should be doing. It doesn't add to your strength, since even breaking 20 is broken. Instead, it lets you say that, for the purposes of grappling, carrying capacity, etc, you count as two size categories larger. So you can lift boulders, but you still have a meaningful dice roll when you try to throw a punch. 

Alternatively, Fighters should have pretty awesome extraordinary abilities that are out of combat usages of their ability and skill sets.  They should be able to move great mighty rocks, or jump really high when unburdened with armour.  At 11+ levels, they should be jumping to the moon or roping mountains together. 

There is no reason why the Fighter, if it's a master of physical prowess, shouldn't be able to do these things.

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(As i was typing the subject of this thread the answer hit me, but I may as well ask this anyway because I might be wrong).


Hi!

I'm new to both D&D and these forums, so this will likely come across as the question of a novice.  I've been studying the rules for D&D Next for several weeks, now.  On wednesday 27th my group had its first game under these rules with freshly rolled PCs and one of the players raised this point in frustration; if all the rolls for skill check or combat are d20 + ability modifier, why did we need to make a note of our ability score?  I had no idea what to tell him.  If there was something in the rules that called for your score instead of your modifier then I've somehow overlooked it completely.

But it has, just now, occurred to me that the DM might want to temporarily want to 'buff' a player's base ability score temporarily in order to affect the modifier.

But then, having typed that, why wouldn't the DM simply say "you have gained a +/-2 (or whatever) bonus/penalty to your modifier that will last X minutes"?

So that puts me back to square 1.

After you roll your abilities to determine modifiers (adding any you get from your class or race) then for what purpose do you still need to know the original dice score?



Thanks in advance



While you mostly end up using the modifiers that you get based on ability scores, you still use the ability scores themselves to meet certain feat and spell prerequisites, so yes, they are still important and are still used.
Right, so far people have mentioned using strength to carry things (and possibly some barbarian abilities), constitution to determine Hip Points.

i was going to say something i remembered about intellect determining the number of languages you know for certain races, but then i checked and that turned out to be the modifier, too.... glad i did the check before posting it and looking like a bell end
why did we need to make a note of our ability score?



I've been asking myself that question ever since Green Ronin published Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition, which while based on the v3.5 SRD, has rebuilt the system almost completely and ditches ability scores entirely in the process. 

At that point I realized... they really don't serve a purpose. They're just yet another layer of derviation that only exists because some guy from Wisconsin did it that way forty years ago and "that's how it's always been".

...And for the record, I think "that's how it's always been" is a terrible reason to do anything, particularly when it's the only reason you're doing something. 


I suppose the "real" reason might be for the sake of distinctiveness--without ability scores and just utilizing the modifiers directly, the system starts to bear a resemblance to R&K, WoD and AGE.

constitution to determine Hip Points.

That might be the most unintentionally funny thing I've read all day.  
I really don't enjoy how this topic was originally for a new player, but turned into grandstanding on the part of regular forum-goers.  The correct answer was already given.

It's mostly a hold over from previous editions where odd ability scores were used as feat prerequisites and the like.



I would add that "hold over from previous editions" should instead by "thing that is currently being used."  Odd ability scores still work as feat prerequisites in this edition.  For example, the Ambush feat requires a Dexterity of 11 or higher.  That's really what Daxarth meant, back on page one.

The broad points about math are only relevant to a lesser degree.  To-hit modifiers and accuracy are an application of ability modifiers, but aren't central to the concept of ability modifiers.

If you really wanted to talk about the math behind the mechanics, I'd mention that using a d20 to roll to hit is a fundamentally linear system.  Every +1 you gain is an increase of 5%.  In contrast, rolling ability scores on 3d6 creates a bell curve, where increasing by +1 does not give a uniform percentage increase.  The conversion from ability score to ability modifer exists primarily to move from complex probability into linear probability, because linear is easier to understand.  Writing down your ability score, even after you have the modifier, serves as a reminder of that change in probability.
constitution to determine Hip Points.

That might be the most unintentionally funny thing I've read all day.  


OK.... But it's true, isn't it?  Most classes, if not all (pretty sure it's all, ofc) add CON to a set figure, don't they?

[EDIT] somehow the end of my message got cut off Undecided
While you mostly end up using the modifiers that you get based on ability scores, you still use the ability scores themselves to meet certain feat and spell prerequisites, so yes, they are still important and are still used.


Use the modifiers for the prerequisites too. That would be simpler. There would be no useless odd-number scores.

constitution to determine Hip Points.

That might be the most unintentionally funny thing I've read all day.  


OK.... But it's true, isn't it?


constitution to determine Hip Points.


determine Hip Points.


Hip Points.


Hip           Points




Now all I can see is a monk rolling dice with her Pressure Point Strike to immobilize an orc by dealing damage to his hip points.

Module, I wan't it.

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!

right.  typo.  hilarious.

Something seems...missing there.

Ability scores are short hand for your character capsule. My INT 8 is a -1 mechanically, but it also means I ain't as edumacated as mah friend, da wizard. That said, if you wanted to make them mean more, you could always pull a houserule out (do something like Myth and Magic, where the skill bonuses are +1 for each digit over 10, so a 14 STR is +2 to hit, but +4 to skills and such). That is, if it's just about the mods...
I don't think there's any particular good reason to hold on to the numerals.
Weight : this could as easily be (10+mod)x10
Add stat : Add 10+2xmod
With regards to requirements (usually 11), just demand that you have a positive modifier.

They would ofc need to remake the initial rolling system and the Buy-In system and the racials, but they've been changed before.

I also agree that most of the stats become somewhat irrelevant around lvl 5 with Deadly Strike and so on, in regards to damage done.
I think that this might not be too much of a showstopper, as the increased hp pool of mobs at that level are inflated for the same reasons PC hp pools are bigger : More survivability.
If you have a +3 instead of a +1 modifier to hit, you will hit the mob 10% more (unless capped either way) and inflict damage on it, which means a lot, especially at this level.
So yes, str/dex mods becomes a little irrelevant for the +damage, but most certainly not for +hit!
(On a personal note, I'd love to see the return of +(1.5xStr mod, rounded down) damage when using 2h'er)

So yes, you can almost fully dispense of the actual scores and just go with the modifiers without too much hassle.
Could always do half modifiers. Elf grants +0.5 Dexterity, cleric +0.5 Wisdom, etc. Show your attribute bonus as +2.5 on character sheet, but always round down to 1d20 + 2 when rolling.
Ability scores are short hand for your character capsule. My INT 8 is a -1 mechanically, but it also means I ain't as edumacated as mah friend, da wizard. That said, if you wanted to make them mean more, you could always pull a houserule out (do something like Myth and Magic, where the skill bonuses are +1 for each digit over 10, so a 14 STR is +2 to hit, but +4 to skills and such). That is, if it's just about the mods...



But the INT −1, all by itself, already means, “I aint as edumacated as ma friend, da wizard.”

−1 is one below average. The Wizard is likely +4, above average.