The Most Sacred Cow

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I like the new roles for characters. Basically, every character will have an equivalent (not equal) role to play in combat. Nobody sucks.

The next evolution is to make no abilities suck in combat. Some abilities will almost certainly be more useful outside of combat than others, but every ability should have a combat use. I'm not talking about some clunky mechanic that forces you to use the ability (e.g., Improved Trip requires INT 13+), but rather a real use that isn't enforced for no other reason than to make the ability necessary.

Turning now to monsters. What ability do monsters absolutely need. INT? A large group of monsters have 0 INT (non-sentient creatures) and another large group have 1-2 INT (non-sapient creatures). Those with INT 3-7 probably can't do much, skill-wise, then you hit a range where all of the useful skills are picked up, and top out around INT 20 or so where you start getting more esoteric skills. INT 50 deities just waste that INT, unless they are Wizards. So I think INT should be more useful in general, but particularly in combat. Here's my solution for the brave new world that is 4e:

Take the perception aspect out of WIS and put it in INT. Make WIS the primary ability for Wizards. Not a big leap given that they are called WIZards. If you want your wizards to be smart, give them more skill points (that is the only thing that tells you a high-INT character is smart, anyway). Then, rename intelligence perception (PER).

How does that help in combat, you ask?

First, let me suggest that DEX mod be added to all attack and reflex rolls. That's the base.

The next addition depends upon what kind of combat you are in. If you are in melee combat, add STR mod to attack, damage, and reflex rolls. (Basically, I am adding a new category of Reflex Defense called "Melee Defense.") This makes sense against melee opponents because if you are strong, you can press the attack, knock people off balance, and otherwise crowd them.

With ranged combat, add PER mod to attack, damage, and reflex rolls. This Reflex save would be the default outside of melee (and perhaps if you take the Dodge feat, you can use your PER mod instead of STR mod in melee, since the developers are doing away with the Dodge feat anyway). This also makes sense because if you notice an attack coming, you can dodge it more easily. Weapon Finesse would let you add PER mod to attack rolls with finessable weapons instead of STR mod.

I think this results in cool character builds and doesn't have a wasted ability (INT). If you want to be a good brute, you can still put all your emphasis on STR. If you want to be good with missiles, you can put all your emphasis on PER. Or you can focus on DEX to be a well-rounded warrior. If you want to be a good spellcaster, choose WIS.

With this change, animals and zombies won't have a wasted attribute (unless you count CON). I envision two flaws for these types of creatures. One is non-sapient (essentially, the INT 2 creatures) and one is non-sentient. The creatures will still use PER to determine how aware they are of their surroundings, but will take skill training penalties.

I know the odds of killing off an ability is slim to none (and Slim just left town).
Ew ew ew ew, I got reabilitization on me. ;P
Ew ew ew ew, I got reabilitization on me. ;P

I know. I'm being nerdy suggesting something that nobody would ever go for. I do think it is better, but I couldn't believe I was writing it. Changing one of my favorite abilities (INT)? I probably would attract fewer side-long glances wearing a placard at Jerry Falwell's church that everyone should bow down before Tharizdun.

Oh, and one more advantage for the one person who actually read the post all the way through. ;) Multiclassing becomes more viable between Wizards and Clerics (they use the same ability), and the "side-effect" for spellcasters who multiclass is that they will have good will saves due to the bonus WIS grants. Makes sense.

I had another ability change I like, but people are looking at me funny. So I'll keep it to myself. :D
To continue my blog. (I know you don't like it; I'm just compulsive.)

There are a lot of systems out there that use different base abilities. Some work well, some are a little lame. GURPS isn't bad, but it has two abilities (Strength and Health) that cost half as much as two others (Dexterity and Intelligence). They recognized that the abilities were not created equal so they weighted them differently. I think a better solution would have been to combine Strength and Health, making all of the abilities equally weighted. That's what I want in 4e.

So, I made my proposal to move the perceptive aspect of WIS into INT (and call it perception (PER)). Each of STR, DEX, and PER have combat modifiers. DEX adds to all attacks and reflex defenses. STR adds to melee attacks and damage, and to melee reflex defenses (I would just call it "melee defenses"). PER adds to ranged attacks and damage, and to non-melee reflex defenses (I would just call if "reflex defenses").

Next step, combine CON and STR into a single ability. STR-based fighters should be able to become bulky and rough without being forced to concentrate on two vital abilities. I would call the combined ability CON. Before you say that CON is now easily the best ability, think about a few feats:

Weapon Finesse (use PER instead of STR with finessable melee weapons)
Dodge (use PER for all reflex defenses, including melee defense)
Precision (use DEX instead of STR for damage)

So, you can build a nimble character without the requirement of high strength. (Especially nice if you are Small.) The 3 feats allow you to completely replace strength-based advantages. Therefore, fighters who want to buff out can do so more easily by focusing on a single ability, and other characters don't have to focus on that ability.

The primary reason I want to combine CON and STR is a bit different than pure balance (though that is necessary). I think that nobody wants to play the glass-jawed fighter. Everybody can take CON and be tougher, and a fighter has to just to compete. So just make it the same ability.

I think WIS and CHA can stand on their own.

WIS should grant Will defense bonuses, as now, but I would also add it to Fortitude defense, and should also be the ability on which all spellcasting powers depend. That makes multiclassing between spellcaster types less painful. It also makes this the go-to ability for any spellcaster, which has combat value. Of course, WIS is more like willpower now, but we already have Will defense so I don't want to change the name.

CHA is the primary ability for certain abilities, I would add CHA to will defense, and CHA also increases leadership. Leadership makes CHA have a real combat impact, if played right. I don't think it should take a feat to use this aspect of CHA. (You should have to use a feat to get a cohort, though.)

Summary:

CON: +1 power attack, +1 damage, +1 melee defense, +1 fortitude defense, +1 Athletics skill, add CON score to hit points (instead of gaining +1 hit point/level--now fighters will always have more hit points than rogues at high level).
DEX: +1 to all attacks, +1 to melee and reflex defense, +1 to multiple skills.
PER: +1 to precision attack, +1 precision damage, +1 reflex defense, +1 to multiple skills, +1 starting trained skill (or skill focus in a class skill).
CHA: +1 will defense, +1 to multiple skills, +1 to leadership score.
WIS: +1 will defense, +1 fortitude defense, important for spellcasters.

Five abilities, all good in combat. You could conceivably split STR back out from CON, though.
I just posted this in another, similar thread- the debate between point buy vs. rolled Ability Scores....I figured it would also be well suited here. I screwed up the quote though....
I'm only posting this for fun- i do not advocate these views!!!

I got to thinking, after reading through the arguments by both sides (I prefer random generated for home games, point-buy for RPGA), that the only real solution is to do away with ability scores.......

Mechanically, what do they really do?

STR/DEX- bonus to hit, AC, Damage, skills......If we're going the SAGA route in 4E, a scaling bonus to damage plus some new Feat trees will take care of STR. A class-dependent AC bonus replaces DEX......Feats or Modified BAB replaces both in regard to attack rolls.....

CON.....hit points. Make a level -dependent thing? or just max hp @ each level? or feats for more hp?

INT.....skill points and wizards? Modify the SAGA skills (trained vs. untrained.....maybe with the action point mechanic for bonus skills @ 1st level?) Wizards- make bonus 'spells' (if they exist in 4E) level dependent, as well as bonuses to 'Save DCs'.

WIS/CHA....more spell casting.....see wizard above. Other than skills and sorcerors, charisma gets left behind a lot anyway. And Wisdom, while a boon to spellcasters and those who like to spot and listen (etc), is only integrally important to Saves (see below).

SAVES.....CON/DEX/WIS.......hmmm. perhaps feats or the SAGA bonuses @ 1st level? modify a bit, and the measely bonuses derived from your ability modifiers are replaced.

SKILLS.....hmmm. the ability score bonuses to skills are gonna have to go to in this silly proposal. Perhaps give each class a number of 'skill points' available at each level (with bonus points at first, similar to 3.x) to give bonuses to their skills?

well. that does it. no more ability scores. problem solved. didn't need to re-write the whole PHB, either. Perhaps a 30 page rules errate would do it?

Again- I don't want to get rid of the 'sacred cow' that is ability scores.....just giving you all a compromise to the debate.....besides. no wimpy 'Heros'....you're 'abilities' are now all the realm of Roleplaying.....

Has anyone else ever suggested this on the forums before?

-Good Gaming
Um. I forgot Grapple and Carrying Capacity and Ability checks.

Ability Checks.....make some sort of level-dependent check.

Grapple. Turn into a skill like SAGA did with Endurance, or make it a feat tree or something. Size still modifies it.

Carrying Capacity.......I'm a bit stuck. I think it's because everyone I know estimates anyway. And by the time it matters, someone has a bag of holding or a henchman or some such thing. Any ideas?
You have a lot of reasonable concerns. However, I'm not sure every ability should be useful in combat. As many bookworms learned in high school, intelligence doesn't help much in a fight.

They way intelligence is supposed to matter in combat goes beyond mechanics. A dog and pit fiend behave completely differently.
Take the perception aspect out of WIS and put it in INT. Make WIS the primary ability for Wizards. Not a big leap given that they are called WIZards.

They are called wizards, not wisdomards, though. :D

I kid you. Your ideas may have some merit. let me stew on them a bit.
I'm only posting this for fun- i do not advocate these views!!!

I think you really hit the nail on the head. You can get rid of all abilities and make everything they cover into feats or level-based bonuses. So, the abilities need to be something that is significant in some way.

Since we are moving in the direction of roles in combat, I think the abilities should move in that direction too, as a kind of guide for players who are designing their characters. Right now, you have to juggle ability scores with class to figure out how to get the character you want. Want a perceptive character? That doesn't mean you need to take WIS, it means you need enough INT to be able to afford Spot, Listen, and Search at each level. Want to be mentally tough? Better be a cleric, because a mentally tough sorcerer just sucks ass. If you are a fighter, you have to spend your points on STR, CON, and (optionally) DEX; so don't think about anything else unless you want to be able to trip people effectively, then you need a 13 INT.

With my suggestion, you pick what you want. Tough Fighter? CON (STR is rolled in). Nimble Fighter? DEX. Perceptive Fighter? PER (though you will need to take feats to be good in close combat). Wise Fighter? OK, I admit WIS is only good for spellcasters in my system. Charismatic Fighter? CHA (you will improve your combat effectiveness by leading followers).

You can do the same with every class, though spellcasters will always want WIS (willpower).
In your system, why not just have the following 3.....

Strength (Might?)....includes standard strength, carrying capacity, skill bonuses, etc....eats constitution, but HP are now independent of a modifier for better character creation?

Dexterity .....does everything you know and love.

Presence....Combines Intelligence Wisdom an Charisma. Represents your wits, perception, innate connection to the magical/mystical, intelligence/smarts, stubbornness, personality, charm, etc.

You now have a less-clunky tri-stat system that is equally applicable to skills, class features, and potential combat abilities.

Hope you can build off that.
You have a lot of reasonable concerns. However, I'm not sure every ability should be useful in combat. As many bookworms learned in high school, intelligence doesn't help much in a fight.

They way intelligence is supposed to matter in combat goes beyond mechanics. A dog and pit fiend behave completely differently.

Both true.

I do want flaws for low-INT creatures to exist. One flaw is Non-Sentient. Another is Non-Sapient (for the INT 1-2 creatures of the world). Tactics may vary, but players are more important than character INT for that kind of thing. And your pit fiend will be as good at tactics as the DM makes him. That's a feature, not an ability.

Also, look at how with my system that poor dog actually gets to use all his abilities. INT 2 basically means a creature can see, hear, jump, and climb. Now PER matters for more than just will save, spot, and listen. So only 2 (instead of 4) abilities are "wasted" on a Non-Sapient creature, WIS and CHA. (Assuming the Non-Sapient creature is not a spellcaster.) And even the wasted abilities grant some will and fort save advantages, which is more than could be said of the INT ability, which was truly wasted, and the CHA ability which was almost entirely wasted.

Also, undead creatures can keep their CON. It includes STR, which everyone has. So, undead creatures don't waste any primary abilities.
I like the new roles for characters. Basically, every character will have an equivalent (not equal) role to play in combat. Nobody sucks.

Um they are not new. They were always there. The one thing( and really the only thing) 3.x did to make fighters suck was the concentration skill. In 1st and 2nd the caster at any level needed the fighter to keep people off of him, because if a caster had taken damage or just have someone with in melee range of him he could cast in that round.

Personaly I think just adding a little rule to the game is better ten just throwing the system out.
About the mental ability scores (mental "stats") and spellcasting...

- I think there should be 2 arcane (Wizards, Warlock?) and 2 divine (Cleric, Druid) full spellcasters.
- all DCs, whether arcane or divine or some funky monster ability, should be based off of CHArisma.
> related to this, some feats might be able to allow DCs to be based off another mental stat, INTelligence or WISdom (think "weapon finesse" for spellcasters). CHA represents a characters command, focus, and applied abilities.
- spell level access and bonus spells should be based off INT for arcane and WIS for divine. Arcane is logical, judgement-based, causality related. Divine is process-oriented, pre or post-intellectual, broad & ambiguous, based on object relations.
The next evolution is to make no abilities suck in combat. Some abilities will almost certainly be more useful outside of combat than others, but every ability should have a combat use. I'm not talking about some clunky mechanic that forces you to use the ability (e.g., Improved Trip requires INT 13+), but rather a real use that isn't enforced for no other reason than to make the ability necessary.

I disagree. If every ability needs to be measured in combat effectiveness, then even using the d20 system will come down to war gaming. You won't want to pick a lock, climb a rope, or anything adventurous. Not to mention the whole diplomacy of 4e is being redone, means that diplomacy would also have to have an in combat use, which doesn't make much sense.

I completely disagree with making every ability having a combat use.

Turning now to monsters. What ability do monsters absolutely need. INT? A large group of monsters have 0 INT (non-sentient creatures) and another large group have 1-2 INT (non-sapient creatures). Those with INT 3-7 probably can't do much, skill-wise, then you hit a range where all of the useful skills are picked up, and top out around INT 20 or so where you start getting more esoteric skills. INT 50 deities just waste that INT, unless they are Wizards. So I think INT should be more useful in general, but particularly in combat. Here's my solution for the brave new world that is 4e:

With the new monster rules, we'll just have to see. I like having monsters with int scores. I have a better idea how they think. Whether they plan and prepare or they go off instinct.

Take the perception aspect out of WIS and put it in INT. Make WIS the primary ability for Wizards. Not a big leap given that they are called WIZards. If you want your wizards to be smart, give them more skill points (that is the only thing that tells you a high-INT character is smart, anyway). Then, rename intelligence perception (PER).

This makes very little logical sense. For one, the play on words with Wizards and wisdom is nothing more than coincidence. You don't associate Coffee with coughing or cars with cartons because they have a similar first sound. It's a huge leap. Do you understand what Wisdom is supposed to represent? What about intelligence? Having a wisdom and perception is like having intelligence and smarts. It's the same thing.

It has nothing to do with being a sacred cow, and everything to do with your system not making any logical sense. Sure, mixes and matches what stats apply to what rolls, but without proper playtesting that does nothing but creates a mess.


And just for reference. there are creatures with no int score, but none with 0. There's a difference in the 3.x mechanics between the two. 0 means you are an intelligent creature but you lost your ability to access any of your knowledge, you are now in a coma. Note that 1-2 int is also in the range of animal intelligence. They are not sentient, but they can learn, albeit not much other than basic things. Things that lack intelligence act in a programmed way. A modern example would be a computer. While they can do work, they don't know what they are doing, they are just doing what they are told in a way they can understand.
If anything, I'd like more stats. This would make it easier to represent different kinds of characters. However, the problem is balancing the stats. While I would like to disentangle perception from willpower, I can't think of a good way to balance this.
Obviously, this is a thread that is for the geekiest of gamers who are interested in tweaking rules to perfection, or at least as close as we can get. It's way off the beaten path of general interest. So, just keep discussion interesting and fun. Telling people they are illogical is not fun.

Anyway, somewhere up there in this thread, it was suggested starting with 3 abilities: Strength/Health, Dexterity, and IQ. This is what GURPS did. DX and IQ each cost 20 points to raise, and ST/HT each cost 10 points to raise (so I combine them into one ability). Somewhere else up there it was mentioned that all abilities could be represented as feats or level-based numerical bonuses. Both are true.

I like abilities because they allow you to start describing your character out of the box. You do not need them (since all abilities can be represented as feats), but they do help, in an elegant way, focus your efforts on building your character. One problem with GURPS, IMO, is that the abilities were too much like advantages/disadvantages, which you could also buy with points. ST and HT weren't even of the same value as the other two abilities DX and IQ. I want abilities to be equivalent in value.

So, what is equivalent value? With the newly defined roles (or, for those who want to quibble with that statement, the current choice of names for roles in a party), WotC has put a focus on making sure all party members contribute equivalently. You may not like it, but that is the choice. Having roles that are combat-equivalents (enabling you to make natural roleplaying decisions about your choice of class, but still fall within an effective role) is a good thing. Having abilities that are combat-equivalents (enabling you to make natural roleplaying decisions about your assignment of ability scores, but still fall within an effective range of capabilities) is similarly a good thing.

Therefore, I assert that abilities must be equivalent in combat-effectiveness. I'm not arguing about this. It's my core point. Without it, none of the suggestions I make even matter. This does not mean that you suddenly cannot play a nerdy wizard with a high intelligence. There are plenty of feats available, such as skill focus, that let you simulate intelligence without putting a number next to the letters INT. And you can just act smarter when you roleplay. Similarly, it takes no effort on the part of the DM to decide whether a creature uses crafty tactics. It should be apparent, especially with the new stat blocks and monster roles, how the monster fights.

In SWSE, an INT bonus gives you a bonus to a bunch of non-combat-related skills, and skill training in one class skill. The skill training could be useful in combat, but it costs a feat, and it is not even close to as useful in combat as a straight +1 bonus to attack and damage, especially after taking a few of each. INT is not currently equivalent to STR in combat. Neither is WIS or CHA. The only way to make these abilities important is to choose a spellcasting class that needs the abilities. This is shoehorning. So, I think all of the spellcasting abilities should be clumped into a single ability (call it whatever you want). If you multiclass as various kinds of spellcasters, you don't need to spread your ability points into other abilities that are, currently, relatively worthless in combat. There will be only one.

There is another important aspect of abilities. Tradition. That is a nice way of saying abilities are sacred cows. However, to the extent it is possible to shift the abilities around to advance the goals while maintaining the old abilities, we should. No reason to change the unbroken bits.

One more, which I believe is primarily in the area of elegance. Abilities should not change when you change shape. You may apply racial modifiers to your core abilities, but if you switch from elf to dwarf, you shouldn't suddenly redo all your physical stats, just subtract your old racial modifiers and add the new ones to your base score. You don't have to reroll physical abilities when you enter a new body. Use the old ones. They are as much a part of your core being as your "mental" abilities. You had to allocate points to each upon character creation so there is no reason to break it later. Strength is funny in this regard. If you are a big creature, your strength is adjusted upward drastically, but your CON is not and it used to be you would take a bit of a hit to DEX, too. I do not think CON and DEX should change with a size change. Yes, you are a bigger target, buy why are you clumsier or more healthy? So, strength should be a feat (or flaw). I have a description of this concept in the thread entitled "size."

With this in mind (abilities are "feat packages", abilities help define your character elegantly, abilities should be of equivalent effectiveness in combat, abilities should look like classic D&D to the extent possible, abilities should not vary with changes in body structure), I suggest the following:

CON: combines strength and constitution. modifies melee attack, melee damage, melee defense, fortitude defense, hit points (not per level). Non-combat (or minimal impact): carrying capacity, modifies Athletics skill (climb, jump, swim).
DEX: modifies all attacks, melee defense, reflex defense. Non-combat: modifies many skills.
PER: modifies ranged attack, ranged damage, reflex defense. Non-combat: skill training, modifies many skills.
CHA: modifies will defense, leadership score (Note: I am advocating the ability to gather followers not requiring a feat, since you should be able to have enough follower-related impact in combat to make CHA equivalent to any other ability; cohorts should still require a feat and, of course, you could have follower-buffing feats). Non-combat: modifies many skills.
MET: modfies will defense, fortitude defense, spellcasting. Non-combat: spellcasting.

I was trying to keep WIS around for tradition, but it really should be changed to willpower. Since we already have Will defenses, I suggest Mettle (MET) at this point. That should also make it easier to accept this as the sole spellcaster ability.

I tried very hard to come up with a way to expand this list to include another ability. I like the number 6. However, I cannot come up with an elegant way to include another package of bonuses that are equivalent in combat to this list, without making up new arbitrary rules. While my suggested abilities apply two bonuses, instead of one, to attacks, defenses, and saves, they do not change any rules or introduce any new concepts or maneuvers. (i.e., even the Dodge feat, as I proposed above, just lets you use reflex defense for melee defense, much like Finesse allows you to use your ranged attack modifier for finesse attacks; and the Precision feat allows swapping DEX modifier for melee damage instead of STR modifier when fighting with finesse weapons).
About the mental ability scores (mental "stats") and spellcasting...

- I think there should be 2 arcane (Wizards, Warlock?) and 2 divine (Cleric, Druid) full spellcasters.
- all DCs, whether arcane or divine or some funky monster ability, should be based off of CHArisma.
> related to this, some feats might be able to allow DCs to be based off another mental stat, INTelligence or WISdom (think "weapon finesse" for spellcasters). CHA represents a characters command, focus, and applied abilities.
- spell level access and bonus spells should be based off INT for arcane and WIS for divine. Arcane is logical, judgement-based, causality related. Divine is process-oriented, pre or post-intellectual, broad & ambiguous, based on object relations.

I actually think WotC has mucked up the definition of CHA beyond all recognition in an effort to make it "important."

I think intelligence is good for wizards because they can learn more about magical theory. However, all spellcasters need to expend effort to cast. So I think willpower (what I'm calling Mettle) should be the ability that represents this. Wizards can still be smart and clerics wise, but that does not have to be represented in some strangely defined ability score. CHA isn't the only weird definition, WIS is just as bad. How many foolish rogues have high WIS in order to be good at spot/listen?

These abilities were picked as D&D was morphing from a wargame to a roleplaying game. The wargame had STR, DEX, CON for fighters. Then they added some spellcasters (Wizard and Cleric) who needed different stats: INT and WIS. The leader types needed CHA to control their companions.

Then the paladin came along and required a 17+ CHA, and the druid with a 15+ CHA, after leadership was already no longer important. Why? Because TSR wanted to make CHA important again. And you needed a really high ability to get a bonus in anything, so that CHA really only showed up on paladins and druids. At this time, INT, WIS, and CHA were only important because they were required for specific roles, so they were all dump stats, unless you needed them. CHA was the biggest dump because nobody used henchmen. STR, DEX, and CON were all occasionally useful if you had really high scores.

3e came along and made CHA a requirement for some actual abilities (instead of just a requirement to enter a class), and all abilities were adjusted so you could get bonuses without really high scores. Along with this new use, we learned that WIS was useful because it meant you had good perception and willpower. The fluff kind of explained the tenuous connection between perception and willpower, but the perceptive foolish rogue never quite understood the rationale. INT wasn't just for wizards anymore, with the (re)introduction of skills. And CHA was required for some of the abilities of clerics and paladins, plus relied on for spellcasting power like INT and WIS.

Now, if you decided to play a ranger, you might be tempted to choose good WIS because it includes perception. However, WIS sucked for rangers so the designers needed to include spells that rely on WIS (rangers had these in previous incarnations, too.) And clerics needed that WIS to power their spells, making them automatically perceptive (?) Paladins, too, though, like rangers, paladins with high WIS sucked so they needed WIS-based spells, too, along with good powers that rely on CHA so that players will choose CHA when they play paladins. Rogues aren't known for their great discipline and willpower, but they are known for their perception. So rogues who wanted to be great at perception needed to be... wise.

The strange dance we all do when designing characters is pick some stats that define your character, choose a class, then adjust the stats so you don't suck quite so bad in the class. (Or roleplay and suffer the consequences of having a sub-optimal build.) I just don't want to penalize the roleplayers anymore. The problem was (and probably is in 4e, too) the mental abilities, INT, WIS, CHA.

If you make INT into PER and give it some good combat benefits, the rogue makes sense now. He can be wise if you want to roleplay him that way, or foolish if you don't. However, the roleplaying hook you are looking for was perception (which you get) and a reasonably intuitive combat advantage is skill with ranged weapons, and with finesse weapons if you take the relevant feats (and both are dramatically better if you have good DEX). That makes sense for someone who is paying attention.

Wizards can still be bookish and smart about magical theory, which they study, but clerics can, too, without losing combat-effectiveness. And a cleric/wizard who is bookish and smart doesn't need to be penalized with two good scores in weak attributes. They get a spellcasting-related attribute, and another attribute that has combat-effectiveness in some other regard.
I don't think a high wisdom score prevents a character from being reckless. Consider Hal Jordan, for example. He has one the strongest wills in comics. He'll happily out of a plane and figure out how to survive on the way down.
I don't think a high wisdom score prevents a character from being reckless. Consider Hal Jordan, for example. He has one the strongest wills in comics. He'll happily out of a plane and figure out how to survive on the way down.

I don't know Hal Jordan, but I think this is a great example of why the ability scores as defined in 3e are not as good as the ones I propose. Wisdom is common sense; good judgment. One might think Hal is unwise for leaping out of a plane without a sure way of surviving, making him a "foolhardy rogue" type. However, his strength of will should not necessarily be determinable from the foolishness of his action. Foolhardiness may accompany a strong will, but will not accompany good judgment/wisdom.

I agree that there are tons of examples of why the 3e ability descriptions don't work very well in this regard. My example above was just for the most common stereotype I could think of (the foolhardy rogue), but slightly different examples (Hal, the strong-willed foolhardy rogue) work, too. And a wise, but not very perceptive or perceptive but not very wise character is another obvious unnatural build with the 3e way.

My way separates out the willpower (mettle) from the wisdom. You can roleplay wisdom if you want it.
But all wisdom really does it give you a bonus on will saves and boost a few skills. That doesn't affect how foolish you make the character. Yeah, it supposedly measures common sense and intuition. So? I don't believe any of that should prevent you should prevent you from playing a foolish character if you wish.

It'd be great to separate everything, but then you'd have to balance it. I think the six classic abilities work surprisingly well. Other ability systems end up with an unnecessary multiplication of abilities. Health, toughness, and endure? Why?

Your system has most of the problems of the old one. Perception means all characters with lots of skill points also have good senses. How is that any better or worse than tying awareness to willpower? If anything, I prefer the connection to willpower.
But all wisdom really does it give you a bonus on will saves and boost a few skills. That doesn't affect how foolish you make the character. Yeah, it supposedly measures common sense and intuition. So? I don't believe any of that should prevent you should prevent you from playing a foolish character if you wish.

It'd be great to separate everything, but then you'd have to balance it. I think the six classic abilities work surprisingly well. Other ability systems end up with an unnecessary multiplication of abilities. Health, toughness, and endure? Why?

Your system has most of the problems of the old one. Perception means all characters with lots of skill points also have good senses. How is that any better or worse than tying awareness to willpower? If anything, I prefer the connection to willpower.

OK, use WIS to mean boosting will saves and a few skills instead of wisdom. I don't mind, but you might want to ignore the PHB real estate that tells you how to play a high INT, low WIS character. ;)

The 6 ability scores work "surprisingly well" because rules have been pushed into the system to make all of them significant. It's a little better than "you need a 17 CHA to play a paladin" like in the 2e days, but not by much. Different ability systems use different abilities, but not all are duplicative. I don't know of any that use Health, Toughness, and Endurance abilities. D&D has Fortitude, Hit Points, and CON, though only one of those is an ability. Other game systems tend to be like that. GURPS is less duplicative than D&D in the ability department, with only 4.

My system may have some of the problems with the old system, but tying perception to willpower is a bit less natural than tying perception to skills, IMO. In any case, it doesn't really matter. My goal is not to come up with a system that is different for different's sake. It is to make all of the abilities have an equivalent role in combat. That, I think I accomplish. Willpower + Skills doesn't do it. Perception (with relevant combat modifiers) + Skills does. You could also do Perception for one ability and Wisdom (Willpower, Skills, and Magical Aptitude) for another. I'd rather spread the non-combat fluff over the two abilities, rather than stuff them all into one.

Your preferences are clearly not in tune with my stated goals. I think you *like* not having abilities balanced with one another in combat. Hey, that's fine. I just think it is worse game design and the future is going to follow the recognized significance of balancing combat effectiveness of roles in combat, unless this change is small enough that the weakness in the system can be comfortably ignored.

If you really want to get a feel for how good my way works, build a concept off of:

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA

and build one off of my suggested abilities (I'll even split STR back out from CON to make it easy):

STR
DEX
CON
PER
MET
CHA

Ignoring actual classes, pick a role and a power source. Now, consider how well balanced your role is in combat.

Just look at a couple of the martial versions:
Defender INT: worthless in combat
Defender PER: cool if you decide to be a swashbuckler type with finesse and precision feats (as I suggest above)
Defender WIS: worthless in combat (can multiclass as a cleric, though)
Defender MET: worthless in combat (can multiclass as any spellcaster, though)
Defender CHA: new CHA built-in effect includes ability to attract followers that balance the combat-effectiveness of the ability against other abilities

Striker INT: worthless in combat
Striker PER: great in combat (ranged or finesse attacks)
Striker WIS: worthless in combat
Striker MET: worthless in combat, but many more multiclass options than before
Striker CHA: equivalent to other abilities by definition with my version

Leader INT: worthless in combat
Leader PER: great in combat (finesse or ranged)
Leader WIS: worthless in combat
Leader MET: worthless in combat, but many more multiclass options than before
Leader CHA: equivalent to other abilities by definition with my version

Controller might not be applicable with a martial power source.

In each case, STR, DEX, and CON could be considered equivalent in the old system. I think, given the suggestions I made, that STR and CON should be combined.

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With Arcane and Divine power sources, INT, WIS, and CHA (the old ones) are equivalent for triple class wizard/cleric/sorcerer types, but not for single or double-class types.

My way, PER, MET, and CHA are equivalent. (MET will probably be a little better than all other abilities, STR, DEX, CON, PER, CHA for spellcasters, but that isn't the end of the world--a dump stat for non-spellcasters and need for spellcasters; at least it's better than now.)

----

You need to internalize my goals instead of arguing that the old way is better. If you want to talk about making abilities equivalent, or how my suggestion does not, we at least have something to talk about. If you want to argue that the old way is better because if feels better, there isn't a way to resolve our differences because I only care about changing the abilities around if it results in combat-equivalence.
I don't mind, but you might want to ignore the PHB real estate that tells you how to play a high INT, low WIS character.

I ignore most of what the core books say about roleplaying. ;) Have you read that example of play in DMG?

but tying perception to willpower is a bit less natural than tying perception to skills, IMO.

As I said, I don't agree. To me, it makes some sense that higher willpower lets you focus your senses and surroundings. Who knows. Perhaps it'd be better to have skill aptitudes instead of abilities that modify skills.

I think you *like* not having abilities balanced with one another in combat.

Indeed. As I said, I don't think smarts, willpower, or charisma should help too much in a fight. Depends on the context, though. Weak-willed foes would more likely to run away or be convinced to stand down. Intelligence, of course, can allow a character to figure out how to win a battle.
Indeed. As I said, I don't think smarts, willpower, or charisma should help too much in a fight. Depends on the context, though. Weak-willed foes would more likely to run away or be convinced to stand down. Intelligence, of course, can allow a character to figure out how to win a battle.

That's key. I think we have to amicably agree to disagree.
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