Ability Scores

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Update:

It now seems the author has confirmed that this was only speculation based on the preview card. Here is the link: http://www.gleemax.com/Comms/Pages/C... 2&blogid=3312

Ok, so it is now obvious that the formula did not come from Mike Mearls but was merely surmised from the stat card. In that case, I think the formula is probably incorrect and the bonuses are probably calculated in the same way as in 3.XE, but adding half the character level (this meshes well with the Star Wars SAGA skill system, where half the character level is added to all skill checks, but apparently here all ability checks, not just skill checks, get that bonus).

Original post before the update:

We now know that 4E ability scores will ordinarily range from 3-18 just like in 3.XE, but that modifiers will be handled slightly differently. Whereas 3.XE modifiers were calculated as Modifier=(Ability/2)-5, modifiers in 4E will be calculated thusly: Modifier=(Ability/2)-2

(Link: http://forum.rpg.net/showpost.php?p=8025804&postcount=9)

This gives us the following table:

0
1/ -2
2/ -1
3/ -1
4/ 0
5/ 0
6/ +1
7/ +1
8/ +2
9/ +2
10/ +3
11/ +3
12/ +4
13/ +4
14/ +5
15/ +5
16/ +6
17/ +6
18/ +7
19/ +7
20/ +8
...

I must say I am a bit mystified by this change. Retaining the old system would leave the average modifier at 0, which makes some sense. Another option would be to get rid of negative modifiers altogether (indeed I suggested doing Modifier=(Ability/2) in my previous thread on this topic), which again makes sense. To recalibrate the numbers so that +3 is now the mean modifier, yet negative modifiers still exist, however, seems a bit strange.

Of course, if ability scores ran from 4-18, instead of 3-18, it would be somewhat more intuitive, as now 0 modifier would be defined as the modifier of the lowest human ability score.

I would suggest that ability scores for the general population (not heroes) be generated by 4d4, rather than 3d6. This would give normal people ability scores in the range from 4-16 and the mean ability would be a nice round number 10, rather than 10.5 as it is currently and the standard deviation is smaller too, resulting in tighter clustering around the mean.


PCs, being special, would/could, of course, use other systems to generate their ability scores, ranging from some 4E version of point buy to rolling. For the rolling option, and interesting medium-powered system might be to do something along the lines of 4d4 + 2. This would ensure that characters are closer in power (both smaller range [6-18 rather than 3-18] and standard deviation [2 rather than 2.9]) than in 3.XE, as well as giving the designers a nice ability score baseline to work with (they seem to like implementing base lines, judging from skill system design) - no character would have a negative modifier, even with the lowest role and -2 to an ability score due to a race that has a penalty (I am assuming the standard ability score penalties and bonuses will remain at +/-2 for the core races).
Well, few player characters will ever have a score of less than 4 in any attribute.

The new system is easier to handle than the old, since you don't have to wonder about if being flat footed makes you more difficult to hit since you loose your dex bonus to defense...

Or in short: In 99.9% of the time you have only stat bonuses and no penalties, which streamlines the rules a little.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Interesting analysis so far...

What if various "base 10" or "base x" bonuses to various things were getting removed? Like, right now AC is 10 + whatever; what if just becomes those summed bonuses with no "base 10"? And we're pretty sure saves are doing the same thing as AC (a static number DC that the attacker has to beat with his attack roll/spell).

- Under the current system, a 4th level Fighter with 16 Con has a 4 + 3 = +7 fortitude save bonus.
- if 4E is "base 10" for AC and saves, and assuming base save doesn't change for the Fighter (which it probably will for every class, but...). Fortitude defense is 10 + 4 + 6 = 20
- if 4E is "base 5", Fortitude defense is 5 + 4 + 6 = 15
- if 4E has no "base" or anything, Fortitude defense is 4 + 6 = 10

Hmmm.... to me, 20 seems to high, and 10 seems to low. Base 5 might be the way to go, as I see it. Other things are rounded to 5s too I heard in SAGA, like the bonus for using a skill trained. Other things I would make "base 5" if I were designing 4E:
- -5 penalty to hit for using a weapon without proficiency
- -5 penalty to armor check penalty for using armor or shield without proficiency
- +5 DC bonus for having two spellcasters ready actions to cooperative cast a spell at the same time
- -5 to hit when using a ranged attack into melee combat (if rule is kept)
- +5 AC from cover
- +5 or -5 per size category for grappling or other funky action rolls
- +5 to tumble DC per opponent simultaneously tumbled past
- -5 to hit per extra attack (like SAGA TWF or higher level extra attacks)
- -5 to melee attacks when prone & +5 ranged AC (reflex defense) when prone
- +5 to melee attacks when attacking a prone opponent
- +5 when flanking (though this would be rather powerful)
- make "fighting defensively" -5 to hit for +5 AC, or +10 AC if full defense (only a move action during turn)
- make combat expertise double "fighting defensively" possible in increments of 5, so -5 to hit/+5 AC or -10 to hit/+10 AC or combat expertise fighting defensively for -10 to hit and only move action for +20 AC
aww man, but I've gotten so good at subtracting 10 and dividing by two :-(
Something tells me this isn't true... Based on what little we have seen (the devil mini card) it looks like ability scores are the same as D&D3.x but their modifiers are going to be the traditional score plus 1/2 character level.

I doubt they have changed ability scores past this...
Something tells me this isn't true... Based on what little we have seen (the devil mini card) it looks like ability scores are the same as D&D3.x but their modifiers are going to be the traditional score plus 1/2 character level.

I doubt they have changed ability scores past this...

Yes, it now seems the author has confirmed that this was only speculation based on the preview card. Here is the link: http://www.gleemax.com/Comms/Pages/Communities/BlogPost.aspx?blogpostid=19628&pagemode=2&blogid=3312

Ok, so it is now obvious that the formula did not come from Mike Mearls but was merely surmised from the stat card. In that case, I think the formula is probably incorrect and the bonuses are probably calculated in the same way as in 3.XE, but adding half the character level (this meshes well with the Star Wars SAGA skill system, where half the character level is added to all skill checks, but apparently here all ability checks, not just skill checks, get that bonus).
If the ability modifiers increase with level, I will especially enjoy this edition. It will produce characters that truly "grow" during the course of the campaign.
If the blog is correct the ability modifier is (Ability / 2) - 2. That means a 4 is a +0, a 6 is a +1, etc. I'm all for this. It makes abilities less than 10 more acceptable to players. In 3E, playing with a Con of 9 is pretty much suicide.
<\ \>tuntman
If the blog is correct the ability modifier is (Ability / 2) - 2. That means a 4 is a +0, a 6 is a +1, etc. I'm all for this. It makes abilities less than 10 more acceptable to players. In 3E, playing with a Con of 9 is pretty much suicide.

But relative to everyone else under the new mods, it'd still suicide. You get your +2 HP per HD, but the guy with 16 Str is getting +6 damage per attack, so you're still dead quickly.
Ok, so it is now obvious that the formula did not come from Mike Mearls but was merely surmised from the stat card.

Ah ok. While I would have no real problems if they changed how ability score bonuses are calculated, I guess that the explanation "half level + ability bonus" is far more probable than that they changed the bonus progression.

Interesting that the blog author didn't know about that.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Does this mean that fighters get 1.5 attack bonus progression? Wizards would get +1 per level assuming that they got +1 bab per 2 levels and +1 to strength and dex per 2 levels? Seems a bit high?

Not sure how that equates to the +9 attack for the spined devil... he has +9 with his 2 claw attacks 6HD and +7 stength. With 3/4 BAB he would get +4 for level and +7 for strength totalling +11 less -2 for multiple attacks? +9 for his spine attack +4 BAB +5 dex?
First, I would like to say that if this inferred changed progression is correct, then it seems to me a pointless change and a complication. Assuming that the ability scores stay where they are, on average, all this does is guarantee that you'll have to do MORE math to calculate essentially the same effect.

That said, we have to remember that the developers have said that they are balancing conciseness with internal consistency. Just because something works some way for a spiked devil, does not mean it works that way for a PC, even if eventually a PC can play a spiked devil.

Finally, I may ask my DM to introduce the +1/2 level modifier to skills...my sorcerer suddenly becomes a much more...capable character.
Does this mean that fighters get 1.5 attack bonus progression? Wizards would get +1 per level assuming that they got +1 bab per 2 levels and +1 to strength and dex per 2 levels? Seems a bit high?

Not sure how that equates to the +9 attack for the spined devil... he has +9 with his 2 claw attacks 6HD and +7 stength. With 3/4 BAB he would get +4 for level and +7 for strength totalling +11 less -2 for multiple attacks? +9 for his spine attack +4 BAB +5 dex?

Well, the mod increases might not apply to all uses of the modifier.
I was pretty sure it was misinformation... now that the poster says he tried to reverse engineer the spined devil it makes more sense.

On the monster forum, there's a post with the card, and it was reverse engineered. It's more likely that ability modifiers are the same as 3.5, but the mods shown on the card were ability checks, not ability modifiers.

Ability checks in 4e seem to be ability mod + 1/2 level rounded down. Since the spined devil was 6th level, it added 3 to each ability check, which is where the poster who claimed (ability modifier/2)-2 as opposed to -5, which would explain why he thought it was off by 3.
First, I would like to say that if this inferred changed progression is correct, then it seems to me a pointless change and a complication. Assuming that the ability scores stay where they are, on average, all this does is guarantee that you'll have to do MORE math to calculate essentially the same effect.

That said, we have to remember that the developers have said that they are balancing conciseness with internal consistency. Just because something works some way for a spiked devil, does not mean it works that way for a PC, even if eventually a PC can play a spiked devil.

Finally, I may ask my DM to introduce the +1/2 level modifier to skills...my sorcerer suddenly becomes a much more...capable character.

Actually the first thing this change made me wonder is if point buy is going to become the new standard for stat generation. It looks like they are making it more palatable for characters to have lower stats that can still be meaningful, which point buy tends to give characters...lower overall stats I mean. This looks like it preserves a great benefit for characters who pay for a single massive stat, but also offers benefits for lower stats too, and for players who generalize their stat distribution they will also have a solid set of modifiers.

This might help answer for MAD and SAD issues in classes, as long as the game is balanced thusly that a truly high stat is in fact a bonus not a requirement, and that lower stat bonuses aren't completely gimp. My 2 cents.
I was pretty sure it was misinformation... now that the poster says he tried to reverse engineer the spined devil it makes more sense.

On the monster forum, there's a post with the card, and it was reverse engineered. It's more likely that ability modifiers are the same as 3.5, but the mods shown on the card were ability checks, not ability modifiers.

Ability checks in 4e seem to be ability mod + 1/2 level rounded down. Since the spined devil was 6th level, it added 3 to each ability check, which is where the poster who claimed (ability modifier/2)-2 as opposed to -5, which would explain why he thought it was off by 3.

That woulsd also explain +4 damage on claw attacks with 19 strength. On the plus side I'm glad that they haven't changed the bonuses. On the minus side I thought adding +1 per 2 levels to damage would be an easy but not unbalancing method of increasing damage for higher level characters. It seems that this mechanic might not be in.
That woulsd also explain +4 damage on claw attacks with 19 strength. On the plus side I'm glad that they haven't changed the bonuses. On the minus side I thought adding +1 per 2 levels to damage would be an easy but not unbalancing method of increasing damage for higher level characters. It seems that this mechanic might not be in.

It might be in for heroes only...

Then again, it may just be built in with the powers available to players. So instead of just attacking, they use an at will ability that is also an attack, that has a scaling effect.

Or it could be out all together.
When I first saw this piece of information, I was in awe and worried that this would, in fact, be the "Power Edition." However, after it had sunk in a bit more, I began to feel the opposite way.

In 3E, a modifier of 12 and a modifier of 18 were singing completely different tunes. A +4 is 4 times as powerful as a +1. This creates huge differences in characters with all mediocre ability score and those with one very high ability.

In 4E, the modifier of a 12 and 18 would be +6 and +9, respectively. This is not as great of a leap, less than double the power. I think it will allow classes that are "MAD" be just as viable as those that are "SAD." For specialization will not be rewarded quite as heavily.
In 4E, the modifier of a 12 and 18 would be +6 and +9, respectively. This is not as great of a leap, less than double the power. I think it will allow classes that are "MAD" be just as viable as those that are "SAD." For specialization will not be rewarded quite as heavily.

And everything, so that the math works out the same, would have effectively 3 more defenses vs anything that it was checked against.

Str to hit against AC modified by dex? Net +3 for both characters and monsters

The reality, is that even though you're comparing +1 to +4, when you're rolling a d20 and adding those, the +4 is 3 above the +1, and the +9 is 3 above the +6. The target number being the same, each one increases your chances over the other by 15%.

Sure, it may "look" like it's less difference, but mechanically if you just divided by 2, and never subtracted 5 (or subtracted 10 then divided by 2) it's exactly the same. One just has negatives and one lacks negatives. (Ability score/2)-2 makes no sense, and was a most likely incorrect hunch that people jumped on because people thought it came from Dave Noonan, not the person's reaction to the preveiw card, and the most likely incorrect reverse engineering of it.
Something tells me this isn't true... Based on what little we have seen (the devil mini card) it looks like ability scores are the same as D&D3.x but their modifiers are going to be the traditional score plus 1/2 character level.

I doubt they have changed ability scores past this...

I have to agree. Even the statement that mentions the process contradicts itself.

Ability bonuses are derived the same way as currently - ability score/2; it's going to be (ability score/2)-2 instead of (ability score/2)-5 as it currently is.

It says that it will be derived as currently then gives different math. Yes the math adds up to what the card says, but the math is simple enough to massage it anyway you need to to get a desired outcome.

My reasoning on this issue, using the Spined Devil as an example:
Spined Devil.
Level 6
Claw Damage: 2d4+4
Strength: +7 (19)

Okay, it looks like it doesn't add up, but when you take the "+7" as his total Strength Check, not his Strength Bonus to checks it makes A LOT of sense.

Strength of 19 gives a +4 bonus to his damage, and when you add half his level he has a +7 check to Strength Checks.

How ability scores, ability checks and strength based damage for multiple weapons work in SWSE makes me think its done the same way.
It might be in for heroes only...

Yep, just like Saga.
Yep, just like Saga.

Which is where I came up with the idea that it might be for heroes only ;)
Which is where I came up with the idea that it might be for heroes only ;)

I know sweetie, I was just backing you up!
It might be in for heroes only...

Then again, it may just be built in with the powers available to players. So instead of just attacking, they use an at will ability that is also an attack, that has a scaling effect.

Or it could be out all together.

I rather suspect that 'Power Attack' will be changed so that any character using it will get +LVL/2 bonus to damage and suffer the same penalty to AC. That is only my own speculation, though, but it would make more sense than the penalty to attack roll (which makes the feat pretty much unusable against opponents with high AC). Besides, 'Toughness' (most likely) gives bonus hit points at every level, so I think this would a consistent mechanical change.
Forgive me for not reading thisthread, but...

Why notgenerate the scores with 2d6? It goes from a -1 modifier (2) to a +4 (12), keeping the current initial range intact for the upper boundaries. Plus, the average ability score is a +1 (7), like in 3.x (Average was 12/13 with 4d6 drop lowest).
Forgive me for not reading thisthread, but...

Why notgenerate the scores with 2d6? It goes from a -1 modifier (2) to a +4 (12), keeping the current initial range intact for the upper boundaries. Plus, the average ability score is a +1 (7), like in 3.x (Average was 12/13 with 4d6 drop lowest).

Thats an alternate method of doing things (that works with the most likely wrong way of calculating bonuses). Not a whole new way of calculating ability score modifiers. The way the new Spined Devil stat card was resented leads one ot think it was changed, whereas it looks more likely that hadn't been.
Yes, it now seems the author has confirmed that this was only speculation based on the preview card. Here is the link: http://www.gleemax.com/Comms/Pages/Communities/BlogPost.aspx?blogpostid=19628&pagemode=2&blogid=3312

Ok, so it is now obvious that the formula did not come from Mike Mearls but was merely surmised from the stat card. In that case, I think the formula is probably incorrect and the bonuses are probably calculated in the same way as in 3.XE, but adding half the character level (this meshes well with the Star Wars SAGA skill system, where half the character level is added to all skill checks, but apparently here all ability checks, not just skill checks, get that bonus).

I think you should edit your first post in the thread to include this information.
And everything, so that the math works out the same, would have effectively 3 more defenses vs anything that it was checked against.

Str to hit against AC modified by dex? Net +3 for both characters and monsters

The reality, is that even though you're comparing +1 to +4, when you're rolling a d20 and adding those, the +4 is 3 above the +1, and the +9 is 3 above the +6. The target number being the same, each one increases your chances over the other by 15%.

Sure, it may "look" like it's less difference, but mechanically if you just divided by 2, and never subtracted 5 (or subtracted 10 then divided by 2) it's exactly the same. One just has negatives and one lacks negatives. (Ability score/2)-2 makes no sense, and was a most likely incorrect hunch that people jumped on because people thought it came from Dave Noonan, not the person's reaction to the preveiw card, and the most likely incorrect reverse engineering of it.

Thats only when not taking BAB into account, it means that greater numbers are coming from a characters natural abilities rather than training, which means 3/4 BAB will not be as inferior to a 1/1 BAB as it is now.
Thats only when not taking BAB into account, it means that greater numbers are coming from a characters natural abilities rather than training, which means 3/4 BAB will not be as inferior to a 1/1 BAB as it is now.

In D&D, you roll a d20 and compare it to a target number to determine if you are successful or fail.

In math terms it's If [roll] >= [Target Number] then success, else fail.

If you add 3 to both sides If [roll]+3 >= [Target Number]+3, you still have the exact same chance of success or failure with no change, regardless of the fact that you used different numbers to get there. If their defenses are increased the same amount, you really haven't changed anything. In fact, you'd have to add 3 to only one side of the equation to make a change.

BAB has nothing to do with it, and 1/2, 3/4 and 1 BAB is a mathematical concept I don't see them using for 4e if they wish to fix the math. At low levels (1st-3rd level, the difference is only 5-10% of ability comparing 1 BAB to the lower BABs, but when you draw it out to 20th level, 1 BAB is 25% more efficient than 3/4, and 1 BAB is 50% more efficient than poor BAB, which means that you get into the same problem of "My attacks always hit if I have full BAB if 1/2 BAB has a chance of hitting, or if it's hard for 1 BAB, it's only on a natural 20 that a 1/2 bab can hit. Pan that out to level 30, and the full BAB is +75% chance to hit over a low BAB. That's why they had epic BAB in the first place in epic rules, to lower the disparity in the progressions.

If they don't fix the BAB to something like Full BAB = +4 to hit, Medium BAB being +2 to hit, Low BAB being +0 to hit, and scaling it at 1/2 to hit per level, they aren't fixing the math like they said they were. It doesn't necessarily need to be that, but it has to have the overall effect removing that large gap at high levels that makes it virtually impossible to challenge the same people at the same time, unless you are doing what they did in 3.x where low BAB tend to have exclusively non-AC targeting abilities.
Actually I'm hoping the math isn't going to directly be attribute bonus + ½ level. I think it should be attribute + level / 2 - 5. You get about the same thing, but it does one fundamental thing the other doesn't, it gives a purpose to odd numbered stats... FINALLY!!! It means that every point of attribute you have will increase the speed you gain bonuses by 1 level quicker. Plus it doesn't make it any more complicated for those who are used to the original formula, just pretend your level is a part of all of your stats. Not only does it go with Saga Edition's system of adding half level to skill checks and such, but it progresses the character in every way. My only problem is that this seems to continue the 3rd edition trend of making characters of higher levels exponentially more powerful than characters of previous levels, and not having them gradually become more powerful. Oh well.
This is a much needed change. A +0 average gave way to all sorts of problems when dealing with average people and low level characters.

Example: you are just as likely to hit some one with dex 10 or less if you snuck up on him as you are if he was aware and ready for the attack. And that's crazy.
This is a much needed change.

While I agree with the need for a change, there is no indication that it will change. The OP just repeated a speculation that has been flying around since D&D Game Day. It is likely that modifiers are still (score/2)-5.
This is a much needed change. A +0 average gave way to all sorts of problems when dealing with average people and low level characters.

How many times does it take before people realize that all of this different ability score modifiers shenanigans is all caused by wild speculation from one person over the Spined Devil stats.

There is no indication that ability scores have changed at all. It is probably as people say, ability modifier + half level, ala Saga.


"If he walks with one sandal, we shall do likewise!"

"It is a sign that we should gather shoes in abundance!"

"No, it is that we should concern ourselves not with things of the body, but of the face and head!"
I have now updated the original post, so that it hopefully no longer confuses people.
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