Bonus Stacking

The rules in a rpg on stacking of bonuses can mean the difference between a functioning system and a system that crashes and burns. Unfortunately in the playtest there were no stacking rules (that I can remember) and this is something that the developers have not covered (to my recollection). Advantage and disadvantage rules cover some of this topic but the biggest area uncovered is the stack of bonuses from multiple magic sources such as spells and items. 

The only stacking rules in the playtest that i can remember was regarding Combining Magical Effects (How To Play pg. 29) 

 

EDIT I shall now also add the D&D Starter Set pg. 23 : ) 

 

Show

 

 

I raise this because it has been stacking issues that cause the most mechanical damage to a game in my years of playing with countless systems.

I hope there is just a cap on total bonuses, for example 6.

 

No matter the number of buff spells on you nothing can give you a bonus on a d20 roll higher than d20 +prof (max 6) +ability score bonus (max 5) +magic bonus (max 6), (+5 expertise for skills).

That is still crazy high considering the system, but hopefully that magic bonus won't be constant.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

Things you should check out because they are cool, like bow-ties and fezzes.

https://app.roll20.net/home  Roll20 great free virtual table top so you can play with old friends who are far away.

http://donjon.bin.sh/  Donjon has random treasure, maps, pick pocket results, etc.. for every edition of D&D.

I think it would be best if they didn't allow bonuses to the same stat to stack, with very few exceptions. If they don't have such a rule, it will definitely be a house rule in my games.

Paraxis wrote:

I hope there is just a cap on total bonuses, for example 6.

 

No matter the number of buff spells on you nothing can give you a bonus on a d20 roll higher than d20 +prof (max 6) +ability score bonus (max 5) +magic bonus (max 6), (+5 expertise for skills).

That is still crazy high considering the system, but hopefully that magic bonus won't be constant.

If it works for you more power to you but me personally sounds a bit too abitry. Maybe a sliding cap by level and campaign type? Maybe only the highest bonus to affect an individual mechanic? Not entirely sure what mechanic would work best but I do not think the developers have haad this discussion enough with the gaming audiance.

With BA, there should at least be an optional DMG rule that magic bonuses of any kind don't stack. The biggest bonuses will be magic based. Eliminate stacking those and all will be well, in the context of BA.

It will be absurd if there are not stringent restrictions on stacking. They've made such a big deal about BA keeping things in check, it would be ridiculous to allow crazy stacking and mess everything up. 

Problem is that we have not seen the actual monster maths as the numbers we saw in the playtest we were told were going to be severely revised.

Lady_Auralla wrote:

Problem is that we have not seen the actual monster maths as the numbers we saw in the playtest we were told were going to be severely revised.

 

Yep and the problem is actually even worse than that (although I'm not sure the dev team realizes this even now).  How were the original class, race etc features tested?  How were the spells tested?   Yeah.....against those same substandard monsters that they are now going to revise.....  That means we don't know and can't trust the balance of any ability that was playtested against those monsters......

 

This should be fun.....

 

-Polaris

Unless they pull off an unexpected surprise stacking mechanic out of nowhere I think that stacking balance will be mainly under the perview of each individual GM. Hopefuley the GM will not be forced to wrestle the game into a balanced and usable format.

Lady_Auralla wrote:

Unless they pull off an unexpected surprise stacking mechanic out of nowhere I think that stacking balance will be mainly under the perview of each individual GM. Hopefuley the GM will not be forced to wrestle the game into a balanced and usable format.

 

That would be nice, but I wouldn't count on it.  It seems to me that 5e is going to let a lot of stuff slide on the idea that "the DM can always fix it".

 

-Polaris

Well, usually I do not consede to such "calls" but limitless stacking of magical effects provided they come from a different spell is not the best thing imho.

___________________________________________________________

A little bit of good will is a big step towards making this planet a better place

2 casters cast 2 bless spells on the party. What happens?

 

+2d4? +1d4? Or +b[2d4]?

 

i think I'd rule +b[2d4]

bawylie wrote:

2 casters cast 2 bless spells on the party. What happens?

 

+2d4? +1d4? Or +b[2d4]?

 

i think I'd rule +b[2d4]

 

According to page 23 they don't stack:

 

"The effects of the same spell cast multiple times dont combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect tsuch as the highest bonus from those castings applies while their durations overlap.

For example, if two clerics cast bless on the same target, that character gains the spells benefit only once he or she doesnt get to roll two bonus dice."

Interesting. I think that makes sense. But by allowing the "most potent" effect, I think I'd still house rule it to be the best result of 2 4-siders. 

Although I can see your point, I guess I'm inclined to like the rule as given. You're either blessed or not, right? Does being "double blessed" mean anything? Should it? I'm not so sure. What about "quadruple blessed"? Would we just streamline the math at that point and let someone have a static +4 for the duration?

If your party is willing to cast 4 bless spells, then sure. 

I think that the best possible stacking ruling is a tie between two styles:

 

Style 1) Nothing stacks. You may only benefit from a single non-permanent benefit of any kind (example: Jim's character is under the effects of a bless spell. Larry decides that his character will caste haste on Jim's character... but since nothing stacks, Jim has to chose whether he keeps the bless effect and negates the haste, or if he will accept the haste effect and in doing so immediately ends his bless spell.)

 

Style 2) Everything with a different name stacks. (example: bless and haste stack, two bless or two haste spells would do nothing except reset the duration count if one is needed).

 

The reason I think of those as the best possible rulings is the one thing they share in common: There is never a question as to whether a particular spell will be beneficial or not.

 

I have had too many sessions drag and delay because of the question "What type of bonus is that?", especially with 3.x where most bonus types did not stack with other bonuses of the same type, some bonus types always stack with other bonuses of the same type (dodge), one bonus type might or might not stack with other bonuses of the same type depending on what granted them (circumstance), and one bonus type didn't stack with other bonuses of the same type but did have numerous "enhancement to" sources that would stack (natural armor).

 

Being able to have the players remember just the names of things (not also the type of bonus provided, and which types of bonuses follow which rules) is so much simpler - both at the table, and from a balance stand point (following the idea that Mike Mearls through out there that there are certain things which it should be obvious are breaking the system, like the example he gave of someone writing up a rule that let more than one concentration spell be sustained at the same time - two spells with identical effects and different names are obviously a problem, where it is a little more difficult to realize that two spells with different names that apply an equal bonus to the same things but one is a sacred bonus and the other is a luck bonus is also a problem).

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

ChrisCarlson wrote:
...Would we just streamline the math at that point and let someone have a static +4 for the duration?
Minor pet peeve related nit pick:

 

Counting the best of 4d4 as +4 is not streamlining the math, it's outright ignoring it.

 

At least one of those four dice resulting in a 4 is only a (roughly) 68.36% chance. To illustrate how different that is from a flat +4, let's take the percentage chance (round it up to something divisible by 5) and apply it to a d20 roll for an attack: Saying that best of 4d4 is streamlined to a flat +4 is saying that declaring an attack automatically successful because a d20 roll of 7 or better would hit.

 

Alright, back to the discussion at hand... sorry for being the guy that gets bent out of shape every time a gamer mis-states how probability works.

 

The math of these four 1 in 4 chances adding together does not equal a 4 in 4 chance, it is actually a 175  in 256 chance.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

You could easily have 2 types of bonuses that don't stack with themselves but stack with each other: Static bonuses (items, feats) and Temporary bonuses (spells). You only get the highest bonus from each any time. 

AaronOfBarbaria wrote:

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:
...Would we just streamline the math at that point and let someone have a static +4 for the duration?

Minor pet peeve related nit pick:

 

Counting the best of 4d4 as +4 is not streamlining the math, it's outright ignoring it.

 

At least one of those four dice resulting in a 4 is only a (roughly) 68.36% chance. To illustrate how different that is from a flat +4, let's take the percentage chance (round it up to something divisible by 5) and apply it to a d20 roll for an attack: Saying that best of 4d4 is streamlined to a flat +4 is saying that declaring an attack automatically successful because a d20 roll of 7 or better would hit.

 

Alright, back to the discussion at hand... sorry for being the guy that gets bent out of shape every time a gamer mis-states how probability works.

 

The math of these four 1 in 4 chances adding together does not equal a 4 in 4 chance, it is actually a 175  in 256 chance.

It wasn't a mistake on my part. I know how probability works. It was an intentional application of steamlining. Bone up on the law of averages. I'm not going to take the time typing out long, drawn out maths. But the basics comes down to 175 in 256 is better than 2/3rds the time. Which means well over half the time the result during play is what? +4.

 

Besides all that, the fact that you didn't agree with my shorthanding does not make my point invalid. The nitpick added nothing to the point I was making.

 

Because, since we are playing in theoreticals and hypotheticals, you could have five castings of bless on. Or nine. Or a dozen...

ChrisCarlson wrote:
Bone up on the law of averages.
You mean that thing which my intimate knowledge of is the exact motivation for me pointing out that your "shorthand" of best of 4d4 = 4 is factually incorrect, and is at best wishful thinking?

 

You mean that thing which makes people think that if you flip a coin 100 times you are going to get 50 heads and 50 tails, even though getting that result is only 8% likely to happen?

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

AaronOfBarbaria wrote:

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:
Bone up on the law of averages.

You mean that thing which my intimate knowledge of is the exact motivation for me pointing out that your "shorthand" of best of 4d4 = 4 is factually incorrect, and is at best wishful thinking?

Jeez. Really? Wishful thinking? We aren't talking about a single instance during actual table play. We are talking about hypotheticals and theoreticals WRT how best to apply stacking of the bless spell in general (or a houserule thereto).

 

What are the chances of not getting at least a single 4 on 4d4? Only 31.64%

 

And thus, inversely, what are the odds of getting at least a single 4 on 4d4? 68.36%

 

Therefore, more often than not (better than 2/3rds the time), you get +4. That's good enough in most people's books.

 

So quit being overly nitpicky. I get that it's your "thing", so much so that you even felt compelled to apologize in advance.

 

I accept your apology.

ChrisCarlson wrote:
Jeez. Really? Wishful thinking?
Yes, wishful thinking. Really.

 

You have decided that the 68.36% chance of rolling at least one 4 (the best possible result) is a better shorthand than the 93.75% chance that at least one of the four dice is a 3 or better, which makes 3 a better statistical shorthand than 4.

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:
That's good enough in most people's books.
Which is what makes what I did nit picking in the first place - I have a higher standard for accuracy than most, because I don't round 68.36 to 100.

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:
So quit being overly nitpicky.
I will, right after you quit being overly loose with your definition of "close enough"

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:
I get that it's your "thing", so much so that you even felt compelled to apologize in advance.

 

I accept your apology.

I made no apology, and have not done anything for which an apology is needed. Implying that I have done either (or both) is quite rude of you.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

The game's stacking rules are subtle. Specifically, concentration and complete DM control over magic items. You can only maintain concentration on one spell at a time. Almost every buff spell in the game requires concentration. As a result, no spellcaster can grant the benefit from more than one of those spells at a time. Even if you have two spellcasters in the game, they cannot grant the benefits of the same spell at the same time. Otherwise, everything stacks. If the entire group wants to spend its resources buffing one single player for a "hulk" moment, that is cool by the game. The whole group is spending the resources. As for magic items, the DM must keep an eye on those. If he hands them out willy nilly, the game will break. But, a DM also doesn't have to hand out a single magic item from level 1-20... 

 
 

AaronOfBarbaria wrote:

You have decided that the 68.36% chance of rolling at least one 4 (the best possible result) is a better shorthand than the 93.75% chance that at least one of the four dice is a 3 or better, which makes 3 a better statistical shorthand than 4.

What? No. Nonono.

 

Absolutely, the best possible. Of course.

 

You are missing entirely that you need only take the best single die result of the set. Not the median. Not the average. Not any other thing. The single best. Which is? Yep, you guessed it: 4. More than 2/3rds the time.

 

I'm ignoring the rest of your post because this is the only relavant part worth responding to.

Cyber-Dave wrote:

The game's stacking rules are subtle. Specifically, concentration and complete DM control over magic items. You can only maintain concentration on one spell at a time. Almost every buff spell in the game requires concentration. As a result, no spellcaster can grant the benefit from more than one of those spells at a time. Even if you have two spellcasters in the game, they cannot grant the benefits of the same spell at the same time. Otherwise, everything stacks. If the entire group wants to spend its resources buffing one single player for a "hulk" moment, that is cool by the game. The whole group is spending the resources. As for magic items, the DM must keep an eye on those. If he hands them out willy nilly, the game will break. But, a DM also doesn't have to hand out a single magic item from level 1-20... 

 
 

 

 I think people have not realy graped the DM in control of magic items (again) assumig PCs can't easily buy or create magic items.

 

 I have been used to this idea for a while now, currently plauying a 1st ed Druid. Good luck creating magic items in AD&D lol and you lose a con point for permanent items.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

ChrisCarlson wrote:

 

AaronOfBarbaria wrote:

You have decided that the 68.36% chance of rolling at least one 4 (the best possible result) is a better shorthand than the 93.75% chance that at least one of the four dice is a 3 or better, which makes 3 a better statistical shorthand than 4.

What? No. Nonono.

 

Absolutely, the best possible. Of course.

 

You are missing entirely that you need only take the best single die result of the set. Not the median. Not the average. Not any other thing. The single best. Which is? Yep, you guessed it: 4. More than 2/3rds the time.

Okay, see, I thought we were talking about the following:

 

Hypothetical Stacking Rules: "If multiple instances of a spell that provides a variable bonus are cast upon a single target, roll the variable bonus granted by each instance of the spell and take the most favorable result rolled."

Hypothetical Player: "That's a bunch of dice rolling... can't we just make a shorthand for when more than one bonus die applies?"

Hypothetical DM: "Sure."

 

...and then they work out something that is accurately representative of the actual die results that would come up.

 

I didn't realize we were hypothetically declaring that if bless could stack then 2 or more instances of it on one character would be shortened down to "One bless spells = +1d4, two or more bless spells = +4 because I decided the probability is close enough."

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

According to the playtest everything stacks except for duplicates of the same spell. They're using the concentration mechanic to keep excessive bonuses in check. Since most buff spells require concentration and you can only have 1 concentration spell active at a time you shouldn't be able to receive more than 1 buff spell per caster in your group.

AaronOfBarbaria wrote:

I didn't realize we were hypothetically declaring that if bless could stack then 2 or more instances of it on one character would be shortened down to "One bless spells = +1d4, two or more bless spells = +4 because I decided the probability is close enough."

Goalpost moving. I specifically addressed the concept of four instances granting the best of 4d4. Not 2+. And you know that. You are being disingenuous. Bad form.

 

That you have been shown to be demonstrably wrong at your own "thing" does not give you the right to rewrite the subject of contention.

@Aaron

 

While you're mathematically correct, the party in this situation is expending 4 spells (which is a resource consideration) - so I'm inclined to weigh the decision more heavily than the mathematical probability. 

 

I understand the odds, but the decision to spend 4 spells in this hypothetical is more important to me. 

Didn't they "solve" the bonus problem by relying upon Advantage? Pretty much anything that helps you is going to give Advantage, which never stacks with itself in any meaningful way.

The metagame is not the game.

Saelorn wrote:

Didn't they "solve" the bonus problem by relying upon Advantage? Pretty much anything that helps you is going to give Advantage, which never stacks with itself in any meaningful way.

 

If that were the case, why does 5e have som many +/-X effects from sources like ioun stones, bless, prayer, barkskin, potions of heroism, haste, divine power, elemental weapon, magic weapon, shield, shield of faith, guidance, rings of protection, various poisons in the bestiary, etc.

Since it seems to have been ignored, I will say it again: most of the sources of +/-X come from a resource that requires concentration. That means that one character must concentrate in order to keep the bonus up. Sources that do not require concentration tend to only grant advantage/disadvantage. There are some exceptions to this, but those exceptions are very rare. The way these elements network together is what ends up balancing bonuses. 

 
In my playtests, bonus stacking has not been a problem at the table. I have seen some iffy theory-craft possibilities, but they seem to require very heavy GROUP (not character) resource expenditure, and they only last for a VERY short duration of time.  
 
If someone is actually claiming a problem exists, perhaps they wouldn't mind posting what combination of abilities create this problem? Because, as far as I can tell, current logic surrounding this "problem" works like this: stacking has created problems in the past; ergo, stacking is the root of the problem; ergo, if any stacking exists, then this a priori context indicates the existence of a problem (without the need to show a problem actually forming). It seems to me that this argument is built out of the notion that correlation equals causation... that is a notorious logical faux pas.

The worst offenders of bonus stacking are paladin/mages. 

 

Racial bonus to AC. Fighting style bonus to AC. Shield bonus to AC. Magical plate armor. Ioun stone. Haste. Ring of Protection. Shield Spell. Aura of Antipathy. Throw in the party buff prayer for good measure cast by a friendly cleric before combat.

 

It adds up fast. And while that example is a little extreme, it is also mostly superfluous. Remove all the magic but the plate armor and the haste self buff, and that PC is still untouchable. Getting an AC of 24 to 26 is fairly easy and can be done by level 6 at the earliest.

 

Im worried what other spells we will see in the future. Without limits to stacking, who knows where the upper bounds could go. 

 

Another worry is long duration buffs that do not require concentration like magic weapon and elemental weapon. Also, the wording on those spells should be cleared up because currently, they stack!

Saelorn wrote:

Didn't they "solve" the bonus problem by relying upon Advantage? Pretty much anything that helps you is going to give Advantage, which never stacks with itself in any meaningful way.

 

It was a great concept that ended up being tossed out the window. 

Lawolf wrote:

Remove all the magic but the plate armor and the haste self buff, and that PC is still untouchable.

How so, exactly? These repetitive claims of "unhittable" and "can't-missable" keep flying around. And because the dance is getting a little tedious, I'll preemptively cut the next round of retorts out with this fact:

 

We don't know what the monsters' numbers will be at this time, so any claims to that affect are presumptive at best. If not flat-out agendized.

We know the monster math well enough. We know that PCs can be used as "monsters" against the party.

 

So take a 6th level assassin PC. It has +3 proficiency and a 16 Dexterity. Its total attack bonus is +6.

 

So a mountain dwarf mage/paladin with +1 plate armor and a +1 shield has a 26 AC. The assassin only hits the dwarf on a roll of nat 20 twice because they have disadvantage to their attack. So only 1 time in 400 or 0.25%.

 

The DM could give the assassin a +1 weapon, bringing his chance to hit up to 1%. But doing so, just gives the party more magic items of their own.

 

Note: If the dwarf had no magic items at all, the assassin would only hit 4% of the time. Still not very high...

Lawolf wrote:

If that were the case, why does 5e have som many +/-X effects from sources like ioun stones, bless, prayer, barkskin, potions of heroism, haste, divine power, elemental weapon, magic weapon, shield, shield of faith, guidance, rings of protection, various poisons in the bestiary, etc.

Rare to legendary magic items, concentration, concentration 3rd level, concentration and single target, rare magic item and consumable, concentration and single target, concentration and self-only, doesn't stack with permanent magic weapons, doesn't stack with permanent magic weapons, reaction, concentration and single target, single target and random and only applies to a single roll, rare magic item.

 

Note also that casters really don't get all that many spells per day. Casting Elemental Weapon at +3 eats up your only 7th level slot for the day.

 

I'm not saying it's going to be perfect, but in practice a lot less stacks than it seems like, unless the entire party of Clerics and Druids is built around buffing a single Paladin to god status.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

Lawolf wrote:

We know the monster math well enough.

False.

 

Lawolf wrote:

We know that PCs can be used as "monsters" against the party.

That's presumptive. And even if it is a thing, it's corner case. That's what you're hanging your hat on?

Sign In to post comments