How come we don't standardize the effects of the mental stats across classes?
Currently, a significant portion of the benefit of high mental stats is determined by what spellcasting class you are. Wizards get a boosted spell DC with a higher intelligence, while clerics get the same with a high wisdom. Why not instead tie these bonuses to a specific stat as opposed to making it variable?
I could easily see a system where one's intelligence modifier provided a bonus to hit with magical attacks, one's charisma modifier could provide a bonus to spell DC, and one's wisdom modifier could (perhaps) provide an across-the-board bonus to saves versus magical effects. A system like this would create a network of tradeoffs for spellcasting classes in the same way the physical stats do such for the more martial classes.
Well, in the past. Int was also important because it determined how many skill points you got per level
In 4th, they made Int determine AC if it was higher than your Dex
Tho now Int, Wis and Cha are back to being garbage stats
Even Con feels much more powerful than 3.5/4th edition
Tho I am sure someone will quote me to correct me by saying, something like "but it improves your saving throws!"
Technically, all stats improve your saving throws nowadas (though, saving throws for charisma and intelligence are likely pretty dang rare).
I'd just like to see more of a native mechanical advantage to the mental stats outside of specialized, class-restricted stuff.
Why are mental stats dump stats? Is it because you can't kill at handily with them? Don't make dnd all about damage for every stat to make people feel useful. There is more to this game than damage output
The physical abilities and the mental abilities parallel:
Strength (physical carrying capacity, lift weight) → Intelligence (mental carrying capacity, memory)
• Dexterity (physical agility) → Wisdom (mental agility, perceptiveness)
• Constitution (physical endurance) → Charisma (mental endurance, willpower)
As a thought experiment. If physical weapon attacks parallel mental magical attacks, we might see something like the following.
Intelligence: + hit (+ spell DC), + damage
Wisdom: + defense (+ save v spell) → magic resistance?
Charisma: ability to survive and overcome many magical attacks? deny save-or-dies?
Though there'd definitely be arguments over which stats actually paralleled (I see it as Str=Cha, Dex=Int, and Con=Wis), it is certainly an intriguing thought. One of the difficult parts would be the fact that there simply aren't enough ways in-game to represent those stats; you'd have to make up new abilities/bonuses like you allude to in your post above.
Here's one way in which I might arrange the bonuses.
Str: Attack and damage bonuses, carrying capacity
Dex: Finesse attack and damage bonuses, dodge AC
Int: Magical attack bonuses, Initiative
Cha: Spell DC
I dont associate Wisdom with willpower. I prefer Charisma representing that kind of mental toughness. To me “wisdom” is more graceful, and I like the how perceptiveness parallels physical reflex and balance.
But the disagreements about the abilities, if any, show how poorly defined and confusing the D&D mental abilities are.
If abilities are going to be the foundation of the 5e system, used for everything including skills and improvs, it is urgent for 5e to provide a crystal clear, systematic, and mutually exclusive definition for each ability.
To use these abilities in game, players need to know what an ability can do - and cant do.
I'd be fine with Wisdom contributing towards HP; mind over body and all that. And if we were changing Dex to always be to hit with weapons, and Str to always be damage with weapons (Bows all have mighty ratings, crossbows and a few others exist to be separate from Strength), we might have something.
I, too, like Str/Cha, Dex/Int, and Con/Wis for physical/mental pairings, but I can see Str/Int, Dex/Wis, Con/Cha (it's also the traditional order, spooky) if Wisdom is more Perception and Charisma takes over Willpower (which I could agree with).
Either way, offensive power in a stat shouldn't be taken into consideration when balancing stats: only people who use that stat will deal with it. Offensive power being keyed to different stats only hurts Gishes in the end.
Strength (ability to damage and move the physical world) > Charisma (ability to influence socially)
Dexterity (physical agility) > Intelligence (creativity and mental adroitness)
Constitution (physical endurance) > Wisdom (willpower, sanity, stability)
Perhaps this shows that the current mental ability scores are ill-defined.
All the mental stats govern a wide array of skills and saves. Don't see why they'd be underpowered.
While because of more tricks and techniques every class gets, its diminished but the idea is that anyone can get physical stats and do things similar to what a fighter, barbarian or rogue can do (again maneuvers, and other techniques diminished this in this edition), the same isnt true for mental stats
No matter how much int, wis or cha you have, you will never be able to cast spells like a wizard, cleric, or bard
Then it quickly became that Str, Dex and Con are the combat stats and Int, Wis and Cha are the RP stats
but having a character that can only do RP is no fun, and looked down on. So they invented classes to make use of those stats
Opposite also being true that a pure combat character is only half the game, so they gave those 3 stats some minor skill choices as well
I'd hone the argument by point out that stat selection is supposed to be a game of give-and-take. It is supposed to represent a series of bonuses with offsetting penalties. Unfortunately, such is rarely the case when it comes to the spellcasting stats on non-spellcasting characters. Oftentimes, the only tangible penalty to neglecting the mental stats in favor of the physical stats is a weird look from the other people at the table.
Though, the reason I suggested the change had more to do with the fact that spellcasters only really needed a single mental stat in order to be good at what they do. While strength, constitution, and dexterity are all somewhat vital in performing well at physical combat, a wizard can get away just fine with maxed out intelligence. With standardized bonuses for mental stats, you'd see a much more careful balancing in stat selection for spellcasters.
I know this is a bit of drastic departure from the standard model but perhaps the best way to bring physical and mental stats in to unity would be to include mental HP. I imagine that it should be a relatively small number (Wisdom score + level perhaps) and psychic damage would affect that (And should do a smaller amount of damage to scale properly). So WIS = CON, CHA = STR, and INT = DEX.
That set up makes sense to me and would end up making interesting class parallels as well...
Wizard = Rogue. They're both versatile and quick in their respective ways and 4e certainly drew a parallel between Intelligence and Dexterity with AC and Reflex bonuses.
Sorceror = Barbarian. Charisma would increase spell DCs and effect output making Sorcerors magical powerhouses and helping to properly differentiate them from Wizards. Not as accurate as a Wizard but when the rage... er... magic starts flowing you better get out of the way.
Cleric = Fighter. A high wisdom means mental toughness with physical toughness being the Fighter's schtick of sorts with Parry, armor choices, etc.
There'd be room for high intelligence Clerics or high charisma Wizards just like there's room for high dex Fighters and high strength Rogues. I do think the caster classes should have some level of focus on a particular stat like the martial classes do but I'd also like to see mental stats give more bonuses to martial classes (Little things like what 4e did with Fighters and Wisdom) and physical stats having more importance to caster classes. It'd be nice to have good mechanical reasons to choose to be well rounded instead of specialized. It should be fine to play a stupid brute of a Fighter but it should also be beneficial to give up some strength to be an intelligent and cunning Fighter (Intelligence gets you more maneuvers per level perhaps and Charisma could add a bonus to certain maneuvers). They'd end up fighting differently and that'd be great. In the same vein the in your face trickster Wizard (High dex and Charisma with moderate Intelligence) should be perfectly capable along side, albeit different, than the scholarly academic Wizard.
I'm a bit surprised to find that there seems to be a lot of players that aren't considering the fact that the characters attributes are also designed to weight in on the rp. Of course charisma is gonna be a dumpstat if all you're doing is playing the game as a dungeon crawler slugfest.
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I wouldn't consider applying the stats of your character into the play a house rule, it's always been featured in the how to play your character sections. I'm sure we'll see it in the final product here as well. Also to clarify when I write RP I am considering the PC to NPC interaction, calling for checks and saves, not the players own dramatisation.
In either case and back to topic with the change in how saves work all stats now govern saving throws. So there's also that on the mental powers. It's quite late here so I might have missed some stuff, but this is basically what I see the stats functioning as currently, not taking into account that some also work as prequisits for certain feats:
STR: Damage bonus & attack rolls. Carry Weight. Physical skill tests. Save against grapple & bind.
DEX: Finesse & ranged combat rules, initiative, Armor Class bonus on light armor types. Agility & stealth tests. Saves against dodgeable attacks, falls and traps.
CON: HP. Stamina, Concentration & Fortitude tests. Saves against diseases, pain & poison attacks.
INT: Spell-stat. Smarts, active search, memory & knowledge based tests. Saves against attacks trying to overcome intelligence.
WIS: Spell-Stat. Judgement calls, alertness & judging character tests. Saves against charm, fear, illusion and influence.
CHA: Spell-Stat (to be according to the rules, no class yet though), Calm, decieve, inspire tests. Save against compulsion.
In the end I find them all important, much more so than before since we no longer have skill points.
It may help to consider how often specific attributes are added to actual rolls (or otherwise impacted by rolls).
STR and DEX are used nearly every character in every combat situation. Outside of combat, CON is typically less useful, but STR and DEX still see a lot of play during skill checks and contests. Typically a character is forced to choose between them: high DEX means lighter armor and finesse weapons (rendering STR unnecessary), whereas more powerful weapons and heavier armor make DEX unncessary. Even so, DEX saves are much more frequent than most other saves.
CON has plenty of combat use (HPs, hit dice recovery, and Con saves), though out-of-combat it seems to be restricted to endurance tests. Those happen in games, but not often enough for it to rival how often most other attributes are employed. How many times has your group force-marched to exhuastion, compared to how many times the fighter had to lift something heavy?
WIS also typically modifies saving throws in combat, and high WIS helps Perception checks, which can influence surprise rounds. Clerics benefit from higher WIS in combat. Outside of combat, WIS has quite a few uses.
INT has no discernible combat advantages, except helping out wizard attacks. Outside of combat, knowledge skills are typically used as a vehicle for the DM to provide exposition. The use of these vary depend on the DM and the requirements of the story. It's certainly possible for INT to be life-or-death (maybe disarming traps?) but it sees much less use, roll-for-roll, than the other skills.
CHA sits at the bottom. There are very few CHA saves, but even if there were more, it would still lag behind because it lacks other in-combat advantages. Outside of combat, CHA can be potentially very useful, but the bonus from having a Persuade, Bluff, or Intimidate skill die severely outweighs a low CHA bonus. (No one would ever go above 12 or 14 currently).
In a social situation, I don't think I'd make any character roll more than 1 or 2 CHA checks, while in combat a character will be using STR, DEX, and CON at least 2-3 times every round. That, I think, is the crux of it. Let's have a few more fun combat uses for CON/WIS/INT/CHA while improving their out-of-combat options too.
Even if I play a dumb jock like a fighter or barbarian, I still would like to be benefit from a 12-14 WIS, INT, or CHA. While I'm at it, wizards and clerics with 18 WIS/INT/CHA should feel like those choices really made them stronger in some noticable ways.
Charisma: I really like tying this stat to magic item usage, as the packet experiments with. Make it clear to players that many magic items require a sort of personality clash, and so players with high CHA can use magic items better. There should not be a penalty for low CHA, but rather a bonus for high CHA. I like the idea of limited attunements, but that feels too much like a penalty, and many games would never see lots of magic items distributed (especially if you're low level).
Other things it could influence: mass combat situations (morale), shopkeeper prices (no checks please, just a straight +X% or -X% mod based on CHA), acquiring or retaining followers, intimidating foes in combat (fear), redirecting foes (Sanctuary-like effect), saves against charm effects, etc.
Intelligence: Languages, bonus skills, gadgetry knowledge. Improvising traps/obstacles like caltrops, or special effects like smoke bombs.
I'm sure others can think of more. I just want to see more attribute uses that exist outside of a class context.
Use Magic Devices still wasnt removed from Rogue? zzz
Currently the majority of spell saves are running off DEX, CON, WIS. With four spells saving with CHA. NO spells saving with STR or INT.
So all stats are not applying saves. So the argument that "they are all saves" is false. Im amazed so many people havnt noticed this.
Oh and closing your eyes and ears yelling "lalala there is no dump stats" doesnt make it so. Check the pregens and show me the 16 cha/int martial class.
But that is all off topic. The OP asks: should mental stats be balanced more within the caster classes so you cant just pump one stat to gain maximum caster benefit?
I think unless they make things like AC HP and initiative run partly on mental stats as well (higher of X or Y) casters would be left with too many stats to buy as they need to buy 3 mental stats for casting (Combt or not) and 2 physical for survivability.
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