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tombowings
2016-05-03, 04:53 AM
I've been working on a great deal of new homebrew for D&D 5e. One of the things I enjoy doing, is eliminating dump stats, or rather giving uses to stats that are normal ignored - making a Primal Path for the barbarian that allows the character to utilize Charisma in addition to STR, CON, and DEX - or a Wizard that has a use for Strength.

From the comments I received, I've noticed that people fall into two groups:


1) The other group seems to like the idea of finally being able to make an intelligent fighter or a paladin that is capable of simple multiplication.

2) Those that like having dump stats. They don't like when a ranger has much use for intelligence, because it competes with their characters' need for Dex and Wis. One of the things I've run into pretty often is that characters should only have two main stats. If you want to add a third, get rid of the first or second.


After coming to this realization, I found the second group's opinions to be a little confusing, and I decided to look for a second opinion, which led me here.

So what about you? Do you like being able to safely dump certain states, or do you prefer when all attributes are useful character types?

Knaight
2016-05-03, 05:00 AM
Position two is very much a system specific thing, where making dump stats useful can end up effectively weakening characters that use a system built for a dump stat paradigm. I tend to favor classless systems, so all stats being useful is an obvious preference.

Gastronomie
2016-05-03, 05:03 AM
What you homebrewed is perfectly fine, and it's a wonderful idea. Don't listen to the powergamers and just do as you want, because they don't have the right to stop you.

Also, if you use stat-rolling instead of point-buying, you don't need to worry anymore about "lowering the primary stats to make a dump stat higher". No, I don't want this thread to turn into a stat-roll v.s. point-buy rant, but still, a valid option.

If you're REALLY frustrated about not being able to make, say, an intelligent Ranger, ask the DM if he's flexible - flexible enough to let the Ranger use INT as his casting stat and stuff like that.

goto124
2016-05-03, 05:21 AM
They don't like when a ranger has much use for intelligence, because it competes with their characters' need for Dex and Wis. One of the things I've run into pretty often is that characters should only have two main stats. If you want to add a third, get rid of the first or second.

So... SAD versus MAD?

eggynack
2016-05-03, 06:26 AM
I tend to like having dump stats. If all or most of your stats are important, then stat allocation decisions are necessarily a careful calculus, with deviations from the norm being a thing that must be done with optimization thought in mind. Like, consider the 3.5 wizard, who can safely dump strength, wisdom, and charisma, and who may be able to drop some dexterity if pressed. There, once you have your important stats figured out, spare space can be assigned to one of those stats usually dumped, and you can make your wizard a charismatic or wise one. You have more points to work with, so going a suboptimal route is fine. By contrast, consider the 3.5 monk. More of your stats are critical, so if you want to make, say, a charismatic monk, then you're taking a huge bite out of your already lacking viability. If we look at your designs in this context, while you'll certainly wind up with a charismatic barbarian, you'll also make your primal barbarians look a lot more alike than the barbarians of any other type. In this sense, dump stats can be considered a tool of folks with an eye to flavor, rather than power.

As for thing building itself, it's all pretty straightforward, I think. Needing more stats to function is a downside, as you're reducing effectiveness in abilities based on the old set of important stats, so you should make any ability that adds more needed stats more powerful to compensate, relative to other available options. This helps a bit with my already claimed issue too, cause now you have some more potency to work with when you choose to push one of your usually dumped stats. Worth considering also is how powerful the class was at the base, because a strong class will require less in the way of a buff than a strong one, and also how many stats the class needed, because if the class already used an above average number of stats then losing a dump stat will hurt more.

Khedrac
2016-05-03, 06:41 AM
I like having stats that I don't need to worry about making high, but I don't like letting them get too low either.

E.g. in 3.5 D&D I using point buy I will buy stats with a penalty up to 8, and given enough points will go for a minimum of 10 in every stat.

A lot depends on the system. In a system where stats define a character but are not subject to damage then a low stat can be fun to roleplay.

In systems where stats are subject to damage, such as 3.5 D&D, that's when not having low stats becomes important.
E.g., while nearly everyone is aware of the risk shadows pose to the low-strength characters, it gets forgotten that ghosts can have the ability to choose which stat to hit... (Until stat protection kicks in.)

So, do I like dump stats? Well it depends, if they can be used to be interesting then "yes", if they are simply a weakness chosen while 'min./maxing' then "no".

SirBellias
2016-05-03, 06:56 AM
I'd prefer a system where every stat could be useful to every archetype, but none are actually mandatory. In a pinch (as in I haven't found a system that does this particularly well) I guess I would prefer classes having one main stat and different abilities attached to the others, to make them a bit more variable.

Cluedrew
2016-05-03, 07:15 AM
Woot! Game design research.

OK I have two pieces of advice:
Listen to the "power gamers".
Don't listen to the "power gamers".
Which is to say, the power gamers do in fact bring up a reasonable point, in my opinion they just try and solve it in the wrong way.

The point being D&D is a game that depends on balance, I have played other games where you don't need balance, not as it would be viewed in D&D at least. But here you need all the characters to be competent. The problem the power gamers bring up is that spreading your character's power around across the different stats the lower the competence of the character is. The solution to this is simple, its allow characters to be different types of competent.

So if they take some points out of their original main stat and then put it somewhere else make sure they get something out of it to. What that something is up to you, but make sure it keeps the character viable. That should deal with the character balance issue, while both making all stats more appealing and allowing for more variety in characters.

tombowings
2016-05-03, 07:48 AM
I'd prefer a system where every stat could be useful to every archetype, but none are actually mandatory. In a pinch (as in I haven't found a system that does this particularly well) I guess I would prefer classes having one main stat and different abilities attached to the others, to make them a bit more variable.

This is also my favored approach as well. I like the idea of having one or two main stats for different types of characters, and then being able to choose a third based on the type of character you want to create. Furthermore, any of those stats should be viable as the character's highest stat.

Here's an example.



Let's scratch-up a ranger.

In our non-existent game, the ranger is normally dependent on DEX/STR and WIS, Dexterity or Strength for combat prowess and and Wisdom for spellcasting. Strength-based rangers favor melee, Dexterity based rangers favor ranged combat.

Great! We have initial set ups. DEX + WIS or STR + WIS. Now we add out third stat.

Dexterity / Strength - Choose the other one was you've got a character with both good melee and ranged capabilities.

Constitution - Choose CON as your third state to increase survivability and possibly adding class features to further toughen up the character.

Intelligence - Choose INT as your third stat is increase your ability to increase hit and damage bonuses vs. your favored enemies.

Charisma - Choose CHA to increase your leadership abilities and help your party work together better as a team.



That's just an example. The specifics aren't important. In fact, the above example is quite mediocre but nonetheless gets my point across: You get 3 important abilities - two from your class, one more by choice.

What would you all think of something like this?

goto124
2016-05-03, 07:49 AM
IIRC, DnD classes are designed by the stats they're best at. For example, Fighter = Strength, Wizard = Intelligence, and so on.

EDIT: Ninja'ed by a good idea! Though, what if there was only one important stat, and the other one or two stats give extras?

tombowings
2016-05-03, 08:09 AM
EDIT: Ninja'ed by a good idea! Though, what if there was only one important stat, and the other one or two stats give extras?

Sure. It would probably end up depending on the class. With the wizard, one main stat is probably enough. Same with the fighter (STR for bruiser types or DEX was swashbuckling types). I happened to choose ranger, which comes with more baggage - same for the paladin.

Actually, having the ranger and paladin return to being fighter sub-classes and the bard a rogue sub-class would eliminate those inherently MAD classes almost completely.

Takewo
2016-05-03, 08:13 AM
I don't really like stats.

That said, I like dump stats in character concepts and roleplaying (one of my favourites is interpreting 6-7 wisdom as lack of concentration). What I don't like is how they work mechanically. Let's assume that I play an ugly, grumpy guy. Great, I can never be good at Intimidation. It doesn't matter how many skill points I use or how high my proficiency bonus is. Getting as competent at Intimidation as a character with average charisma will always be more costly and a suboptimal* choice. In short, I think that mechanically dump stats make certain character concepts more difficult to build.

*I don't mean that all choices should be optimal or that any character less than optimal is unplayable. But it annoys me to have to spend resources that I could be using in expanding my character concept simply to be average at something.

DJ Yung Crunk
2016-05-03, 08:16 AM
Conflicts make better stories. Dump stats give a higher probability of conflict. Ergo.

Geddy2112
2016-05-03, 08:19 AM
I like them in the sense that nobody is good at everything, everyone has something they suck at doing.

I generally dislike having a dump stat attached to a class, like intelligence for rangers or wisdom for paladins, as it limits the types of people in these roles. There are certainly less highly intelligent rangers than wizards, as all wizards are intelligent, but it is nice to see rangers that can do fractions. Likewise, full arcane casters are usually charisma and strength dumping, so they end up weak and crotchety. Constitution is never a dump stat in 3.X because its just too important to not die.

I prefer each class at least having some use for all stats instead of being able to throw one down a well, and some that can't be ignored.

tombowings
2016-05-03, 08:19 AM
I don't really like stats.

That said, I like dump stats in character concepts and roleplaying (one of my favourites is interpreting 6-7 wisdom as lack of concentration). What I don't like is how they work mechanically. Let's assume that I play an ugly, grumpy guy. Great, I can never be good at Intimidation. It doesn't matter how many skill points I use or how high my proficiency bonus is. Getting as competent at Intimidation as a character with average charisma will always be more costly and a suboptimal* choice. In short, I think that mechanically dump stats make certain character concepts more difficult to build.

Sounds like what you really don't like is the interaction between the skill system and stats. Having specific skills attached to specific stats can be problematic in some case, as you bring up. Intimidate is, of course, the best example. Allowing certain skills to uncoupled from stats makes them more flexible. Two different character can intimidate differently, the first through open or hidden threats, the other through physical intimidation.

Takewo
2016-05-03, 08:26 AM
Sounds like what you really don't like is the interaction between the skill system and stats. Having specific skills attached to specific stats can be problematic in some case, as you bring up. Intimidate is, of course, the best example. Allowing certain skills to uncoupled from stats makes them more flexible. Two different character can intimidate differently, the first through open or hidden threats, the other through physical intimidation.

That's a way to put it. But I think it's more with the system. In D&D, for instance, it's very difficult to play a character who is really clumsy but who reacts really quickly (low Dex - high initiative).

NichG
2016-05-03, 08:29 AM
Intrinsically better choices feel good because its easy to be correct, but in the long run they make for fewer interesting options and less real depth to the system. However, there's an orthogonal issue, which is the particular way in which the various factors are balanced against each other in order to make the choice non-trivial. That other direction has to do with whether the system makes you feel like because you had to optimize in one direction, you're failing in another direction; versus, because you optimized in one direction, you have one set of choices versus another different set of choices that you'd have if you had gone in a different direction.

D&D tends towards hurting you for being below average in a direction, but it also heavily penalizes you for not making the obvious choice to go all in on your central thing. If you have a bit lower Wis than average, you get a bit of a passive vulnerability. If you don't put skill points into Balance, you'll end up in a situation where anyone with even a tiny investment could have just taken 10 but in your case its a serious problem. And so on. Also, for classes that are dependent on multiple abilities, often the structure is 'if you're below this bar, you lose access to thing X that you should normally get'. Like, if you have a low Wis as a paladin, you lose access to some spell levels. That kind of thing makes it a sort of 'well, I'm not being rewarded for having a high Wis, but I am being punished if I have a low Wis' feel.

So when you have a case where you need multiple things, it feels like you're going to get punished no matter what you do, which means that whatever interesting choices you make about what to sacrifice and what to keep, often you sort of feel like you're behind where you should be. So that's kind of an unpleasant sensation.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Compare with the class system - if you play a wizard, you probably don't really feel like you're failing at being a cleric, even though you did have to choose between which set of powers you wanted to have. So I think dump stats are sort of a necessary evil in a system that has lots of ways to punish you for being bad at things, but if you were to adjust the state system more towards a proactive structure instead of a defensive structure then you could get rid of dump stats and have a much better over-all game design.

Vinyadan
2016-05-03, 09:38 AM
Personally, I am for a system where stat death is a very concrete chance. 0 STR? You're too weak to breathe! 0 WIS? You forget you need air to live! 0 DEX? You can't keep a position which allows your body to correctly function! 0 CHA? Well, I am not sure, because charisma looks outward, but "you are so incapable of relating with the outside world that you suffer a dissociation of your consciousness from your body and die" sounds possible. 0 CON? Your body can't sustain itself and dies! 0 INT? You don't know you need to breathe!
With a decent number of enemies slinging deliberate attacks to strike stats, having a dump stat becomes a risk, but also a bet. I suppose this would be enraging in situations which want your character to stay alive for long, but would be fun for dungeon crawls.

tombowings
2016-05-03, 09:40 AM
Intrinsically better choices feel good because its easy to be correct, but in the long run they make for fewer interesting options and less real depth to the system. However, there's an orthogonal issue, which is the particular way in which the various factors are balanced against each other in order to make the choice non-trivial. That other direction has to do with whether the system makes you feel like because you had to optimize in one direction, you're failing in another direction; versus, because you optimized in one direction, you have one set of choices versus another different set of choices that you'd have if you had gone in a different direction.

That's an excellent point. In some ways, D&D punishes you for what you don't specialize in, especially the way skill points work in 3.5 compared to 4e or SW SAGA.

I love games like DragonQuest (a quazi-class-based game), where your lock picking skill ends up being something like [2 x Manual Dexterity] + [6 x level]%. d00-based system - or roll under system in general - seem to avoid a lot of this problem. No matter how high your dexterity is and how many levels in thief you have, you're never going to get more than a 100% chance of success. This allows you three methods of attaining success - though a high stat, thought many levels, or some combination of the two. For me, it strikes a nice balance.

D&D on the other hand feels more like a ladder. As your modifiers go up, so do the DCs. Essentially, having a high modifier doesn't matter, as you were no more likely to succeed in your chosen specialty as you were at 1st level. However, everything that you choose not to specialize in tanks in comparison as you increase in level. Your high-str/con wizard may have done reasonably well in melee at 1st level compared to the party cleric, but that difference is going to become wider and wider, until at some point your melee ability is complete useless.

tombowings
2016-05-03, 09:42 AM
Personally, I am for a system where stat death is a very concrete chance. 0 STR? You're too weak to breathe! 0 WIS? You forget you need air to live! 0 DEX? You can't keep a position which allows your body to correctly function! 0 CHA? Well, I am not sure, because charisma looks outward, but "you are so incapable of relating with the outside world that you suffer a dissociation of your consciousness from your body and die" sounds possible. 0 CON? Your body can't sustain itself and dies! 0 INT? You don't know you need to breathe!
With a decent number of enemies slinging deliberate attacks to strike stats, having a dump stat becomes a risk, but also a bet. I suppose this would be enraging in situations which want your character to stay alive for long, but would be fun for dungeon crawls.

Pendragon handles this quite well. Over the course of many adventures, you stats will begin to decrease because of injury or old age. When you reach 0 in any stat, you die. Sounds similar to me and works quite well in practice.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-03, 09:47 AM
I've been working on a great deal of new homebrew for D&D 5e. One of the things I enjoy doing, is eliminating dump stats, or rather giving uses to stats that are normal ignored - making a Primal Path for the barbarian that allows the character to utilize Charisma in addition to STR, CON, and DEX - or a Wizard that has a use for Strength. From the comments I received, I've noticed that people fall into two groups:
1) The other group seems to like the idea of finally being able to make an intelligent fighter or a paladin that is capable of simple multiplication. 2) Those that like having dump stats. They don't like when a ranger has much use for intelligence, because it competes with their characters' need for Dex and Wis. One of the things I've run into pretty often is that characters should only have two main stats. If you want to add a third, get rid of the first or second.
After coming to this realization, I found the second group's opinions to be a little confusing, and I decided to look for a second opinion, which led me here. So what about you? Do you like being able to safely dump certain states, or do you prefer when all attributes are useful character types?

Dump stats are an artifact of systems that hyper-emphasize fitting a character into a single "archetypical" role -- "the class" -- and basing critical abilities on one or two specific "attributes".

I hate them as part of my general distaste for class-based systems.

Âmesang
2016-05-03, 10:25 AM
Two of my favorite characters were built with point-buy, and were also based on characters I had pre-created outside of a roleplaying environment (artwork, SoulCalibur's character creation, etc.). So being that these characters had pre-existing personalities and appearances, dump stats actually serve as a useful tool for presenting the character in a particular way. Yeah, in the case of point-buy it can be seen as a bit of power gaming; I won't argue against that. At the same time everyone isn't going to be perfect in every stat; everyone has weaknesses, some of which are typically hidden, some of which can be exploited, some of which can be built upon:

Den Bloodsoul, 3rd-level Pathfinder Gaul human ranger: Str 18/Dex 16/Con 12/Int 12/Wis 14/Cha 7 — Very much the strong, silent type. Only speaks if what she has to say is important or sarcastic, otherwise prefers to keep to herself and to stay out of the way of others. A "mind's her own business type," or like a hornet who'll only fight if attacked first; this also leads to a severe lack of social interaction. Focuses on Strength (greatsword, unarmed attacks/grapples) and Dexterity (longbow, overall defense), fairly Intelligent and Wise, with a hit to Constitution due to a smoking and drinking habit (but sort of makes up for it with Endurance, Diehard, and Heart of the Wilderness). ::From a purely gameplay perspective, the Dex 16 was to get the most out of her breastplate while being competent in the longbow due to her SoulCalibur variation carrying a quiver of arrows as decoration. The Wis 14 was, naturally, to give her access to all ranger spell levels when the time comes.::

Quintessa, 16th-level D&D 3.5 Suel human sorceress/archmage: Str 7/Dex 15/Con 13/Int 16/Wis 9/Cha 28 — Grew up in an aristocratic lifestyle, lap of luxury, etc., disdaining physical activities and melee combat, save for more agility-based activities (crossbows, dancing, book-on-head-balancing). Quite Intelligent, but a little foolish; clearly suffers from delusions of grandeur and is typically lost in her own little world. Despite the Wisdom penalty, however, her choice of classes still gives her a strong Will which pushes her to succeed. ::From a purely gameplay perspective, the Int 16 was to fill out all of her sorcerer skills, save for Use Magic Device instead of Profession. The Dex 15 was to represent her noble-raised grace and poise and work more with the archmage's arcane reach, and the Con 13 to fit with her rather curvaceous appearance. I dump-statted Wis 9 because I kind of like an otherwise "iron willed" character being foolish, not thinking twice, perhaps overlooking critical details in her otherwise "brilliant" plans… especially since her quasit familiar has a higher Wisdom. Lots of face palming ensues.::

Dothal Hammerfist, 3rd-level D&D 5th gold dwarf cleric: Str 13/Dex 10/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 14/Cha 13 — Actually I generated his stats using 3d6 in order. :smalltongue: I'm playing in a rather killer campaign and I even borrowed the name on the figurine I'm using. Nothing remarkably high but he luckily has it where it counts, but since he's not based on a pre-existing character that leaves me to come up with a personality based on his stats and how I'll end up playing him… well, depending on how much actual "roleplaying" we do. If I had to come up with something off of the top of my head… sensible, bold, making up for his average Intellect with a healthy dose of common sense. Strong and healthy without being too slow or sluggish.


Let's assume that I play an ugly, grumpy guy. Great, I can never be good at Intimidation. It doesn't matter how many skill points I use or how high my proficiency bonus is. Getting as competent at Intimidation as a character with average charisma will always be more costly and a suboptimal choice.
Maybe this is a more personal interpretation, but I tend to look at "Charisma = appearance" as a reflection of how one presents oneself. You could be one ugly son-of-a-barghest and yet still dress in a fancy suit, fancy armor, etc., projecting an oppressive visage with a commanding voice ("I say gaze into the hypnotic power of my EVIL EYE!!"). Likewise one could be reasonably attractive yet be as quiet and "small" as a church mouse, the type who dresses however and would get lost in a crowd.

…or did Playgirl have a Joseph Stalin pin-up issue I wasn't aware of?

Takewo
2016-05-03, 10:42 AM
Maybe this is a more personal interpretation, but I tend to look at "Charisma = appearance" as a reflection of how one presents oneself. You could be one ugly son-of-a-barghest and yet still dress in a fancy suit, fancy armor, etc., projecting an oppressive visage with a commanding voice ("I say gaze into the hypnotic power of my EVIL EYE!!"). Likewise one could be reasonably attractive yet be as quiet and "small" as a church mouse, the type who dresses however and would get lost in a crowd.

…or did Playgirl have a Joseph Stalin pin-up issue I wasn't aware of?

There are so many interpretations of what Charisma means that it is impossible to fit them all in one phrase. When I said "ugly, grumpy guy" (by the way, note the part where it says "grumpy"), I was referring to the social handicaps attached to low Charisma, feel free to substitute those two adjectives for any others that describe what low Charisma means to you.

As for the rest of your post, as you have very well shown, I think that dump stats are great when it comes to character concept and roleplaying. But when it comes to game mechanics, I think that they are horrible.

tombowings
2016-05-03, 10:50 AM
As for the rest of your post, as you have very well shown, I think that dump stats are great when it comes to character concept and roleplaying. But when it comes to game mechanics, I think that they are horrible.

And what is your solution?

kyoryu
2016-05-03, 11:09 AM
Personally, I like the way Fate handles things.

There's really just skills (which opens up build variety). In most versions of the game, you pick one skill at the peak level, two at one level down, and so on until you're out of slots.

So the idea of a "dump" stat (in terms of drop one thing way down to move another thing up) really doesn't exist.

nedz
2016-05-03, 11:19 AM
It's a playstyle thing, obviously.

If you like your characters to be good at everything, or at least bad at nothing, then you will not like dump stats.

If you like your characters to have more definition then weaknesses are more interesting.

There is no right answer but since we are being asked our opinions then I go with the latter. I like my characters to be good at their jobs, but screwing up when they try to step outside them is fun.

Mark Hall
2016-05-03, 11:35 AM
Dump stats only exist if you... or the system... allows you to effectively ignore certain ability scores without a loss of function. The highly intelligent player whose character has a 3 INT but always comes up with the best plans? He's making use of a dump stat. The Charismatic player whose characters have a 3 Charisma but he's always the face because he talks so much better than everyone else? He's getting away with a dump stat.

If you want to avoid dump stats, make all of the attributes mechanically significant to the majority of players. Wizards can frequently dump Strength because they don't fight with weapons and have little to carry... but strength should still matter to them, for whatever reason, if you want to avoid dump stats.

Grod_The_Giant
2016-05-03, 11:52 AM
And what is your solution?
Simple. You remove stats as mechanical entities altogether, and add a system more like Fate's Aspects to represent character traits in a way with much less mechanical importance.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-03, 12:07 PM
It's a playstyle thing, obviously.

If you like your characters to be good at everything, or at least bad at nothing, then you will not like dump stats.

If you like your characters to have more definition then weaknesses are more interesting.

There is no right answer but since we are being asked our opinions then I go with the latter. I like my characters to be good at their jobs, but screwing up when they try to step outside them is fun.

I agree, it is a play style thing. And honestly, I believe that groups tend to be a bit more interesting if they have a mix of the two. You know, the normal people and then the person they hide from diplomatic meetings.

Through I disagree that melee types can often just pump up STR/DEX in DnD. They need a bit of CON and if they want to have any social skills, need to pump up a mental stat. Most spellcasters can just cast out of battle and often have spells to render some out of combat skills unnecessary for themselves.

I am not familiar with 5e, but I would find it amusing to have a CHA/DEX ranger in place of a DEX/WIS one. I am very much a fan of alternate dependencies.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-03, 12:08 PM
It's a playstyle thing, obviously.

If you like your characters to be good at everything, or at least bad at nothing, then you will not like dump stats.

If you like your characters to have more definition then weaknesses are more interesting.

There is no right answer but since we are being asked our opinions then I go with the latter. I like my characters to be good at their jobs, but screwing up when they try to step outside them is fun.


The flip side is that characters can end up as "one trick ponies".

However, "Dump stats" don't really make characters "flawed", that's what makes them "dump stats" -- they're just something you can dump. It's the class-based character generation itself that both makes characters narrow, and allows for dump stats.

wumpus
2016-05-03, 12:22 PM
Dump stats only exist if you... or the system... allows you to effectively ignore certain ability scores without a loss of function. The highly intelligent player whose character has a 3 INT but always comes up with the best plans? He's making use of a dump stat. The Charismatic player whose characters have a 3 Charisma but he's always the face because he talks so much better than everyone else? He's getting away with a dump stat.

If you want to avoid dump stats, make all of the attributes mechanically significant to the majority of players. Wizards can frequently dump Strength because they don't fight with weapons and have little to carry... but strength should still matter to them, for whatever reason, if you want to avoid dump stats.

Note that the inevitably dumped charisma stat should lead to the party being known as "The Face's excellent adventure" and barely acknowledging "those other jerks who hung around him" (assuming that the Face pumped up his charisma accordingly). Of course, if the Face is the bard the songs sung in a few years might well be about the bard and ignoring the rest (Roy and Halley might be safe with Elan, but how many are like Elan). He who writes the history and all that...

Don't overdo it. Unless you really expect the meatshield to be casting spells or the wizard to wrestle orcs, [demi]humans are going to specialize. There are certainly going to be some level of "dump stat[s]". The question should come down to are how your non-heroic stats compare to the average villager.

Quertus
2016-05-03, 12:32 PM
Well, I want to be able to run a dumb barbarian. But I also want to be able to run a smart barbarian, a weak fighter, or a dumb wizard. 3.x does not facilitate many of these concepts, but I played a 9 strength fighter in 2e without difficulty.

The problem with 3e game balance is that there is a minimal competence requirement. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that almost all classes are SAD or MAD. I want class that are NAD - No Attribute Dependant.

Now, I think it would be nice if every class could benefit from every stat, without any stat being required. Perhaps you get a certain number of sub classes, like kits or prestige classes; and this number may increase add you level. A fighter with intelligence as secondary or higher qualifies for the tactician sub class, which grants certain options and abilities, whereas a fighter with wisdom and strength or dex prioritized in the top three might qualify for ranger or paladin.

Pex
2016-05-03, 12:57 PM
Since your character will not have 18's across the board and as such will usually have at least one low score, definitely so if you use Point Buy, then the math of the game leads you to place your lowest scores where they will hurt you the least. Individual mileage varies, of course, but that's the trend. Players want and are entitled to have their character function mathematically competently as the game necessitates. Situations will arise where the low score is going to matter in some way as game play is wont to do. That falls into the realm of "oh shucks" and move on.

In any case, it is never the DM's purview to resent where a player positions his scores and punish him for it. That's not to say never have anything happen that uses the low score. That's the normal wont of the game. However, the DM should not purposely go out of his way to attack that low score to show the player who's boss for the audacity of placing a low score somewhere the DM hates.

Takewo
2016-05-03, 01:03 PM
And what is your solution?

This:

Personally, I like the way Fate handles things.

If I can avoid it, I don't use systems based on attributes.

Also, we really needn't find a solution, because:


There is no right answer but since we are being asked our opinions . . .

Flickerdart
2016-05-03, 01:23 PM
I like dump stats. Dump stats let you define your character by what he's bad at, as well as what he's good at. In a system designed to properly support dump stats, it won't be crippling that my fighter can't talk people into lying down and waiting for his sword (or that my fighter can't kill people without talking them into lying down first).

In a system that's not designed to support dump stats, I can't mechanically represent character weaknesses without facing rightful accusations of being That Guy, because I've jeopardized party effectiveness.

nedz
2016-05-03, 01:26 PM
Dump stats only exist if you... or the system... allows you to effectively ignore certain ability scores without a loss of function. The highly intelligent player whose character has a 3 INT but always comes up with the best plans? He's making use of a dump stat. The Charismatic player whose characters have a 3 Charisma but he's always the face because he talks so much better than everyone else? He's getting away with a dump stat.

This is bad role-playing or ... an old school playstyle. :smallamused:


I am not familiar with 5e, but I would find it amusing to have a CHA/DEX ranger in place of a DEX/WIS one. I am very much a fan of alternate dependencies.
It can be done in 3.5 - just not with the Ranger class.

The flip side is that characters can end up as "one trick ponies".

However, "Dump stats" don't really make characters "flawed", that's what makes them "dump stats" -- they're just something you can dump. It's the class-based character generation itself that both makes characters narrow, and allows for dump stats.
These are different issues.
One trick ponies are caused by min-maxing the numbers, experienced players optimise for character options.
You can have dump stats in non class based systems too - though it may be a system dependency.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-03, 01:51 PM
Dump stats only exist if you... or the system... allows you to effectively ignore certain ability scores without a loss of function. The highly intelligent player whose character has a 3 INT but always comes up with the best plans? He's making use of a dump stat. The Charismatic player whose characters have a 3 Charisma but he's always the face because he talks so much better than everyone else? He's getting away with a dump stat.


If one of my players had tried that over the years, I'd have first made a comment about how their low-INT character seemed pretty smart, or low-CHA character seemed quite personable and loquacious... then asked if they wanted to rebuild their character to reflect how they were playing it... and then started telling them to make INT rolls before detailing their plans or CHA rolls before talking to the NPCs...

Knaight
2016-05-03, 02:52 PM
If you like your characters to have more definition then weaknesses are more interesting.


I like dump stats. Dump stats let you define your character by what he's bad at, as well as what he's good at. In a system designed to properly support dump stats, it won't be crippling that my fighter can't talk people into lying down and waiting for his sword (or that my fighter can't kill people without talking them into lying down first).

Weaknesses and dump stats are two completely different things. Dump stats are when particular archetypes find particular stats completely useless, and while that tends to generate weaknesses it tends to generate the exact same weaknesses over and over for certain types of characters. Something like just having limited character points can produce a whole bunch of distinct characters with distinct weaknesses. Mechanisms which let you play weaknesses without being "That Guy" because it will come back to strengthen the party later.

I don't think anyone in this thread who dislikes dump stats dislikes character weaknesses. I know that at least in my case, the limitations on character weaknesses are part of why I dislike dump stats.

kyoryu
2016-05-03, 03:16 PM
I don't think anyone in this thread who dislikes dump stats dislikes character weaknesses. I know that at least in my case, the limitations on character weaknesses are part of why I dislike dump stats.

Agreed.

The other thing is the min-maxing associated with dump stats. I don't like that type of hyper-focused character in my gaming.

nedz
2016-05-03, 03:48 PM
Weaknesses and dump stats are two completely different things. Dump stats are when particular archetypes find particular stats completely useless, and while that tends to generate weaknesses it tends to generate the exact same weaknesses over and over for certain types of characters. Something like just having limited character points can produce a whole bunch of distinct characters with distinct weaknesses. Mechanisms which let you play weaknesses without being "That Guy" because it will come back to strengthen the party later.

I don't think anyone in this thread who dislikes dump stats dislikes character weaknesses. I know that at least in my case, the limitations on character weaknesses are part of why I dislike dump stats.

IDK about the views of everyone in this thread - I was only going on first hand experience of the people I have played with.

It is possible to create a character with a number of possible dump stats - the SAD caster say - whereas the more MAD mundane characters tend to have more predictable dump stats.

Now there is nothing stopping you from creating a character with several RP weaknesses - but mechanical weaknesses have to map to low numbers somehow.

eggynack
2016-05-03, 03:51 PM
So when you have a case where you need multiple things, it feels like you're going to get punished no matter what you do, which means that whatever interesting choices you make about what to sacrifice and what to keep, often you sort of feel like you're behind where you should be. So that's kind of an unpleasant sensation.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Compare with the class system - if you play a wizard, you probably don't really feel like you're failing at being a cleric, even though you did have to choose between which set of powers you wanted to have. So I think dump stats are sort of a necessary evil in a system that has lots of ways to punish you for being bad at things, but if you were to adjust the state system more towards a proactive structure instead of a defensive structure then you could get rid of dump stats and have a much better over-all game design.
This is very true. Looking at a more score-centric example, there is a fundamental difference between wisdom on a monk and charisma on a cleric. For the monk, wisdom investment is critical just to get you back to normal relative to an armored fighter. Failing to put in the points makes your character worse, and it feels bad.

With a cleric though, charisma is nice to have, and putting in the points helps a lot, but it’s not mission critical. Investing makes you better, but it's an investment putting you above normal. In a character sense, nor a tier sense. You're not really worse off for not having it, or, to put it another way, you can safely dump it.

I think that's the real goal, when all is said and done. The ideal stat, design-wise, is one where you can invest and be happy, but also dump and be fine. That's what a real choice looks like.

Knaight
2016-05-03, 04:29 PM
Now there is nothing stopping you from creating a character with several RP weaknesses - but mechanical weaknesses have to map to low numbers somehow.

A mechanical weakness that maps to low numbers isn't the same thing as a dump stat though. It's only a dump stat if there's a particular stat that's generally useless to a character in the first place, and as such tends to get dumped over and over again. Lets take the core concept of the D&D Fighter - someone who is a combat specialist - and look at six different mechanical weaknesses that correspond to the D&D attributes.
Strength: This could represent an older character who's not as vigorous as they were in their youth, someone who fights but has always been on the small side, etc. There are mechanical weaknesses associated with it. It's not a dump stat, even if lowered.
Dexterity: This lowers initiative, ranged attacks, and unarmored defense. A low dexterity makes sense for a number of fighter types, like burly melee specialists who are a bit on the sluggish side. It's not really a dump stat, but leans that way a bit.
Constitution: An older character is the obvious case here again, but a big unhealthy character or a sickly character could also make sense. There's a lot of ways that being lower on endurance hurts. It's definitely not a dump stat though.
Wisdom: You've got your brash young characters, your overly stubborn and set in their way characters, your just plain unobservant characters. All would have low wisdom, all are a weakness. This is getting into dump stat territory.
Intelligence: There's the whole dumb muscle concept, that fits in well here. This is a dump stat though, so you get a huge amount of dumb muscle.
Charisma: The dumb muscle concept often would involve bad charisma too, but there are other examples. The unassuming character who blends into the background until they pull a weapon, the pompous noble who's all easily ignored bluster other than being a talented duelist, the lower class character who spent their life as a retainer for the upper class and generally avoided notice and got no practice being charismatic but serves as a bodyguard, whatever. Again, this is a dump stat, and with int the other dump stat dumb muscle predominates.

If all six stats were reliably useful (even if not equally so) for everyone, there would be a lot more variety. You would get a bigger variety of weaknesses, a bigger variety of strengths, the reintroduction of characters who are good but not great at the lot of them, so on and so forth. With a dump stat system, the system rewards having a couple of very high stats, a couple of very low stats, and the rest middling, while ensuring that the same few stat combinations crop up and are tied to the same other features.

NichG
2016-05-03, 10:15 PM
It's kind of an interesting exercise to figure out ways to de-dump D&D. For example:

- First remove all stat-based scaling of damage, to-hit, save DCs, saving throws, AC, class ability access (must be this smart to cast this spell), etc. Divine Grace adds +1 to saves per 3 character levels or something rather than basing it on Cha mod, etc.
- Now, factor each stat back into things in a way that tries to avoid directly referencing particular class/stat combinations.

Strength: Adds to all sources of damage - spells, ranged, melee, etc. Also controls the level of armor the character can wear without penalty (replacing class-based restrictions). So a strong Monk can wear armor and get their AC bonus from Monk just fine, a strong wizard can wear armor and cast in it, etc.

Dexterity: Determines the range of all abilities, and can even increase active melee reach at high values. Also increases crit range (bounded), character movement rates.

Constitution: Grants hitpoints, which everyone always needs. In addition, increases the number of uses you get from X/day abilities, bonus spell slots, bonus maneuvers, etc.

Intelligence: Increases the power and duration of positive effects applied to this character. Since you're smarter, you use your buffs more strategically. In addition, your Intelligence mod replaces your rank for all skills with rank less than your Intelligence mod (so you effectively get 2x Int mod to some skills, and high Int mod can get you early entry to things with skill prerequisites).

Wisdom: Outright decreases the power and duration of negative effects applied to this character, potentially granting immunities if this decreases the duration of some effects below 0 rounds. In addition, adds slowly to the radius of AoEs, but in such a way that the added space is a 'safe zone' that does not affect those the ability user does not want to. This added AoE also influences things which have a mass/CL or volume/CL or whatever type of scaling, such as teleport or stone shape or whatnot.

Charisma: Determines all save DCs of abilities, and adds to all contested rolls (such as Grapple, Disarm, etc).

- Make some tweaks to make the preceding things more uniformly relevant if necessary (for example, reduce the ranges of Medium and Long range spells since they're usually so big to make additional range totally irrelevant).

Thrudd
2016-05-03, 11:15 PM
If you are going to have a game with classes/archetypes that are each meant to fill a different niche in the game, and also a game with stats/attributes that define the character's abilities, then it makes sense to have each class make use of a different assigned stat. That's what the stats are there for, to dictate what class/archetype the character is best suited for. If you are going to allow every class to use any stat they want to do essentially the same thing, then there is no point in even having different stats. Just have classes with different abilities, and describe them however you want.

All the stats should mechanically have an effect on the game, and part of the game is choosing what aspects you want your character to be good at vs which they will not be as good at. The phenomenon of "dump stats" comes about because in some games, some stats do not have the same usefulness as others, so people get away with having a mechanically superior character because they put their best scores in the abilities most relevant to the game and ignored those that had the least mechanical relevance. That is a problem of game design where abilities were haphazardly integrated into mechanical niches after an earlier generation of the game where they really did nothing but determine what class your character qualifies for. Choosing which ability to put a low score in should mean that your character will be weak in something that might impact them during the game. It should be an actual sacrifice in return for being superior in another area.

As was pointed out, if you are willing to do away with classes and archetypes altogether, then it is easier to do the "intelligent fighter who uses brains-over-brawn" and "barbarian sorcerer who uses his strength to wrestle spirits" or whatever. Choosing a game that is based on archetypal classes means accepting that each class is a certain specific thing and is good at a specific thing.

goto124
2016-05-04, 04:44 AM
I've always thought stats let you decide, especially on level-ups, what you want to improve in and how exactly you want to allocate your limited amount of improvement over the many things you could improve and be good in.

nedz
2016-05-04, 05:38 AM
A mechanical weakness that maps to low numbers isn't the same thing as a dump stat though. It's only a dump stat if there's a particular stat that's generally useless to a character in the first place, and as such tends to get dumped over and over again. Lets take the core concept of the D&D Fighter - someone who is a combat specialist - and look at six different mechanical weaknesses that correspond to the D&D attributes.
Strength: This could represent an older character who's not as vigorous as they were in their youth, someone who fights but has always been on the small side, etc. There are mechanical weaknesses associated with it. It's not a dump stat, even if lowered.
Dexterity: This lowers initiative, ranged attacks, and unarmored defense. A low dexterity makes sense for a number of fighter types, like burly melee specialists who are a bit on the sluggish side. It's not really a dump stat, but leans that way a bit.
Constitution: An older character is the obvious case here again, but a big unhealthy character or a sickly character could also make sense. There's a lot of ways that being lower on endurance hurts. It's definitely not a dump stat though.
Wisdom: You've got your brash young characters, your overly stubborn and set in their way characters, your just plain unobservant characters. All would have low wisdom, all are a weakness. This is getting into dump stat territory.
Intelligence: There's the whole dumb muscle concept, that fits in well here. This is a dump stat though, so you get a huge amount of dumb muscle.
Charisma: The dumb muscle concept often would involve bad charisma too, but there are other examples. The unassuming character who blends into the background until they pull a weapon, the pompous noble who's all easily ignored bluster other than being a talented duelist, the lower class character who spent their life as a retainer for the upper class and generally avoided notice and got no practice being charismatic but serves as a bodyguard, whatever. Again, this is a dump stat, and with int the other dump stat dumb muscle predominates.

If all six stats were reliably useful (even if not equally so) for everyone, there would be a lot more variety. You would get a bigger variety of weaknesses, a bigger variety of strengths, the reintroduction of characters who are good but not great at the lot of them, so on and so forth. With a dump stat system, the system rewards having a couple of very high stats, a couple of very low stats, and the rest middling, while ensuring that the same few stat combinations crop up and are tied to the same other features.

I'm not sure that Fighter is a good example to use since it's something of a dump class - in certain editions at least. That said in 3.5 Int is the basis of the Combat Expertise feat chain, albeit you only need 13, but that is above dump territory. If you have a Fighter with Int then you will tend to head for skills or the Gish approach - Int is a dump stat of the BSF archetype so it's this box which is the problem rather than the class; but even here the S does stand for stupid.

In another example I have played a successful Sorcerer with 18 Str and 14 Cha. Now he did tend to punch things a lot but Str is normally a dump stat for Sorcerers.

So you can think outside of the box, and play against type, even in D&D.

Earthwalker
2016-05-04, 06:07 AM
I think I fall into the camp against dump stats. I would rather see game systems without dump stats (or skills or dump anything)

By dump stats I am referring to a stat you can put as low as possible with no real bearing on your ability to function in game. Like Cha on a warrior type. Its ok the Bard with handle any talking so I may as well go as low as I can and choose a race with -2 cha.

Its not about having a weakness its about getting build points back with no negative effect.
Of course I have no real solution for this.


Its not just stats. I seem to remember one of my players creating a shadowrun character back in the day with I think these skills.

Firearms 6
Armed Combat 6
Athletics 5

Then no points in any other skills. None of the social skills, no technical skills nothing.
It was fine, in game the decker would do technical things. The Face would do the talking. So that's all the character knew.

I just wondered how they got work ?
How did they deal with a modern world with none of the skills to interface with it other than ultra violence.

goto124
2016-05-04, 07:32 AM
So you're against dump stats, even when the players don't want to deal with the parts of the game connected to the dumped stats, because it breaks your sense of realism?

Why not let them play what they want? It doesn't affect your enjoyment of the game. Even if they put 5 points in Cha, they're not going to use it at all - zero impact on the game or the rest of the players, including you. You stated they work and play perfectly fine in gameplay! Why put any points in unused places? It's pointless, pun intended!

Other posters above explain why forcing stats to be spread around doesn't help increase fun, as with the MAD monk from DnD. It doesn't give choices, but reduces them. Fighters can put points in Cha if they have plans to use them. This is a choice. Fighters can also put nearly everything into Strength and a bit in Dexerity, forgoing Cha since they don't intend on getting into social situations. This is also a choice.

Gtdead
2016-05-04, 08:24 AM
I hate having a stat lower than average. But sometimes in game systems, some abilities just don't do much mechanically, which goes beyond just combat.

A stereotypical assassin as a concept isn't a very wise person. He is already a tool. But if he isn't intelligent, unable to find ways to kill efficiently and without leaving tracks he isn't much of an assassin.
In 5e dnd a high intelligence/low wisdom assassin will probably die because he missed a trap...

Which is the main reason why I dislike roleplaying my character sheet.

Earthwalker
2016-05-04, 08:29 AM
So you're against dump stats, even when the players don't want to deal with the parts of the game connected to the dumped stats, because it breaks your sense of realism?

Why not let them play what they want? It doesn't affect your enjoyment of the game. Even if they put 5 points in Cha, they're not going to use it at all - zero impact on the game or the rest of the players, including you. You stated they work and play perfectly fine in gameplay! Why put any points in unused places? It's pointless, pun intended!

Other posters above explain why forcing stats to be spread around doesn't help increase fun, as with the MAD monk from DnD. It doesn't give choices, but reduces them. Fighters can put points in Cha if they have plans to use them. This is a choice. Fighters can also put nearly everything into Strength and a bit in Dexerity, forgoing Cha since they don't intend on getting into social situations. This is also a choice.

The original post asked the question do you like dump stats. I do not.

I am pretty sure I was not saying no one else is allowed to like dump stats. Or that because of my dislike I will force other players to not have dump stats.

I would guess that wizards that dump str aren't really doing it because "They have no interest in the lifting rocks element of the game" they are doing it because they just don't need it. It doesn't reduce their effectiveness at anything.

Even thinking about it from a perspective of not engaging in certain parts of the game that seems odd to me. You are talking about a system where if they agree not to take part in these bits of the game they get more power for the bits they do take part in. Just seems odd.

Talking Session – On Ipad
Talking Session – On Ipad
Fighting session – Oooh I can be engaged in the medium, lets kick this pig.
Talking session – Back on Ipad.

Then there is the idea these weaknesses help define my character. Which again is fair enough but if the weakness never is exploited then theres no difference to having no weakness. Back in the day you take a weakness and it gave you build points to spend at character creation (Very much like taking lower than average stats). Systems I am seeing now you take a weakness and when it comes up in game you get bonus points in game to help with actions (fate points, bonus xp whatever)

The second option means that weaknesses come up in play. Players want to show off their weakness, they want to get the free bonus thingy.

So using the second system as a model make it so everyone can’t take a stat lower than 10 (in dnd 3.5e speak) but if they want to play someone ugly then can take a flaw “Ugly as Sin”. Then if that flaw comes up in game then they get a bonus.

Berenger
2016-05-04, 09:21 AM
…or did Playgirl have a Joseph Stalin pin-up issue I wasn't aware of?

Well... (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=19548434&postcount=1007) :smalltongue:

OldTrees1
2016-05-04, 10:01 AM
There are 2, albeit related, topics at hand: Characters & Class Design

For characters the question is how high and how low can their stats be & what are the consequences of such
For classes the question is can the class use the ability & how much it hurts to not have the ability

Classes:
Dependence(significant or crippling harm if unsatisfied) on having a high(or not having a low) score in an ability restricts the class. This is not inherently a bad thing (see the Int dependence of Wizards in D&D) but too much dependence can make it so only 1 or even 0 ability distributions satisfy the dependence.

Utilization(benefit from having a high score) of an ability score rewards those that did make it but does not necessitate crippling those that didn't.

Opportunity Costs(lesser but still real penalties for having a low score) allow for variance in ability scores but makes said variance have an impact.

Classes should be designed knowing the ability score generating system has a stat being higher come a the cost of another stat being lower(if you rolled a 18 and a 16, then putting the 18 in Stat 1 means Stat 2 gets the lower 16). As such classes should take advantage of Utilization and Opportunity Costs to balance the various ability distributions that are deemed as valid for the class.

Characters:
A low score in an area can be interesting and fun to play. But since the relatively low score is the cost paying for the relatively higher score being put in another stat, having a low score should be penalizing (while not crippling).


In other words: Having a high stat should mean something and having a low stat should mean something.

Example time: A Warrior
Now warriors thematically have Strength and/or Dexterity, so making the martial class dependent on having 1 of those 2 seems are reasonable as Int for the Wizard. However a warrior could make good use out of any of the other 4: Con(endurance/resilience), Intelligence(skilled/cunning), Wisdom (perceptive/prediction), Charisma (morale/deception). So the martial class should grant benefits for having those scores since having those scores higher would come at the expense of other scores. The other side of the coin is that dropping one of those scores results in missing out or working at a penalty on the uses that stat provided. Jumping out of the martial class and back to the warrior character we see we can choose Str, Dex, or both and any investments/dumps we make in the other stats will have rewards/consequences. We would not be crippled if we invested everything in Str or Dex, but it still remains viable to have the Smart Charming warrior leader even thought they have a medium Str or Dex.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 08:11 PM
As a few other people have said, I think it's highly setting-specific. Personally I would LOVE for every stat to have at least some appeal to every character, and I find the "replace X stat to Y mechanic with Z stat" inelegant at best.

I don't know a ton about 5e, but this is one reason I eventually settled on ability-arrays as my preferred method for building characters instead of rolling or point-buy. It puts a limit on what you can do to max one stat and doesn't penalize people for having several half-decent stats instead of just one super-great one.

Also also, dump-stats are what make for the best roleplaying, IMO, especially when your dump-stats are your mental scores (Int, Wis, and Cha). I once played a monk with terrible Charisma who just so chipper and goody-two-shoes that he very quickly got on (almost) everyone's nerves despite not being the slightest bit evil. IMO it was hilarious.

kyoryu
2016-05-05, 09:03 PM
Also also, dump-stats are what make for the best roleplaying, IMO, especially when your dump-stats are your mental scores (Int, Wis, and Cha). I once played a monk with terrible Charisma who just so chipper and goody-two-shoes that he very quickly got on (almost) everyone's nerves despite not being the slightest bit evil. IMO it was hilarious.

Character flaws or weaknesses are not the same as dump stats. Dump stats can be flaws/weaknesses, but are usually not actually weaknesses at all.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 09:12 PM
Character flaws or weaknesses are not the same as dump stats. Dump stats can be flaws/weaknesses, but are usually not actually weaknesses at all.
All I was saying was that if your stats describe your character, then the ones that are not so great can be just as impactful as the ones that are awesome. I'm the kind of person who likes to roleplay and trys to play my character as I would imagine someone with the stuff listed on my sheet would actually act. There's room for variation of course, but most of it figures into my in-game actions at some point. If I make something a dump-stat, it's done with the full knowledge that it WILL affect how my character acts.

If I'm misunderstanding, please explain with more detail.



Edit: Let me put it this way- I guess most people think of "dump stats" as things that don't matter, and therefor can be ignored. I never ignored my ability-stats with low scores just because they were low. Every ability score represented 1/6th of my characters base personality, and they all contributed to roleplay in different ways. If that's not what how you think of "dump stats" then please explain.

NichG
2016-05-05, 09:35 PM
A 'dump stat' is a stat which, for whatever reason, you can make low without having a meaningful negative impact on your character. If it has a meaningful negative impact, then it's not a dump stat but just a low stat.

Jeff the Green
2016-05-05, 09:50 PM
I think every class (or at least every set of classes) should be able to use any stat*, but an individual character shouldn't have to use all of them.. If you want to be an intelligent sorcerer, there's an archetype for that (and an ACF that makes it a secondary stat in 3.5). If you want to play a wise wizard (which is where the word comes from, after all), there's a feat (Arcane Disciple) that makes it worthwhile. A strong druid should have something to do besides wildshape that overrides that score, and an intelligent fighter should have an ability to put that to good use.

*Though not necessarily dump every stat; maybe all wizards should need to be intelligent.

Coidzor
2016-05-05, 09:54 PM
Being able to dump stats is necessary if you're not able to have high enough ability scores to be relevant in your primary and secondary areas, let alone keeping the tertiary areas not a complete joke.

So, yeah, if you want to make Barbarians use Charisma, then you have to make sure they have high enough ability scores that their Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution aren't hurt by suddenly having to pump Charisma to some extent, too.

Jeff the Green
2016-05-05, 09:59 PM
So, yeah, if you want to make Barbarians use Charisma, then you have to make sure they have high enough ability scores that their Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution aren't hurt by suddenly having to pump Charisma to some extent, too.

Or make them so charismatic that their abs deflect swords. That way they don't need to worry about having the Dexterity to get out of the way.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 10:00 PM
Being able to dump stats is necessary if you're not able to have high enough ability scores to be relevant in your primary and secondary areas, let alone keeping the tertiary areas not a complete joke.

So, yeah, if you want to make Barbarians use Charisma, then you have to make sure they have high enough ability scores that their Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution aren't hurt by suddenly having to pump Charisma to some extent, too.

As said earlier, if you roll extremely well you can manage this. If you are using point buy, you are effectively nerfing yourself badly to try to take on a non-dump stat. And in such a way you can no longer pull your own weight. Perhaps if the group rolled for stats or used an array, this would be more possible.

Nothing annoys me more then being told I'm a bad roleplayer for trying to make a competent character when the rules pretty much force dump stats. Yeah, I guess my wizard is smelly and has a dangerous lack of common sense, but at least I'll be able to make full use of my class later on. So if you want non-dump stats, make sure the rules support such options.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 10:16 PM
As said earlier, if you roll extremely well you can manage this. If you are using point buy, you are effectively nerfing yourself badly to try to take on a non-dump stat. And in such a way you can no longer pull your own weight. Perhaps if the group rolled for stats or used an array, this would be more possible.
Most of the point-buy systems I've seen try to account for this at least somewhat by making it cheaper to raise stats when they are lower, but because of the mechanics inherent in each class it's usually worth it to spend the same amount of "points" raising your int from a 16 to a 17 than from raising your Strength from an 8 to 12. So yeah, if you want to make this work you really have to delve into the classes and alter them on a case-by-case basis.

There are different ways to do this of course- if a class actually benefited from mediocre scores in several stats as much as another class benefits from having just 1 really great score, it might work. Sadly, I've seen very few classes where that is actually applicable.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 10:18 PM
Most of the point-buy systems I've seen try to account for this at least somewhat by making it cheaper to raise stats when they are lower, but because of the mechanics inherent in each class it's usually worth it to spend the same amount of "points" raising your int from a 16 to a 17 than from raising your Strength from an 8 to 12. So yeah, if you want to make this work you really have to delve into the classes and alter them on a case-by-case basis.

There are different ways to do this of course- if a class actually benefited from mediocre scores in several stats as much as another class benefits from having just 1 really great score, it might work. Sadly, I've seen very few classes where that is actually applicable.

In application, I've never really seen a point buy system produce anything but very specialized characters. When the game expects you to have a relatively high stat in your primary abilities to function, you gotta dump a lot to get it there if the cost to raise it so high is prohibitive. Then you get many, many BSFs.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 10:32 PM
In application, I've never really seen a point buy system produce anything but very specialized characters. When the game expects you to have a relatively high stat in your primary abilities to function, you gotta dump a lot to get it there if the cost to raise it so high is prohibitive. Then you get many, many BSFs.
I think that's because D&D, even more recent versions of it, favors a narrow specialization over broad generalization. Having one really-good melee character and 1 really good caster-character is better in almost every scenario than having 2 gishes. In order for a gish-type character to be as valuable as a specialized character, they have to be almost just as good as good as multiple specialized characters, and that's where the high MAD comes from.

So I guess to get back to the OP's original question, in a system that penalizes generalists, I'm glad that there can be stats I don't have worry about. But I prefer to use ability-arrays over point-buy and rolling to counter this problem anyway, plus in any game I run I make changes to the classes to narrow the gap between SAD and MAD players.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 10:41 PM
I haven't played 5e, so I cannot say. In 4e, casters were very much into dump stat territory, less so for melee, in my opinion, but some changes encouraged it on the right builds.

It was a change I didn't like. Too many wizard options were tied to DEX/CHA/WIS that you either stated yourself out to no longer be good at your job, or you were very limited. I can understand from a balance perspective, but I felt it limited options more then rewarded taking those stats.

RazorChain
2016-05-05, 10:44 PM
I love them. Especially when a player shows up with an Int 6 figther and I tell them to act like it. Or when the village children start throwing horse dung at the Cha 5 character. Or when the street urchins held down the Str 6 mage and robbed him, magic items and all.

Player: "I'm going to cast a spell!!!!"
Me: "Well you can't, two ten year olds are holding you down while the third one is rummaging through your pack"

Or the Wis 4 Barbarian...I fed him misinformation all the time because he had no common sense.

And the low dexterity character who was always tripping over things and things were slipping from his grasps....oh lovely times

And the low con....wait...nobody uses con as a dump stat!

And now nobody uses dump stats anymore!

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 10:47 PM
I love them. Especially when a player shows up with an Int 6 figther and I tell them to act like it. Or when the village children start throwing horse dung at the Cha 5 character. Or when the street urchins held down the Str 6 mage and robbed him, magic items and all.

Player: "I'm going to cast a spell!!!!"
Me: "Well you can't, two ten year olds are holding you down while the third one is rummaging through your pack"

What exactly is the strength score of a 10 year old urchin?

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 10:51 PM
What exactly is the strength score of a 10 year old urchin?
According to my various homebrew, something between a 9 and 4.
But this isn't an arm-wrestling contest; if several of them manage to knock you down and then simply sit on you, suddenly a Strength of 6 might not beseem like nearly enough. The bigger issue is they can't hold him down forever, so once the Wizard gets up what's to stop him from summoning a horde of hellish demons to hunt the children down?

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 10:53 PM
This isn't an arm-wrestling contest; if several of them manage to knock you down and then simply sit on you, suddenly a Strength of 6 might not beseem like nearly enough. The bigger issue is they can't hold him down forever, so once the Wizard gets up what's to stop him from summoning a horde of hellish demons to hunt the children down?

Use that argument with players and I swear the dwarf is going to sit on enemy spell casters, especially if the urchins didn't have to roll anything to sit on the wizard to prevent spell casting.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 11:04 PM
Use that argument with players and I swear the dwarf is going to sit on enemy spell casters, especially if the urchins didn't have to roll anything to sit on the wizard to prevent spell casting.
Unless the enemy has thought to prepare a Stilled metamagic-version of every single spell, I fail to see why that's an invalid tactic?

I'm being a little silly here, but when a group of 4-6 high-level PCs break into a crumbling fortress, the necromancer hiding out in the tallest tower is probably prepared for a fight. The PCs don't expect to get tackled by packs of roaming street urchins while haggling over the price of bat-guano and hedgehog spines.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 11:05 PM
Unless the enemy has thought to prepare a Stilled metamagic-version of every single spell, I fail to see why that's an invalid tactic?

I'm being a little silly here, but when a group of 4-6 high-level PCs break into a crumbling fortress, the necromancer hiding out in the tallest tower is probably prepared for a fight. The PCs don't expect to get tackled by packs of roaming street urchins while haggling over the price of bat-guano and hedgehog spines.

Never doubt what a player is willing to put into a bag of holding to spring on the enemy last minute.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-05, 11:14 PM
Never doubt what a player is willing to put into a bag of holding to spring on the enemy last minute.
...Are you proposing that the PCs abduct bands of street-urchins to throw at enemy casters?

Leaving aside the horrific danger and moral implications, would your BBEG really leave such a glaring weakness? Which I think was the original point- that the PCs need to learn not to leave themselves vulnerable to such tactics.

Personally I wouldn't look for ways to punish people from using dump-stats unless they were abusive about it; I'd prefer to encourage people to play balanced character via other methods.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-05, 11:15 PM
...Are you proposing that the PCs abduct bands of street-urchins to throw at enemy casters?

Given that only a few days ago I read a story about a barbarian beating someone to death with adamantium doors on these very forums, yeah, I think they would given half a chance. But yes, having NPCs steal things from a PC is not a good way to balance stats, and not only for the reason of giving PCs evil ideas.

RazorChain
2016-05-05, 11:18 PM
What exactly is the strength score of a 10 year old urchin?

I wouldn't know about an urchin

But a 10 year old street urchin which is a slang for a homeless kid would be different
Around Str 6-7 I would guess. Given that a normal man has Str of 10




According to my various homebrew, something between a 9 and 4.
But this isn't an arm-wrestling contest; if several of them manage to knock you down and then simply sit on you, suddenly a Strength of 6 might not beseem like nearly enough. The bigger issue is they can't hold him down forever, so once the Wizard gets up what's to stop him from summoning a horde of hellish demons to hunt the children down?

His alignment of course :smallbiggrin:

Given of course that one of the pesky bastards is rubbing mud in his eyes. So he has to stand up and clear the mud out of his eyes before casting his spell. That meens the street urchings have had 12 seconds to scurry off when his spell goes off. Then the Hellish Demon asks "What is your bidding master?" And the mage has to explain the situation to the Hellish Demon and by then the street urchins are long gone.

At that moment the city watch shows up because the mage was screaming for help. Unfortunately for the mage the watch is led by Paladin Joe who instantly gets offended by the summoned demon because everybody knows that demons are Chaotic Evil. Of course if it had been a devil instead of a demon then Paladin Joe would have been less offended because of it's lawful alignment.

In the end the Mage gets thrown into jail for unlawful summoning which has the hefty fine of 1.000 gold coins because of devaluation of gold in D&D. The mage with his St 6 has only carrying capacity of 60lbs so he didn't carry around 1.000 gp which weigh 20lbs. He decided instead to carry a huge spell book and a cool staff and have a some packing space for LOOT. So this means that he's going to be a long time in jail...bound and with a ballgag so he can't summon anymore demons.

icefractal
2016-05-06, 12:49 AM
I'd prefer to encourage people to play balanced character via other methods.But why would you want them to in the first place? A character that's "a bit above average at everything" sounds dull as hell. Well, maybe it could be interesting once or twice. But in general, I find a character that has sharp strengths and weaknesses to be more interesting.

Which is why I'm ambivalent on the "making all stats important" thing. On the one hand, being able to play, say, a genius Barbarian without taking a big mechanical hit for it would be good. On the other hand, sometimes I want to play a dumb-as-bricks character, or an "all thumbs" character, again without taking a big mechanical hit for it.

Although as this thread demonstrates, some GMs will exaggerate the hell out of any stat less than 10. So watch out for that, I guess.

JoeJ
2016-05-06, 01:05 AM
But why would you want them to in the first place? A character that's "a bit above average at everything" sounds dull as hell. Well, maybe it could be interesting once or twice. But in general, I find a character that has sharp strengths and weaknesses to be more interesting.

Which is why I'm ambivalent on the "making all stats important" thing. On the one hand, being able to play, say, a genius Barbarian without taking a big mechanical hit for it would be good. On the other hand, sometimes I want to play a dumb-as-bricks character, or an "all thumbs" character, again without taking a big mechanical hit for it.

What's the point of saying that your character has "sharp strengths and weaknesses" if the weaknesses don't impose some sort of disadvantage?

Deepbluediver
2016-05-06, 01:14 AM
But why would you want them to in the first place? A character that's "a bit above average at everything" sounds dull as hell. Well, maybe it could be interesting once or twice. But in general, I find a character that has sharp strengths and weaknesses to be more interesting.
I didn't say I wanted player-character to be "average" I said "balanced", as in no one PC class should completely overwhelm another in everything, nor should two characters require completely different levels of optimization to be competent at what they are supposed to be good at. Believe me, having PCs be "fun" is definitely a serious consideration of mine when making a character class.


Which is why I'm ambivalent on the "making all stats important" thing.
Making all stats equally important to everyone is a tall order, and not something I'd likely attempt in a D&D style game; there's just to much complexity. But I would like it if people at least considered how having a low-score in any stat would affect their character. Some classes are better about it than others, but IMO there are to many egregious examples of "max this one thing and nothing else matters at all".


On the one hand, being able to play, say, a genius Barbarian without taking a big mechanical hit for it would be good. On the other hand, sometimes I want to play a dumb-as-bricks character, again without taking a big mechanical hit for it.
Well then I think you'd really need to sit down and start reworking mechanics and classes- no simpler fix will address all those issues without creating new ones. Going back to the very first post in the thread, different "paths" for each class seems to a workable solution (Pathfinder called them Archetypes I think). That's less related to stats than class-features though I think, and it seems less like not having dump stats as just making different stats the one to dump.

Coidzor
2016-05-06, 02:27 AM
Hmm. The idea of utilizing weaponized swarms of urchins amuses me.

Definitely going to have to incorporate this into something. Possibly involving some kind of child fighting pits.


As said earlier, if you roll extremely well you can manage this. If you are using point buy, you are effectively nerfing yourself badly to try to take on a non-dump stat. And in such a way you can no longer pull your own weight. Perhaps if the group rolled for stats or used an array, this would be more possible.

Nothing annoys me more then being told I'm a bad roleplayer for trying to make a competent character when the rules pretty much force dump stats. Yeah, I guess my wizard is smelly and has a dangerous lack of common sense, but at least I'll be able to make full use of my class later on. So if you want non-dump stats, make sure the rules support such options.

Well, there are methods that one could employ to raise the point buy, raise the floor on stats, or lower the ceiling on what they can be raised to, as well as other methods to rejigger either character creation or the system in order to actualize one's goal of having an additional stat that's the equivalent of a 14 in D&D.

Something like bounded accuracy helps matters along, though.

NichG
2016-05-06, 03:47 AM
A big factor in the experience of dump stats in D&D is that most of the time, you're choosing a small number of actions (or one action) to do at a time, and most actions boil down to something like 'roll a die and add a bonus from one of your stats'. So essentially, at any given time, all the proactive stuff you're doing will depend on only a single stat (or if it depends on more, you're strictly hurting yourself by taking those options rather than the ones that only depended on a single stat and are still quite good). At the same time, defenses work like 'the other guy picks which stat you defend with' and reactive checks work like 'the DM chooses what skill/stat combination you'd better have invested in or you're going to fail'. So it feels very unrewarding to try to optimize towards balanced defenses and very rewarding to optimized towards specialized proactive actions - the defense game isn't one you can win, since even if you make everything average then you'll just fail to defend against everything any specialized guy can throw at you anyhow.

I wonder if removing this 'choose one' aspect from the proactive side and adding it to the defensive side would change the feel quite a bit. For example, when you attack someone, your target gets to choose which stat you add to your attack, but in exchange must use their corresponding defense. So if you cast Fireball at me I can decide to make you use your Strength score, but then when I defend I have to use my Constitution rather than my Dexterity, or something like that.

Another example would be a system where instead of rolling, you have fixed modifiers equal to 10+Stat, but whenever you take an action or defend against an action you have to play a 'stat card' from your (limited) hand to choose the stat to add. So e.g. you have 2 cards at a time, and whenever you play one you draw another from a big stack containing lots of 'Strength', 'Wisdom', etc cards in it. That way, if you become very specialized, you only get to use that specialization one in three times but you'll probably win that exchange. If you're very broad, you may win two exchanges out of three against the hyper-specialist, but you'll lose the third (and the hyper-specialist has some control of where to spend his speciality, so if that third is a save-or-die then you're screwed). So it might make for a more diverse optimization landscape.

RazorChain
2016-05-06, 05:35 AM
But why would you want them to in the first place? A character that's "a bit above average at everything" sounds dull as hell. Well, maybe it could be interesting once or twice. But in general, I find a character that has sharp strengths and weaknesses to be more interesting.

Which is why I'm ambivalent on the "making all stats important" thing. On the one hand, being able to play, say, a genius Barbarian without taking a big mechanical hit for it would be good. On the other hand, sometimes I want to play a dumb-as-bricks character, or an "all thumbs" character, again without taking a big mechanical hit for it.

Although as this thread demonstrates, some GMs will exaggerate the hell out of any stat less than 10. So watch out for that, I guess.


Well most people use dump stats to Min Max their characters not for roleplaying purposes. And when people pick a stat that is less than 8 it's going to affect their character.

It's easy to just take a stat like 8 or 9 when you want to be a little clumsy, socially awkward or whatever but when people are pushing their stats down to 5-6 it's starting to severly affect them

Amphetryon
2016-05-06, 06:44 AM
As said earlier, if you roll extremely well you can manage this. If you are using point buy, you are effectively nerfing yourself badly to try to take on a non-dump stat. And in such a way you can no longer pull your own weight. Perhaps if the group rolled for stats or used an array, this would be more possible.

Nothing annoys me more then being told I'm a bad roleplayer for trying to make a competent character when the rules pretty much force dump stats. Yeah, I guess my wizard is smelly and has a dangerous lack of common sense, but at least I'll be able to make full use of my class later on. So if you want non-dump stats, make sure the rules support such options.

The most common PB I see for 3.5 is 32 points. Before Racial adjustments, that can produce an array of 16 14 14 12 12 10. If your contention is that a 16 is 'incompetent' or 'nerfed,' or that a 10 is 'dumping' a stat, your definitions of those terms are radically different than mine.

OldTrees1
2016-05-06, 06:56 AM
I love them. Especially when a player shows up with an Int 6 figther and I tell them to act like it. Or when the village children start throwing horse dung at the Cha 5 character. Or when the street urchins held down the Str 6 mage and robbed him, magic items and all.

Player: "I'm going to cast a spell!!!!"
Me: "Well you can't, two ten year olds are holding you down while the third one is rummaging through your pack"

Or the Wis 4 Barbarian...I fed him misinformation all the time because he had no common sense.

And the low dexterity character who was always tripping over things and things were slipping from his grasps....oh lovely times

And the low con....wait...nobody uses con as a dump stat!

And now nobody uses dump stats anymore!

Wait, why did they stop? Both the Str and the Wis one sounded fun(although I would use 6 Wis). Under a DM like you I might even play a low Con non undead necromancer (to make the pursuit of undeath make more sense). With the right group (where this would not detract from their fun) playing a "monsterous" race with 6 Cha would be a fun time.

I will admit I can't think of a fun 6 Int character at this time and your Dex example sounds tedious (slower rather than clumsier would be my preference for 6 Dex)

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-06, 12:08 PM
The most common PB I see for 3.5 is 32 points. Before Racial adjustments, that can produce an array of 16 14 14 12 12 10. If your contention is that a 16 is 'incompetent' or 'nerfed,' or that a 10 is 'dumping' a stat, your definitions of those terms is radically different than mine.

Actually, I've never gotten a 32 point buy in PnP, usually 28 was the highest, and that was kinda rare. This...Might explain something. I will admit, at some levels of play an 18 is definitely needed, especially if the rest of the group is better at optimization then you are.

Thrudd
2016-05-06, 12:30 PM
A big factor in the experience of dump stats in D&D is that most of the time, you're choosing a small number of actions (or one action) to do at a time, and most actions boil down to something like 'roll a die and add a bonus from one of your stats'. So essentially, at any given time, all the proactive stuff you're doing will depend on only a single stat (or if it depends on more, you're strictly hurting yourself by taking those options rather than the ones that only depended on a single stat and are still quite good). At the same time, defenses work like 'the other guy picks which stat you defend with' and reactive checks work like 'the DM chooses what skill/stat combination you'd better have invested in or you're going to fail'. So it feels very unrewarding to try to optimize towards balanced defenses and very rewarding to optimized towards specialized proactive actions - the defense game isn't one you can win, since even if you make everything average then you'll just fail to defend against everything any specialized guy can throw at you anyhow.

I wonder if removing this 'choose one' aspect from the proactive side and adding it to the defensive side would change the feel quite a bit. For example, when you attack someone, your target gets to choose which stat you add to your attack, but in exchange must use their corresponding defense. So if you cast Fireball at me I can decide to make you use your Strength score, but then when I defend I have to use my Constitution rather than my Dexterity, or something like that.

Another example would be a system where instead of rolling, you have fixed modifiers equal to 10+Stat, but whenever you take an action or defend against an action you have to play a 'stat card' from your (limited) hand to choose the stat to add. So e.g. you have 2 cards at a time, and whenever you play one you draw another from a big stack containing lots of 'Strength', 'Wisdom', etc cards in it. That way, if you become very specialized, you only get to use that specialization one in three times but you'll probably win that exchange. If you're very broad, you may win two exchanges out of three against the hyper-specialist, but you'll lose the third (and the hyper-specialist has some control of where to spend his speciality, so if that third is a save-or-die then you're screwed). So it might make for a more diverse optimization landscape.

That is an interesting game mechanic, but it makes no sense in terms of simulating the game world. What exactly, would it mean if a defending character forced an attacker to use their strength when casting fireball? How did they do that? What do these stat cards represent in terms of the actions the characters are actually taking, what does it mean if you draw wisdom instead of strength when you're fighting someone?

I feel like RPG mechanics need to have some sense of connectedness to the world they are representing. Balance needs to fit into this consideration, for me. High level of abstraction is ok, but it needs to make sense somehow.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-06, 12:32 PM
Hmm. The idea of utilizing weaponized swarms of urchins amuses me.
Wait, are we talking about the homeless children or the sea-creature? 'Cause now I kinda want to stat out some half-dragon sea-urchins and throw them into a campaign.

Amphetryon
2016-05-06, 12:52 PM
Actually, I've never gotten a 32 point buy in PnP, usually 28 was the highest, and that was kinda rare. This...Might explain something. I will admit, at some levels of play an 18 is definitely needed, especially if the rest of the group is better at optimization then you are.

An 18 is relatively trivial to get by mid-levels - say, above 5th level - in 3.5, given one Stat that started at or above 15. All that's needed is the right Race, or the allocation of a 15+ into a mental Stat plus Middle Age + 4th level bump. By the time you've left 5th level, a Character who 'definitely' needs an 18 (debatable as an absolute, but may be true at some tables) has those resources already at her disposal, plus by-the-book WBL expectations to make up any possible difference, even if it's with Scrolls for particular encounters.

Very few of the 3.5 [insert Class] Handbooks on the web indicate that it's necessary to start with an 18 at 1st level in 3.5.

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-06, 12:59 PM
An 18 is relatively trivial to get by mid-levels - say, above 5th level - in 3.5, given one Stat that started at or above 15. All that's needed is the right Race, or the allocation of a 15+ into a mental Stat plus Middle Age + 4th level bump. By the time you've left 5th level, a Character who 'definitely' needs an 18 (debatable as an absolute, but may be true at some tables) has those resources already at her disposal, plus by-the-book WBL expectations to make up any possible difference, even if it's with Scrolls for particular encounters.

Very few of the 3.5 [insert Class] Handbooks on the web indicate that it's necessary to start with an 18 at 1st level in 3.5.

Not arguing with this, but I do find it interesting that the tables I have been at were primarily low magic and didn't allow for the aging rules and had very limited races. (Such as no +INT, +WIS, or +CHA race. I'd argue an 18 in a mental stat is far more important to a primary caster then to a beatstick.) Kinda seems like adding more races to get stat bumps (aging and races) might be a good thing to add if you want to encourage a more balanced character.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-06, 01:29 PM
Not arguing with this, but I do find it interesting that the tables I have been at were primarily low magic and didn't allow for the aging rules and had very limited races. (Such as no +INT, +WIS, or +CHA race. I'd argue an 18 in a mental stat is far more important to a primary caster then to a beatstick.) Kinda seems like adding more races to get stat bumps (aging and races) might be a good thing to add if you want to encourage a more balanced character.
In 3.5 at least, there was no core-race that boosted Caster-stats, and even when you throw in all various splatbooks and variants they are pretty rare. The creators loved making "barbaric" or uncivilized races that got boosts to the physical stats and penalties to mental ones. It wouldn't have been a bad stereotype except that IMO it was really overused.

When I redid a bunch of races for my own homebrewed setting I specifically laid out all the possible 2-stat combinations and designed once race to get each set of bonuses. I ended up with a few unusual races, like smart Gnolls, but that's not bad IMO, just different. And it definitely made for more than a few interesting encounters.

Coidzor
2016-05-06, 04:26 PM
Wait, are we talking about the homeless children or the sea-creature? 'Cause now I kinda want to stat out some half-dragon sea-urchins and throw them into a campaign.

That's fun.

I'm thinking about urchin-urchins, now, though. Smooshed together by some wizard or another just for this purpose.

NichG
2016-05-06, 09:00 PM
That is an interesting game mechanic, but it makes no sense in terms of simulating the game world. What exactly, would it mean if a defending character forced an attacker to use their strength when casting fireball? How did they do that? What do these stat cards represent in terms of the actions the characters are actually taking, what does it mean if you draw wisdom instead of strength when you're fighting someone?

I feel like RPG mechanics need to have some sense of connectedness to the world they are representing. Balance needs to fit into this consideration, for me. High level of abstraction is ok, but it needs to make sense somehow.

I think this can be done, but of course it needs to have the work dedicated to it to flesh it out. It may also require shifting the naming of some of the stats to be less concrete.

For example, the 'cast a Fireball with Strength' thing... lets say instead of Strength, we call the stat Puissance. It's the stat that represents the degree of raw power which someone can bring to bear on a task. Attacking with Puissance means that you're brute forcing your way through barriers and defenses rather than aiming at weak spots (Wisdom, which we could call Perceptiveness) or getting the timing right to slip past defenses (Intelligence) or just acting so fast that the opponent doesn't have time to put up their defenses properly (Dexterity) or deceiving the enemy with a feint to create the needed opening (Charisma), or maintaining an exhaustive string of attacks so long that the enemy tires and lets their defenses slip before you tire and let your attack slip (Constitution).

You could then ask, why does the enemy get to choose? A good inspiration for this comes from the 2ed psionic combat which in detail was a kind of fiddly and annoying rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock thing, but the idea of having different kinds of defense modalities with different strengths and weaknesses is a good source of fluff.

So the idea would be that the choice of how to defend strongly narrows down the kinds of attack modes that don't just automatically fail. If the defender hides behind a tower shield and waits for the fireball to pass, it doesn't matter what kind of feint or timing or perception or endurance the attacker has - either they can make the tower shield get hot enough that the defender takes full damage anyhow (Puissance), or the defender will have successfully mitigated the attack. If the defender is just moving very fast without regard to the caster, it doesn't matter how hot the flames are or how deceptive the caster can be - either they can hit the moving target or they can't. Etc.

You could go on to make these attack and defense modes explicit, but the rules risk becoming pretty baroque for no real gain above the base idea that 'defender chooses the attacking stat'. So it feels like something where after a few examples, you can ask the players to RP out the explanation post-facto.

For the card system, the idea would be sort of like the above except that the cards represent specific opportunities. Drawing a Dexterity card means that there's some combat opportunity in the chaos of the fight where you can gain advantage by acting quickly. In fact, maybe the way to do it would be to divorce it from the moves themselves, and just have all abilities not explicitly depend on stats, but then have the ability to play these cards to gain different kinds of bonuses for the duration of your turn/the round/etc. So e.g. if a Dexterity Opportunity comes up (that is to say, you draw a Dexterity card), you can play it as a non-action to gain a +Dex mod circumstance bonus on something of your choice which lasts for one round - you could apply that to your own saving throw DCs, attack rolls, AC, saves, etc. In this model, you might draw a fixed number of cards every round as new opportunities appear (with an upper limit to your hand size), so you can actually exhaust your hand or bank up good cards and go all-out one round.

tombowings
2016-05-08, 08:22 AM
Thanks for all of the input, Everyone. That was a very helpful and lively discussion. I probably won't continue to check this thread anymore, I've gotten what I need from it. I just wanted to thank anyone and everyone for contributing.

Cheers!

Gallade
2016-05-08, 02:05 PM
Just putting in a quick tidbit.

One of the latest characters made by one of my players was a Valkyrie Paladin. Made Intelligence her dump stat at 6.
She gains a single skill point per level. Never spent it on Fly.
Result: She goes around wondering what the big flappy things on her back could be.

And that's why Int is the best dump stat.

tombowings
2016-05-08, 02:21 PM
Just putting in a quick tidbit.

One of the latest characters made by one of my players was a Valkyrie Paladin. Made Intelligence her dump stat at 6.
She gains a single skill point per level. Never spent it on Fly.
Result: She goes around wondering what the big flappy things on her back could be.

And that's why Int is the best dump stat.

Yeah. Dump stats are certainly entertaining. We once had a 4 Int barbarian that limited himself to a 4 word vocabulary: Me, Go, Kill, and Eat.

Quertus
2016-05-08, 05:05 PM
Yeah. Dump stats are certainly entertaining. We once had a 4 Int barbarian that limited himself to a 4 word vocabulary: Me, Go, Kill, and Eat.

Sounds much more versatile than limiting yourself to "peek" and "achoo" :smalltongue:

Âmesang
2016-05-09, 12:16 PM
Or flip it around; have a barbarian/berserker with an 18 Intelligence. :smalltongue:

I'll just leave this here…
http://www.nuklearpower.com/2004/07/10/episode-440-berserkers-want-what-we-all-want-civilization/

Asmodean_
2016-05-09, 12:22 PM
When I was rolling stats for Vergil (sorcerer), I was reeaally lucky (18/15/15/13/12/11). Ended up with:
STR 11
CON 15 -2 = 13
DEX 15 +2 = 17
INT 12 +2 = 14
WIS 13
CHA 18 +2 = 20

So I don't really have a dump stat per se, and any wisdom-based activities can usually be deferred to Amnestria (15 i think? despite an ungodly amount of natural 1s) and strength-based activities go to Tristan (idk but a lot).

tombowings
2016-05-09, 01:30 PM
Or flip it around; have a barbarian/berserker with an 18 Intelligence. :smalltongue:

I'll just leave this here…
http://www.nuklearpower.com/2004/07/10/episode-440-berserkers-want-what-we-all-want-civilization/

See, that's what I would like to see happen. An intelligent, crafty barbarian hunter, who loses his sense of self amidst the fray and slaughter seems like viable archetype. It's just not something you'd ever see in practice because that's not how the game is designed.

OldTrees1
2016-05-09, 03:21 PM
See, that's what I would like to see happen. An intelligent, crafty barbarian hunter, who loses his sense of self amidst the fray and slaughter seems like viable archetype. It's just not something you'd ever see in practice because that's not how the game is designed.

A decreasing returns point buy (where 16->18 costs more than 10->12) helps out a lot. A slight reduction in your primary abilities can translate into double the increase in another stat (Ex: In 3.5 reducing a 16->14 can increase a 10->14).

nedz
2016-05-09, 04:16 PM
A decreasing returns point buy (where 16->18 costs more than 10->12) helps out a lot. A slight reduction in your primary abilities can translate into double the increase in another stat (Ex: In 3.5 reducing a 16->14 can increase a 10->14).

Unless you only care about 1 stat. e.g. SAD.

OldTrees1
2016-05-09, 05:33 PM
Unless you only care about 1 stat. e.g. SAD.

Well, this is why you would want to design the system such that all stats are useful(See Int for skill points). Obviously also designing classes that can but don't have to use multiple stats is generally a good idea as well.

So despite Barbarian and Cleric being SAD classes, they could sacrifice a mere +1 (18->16) in their primary ability and gain a +3 (08->14) in another ability (like Int for skill points).

Quertus
2016-05-10, 12:22 AM
Well, this is why you would want to design the system such that all stats are useful(See Int for skill points). Obviously also designing classes that can but don't have to use multiple stats is generally a good idea as well.

So despite Barbarian and Cleric being SAD classes, they could sacrifice a mere +1 (18->16) in their primary ability and gain a +3 (08->14) in another ability (like Int for skill points).

My players clearly don't go that route. The sheer number of clerics at my table who "couldn't afford" ranks in knowledge(religion) - it boggles the mind. :smallconfused:

nedz
2016-05-10, 01:44 AM
My players clearly don't go that route. The sheer number of clerics at my table who "couldn't afford" ranks in knowledge(religion) - it boggles the mind. :smallconfused:

Maybe classes should have skill rank pre-reqs per level - like PrC entry ?

It wouldn't slow down Mr Wizard, but still.

goto124
2016-05-10, 02:01 AM
Maybe classes should have skill rank pre-reqs per level - like PrC entry ?

Why would that help? Goes back to the choices thing - here, stats don't really give choices on how you can play your character in different ways. Rather the opposite, in fact.

OldTrees1
2016-05-10, 08:19 AM
My players clearly don't go that route. The sheer number of clerics at my table who "couldn't afford" ranks in knowledge(religion) - it boggles the mind. :smallconfused:

Wow. The first time I played a spellcaster, happened to be a SAD spellcaster, I calculated the 3 minimums my casting stat could start as. I went with the highest minimum (15) and only ever used a higher starting casting stat if it affected something else (like Dread Necromancer's Cha for Leadership). The reason being casters get little use out of their casting stat beyond it being a requirement for spell levels (08, 11, 15 minimums for starting stat), bonus spells(too few per +1 modifier), and DC(but each +1 is merely +5%).


Perhaps if those clerics started with 15-16 Wis they might be smart enough to know what god they worship. :smalltongue:

If I were you, I would highlight how small the benefits of high casting stats and how noticeable the benefit of the smallest decrease in casting stat reaps in what non casting stats offer. Say they have Con 12, Int 10, Wis 18+racials. Show them +2 Con & +4 Int grants them ~20% boost in hp and grants them 2 extra max ranks skills. What did they lose? +1 DC & 2-3 out of how many spell slots? They might still choose the Cleric that knows nothing, but at least they would know their options.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-10, 08:43 AM
My players clearly don't go that route. The sheer number of clerics at my table who "couldn't afford" ranks in knowledge(religion) - it boggles the mind. :smallconfused:

I could make a comment about how this is reflective of a certain sort of zealot, but I wont... :smallbiggrin:

Deepbluediver
2016-05-10, 10:26 AM
My players clearly don't go that route. The sheer number of clerics at my table who "couldn't afford" ranks in knowledge(religion) - it boggles the mind. :smallconfused:
Some classes (both published and homebrew) get bonuses in "appropriate" skills, so if it really bothers you I guess you could go that route (Clerics get a boost to Know(religion), Druids get Know(nature), Fighters get Know(war), etc). Again though, I'd rather look for other ways to encourage them to invest in certain skills without making it a requirement.

It wouldn't be entirely out of character IMO for a Cleric of some deities or from some cultures to not be very well-versed in the more esoteric aspects of religious dogma.


If I were you, I would highlight how small the benefits of high casting stats and how noticeable the benefit of the smallest decrease in casting stat reaps in what non casting stats offer. Say they have Con 12, Int 10, Wis 18+racials. Show them +2 Con & +4 Int grants them ~20% boost in hp and grants them 2 extra max ranks skills. What did they lose? +1 DC & 2-3 out of how many spell slots? They might still choose the Cleric that knows nothing, but at least they would know their options.
The issue, at least with 3.5 (I've heard that 4th and 5e are somewhat better about it) was that Spellcasting was always SO MUCH BETTER than anything else that it was either still preferable to be able to cast more spells or you just had spells that could do anything else for you. Why invest points in the Jump skill when you had spells that could give you a +20 bonus instead? Why invest in Constitution when you had a spell to go intangible or hide behind a wall of force? And that doesn't even get into the spells that boost your other stats, so you've got that as a fallback plan anyway.

IMO that's not really about the stats, but about spellcasting just being to good. But it is what leads to classes be super-SAD; all the INCENTIVE is for them to have an 18 in Int or Wisdom and 6 in everything else.

OldTrees1
2016-05-10, 12:05 PM
The issue, at least with 3.5 (I've heard that 4th and 5e are somewhat better about it) was that Spellcasting was always SO MUCH BETTER than anything else that it was either still preferable to be able to cast more spells or you just had spells that could do anything else for you. Why invest points in the Jump skill when you had spells that could give you a +20 bonus instead? Why invest in Constitution when you had a spell to go intangible or hide behind a wall of force? And that doesn't even get into the spells that boost your other stats, so you've got that as a fallback plan anyway.

IMO that's not really about the stats, but about spellcasting just being to good. But it is what leads to classes be super-SAD; all the INCENTIVE is for them to have an 18 in Int or Wisdom and 6 in everything else.

1) In 3.5 the extra spell slots from the last +2 to the casting stat almost never get used (spellcasters don't run out of spells).
2) The number of spell slots granted by the last +2 to the casting stat are minuscule.
Even with spellcasting being just too good, the last +2 to the casting stat is not so valuable that trading it for +6 to another stat is not worth considering.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-10, 12:30 PM
Even with spellcasting being just too good, the last +2 to the casting stat is not so valuable that trading it for +6 to another stat is not worth considering.
When it comes to minmaxing, that wasn't my experience. Because it wasn't just about the number of spells- your primary stat also affects the DC for saves from a spell, which you want to be as high as possible.

Luckily most of the people I played with were not super-min-maxers, but even so most of the spellcasting classes tended to pick a Ring of +2 Int over a Belt of +6 Con 90% of the time.

NichG
2016-05-10, 01:13 PM
When it comes to minmaxing, that wasn't my experience. Because it wasn't just about the number of spells- your primary stat also affects the DC for saves from a spell, which you want to be as high as possible.

Luckily most of the people I played with were not super-min-maxers, but even so most of the spellcasting classes tended to pick a Ring of +2 Int over a Belt of +6 Con 90% of the time.

Belt of Con, every time. Seriously. Whenever I play casters I tend to put at least 14 in Con, and +Con items are more important than +Casting Stat items. I tend to just assume creatures will make saving throws against my stuff and go from there anyhow, but I do like the bonus slots. Once you've gotten your foot in the door with casting, there are enough options that you don't really need to use stuff that relies on high save DCs.

Now, if it were +2 Int versus +6 Str (for a wizard) I would go for the Int. Especially if the Int came in tome form and got me extra skill points (since those aren't retroactive, its good to get the tomes ASAP). I might not go for +6 Cha or +6 Wis either over the Int, honestly, though its borderline - depends how easily I could engage Cha-to-X or Wis-to-X gimmicks. Wis might be worth it for the Will save, which you usually don't want to fail (Reflex saves are safe to fail, Fort saves are sometimes okay to fail, but Will saves are never okay to fail).

OldTrees1
2016-05-10, 01:51 PM
When it comes to minmaxing, that wasn't my experience. Because it wasn't just about the number of spells- your primary stat also affects the DC for saves from a spell, which you want to be as high as possible.

Luckily most of the people I played with were not super-min-maxers, but even so most of the spellcasting classes tended to pick a Ring of +2 Int over a Belt of +6 Con 90% of the time.

Well what I detailed was my experience when it comes to optimizing (for certain non casting stats like Con and Int). Because while the primary stat did affect DCs for saves, the very last +1 DC was a very minor cost to forgo (and the +1 DC from 16->18 had the highest price and thus the first one to be forgone).

And I guess that is my point, having the increasing marginal costs for the same marginal benefit* built into the point buy system helps support characters using higher than minimum stats in their secondary or even tertiary ability scores. In an even more balanced system than D&D the effect would be even more obvious.

*decreasing marginal returns for the same marginal cost is a functional alternative.

nedz
2016-05-10, 04:10 PM
Well what I detailed was my experience when it comes to optimizing (for certain non casting stats like Con and Int). Because while the primary stat did affect DCs for saves, the very last +1 DC was a very minor cost to forgo (and the +1 DC from 16->18 had the highest price and thus the first one to be forgone).

And I guess that is my point, having the increasing marginal costs for the same marginal benefit* built into the point buy system helps support characters using higher than minimum stats in their secondary or even tertiary ability scores. In an even more balanced system than D&D the effect would be even more obvious.

*decreasing marginal returns for the same marginal cost is a functional alternative.

In a game where Spells > everything else: maximising your casting stat has a disproportionate effect because it has extra weight due to the power of spells. Also you would be seeking to boost this stat further by various means later.

In more balanced game system then maybe it would matter less.

Deepbluediver
2016-05-10, 06:08 PM
Especially if the Int came in tome form and got me extra skill points (since those aren't retroactive, its good to get the tomes ASAP).
In at least 1 game I played, the GM had a house-rule where permanent increases to your Int score could retroactively gain you skill points, specifically because of that quirk.


And I guess that is my point, having the increasing marginal costs for the same marginal benefit* built into the point buy system helps support characters using higher than minimum stats in their secondary or even tertiary ability scores. In an even more balanced system than D&D the effect would be even more obvious.

*decreasing marginal returns for the same marginal cost is a functional alternative.
Yes that is certainly true- it's just that balance can be very very finicky some times. While I don't think we ever actually ran a campaign using this system, at least once I discussed an alternate system with a GM where instead of raising any single stat ever few levels, you got "build points" every level. So you could save them up to raise your 18 to a 19, or spend them right away to raise your con from a 10 to a 12.

Personally I just deal with the whole issue by having people use ability arrays instead. A lot of people still will pick a race that gives them a bonus in their primary stat and then stick their highest score in that, but usually it means most players only have 1 really-good stat and one dump stat and the other stuff they pick is a lot more varied.