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jqavins
2018-10-29, 03:39 PM
(Actually, anything from AD&D to 3.P and I assume beyond)

I've been thinking about ability scores that might reasonably be assumed to be correlated. Fully independent rolls don't seem right to me, especially in the case of Str and Con, and also for Int and Wis.

So, I suggest for consideration the following. First for straight 3d6 NPCs, because it's simpler.

Roll a Health score, of 2d6*.
For Str, roll the "remaining" 1d6 and add the result to the common Health score.
Do the same for Con.

Str and Con, each by itself, have the 3d6 binomial distribution of scores, but distribution of Str-Con is reduced from 3d6-3d6 (-15 to 15) to 1d6-1d6 (-5 to 5).

To adapt this to PCs using dice for abilities, use the best two of three for the health score, and the better of two for the separate parts. That gives a distribution for a single ability that is intermediate between best three of four and best three of five. and a reduction in the difference that is on a par with the above.

I'm thinking Str and Con are so linked, as are Int and Wis, while Dex and Cha are "regular" independent rolls. I actually have thoughts on getting even more complicated with additional links that make sense to me but are probably too complicated to be worth going into.

How to use this with a roll-and-assign system and how to achieve this with point buy I have not worked out.

Thoughts?

* For a weaker link, use 1d6 for Health and add 2d6 for each of Str and Con.

JeenLeen
2018-10-29, 04:14 PM
I think your idea has some big pluses for realism. And linking Strength and Constitution makes a lot of sense.

I'm a bit more skeptical about a link between Int and Wis, as there are numerous examples of "wise idiot" or "smart but clueless" that a high/low mix of those represents. Honestly, since Charisma includes your sense of distinguishing yourself from others, I could see a weak correlation between Wisdom and Charisma more than Int and either. (There's a reason you need a Wisdom and Charisma score to be a creature, but not an Intelligence score. The PHB descriptions of what the scores mean is rather illuminating about these nuances.) And Wis/Cha generally flows mechanically, too (e.g., Clerics use both, Paladins use both), similar to how Str & Con generally go together.

But some negatives, and reasons I personally wouldn't like this in a game
1) it limits some character types. For example, a brutal fighter who is a glass cannon. Or -- more likely to be played -- a wise idiot or clueless wizard.
2) it makes having a strong or weak character more dependent on a single roll. (Or, well, set of rolls.) By which I mean the total number of d6s you roll at chargen is less, so each has a stronger impact. It's probably small enough to not really matter, but it'd bug me and make me sadder if I rolled bad on my Health.
But I prefer point-buy in general, so that could just be my bias against rolling for stats.
This also limits your ability to rearrange the rolls, that is, it's more like 3d6 in order. But if you were able to swap the Health and Mentality (or whatever you call the one used for 2 mental stats), that gives a bit more freedom.
3) it makes some MAD character MADer by requiring decent Strength as well as Constitution. For example, spellcasters might want decent Con but not care about Str. This hurts them.
Although I realize #3 might be part of your argument for this. And I acknowledge that, in general, weaker Tier 1/2 casters isn't really a bad thing. But a rogue having to worry about Str to get a decent Con sounds annoying.

I'll also note that, on point #2, you could implement this with point-buy. It'd just be a bit more complicated.
And on point 3, that isn't really relevant if you are rolling for stats, since 'boosting' a stat doesn't cost anything. Your modification seems to allow you to boost one without worrying about the other as the character advances, so it's not really a long-term problem.


----

EDIT/add-on.
A maybe-odd thought.

You got your Big Four: Health (Str/Con), Mentality (Wis/Cha), Dexterity, and Intelligence. Roll 4 sets of 2d6.
Then you get your modifiers. Roll 6 sets of 1d6.

You can pair the Big Four with the modifiers as you wish. This is to sorta emulate the 4d6b3 method of rolling for stats, while giving a decent bit of freedom for different tropes. You could get a wise idiot, for example, if you choose a low Mentality but put a high modifier into Wisdom.

I'm not sure how the distribution this would yield compares to 4d6b3 or your original idea. Might average more or less powerful.

jqavins
2018-10-30, 08:23 AM
Thanks. There's some good food for thought there.

I'll reread the PHB descriptions of the mental stats. If you look at the skills that use the Wis modifier, it's clear that Wisdom should be called Perceptiveness (but it can't be for historical reasons.) And I stand by linking Intelligence with Perceptiveness.

In general, I both like and hate point buy and roll then arrange systems. I realize that this notion is much better suited to roll in order systems. That makes it more suitable to NPC generation, but then the added realism is likely to go unnoticed in a pile of commoners. So maybe I'm just pursuing something pointless.

The reasons for my like-hate relationship point buy and roll-and-arrange are these:

Point buy and roll-then-arrange give the players great flexibility to play what they want, which is good.
They make for cookie cutter characters. Playing a fighter? Buy a great Str, good Con and Dex, dump the mentals. Playing a rouge? High Dex and Wis, Con and Str come next. The same formulae over and over.

Roll-in-order gives the potential clueless genius less of a wild difference on average, but it makes the somewhat clueless really smart person more common than players will choose it if they have the chance. Roll in order pushes players to take on roll playing challenges that they otherwise wouldn't, and the players usually end up liking that too.

As a hybrid to allow arranging stats (in support of the like side of like-hate) I've considered:

Roll 3d6b2 twice and assign them to Health and Brains (or Mentality).
Roll two sets of 2d6b1 and assign them to Str and Con.
Roll two sets of 2d6b1 and assign them to Int and Wis.

Four sets of 2d6b1 assigned to the four abilities gives even more flexibility, for better or worse.


Roll two sets of 3d6b2+2d6b1 and assign them to Dex and Cha.

I know another system for determining ability scores that strikes a compromise that I really like (I've posted it before) but is incompatible with linking scores. Perhaps I can figure out a hybrid, but I've tried and have nothing so far.

As for Cha, in my even more (and overly) complicated system, Cha is linked to both Health roll and the Brains, but more weakly than the Str-Con and Int-Wis links; there are good reasons that Cha is classed as a mental ability and not to be confused with looks, but let's face facts: looks do affect how people react to us. Also, Dex is linked weakly to Health.

Edit: Wouldn't you know it, the moment I post "Perhaps I can figure out a hybrid, but I've tried and have nothing so far" I think of the answer. I'll post more at lunch time.

JeenLeen
2018-10-30, 10:22 AM
I look forward to hearing the more complex system!

Also, it occurs to me that, even if the system is rather complex, you could probably make it simple *to use* by making an Excel spreadsheet and have players plug the dice results in, and it spits out the actual values after doing the correlated things and such.

I definitely can see a weak correlation between the stats you mentioned. And Wisdom interpreted as it is generally used makes sense for being linked to Int.



The reasons for my like-hate relationship point buy and roll-and-arrange are these:
Point buy and roll-then-arrange give the players great flexibility to play what they want, which is good.
They make for cookie cutter characters. Playing a fighter? Buy a great Str, good Con and Dex, dump the mentals. Playing a rouge? High Dex and Wis, Con and Str come next. The same formulae over and over.

Roll-in-order gives the potential clueless genius less of a wild difference on average, but it makes the somewhat clueless really smart person more common than players will choose it if they have the chance. Roll in order pushes players to take on roll playing challenges that they otherwise wouldn't, and the players usually end up liking that too.

I think I see better what you are going for. Some of my criticisms are because I don't quite mind what bothers you and I'd feel rather frustrated with roll-in-order and probably wouldn't end up liking it. One thing I dislike about D&D 3.5 is that (beyond really lucky rolling stats), it is hard to make something both mechanically competent (at least for mid-to-high levels of optimization being deemed competent) and being a well-round personality (by which I mean not a cookie-cutter as you refer to it.) I don't think the system necessarily prohibits having both a flavorful character and a mechanically powerful character, but it seems to make it more difficult. But most systems have that issue in one way or another.

So, to summarize the above two paragraphs: for what you want, what you're doing sounds cool.

jqavins
2018-10-30, 12:05 PM
Excel? Yes, I've already made a spreadsheet to create commoners for me. It does the Health and Brains rolling in hidden columns and just shows me the six resulting abilities. I could easily do the same thing with the adventurer class version, and/or a version that doesn't do the rolling but lets players use dice and plug in the rolls.

The other system that I like but doesn't allow for linking is this:

Roll some large number of ability scores, about 25-35 of them, 3d6 for low power games and 4d6b3 for high power. (Obviously, how many is dictated ahead of time, and the more of them the more powerful the characters.)
Pick six in a row, starting anywhere, but in order. So, you can pick the highest score on the sheet and position it as the main ability for the class you want to play, but you take what you get for the rest. Don't like a certain bad score that way? Try picking the next best score for the key ability if the others come out better.
Discard the sheet. Each large set of rolls is used for one and only one character.

So, here's how I can combine that with the linkages.

Roll as above, but alternating between two kinds of rows.

Roll two linked scores.
Roll one unlinked score.
Pick any entry point for the list.

The first single ability is Dex and the first linked abilities are Str and Con. These will be the first two rows selected, the order depending on whether the entry is a single row or a linked row.
Likewise, the next two rows, one single and one linked, give Cha on the single and Int and Wis linked.
It's the very simple idea of putting two scores on a row that hadn't occurred to me before, stuck on the "long vertical line of scores" paradigm as I was.

The overly complicated system (for commoners) involves keeping the four dice of Health and Brains separate, H1, H2, B1, and B2. Then use the table below, adding the indicated dice for each ability to get the final score.




H1
H2
B1
B2
Separate


Str
X
X


1


Dex
X



2


Con
X
X


1


Int


X
X
1


Wis


X
X
1


Cha
X

X

1


For PCs and PC-class NPCs, this has to get even worse. I'll describe it for H1 and H2, but it's the same for B1 and B2.

Roll 31d6. We'll call them Hα, H, and Hγ.
Drop the lowest.
Assign the remaining two to H1 and H2 in order. That is, (H1, H2) = (Hα, H), (Hα, Hγ), or (H, Hγ) depending on which was dropped, but never reversed. (This is simpler to do than describe: roll three in a line, remove the lowest, and read the two that are left without moving them. OK, I guess it's not that hard to describe.)

Then you do the same for B1 and B2, then you do the rest, whether by the first complicated system or the second overly complicated system. And sure, I could automate all of that in Excel, but geez why?! And then if I did that, I'd want to adapt that to the long line of scores ideas, even though the single score rows are no longer all equivalent, and I don't think that will be possible. So at that point it's just roll 35 full sets, pick one of them, and throw the rest away. Not worth it. Not nearly worth it.

Maat Mons
2018-10-31, 12:03 AM
I'm thinking Str and Con are so linked

Personally, I'd go further than correlating Str and Con. I'd flat-out merge them into a single ability score. It may seem like this prevents players from deciding how offensive/defensive they want to be, but:

Dex already does this my merging dodging and accuracy into a single stat.
Classes already represent a tradeoff between offense and defense, so ability scores don't need to cover the same ground.




I'm a bit more skeptical about a link between Int and Wis, as there are numerous examples of "wise idiot" or "smart but clueless"

Bear in mind, not everything needs to be handled at the ability-score level. If you want your character to be book-smart, but clueless, you could invest skill ranks into Knowledges, but not Sense Motive, Search, Spot, or Listen.

Or for that matter, there could be a trait that says "Treat your Brain-Meats score as X points higher for wisdom-y stuff, but also treat it as X points lower for intelligence-y stuff."

Personally, I'd merge all mental ability scores into one. (Except spellcasting, that should be split out into its own separate score.)




Roll in order pushes players to take on roll playing challenges that they otherwise wouldn't, and the players usually end up liking that too.

If you're going to use a system that forces players to use unorthodox class/ability score matchups, you should also use classes that support a wide variety of ability score arrangements. So you know how 3.5 has fighter, barbarian, swashbuckler, hexblade, and paladin? If you can figure a way to replace those all with one class, with your ability scores determining which concept you fulfill, then non-customizable ability scores would make sense. Oh, but the catch is, this hypothetical class has to actually work well in each of those rolls, given the correct arangement of ability scores.

Still though, it's not something I'd ever do as a DM.
Player: "I want to play a nimble and clever warrior."
DM: "Well f**k you, the dice say you're clumsy and stupid."
Actually, I don't think there should be any random components to character creation. Not for ability scores, and not for hit points.

jqavins
2018-10-31, 07:24 AM
Personally, I'd go further than correlating Str and Con. I'd flat-out merge them into a single ability score.Speaking from personal experience, when I was younger I was somewhat strong, Str of 11 or 12 (which surprised people since I was also fat, but the muscles were there underneath) and a kickass immune system and stamina to keep going (when I cared to bother) so Con of probably 15 or 16. So, Health (2d6) of 10, Str's third die of 1 or 2, and Con's third die of 5 or 6. (Middle age and general disregard for fitness have now taken their toll.)

Maat Mons
2018-10-31, 05:30 PM
Well, speaking from experience, when I was younger, I had a good Agility score, but my Dexterity was lower on account of mild hand tremors. So I guess Agility and Dexterity need to be linked ability scores just like Strength and Constitution.

Furthermore, my Environmental Perception was quite high, while my Social Perception was quite low. I guess that means we need to split Wisdom into two different ability scores, to account for the fact that perceptiveness has multiple facets.

rferries
2018-11-01, 12:33 AM
I agree with the earlier point that this system is much more realistic, especially for the Con-Str link, and that Cha-Wis is arguably a better link than Int-Wis. I think in many cases this system might be superfluous - an NPC isn't usually generated with an extreme high Str/low Con dichotomy anyways so the new system might not be necessary.

For PCs... maybe give them a bonus 1d4 at character creation, which they can choose to apply to either their health (Con/Str) base OR their mental (Int/Wis) base? This would alleviate some of the concerns about this system exacerbating MADness.

It's a pity the scores are so nebulous, but I guess that's life. A bodybuilder presumably has high Str and is very durable in a fight (Con) yet would tire quickly while running.

jqavins
2018-11-01, 07:56 AM
Well, speaking from experience, when I was younger, I had a good Agility score, but my Dexterity was lower on account of mild hand tremors. So I guess Agility and Dexterity need to be linked ability scores just like Strength and Constitution.

Furthermore, my Environmental Perception was quite high, while my Social Perception was quite low. I guess that means we need to split Wisdom into two different ability scores, to account for the fact that perceptiveness has multiple facets.If we were starting with established abilities this finely divided, I wouldn't combine them unless I were doing a broader system overhaul, any more than I would split them today without a similarly broad project.