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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default A Grognard's Guide to 5E D&D Rules

    Starting at age 12, D&D has been a life long hobby for me. I have played all the various editions of the game over the past 24ish years. So I thought it might be useful to post a brief overview of the new 5E rules, and then do my best to briefly compare those rules to previous editions of D&D.


    You can download a complete legal copy of the D&D Basic Rules from the WotC website here.

    A Very Brief Overview of 5E Rules

    Note: I will not be posting anything other then very very brief "fair use" descriptions of anything, in order to stay legal and comply with forum rules. I suggest you do the same.


    The Basics
    • In my opinion 5th edition D&D is the best version of 3rd edition D&D ever published. If you like 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder D&D, you'll probably enjoy playing 5th edition. If you think that the mechanical flaws of 3rd edition make it unworkable or have no interest in buying yet another clone of a game you already own or can read for free online, then you probably won't like 5th edition.


    • Theater of the Mind is the default game mechanic, not a physical tabletop map with miniatures. Players describe what they want to do to the DM and maybe roll a dice, the DM adjudicates it and describes what happens. The movement, Opportunity Attack, reach, and targeting rules are all built to support this play style, and if you attempt to use the Basic rules with a physical tabletop map and miniatures you'll probably end up with some unintuitive or difficult to adjudicate results.


    • Ability Checks, Saving Throws, and Contests: The basic unified resolution mechanic for 5E is to roll 1d20 + Ability Score Modifier + Proficiency Bonuses + Other Modifiers, and compare the result against a set Armor Class (AC), Difficulty Chance (DC), or the result of your enemy's Ability Check.


    • Advantage/Disadvantage: When there are positive or negative circumstances, then you can gain Advantage or Disadvantage. You roll 2d20 instead of 1d20, and use the higher (Advantage) or lower (Disadvantage) result. Multiple Advantages and Disadvantages don't stack, so you never roll more then 2d20. If you have at least one Advantage and at least one Disadvantage, then they cancel each other out, even if you have multiple Advantages and just one Disadvantage or vice-verse. You can gain/impose Advantage/Disadvantage lots of different ways, including DM fiat.


    • Proficiency Bonus: Scales with your character level, but it is a relatively small bonus. The vast majority of rolls in 5E are going to have a modified result between 1 and 31.



    Abilities:
    • Uses the same ability scores from every previous edition; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma.


    • The bonuses provided by ability scores are standardized using the same methodology from 4E and 3E (10 = 0, 12 = +1, 14 = +2, etc), which means that odd Ability Scores continue to be pointless in most circumstances.


    • As you gain class levels, you gain the option of ability score increases (or Feats), which are part of your class chart (and not part of your character level progression). An ability score cannot be increased past 20 (+5 bonus) with a few rare exceptions.


    • The standard methodology for determining Ability Scores is roll 4d6, drop the lowest die, repeat until you have six scores, then assign the scores as you prefer, then apply racial modifiers. They also offer up a standard array and point buy as alternative methodologies. Using the point buy method, the highest score you can get prior to racial modifiers is 15 and the lowest is 8.



    Races
    • Races in the Basic rules are Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. The Player's Handbook adds the Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling. The Dungeon Master's Guide adds Aasimar as an example of how to make your own custom race.


    • Race provides a package of fluff, age, size, speed, ability score modifiers, and some special abilities, some of which are useful. Some races have sub-race options, which add an additional ability score modifier and ability.


    • Some race/class combinations are clearly more optimal then others. For example, most players probably won't choose to play race or subrace that grants an Intelligence bonus unless they want to play a Wizard, because Intelligence is only useful for playing a Wizard, occasional Skill checks, and very rarely a Saving Throw. Though Variant Trait Humans are notably pretty good at being anything.


    • Aasimar: +2 Cha, +1 Wis, Medium, 30 ft speed, Darkvision, Resistant to Necrotic and Radiant damage, Light cantrip, and as you gain levels you also get Lesser Restoration and Daylight once per Long Rest. (DMG pgs 286-287).


    • Dragonborn: +2 Str, +1 Cha, Medium, 30 ft speed, a weak-ish breath weapon, and resistance to one energy type.


    • Dwarf: +2 Con, Medium, 25 ft speed, Darkvision, Advantage and Resistance vs. Poisons, mostly useless Stonecunning, some minor/fluffy weapon and tool proficiencies. Hill Dwarf sub-race adds +1 Wis and +1 hit point per level. Mountain Dwarf sub-race adds +2 Strength and light and medium armor proficiency.


    • Elf: +2 Dex, Medium, 30 ft speed, Darkvision, Perception Skill Proficiency, Advantage vs Charm, Immune to magical sleep, Long Rest only takes 4 hours. High Elf sub-race adds +1 Int, a Wizard Cantrip, an extra language, and some weapon proficiencies. Wood Elf sub-race adds +1 Wis, higher base movement, and camouflage. Dark Elf (Drow) sub-race adds +1 to Cha, superior darkvision, sunlight sensitivity. Eladrin subrace (5E DMG pgs 286-287) adds +1 Int, Misty Step spell once per Short or Long Rest. All of the subraces also add a few weapon proficiencies.


    • Gnome: +2 Int, Small, 25 ft speed, Darkvision, and Advantage on mental Saves vs magic. Forest Gnome sub-race adds +1 Dex, minor illusion cantrip, and speak with small beasts. Rock Gnome sub-race adds +1 Con, a higher proficiency bonus on some Intelligence (History) checks, and a fluffy but useless tinker ability.


    • Halfling:+2 Dex, Small, 25 ft speed, Lucky (potent reroll ability), Advantage vs Frightened, can move through larger creature's spaces. Lightfoot sub-race adds +1 Cha and Naturally Stealthy ability. Stout sub-race adds +1 Con and Advantage and Resistance vs. Poisons.


    • Half-Elf:+2 Cha, +1 to any two other ability scores, Medium, 30 ft speed, Darkvision, Advantage vs Charm, Immune to magical sleep, and two extra Skill proficiencies of your choice.


    • Half-Orc:+2 Str, +1 Con, Medium, 30 ft speed, Darkvision, Intimidation Proficiency, a Diehard-like ability, and bonus damage on critical hits with a melee weapon.


    • Human: +1 to all six ability scores, Medium, 30 ft speed, bonus language. Variant Human Traits gives you +1 to any two ability scores of your choice, a Bonus Feat (the only way to get a Feat at first level), and Proficiency in one Skill of your choice.


    • Tiefling: +2 Cha, +1 Int, Medium, 30 ft speed, Darkvision, Resistance to Fire, and some minor spells.



    Classes
    • Your class choice determines your hit points, hit die, Proficiencies, and class abilities. Within the first three levels, every class must also choose a subclass, which provides a different package of class abilities at certain levels.


    • Barbarian: d12 hit die/hit points per level, light and medium armor, shields, simple and martial weapons, Strength and Constitution Saves Proficiency, 2 Skill proficiencies. The new and interesting ability is a dramatically improved Rage. Otherwise the class basically just grants bonus damage, plus Advantage on various rolls. Primal Path subclass options are Path of the Berserker (more offense) and the Path of the Totem Warrior (more defense or other options). Barbarians are a simple class that can be very, very hard to kill while in a Rage (especially Bear Totem), so I think its a good option for any new players who just want to hit stuff with a melee weapon.


    • Bard: d8 hit die/hit points per level, light armor, simple weapons plus a few extras, any 3 Skill proficiencies, Dex and Cha Save Proficiency, some very useful bardic performance abilities, and 9th level spellcasting from the bard spell list, plus the ability to cherry pick a small number of spells from other class lists. College subclass options are College of Lore (better spells) and the College of Valor (better armor/shield and Extra Attack). The Bard is now very clearly on par with other top tier magic users.


    • Cleric: d8 hit die/hit points per level, light and medium armor, shields, simple weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies, Wisdom and Charisma Save Proficiency, full spell casting up to 9th level spells from the cleric spell list, Channel Divinity (Turn Undead plus Domain abilities), and a package of domain related abilities. The new and interesting ability is Divine Intervention, where you can call for aid from your god directly once per week and have a small % chance of your deity intervening, as determined by your DM. Your 20th level capstone ability is that it works automatically. Domain subclass options are Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War. Cleric is once again a very strong full caster with a ton of potent options.


    • Druid: d8 hit die/hit points per level, light and medium armor, shields, (though no metal armor or shields), some limited weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies plus the Herbalism (healing) kit, Intelligence and Wisdom Save Proficiency, full spell casting up to 9th level spells from the druid spell list, open ended Wild Shape starting at level 2 (though you can't cast spells while in Wildshape until level 18), and a few other minor abilities. Circle subclass options are Circle of the Land (better spells) or Circle of the Moon (better Wildshape). Nothing particularly new or interesting compared to Druids from previous editions, but still a very potent and flexible full caster class that's also strong in melee.


    • Fighter: d10 hit die/hit points per level, all armor and shields and weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies, Strength and Constitution Save Proficiency. Gets bonuses to-hit, damage, and AC, gains Extra Attacks, reroll a Saving Throw, or heal some damage to himself. The new and interesting ability is Action Surge, which gives the Fighter an extra Action once (or twice at very high levels), which can then be restored with a Short Rest (1 hour). Fighter is also the only class that gets up to four default attacks per turn (everyone else is limited to one or two, not counting attacks from things like two weapon fighting, spells, etc). Martial archetype subclass options are Champion (simple option, increases critical hit chance), Battle Master (adds some basic combat maneuver options), or Eldritch Knight (adds one-third casting). The Fighter is a fairly simple class that's good at making mundane attacks.


    • Monk: d8 hit die/hit points per level, no armor, simple weapons and short swords, 2 Skill proficiencies plus artisan's tools or a musical instrument, Strength and Dexterity Save Proficiency, and a lot of abilities similar to the Pathfinder Monk (though arguably much stronger). Monastic tradition subclass options are Way of the Open Hand (augments unarmed strike), Way of Shadow (Stealth related), or Way of the Four Elements (adds energy effects). The Monk is mobile class with a variety of special defenses (especially at higher levels) and a few useful offensive tricks. I'm sure it will once again be one of the most debated classes in the game.


    • Paladin: d10 hit die/hit points per level, all armor and shields and weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies, Wisdom and Charisma Save Proficiency, 1st through 5th level spellcasting from the paladin spell list, and a variety of other abilities similar to the 3.5 Paladin (though arguably much stronger in some ways). Few of the base class abilities are particularly new to players familiar with previous versions of the Paladin, though they are a lot more effective. Oath (Code of Conduct) subclass options are Oath of Devotion, Oath of the Ancients, and Oath of Vengeance. As in previous editions, the Paladin is basically combination warrior/cleric.


    • Ranger: d10 hit die/hit points per level, light and medium armor, shields, all weapons, Strength and Dexterity Saves Proficiency, three Skill proficiencies, and a variety of other abilities similar to the Pathfinder Ranger. Ranger Archetypes are Hunter (better attacks and defense) or Beast Master (Animal Companion with a nerfed action economy). For me, the Ranger is currently the biggest disappointment in the book. Outside of combat the Ranger's effectiveness can sometimes be highly dependent on whether or not you come across your Favored Enemies or Terrain. In combat they can be sub-par compared to other classes, though I'm sure this will be heavily debated.


    • Rogue: d8 hit die/hit points per level, light armor, simple weapons plus a few extras, 4 Skill proficiencies plus Proficiency with Thieves' Tools, Dexterity and Intelligence Save Proficiency, various abilities that make Skill checks better, very easily triggered Sneak Attack once per turn, Evasion and Uncanny Dodge (which are way better then the 3.5 versions). The new and interesting ability is Cunning Action, which lets you Hide, Disengage (avoid Opportunity Attacks), or Dash (move faster) as a Bonus Action. This means that under the right conditions you can move, Sneak Attack, move some more, then hide (avoiding counter attacks) every turn. Roguish archetype subclass options are Thief (Skill options), Assassin (ambush and kill), and Arcane Trickster (one-third casting from illusion and enchantment spells). The Rogue is a solid option for players who want to be sneaky, mobile, hard to kill, while also dealing plenty of damage (and probably my personal favorite non-caster).


    • Sorcerer: d6 hit die/hit points per level, no armor proficiencies, crud weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies, Charisma and Constitution Save Proficiency (with the latter being very important for Concentration rules, see below), full casting from the Wizard/Sorcerer. The new and interesting ability is Font of Magic, which gives you Sorcery Points that you can use to recover spells or use metamagic effects. Origin subclass options are Draconic Bloodline or Wild Magic. The Sorcerer is very similar to the Wizard, and honestly could have been combined with it.


    • Warlock: d8 hit die/hit points per level, light armor, simple weapons, Wisdom and Charisma Save proficiency, two Skill proficiencies. Patron subclass options are Archfey , Fiend, and Great Old One. On first glance at the Warlock's chart it appears to be a half-caster that restores can restore its limited spells with a Short Rest (unlike every other spellcaster, which needs a Long Rest) that also gets a number of at-will Invocations and some continuous magic buffs from your Patron. But read the details and you realize that its another full spellcaster with access to 1st through 9th level spells, though it gets just one 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell per Long Rest. The Warlock is a good choice for players that are willing to accept fewer spells in exchange for the ability to use those spells much more often.


    • Wizard: d6 hit die/hit points per level, no armor proficiencies, crud weapons, 2 Skill proficiencies, Intelligence and Wisdom Save Proficiency. Full casting from the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list, and a package of metamagic like effects that improve various spell effects or give you additional spell uses. The new and interesting ability is Arcane Recovery, which restores spell uses, and a few very high levels abilities that allow you to cast some low level spells at-will. Wizard Arcane Tradition subclass options are Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation. (Based on the traditional schools of D&D magic).



    Magic
    • Forget about how you think D&D magic works. Although 5E borrows a lot of the same vocabulary and appears superficially the same, the mechanics, resource management, and tactics used by 5E spellcasters are different, and direct comparisons can be confusing. Explaining the management of your spells is even more of a Rube Goldberg Machine then it used to be, though in actual games I've found it to be a bit simpler then 1/2/3E once you get the hang of the new system. (Though more complicated then the standardized 4E at-will/encounter/daily/ritual mechanics).


    • Magic users can prepare a number of spells each day. They can then cast from that list spontaneously.


    • Spells do not automatically scale, as they usually did in 3E/2E/1E. Instead you must cast a spell using a higher spell level slot if you want to increase it's effect. Thus a 20th level Wizard that casts the 1st level Magic Missile spell only deals 2d4 + 5 Force damage when he casts it out of a 1st level slot. If he wants it to increase the damage he must choose to spontaneously cast it out of a higher level spell slot. (For people who have played 3.0/3.5 or Pathfinder, this is similar to how the Sorcerer needed to use higher spell level slots to increase the effectiveness of spells with Metamagic Feats). This is important because high level spellcasters actually have very few high level spell slots available. It also means that some spells are useful around the level you first learn them, but not at higher levels.


    • Spell uses can be restored by a Long Rest (8 hours, or with a Short Rest for spells below 6th level if you're a Warlock). The Sorcerer and Wizard also can also replenish some spell uses using their respective class abilities. In addition, the Wizard gets a few high level class abilities that allows some low level spells to be used at-will.


    • Spells with the "Ritual" tag can be cast out of their base spell level "for free" without using a spell slot by increasing the casting time to 10 minutes. Ritual Spells include many utility and divination spells, but not all of them.


    • The Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard each get at-will Cantrips ("0th level spells") so they always have something to do that doesn't require using a crossbow or some other Dexterity or Strength dependent weapon. They're much more impressive then Cantrips from previous editions, but less useful then 1st level or higher spells. They're basically on part with At-Will Powers from 4E. Warlocks also get small number of at-will Invocations, which are equivalent to various low-mid level spells.


    • Between Rituals, Cantrips, and various class abilities which provide spell-like abilities and restore spell uses, saying that a spellcaster gets "X spell uses every game day" is usually incorrect and misleading, since it is more like a pool of spell uses, some of which get emptied and refilled throughout the game day.


    • Many spells with a duration now require Concentration (but not all). You can only have Concentration on one spell at a time. Whenever you take damage while you are Concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution Saving Throw that scales with damage or the spell ends. In theory this will limit "CoDzilla" builds that stack multiple buffs, and action advantage builds that summon hoards of creatures to gain tons of actions and battlefield control by flooding the map. It also encourages spellcasters to buff allies (instead of themselves) and then hang back, instead of fighting in melee on the front line. But this limitation will only be meaningful to the extent that they enforce it systematically across all spells. For example, the 9th level Foresight spell is extremely potent, lasts for 8 hours, and requires no Concentration. On the flip side the very fluid movement rules make it easy to move around enemies, which in turn may make Concentration spells very temporary.


    • Spellcasters of all kinds can cast spells while wearing armor, as long as they're proficient in it.



    Equipment
    • Armor: There are easy ways for every class to get AC of 17 or 18, unless your Dexterity and Strength are both very low. Using a shield and a few class abilities and spells can push it up a bit further. There are also trap option armors that provide you with inferior AC with no benefit other then being slightly cheaper, so you may have slightly lower AC for your first couple of levels. There is no down side to wearing heavier armors other then Disadvantage on Stealth checks. Encumbrance exists but will rarely be a problem for anyone unless your Strength is terrible.


    • Weapons: You can make both melee and ranged attack and damage rolls using your Strength or Dexterity, as long as you choose the right weapon to use. Some weapons deal slightly more damage then others. Reach weapons add 5 feet of reach without any fiddly drawbacks. Everyone can use Two Weapon Fighting by default with light weapons.


    • Tools: You can craft things or add your Proficiency bonus to a few other things that were previously handled by Skills (like disarm traps, open locks, and perform with an instrument) by having proficiency in the proper tools for it.



    Magic Items
    • Some magic items require that you "attune" them with a Short Rest in order to use them. You can have a maximum of three attuned magic items at a time. Other magic items don't need to be attuned, such as +1 armor, +1 weapon, potions, or scrolls.


    • You cannot buy or sell magic items other then (one use) potions and scrolls. You have to find them. Reusable magic items do not have a listed gold piece or other value.


    • Magic items that effect your Ability Scores or movement rate set it at a fixed number, rather then providing a bonus. For example, when attuned Gauntlets of Ogre Strength grants you Strength of 19. So a character with 19 or 20 Strength gains no benefit from them.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    How 5E rules differ compared to previous editions
    This is a work in progress. I will add additional sections soon.

    Abilities

    5E: Uses the same ability scores from every previous edition; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. The bonuses provided by ability scores are standardized using the same methodology from 4E and 3E (10 = 0, 12 = +1, 14 = +2, etc), which means that odd Ability Scores continue to be pointless in most circumstances.

    4E: Ability scores can be determined several ways, with a standard array or point buy used as the suggested methods, which meant that in most games every player started out with the same number of resources in their ability scores. Each and every class has explicit key abilities, which determine the bonuses to their Powers. There are also three "couplets" of ability scores which may determine your Defense Values - Strength or Constitution for Fortitude Defense, Dexterity or Intelligence for Reflex Defense, Wisdom or Charisma for Will Defense. So from an optimization point of view, if you're using a non-random method of determining ability scores, in order to maximize Defenses, players generally aimed to have one high statistic from each pair. And in the interests of efficiency, players generally endeavored to minimize their investment in the partner of a high attribute. (In other words, almost every build has exactly 3 dump stats).

    3E: Ability scores are determined randomly, with the default method being roll 4d6, drop the lowest die, repeat this six time, scrap/reroll all rolls if your overall array is too low, and then assign them to your preferred ability scores. Some classes (especially spellcasters) were considered "Single Attribute Dependent" (SAD - like the Wizard who only needed high Intelligence to be very effective) and others were Multiple Attribute Dependent (MAD - like the Monk who needed high Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom to be modestly effective). Charisma was consider almost entirely useless unless your class depended on it.

    2E: Ability scores were determined randomly, with random 3d6 rolled in order being the default method. This meant that players sometimes had radically different ability scores. Races and Classes had minimum ability score requirements for entry, and if you were using the default method it was extremely rare to randomly generate a character that could qualify to be certain classes (like the Paladin, who required 12 Str, 9 Con, 13 Wis, and 17 Cha). Each Ability Score has it's own chart which determines your bonus or percentage chance for success for various specific things, and the bonuses provided are not consistent between Ability Scores. (18 Strength gives you a +1 to hit and +2 to damage, 18 Dexterity gives you a +2 to Reaction, +2 to ranged attacks, and -4 to your Defensive Adjustment). Only Warriors (Fighters, Paladins, Rangers) could benefit from a Constitution bonus of +3 or higher, which meant that Warriors almost always had much higher hit points. Only Fighters could benefit from "Exceptional Strength" - if you had 18 Strength at the time of character creation, you got to roll 1d100 to determine if it was permanently higher. This typically gave Fighters a very useful additional Strength bonus at low levels, which was typically replaced by a magic item at mid-levels. Also, Charisma could be a surprisingly important Ability Score at higher levels, because it determined the number of Henchmen you had, their base loyalty percentage, and your reaction adjustment (interactions with NPC's).

    1E: Very similar to 2E, though the bonuses provided for specific ability scores and what the ability scores applied to were somewhat different and sometimes wonky. Only Fighters can benefit from a Constitution bonus of +3 or higher (not Rangers and Paladins). The 1st edition Unearthed Arcana also presented the option of the infamous Comeliness (physical attractiveness) Attribute, which was basically useless unless you optimized it, in which case it could be used as an at-will fascination or charm effect.


    Races

    5E: Core races are Dragonborn, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Halfling, Human, and Tiefling. Racial abilities are more numerous and consequential then in previous editions, though many smaller fluffy abilities still exist.

    4E: Core races were Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf, Eladrin (high elves), Half-Elf, Halfling, Human, and Tiefling. Each race provides you with a +2 bonus to two attributes (except for humans, who get +2 to one attribute of your choice). This meant that certain racial options were more optimal then others for certain classes. Races also provided 6ish mostly small/fiddly bonuses, and a racial Power or additional flexibility on choosing another class Power.

    3E: Core races were Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Halfling, and Human. Human and (for certain builds) Dwarf were generally considered the most powerful by far, and other core races were considered quite weak. Every race other then the Human and Half-Elf provided an ability score bonus and penalty, with the Half-Orc getting two penalties.

    2E: Core races were the same as 3E, minus the Half-Orc. Except that non-Human races had minimum ability score requirements. In other words, you couldn't be a Dwarf without 8 or higher Strength and 11 or higher Constitution. Races also had class restrictions. For example, only Humans could be Paladins, and you couldn't be a Dwarf Wizard. Humans had no special abilities or bonuses other then unrestricted class choice, which meant that players rarely chose to play a human unless they wanted to play a class or class combination limited only to humans. As in 3E, racial bonuses were generally small or situational, with the most noteworthy and useful being the scaled Constitution based Dwarf and Gnome bonus to Saving Throws against all poison (Dwarf only), wands, staves, rods, and spells, which was somewhat balanced out by a random chance of failure when using some types of magic items. The net result was that certain race/class/level combinations were strictly more optimal then others.

    1E: Core races were the same as 3E. Requirements, restrictions, and benefits are very similar to 2E, though they were somewhat different, more limiting, and more arbitrary. In particular, every non-human race had a maximum class level in most classes. So it was always optimal to be a non-human at low-mid levels, but only humans could reach high levels. The funny/odd exception to this was the Thief class, which meant that all high level non-humans were Thieves (or Assassins, if you were a Half-Orc).


    Classes

    5E: Each class has a unique chart of things that it does. Each class gains at least one new ability from their class chart every level. There are subclasses, which allow you to swap out a package of class abilities for a different package (very similar to Archetypes in Pathfinder). Overall class setup and feel is very similar to 3E.

    4E: Each class has a unique set of Powers, plus a small number of stand alone class features. Powers are divided into at-will, encounter, daily, and utility. Every class gains new Powers at the same exact rate, and so classes are generally balanced in terms of the number of resources that they each get. Powers are highly granular and fairly balanced. You swap out lower level Powers for higher level ones as you gain levels. Your class also determines your Role (the types of things most of your Powers help you do), Power source (fluff), armor and weapon proficiencies, Defense bonuses, trained Skills, hit points, and healing surges. Classes have 30 levels, instead of the classic 20. At level 10 and 20 you can choose different Paths, which provide you with additional class features plus Power options.

    3E: Each class has a unique chart of things that it does. Your class chart determines the rate at which you gain Skill ranks, hit points, Saving Throw bonuses, base attack bonus, plus starting weapon and armor proficiency. Classes also gain class features as they gain levels, though non-spellcasters don't necessarily gain anything other then better numbers many levels. For example, 9/20 of the Fighter class is dead levels. Classes get dramatically different amounts of resources, and class abilities have wildly different power levels.

    2E: As in 3E, but non-full spell casters are almost entirely composed of dead levels where they gained nothing but higher bonuses, Saves, and/or % success rates. Arcane magic users are extremely fragile unless they have defensive spells active. Classes have subclasses which provide the same progression of bonuses/saves/etc but different class abilities. As mentioned above, classes have racial and minimum attribute requirements, so you can't be a Paladin unless your a human with 12 Str, 9 Con, 13 Wis, and 17 Cha. Classes require different amounts of experience to gain a level. And after a certain level, you only gained a small fixed number of hit points, instead of rolling an additional hit die). Only Rogues and Bards can do certain things which are handled by Skills in all future editions (Pick Pockets, Move Silently, Hide, Open Locks, Disarm Traps) which protects their exploration toolbox niche.

    1E: As in 2E, but less balanced. For example, a 1st level Magic-User is comically easy to hit and kill and gets just 1 spell per day but eventually weilds godlike power, and a Thief starts out with a 20-50ish% chance (with modfiers) of success in most Skills but has a 100%+ chance of success in most Skils starting around level 11ish.


    Magic

    5E: A variation of Vancian Magic is the default, as was the case in every previous edition other then 4E. See the description above for a detailed explanation. Overall, spellcasters appear to have fewer "I win" buttons then before and can't just stack a bunch of buff spells to become "better then the Fighter at fighting." But once you master the Rube Goldberg Machine of their resource management, they never truly run out of resources while you're adventuring, unlike 3E/2E/1E where running out was a common event at low levels.

    4E: Spells were converted into standardized Powers, and were thus balanced with every other Power in the game, and were used on an At-Will/Encounter/Daily basis like every other Power. Utility and most of the broken spells from previous editions were converted into Rituals, where the spellcaster had to pay a gold piece cost and often spend a long time casting in order to use them. In most cases the cost was not worth the benefit, and so for players most Rituals were not worth using. (Though for DMs they could be an important tool to make NPCs and monsters more interesting and powerful).

    3E: Classic Vancian Magic was the default. Full casters (Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer, Druid, and many others introduced through supplements) in most games had many more resources then other classes, and were often wildly more powerful. A single spell could often win any given encounter. Some higher level spells could be abused to give players god-like powers. In theory there were limiting factors to magic, such as Spell Resistance, Material Components, Attacks of Opportunity, or limited armor. But in reality, any player who mastered the rules could bypass these restrictions. For many players, the flexibility and coolness of magic was one of the most fun parts of the game. For others players and some DMs, it was one of the most broken parts of the game.

    2E: Classic Vancian Magic was the default, and it could be extremely powerful. But there were a number of very real limiting factors on them.
    • Spells had a casting time counted in initiative points, with most higher level spells taking longer to cast. If you take damage in any way during that time, you automatically lose the spell. Which meant that it was very risky to cast higher level spells in combat if you faced quick and/or smart enemies.
    • Memorizing spells took much, much longer for higher level spells. And random encounters outside of town was the default rule, so resting to restore spells mid-dungeon crawl was a time consuming and risky endevour.
    • Non-Warriors of all kinds were usually much more fragile (as their bonus hit points from Constitution were limited to +2 per level and their armor was typically more limited). Conversely, damaging spells were significantly more powerful than they were in 3e and 4E due to those editions' hit point inflation.
    • Wizards had to find spells, learn them (and there was a chance that you failed to learn them if your Intelligence wasn't high enough), and add them to their spellbooks, which was both time-consuming and expensive.
    • Druid and Cleric spells only went up to 7th level, not 9th level like the Wizard. Paladins could still get up to 4th level Cleric spells though, which was comparatively more powerful in this edition compared to 3E.
    • Many spells had specific drawbacks; Fireball and Lightning Bolt could easily hit you and/or other party members if you targeted them wrong, Haste permanently aged it's targets, using Shout more then once per day could deafen you, you had to make a system shock roll that could kill you when Polymorphed, etc.


    1E: Classic Vancian Magic mechanics were created. The Illusionist was a sepereate sub-class of the Magic-User (other specializations didn't exist yet). Some spells were very poorly written and open to DM interpretation.



    More to come soon. I will continue to update this post on a regular-ish basis until all of the core rules are covered. I know that there are a number of things in the playtests that will probably be in the core rules. But until I see it in an official excerpt or actual game materials, I'm not going to post it here, in order to avoid confusion and re-writes. Again, I would appreciate any help from other Playgrounders who could summarize or compare rules. Thanks.

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    I feel paladins are too strong. For instance, a lvl 5 paladin will have +2 proficiency, and 20 STR [18+2 racial], a feat (lvl 4), and 2 attacks (lvl 5), and presumably a +1 weapon, in this example, a maul, doing 2d6 bludgeoning. With such, the pally has +7 to hit, for 2d6+6 dmg, twice a round, but with the feat "great weapon master" the pally can take -5 to hit to do double damage with an attack, (STR dmg included). This means, +2 to hit for 4d6+12 dmg a round and due to great weapon style at lvl 2, the pally still does STR mod in dmg even on a miss with a two handed attack. To counteract this, the pally may take an action during the first round to give himself +CHA mod to hit for 1 min, possibly greatly diminishing the power attack penalty depending on CHA score. On top of this, the pally has half level as caster levels, which fuels his "divine smite". At lvl 5 said pally has 4 first lvl spell slots, and 2 second lvl slots, and upon hitting with an attack he can burn a 1st lvl slot to add 2d8 radiant dmg to the attack, and a 2nd lvl adds 3d8 radiant (always adds another 1d8 if undead, celestial, fiend, or fey), and he can do this for each hitting attack. Which means A decnt palading will have +5 to hit for 8d6+20+6d8, over two attacks in one round, which far outpaces any other classes potential. As a player, I like, as a DM, its rough when the pally can
    one shot something with 58hp at lvl 5, wiping out anything of his level in one shot, potentially first in the round depending on init.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raging_Pacifist View Post
    I feel paladins are too strong. For instance, a lvl 5 paladin will have +2 proficiency, and 20 STR [18+2 racial], a feat (lvl 4), and 2 attacks (lvl 5), and presumably a +1 weapon, in this example, a maul, doing 2d6 bludgeoning. With such, the pally has +7 to hit, for 2d6+6 dmg, twice a round, but with the feat "great weapon master" the pally can take -5 to hit to do double damage with an attack, (STR dmg included). This means, +2 to hit for 4d6+12 dmg a round and due to great weapon style at lvl 2, the pally still does STR mod in dmg even on a miss with a two handed attack. To counteract this, the pally may take an action during the first round to give himself +CHA mod to hit for 1 min, possibly greatly diminishing the power attack penalty depending on CHA score. On top of this, the pally has half level as caster levels, which fuels his "divine smite". At lvl 5 said pally has 4 first lvl spell slots, and 2 second lvl slots, and upon hitting with an attack he can burn a 1st lvl slot to add 2d8 radiant dmg to the attack, and a 2nd lvl adds 3d8 radiant (always adds another 1d8 if undead, celestial, fiend, or fey), and he can do this for each hitting attack. Which means A decnt palading will have +5 to hit for 8d6+20+6d8, over two attacks in one round, which far outpaces any other classes potential. As a player, I like, as a DM, its rough when the pally can
    one shot something with 58hp at lvl 5, wiping out anything of his level in one shot, potentially first in the round depending on init.
    I think you have some rather large errors in your analysis, including (a) the unlikelihood of a 20 in a stat at 5th level, (b) the availability of +1 weapons, (c) the fact that Great Weapon Fighter has changed since the playtest.

    But also ... (d) he sunk literally everything he had into that alpha strike, and even had to waste an action so he can be at least minimally accurate, while all a Wizard needs to do for 6d6 AoE damage is cast fireball.

    I think I'll want to see it in play.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    I think you have some rather large errors in your analysis, including (a) the unlikelihood of a 20 in a stat at 5th level,
    Why would that be unlikely? It strikes me as feasible to start with 16 (from point buy) +1 (from class) +1 (from race), and then boost that to 20 at level four. Of course, it would be better to take an actual feat, but it's not all that hard to max out your primary if you want to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Why would that be unlikely? It strikes me as feasible to start with 16 (from point buy) +1 (from class) +1 (from race), and then boost that to 20 at level four. Of course, it would be better to take an actual feat, but it's not all that hard to max out your primary if you want to.
    This character also has a feat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    I think you have some rather large errors in your analysis, including (a) the unlikelihood of a 20 in a stat at 5th level, (b) the availability of +1 weapons, (c) the fact that Great Weapon Fighter has changed since the playtest.

    But also ... (d) he sunk literally everything he had into that alpha strike, and even had to waste an action so he can be at least minimally accurate, while all a Wizard needs to do for 6d6 AoE damage is cast fireball.

    I think I'll want to see it in play.
    20 at level 1 isn't too difficult, 18 from 4d6 drop the lowest, plus 2 racial from half orc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    This character also has a feat.
    Point.

    Ok, 18 from rolling well (the default method is 4d6b3, I believe), +1 for race +1 for class. Regardless, if the pally is OP with a 20 stat, then he's still OP with an 18; it's only a tiny difference anyway.
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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Eh, if the Paladin is the class that is OP in Next I think I can live with that. They were pretty awesome in 2e and 4e... Maybe WotC is still trying to atone for 3e Paladin?

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Where are people drawing the idea that rolling must be the default method? Because the pre-gens have weird stats that don't match the playtest? All you can say from that is that the final game ability mods will not match playtest (which we knew) and that the pre-gens don't look like they were generated with the playtest rules. Why does that mean rolling must not only have been the method they used for the pre-gens, but it must also be the game default?
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    Quote Originally Posted by da_chicken View Post
    Where are people drawing the idea that rolling must be the default method? Because the pre-gens have weird stats that don't match the playtest? All you can say from that is that the final game ability mods will not match playtest (which we knew) and that the pre-gens don't look like they were generated with the playtest rules. Why does that mean rolling must not only have been the method they used for the pre-gens, but it must also be the game default?
    Because they said in the articles that rolling is the default.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokiare View Post
    Because they said in the articles that rolling is the default.
    The starter set characters seem to be built with an array.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Lokiare View Post
    Because they said in the articles that rolling is the default.
    I've never read that. Can you tell me which one?
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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    I DM for a 5th level Paladin and yes, I do think that they put out a great deal of damage when they want to. The +2d8 damage is nasty, but not as nasty as the spells that add +d4 to hit or +d8 damage for the entire fight. The latest packet I have has the -5 to hit for double damage thing, what is the new Greatweapon Mastery? With the +3 to hit from the bless weapon, it is well worth trying if you think it will drop an enemy to zero, as it sparks an extra attack.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find Paladins putting out a good amount of damage. I particularly like the fact that, at least at low levels, they are a dominant damage dealer against undead.

    One mistake I made as a DM was allowing the Paladin to start with Platemail. It is much like letting something start with Mithrel Chain or Eldar Dragon Hide. AC20 is way too high for low levels to make fights interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    The starter set characters seem to be built with an array.
    They are per Mearls twitter. Whatever the default in the PHB is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by da_chicken View Post
    I've never read that. Can you tell me which one?
    The final play test packet has it as the default and I thought they mentioned it, but I can't find it in their legends and lore articles. It might have been one of the interviews. They basically said it led to more rp or something superficial like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by da_chicken View Post
    I've never read that. Can you tell me which one?
    It was from a previous L&L, but for all I know they've backed off it.

    I know I much prefer arrays or point-buy, myself, and if that's how the Starter Set characters are made, I'm sure it'll be an option.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Updates:

    Ability Scores and Races added. I'll start working on classes next. Let me know if there's anything I missed.

    Question: Do we know for sure whether or not 5E races provide an Ability Score bonus (and penalties)? I'm guessing that the answer is yes, since ability score bonuses for non-humans have been a part of every previous edition. But I also know that a vocal minority of players criticize them, since they make certain race/class combinations more optimal and and more common, and less optimal race/class combinations were rarely chosen. This is particularly important in 5E, where bonuses are rarer, and you literally have to give up one or more Feats if you want to max out your primary attribute.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Updates:

    Ability Scores and Races added. I'll start working on classes next. Let me know if there's anything I missed.

    Question: Do we know for sure whether or not 5E races provide an Ability Score bonus (and penalties)? I'm guessing that the answer is yes, since ability score bonuses for non-humans have been a part of every previous edition. But I also know that a vocal minority of players criticize them, since they make certain race/class combinations more optimal and and more common, and less optimal race/class combinations were rarely chosen. This is particularly important in 5E, where bonuses are rarer, and you literally have to give up one or more Feats if you want to max out your primary attribute.
    Current best-guess is that demihumans get +2 to one stat and +1 to another. The +1 is probably (but not certainly) subrace-based.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Current best-guess is that demihumans get +2 to one stat and +1 to another. The +1 is probably (but not certainly) subrace-based.
    That's what I was thinking.

    It is also one of the first thing I'll be getting rid of.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Current best-guess is that demihumans get +2 to one stat and +1 to another. The +1 is probably (but not certainly) subrace-based.
    Huh. Was there an article or forum post or whatever where they discussed that decision? Because I honestly don't understand it at all.

    The fact that some (all?) races get fixed attribute bonuses, and bonuses in general are rare (and perhaps subject to Bounded Accuracy), and other racial abilities appear to be small/mediocre (unlike the 3E human bonus Feat + Skill points), means that players that choose to optimize will almost always choose certain combinations of races and classes. (Example: If only Elves have a +2 Intelligence bonus, the huge majority of Wizards played will be Elves (at least until a supplement with another Int bonus race comes out). Giving out an additional +1 based on subrace makes the corridor of optimal choices even narrower. For example, if Wood Elves get +2 Int and +1 Con and High Elves get +2 In and +1 Cha, I could see how the huge majority of Wizards would be a Wood Elf, and almost no one would choose to be a High Elf.

    Also, because they're using the 4E/3E ability score bonus calculation, odd ability scores are functionally pointless. But new players who pick up the game for the first time don't always realize this, or realize the importance of bonuses. So they're basically encouraging the trap option of having odd numbered ability scores. (Which seems to be the case with their pre-generated characters as well).

    It's reasonable to assume that not all players are going to optimize, so it's ok to throw in non-optimal bonuses for flavor. But it's a terrible design decision to specifically encourage trap options.

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    Not only don't I like racial bonuses to ability scores, I'm really leaning DTAS* these days, so don't ask me. So I guess if you're stuck with ability scores anyway, racial bonuses don't make them much more terrible.

    As for even numbers ... eh. There's always been "gaps" where the difference between two numbers was meaningless or next-to. In AD&D, you had no modifiers for most attributes between ... was it 7? ... and 14 or 15. In BECMI, it's less forgiving, but there's still a big gap containing probably 2/3+ of all ability scores with no bonuses. Also, rolled stats are either the default method of generating stats, or else a fully-supported variant in the core rules (more supported than they were in 3e or 4e, at least).

    Humans, FWIW, get +1 to all scores by default as their "racial ability". So a Human won't be as tough as a dwarf, but is probably faster and more charismatic. Humans will never be as quick as elves, but they're tougher and stronger. And so on.


    * Death To Ability Scores. Basically, the philosophy that ability scores, even in a game like D&D, are just unnecessary cruft, and that there's better ways to show characters are smarter/stronger/etc. than others.
    Last edited by obryn; 2014-06-27 at 12:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    As for even numbers ... eh. There's always been "gaps" where the difference between two numbers was meaningless or next-to. In AD&D, you had no modifiers for most attributes between ... was it 7? ... and 14 or 15. In BECMI, it's less forgiving, but there's still a big gap containing probably 2/3+ of all ability scores with no bonuses. Also, rolled stats are either the default method of generating stats, or else a fully-supported variant in the core rules (more supported than they were in 3e or 4e, at least).
    One important different though is that in older editions, ability modifiers didn't have such important roles in everything and the general expectation wasn't constant bumps to your ability scores. That it might be 2 or 3 ability score bumps before your modifier changed didn't mean much when that modifier affected just your to hit. But when it affects saves, and skills and actions, and the game expects you to be raising those scores over time, then the dead levels are somewhat useless.

    It's a shame they didn't go back to d20 roll under for skill checks. That would have made every ability level count for something, but of course it would have ruined the whole grand unified mechanic thing that has been a bane on RPG design for the last 20 or so years.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Person_Man, are you considering a section on multiclassing in the various editions?
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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Not only don't I like racial bonuses to ability scores, I'm really leaning DTAS* these days, so don't ask me. So I guess if you're stuck with ability scores anyway, racial bonuses don't make them much more terrible.

    As for even numbers ... eh. There's always been "gaps" where the difference between two numbers was meaningless or next-to. In AD&D, you had no modifiers for most attributes between ... was it 7? ... and 14 or 15. In BECMI, it's less forgiving, but there's still a big gap containing probably 2/3+ of all ability scores with no bonuses. Also, rolled stats are either the default method of generating stats, or else a fully-supported variant in the core rules (more supported than they were in 3e or 4e, at least).

    Humans, FWIW, get +1 to all scores by default as their "racial ability". So a Human won't be as tough as a dwarf, but is probably faster and more charismatic. Humans will never be as quick as elves, but they're tougher and stronger. And so on.


    * Death To Ability Scores. Basically, the philosophy that ability scores, even in a game like D&D, are just unnecessary cruft, and that there's better ways to show characters are smarter/stronger/etc. than others.

    I'm working on...

    Physical Attack: Weapon Attacks
    Physical Defense: Defense Versus Non-magical effects
    Physical Skill: Bonus to all physical skills

    Mental Attack: Magic Attacks
    Mental Defense: Defense Versus magical abilities
    Mental Skill: Bonus to all mental skills.

    This way you can describe your character's ability scores however you want, perhaps you are good at physical attacks not because of strength or Dexterity but because you are great at pissing people off and can see through their movement thus you know where to Strike, or you have seen many battles and you use your wisdom to know where to strike...

    You still have the 6 score model, and with a little work you could probably push this into any D&D system out there.

    :D

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Most of the spoilered images aren't loading
    I usually post from my phone, so please excuse any horrendous typos.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    [to somebody getting upset over somebody else's house rule] Maybe you should take a break, you're getting rather worked up over magic elf games.

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Does an attribute score really need a modifier change every level? Do you really need that for something? Just like, do you absolutely have to have something added to your character beyond HP increase every level? I'm not seeing proper reasoning to actually demand this of a system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fwiffo86 View Post
    Does an attribute score really need a modifier change every level? Do you really need that for something? Just like, do you absolutely have to have something added to your character beyond HP increase every level? I'm not seeing proper reasoning to actually demand this of a system.
    What's the difference between a STR of 11 and a STR of 10?

    If there's no difference, why have them be different numbers?

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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    * Death To Ability Scores. Basically, the philosophy that ability scores, even in a game like D&D, are just unnecessary cruft, and that there's better ways to show characters are smarter/stronger/etc. than others.
    That's interesting, and I'm inclined to agree, although it depends on what exactly is meant by that.
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    Default Re: A Grognard's Guide to D&D Next/5E Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    That's interesting, and I'm inclined to agree, although it depends on what exactly is meant by that.
    Okay, as an example. A dwarf is tough, right? So give them active abilities to demonstrate their toughness - whether it's shrugging off injury, digesting poison, etc. Elves are fast? Well, turn that agility into practice, with abilities to dodge around the battlefield and/or shoot things up with arrows real good. Stats are passive, and a +1 or +2 bonus gives you ... what, 1 more HP? A little more AC? Boring, and not really noticeable except in the aggregate.

    When it comes to raw game numbers, don't even go as far as @SpawnOfMorbo did (good idea, man - just extrapolating). Take it one step further. Don't bother with the ability scores themselves; assume a decent stat is the norm in your Important Stuff, and math it out from there. If you want your character to have marginal Intelligence or be extremely Weak, give them active options which demonstrate this (or compel it, ala Fate).

    Stuff along those lines.

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