Do we stil need Attribute Scores?


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Something that has been bothering me for quite some editions now - why do we need the actual scores? Wouldn't it be easier to just use your bonuses for everything?
Aside from Carrying Capacitiy and odd feat requirements, I can't think of an instnce where the actual Attribute Score is used. And for those instances they could easily be replaced.
I would actually help roleplay Immersion, because right now, it makes it more Abstract for People to compare/imagine characters: "I have strength 15, you only a measly 10!" This sounds like the strength 15 guy is one and a half time as strong as the average guy.
Well, in actual Play that means our strongman is only 10% stronger/more likely to succeed in any deed of strength. So basically having them as +0 and +2 respectively is much more descriptive than the current system.

Dark Archive

I am also up for removing attribute scores and just having the modifiers


and how would one roll the modifiers?


That was one of the changes that M&M made when it went from 2nd to 3rd edition. It's much more usable at the table, although it occasionally takes some explaining to remind new players that a score of 0 doesn't mean you're terrible at something - just that you're average.


Hythlodeus wrote:
and how would one roll the modifiers?

You mean if you're rolling attributes instead of doing a point-buy?

I suppose you could roll FATE dice. 4 Fate Dice could get you a modifier between -4 and +4.


Hythlodeus wrote:
and how would one roll the modifiers?

Hmmm... D8-4?

This way you get array from -3 to 4
Or even better - (3D8-12)/3


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God no, I love ability scores.

Silver Crusade

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Yeah, no touchy the Ability Scores.


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I prefer the scores. They give a good point of reference. There's no reason to get rid of them.


wraithstrike wrote:
I prefer the scores. They give a good point of reference. There's no reason to get rid of them.

They give a point of reference only because we're used to them.

To a new player? There isn't anything all that referential about what a "Strength of 9" is.

In many ways, to a brand new player, it's easier to say that a 0 is average, and you can have +/- values of 1-5 (usually) if you're better or worse than average.


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AaronUnicorn wrote:


In many ways, to a brand new player, it's easier to say that a 0 is average

saying 0 is average is easier than saying 10 is average?

Silver Crusade

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Oh my god the number of times I’ve had to explain to players that their ability score doesn’t mean anything and that the ability modifier is all they need to add to their other statistics.
Ability scores are a vestigial limb, a twitching throwback that interacts with very few elements (ability score damage, carrying capacity and bonus spells), all of which are easily cleaned up (halve all sources of ability score damage, use Bulk = 10+2*STR mod, create a table for bonus spells that replaces the ability score ranges with ability mods). Mutants and Masterminds, True 20 and Blue Rose did away with ability scores and they were better off unshackled from them.

6 point buy is fairly reasonable in an ability Mods only game.

I doubt Paizo is about to truly unshackle themselves from the past. But honestly, what is the point of ability scores if all you use is the the mod?

Silver Crusade

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Hythlodeus wrote:
AaronUnicorn wrote:


In many ways, to a brand new player, it's easier to say that a 0 is average

saying 0 is average is easier than saying 10 is average?

Both of those but things are nonsense without context. However explaining to a player how to derive their ability mod (Mod = Ability score - 10/2 round all fractions down) and that’s what they actually need to add to rolls, makes the ability generation somewhat superfluous to proceedings.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
But honestly, what is the point of ability scores if all you use is the the mod?

Gives my d6s something to do.

I’d really struggle with this. If they go this route I’m definitely going to need to accurately map 4d6 drop the lowest to resultant modifiers. I guess I’d roll “the old way”, get my answer and then just record the bonus. Feels a bit inelegant though. :(

Silver Crusade

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You can kill Fort/Ref/Will, BAB, CMB/CMD, you can make Perception and Concentration not a skill, you can ax XP costs for crafting, you can make undead susceptible to crits, but touching Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wis/Cha expressed on the 3d6 scale is likely the line in sand where people will cry betrayal and accuse you of setting Gary's grave on fire.

That and making magic missile roll to hit.


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DerNils wrote:

Something that has been bothering me for quite some editions now ...

We don't NEED them (you're right about that), but I WANT them - because I like them (not logical at all, but there it is:-)


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Gorbacz wrote:

You can kill Fort/Ref/Will, BAB, CMB/CMD, you can make Perception and Concentration not a skill, you can ax XP costs for crafting, you can make undead susceptible to crits, but touching Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wis/Cha expressed on the 3d6 scale is likely the line in sand where people will cry betrayal and accuse you of setting Gary's grave on fire.

That and making magic missile roll to hit.

Even listing them in that order makes me twitch, to be honest. You and your silly, logical physical-then-mental approach!


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So if I poison your wine bottle, and you gulp down a cup, how is it supposed to harm you?

I'm curious. If poisons don't take your character's attributes into account, then all the +0 wizards will be grinning at the +3 fighters and barbarians, since poisons no longer discriminate between the healthy and the frail.


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Nezzmith wrote:

So if I poison your wine bottle, and you gulp down a cup, how is it supposed to harm you?

I'm curious. If poisons don't take your character's attributes into account, then all the +0 wizards will be grinning at the +3 fighters and barbarians, since poisons no longer discriminate between the healthy and the frail.

Presumably you make a fort save (using your bonus) and if you fail you suffer a minus whatever to your bonus.


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


However explaining to a player how to derive their ability mod (Mod = Ability score - 10/2 round all fractions down)

huh? I guess one could do that, however, I think, referring to table 1-3 on pg. 17 of the CRB is the way most people would do it. Especially with new players


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Dudemeister already answered the ability damage question - you simply halve all the sources, apply it to your Bonus, and if you hit -5 you are dead/unconciuous/paralyzed, whatever the effect is today. And poisons work differently in P2e anyway.
Thanks everybody for the answers, especially the honest ones - I don't need them but want them was what I basically expected ;)
Still, I will raise the Point during playtest. As is, the scores are a useless remnant that takes up valuable space on the character sheet and confuses the hell out of new Players.


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Yeah. I don’t really have a good justification. But it would really bug me, for some reason. (It was an option in rolemaster that I could never get into either).


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I’ve never actually met a player who was confused by ability scores for more than say five minutes. If that long.


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Steve Geddes wrote:


Presumably you make a fort save (using your bonus) and if you fail you suffer a minus whatever to your bonus.

I'm trying to kill you, not give you a tummy ache.

And if I wanted to whittle down your HP, I'd just pull out my dagger and start stabbing you in the open. I'm trying to be discreet here!


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it IS a nice indicator of what the character can do. 0 = character can't do it, 10 = he is average, 20 = he is almost superhuman
that's a nice, easy to understand scale, that says a lot more than the mods do.
I don't know about 'new players' elsewhere, but I've played this game with absolute RPG beginners and none of them had any trouble understanding that concept. however, rolling the attributes was something any single one of them enjoyed and was their favourite part of the character creation process.


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For the record, despite being an advocate for it, and really loving it when I play M&M now? It bugged the ever-loving heck out of me when I first picked up M&M 3e.

Because I've been playing forever, and I like that 3-18 (ish) scale. Because it's what I'm used to. And even other systems like GURPS and HERO stuck with something on nearly that scale - because people were used to it.

That said, it didn't take me long to get used to it. And now in many ways I prefer it. When I jumped back into Pathfinder after a long absence from any FRPGs, it took me forever to get used to going back to the scale. And I still find it confusing that things like Rage and Enlarge Person give only half as much of a bonus as I feel like they "should."

The Exchange

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DerNils wrote:
I would actually help roleplay Immersion, because right now, it makes it more Abstract for People to compare/imagine characters:

I can't really explain it right now, but to me it feels exactly the other way round. It's probably for the same reason I don't like the bulk rules very much. Going from an actual value just to a modifier might make sense as far as gameplay goes, but it also makes me feel like the character is less real and just some numbers on a sheet of paper.

dunno, maybe it's just because I'm so used to it, but on the other hand, I've never really liked any system that had not actual attribute scores in the vein of D&D. There must be something about this concept that appeals to me, even when I never really thought about why this is the case.


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Nezzmith wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:


Presumably you make a fort save (using your bonus) and if you fail you suffer a minus whatever to your bonus.

I'm trying to kill you, not give you a tummy ache.

And if I wanted to whittle down your HP, I'd just pull out my dagger and start stabbing you in the open. I'm trying to be discreet here!

Better use a poison that imposes a minus six then. That should kill an average person (not the fit and healthy barbarian you mentioned though - they’ll just get very, very sick).

I don’t see the problem. Things will change, but a +3 is still better than a +0 (just like a 16 is better than a 10).

Maybe I’m missing the point.


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Arssanguinus wrote:
I’ve never actually met a player who was confused by ability scores for more than say five minutes. If that long.

Whereas I've had to explain, "No, you don't add your Wisdom. You add your Wisdom Modifier" far too many times.


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In the very first version of D&D,

Magic Missile was a spell that fired a crossbow bolt with a +2 on the to hit die roll

stuff that in your cannon sock

But, on another note

The Index Card Role Playing Game does not use ability scores and only uses modifiers


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Great, so people who don't like ability scores can play Index Card and everybody is happy


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I explained the problems in the OP, but just to reiterate:
Strength 20 Barbarion vs Strength 10 Commoner: "OMG, that guy is twice as strong as I am!"
"Nope, he is 25% as strong as you are"
Or
"Roll a Strength Check."
"Do I need to roll under or above that score? Or do I add it?"
"Nope, you use the number next to it and add it to a D20 roll."
Or
"You take 5 Points of Strength Damage"
"Ok, that makes my new number a 9 - was that a -1 or 0 again?"

All very common questions from newbies, People from other Systems or just not that involved Gamers. Never had the same question in Fate, Savage Worlds or any other System where you only have one number that is used (be it a Bonus as in Fate or an Attribute Dice like in SW)


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yes, they are new players so they ask questions, because they are learning. and new players that don't play systems with ability scores don't ask questions about abilty scores, which seems logical. because if they were asking questions about ability scores that would be weird.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
But honestly, what is the point of ability scores if all you use is the the mod?

Gives my d6s something to do.

I’d really struggle with this. If they go this route I’m definitely going to need to accurately map 4d6 drop the lowest to resultant modifiers. I guess I’d roll “the old way”, get my answer and then just record the bonus. Feels a bit inelegant though. :(

An elegant way to roll ability modifiers directly is to roll Xd6, where X is what a character's bonuses add up to. Each die landing 1 adds to Str, each landing 2 to Dex, and so on. Roll a set of d6 of two different colors in order to incorporate penalties as well, each green die adding a point from the appropriate score and each red die removing one.

(To my mind, this combines the advantages of old-school rolling for scores (you can be surprised and build around the scores) and point buy (characters are balanced against each other.) To my mind roll-then-assign is the worst of both worlds because you're just rolling to see how good your character is. But that's separate from the main topic here.)


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I'm going to have to agree with Hythlo.

New players ask questions so they can learn, if a player keeps asking questions about the same topic over and over again it's probably because they need their teacher to approach the answer in a different way, since not everyone learns the same way.

Or in the case of one of my former players, because they simply don't care to learn the material because they don't find it worth remembering if someone will always repeat the answer.


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I've suggested this very thing in other threads. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to tell even players who have played for years not to add their full score to something. We already know odd ability scores are meaningless, and all they do is get used for feat prereqs and make afflictions / debuffs harder to adjudicate / grok for the "average" player. I'd really rather just see the modifiers.


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Terquem wrote:

In the very first version of D&D, Magic Missile was a spell that fired a crossbow bolt with a +2 on the to hit die roll

stuff that in your cannon sock

Actually, that's incorrect.

Greyhawk wrote:
This first-level spell conjures a missile equivalent to a magical arrow that deals 1d6+1 damage to any creature it strikes. The caster can conjure the missile within 15". The caster may conjure an additional two missiles for every 5 levels they have (so, three missiles at 6th level, five missiles at 11th level, etc.).

I'm not quite sure what that's doing in this thread, but us grognards do like to be pedantic.

Regarding the basic six characteristics, I think it highly unlikely that the folks at Paizo would change them from the original Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity and Charisma. It's such a core element that traces its origins to 1974, there's no changing it.

I played Ars Magica for a few years, and it only uses -3 to +3 for its characteristics. I found that vaguely unsatisfying, even if it's functionally no different from saying you have a 5 or a 16 STR, for example.

Some elements of our favorite hobby are so fundamental that we shouldn't change them without good reason. The six basic characteristics, like the alignment axes and Vancian spellcasting are things you just can't take away from any serious successor to D&D.


I agree with Wheldrake, tradition is a big thing. And PF2 could easily work with just the modifiers, but having the scores as well allows for increased versatility in the use of the rules. And I've never seen players struggle with scores vs. modifiers.


Wheldrake wrote:
Terquem wrote:

In the very first version of D&D, Magic Missile was a spell that fired a crossbow bolt with a +2 on the to hit die roll

stuff that in your cannon sock

Actually, that's incorrect.

Greyhawk wrote:
This first-level spell conjures a missile equivalent to a magical arrow that deals 1d6+1 damage to any creature it strikes. The caster can conjure the missile within 15". The caster may conjure an additional two missiles for every 5 levels they have (so, three missiles at 6th level, five missiles at 11th level, etc.).

I'm not quite sure what that's doing in this thread, but us grognards do like to be pedantic.

Regarding the basic six characteristics, I think it highly unlikely that the folks at Paizo would change them from the original Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity and Charisma. It's such a core element that traces its origins to 1974, there's no changing it.

I played Ars Magica for a few years, and it only uses -3 to +3 for its characteristics. I found that vaguely unsatisfying, even if it's functionally no different from saying you have a 5 or a 16 STR, for example.

Some elements of our favorite hobby are so fundamental that we shouldn't change them without good reason. The six basic characteristics, like the alignment axes and Vancian spellcasting are things you just can't take away from any serious successor to D&D.

"Actually" there is nothing in that description that says the Missile "Hits" automatically, and the description of the spell from the Blue Book rules includes information that the Magic Users rolls to hit as if he were a Fighter of the same level, instead of using the Magic User to hit progression


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Ah, but Terquem, didn't you say "in the very first version of D&D"?
<g>
And FWIW, nowhere do I find "a spell that fired a crossbow bolt with a +2 on the to hit die roll".

But hey, that's all slightly off topic.


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Steve Geddes wrote:


I’d really struggle with this. If they go this route I’m definitely going to need to accurately map 4d6 drop the lowest to resultant modifiers. I guess I’d roll “the old way”, get my answer and then just record the bonus. Feels a bit inelegant though. :(

Um you do this anyways already. When you calculate the bonuses (or use that big table on page 17 of the CRB).

The only difference is that you would discard the base stat at the end.

Personally I think just defaulting the Paizo character sheets to emphasize the bonus over the stat would be good enough. That would make it clear that the bonus is the important thingie, and that the stat is just a reference..stuffs..whatever. Keeping the stat would also make things like 1-point increases easier to track. +1.5 con bonus? -_-;;

Just to be clear, I mean having like a giant box for DEX BONUS [ +3 ] and then having a little box or circle for the stat dex(17) after it.


You do use your full ability scores for at least one thing in PF1E mechanically, besides finding your modifiers.


Kerrilyn wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:


I’d really struggle with this. If they go this route I’m definitely going to need to accurately map 4d6 drop the lowest to resultant modifiers. I guess I’d roll “the old way”, get my answer and then just record the bonus. Feels a bit inelegant though. :(

Um you do this anyways already. When you calculate the bonuses (or use that big table on page 17 of the CRB).

The only difference is that you would discard the base stat at the end.

Personally I think just defaulting the Paizo character sheets to emphasize the bonus over the stat would be good enough. That would make it clear that the bonus is the important thingie, and that the stat is just a reference..stuffs..whatever. Keeping the stat would also make things like 1-point increases easier to track. +1.5 con bonus? -_-;;

Just to be clear, I mean having like a giant box for DEX BONUS [ +3 ] and then having a little box or circle for the stat dex(17) after it.

Emphasizing the modifier on sheets like that would be good, at least.

Dark Archive

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I will pose an additional argument for just attribute modifiers instead of attribute scores, monsters and NPCs. Attribute scores make an additional unnecessary amount of math for the GM, especially if they are making a monster from scratch, stating up multiple NPCs, changing some of the stats of a monster by saying adding a template. It is just unnecessary amount of math and honestly page count on the stat block. And for those who need the nostalgia can always add it back to their game, because it doesn't have any effects mechanically. You want to roll 4d6 drop the lowest then put that through some math to see if you get a -2 to a +5 then go ahead, you can leave that in the character creation side of things. The rest of the game doesn't need the extra maths.


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Matthias W wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
But honestly, what is the point of ability scores if all you use is the the mod?

Gives my d6s something to do.

I’d really struggle with this. If they go this route I’m definitely going to need to accurately map 4d6 drop the lowest to resultant modifiers. I guess I’d roll “the old way”, get my answer and then just record the bonus. Feels a bit inelegant though. :(

An elegant way to roll ability modifiers directly is to roll Xd6, where X is what a character's bonuses add up to. Each die landing 1 adds to Str, each landing 2 to Dex, and so on. Roll a set of d6 of two different colors in order to incorporate penalties as well, each green die adding a point from the appropriate score and each red die removing one.

(To my mind, this combines the advantages of old-school rolling for scores (you can be surprised and build around the scores) and point buy (characters are balanced against each other.) To my mind roll-then-assign is the worst of both worlds because you're just rolling to see how good your character is. But that's separate from the main topic here.)

I prefer rolling in order, too (rather than assigning). Occasionally, I’ll switch two but not often.

Thanks for the xd6 method. I do find that elegant (especially with the two colours variant). That’d do me, if stat scores disappear. I like the fact you can pretty much use it even if the rest of the group hate rolling.


Hythlodeus wrote:
and how would one roll the modifiers?

2d2 in order


Matthias W wrote:
An elegant way to roll ability modifiers directly is to roll Xd6, where X is what a character's bonuses add up to. Each die landing 1 adds to Str, each landing 2 to Dex, and so on. Roll a set of d6 of two different colors in order to incorporate penalties as well, each green die adding a point from the appropriate score and each red die removing one.

This is an interesting methodology. Did you come up with it or is there someplace else I can read more about it? I like the idea, but would want to get more information on the balancing of dice, number of bonuses, etc.


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The Bulk system from Starfinder is based on half your ability score though it would be easy enough to just make it 5 + your Str modifier.

Hythlodeus wrote:
and how would one roll the modifiers?

4d6, drop the lowest, add them together, subtract 10, divide by two, and round down if necessary.


Ultrace wrote:
Matthias W wrote:
An elegant way to roll ability modifiers directly is to roll Xd6, where X is what a character's bonuses add up to. Each die landing 1 adds to Str, each landing 2 to Dex, and so on. Roll a set of d6 of two different colors in order to incorporate penalties as well, each green die adding a point from the appropriate score and each red die removing one.
This is an interesting methodology. Did you come up with it or is there someplace else I can read more about it? I like the idea, but would want to get more information on the balancing of dice, number of bonuses, etc.

This is a good question and I actually can't recall whether I stole it from somewhere or invented it independently! (I'm super dumb so probably the former.)

As for best practices, elite array adds up to +6 / -1, so without delving into any real math about expected overlap, 8 green and 3 red dice probably benchmarks to around 15-point buy - adjust to more or less depending on taste. In the unlikely event you get >+5 for an ability scores, those could maybe be freely redistributed; you could also curve it so that higher scores are "more expensive" (or even just roll for points in point buy if you don't mind the extra complication.) For players who like having prompt but little wiggle room, it could be a rule that you can reroll any dice of your choice once, or twice, or even that you could reroll any number of times until you get something that inspires you.

But that's just off the top of my head, rather than really getting into the math or playing around with actual results. If I get some time later I could create a little JavaScript tool for people to play around with and/or generate some Monte Carlo datasets.


How does ability drain work with out ability scores?

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