Let’s get rid of ability scores in favor of ability bonuses


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Scarab Sages

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The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!


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Not the first time it's been proposed, and while I'm all in favor of it (having grown used to it from Mutants & Masterminds, which ditched ability scores with their third edition), it's a bit of a sacred cow, and one that the folks from Paizo have already said that they aren't interested in killing.


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I'm not sure how Ability Scores are confusing to new players, as electronic RPGs, which are likely new players' introduction to the genre, use them heavily (May use "Agility" instead of "Dexterity" or "Stamina"/"Endurance" instead of "Constitution" or not have Charisma, but the basics are still there.)


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Catharsis wrote:

The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.


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I have yet to see a new player confused with this beyond the first time reading the book.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:

The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

That's really not a good reason. Those feats don't need to have ability score prerequisites, and even if they did them requiring a +1 Dex bonus or something like that instead would work just as well.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:

The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

We don't yet know whether they are doing that or not.

True20 is a system that did that. The only element causing (minor) confusion was why no ability score modifier could go below -5.

Scarab Sages

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

+1 Dex, as @citricking said.

Quote:
Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

This requires zero overhauls. The odd ability scores have no effect apart from the death threshold and odd-numbered ability drain (not ability damage, though, confusingly enough!), and both of those things seem to be taking the Exit to Dodoland right now.

I'm pretty sure the current character generation rules do now allow for odd scores to occur, and I'm guessing the ability score increases gained from leveling are also steps of +2. There is literally no reason to keep the scores at all. They are just unnecessarily obfuscational ways to refer to a character's ability bonus.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:

The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

We don't yet know whether they are doing that or not.

True20 is a system that did that. The only element causing (minor) confusion was why no ability score modifier could go below -5.

Sadly, they already said they thought about it but decided against it.


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Catharsis wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

+1 Dex, as @citricking said.

Quote:
Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

This requires zero overhauls. The odd ability scores have no effect apart from the death threshold and odd-numbered ability drain (not ability damage, though, confusingly enough!), and both of those things seem to be taking the Exit to Dodoland right now.

I'm pretty sure the current character generation rules do now allow for odd scores to occur, and I'm guessing the ability score increases gained from leveling are also steps of +2. There is literally no reason to keep the scores at all. They are just unnecessarily obfuscational ways to refer to a character's ability bonus.

So, your solution is to change the math and requirements behind numerous feats and class features, which means overhauling the system to no longer ever reference ability scores, revising requirements for characters to be more (or less) strict, and thereby considerably different, something which Paizo isn't comfortable doing as they might alienate legacy players, a player base that is probably going to vastly outweigh any influx of new players they may receive on the release of this new edition, since most everyone else has found or moved on to another gaming system.

I'm fairly certain Paizo doesn't want to justify paying a math expert to properly recalculate everything related to ability scores for what is basically a non-existent gain in potential sales.

Liberty's Edge

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

+1 Dex, as @citricking said.

Quote:
Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

This requires zero overhauls. The odd ability scores have no effect apart from the death threshold and odd-numbered ability drain (not ability damage, though, confusingly enough!), and both of those things seem to be taking the Exit to Dodoland right now.

I'm pretty sure the current character generation rules do now allow for odd scores to occur, and I'm guessing the ability score increases gained from leveling are also steps of +2. There is literally no reason to keep the scores at all. They are just unnecessarily obfuscational ways to refer to a character's ability bonus.

So, your solution is to change the math and requirements behind numerous feats and class features, which means overhauling the system to no longer ever reference ability scores, revising requirements for characters to be more (or less) strict, and thereby considerably different, something which Paizo isn't comfortable doing as they might alienate legacy players, a player base that is probably going to vastly outweigh any influx of new players they may receive on the release of this new edition, since most everyone else has found or moved on to another gaming system.

I'm fairly certain Paizo doesn't want to justify paying a math expert to properly recalculate everything related to ability scores for what is basically a non-existent gain in potential sales.

Literally the only reason feats require odd ability scores is because odd ability scores are useless otherwise. That's the only reason they're there. It's not like it's a ton of conversion either: just have it require the ability bonus that matches the score it used to require. Required Dexterity 13? Now it required Dexterity +1. You don't have to recalculate anything, you're just removing something that isn't necessary from the game.

You're basically saying that ability scores should be kept in because they're required to use a rule that only exists because ability scores are in the game.


I'm also for replacing ability scores with just the modifier. That's the only part that's actually relevant, anyway. And you can still attach flavorful descriptors to them, like +4 or +5 being "peak of normal human ability"


You make it sound way more complicated than it needs to be to change, currently it is entirely possible for ability score not to matter at all between character creation and the next time you get an ability score increase. they are already re-writing the whole game, removing a legacy thing at the same time requires very little effort.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

+1 Dex, as @citricking said.

Quote:
Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

This requires zero overhauls. The odd ability scores have no effect apart from the death threshold and odd-numbered ability drain (not ability damage, though, confusingly enough!), and both of those things seem to be taking the Exit to Dodoland right now.

I'm pretty sure the current character generation rules do now allow for odd scores to occur, and I'm guessing the ability score increases gained from leveling are also steps of +2. There is literally no reason to keep the scores at all. They are just unnecessarily obfuscational ways to refer to a character's ability bonus.

So, your solution is to change the math and requirements behind numerous feats and class features, which means overhauling the system to no longer ever reference ability scores, revising requirements for characters to be more (or less) strict, and thereby considerably different, something which Paizo isn't comfortable doing as they might alienate legacy players, a player base that is probably going to vastly outweigh any influx of new players they may receive on the release of this new edition, since most everyone else has found or moved on to another gaming system.

I'm fairly certain Paizo doesn't want to justify paying a math expert to properly recalculate everything related to ability scores for what is basically a non-existent gain in potential sales.

I mean they seem to have touched every bit of maths anyway.


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JRutterbush wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

+1 Dex, as @citricking said.

Quote:
Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

This requires zero overhauls. The odd ability scores have no effect apart from the death threshold and odd-numbered ability drain (not ability damage, though, confusingly enough!), and both of those things seem to be taking the Exit to Dodoland right now.

I'm pretty sure the current character generation rules do now allow for odd scores to occur, and I'm guessing the ability score increases gained from leveling are also steps of +2. There is literally no reason to keep the scores at all. They are just unnecessarily obfuscational ways to refer to a character's ability bonus.

So, your solution is to change the math and requirements behind numerous feats and class features, which means overhauling the system to no longer ever reference ability scores, revising requirements for characters to be more (or less) strict, and thereby considerably different, something which Paizo isn't comfortable doing as they might alienate legacy players, a player base that is probably going to vastly outweigh any influx of new players they may receive on the release of this new edition, since most everyone else has found or moved on to another gaming system.

I'm fairly certain Paizo doesn't want to justify paying a math expert to properly recalculate everything related to ability scores for what is basically a non-existent gain in potential sales.

Literally the only reason feats require odd ability scores is because odd ability scores are useless otherwise. That's the only reason they're there. It's not like it's a ton of conversion either: just have it require the ability bonus that...

What if Paizo felt a +2 was more in-line with their requirement preferences instead of +1? What if Paizo still wants to keep the "spellcasting requires ability score equal to 10 + spell level" rule in tact so you don't have 7 Intelligence Wizards running around and casting Meteor Swarms and stuff?

It's not just a numbers shift, and it doesn't just affect feats, but spellcasting, Wish effects, and legacy factors as well.

Scarab Sages

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It‘s a new system; most legacy factors are now irrelevant. They already said a Wis 10 Cleric would be playable, if a bit sad, so they‘re clearly not sticking to hard casting stat limitations. I have yet to see a use for ability scores that remains relevant in 2e.

As for nostalgia, tradition and inertia: D&D got rid of its THAC0, too. Progress is possible.


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Catharsis wrote:

It‘s a new system; most legacy factors are now irrelevant. They already said a Wis 10 Cleric would be playable, if a bit sad, so they‘re clearly not sticking to hard casting stat limitations. I have yet to see a use for ability scores that remains relevant in 2e.

As for nostalgia, tradition and inertia: D&D got rid of its THAC0, too. Progress is possible.

You know what's even more sad? A cleric with zero wisdom and a wizard with zero intellligence, which might be correct on your rules, but downright insulting to the relevant characters and the players that control them.

So yeah, I think Paizo would rather err on the side of positivity and make people do some math in an attempt to not accidentally hurt people's feelings.

Scarab Sages

That's the best argument in favor of ability scores so far!

Liberty's Edge

Catharsis wrote:
That's the best argument in favor of ability scores so far!

That still doesn't make it a good argument, though.

Scarab Sages

True; it‘s just a bonus after all, not an existential judgement.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Arssanguinus wrote:
I have yet to see a new player confused with this beyond the first time reading the book.

I've yet to see a new player *not* be confused by this.


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JRutterbush wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
That's the best argument in favor of ability scores so far!
That still doesn't make it a good argument, though.

Sure it does. If I tell a player he has zero intelligence or strength or charisma, or whatever attribute I may be inadvertently insulting that player and either causing them to leave the table, or jack me in the face.

I'd rather those kinds of elements don't exist in a game that already has things like alignment and morals that already fulfills that aspect of conflict, without being objectively insulting.

Liberty's Edge

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Not having full scores makes it much harder to roll for stats and get anything resembling a mid range distribution.

Now I hate rolling for stats and know it's not gonna be the standard method, but it will be in the book, and it gets super weird if you do this.


I had a player ask me during our last session "Do I add my ability score, or my ability bonus?" I agree it's completely unnecessary to have the score, especially if all stat bumps in PF2 will be in increments of +2.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Not having full scores makes it much harder to roll for stats and get anything resembling a mid range distribution.

Now I hate rolling for stats and know it's not gonna be the standard method, but it will be in the book, and it gets super weird if you do this.

You can literally do it the exact same way. Roll 3d6, subtract 10, and divide the result by two (rounding down.)

You have to do that anyway when you fill out your bonuses on the character sheet.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Not having full scores makes it much harder to roll for stats and get anything resembling a mid range distribution.

Now I hate rolling for stats and know it's not gonna be the standard method, but it will be in the book, and it gets super weird if you do this.

Not really. Changing the stat generation is easier than changing ability and feature requirements. Rolling 1d8 - 4 per stat would probably be the most basic way of doing it.

Scarab Sages

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


Sure it does. If I tell a player he has zero intelligence

Tell them their character has a zero intelligence modifier. No big deal.

In fact, I'd favor using a dedicated typographic convention for the ability modifiers, such as Wis for the Wisdom bonus, so you could simply «a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier» to «Wis times».

Liberty's Edge

RumpinRufus wrote:

You can literally do it the exact same way. Roll 3d6, subtract 10, and divide the result by two (rounding down.)

You have to do that anyway when you fill out your bonuses on the character sheet.

Yes, but having to do this is clunky, awkward, and does not make for a less complicated or confusing system (which seemed the goal) at all. This becomes even more true if you're doing something like 4d6 drop the lowest.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really. Changing the stat generation is easier than changing ability and feature requirements. Rolling 1d8 - 4 per stat would probably be the most basic way of doing it.

Nope! A 0 in that system is exactly as common as a 4 or a -3. This is not remotely true in a system with multiple dice (an 18 is a 1 in 216 chance on 3d6, and only a 1 in 54 chance or so on 4d6 drop the lowest).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:

You can literally do it the exact same way. Roll 3d6, subtract 10, and divide the result by two (rounding down.)

You have to do that anyway when you fill out your bonuses on the character sheet.

Yes, but having to do this is clunky, awkward, and does not make for a less complicated or confusing system (which seemed the goal) at all. This becomes even more true if you're doing something like 4d6 drop the lowest.

So you're calling the current system clunky, awkward, and confusing? Yes, I agree.

Scarab Sages

Rolling for stats is a horrible, horrible thing to do in the first place, but even if you want to allow it to survive into this more enlightened day and age, it's something you do exactly once for a character. It doesn't have to be super streamlined.


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Catharsis wrote:
As for nostalgia, tradition and inertia: D&D got rid of its THAC0, too. Progress is possible.

Actually they didn't. They just renamed it to BAB and inverted it: BAB = 21 – THAC0.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:

You can literally do it the exact same way. Roll 3d6, subtract 10, and divide the result by two (rounding down.)

You have to do that anyway when you fill out your bonuses on the character sheet.

Yes, but having to do this is clunky, awkward, and does not make for a less complicated or confusing system (which seemed the goal) at all. This becomes even more true if you're doing something like 4d6 drop the lowest.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Not really. Changing the stat generation is easier than changing ability and feature requirements. Rolling 1d8 - 4 per stat would probably be the most basic way of doing it.
Nope! A 0 in that system is exactly as common as a 4 or a -3. This is not remotely true in a system with multiple dice (an 18 is a 1 in 216 chance on 3d6, and only a 1 in 54 chance or so on 4d6 drop the lowest).

Okay, 2d4-4 then.


let's get rid of ability scores AND bonuses and just roll dice, whoever rolls highest wins.


if we keep bonuses but get rid of the scores. point buy would actually be a lot simpler to track as would level advancement.


I feel like "you can roll for stats if you want" is a thing I'm not willing to give up.


Modeling the exact same distribution as 3d6 or 4d6 drop the lowest isn't possible unless you do the conversion math.

However you could do 3d3 - 5 and get a good enough approximation.

Another closer approximation would be 8d2 - 12

Liberty's Edge

There doesn't have to be conversion math, just a simple table.


Zaister wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
As for nostalgia, tradition and inertia: D&D got rid of its THAC0, too. Progress is possible.
Actually they didn't. They just renamed it to BAB and inverted it: BAB = 21 – THAC0.

Thaco didn't work that way in first edition D&D, it was not always a linear progression so you had to consult a table. This link explains this in more detail.

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/6164/how-do-you-calculate-thac0


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Zaister wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
As for nostalgia, tradition and inertia: D&D got rid of its THAC0, too. Progress is possible.
Actually they didn't. They just renamed it to BAB and inverted it: BAB = 21 – THAC0.

Thaco didn't work that way in first edition D&D, it was not always a linear progression so you had to consult a table. This link explains this in more detail.

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/6164/how-do-you-calculate-thac0

EVEN if THAC0 wasn't a good exemple, there's lot that got thrown through the window.

Like the max level each races can attain in certain classes. And race restricted classes (Paladins were Human only, elves couldn't be druids, etc)
Skills were an optional rules in AD&D2e...
Variable XP tracks per classes.
XP gain per GP of treasures found.
I could go on.


Yes, quite a lot has changed over the years!


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Catharsis wrote:

The duality of ability scores and bonuses is confusing for new players, and given that PF2 does away with ability damage, the death threshold and possibly even odd ability scores, I say we simply identify the ability with its bonus. Kyra has a +4 Wisdom, Halflings gain +1 Wisdom, Heal grants 1d8 + Wisdom hitpoints, etc.

So sing with me: Score, HUNH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

How does one qualify for Power Attack, Dodge, and other oddball ability score feats and abilities?

Unless you outright strip odd ability scores from being necessary in the game, which requires even more major overhauls to the game, you won't have a reason to not keep ability scores.

Bud, you know this is the second edition board right? And they have already told us they are doing most of you describe?

Anyway, while I agree ability scores are pretty superfluous when you just use the modifier, I think Paizo has hit the sweet spot by getting rid of odd scores and point buys which require an app, while keeping the same general scale. I think what they have done is a bold but smart move, and it could pave the way for getting rid of ability scores in pathfinder 3e.

Aside from the "rolling for stats" issue, there's one very good reason to keep our current stat scale: D&D. Not just old school legacy players who want it to be recognizable, but also new players.

While Paizo has said they don't want to compete with 5e, there are going to be players who have only played 5e but may try pathfinder. There are going to be some people who like 5e but would like a more robust version of it. Having the same ability score scale along with terminology like AC, proficiency, and reactions makes it less intimidating to switch systems. Yeah, it shouldn't be hard to learn that having a +4 in Pf2 is the same as a 18 on 5e, but how hard is it to learn the modifier to score translation?

5e has been very successful and has gotten a lot of new people into the hobby, but it also has a lot of limitations. In light of this, there is a lot of wisdom in positioning pathfinder as "5e with a much more interesting character creation, less rules ambiguity, and more ways to feel like a gosh darn super hero at higher levels." If you can keep the old guard happy while making it easy for the 5e newbies to convert over, why wouldn't you?


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Arssanguinus wrote:
I have yet to see a new player confused with this beyond the first time reading the book.

I'll go a step further and say I have yet to see a new player confused by this.


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Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Yes, quite a lot has changed over the years!

The single most important thing being the reduction of hair on the top of my head!


dragonhunterq wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
I have yet to see a new player confused with this beyond the first time reading the book.
I'll go a step further and say I have yet to see a new player confused by this.

I have a player who, after two years in my Iron Gods campaign, still asks, "How does +6 to my Strength affect my fighter's attack roll?" And he has a degree in physics.

The +6 to Strength comes from the Inspired Rage song of the 16th-level skald. It was +4 at lower levels, which might justify a little confusion. Since the bonus is not from the fighter's own ability, the player refuses to write notes about it on his own character sheet. The skald's player distributed handouts that describe what bonuses and rage powers her raging song can give to other players, but most of us neglected and mislaid the handouts.

Having a stat and a modifier based on the stat is no problem, but the indirect task of modifying the modifier by modifying the stat directly requires dividing 6 by 2, which seems to break the immersion more than adding +3 does.


Mathmuse wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
I have yet to see a new player confused with this beyond the first time reading the book.
I'll go a step further and say I have yet to see a new player confused by this.

I have a player who, after two years in my Iron Gods campaign, still asks, "How does +6 to my Strength affect my fighter's attack roll?" And he has a degree in physics.

The +6 to Strength comes from the Inspired Rage song of the 16th-level skald. It was +4 at lower levels, which might justify a little confusion. Since the bonus is not from the fighter's own ability, the player refuses to write notes about it on his own character sheet. The skald's player distributed handouts that describe what bonuses and rage powers her raging song can give to other players, but most of us neglected and mislaid the handouts.

Having a stat and a modifier based on the stat is no problem, but the indirect task of modifying the modifier by modifying the stat directly requires dividing 6 by 2, which seems to break the immersion more than adding +3 does.

It doesn't sound like that will be an issue now though, since Paizo will probably be using buffs that add directly to hit, damage, and strength based skill checks over actual strength increases.


Gah That story irritates me. ITS BEEN TWO Years BRO!


Friends never give up telling funny stories about each other. :)


Arakhor wrote:
Friends never give up telling funny stories about each other. :)

Are you the confused physicist?


Oh, no, not at all. It's just that my friends have exactly that same weakness as regards to retelling old slip-ups as a humour break.


Ah got ya. I thought we were about to have an interesting conversation if you were. XD


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I love ability scores! I honestly wouldn't play if it didn't have ability scores.

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