The STR / DEX Dichotomy in 5E


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Introduction

Through this post, I'll talk about a phenomenon that is observable in 5E. I'll posit this phenomenon is a detriment to the game, both in terms of thematics and mechanics; and I'll foray into how PF2E is tackling it and where there may be danger.

What is the STR/DEX Dichotomy in 5E?

The STR/DEX Dichotomy is a character development property of 5E.

Due to the game mechanics, there is little to no incentive to pick up STR if your character is DEX-based; simultaneously, STR-based characters receive minimal returns from investments in DEX.

This leads to STR-based characters who keep minimal, sometimes negative, DEX, and viceversa.

The one exception is found where characters are mandated through class features to avoid doing so – the Barbarian forces the player to use medium armor and make STR-based attacks if they want to fully enjoy its class features.

Why is the STR/DEX Dichotomy bad for the game?

There are two facets of the game which I consider to be negatively impacted by it:

  • Thematically: Having light, nimble characters with no sinew is a whiff; street rats, acrobats, brawlers – all of them require muscle to climb, run, jump, dodge, deflect, pry open, and so forth. Encouraging them to keep 8 STR makes them more of a game construct than an individual in a fantasy setting. The opposite case is also true – while hulking STR-balls with no speed are as conceivable as DEX-amassing mousers, most real warriors of all stripes should have picked up some motor coordination with their training.

  • Mechanically: When STR or DEX are more valuable than the other, the baseline for characters created with the less optimal attribute should be lower, and it should make anyone who is being relatively pragmatic on character creation disregard one of the main core attributes as a viable option.

What went wrong in 5E?

5E did not attempt to splinter the Dichotomy with its systems. Instead, it tried to balance STR and DEX so the decision to invest in one or the other was a function of player preference rather than calculation.

It failed to do so effectively, as the following systems proved insufficient:

  • Encumbrance is unpopular: Yes, I know, dear reader, that your playgroup is draconic about it, and your Rogue once drowned because she was carrying one too many candlewicks. But let's get real – very few people apply Encumbrance systems, and there's somewhat of a taboo to apply them. There's also the issue of the fungibility of Encumbrance – there's little to spend excess Encumbrance ON effectively.

  • Small combat niche: STR only has an edge over most DEX playstyles when using 2H weapons, and only prevails over TWF in terms of output when using a specialized feat. This makes STR-based characters all too similar and crushes expression.

  • Athletics has diminishing narrative power, and negligible mechanical power: The Athletics skill, in 5E, as a narrative tool, becomes easily overtaken by mundane and magical means of mobility quite quickly. Jumping, technically a province of STR, receives a very minor benefit with further investments in attribute scores. But the real killer for Athletics is that its use to perform combat maneuvers like grapples or shoves is easily counteracted by the rocketing STR/DEX attributes of enemy monsters, making only hyper-specialized builds able to use maneuvers effectively.

  • Heavy armor has the usual downsides: It's quite costly, takes prohibitively long to don on a pinch, interferes with Stealth. Medium STR characters are relatively discouraged from using heavier armors too. But I'd also like to mention proficiency. Proficiency is very hard to obtain normally, restrictively so for most classes. While it's tossed out commonly through some features, proficiency still makes concepts like a 2H wielding Sorcerer hard to fulfil.

  • Unchecked DEX applicability: While STR saves are rare and STR checks uncommon at best, DEX-based skills and tools are widely applicable and DEX saves are largely commonplace.

What is PF2E doing well?

I don't believe PF2E is as susceptible to this Dichotomy as 5E, because it has a few advancements over it, as noted below:

  • Easy Encumbrance: Let's not kid ourselves – it's likely not going to be widely applied. But ease to calculate is probably going to come in handy. That being said, I do still wonder if Encumbrance will be fungible.

  • Higher scaling weapon dice and broad weapon types: This should help out give STR-builds more identity and so on, but here's something to keep in mind – if STR's main claim is that a +5 greatsword deals 5d12 vs a +5 rapier dealing 5d8 (to oversimplify things), that's still just a minute dimension of the game, whereas DEX is affecting lots of subsystems. It didn't work in 5E, and wouldn't work in another system.

What is exposing PF2E?

Now, while some things may safeguard this new system from this pitfall, there are some worrying things that give me pause:

  • Armor is still very punishing: Armor is still costly, imposes ACP, takes really long to don, and yes, armor requires a hefty proficiency.

  • DEX-to-damage is a thing: There's no penalty for DEX builds dumping STR, but there's equally no reward for boosting STR. It'd be nice if Finesse Striker and similar features still factored in STR somehow.

  • Pushing Athletics to work for maneuvers means curtailing narrative power due to skill feats: Well, that. I can't be great at maneuvers without sacrificing Skill Feats and Training I could have used to expressed my character in roleplaying terms and such.

  • STR doesn't contribute defensively: At least 5E had the rare STR check, but it seems like STR doesn't even contribute to Shield Block hardness or the effectiveness of armor.

What would I like to see in PF2E

Well, if eliminating Finesse Striker is off the table (which I think would be the most elegant solution), I think the following could be considered:

  • Increase baseline ACPs, and have STR reduce ACP across the board. This would make DEX builds more interested in STR, and would allow STR builds to use DEX skills effectively.

  • Add STR to Shield Hardness/Dents: It'd make sense that if your body is allowed to take some of the recoil, then your shield should suffer less. Perhaps allowing STR to ignore Dents somehow, or increase Hardness, that would be a fun way to work around it.

  • Make maneuvers Attack-based: Disentagle Maneuvers from skills. Let STR-characters have more room for expression while maintaining combat versatility.

  • Rethink armor proficiency: Just gonna leave this out here.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm pretty sure that Finesse Striker is a class featured only limited to the Rogue. And since I have the belief that multiclass dipping will be removed from the game in 2e I think it's fine for just the Rogue to have access to it since their proficiencies will progress much slower than other Martial classes.


Dire Ursus wrote:
I'm pretty sure that Finesse Striker is a class featured only limited to the Rogue. And since I have the belief that multiclass dipping will be removed from the game in 2e I think it's fine for just the Rogue to have access to it since their proficiencies will progress much slower than other Martial classes.

Mark has addressed this:

Mark Seifter wrote:
So I'm definitely sympathetic to this concern. One thing that's pretty important is that we make sure we choose a solution that works well with the PF2 ability score and multiclassing system and that is resistant to later design that goes off-script from our design principles and guides in predictable ways. I'm not convinced we have that solution yet (particularly, even if it works for the rogue, the current solution is incredibly vulnerable to somebody inserting a more generic Dex-to-damage option into a later book and unbalancing a variety of non-rogue character builds), but we'll playtest and solicit ideas from you guys and see what we can find!


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This topic is very important to me. I want Strength and Dexterity to matter, not to be able to just choose one and forget about the other forever. When you introduce systems where you pick one to transfer all your needs to, you start on a long dark path to reducing abilities down to one "Primary Stat", then needing to build your way back up to scrounge up some flavor.

Your points about armor are spot on. While I've been in favor of removing ACP outright, I could see it being used as a knob as you suggest.

Giving a defensive benefit to strength not only makes sense, but also provides some symmetry.


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A possible solution: Ability Feats.


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Let me be frank: I really like spreading dex to damage around, because it encourages a lot of alternative build ideas, and I think forcing dex builds to require strength (rather than just causing dex builds to benefit from strength) will rather strongly decrease the popularity of dex builds and thus strongly discourage people from going dex-based.

That said, for the most part I agree with you regarding 5E's dex vs str problems (where dex often kind of ends up as a winner over str), and I agree that strength needs more utility.

I kind of think that previous editions managed this a bit better by emphasizing "Bend Bars / Lift Gates", but thanks to improved object damage rules and, well, magic, this isn't really a good solution, and a lot of parties can get by with everyone at Strength 10 or lower (at least in PF1 and 5E). It might be worth considering making stength-check-oriented 'hazards' more common.

I really like the idea of adding Str into shield effectiveness. Maybe adding 1/2 your strength mod to the hardness of a heavy shield would be fairly balanced -- after all, that can add up quite a bit, but isn't so huge a boost to discourage dex-based shield users. And let's be honest, strength is generally pretty important when it comes to using a shield in prolonged melee -- for the 'push' (in line combat) and for your ability to smack blows out of the way. Benefits from high strength fit well with the active shield system we're getting now.


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WatersLethe wrote:
This topic is very important to me. I want Strength and Dexterity to matter, not to be able to just choose one and forget about the other forever. When you introduce systems where you pick one to transfer all your needs to, you start on a long dark path to reducing abilities down to one "Primary Stat", then needing to build your way back up to scrounge up some flavor.

I'm someone who cares about roleplaying, challenge, and fun. I look for the package deal.

And I agree fully that "Primary Stat" building is very jarring. It detracts from the reality of the character.

wizzardman wrote:
Let me be frank: I really like spreading dex to damage around, because it encourages a lot of alternative build ideas, and I think forcing dex builds to require strength (rather than just causing dex builds to benefit from strength) will rather strongly decrease the popularity of dex builds and thus strongly discourage people from going dex-based.

Here's a question: why?

Considering you get 4 attribute boosts, if you can get class features to reward hitting (ala Sneak Attack), you already have enough incentives to be DEX-based.

For example, if Sneak Attack dealt X damage and, if you hit a flat-footed enemy, it dealt Xd6 damage instead, you would only need STR as a Rogue to moderately boost output, but just having Finesse weapons would be enough to be viable.


Regarding 5e's DEX vs STR: on paper, you make some good points, but in practice in actual games, I see just as many burly STR dudes as I do wiry DEX people, with similar ACs, similar damage, and being put near death just as often. (In my most recent 5e game, the FIRST character to get put to death saves was ME, playing an Archer-style fighter!) I really don't see DEX threatening STR archetypes, nor vice versa. The limitations they put in place for AC/Dex bonuses, and the formula calculations to restrict spell enhancements to AC really restrict the "unhittable" Dex powerhouses I still see in PF1 and used to see in D&D 3.5.

For PF2, we just won't know until about two weeks from now.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'd be curious to see how allowing 1/2 your STR mod to offset your armor's ACP would work.

Scarab Sages

I don't think its a valid assertion that most people don't use encumbrance systems.

I've been playing some version of this and other RPG's since 1984, and I have always used encumbrance systems.


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So it's fine for a caster to go all in on e.g. wisdom and ignore intelligence, but a martial can't go all in on dex and ignore strength (or vice versa)?

Dex to damage should be a legitimate option without requiring some notional lip service to strength.

I oppose this, and would ask the developers to relax their general opposition to easily available dex to damage.

If it offends your sensibilities keep some parity between the stats in your own characters, don't spoil the fun for those of us who are not opposed to the idea.


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AC is pretty locked in and not much of a concern. Either you wear heavy armor or light armor with your dex bringing the armor up to about where heavy is. Initiative has been untangled from dex now with skill based initiative rolls. Stealth appears to be one of these initiative options, we don't know how closely it follows previous stealth rules. However, since you can use other skills to get the drop on people, ACP is less of an issue. Heavy armor also has an advantage in still working while flat footed.

Dex to damage is likely to be a meaningless adjustment. Mark's comment seems to support the theory that dex based weapons will due limited damage that needs to be supplemented either by an attack with a second weapon, or sneak attack bonus damage.

I'd expect to see something like:

2 handed weapon------10d6+2*stat
2 finesse dual wield-5d6+stat+5d6+stat
1 sneak with finesse-5d6+stat+7d6

Though probably with varied dice sizes to muddy it a bit.

2h--8d8+2*stat
2f--5d6+stat+5d6+stat
1s--5d6+stat+9d4

The actual difference between the two stats is something you've left out entirely. Dex is mostly unsupported by Pathfinder. It supports a bunch of things as a baseline, but it doesn't help with battlefield control in the same way without a much higher feat investment, less common weapons, unusual spells and so on. Your strength character needs a reach weapon, something to boost their size, combat reflexes and a stat to support combat reflexes. A dex based character needs a specific exotic weapon, loses damage and accuracy from size boosts, but they do have built in stats for combat reflexes. If there were a size change that increased reach CMB/CMD and dexterity they'd be closer to parity.

There's also things like rage that either support strength or can be modified to support dex while losing health boosts. Mutagens tie dex to wisdom and strength to in, making dex less appealing there as well. Dex has gotten quite a few improvements since Pathfinder's introduction, like piranha strike and the elf spear , but it's still behind a bit.

I agree with the idea that strength and dex should be tied together. You can't have a gymnast without the strength to lift themselves. And beyond the level of muscle a wrestler has, you aren't going to get much more effective at fighting. Combining the two would probably be worthwhile, but I think that may be a step too far for an already existing game.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
I'm pretty sure that Finesse Striker is a class featured only limited to the Rogue. And since I have the belief that multiclass dipping will be removed from the game in 2e I think it's fine for just the Rogue to have access to it since their proficiencies will progress much slower than other Martial classes.

Mark has addressed this:

Mark Seifter wrote:
So I'm definitely sympathetic to this concern. One thing that's pretty important is that we make sure we choose a solution that works well with the PF2 ability score and multiclassing system and that is resistant to later design that goes off-script from our design principles and guides in predictable ways. I'm not convinced we have that solution yet (particularly, even if it works for the rogue, the current solution is incredibly vulnerable to somebody inserting a more generic Dex-to-damage option into a later book and unbalancing a variety of non-rogue character builds), but we'll playtest and solicit ideas from you guys and see what we can find!

How do you interpret that quote from Mark w.r.t. responding to Ursus?

Reading between the lines a little, it seems to me that multiclassing rogue is going to open up Dex to damage to a lot of builds, but dex to damage will be otherwise inaccessible. I can go on about how this implies multiclassing will or will not work but I will save my breath regarding speculation since the playtest proper is going to be out pretty soon.

---------------------------

Another point separate point about encumbrance: I never found encumbrance to be a meaningful limiting factor on a character's efficacy in any game in the DnD-family game even in the many cases where I have had parties track it. Dex characters tend to use light equipment and armor to begin with so they still have some weight to play around with even if they have dropped their strength to 8/10 (or really even 6 once you are looking at special materials and magical support). You just need to have your party members, bag of holding, invisible servant, magic floating disk, hired porter, and/or pet mule carry the things you don't want to use outside of your average combat.

Strength saves (in 5e) and the threat of receiving strength damage (in PF/3.5) are both really more cogent deterrents for dropping strength and neither of those things are going to be in PF2.

Grand Lodge

dragonhunterq wrote:

So it's fine for a caster to go all in on e.g. wisdom and ignore intelligence, but a martial can't go all in on dex and ignore strength (or vice versa)?

Dex to damage should be a legitimate option without requiring some notional lip service to strength.

I oppose this, and would ask the developers to relax their general opposition to easily available dex to damage.

If it offends your sensibilities keep some parity between the stats in your own characters, don't spoil the fun for those of us who are not opposed to the idea.

What do you think is the right "level" for dex to damage?

Its one of the things people are always excited about and I'm curious what level would please most people.

No restrictions or require a feat/class feature investment?
Should you get dex to damage for ranged weapons like bows?
Should it only be restricted to finesse weapons or open to all weapons?


So under what rules would people sometimes build martials with both high Str and high Dex? Not "would be the go-to build," just "would be up there along with high-Str-low-Dex and high-Dex-low-Str" in terms of being serviceable enough for you to make one.


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Gorignak227 wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:

So it's fine for a caster to go all in on e.g. wisdom and ignore intelligence, but a martial can't go all in on dex and ignore strength (or vice versa)?

Dex to damage should be a legitimate option without requiring some notional lip service to strength.

I oppose this, and would ask the developers to relax their general opposition to easily available dex to damage.

If it offends your sensibilities keep some parity between the stats in your own characters, don't spoil the fun for those of us who are not opposed to the idea.

What do you think is the right "level" for dex to damage?

Its one of the things people are always excited about and I'm curious what level would please most people.

No restrictions or require a feat/class feature investment?
Should you get dex to damage for ranged weapons like bows?
Should it only be restricted to finesse weapons or open to all weapons?

For me, it should be available for a single feat or equivalent class feature. primarily with finesse weapons, maybe a second feat required to open it up to other weapons. I accept it should require an investment - it shouldn't be free.

Less convinced with it being open to ranged weapons, but just because it doesn't make much sense to me doesn't mean it shouldn't be an option.


My opinion is that it is nice to be aware of this but it is mostly pointless to discuss until the full rules are up. I am sure the month of August will be full of number crunching to show this and many other subjects to be right/wrong/bad/fun, etc.

I also think 5E does not matter for this discussion (positive or negative).


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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
So under what rules would people sometimes build martials with both high Str and high Dex? Not "would be the go-to build," just "would be up there along with high-Str-low-Dex and high-Dex-low-Str" in terms of being serviceable enough for you to make one.

I think, as general archetypes:

Max STR, low DEX – Heavy armor users, very bad ranged abilities, compensate with more maneuvers up front.

Max DEX, low STR – Light/unarmored combatants, hit often but rely on class features for damage, focused on creating conditions to exploit their class features, so they don't care about increasing damage via STR.

High STR, middling DEX – Brawler-types, looking for versatility in combat at the expense of effectiveness, able to wield a 2H, sword + board or drop down a running enemy.

High DEX, middling STR – Switch-hitters, looking for potency but also range. Careful to get into the fray, but able to do so well.

Balanced STR/DEX – A non-combatant looking to have broad martial application.


ErichAD wrote:
AC is pretty locked in and not much of a concern. Either you wear heavy armor or light armor with your dex bringing the armor up to about where heavy is. Initiative has been untangled from dex now with skill based initiative rolls. Stealth appears to be one of these initiative options, we don't know how closely it follows previous stealth rules. However, since you can use other skills to get the drop on people, ACP is less of an issue. Heavy armor also has an advantage in still working while flat footed.

Incorrect. Flat-footed is a blanket -2 that doesn't stack with itself. It's exactly like Combat Advantage as described in 4e.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
So under what rules would people sometimes build martials with both high Str and high Dex? Not "would be the go-to build," just "would be up there along with high-Str-low-Dex and high-Dex-low-Str" in terms of being serviceable enough for you to make one.

I think we might see this if Strength meant being the unquestioned king of Melee DPS, Dex made you king of ranged DPS, and melee DPS tends to well outpace ranged DPS. It also helps if Dex-to-damage is not a thing. This stuff may largely be true in PF2, actually.

I still think Dex-focused-builds will end up being better off in general since having good saves, mobility (from light armor), and ranged attacks make them far more well rounded combatants.


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I like the idea of reducing ACP with Strength.


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RangerWickett wrote:
I like the idea of reducing ACP with Strength.

I'm starting to think that increasing base ACP numbers and allowing STR to reduce it might be the way to go.


One thing I'm curious about is whether there are feats attached to various proficiency levels with armor, and what kinds of feats these are (fighter feats, skill feats, whatever).

Since "feats tied to expert heavy armor proficiency" would be an excellent place to establish "Str-based defense" as a thing.

Liberty's Edge

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RangerWickett wrote:
I like the idea of reducing ACP with Strength.

I'm also a big fan of this (combined with a modest increase in ACP...like 1-2 for most armor). It makes good logical sense and is pretty well balanced.

I think most other stuff is premature until we look at the final playtest rules, but this is just a really good idea.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
dragonhunterq wrote:

So it's fine for a caster to go all in on e.g. wisdom and ignore intelligence, but a martial can't go all in on dex and ignore strength (or vice versa)?

Dex to damage should be a legitimate option without requiring some notional lip service to strength.

I oppose this, and would ask the developers to relax their general opposition to easily available dex to damage.

If it offends your sensibilities keep some parity between the stats in your own characters, don't spoil the fun for those of us who are not opposed to the idea.

Dex to damage is a cancer that reduces any concept that likes dex to the same exact array. There's no variety in dex to damage, no decision making, no choice. Every class/concept should have primary, and probably a secondary( this is proving true in 2e) if that second stat is that important... ( Which is pretty true of every caster so far). After that you should have a choice in your stats. If you should want more damage in martial combat and more carrying capacity? Go strength. You don't need more? Feel free to pick what you feel you need.

I want pathfinder second edition to run with 0 straight stat replacement options including dex to damage or alchemists int to resonance.


with how easy it is to boost non primary stats and how much improving accuracy from finesse increases damage already I don't think Dex to damage is necessary. I would need to see some armor stats to know for sure but from what we know so far Dex to damage would be an overpowered ability which would allow PC to simply dump Str and get some free ability boosts somewhere else.

I feel that the devs know this which is why they made it class exclusive but that only encourages dipping. I think rogues should get a straight bonus to damage when wielding rogue weapons if the devs think they need more DPR and dex to damage should be removed from the system.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
RangerWickett wrote:
I like the idea of reducing ACP with Strength.

I'm also a big fan of this (combined with a modest increase in ACP...like 1-2 for most armor). It makes good logical sense and is pretty well balanced.

I think most other stuff is premature until we look at the final playtest rules, but this is just a really good idea.

If Str is going to be balanced with Dex then you need to be able to ignore the speed penalty as well. Despite its flaws that is something that 5e got right (high enough str no speed penalty).

I'd think something like ACP equals -X +Str mofidier. ACP greater than -6 reduce speed by 10 ft ACP between 3 and 5 reduce speed by 5 ft ACP between 0 and 3 no speed penalty.


Honestly, I suspect like Dex to damage is going to matter relatively little for damage calculations in 2E where the size of damage die and generally accuracy are going to matter a lot more as +X enchantments are going to multiply the die. It might be worth including it just so people shut the darn-fricken-heck-up about it. -w-

That said, I still think Dex builds should benefit in some meaningful way for having increasing strength (and conversely be penalized in some way for completely forgoing Str). Perhaps there could be classifications of "superior" finesse weapons that require minimun strength scores to wield effectively (like estocs or whatever Paizo would decide to call historically accurate rapiers).

Liberty's Edge

Bardarok wrote:
If Str is going to be balanced with Dex then you need to be able to ignore the speed penalty as well. Despite its flaws that is something that 5e got right (high enough str no speed penalty).

I could see that, but it's not strictly necessary. Evidence suggests that it never gets to be more than a 5 foot penalty for anyone, and that's not great, but it's not super restrictive either.

Still, saying that if you have a -4 ACP or less there's no speed reduction, and a -5 or more there is, that's pretty simple and workable.


MusicAddict wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:

So it's fine for a caster to go all in on e.g. wisdom and ignore intelligence, but a martial can't go all in on dex and ignore strength (or vice versa)?

Dex to damage should be a legitimate option without requiring some notional lip service to strength.

I oppose this, and would ask the developers to relax their general opposition to easily available dex to damage.

If it offends your sensibilities keep some parity between the stats in your own characters, don't spoil the fun for those of us who are not opposed to the idea.

Dex to damage is a cancer that reduces any concept that likes dex to the same exact array. There's no variety in dex to damage, no decision making, no choice. Every class/concept should have primary, and probably a secondary( this is proving true in 2e) if that second stat is that important... ( Which is pretty true of every caster so far). After that you should have a choice in your stats. If you should want more damage in martial combat and more carrying capacity? Go strength. You don't need more? Feel free to pick what you feel you need.

I want pathfinder second edition to run with 0 straight stat replacement options including dex to damage or alchemists int to resonance.

Yeah, I dislike immensely flat arrays. I like spikes and dips in ability scores. I don't want sensible, homogenous or realistic. I want fantastic. It's a preference.

I have never noticed easy dex to damage overtake strength builds in practice, it has not unbalanced the game anything close to the issues caused by any full caster.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
If Str is going to be balanced with Dex then you need to be able to ignore the speed penalty as well. Despite its flaws that is something that 5e got right (high enough str no speed penalty).

I could see that, but it's not strictly necessary. Evidence suggests that it never gets to be more than a 5 foot penalty for anyone, and that's not great, but it's not super restrictive either.

Still, saying that if you have a -4 ACP or less there's no speed reduction, and a -5 or more there is, that's pretty simple and workable.

Oh I didn't know the speed penalty was reduced. I guess overall PC speed was increased at the same time so maybe it's not relevant.

Scarab Sages

I don't mind Dex-to-Damage, so long as it is thematically appropriate and not unbalancing with Strength. Given what we've seen, as some other posters have mentioned, since it looks like the highest-damage melee weapons will require Strength to hit, and add Strength to damage, I don't think we'll see an issue on that front. Since dice factor more into damage than attributes, you will see high-Strength characters simply to capitalize on high-damage weapons. Dex-based melee will rely more on things like Sneak Attack for Rogues, and really high accuracy in the case of Rangers (not including whatever fun tools Paladins and full spellcasters might get), and Dexterity will be such a small component of the damage dealt that I don't really mind it.

That said, it does create the problem of hyper-focused characters, but I also don't mind that. Dex. Characters will deal less damage overall based on their Dexterity, but will have other tools based on the stat that work better. Strength Characters should never, EVER want to dump Dexterity (and anyone that optimizes this way is objectively crazy) because Dexterity affects your Initiative in most circumstances, arguably one of the most important things in the game. (Granted, Initiative in PF2 will be based on a smattering of skills, so it will be interesting to see how that works). However, I still don't see this as a problem, so long as the numbers around them are balanced, which is basically a "wait and see" argument.

Wayfinders

Secret Wizard, how many D&D 5 games have you played and with how many different players? I have played an honorable number of games with the system with more than 25 different people and we never encountered any problem related to STR or DEX. If you have experienced a STR/DEX disparity, was it only one time with a specific group of players or was it at different tables?


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Davor wrote:
I don't mind Dex-to-Damage, so long as it is thematically appropriate and not unbalancing with Strength. Given what we've seen, as some other posters have mentioned, since it looks like the highest-damage melee weapons will require Strength to hit, and add Strength to damage, I don't think we'll see an issue on that front. Since dice factor more into damage than attributes, you will see high-Strength characters simply to capitalize on high-damage weapons.

True though we have not seen one handed d10 weapons yet if they exist that would go a long way to make me more comfortable with Dex to Damage.


Grey Star wrote:
Secret Wizard, how many D&D 5 games have you played and with how many different players? I have played an honorable number of games with the system with more than 25 different people and we never encountered any problem related to STR or DEX. If you have experienced a STR/DEX disparity, was it only one time with a specific group of players or was it at different tables?

This post is not about disparity.


Bardarok wrote:
Davor wrote:
I don't mind Dex-to-Damage, so long as it is thematically appropriate and not unbalancing with Strength. Given what we've seen, as some other posters have mentioned, since it looks like the highest-damage melee weapons will require Strength to hit, and add Strength to damage, I don't think we'll see an issue on that front. Since dice factor more into damage than attributes, you will see high-Strength characters simply to capitalize on high-damage weapons.
True though we have not seen one handed d10 weapons yet if they exist that would go a long way to make me more comfortable with Dex to Damage.

I kind of suspect that d10/d12 weapons will tend to be the near exclusive domain two handed weapons but I bet we could see a d10 one handed weapon if it has some keywords that imparted drawbacks (like increased penalties on iterative attacks and the like).

Scarab Sages

It's also important to remember that there will be weapon properties to consider, so while we may have d6 finesse weapons compared with d8 standard weapons, those weapons can have one more modifier than finesse weapons, which could be a big deal.


Davor wrote:
It's also important to remember that there will be weapon properties to consider, so while we may have d6 finesse weapons compared with d8 standard weapons, those weapons can have one more modifier than finesse weapons, which could be a big deal.

Nah we have d8 rapier against other d8 weapons.

EDIT: oops I got confused thinking of 5e rapier in PF is still 1d6

Double EDIT: You can all ignore my comment about d10 weapons in that case it isn't relevant. @Davor your point stands uncontested.


We always apply encumbrance rules at our table. Since that was your first point, this post is pretty useless.


Brother Fen wrote:
We always apply encumbrance rules at our table. Since that was your first point, this post is pretty useless.

As I mentioned before, encumbrance does very little to check the power of characters.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Brother Fen wrote:
We always apply encumbrance rules at our table. Since that was your first point, this post is pretty useless.
As I mentioned before, encumbrance does very little to check the power of characters.

This. It's just one of the things out there.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What does Dex to damage really add to the game?

The only answer I see is "a way to bypass boosting strength."

And it is wildly unnecessary with the new +/- 10 mechanics because accuracy can be its own reward for focusing on dex with finesse weapons. Give rogues awesome stuff that triggers off of criticals (battlefield control with status effects and ways to boost damage for striker-type builds) and then let them either boost strength every 5 levels if they are focusing on striking or not if they are focusing on effects.

If finesse striker added a +2 flat damage to attacks with finesse weapons, a rogue would only need a STR of 14 to be as good at damage as they are with dex to damage and the class ability can scale 1 every 5 levels. Functionally, this accomplishes what Dex to damage sets out to do without trivializing STR. I already suggested this to Mark and he seemed interested, as it mirrors what he did with the vigilante in PF1. I think if there is enough support for it, we can see a rogue class that is not incentivized away from strength, but not made less functional as a striker for maximizing dexterity.

EDIT:

The monk class is destroyed if a single level or feat allows them to grab dex to damage. It would completely defeat the point of having the two major types of monk be STR and DEX.


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Unicore wrote:

What does Dex to damage really add to the game?

The only answer I see is "a way to bypass boosting strength."

And it is wildly unnecessary with the new +/- 10 mechanics because accuracy can be its own reward for focusing on dex with finesse weapons. Give rogues awesome stuff that triggers off of criticals (battlefield control with status effects and ways to boost damage for striker-type builds) and then let them either boost strength every 5 levels if they are focusing on striking or not if they are focusing on effects.

If finesse striker added a +2 flat damage to attacks with finesse weapons, a rogue would only need a STR of 14 to be as good at damage as they are with dex to damage and the class ability can scale 1 every 5 levels. Functionally, this accomplishes what Dex to damage sets out to do without trivializing STR. I already suggested this to Mark and he seemed interested, as it mirrors what he did with the vigilante in PF1. I think if there is enough support for it, we can see a rogue class that is not incentivized away from strength, but not made less functional as a striker for maximizing dexterity.

I'd love Finesse Striker to be renamed and give +2 flat to agile or finesse, so STR Rogues are still a thing.

But I can't help thinking that the game WILL have a DEX-to-damage option regardless whether its good for the system or not.


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Secret Wizard wrote:

But I can't help thinking that the game WILL have a DEX-to-damage option regardless whether its good for the system or not.

True but it might be worth it to try and keep it out of core.

Wayfinders

Secret Wizard wrote:
Grey Star wrote:
Secret Wizard, how many D&D 5 games have you played and with how many different players? I have played an honorable number of games with the system with more than 25 different people and we never encountered any problem related to STR or DEX. If you have experienced a STR/DEX disparity, was it only one time with a specific group of players or was it at different tables?
This post is not about disparity.

Disparity was one of your points in the original post. If I replace «disparity» by «problem» in my post, can you give an answer to my question?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Secret Wizard wrote:


I'd love Finesse Striker to be renamed and give +2 flat to agile or finesse, so STR Rogues are still a thing.

But I can't help thinking that the game WILL have a DEX-to-damage option regardless whether its good for the system or not.

Maybe, but I think the way to fight it is to make sure the alternative options keep dex-based builds viable and doing damage, while simultaneously cutting down on generic options that allow attribute switching. The developers have realized that flat +CHA to saves and AC have not turned out well and the ability to acquire them must at least be staggered so you cant get the whole bonus with one feat or level dip. This should be true for every attribute switching ability.

Attribute switching design really hasn't played out that well and I feel like the failure of 4e is a good lesson in moving away from maximizing primary attributes = best character build, because characters get so boring and predictable that way. Power attack got cool because it moved away from a default "always on" option and became a tactical choice. Bonuses to damage are always incredibly good options for characters to take and ones that give you huge bonuses in comparison to similar 1 feat or level options (like a +4 for an 18 dex by getting a Dex to Damage feat, vs getting a +2 to damage at level 4 for a fighter choosing weapon specialization) become mandatory choices when available. My biggest fear is that 3.x opened a can of worms with the attribute switching that has been slowly growing into a bigger and bigger problem, but the allure of "1 attribute to rule them all" means that players will continue to argue for it, even as it makes character building increasingly less fun.

EDIT:

I do understand the appeal of the deadly assassin character that knows exactly where to stick the blade to hurt the most, I just feel like Dex to Damage is a less effective way of building that character than feats that give flat (or even scaling) bonuses to damage in those specific kinds of situations, and they are far, far less susceptible to future abuse.


Grey Star wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
Grey Star wrote:
Secret Wizard, how many D&D 5 games have you played and with how many different players? I have played an honorable number of games with the system with more than 25 different people and we never encountered any problem related to STR or DEX. If you have experienced a STR/DEX disparity, was it only one time with a specific group of players or was it at different tables?
This post is not about disparity.
Disparity was one of your points in the original post. If I replace «disparity» by «problem» in my post, can you give an answer to my question?

I only played one 5e game but it went on for a while and we had some turnover so there were a total of nine different players who made characters while I was part of it. Eight of them dumped Str to 8.

Of course 5e doesn't just have this problem with Str. Int and Cha are also pretty good dump stats if they aren't your classes focus.

PF2E seems to be trying to prevent dump stats both via making every attribute useful (which is a goal of resonance) and by increasing the amount of stats that you can increase at level up. Dex to damage is one situation where one ability negates the need for another. The Alchemists' Int to resonance does this as well.

The Exchange

There is a huge disparity in strength vs dexterity in 5E. The main reason is one handed dex weapons are equal to the best one handed str weapons in the game. Only two handed weapons really require strength and they only work with heavy class and feat support. The great weapon barbarian without the great weapon training weapon style available to fighters and paladins is sub par to a barbarian either dual wielding or sword/board. Only the feat makes a difference and we banned it due to the extremely weak armor classes of monsters in that game.

Strength saves actually come up more often then Dexterity saves but are usually the consequences are not as sever if you fail them compared to dexterity saves. This is based on the fact that we use more monsters in the game than npc spellcasters. If you run more npc casters I am sure dex saves will pop up much more frequently.

The only ways to mitigate these issues are to lessen the damage dice for dexterity weapons to 1D6 max, keep max dexterity bonuses for armor types and make encumbrance meaningful without excessive bookkeeping. I prefer the 1E AD&D method where if you are in non armor and light encumbrance you move the fastest. Light armor, was a step down, then medium and if you are in heavy armor you are really plodding along. Stop the ridiculous notion of a dude in full plate moving as fast as a rogue in leather armor during a combat round. If people used 5E encumbrance that only happens if the warrior is the bare minimum of gear and weapons. Since most people hand wave it a key balancing mechanic is lost.


Meophist wrote:
A possible solution: Ability Feats.

This reminds me of something.

I really don't think the 1E Power Attack feat was healthy for the game. However, it did have one positive: It made even DEX builds think about 13 STR.

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