Current balance between attributes


General Discussion


8 people marked this as a favorite.

I would like to re-open a discussion that I find very important, and has actually been opened here some times, but in most cases started with a very specific example or request and eventually derailed into something else.

Paizo seems to be trying to find a way to make all attributes useful for all characters, which is indeed a great way of giving more options and more diversity. I'm currently running a campaign of 5e to some newer players that find 3.5 and PF1 to be too complex, and some of the things that really bog me there is how Intelligence, Charisma AND Strength are completely dumpable if your class doesn't depend on them somehow.

Before starting this thread I have asked both groups I'm currently DMing the Platest to about what they think each attribute acomplishes now and how they are balanced against each other, before taking specific class scalings into account. This is the general feedback I've gathered from them and from myself as the DM:

(All the comments below are as of update 1.6 and considering the Resonance Test)

Strength - In a weird spot, of course it is fine if you are going to attack on melee, and composite bows adding damage based on Strength is a cool plus, however... I say it is in a weird spot because the feedback I've got from my players was basically: If you are not using it to hit stuff, it is useless, UNLESS you are someone like an Alchemist who needs to carry a lot of extra junk, then you kind of need some bumps in Strength just to be able to work properly as a character. And then you buy a Bag of Holding and it is useless again.

Dexterity - Used to be a god stat in previous editions, managed to be even more godly in 5e, and now it is... pretty balanced actually. Reflex saves are good, AC is great, finesse weapons, ranged attacks, cool, but cutting Initiative from it actually made it a lot less absurdly mandatory. This, however, created another issue that I'll talk more about soon.

Constitution - Was probably too weak in lower levels because of the Ancestry HP bonus and pretty meh at higher levels. Treat Wounds changed it, now it is a lot more useful and in a pretty good state in general.

Intelligence - This was probably the most uncontrovertial, and not in a good way, unfortunately. 9 out of the 11 players I asked just straightly said that it is pretty bad. Intelligence being mainly for skills is fine, but with the current way skill increases interact with it, in which you can only get trained in new skills by increasing Intelligence but not increase the rank in ones you are already trained, you only want Intelligence in a very specific case. If your class gives you a decent ammount of skills, it is not needed. If your class gives you a small ammount of skills but you don't want to focus in a lot of them anyway (and this is usually the situation for most Martial characters), it is also not needed.

Wisdom - A little controversial but the general consensus was that Wisdom is the new god stat. It only gives you three things (apart from the skills that use it), however, these are probably three of the four most important things in the game that every single character will want: Perception, Will Saves and Initiative, with the fourth one being AC. Of course the sample size is very small, but I have a pratical example of this too. As I've said before, I have 11 players, currently, in total. Only a single character didn't bump up Wisdom as much as he could, and that's because he deliberately wanted to have low Perception as a quirk of the character for being very absent-minded.

Charisma - Most people seem to agree that Charisma was the ultimate dump stat in PF1. And it was following the exact same path in PF2, until the Resonance Test. With the Resonance Test rules, most of my players said that Charisma is in a pretty good spot, however, this may vary a lot depending on what the developers actually do with this system in the final game. If Charisma is still relevant for Focus or something similar, it should be in a pretty good spot.

I would also like to add that, in my opinion, potent items as they stand are very unhealthy for stat balance and for the game in general. The +2 part is fine, maybe a little boring, but fine. However, getting any one stat straight to 18 really encourages people to dump stats in the long term, since a bump to a stat from 10 to 12 for example will be completely wasted when you get an item that boosts it straight to 18 anyways.

I would like you guys to share your opinions about the subject, but more to detect what are the issues currently than to try to give specific solutions, those would probably work better as a separate thread.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

They should kill the sacred cow of 6 abilities and go with 4.

Str: current str+con, fort saves, melee&thrown attack and damage, HPs, carry capacity, str skills,

Dex: dex, reflex saves, AC, +init, range/finesse attack and damage, dex skills,

Will: will saves, magic attack, damage and DCs, channel energy etc...

Cunning: bonus skills and languages, +init, int,wis and cha skills,


2 people marked this as a favorite.

In general agree. {note this personal experience, and may differ from others}

For Dexterity it should also be noted the effect for Runes and Finesse {or Dex} on Weapons. Potency Runes expand the base damage of the weapon. Most Finesse {or Dex} weapons base damage max out 1d6, with the exception of Longbows {which has the Volley Trait, so not the greatest weapon} and Elven curve blades {which is an exotic weapon} both which only go up to 1d8. Strength base weapons have base damages that go up to 1d12 which can really outpace for damage especially when Runes are added on. Now I do think Dex still beats Str, for the most part {Dex can still be used to hit, give better AC and better reflex Saves) but still should be noted. It should also be noted that should a Finesse weapon with both easier access and higher base damage be made, a good portion of Strength become obsolete

I found Charisma was an important stat at the beginning levels, but lost its importance has the levels went up. This was because you were gaining a resonance point every level, and the cost of using your more powerful items/equipment was no more then the lower level stuff. Eventually you end up with a comfortable amount for the stuff you want/need and enough left over for healing and other one off uses. High Charisma gets you to that place a bit sooner, and if you made a character that relies more on those Resonance use items {such as Staves for instance} you would still want to have bit more, but other than that you would prefer to put those stat increases in other places.

And a 100 times yes for Intellgiance. I found alot of people saying its the new dump stat, and I have to kinda agree. 1st, I found alot of people tend to multiclass, which comes two free Trained skills, making Int not the only source someone can use to get training in skills. More importantly, PF2 seems to be a game of maximizing, so Trained skills start becoming less reliable as the levels go up. The 1.5 update has helped this somewhat, as being trained gives you a fighting chance to make the medium checks, but its still not reliable enough on its own. Also, it has not helped skills normally made against a creature DC. And, as Int only provides you with more Trained skills, it not that great of a benefit, espcally long term.


dmerceless wrote:
I would also like to add that, in my opinion, potent items as they stand are very unhealthy for stat balance and for the game in general. The +2 part is fine, maybe a little boring, but fine. However, getting any one stat straight to 18 really encourages people to dump stats in the long term, since a bump to a stat from 10 to 12 for example will be completely wasted when you get an item that boosts it straight to 18 anyways.

I would agree with this if it wasn't for one detail: a character can only benefit from one Potent item.

If your character could manage some 10 levels without a high stat, that character isn't suddenly going to become overpowered for having an 18. It might be a problem if you're creating characters of a high level who can start with one, but as a general system consideration they're fine.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Igor Horvat wrote:

They should kill the sacred cow of 6 abilities and go with 4.

Str: current str+con, fort saves, melee&thrown attack and damage, HPs, carry capacity, str skills,

Dex: dex, reflex saves, AC, +init, range/finesse attack and damage, dex skills,

Will: will saves, magic attack, damage and DCs, channel energy etc...

Cunning: bonus skills and languages, +init, int,wis and cha skills,

Best system, cunning gets perception too, and perception is used as a save.

But for the current 6 attribute system:

Make heavy armor have a str rating, if your strength is higher than that increase the max Dex bonus of the armor by 1. This makes strength with heavy armor more important by giving AC and allowing the highest AC.

For int make it give extra expert skills when you get access to master proficiency, and extra master skills when you get access to legendary proficiency.

Also it would be good if every class had builds that used every ability score, mostly that means more class features involving them.

I wrote more about this in this thread.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dex can still be used for initiative, by using Stealth for initiative. If you had a rogue in your group, they could have been doing this pretty regularly to get the drop on enemies.

Charisma is more important than Wis for a healing Cleric currently. Wis gives a +1 to Heal casts, Cha gives an extra auto heightened Heal cast.


I think Scythia brings up a good point: you can "improve" a stat by giving it a universal benefit or by making it more useful for more classes. Posts on the forums about how to add universal benefits to strength or intelligence have been pretty underwhelming in my opinion.

It seems like Paizo isn't doing any better than the forum goers in this regard, so maybe they should focus on providing specific benefits for classes that don't normally use int or str to use them. It seems like that would be a more manageable goal.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mechagamera wrote:

I think Scythia brings up a good point: you can "improve" a stat by giving it a universal benefit or by making it more useful for more classes. Posts on the forums about how to add universal benefits to strength or intelligence have been pretty underwhelming in my opinion.

It seems like Paizo isn't doing any better than the forum goers in this regard, so maybe they should focus on providing specific benefits for classes that don't normally use int or str to use them. It seems like that would be a more manageable goal.

Strength:

Remove weapon and armor proficiency categories.

Every melee weapon can have str or dex as attack and damage stat.
Ranged is dex as normal

Add minimum str for every weapon. Without it you are unproficient with weapon(-4) and deal minimum damage.

Add minimum str for armor. Without it you are unproficient(-4 AC) and take extra 5ft speed penalty.
Add ACP to spell attacks and DCs.
For every 2 str above minimum reduce one ACP. max reduction 2 with 4 extra str.

Intelligence should add both skills and extra language on one-on-one basis(like 1e).

Add option for perception to be either int or wis.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm suggesting some modification I did in my PF1 games:

Cos could be used to recover from affliction in general, mostly poisons, diseases, and drugs effects, leaving out only curses, which tend to have specific methods of recovery.

Int could determine the max level of proficiency you can reach, or maybe the proficiency system could be expanded so that it's not class, but player choice to determine what proficiencies you get and how you advance them, just as for skills, with narrower fields than just "martial weapons" or "Occult Caster".

Cha could get Will saves from Wis, since it's better suited to represent willpower, since it represent self-esteem and power of personality, while Wis it's more about senses, empathy and intuition. Cha is the perception of self, Wis is the perception of the world.


I think the only one that really needs a buff is intelligence. Strength has uses for a decent amount of characters (most melee fighters) and for bulk/heavy armor. CHA has the resonance thing to help it out but I am not sure what is happening to resonance in the final book but I am sure it will still be based on CHA.

Intelligence is only useful to the classes that have INT as a core requirement (Alchemist and wizard). Having one high INT player in the party meets all your needs (int skills). Everyone else should dump it. Even letting INT give more skills is not such a big perk as everyone has a decent number now.

I saw someone mention you could have initiative be based off on INT. Just a flat check modified by INT. Fluff wise that is a bit difficult to explain (compared to Dex like in PF1). I do think it would help balance the ability scores though.

Exo-Guardians

I should note that Wisdom is not the initiative stat, init is keyed off of skills or perception, determined by the DM. As such it is possible to get Athletics to be your initiative or Thievery, or Even Religion. It's up to the DM.


Kerobelis wrote:

I think the only one that really needs a buff is intelligence. Strength has uses for a decent amount of characters (most melee fighters) and for bulk/heavy armor. CHA has the resonance thing to help it out but I am not sure what is happening to resonance in the final book but I am sure it will still be based on CHA.

Intelligence is only useful to the classes that have INT as a core requirement (Alchemist and wizard). Having one high INT player in the party meets all your needs (int skills). Everyone else should dump it. Even letting INT give more skills is not such a big perk as everyone has a decent number now.

I saw someone mention you could have initiative be based off on INT. Just a flat check modified by INT. Fluff wise that is a bit difficult to explain (compared to Dex like in PF1). I do think it would help balance the ability scores though.

I don't really think it is that hard to explain though, at least no for the way I see the attributes. Intelligence always meant "scholarly knowledge, memory and quick thinking" for me, while Wisdom is more like "life experience knowledge, willpower, intuition and awareness of your surroundings". I can't see why Initiative couldn't be Intelligence from that perspective, your mind can analyse the situation faster and react faster. I think that the biggest problems are that Intelligence is an attribute and Perception and Stealth are skills (Perception works as a skill at least), so they scale differently. Also, most monsters have utterly terrible Int and decent-to-high Wis, so this would mean nerfing the Initiative of at least two thirds of the entire Bestiary.


I think something that would help Int immensely is making Skill Increases give 1 + (half Int mod) in skill boosts, that would make it THE skill stat again, without making it insane. Str seems to be in a good spot, unless your a caster, which is the norm. Weak old caster guy who's frail but can explode you with a flick of his finder is a common shtick, but it makes Gishes a lot hard to optimize since you need (casting stat) and Con and Dex and Str AND Cha (if it's not your casting stat), which is also kind of the norm, the Magus needs 3 stats to be high to do anything well, and that was hard in base PF. But on the whole it's a bit zany how much you need stat X and DON'T need stat Y in this system, and I do wish something would be done with the less used one, and offload the mandatory one's uses a bit.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dexterity and Wisdom are at the top of the pack, with Constitution not far behind. Saving throws are really important, a few extra points can be the difference between a 20% chance to critically fail and a 5% chance to critically fail. Many monsters have 1-action at-will abilities that can essentially fish for critically failed saves, while monsters with defensive abilities will usually last long enough to run through pretty much their entire spell list, and if you've got anything worse than a 5% chance to crit fail you're in serious trouble in the long drawn-out slugfests of PF2.

Strength is a distant fourth. I actually don't think it's too bad, since damage dice are a big deal in PF2 and strength lets you use the weapons with the biggest damage dice. It's not as ubiquitous as the other ability scores, but pretty much anyone and everyone can make use of a high strength score. The biggest problem is that strength is in an "all-or-nothing" position; if you aren't keeping your strength score maxed then you may as well just be using finessable weapons and go full-dex instead. Carrying capacity is a quality of life thing; good to have, but most characters don't strictly need it.

I don't want to spend too long on charisma since it almost certainly will be getting a major suite of changes in the final release, but right now it's decent at low levels due to resonance then becomes utterly inconsequential at higher levels.

Now for Intelligence. One of the problems with intelligence is the fact that there are a lot of feats that give bonus skills. Multiclassing will give you 1-2 additional trained skills as a matter of course, and about 90% of builds are multiclass in the current meta. Then there's a general feat and an ancestry feat. Unless you're an extremely feat-starved non-multiclass build, it's extremely easy to snap up extra trained skills with feats, and that's way less intensive than investing a precious ability score in intelligence.

As it stands right now, the craft skill is just about the only thing carrying intelligence. Craft is one of the best skills in the game, and being able to meet the high DC's for crafting items at your level allows you to outfit the entire party with superior gear at a more affordable price. It also allows you to quickly repair broken equipment, which is incredibly powerful support for both thieves tools and shields. Having a crafter in the party is a massive benefit to everyone. However, a party only needs one crafter, so unless someone wants to play wizard or alchemist it's an old school hot potato role that no one really wants to get stuck with.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I totally agree with OP. Abilities don't need to be equally useful for every class, but investing in a stat should have some utility for any character.

INT should be pretty easy fix, just needs to boost skills in some way as others have posted.

STR affecting heavy armor would be simple. Alternatively, maybe Strength needs a proper saving throw now. Currently, Athletics is basically performing this function for the Break Grapple action. On the flip side, Grapple and Shove are being made against the opponent's Fort DC, while some monster abilities (Golem inexhorable march) require a Fort saving throw. Wouldn't strength be more important than Con (which I think of as hardiness) for resisting physical movements like these? My guess is that these are relegated to Con so that Athletics isn't a mandatory skill to train just for defense. So, why not add a Str based save. (Not a fan of every ability having a save though.)

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've mentioned before that I think Strength and especially Intelligence are a bit underpowered at the moment, and have received acknowledgement from the folks at Paizo that they're aware of the issue and looking into it.

Personally, as long as their eventual Resonance replacement utilizes Charisma, I'm satisfied with the other four stats. Wisdom is quite good, but you can finagle other stats into being used for Initiative, and that makes it less essential than some people seem to be arguing (though Perception and Will Saves are quite good).

It's also likely Saves will be a tad less essential in the final version since they're adjusting the math to require less optimization to be effective.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is well thought out and very well said, OP. I agree with much of your assessment.

They simply need to fix Heavy Armor so that at least having STR to wear it is beneficial. I don't mind STR being a dump stat for the less physically talented characters. I do agree that some of the contests of strength should not rely on CON (Fort Saves) as the opposition.

For me, that leaves the INT problem which I think stems from the reduction of it's contribution to skill points. Perception being INT based is an interesting idea, though. Even outside of non-perception initiatives, perception is an important skill and generally useful to everyone.

It's okay, though, to have less-important attributes for varying characters as well as character flaws, but I always thought that should be more role based rather than a part of creating a viable character.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Strength is a bit better when Bulk is being strictly checked. It becomes like Charisma and Resonance, in that it determines how many 'tools' you can have on you, and how much treasure your party can remove from dungeons.

INT could be improved by being more generous with languages (1 language per +1 to INT) and making Lore explicit in its usefulness. Take the Rogue's Battle Assessment class feat and make that possible for any Lore check. It also helps out WIS, but all the background Lores can come in as well ("Roll a Circus Lore check to determine the Killer Clown's weakness.")

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Pathfinder Playtest General Discussion / Current balance between attributes All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Pathfinder Playtest General Discussion
Paralyzed condition