Overall Ability Score Balance


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


So something I've been thinking about lately is the balance of ability scores, both in RPGs in general and 2E specifically.

How "balanced" should the various ability scores ideally be, and what does balance mean in this context? 2E has taken steps to balance ability scores, but I wouldn't say it achieved perfect balance. Having WIS as your casting stat is an advantage compared to CHA and INT due to WIS being an overall superior stat in 2E, for example. Would the game have benefited if CHA and INT had been made a little stronger?


I'd like perfect balance personally. With different builds emphasizing/relying on different ability scores being equally viable but unique in their own way.

I feel it's a little hard with the current six attribute system to do that, but moving will saves from wisdom to charisma would help.

I think a four ability score system is easier to balance. Combing strength and constitution, move will from wisdom to charisma, and combine intelligence and wisdom and you're pretty close to balanced.


I'm not sure, Int governs all lores, gives extra languages, and is associated with craft as well as several other skills. All very valuable.

Char is probably the weak man out but it's still fairly strong as your social engine and covering intimidate.

I think there is value in every stat though as stated Wis is a touch stronger than most being linked to Will saves and your Perception stat as well as many usefull skills.

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Ideally, everything that costs the same should be equally valuable. That's certainly the ideal all games should strive for, as it results in the fewest trap options and other problems.

Now, in practice, that's often difficult to achieve (and PF2 certainly doesn't manage it perfectly), but it's ideal.

Now, IMO, Int is close enough to Wis that the difference is fairly small (Wis is certainly better, but not enough that it's a huge deal), but yes, Cha could stand to be quite a lot better than it is.


How much of a problem would it be to employ a variant of the 4E rule where Charisma or Wisdom could be used for Will Saves. And Intelligence or Dex for reflex? (I am less sold on strength or con for fortitude but that was in there as well)

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Lanathar wrote:
How much of a problem would it be to employ a variant of the 4E rule where Charisma or Wisdom could be used for Will Saves. And Intelligence or Dex for reflex? (I am less sold on strength or con for fortitude but that was in there as well)

Cha or Wis for Will Saves was one of my PF1 House Rules and one I'm strongly considering for PF2. I think it would work fine.

Dex or Int for Reflex is a lot more problematic since I think it strongly undervalues Dex. Int is, IMO, quite a bit better than Dex if you remove Reflex Saves from the equation. This is less true for those who need Dex for AC, but it's still not a great idea, IMO.


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To be honest I found 4E pretty neat in this regard. Saves where either STR or CON for FORT, DEX or INT for REF and WIS and CHA for WILL (whatever was the better). Also each class had one fixed attack stat which governed both to-hit and to-damage. Of course you still had different stats for skills and perception / healing surges (and other things I don't remember correctly anymore) but regarding stats parity it was a big step forward as far as I am concerned.

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Charisma is still the weakest link, but it's really helped by just how damn good Intimidation is; consequently, Intelligence only barely edges it out. At this point, though, there's not a single stat that I just ignore unless I have a) a compelling character reason to do so or b) too many things I need more. It's a nice change of pace, honestly.


I kinda wish that the number of invested items had been 5 + CHA instead of just 10. It would have given CHA an "always-benefit", something every other stat has.

I actually think INT is the weakest stat, overall. It has a lot of reasonably useful skills, but it suffers from redundancy issues. Having one high-int character is good for knowledge rolls and potentially crafting, but a party doesn't need more than one high-INT character. Maybe "weakest" is the wrong word, "most dumpable" is probably more appropriate.

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Henro wrote:
Having one high-int character is good for knowledge rolls and potentially crafting, but a party doesn't need more than one high-INT character.

For what it's worth, this hasn't really been my 2E experience. Since skill bonuses no longer casually outstrip DCs, the variability of dice rolling has meant that most of my groups have wanted multiple people rolling on basically every Recall Knowledge check they can get - not to mention the sheer difference in relevance between a trained and an untrained Skill.

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Ubertron_X wrote:
To be honest I found 4E pretty neat in this regard. Saves where either STR or CON for FORT, DEX or INT for REF and WIS and CHA for WILL (whatever was the better).

Personally, I think 4E had its own issues in this area inasmuch as Saves and Class stats were pretty much the only stats you every needed, making it almost always a poor mechanical choice to have high ratings in both Dex and Int or both Wis and Cha (Con had some uses even with high Str, but that was about it). There were skills, but not heavily tilted towards any specific stat.

So, while balanced in some ways, it decreased build diversity in a somewhat unpleasant way, at least for me.

Shisumo wrote:
Henro wrote:
Having one high-int character is good for knowledge rolls and potentially crafting, but a party doesn't need more than one high-INT character.
For what it's worth, this hasn't really been my 2E experience. Since skill bonuses no longer casually outstrip DCs, the variability of dice rolling has meant that most of my groups have wanted multiple people rolling on basically every Recall Knowledge check they can get - not to mention the sheer difference in relevance between a trained and an untrained Skill.

This seems right to me. Even if you don't need multiple people on a Recall Knowledge check, you definitely need multiple people on many other Skill checks, and a PC group sans high Int or a Rogue barely has enough Trained Skills to cover everything once. Every Trained Skill added allows for doubling (or tripling) up on something you didn't have before.


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In some respects 2e did a nice job. Heavy armor characters with a lower Dex score are more functional than ever, but then on the other side of things Int didn't need to be made worse and Wis didn't need to be made better, but Paizo went ahead and did both.

So we're still left with the same paradigm of having three stats that provide strong passive benefits to every character and three stats that don't do much (nothing at all in the case of Cha) unless you're actively using them.

It's kinda w/e but I've found 2e's stat balance to be really frustrating when building dual attribute characters like gishes. Builds that can prioritize a 'strong' stat just end up being a lot better in all respects than builds that can't. A Dex/Wis Cleric coasts along with points to spare while a Str/Cha Sorcerer struggles to fit everything they need into their build and still has their saves suffer.

More than how tight the stats are though I think the issues 2e has comes from how you invest in them. Tighter math and cleaner generation makes a lot of sense, but in practice I've found it has some unpleasant side effects.


I think they actually did a good job with balancing ability scores for a few reasons:

(1) If you have a lot of roleplaying then those small bonuses on "soft scores" are extremely important as you level just by how everything scales. "Tight math," yadda yadda. If you have very little roleplaying and are at a table that wants to get to the fighting, most skills still have a role to play in-combat for a lot of builds, and many of the skill uses in combat can do some pretty solid things with the action economy and the game's math.

(2) Having a skill at trained, like Shisumo pointed out, is a huge difference from untrained. This ties into (1), because I can imagine having nobody capable of Deception at later levels can potentially close off avenues for success. Training makes Int very useful, because it allows characters to at least have baseline competence.

(3) Skill Feats and the overall enhanced usefulness of skills generally in this edition I think also follows. Intimidate is real nice, Recall Knowledge is useful, having the skill points to take both Athletics and Acrobatics unlocks a lot of options, etc.

(4) Skill bonuses and availability largely being equalized means you can be a Barbarian who disarms traps if that's what you want. You aren't incentivized to ignore an ability score just by picking a class quite as much as you used to be because every skill is available.

So if you're talking pure combat you might not want as much Cha or Int, but so far as a DM I've been seeing skills and skill bonuses be preeeetty important in the outcome of encounters, both in and out of combat.


I think a lot of this depends on if you're able to balance a party or are playing with random people. Both Int and Cha suffer from the specialization aspect: if 2-3 people have decent scores in them and the associated skills, then they are completely dumpable by the rest of the party. They can be used in combat to do "useful things", but those things also take actions (Intimidate, Recall Knowledge on a Creature/Spell). Couple this with the fact that Religion and Nature are now Wisdom based, and I honestly think Int and Cha are comparable in getting the short end of things.

Strength is obviously the next on the list to go. It's a key stat for *most* damage dealing types, but obviously it's dumpable for finesse and ranged types, and extremely dumpable for a lot of rogues.

Dexterity and Constitution are on the chopping block. Yes, Dexterity used for one saving throw, but if you're a heavy armor wearer, you can mitigate a lot of that via armor (Full Plate). Constitution contributes to HP and saves. While the first can be mitigated for high HP classes, if you've got a d8 or d6, you probably want a decent score here, and Fortitude saves *really* matter.

Finally, Wisdom. They kinda broke the bank with this one, as perception, initiative, and will saves all operate off of it, as do about half of the "important" knowledge skills. This was a mistake on Paizo's part in my mind. I think, at the very least, having Religion and Nature work off of Intelligence would have been a much better idea.

Anyways, the final three on this list all are beneficial no matter which type of character you're playing, whereas the first two you probably want *someone* to have them, but they don't need to be universal. And Strength is for *most* weapon wielders, so it falls somewhere in the middle. Yes, there are still issues with skill coverage, but even with an intelligence of 10 and no rangers or rogues, you're getting a minimum of 5 skills out of 17 (counting Lore as 1). In a party of 6, that's enough for ~double coverage of everything at the trained level, and beyond trained, that has nothing to do with your intelligence.


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I have yet to play above 4th level,so I don't know how much to value Incredible Investiture, and therefore it's 16 CHA requirement. Certainly CHA casters will take it, but is it worth it to get there if you are only a secondary CHA user (Frequent Demoralize user, for example)?

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tivadar27 wrote:
I think a lot of this depends on if you're able to balance a party or are playing with random people. Both Int and Cha suffer from the specialization aspect: if 2-3 people have decent scores in them and the associated skills, then they are completely dumpable by the rest of the party. They can be used in combat to do "useful things", but those things also take actions (Intimidate, Recall Knowledge on a Creature/Spell). Couple this with the fact that Religion and Nature are now Wisdom based, and I honestly think Int and Cha are comparable in getting the short end of things.

I think you're undervaluing Int here. I'd say that the additional Trained Skills (and, to a much lesser degree, languages) make it more on par with Str than with Cha (which really is useless aside from its skill uses). Even with no Int-based Skills except the free Lore everyone gets just getting more Skills at Trained is invaluable, especially early on.

It's not better than Saves (remember, I'm arguing it's on par with Str, putting it below the Save stats), but it's a lot better than what Cha gets.


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Incidentally, the "Skill Split" is:
Int: 5, Wis: 4, Cha: 4, Dex: 3, Str: 1, Con: 0


Deadmanwalking wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:
I think a lot of this depends on if you're able to balance a party or are playing with random people. Both Int and Cha suffer from the specialization aspect: if 2-3 people have decent scores in them and the associated skills, then they are completely dumpable by the rest of the party. They can be used in combat to do "useful things", but those things also take actions (Intimidate, Recall Knowledge on a Creature/Spell). Couple this with the fact that Religion and Nature are now Wisdom based, and I honestly think Int and Cha are comparable in getting the short end of things.

I think you're undervaluing Int here. I'd say that the additional Trained Skills (and, to a lesser degree, languages) make it more on par with Str than with Cha (which really is useless aside from its skill uses). Even with no Int-based Skills except the free Lore everyone gets just getting more of them at Trained is invaluable, especially early on.

It's not better than Saves (remember, I'm arguing it's on par with Str, putting it below the Save stats), but it's a lot better than what Cha gets.

I think this is a fair argument. I think you're probably correct if one is showing up at a random PFS-type table. I'm not so sure if you're able to plan your party out ahead of time... Still, you're probably right that *most* people take it over Charisma, but i think in a planned party, more people take Strength than Intelligence, but I fully admit I could be wrong in that assessment.

EDIT: And I guess I will say that critical failures probably make it more valuable as well. Having 2 people able to verify something matters, particularly when one person can get it horribly wrong.


tivadar27 wrote:
Finally, Wisdom. They kinda broke the bank with this one, as perception, initiative, and will saves all operate off of it, as do about half of the "important" knowledge skills. This was a mistake on Paizo's part in my mind. I think, at the very least, having Religion and Nature work off of Intelligence would have been a much better idea.

I think it noteworthy that all "high WIS" classes published in the CRB have a RP "drawback" in form of an anathema, so in the RP parts of any advanture you are not as free to do what you like as e.g. a vanilla fighter or rogue would be. Not that it would stop anybody from gaining the pure mechanical benefits of high WIS if they wanted to, so just saying.


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The other thing that Int has over Cha is that for many characters having an extra Int makes you a more social character than having an extra Cha due to how skill proficiency scales.

E.G if you aren't focused on social skills but would like them, your skill training will probably go to other things first. Maybe you pick up one of them. Getting an extra Cha gives you +1 to all three, but even at level one getting an extra Int (so you could train an extra skill) would get you +3 to one. As you level up this only gets worse.

Silver Crusade

I like creating characters and so have created more than I've played.

In that set of characters, the only 2 stats I've ever been comfortable with dumping are Str and Dex. You can comfortably dump Str with casters and dex based rogues. And you can comfortably dump Dex with plate armor users.

Other than that, I've got characters with an 18 in 5 of the other stats (none have an 18 con). NONE of them end up with a Con of less than 12, the world is just too dangerous now that Attacks of Opportunity are rare.

So, in other words, I think paizo has got the balance just about right this edition. Its not perfect, of course, but its pretty darn good.

Admittedly, I like talking so I probably overvalue Charisma :-)

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tivadar27 wrote:
I think this is a fair argument. I think you're probably correct if one is showing up at a random PFS-type table. I'm not so sure if you're able to plan your party out ahead of time... Still, you're probably right that *most* people take it over Charisma, but i think in a planned party, more people take Strength than Intelligence, but I fully admit I could be wrong in that assessment.

Even in a planned party, doubling up on most Skills (an extremely good idea) still equals out to 30 or so needed 'slots' for Skills (assuming no need to double up on more niche skills like Thievery or Performance). Assuming a Rogue and a Wizard and a 4 person party, you can manage that with only the expected Int from the Wizard and another person at Int 12 or so, but if you lack a Rogue (a not uncommon situation), then suddenly the party as a whole needs a total of +10 Int mod divided between them to manage the same feat.

And while doubling up is good, some Skills you want everyone to have if possible, which only adds to the needed number.

As for taking Str over Int, I think it depends on the party, a classic Fighter/Rogue/Cleric/Wizard party probably has one, or maybe two characters with any Str at all. Many other parties have more of a Str focus, but any that lack a Rogue have a greater need for Int (as noted above), so I think the balance is on Int being good and useful.


Charisma boosts a lot of random, incidental things like innate spells and occasionally powers secondary class attributes such as Cleric's divine font. High CHA also means Demoralize which is really useful within the 3-action economy. I think CHA generally offers more than INT, assuming someone else in the party can cover INT skills.

CHA is kind of a "build skill", there are a lot a builds that benefit from the ability but it's still not great for those that don't. INT still gives you some benefits in a trained skill if you're not using in for anything else.


Dex is the strongest of all stats in PF2, though its power has lessened compared to PF1. It can determine init (stealth), AC, ranged attacks, finesse attacks, several skills, reflex saves (which are more dangerous than they were in PF1).

Strength is melee attack and damage, bulk, and athletics. Unless you're playing a melee focused character, you can reasonably ignore it. You can even use a finesse weapon and ignore it, if your okay potentially losing out on about 5 or 6 points of damage (on the high end).

Constitution is mostly just for fort saves and hp, but those are pretty important.

Charisma, some classes have class specific uses for charisma (spells or some innate abilities) but mostly charisma is just for face skills. You can skip it if you aren't into those.

Int is about the same as charisma. Technically int gives you more trained skills, but I place the value of that pretty low. Raising int for additional skills at trained just isn't a great value, and there are other options for getting trained skills. If you don't have class based abilities depending on Int, it's pretty skip-able. I should also mention Lore skills, which are Int based.

Wisdom has Will saves and perception, as well as some classes having abilities based on it (spell and innate abilities). It's easily the most important of the mental abilities, not accounting for class specific stuff.

Overall I would say the order of importance for stats is:
1) Dexterity
2) Will
3) Constitution
4) Strength
5/6) Charisma, Intelligence

But this doesn't account for class dependencies. I would say your class dependency would move whatever your main attribute is to the first position and push everything else down 1. If you really want to focus on a specific skill it can also reorder thing, but I would normally just assume you'll choose skills that are already reinforced by your base stat spread.

So a fighter would have:
1) Strength
2) Dexterity
3) Will
4) Constitution
5/6) Charisma & Intelligence

While a Sorcerer would have:
1) Charisma
2) Dexterity
3) Will
4) Constitution
5/6) Strength and Intelligence

Edit: You can make an argument for flip flopping wisdom and constitution depending on the classes hp and save progression, but because of perception I would generically rate wisdom as more important than constitution.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
just getting more Skills at Trained is invaluable, especially early on.

Ish. There are certain skills that imo are really good to have at trained because there are a lot of basic usages where you'd want to succeed. Athletics is an obvious one here. If you're missing a skill like that, Int is pretty great.

But in terms of helping you be good at skills in challenging situations, PF2's Int kinda falls short.
Relative to PF1 you no longer get full value from a skill with a single point of Int and tighter system math means it's harder to be good at a skill tied to a secondary or tertiary attribute and this gets more and more exacerbated the higher your level.

It creates this unfortunate sort of circumstance where using an ability increase to improve your Int at level 1 is significantly more valuable than doing it at level 20, too.

Basically I think PF2's int is good as a tertiary skill you splash to pick up one or two extra skills that have ubiquitous, low-level checks you want to hit reliably, but PF2 is fairly hostile to something like trying to build a smart fighter who's really good at skills so you invest heavily in Int.


Perhaps just as skills are broadened with the inclusion of skill feats, investing in certain abilities can be made more valuable with "ability general feats"? We already have a handful like feather step, fast recovery and incredible investiture. The ones we already have a pretty niche, but I would love to see slightly more powerful ones like them, especially as a reward for investing in weaker abilities like CHA and INT (More for CON would be cool too, it's hardly a "weak ability" but it's not really something you'd invest heavily into either).


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Squiggit wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
just getting more Skills at Trained is invaluable, especially early on.

Ish. There are certain skills that imo are really good to have at trained because there are a lot of basic usages where you'd want to succeed. Athletics is an obvious one here. If you're missing a skill like that, Int is pretty great.

But in terms of helping you be good at skills in challenging situations, PF2's Int kinda falls short.
Relative to PF1 you no longer get full value from a skill with a single point of Int and tighter system math means it's harder to be good at a skill tied to a secondary or tertiary attribute and this gets more and more exacerbated the higher your level.

This isn't actually true. In the last thread this was discussed, it was pointed out that you are only 25% worse at on level challenges at 1 than 20 with a trained skill. But that doesn't take into account ability score boosts, hand me down item bonuses, Follow the Expert, Aid checks like Inspire Competence, or buffs from a friendly caster or alchemist. There's a lot more bonuses floating around at high levels than low levels.

Like, if you're trying to Sneak and have an Alchemist and a Legendary Stealth buddy, they can give you +8 bonus to the check. You're more likely to succeed with the Trained Skill at that point despite the relative DC increase. It is an extreme example, admittedly, but it also isn't an unrealistic one.


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Quote:
This isn't actually true

A level 1 fighter with 12 int and training in Arcana succeeds on a recall knowledge check against a standard CR1 enemy on an 11 against common enemies and a 13 against uncommon ones. That same fighter at level 20 needs a 17 against a common enemy and a 20 against an uncommon one and that only drops by a couple points if the fighter invests in more Int every 5 levels (which isn't something you can guarantee).

If we're throwing a bunch of extra investment and consumables and cantrips in just to get back to where we started that kinda makes the point for me.


Per my previous post, something that I didn't expand but I guess is being hashed out is that I rated Int very low because extra skills aren't that useful, because you don't get extra progression for skill increases.

Non-rogues will only be able to increase 3 skills to legendary, and it's pretty important to be legendary at a skill if you want to routinely succeed at on level challenges. Sure you can get buffs that can help to make up the difference and bring down the challenge to where you might be able to succeed at only trained, but that's a lot less dependable.

You also have options to obtain being trained in a skill beyond the basic skills you become trained in for free with your class. Fighters and Barbarians start with 3 + int skills trained and get two more from backgrounds.

How many skills are you worried about being only trained in?


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Claxon wrote:
How many skills are you worried about being only trained in?

Personally I want to be at least trained in Athletics for basically any character because it sucks to have to jump through hoops to avoid swimming and climbing even easy things. I also find it useful to be trained in skills used for knowledge checks because you often are put in situations where everyone in the party can attempt the check and being trained means your shot-in-the-dark roll at least has a chance of succeeding.


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I feel like Charisma is a bit underrepresented here.

This is something I have changed my mind about over time, a few years ago I would probably not have had these thoughts.

To me, Charisma is a very important ability score to invest in, because I want to use it all the time. Charisma opens so many opportunities in the game, just through the skill bonuses alone. To (just) go from inconsistent to semi-consistent in charisma skill check successes is a big thing and changes how I play.

Of course, this is a very soft-rules area and the usefulness of charisma based skills varies greatly between tables and who you are as a player.
But when I play a character with low Charisma, I find myself biting my tongue and holding my character back, while passing messages (ooc and not) to the actual party-face, because I know that those words are just wasted coming from my character.

To me, Charisma is important enough to warrant consideration for every character I build and very often is my 2nd or 3rd highest ability score. And I really do think it pays off, many times.

To make it perfectly clear, I'm not saying that investing in Charisma is my favorite way of building unoptimized characters. I'm saying that a character could very well be unoptimized because it doesn't have Charisma (again, this varies greatly depending on what table and player you optimize for - not throwing any stank on other people's preferences).

Granted, I have limited experience with PF2 so I can't speak too much about how it works exactly in this edition. Though from what I've seen, there are less substitutes for Charisma than in PF1? (Student of Philosophy, Inquisitions, etc), making me think that Charisma is more important than previously (at least for me).

---
On the topic of balance: with my limited experience, I have little to add to the evaluation of balance between Ability Scores.

But I do think that they don't have to be "perfectly balanced" (put in citation marks because "perfect" is very hard to define) - what I mean is that I don't think "perfect balance" is needed to enjoy the game (or build/brew characters).

And I do absolutely think that they shouldn't be symmetrically balanced - I'm mentioning this because I'm not sure that Charisma should have generic mechanical benefits (like saves). I think that could risk turning Charisma into an artificially useful Ability Score, functioning as an Ability Score tax that you need to invest in (contra an Ability Score that some players wants to invest in).

But that's just my opinion.


I think the struggle to balance the ability scores points to the issue of there being too many ability scores. You have your primary stat, and the three saving throw stats. Some classes get to double up with their primary also being a saving throw stat. There are perks to the secondary stats, but they aren't really balanced against the three saves and primary, and little attention appears to be paid to class ability balance based on whether or not your primary stat doubles up or not.

I think the game would be better without charisma, and that PF2 goes out of its way to try and make it relevant. Intelligence seems counter balanced against your class skills such that the benefit of having int as a prime is over written, so you can do without intelligence as well. And I think you can safely divide strength's boons up between constitution for anything relying on muscle mass, and dexterity for anything that would involve trained actions.


rooneg wrote:
Claxon wrote:
How many skills are you worried about being only trained in?
Personally I want to be at least trained in Athletics for basically any character because it sucks to have to jump through hoops to avoid swimming and climbing even easy things. I also find it useful to be trained in skills used for knowledge checks because you often are put in situations where everyone in the party can attempt the check and being trained means your shot-in-the-dark roll at least has a chance of succeeding.

I wont disagree that athletics and knowledge have their uses, I just argue that's its not worth investing something as significant as ability points into to get a few more that never advance.

Especially if you're human or pick up human ancestry for Clever Improviser.


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Claxon wrote:
rooneg wrote:
Claxon wrote:
How many skills are you worried about being only trained in?
Personally I want to be at least trained in Athletics for basically any character because it sucks to have to jump through hoops to avoid swimming and climbing even easy things. I also find it useful to be trained in skills used for knowledge checks because you often are put in situations where everyone in the party can attempt the check and being trained means your shot-in-the-dark roll at least has a chance of succeeding.

I wont disagree that athletics and knowledge have their uses, I just argue that's its not worth investing something as significant as ability points into to get a few more that never advance.

Especially if you're human or pick up human ancestry for Clever Improviser.

Untrained improvisation is also a general feat any ol' ancestry can pick up.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Garretmander wrote:
Claxon wrote:

I wont disagree that athletics and knowledge have their uses, I just argue that's its not worth investing something as significant as ability points into to get a few more that never advance.

Especially if you're human or pick up human ancestry for Clever Improviser.

Untrained improvisation is also a general feat any ol' ancestry can pick up.

Oh, no argument on either of those from me. There are few builds where I think boosting INT is the best way to get more trained skills, but I will go out of my way to make sure I've got ways to get a level bonus to those skills, either by becoming trained or something like Untrained Improvisation.


Garretmander wrote:
Claxon wrote:
rooneg wrote:
Claxon wrote:
How many skills are you worried about being only trained in?
Personally I want to be at least trained in Athletics for basically any character because it sucks to have to jump through hoops to avoid swimming and climbing even easy things. I also find it useful to be trained in skills used for knowledge checks because you often are put in situations where everyone in the party can attempt the check and being trained means your shot-in-the-dark roll at least has a chance of succeeding.

I wont disagree that athletics and knowledge have their uses, I just argue that's its not worth investing something as significant as ability points into to get a few more that never advance.

Especially if you're human or pick up human ancestry for Clever Improviser.

Untrained improvisation is also a general feat any ol' ancestry can pick up.

But the biggest deal with Clever Improviser is that it allows you to perform all trained actions without actually being trained. So it's basically like being trained in all skills in the game, but at a -2 penalty (because you don't get the bonus from trained proficiency).


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Claxon wrote:
But the biggest deal with Clever Improviser is that it allows you to perform all trained actions without actually being trained. So it's basically like being trained in all skills in the game, but at a -2 penalty (because you don't get the bonus from trained proficiency).

Huh, didn't realize that was part of the ancestry feat and not the general feat. You learn something new every day.

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As has been noted in this very thread, the +2 matters quite a bit at high levels considering average odds of success on skills. Also, Untrained Improvisation doesn't fully kick in until 7th level, which is to say not for the first 30% of the game (or more, in any game that doesn't get to 20th level). So it's not as good as Trained and doesn't even come close for 30% or more of the game.

It's a great general Feat but doesn't really make anyone who wants to be solid at a particular Skill not want it, and thus diminishes the value of Int less than it might.

Int isn't absolutely necessary by any means, but getting additional Trained Skills is a solid bonus. It's not as good as attack stats or Save stats, but then I don't think anyone said it was. I'd say it's definitively the fourth best stat after Save stats if you're using a Save stat as your attack stat. Which, frankly, puts it one up on Str in some ways (as, if you aren't attacking with it, Str has minimal value in many ways).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Which, frankly, puts it one up on Str in some ways (as, if you aren't attacking with it, Str has minimal value in many ways).

100% agree here. If you're not attacking in melee, STR gets you... Bulk? (well, and athletics which is probably the best skill in the game but unless you're investing in it it's not so good). At that point INT is a lot better.

Liberty's Edge

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Henro wrote:
100% agree here. If you're not attacking in melee, STR gets you... Bulk? (well, and athletics which is probably the best skill in the game but unless you're investing in it it's not so good). At that point INT is a lot better.

Even in melee, if you're going finesse (admittedly a big 'if') all it governs is a few points of damage. That's better than Int's Trained Skills on some damage focused characters, but not on all characters by any means. And, of course, Str is pretty useless very specifically for Thief Rogues. That's a hyper specific exception, though.

Contrariwise, if going Str-based with Full Plate, Int is probably better than Dex in many ways. The bonus to Saves from Dex is a lot less compelling in that specific case than it is in most others, and I think Int outweighs Dex in advantages if ignoring Saves.


In a way I kinda thing PF2's tighter rules on stats exacerbate this.

Point Buy was kind of annoying to calculate, but it gave the players a real incentive to diversify their stats because dropping an 18 to a 16 gave you a lot of extra stuff to throw around. PF2's linear scaling makes the choice to reduce an important stat for an unimportant one a lot more costly and PF2's claustrophobic skill increase system makes it much more expensive to branch out into other skills.

It creates a scenario where, as Rub-eta pointed out, Charisma is really useful! But I think the system encourages you to either find a way to use Charisma all the time or not bother, because any time you're not rolling a Charisma check it doesn't do anything at all while simultaneously making each point much more valuable in terms of your ability to succeed checks.

Generally speaking, I feel like PF2 has really diminished the "I put a 14 in a tertiary stat so I can be good at this skill" style of character, because in PF2 investing in extra ability scores is expensive and each point is relatively more valuable, which increases the incentive to maximize your primary and secondary scores and decreases the efficacy of a character relying on a tertiary stat.


I think if Charisma gave you anymore, it would easily be one of the top stats, especially for some builds. For example, rogues couldn't care less for INT because they're getting Skill Feats EVERY Level.

Everyone benefits from Intimidate. The Wizard, the Archer, the Fighter, lady-dady-every-body.

I would personally peg INT as the weakest stat. Could be it's just not my style. If you have a reasonably put together party you can spread around the important skills. At some point Magic just takes care of language.


I'd agree that Int at the very least approaches Str, and for a lot of characters, is going to be strictly better. The big argument against this is basically:

1. Strength is of maximum importance for 4-5 or so class builds (some of these might be 66% of rangers and potentially 33% of rogues, with monk being some percentage as well). Intelligence can only claim this for exactly 1 class (assuming the argument I hear about Alchemists wanting Dexterity is correct).

2. Athletics, as many have pointed out, is extremely important. It might be the only strength-based skill, but it's a doozy. Intelligence obviously still wins here, but the fact that the strength-based skill is athletics is very relevant.

3. Armor has strength requirements, making strength potentially important to druids and warpriests, and to some very minor extent, light armor wearers (you'll *probably* want at least a 10).

My guess is that due to these factors, and primarily the first one, if you took a look at all the characters in play and averaged their total stat bonuses (granted, a poor "estimation" of importance, but I don't know you do much better...), that strength would win out here.

It really does matter how one measures importance, here, obviously. You can say "well, if you ignore all of the martial melees that aren't using finese...", sure, but the fact is that that's a *large* percentage of builds, in all likelihood.


Because of the 4 boosts you get every 5th level, I would say that it's fine if 1 ability ends up being useless or near-useless for a specific character. If 2 ability scores are useless, I would probably consider that a failing of the system since it would make the choice too obvious.


Henro wrote:
Because of the 4 boosts you get every 5th level, I would say that it's fine if 1 ability ends up being useless or near-useless for a specific character. If 2 ability scores are useless, I would probably consider that a failing of the system since it would make the choice too obvious.

This totally happens though... For spellcasters, dumping Intelligence/Charisma and Strength is totally a thing, and for a lot of fighter-types, dumping Intelligence and Charisma works. For Rogues, Strength and Intelligence/Charisma.


In my group's PF2 game that we've been running since September, I'm not feeling the stat imbalance at all. I think that's because we've got downtime between all of our missions and just plenty of time to use intelligence and charisma skills in town.

Our alchemist regularly goes to the library and researches everything we expect we'll encounter, and that's never failed to be useful. There have also been more society checks than any other skill in our game; we're a far travelling independent mercenary company out of Absalom, so we're usually dealing with different cultures every arc.

My bard is primary charisma, of course, but I'm on track to get Int up to 20 at level 20.

Concerning charisma, my bard is the face of our mercenary company, and I'm always on the hunt for work. I recently set up a side job in Kintargo that was otherwise unplanned for by the GM just by sticking my foot in the door and asking questions using my charisma skills. The real strength of Charisma is additional narrative choice for the player and the party if used for the good of the party. Any party member that didn't invest in charisma wouldn't have as much of an ability to direct the course of the story. In a game with any sandbox elements at all, charisma is an extremely valuable stat.

Concerning intelligence, my bard is also the magical scholar in the party. I've got all of the magic knowledge skills due to the high number of trained skills. I use hypercognition to identify all of the enemy weaknesses in important encounters, and I use that to direct the party members to the appropriate targets for their spells and attacks. I'm also a ritual magic expert. I took additional lore(ritual lore). I use that to work in Absalom as a support ritualist, and I take my earned income in the form of rituals taught to me rather than gold.

Overall, I'd say my charisma and intelligence focused character is contributing quite a lot to our campaign. I can see how my character's strengths would be lost in society play, but it's extremely powerful in a somewhat sandboxy homebrew campaign.


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Henro wrote:
Because of the 4 boosts you get every 5th level, I would say that it's fine if 1 ability ends up being useless or near-useless for a specific character. If 2 ability scores are useless, I would probably consider that a failing of the system since it would make the choice too obvious.

For a lot of characters I think it already is too easy. It's very easy to pick up a Sorcerer and just go con/dex/wis/cha and call it a day. The system math even kind of nudges you along those lines because you're expected to boost your saves and expected to boost your primary attribute as you level up.

Obviously you can be more flexible than that and characters who are lucky enough to get a save stat as their primary stat have more room (though even then there's usually an obvious fourth choice), but there's definitely a pretty strong incentive to upgrade along those lines I think.

You definitely can adjust your build and make some concessions to boost another stat, but they definitely still feel like concessions.

It gets worse if you start adding in a second or even all three of those secondary attributes as something you value.

Quote:
Overall, I'd say my charisma and intelligence focused character is contributing quite a lot to our campaign.

While it's not a bad example, it is a bard, which means Charisma doesn't really count as a secondary stat for you. It's part of your expected character build, so in terms of adjusting to fit 'less good' attributes in it's really just int.

It's a different experience if you, say, start with a Dragon Style monk and then decide you want the level 6 feat that gives you Intimidate synergy and then figure you want to boost Int some too because knowledge checks are cool.

Sovereign Court

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I think we're as close to balanced stats as you can get, without making all stats bland and interchangeable. Every class has a different set of stat preferences. And all stats are useful to about 2/3rds of the classes if not more.

Strength: Athletics is a skill that you often can't delegate to other PCs. Bulk is not a huge issue but it's nice to not have to worry about it. Enough strength for your armor is also nice. For medium/heavy armor users that don't rely on Finesse, Str > Dex is pretty efficient.

Dexterity: most classes benefit from Dex to AC. Even the "bulwark" full plate jocks can get something out of Dex->Reflex to make them harder to trip/slip/drop in a bit. Avoid Notice gives you a fairly consistent way to use Dex to Initiative. And it covers Stealth and Thievery, major skills. Stealth is another one of those hard to delegate skills.

Constitution: not quite as crucial in PF1 because it's % contribution to HP has gone down, and because Dying rules don't make "negative Con" such an issue. But the Not Die stat is always good.

Intelligence: covers a lot of skills, and with clever choice of lores, can cover parts of Nature and Religion as well (notice Undead Lore and Animal Lore in the LOWG; and specific lores often earn a lower DC too). Extra skills are nice for classes that aren't swimming in them. Even skills at secondary stats are fine, because secondary stats actually increase the most consistently with 5-level boosts; they don't hit the 18 ceiling so soon. So maintaining your competitive score is pretty easy until about level 15, and by then you can afford a stray skill bonus item.

Wisdom: Perception, Will, Initiative, Nature, Religion, Medicine, Survival - yeah it's absolutely great. Although if you tend to divide the tasks in your party and you get someone else with high Wisdom to do the Searching, and you do for example Avoid Notice, it comes down to just being "good" instead of "required".

Charisma: I think this one is the least universal. But it still powers cantrips, several classes' spellcasting, some champion powers, and social skills. Intimidate to Demoralize is really good because it's hands-free, non-MAP. How important it is to have multiple people with social skills in the party depends on whether the GM takes heavy account of the right person talking. As in, if the topic is religion, NPCs may want to specifically get the cleric's opinion, even though the bard has higher skills normally. And the Chelaxian fighter may be the preferred conversation partner for those Hellknights you just ran into, just because of nationalist snobbery.

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So I think there are enough ways for each ability to be strong and desirable. I'd say it's overall balanced without being homogeneous.

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