Posted by : David Guyll November 20, 2015

In Dungeons & Dragons, ability scores have always been numbers in the 3-18 range (before racial adjustments at any rate) that gave you other numbers.

The "Easy to Master" black box, which I'm told is actually "The Classic D&D game", which I guess was a replacement for the Basic Set, mostly provided you with modifiers ranging from -3 to +3. Intelligence is the odd stat out, determining how well you can speak, whether you can read or write.

Ability scores in 2nd Edition (and maybe 1st Edition, I dunno as I never played it) differed quite a bit, by having them give you a variety of adjustments, percentages, limitations, and the like.

So, instead of Strength giving you the same +/-x to attack, damage, and opening doors, it now determined your hit probability, damage adjustment, weight allowance, chance to open doors (which I guess was a d20 roll), and your chance to bend bars/lift gates (which was for some reason a percentile roll).

Since 3rd Edition they've used a simple formula: your ability score - 10 / 2 (rounded down) was your modifier. They were also easier to use: instead of, say, having an arbitrary percentage to bend bars, you just made a Strength check against a Difficulty Class, and if you met-or-beat the DC you did it.

4Ward/FrankenFourth works a bit differently: instead of recording something like 7 (-2), 11 (+0), 13 (+1) or 18 (+4), you just record the modifier. So, you might have Strength +2, Wisdom 0, Dexterity -1, and so on.

You can roll for your stats, which currently have the same spread as the Classic D&D game (13-15 is a +1, 16-17 is a +2, and 18 is a +3). Note that you only roll for the number, and only use it for comparison purposes: once you have your modifiers recorded you can just forget about the rolls because they'll no longer impact your character. The only reason we're using them is to maintain the odds of getting a certain modifier.

You can also use one of three arrays (general, dual-role, and specialized). We're not sure if we're going to have scaling ability scores (the game "math" is pretty damned flat already), but if we do you'll just bump up the modifier by 1.

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{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. The formula should be written (ability score - 10 )/ 2. Not to be a math Nazi, but in this case it completely changes the result.

    Without the parentheses it would would end up as ability score - 5, because of the arbitrary mathematical default of multiplication and division coming before addition and subtraction when ambiguity occurs.

    Anyway, re: your actual point, I believe the 3rd Ed. of the (formerly D20 game) Mutants & Masterminds also drops the ability scores after you roll them and just records the modifiers that result from them. So you're in good company.

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    1. @Blue: Derp, you're right. >_<

      Other people have mentioned Mutants & Masterminds. I haven't played it before, but it's good to know that there's a precedent: if no problems have arisen from going that route, great!

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