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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    I've been running with this more or less for a while, and posted it on another forum, but I just realized I didn't have it posted here.

    The basic problem is that attributes don't really scale. A character at 1st level will only be 5 points behind a character at 20th level, not accounting for magic items and buffs. This is pretty pathetic when you consider how drastically different the power levels are supposed to be between 1st and 20th.

    On the other hand, just straight up adding attributes doesn't work well either, because it leads to stacking your primary stat to outrageous numbers, and generally allows stacking with all sorts of other things that probably shouldn't be stacked to begin with. The goal here is to reduce magic item dependency, make attribute growth feel more natural, and hopefully help out MAD classes.


    So here's how I handle it:

    1) Every level you get extra points which may be either saved up to be spent at a later time, or used immediately. At levels 1-5 you gain 1 point per level. At levels 6-10 you gain 2 points per level. At levels 11-15 you gain 3 points per level. At levels 16-20 you gain 4 points per level. Above level 20, you gain 5 points per level.

    These points may be used to increase attributes as though using point buy, regardless of the initial stat generation method. Unlike with normal point buy however, you can push an attribute above 18. This continues to follow the normal point buy formula, so going from 18 to 19 costs 4 points. A table with the costs associated with buying up an attribute above 18 can be found at the bottom of this post.

    In effect, a level 20 character has whatever his initial stat generation provides him, plus an additional 50 point buy he may use to improve his attributes further. While this can be used to boost a single attribute, there is a clear diminishing returns for doing so, and I would not expect many characters to have many (if any) attributes below 14 base by mid-high level.



    2) Starting at level 6, all characters gain a flat +1 enhancement bonus to a single attribute. This enhancement bonus increases by +1 every 2 levels. At level 10, when the first attribute reaches +3, you gain an additional +1 enhancement bonus to one more attribute, which also increases by 1 every 2 levels. At 14th level, you gain a +1 bonus to your other 4 attributes, which increases by +1 every 2 levels. In effect, by level 20 you have +8/+6/+4/+4/+4/+4 to your attributes.


    3) Under this system, Inherent bonuses are removed, meaning no wish abuse or tomes to get +5 to all your attributes. Wish may be used to increase the enhancement bonus to your ability scores one step, to a maximum of your primary score's bonus. So at level 20, you could use a Wish to raise the +6 bonus to a +8, but you could not wish for an increase to your +8 attribute. With enough wishes (9 of them) you could end with a +8 enhancement to all attributes rather than the normal progression.


    Example Character
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    Jaichim the Paladin starts his career with 16 Strength, 10 Dexterity, 12 Constitution, 8 Intelligence, 12 Wisdom, and 14 Charisma. (28 pt buy).

    By level 20 he has accumulated 50 points to add to this, and upgrades his attributes as follows:

    Strength: 16->22 (24 points)
    Dex: 10->12 (2 points)
    Con: 12->16 (6 points)
    Int: 8->14 (6 points)
    Wis: 12->14 (2 points)
    Cha: 14->18 (10 points)

    He then applies his highest bonus to Str, second to Charisma. Giving him:

    Str: 30
    Dex: 16
    Con: 20
    Int: 14
    Wis: 18
    Charisma: 24

    By using three Wish spells, he can bring his Charisma up to 26, and his Constitution up to 24. However he would not be able to raise his strength with Wish.



    Table for costs of attributes above 18:
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    {table=head]Attribute | Cost per point | Cost Total
    19 | 4 | 20
    20 | 4 | 24
    21 | 5 | 29
    22 | 5 | 34
    23 | 6 | 40
    24 | 6 | 46
    25 | 7 | 53
    26 | 7 | 60
    27 | 8 | 68
    28 | 8 | 76
    29 | 9 | 85
    30 | 9 | 94
    31 | 10 | 104[/table]


    Going by this the highest attribute you should be able to get by 20 is 26, which requires an 18 to start, and an investment of 44 out of 50 points over 20 levels.
    Last edited by Seerow; 2012-03-17 at 08:03 AM.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Con: 12->16 (6 points)
    ...
    Wis: 12->14 (6 points)
    Your math is a little off there, just so you know.

    I think original system is decent. Ability scores matter less and less as you level up and get magic equipment, spells which boost abilities, class features, ect. The difference better 18 Wis and 22 Wis is a +2 to Will Saves and a bunch of skills (until you get to casters...)

    This variant favors casters tenfold. While a Rogue could use the boost to Dex, an 8 point boost to Dex nets him +4 Attack (Ranged/Finesse), +4 Init, +4 to a bunch of skills, +4 Reflex, +4 AC, and maybe a few other bonuses. Not bad, but compare it to a Cleric's +8 Wisdom. The Cleric gets +4 Will saves, +4 to a bunch of skills, 4 Spells (likely at the higher levels they can cast, since you need a 28 to get a bonus 9th level spell), +4 on all spell DCs, bonus uses of anything that's Will modifier/day, and probably a few other things I'm missing. As well, they gain a lesser boost to their other stats which increase AC, HP, ect, though to a lesser degree.
    The Cleric still wins when we get to the +4. The Rogue puts his +4 into Wis, gets +2 Will saves +2 to some skills and that's it. The Cleric puts his +4 into Dex and gets +2 Init, +2 to a bunch of skills, +2 Reflex, and +2 AC (should he have not met his Max Dex due to armor, of course.) The +2 AC, +2 Init, +2 Reflex, and skill bonuses he misses out on are easily worth the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell slot he gains and the equivalent of Spell Focus (all schools) (x4). Even if he manages 28 Wis before the +8 enhancement bonus (impossible without templates/LA races), and thus only gets an additional 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spells, the +4 to save DCs is still far more than worth it.

    So basically, you're superpowering casters more, and giving relatively minor bonuses to noncasters. SAD classes gain a small amount of respite from this system, but are still decimated by casters.

    It should also be noted that, since you gain an Enhancement bonus to abilities, equipment like Belt of Giant's Strenth are practically useless at higher levels, unless you have say a +6 Belt of Giant's Strength and you put the +4 into Strength, but even then it's 36,000 for a +2 bonus.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    This makes magic items that enhance ability scores real game killers. Take a fighter of 10th level who has pushed his Strength up to 20 and add a belt of magnificence +2, Gauntlets of Ogre Power (+2 str), Belt of Giant Strength +4 for a 28 strength. These aren't unreasonable items for a mid level character. Your paladin example with a 30 strength could easily have a 40 strength with a few magic items. Even a potion of Bull's strength makes a powerful fighter overpowered if they have a very high strength already.

    We expect players to enhance their characters with spells and items at higher levels so their abilities don't need boosting. I know that my 12th level artificer (Cha 20) has a cloak of charisma +2 exactly for this reason and I'm boosting it to +4 as soon as I've got the cash.

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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Enhancement bonuses don't stack. The fighter would have either 22 or 24 strength, depending on whether he spent his points in Strength.

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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by JackMage666 View Post
    Your math is a little off there, just so you know.
    So it is. Dunno why I forgot to account for starting with 12 wisdom.

    I think original system is decent. Ability scores matter less and less as you level up and get magic equipment, spells which boost abilities, class features, ect. The difference better 18 Wis and 22 Wis is a +2 to Will Saves and a bunch of skills (until you get to casters...)
    The problem I have is nobody stops at just that. You are expected to have 30+ in your primary attribute, and over 20 in your secondary attribute. But doing so requires you to be decked out in magic bling that does nothing but +x attributes, which is boring.

    This variant favors casters tenfold. While a Rogue could use the boost to Dex, an 8 point boost to Dex nets him +4 Attack (Ranged/Finesse), +4 Init, +4 to a bunch of skills, +4 Reflex, +4 AC, and maybe a few other bonuses. Not bad, but compare it to a Cleric's +8 Wisdom. The Cleric gets +4 Will saves, +4 to a bunch of skills, 4 Spells (likely at the higher levels they can cast, since you need a 28 to get a bonus 9th level spell), +4 on all spell DCs, bonus uses of anything that's Will modifier/day, and probably a few other things I'm missing. As well, they gain a lesser boost to their other stats which increase AC, HP, ect, though to a lesser degree.
    You're exaggerating the benefits of wisdom for a cleric dramatically. "Bonus uses of anything that is wis mod/day" name a few. There's not many, if any at all. Turning is charisma based, which would mean branching out and improving a stat that doesn't help their casting. A couple extra spells per day and a higher save DC doesn't break the game, and a completely SAD caster (putting as much of his point buy as possible in wisdom) will end with 34 in their primary attribute, 36 with a racial bonus. This is incidentally exactly the same as where attributes currently max out.

    The Cleric still wins when we get to the +4. The Rogue puts his +4 into Wis, gets +2 Will saves +2 to some skills and that's it. The Cleric puts his +4 into Dex and gets +2 Init, +2 to a bunch of skills, +2 Reflex, and +2 AC (should he have not met his Max Dex due to armor, of course.) The +2 AC, +2 Init, +2 Reflex, and skill bonuses he misses out on are easily worth the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell slot he gains and the equivalent of Spell Focus (all schools) (x4). Even if he manages 28 Wis before the +8 enhancement bonus (impossible without templates/LA races), and thus only gets an additional 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spells, the +4 to save DCs is still far more than worth it.

    So basically, you're superpowering casters more, and giving relatively minor bonuses to noncasters. SAD classes gain a small amount of respite from this system, but are still decimated by casters.
    You've got it backwards. Casters are SAD. A cleric doesn't really care about those bonuses to Dex or Int. If he wanted them, he could have cast a spell to get them. It's non-casters who are MAD.

    Yes, everyone gets their attribute bonuses for free, rather than having to shell out for +x enhancement items and inherent bonuses, but non-casters typically have to buy more of these, so get more benefit.

    Similarly, with the point buy, MAD classes gain benefit from buffing multiple attributes, as opposed to funneling all their point buy bonuses into a single attribute, so they get more total attributes than the SAD class, in exchange for a slightly lower primary ability.

    It should also be noted that, since you gain an Enhancement bonus to abilities, equipment like Belt of Giant's Strenth are practically useless at higher levels, unless you have say a +6 Belt of Giant's Strength and you put the +4 into Strength, but even then it's 36,000 for a +2 bonus.
    This was entirely intentional. The whole point is to make it so being awesome comes from you being a awesome high level character, not from having awesome magical loot that makes you great.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hoverfrog
    This makes magic items that enhance ability scores real game killers. Take a fighter of 10th level who has pushed his Strength up to 20 and add a belt of magnificence +2, Gauntlets of Ogre Power (+2 str), Belt of Giant Strength +4 for a 28 strength. These aren't unreasonable items for a mid level character. Your paladin example with a 30 strength could easily have a 40 strength with a few magic items. Even a potion of Bull's strength makes a powerful fighter overpowered if they have a very high strength already.
    As pointed out none of the things you listed stack, so this is a non-issue. If you allow enhancement bonus stacking in your game so the stuff you listed all stacks, then attributes are already scaling uncontrollably to the point where introducing this won't make a real difference.
    Last edited by Seerow; 2012-03-17 at 08:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    I like what you got here, as ability boosters taking up your slots prevents you from using magic items that actually have interesting uses. MIC tried to alleviate that with making ability boosters not have the cost multiplier but that's not quite as useful, since if you find new stuff you have to enchant it with previous bonuses and its the same problem all over again, so I applaud you on this.

    A question I have is, at character generation, do you add the stat points immediately to your pool or do you use your initial stat generation and then use your stat points?

    An entirely tertiary concern is what to do about the ability boosts of Vow of Poverty, since this negates those boosts entirely or at least makes them far less relevant.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    A question I have is, at character generation, do you add the stat points immediately to your pool or do you use your initial stat generation and then use your stat points?
    The latter. Generate starting attributes first, then apply bonuses from leveling. For most cases this won't make a difference, but for some it will.

    An entirely tertiary concern is what to do about the ability boosts of Vow of Poverty, since this negates those boosts entirely or at least makes them far less relevant.
    Vow of Poverty is terrible before, and remains terrible with this. It needs its own fix to really work well.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    I really like this. And I definitely plan to run my games with this from now on. Thanks for something so innovative Seerow.

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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    1) Every level you get extra points which may be either saved up to be spent at a later time, or used immediately. At levels 1-5 you gain 1 point per level. At levels 6-10 you gain 2 points per level. At levels 11-15 you gain 3 points per level. At levels 16-20 you gain 4 points per level. Above level 20, you gain 5 points per level.

    These points may be used to increase attributes as though using point buy, regardless of the initial stat generation method. Unlike with normal point buy however, you can push an attribute above 18. This continues to follow the normal point buy formula, so going from 18 to 19 costs 4 points. A table with the costs associated with buying up an attribute above 18 can be found at the bottom of this post.
    This is what I've been planning for my remake as well.

    The enhancement approach looks good too.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    Vow of Poverty is terrible before, and remains terrible with this. It needs its own fix to really work well.
    Kinda what I thought anyways, hence why it was an entirely tertiary concern.
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    Default Re: Better Scaling Attributes [D&D 3.5]

    Quote Originally Posted by Troll Brau View Post
    I really like this. And I definitely plan to run my games with this from now on. Thanks for something so innovative Seerow.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    This is what I've been planning for my remake as well.

    The enhancement approach looks good too.
    Glad you like it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    Kinda what I thought anyways, hence why it was an entirely tertiary concern.
    Ironically, this change might actually help some VoP characters to a degree. Sure they get less benefit from their feat, but they end up stronger overall. After all, a large part of the point is to reduce magic item dependence.
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