I’m thinking about, for stat progression, of only focusing on the modifiers.

I’m thinking about, for stat progression, of only focusing on the modifiers.

I’m thinking about, for stat progression, of only focusing on the modifiers. Just let players pick where they want those +1s. I’m considering giving the players a +1 every other level (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) to put wherever they want. This creates a small problem though.

You start with +2 +1 +1 +0 +0 -1. Using the standard rules you could end up with +3, +3, +1, +1, +0, +0 or +3, +3, +2, +0, +0, -1. Using my method it would be possible to end up with +3 +3 +3 +0 +0 -1. Do you think having three stats with +3 would be way to overpowered?

29 thoughts on “I’m thinking about, for stat progression, of only focusing on the modifiers.”

  1. Traditionally you gain 5 stat increases. But they are controlled a bit based on starting scores. It would not normally be possible to have three +3’s. I don’t like the idea of removing two extra +1’s though. With only three to spend it would look like this if you were trying to max stats:

    +3 +3 +1 +0 +0 -1.

  2. I’m actually finding +3 to be overpowered, period. 

    In the games I’ve GM’d I’ve been running an experiment where putting 18 points into a stat gives a +3 bonus. That’s a pretty hefty number of points to put into a stat, so I was willing to give my players +3 for it, on a trial basis (which I made very clear).

    The problem, however, is this:

    Given the probability distribution of the results of 2d6, the number 7 is the most common, at 6 of the possible 36 results, followed by 5/36 for 6 and 8, 4/36 for 5 and 9, etc.

    So basically, 2d6 + nothing is going to come out, on average, right around 7, followed by 6 and 8. 6 is, of course, the highest number in the 6- range, so you’re going to get a good number of failures, which means XP and interesting consequences.

     Now, if you roll 2d6+1, the average becomes 8, with 7s and 9s being next most common.

    +2 makes the average 9, followed by 8s and 10s. Suddenly a Full Success value is one of the higher-probability results.

    But when you roll 2d6+3, your most common result is 10 (the 2d6 average of 7, plus 3). This is a Full Success. And the next two most common results are 11 (another Full Success) and 9 (a Success, But). Suddenly failures are pretty far out of sight. 

    At 2d6+3, your result can no longer be 2, 3, or 4; and 5s and 6s only turn up 3 in 36 rolls. Failed rolls are basically gone, reducing the amount of XP that character will get, and making the game less interesting (failure is interesting, remember). 

  3. That is why the first stat bonus is at 2, or do you mean the jump from 2 to 4?

    The thing with level 10 is that in DW generally your character goes away in some form at 10 anyway, so either way it’s probably not a big deal. 

  4. Thank you Joshua Saville very much for laying all that out. I kinda feel like I hate +3’s now =[. Would it be horrible of me to put a cap of +2 on any one stat. If I gave them out at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 that would give us a spread of +2 +2 +2 +2 +1 -1 or +2 +2 +2 +2 +0 +0. I think I really like this. +3’s really seem like they tip the scales away from fun. Well, decreasing the chances of anyway.

  5. Its not exactly what your saying David Guyll but I like the idea of allowing a +3 for just Constitution. I’m tired as heck right now so I know this should be obvious. But are there any core classes that use CON as their primary stat for moves? For the sake of easy bookkeeping I would award +2 to the STAT for every +1 added.

    Tops this would give somebody starting at +0 or -1 a 6HP to 8HP boost. Then again, in the shoes of a player I think I would rather have +2 in as many stats as possible for the mechanical benefit.  Then again 8HP isn’t exactly chump change.

  6. Joshua Saville +3 is big, for sure, but have you seen it be a problem in practice?

    Even when you are able to use your primary stat, you have a ~40% chance of wrinkles (9-) at a ~90% chance of success (7+). You’ll need to try another move to gain XP, but that seems fairly reasonable for someone working in his expertise without being a riskless instant-win button like d20 games produce.

    The other thing I’d point out is that there are plenty of Advanced Moves based on a 12+ result, and the more you limit access to +3 mods the less you’ll see of those. That’s not inherently a problem, but it’s certainly something to be aware of.

    That said, limiting players to one or two +3s seems totally reasonable. Even if you don’t make a formal rule for it, I imagine most players will end up going that route anyway.

  7. Remember that concentrating on having +3 stats means the players are leaving themselves open to low modifiers on other stats.

    As a GM, this gives you an opportunity to highlight those low stats in play with challenges dangers or problems that are outside their sphere of expertise.

  8. Without trying to sound snarky or elitist, I really think that this debate is flawed, because the “ideal succes/partial/miss” ratio is entirely subjective.

    I do not mind having players roll well, in fact, it only makes it easier to GM. When players miss rolls too often, keeping the game moving can become quite the headache actually.

    People also seem to forget that there almost always is a “cost” associated with rolling partials, and more often than not, it is the partial results that kill people. Look at H&S for example, a partial is actually pretty grievous. Even for Volley, you can only roll so many partials before you are severely limited in your ability to shoot stuff.

    What you need to remember is that you have to set the stakes of a partial / miss according to the capabilities of the hero. If people only ever fight goblins, then the backlash is usually very minor on a partial. Fighting a group of axe-wielding minotaurs with goblin archers as backup is deadly, even if the fighter has a theoretical +4 modifier. He rolls a partial / miss on only on 5 out of 18 rolls, but he’ll take substantial damage.

    Think about it; fight 2 minotaurs at once, backed up by 5 goblins; that’s a potential for taking a devastating d10+7 damage! If you equip the minotaurs with “vicious and obvious armaments”, then they deal d10 + 9 instead. And that’s only the mechanical consequences.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of giving an additional +1 to all characters’ modifiers, just because I find the game immensely more interesting when partial / full success is the norm and a miss an extraordinary result. But as I said, this is entirely subjective. The desired ratio varies from person to person.

  9. I’ve actually toyed with an idea for entirely removing modifiers from the game, I haven’t got a draft for it yet, but I’d use the stats as a “resource” for “buying” modifiers instead.

    If players roll bad, these resources will be exhausted quickly, if they roll well, they won’t. Obviously, this can very well be a terrible idea, but I liked the concept.

  10. Another point to consider; since GM moves are not exclusively tied to die results I don’t have a problem with a +3 modifier. The +3 gives a character a real chance to shine (usually in his field of expertise) and has the side effect of slowing down that character’s level progression (less 6-). 

    I also try to ensure that every character is faced with a variety of rolls during a session and forced to use at least 4 or so different stats. 

  11. To me, it feels like trying to keep PCs off of +3 is going against “be a fan of the characters.” Even with a  +3 bonus, PCs will trigger some kind of move between 1/3 and 1/2 the time. Let the PCs be good at what they’re supposed to be good at. 

  12. Marty H I don’t follow the chance percentage you’re laying down. Not sure how you can have 130% chance of a result on a roll. Could you lay it out for me a different way or with more explanation?

    I agree there are plenty of moves with 12+ results, none of the core books from what I remember though, and any 12+ result that comes to mind is always described as an extraordinary success. I have no problem handing out extraordinary success, as long as somebody has rolled two sixes. Even at a +2 they can roll a 10 on the dice to achieve a 12 and that feels a little cheap to me. Not exactly the same as critical success or failure which is what I think the 12+ moves attempt to emulate.

    Adrian Thoen I agree having lower modifiers on other stats can be something for me to target, but I don’t quite understand how to do that on purpose. Lets say they have a +0 or -1 on INT, WIS, or CHA. Aside from limiting their choices on a Defy Danger roll, how can I really put on pressure for these stats?

    +Kasper I think my point of view has a lot to do with the way I approach 6- and 7-9. In general my soft moves are very soft. Excluding H&S, I am generally setting up a danger with a 7-9, not bringing down the pain. My 6- is where things can go horribly wrong. I feel a +3 makes hard moves super unlikely and even 7-9 soft moves are happening far less frequently. So the though of moving into a 7-9 heavy range confuses me. Either I start heavily mixing in hard moves in the 7-9 range or I rarely ever am able to hand out a hard move. One option changes the game as I perceive it is supposed to work and the other changes the game based on a bad turn of events becoming very unlikely. Maybe I am confused making 6- harder to come by seems like a real game changer to me, and not in a good way.

    John Lewis I am on the verge of introducing a custom XP system that would do away with gaining XP on a 6-. I agree the tradeoff for more power in exchange for slower leveling is a good and strong point. Unfortunately, it will soon not apply to my situation.

    Joshua Slane I do not agree. Be a fan of the characters refers to the fiction, in my mind. Making alterations to the way the game is designed has nothing to do with characters. Rather it affects the laws that govern the world the characters exist within. Besides, removing +3’s seems to increase the chance of drama and story twists. One could make the argument that this improves the chances of fun. If I felt it directly hurt their chances of fun then I would have a very different opinion on the subject.

  13. Marques Jordan If it actually increased their chances for fun, don’t you think the players would choose not to have +3’s, rather than you having to force them not to have it? 

  14. It’s a comparison of when the player succeeds (roll of 7 or more) versus when the DM makes a move (rolls of 9 or less). They don’t total 100% since a roll of 7-9 is counted in both cases.

    My point, as others have made more clearly, is that Joshua Saville  ‘s concern that +3 mods meaning the PCs are safe to enjoy sunshine and umbrella drinks isn’t totally fair. True, they don’t outright FAIL at what they’re doing very often, but they’re still regularly triggering DM moves that complicate the situation and keep things interesting.

  15. Joshua Slane I suppose the more adventurous players might. How many DW players do you think really look at the difference between a +2 and a +3 in terms of story value though? I think most look at it as a pure mechanical number: “+3 is better than +2, +3 it is!.” Just saying =)

  16. First I would like to thank you all. I expected a very different response from you folks when I asked this question. I had no idea it would break down into such a one sided conversation (support for +3). Last night Joshua Saville made a very good argument for why a +3 was overpowered. His stats paint a pretty strong picture backing this up. After so many of you have spoken in favor of the +3 I decided to look over the statistics.


    (58.34%) [21/36] aka 07 in 12 chance of 6-

    (33.33%) [12/36] aka 04 in 12 chance of 7-9

    (08.34%) [03/36] aka 01 in 12 chance of 10+


    (41.67%) [15/36] aka 05 in 12 chance of 6-

    (41.67%) [15/36] aka 05 in 12 chance of 7-9

    (16.67%) [06/36] aka 02 in 12 chance of 10+


    (27.78%) [10/36] aka 05 in 18 chance of 6-

    (44.45%) [16/36] aka 08 in 18 chance of 7-9

    (27.78%) [10/36] aka 05 in 18 chance of 10+


    (16.67%) [06/36] aka 02 in 12 chance of 6-

    (41.67%) [15/36] aka 05 in 12 chance of 7-9

    (41.67%) [15/36] aka 05 in 12 chance of 10+


    (08.34%) [03/36] aka 01 in 12 chance of 6-

    (33.33%) [12/36] aka 04 in 12 chance of 7-9

    (58.34%) [21/36] aka 07 in 12 chance of 10+

    In a nutshell it breaks down pretty easily like this:

    2d6-1: 91.67% chance of complications, 08.34% of pure success.

    2d6+0: 83.34% chance of complications, 16.67% of pure success.

    2d6+1: 72.23% chance of complications, 27.78% of pure success.

    2d6+2: 58.34% chance of complications, 41.67% of pure success.

    2d6+3: 41.67% chance of complications, 58.34% of pure success.

    While a +3 is hardly game breaking in terms of how often success happens, the fact that there is only a 1 in 12 chance of a hard move happening is troubling to me. I’m still troubled that a +2 only increases chances to 2 in 12. I think my biggest concern here is definitely about making hard moves vs a player being too capable.

    What are your guys thoughts on this lack of hard moves? Do you think it is an issue or do you mix hard moves in with the 7-9 results? I’m under the impression hard moves are reserved for 6- results.

  17. You only lack for hard moves only if your players only ever roll the stat that they’re best at. Use soft moves to provoke them to roll things they’re weak at or take the consequences. 

    The prince has heard that Fighty McFighterson slew the dragon and wishes to hear about it from the horse’s mouth, not from the bard’s mouth. Defy Danger + chr. 


  18. When it’s the GM’s turn to make a move, they can make as hard a move as they like. It doesn’t mean you have to short change your players on their successes, but you can keep the danger lethal.

    Like Joshua Slane  said, you can present opportunities for characters to roll one of their weaker stats too. Dungeon world isn’t the Roll+Str or Roll+Dex show.

  19. My issues with the +3 situation comes back to my original question. I want to hand out +1 at levels 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. If I do this a player could end up with +3 +3 +3 +0 +0 -1 for their modifiers.

    This means half of the stats/actions in the game operate at the “41.67% chance of complications, 58.34% of pure success” zone. This is the only reason I’m carefully considering how I handle +3’s in my game.

    I was/am curious to know if this is overkill or if you guys thing three +3 stats will probably be just fine. If these were on STR, DEX, and CON you could have a veritable killing machine on your hands, rarely missing any attack they make (8.67% chance), having higher than average hit points, and able to Defend like nobodies business.

    Should I consider limiting it to one or two +3’s?

    Starting Value: +2 +1 +1 +0 +0 -1

    One plus three: +3 +2 +2 +2 +0 -1

    Two plus three: +3 +3 +2 +1 +0 -1

    No Limit At All: +3 +3 +3 +0 +0 -1

    None Allowed: +2 +2 +2 +2 +1 -1

  20. You could enforce a more diverse spread by doing the following:


    When you reach a milestone level of level 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, in addition to gaining an advanced move, choose one of the below and mark it off. You may not choose that option next time you reach a milestone level.

    Advance a stat from +1 to +2

    Advance a stat from 0 to +1

    Advance a stat from -1 to 0

    Advance a stat from 0 to +1

    Advance a stat from +2 to +3

    I think 5 increases is a lot, I’d probably have only 4 increases.

  21. I’m doing what the game already allows but giving players the ability to modify what they like. If you systematize how points are distributed per level for maximum gain you could increase stats five times:

    Level 2: increase lowest stat (8) by 1 (mods: -1 goes to +0)

    Level 3: increase secondary stat (15) by 1 (+1 to +2)

    Level 4: increase third lowest stat (12) by 1 (+0 to +1)

    Level 5+6: increase primary stat (16) by 2 (+2 to +3)

    Level 7+8: increase secondary stat (15+1) by 2 (+2 to +3)

    However, I do like your approach. I’m just not sure I want to constrain players to a given spread of stat points. I feel like I’m robbing them of a choice that should be their. To give them free agency but prevent them from getting a +3 at level 2, I could either reserve the +3 for level 8 or 10. I plan on having my +10 characters around a while so I’m not worried about shortchanging them by instituting this.

    Good food for thought. Thank you Adrian Thoen!

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