I’ve been thinking about an alternative ruleset for Ability Scores & Modifiers.

I’ve been thinking about an alternative ruleset for Ability Scores & Modifiers.

I’ve been thinking about an alternative ruleset for Ability Scores & Modifiers.

Specifically, simplifying them by replacing the Ability Score with a simple modifier. It would look like this:

Playbooks would have example scores as they do now, but with pure modifiers and no stat numbers. They would pick one stat with +2, two with +1, two with +0, and one with -1.

To calculate HP: Each class gets 12 HP as default, they then add their class limit + 2 x their CON.

So a Barbarian would have 12+8+4, or 24.

Players would add +1 to any stat every odd level up.

Curious as to any thoughts y’all might have about the overall idea. Thanks!

PS: I’m aware this isn’t a particularly original idea; if there is a DW-specific version of this ruleset out there, I’d love to see it! Thanks.

17 thoughts on “I’ve been thinking about an alternative ruleset for Ability Scores & Modifiers.”

  1. William Nichols of course, but I like the D&D-style attributes, and there are some DW-specific problems that I thought needed addressing if I changed the stat blocks in this way.

  2. Yochai Gal, the biggest difference I see is in the HP afforded by the granular Constitution rather than the much less granular CON.

    Here’s a link to a spreadsheet I used to compare the totals:

    docs.google.com – Stat mod comparison

    There’s a fairly large variance in the + 0 tier. The player of a Wizard may choose 12 for Constitution to get a slightly higher HP than if he chose 9 (both give + 0 CON), but doing so with your method causes no change in HP. That may not be a concern for you and your players though, it’s up to you.

    I just feel the granularity of statistic over STAT offers more variation and customization.

  3. Thanks, Brian Holland this is very helpful. I had the most trouble with CON/HP in coming up with this. Do you have any suggestions on how to balance it a little? Maybe taking a cue from D&D 5e and giving classes specific bonuses (or subtractions) to even things out a bit? Or perhaps adjusting the x2 CON a bit…?

  4. IDK, I’ll think about it on the way home from work. The variance may not be that big a deal. I only used Wizard in my example because IMO a Wizard cares more about “a slightly higher HP” than other classes.

  5. I’ve thought about this too, one idea had for dealing with leveling up modifiers is that instead of tying that to Level&XP you’d tie it to the rolls as well. Something like every time you roll a 10+ with a particular modifier you get a mod point. E.g. when you have 6 STR points gain +1 STR. It’s a bit more book keeping (would be better with a playbook designed to support it). How you determine the number of mod points you need to increase could be tuned in a lot of different ways. I think something like lvl+sum(all modifiers) could be good.

  6. The other thing to consider is whether bonus increases every other level is equivalent (or close enough) to ability score increases every level.

    The RAW approach encourages a lot of “shoring up” of weaker abilities and become more well-rounded. Three stats start within 1 point of a stat bump, meaning you could get a +1 bonus increase each of your first 3 levels. E.g.:

    @ 2nd level: 8 (-1) >> 9 (+0)

    @ 3rd level: 12 (+0) >> 13 (+1)

    @ 4th level: 15 (+1) >> 16 (+2)

    And this is pretty common, in my experience. Players get burned by a low stat once or twice, and they want to shore it up. And, it’s a lot more immediately gratifying to get the stat bump than to get 1/2 way (or less) to a stat bump.

    With your revision (stat bump every odd level), I’d have to wait until level 7 (!) to get the same amount of well-rounded increases. And I’m way, way more likely to turn my +2 into a +3 instead of one of those other improvements, because it costs the same as increasing one of my lower stats.

    If you carry it all the way to level 10, the “optimum” stat increase (RAW) would be the 3 examples above, and then:

    @ 5th level: 16 (+2) >> 17 (+2)

    @ 6th level: 17 (+2) >> 18 (+3)

    @ 7th level: other 16 (+2) >> 17 (+2)

    @ 8th level: 17 (+2) >> 18 (+3)

    And then your stats are 18, 18, 13, 13, 9, 9. Levels 9 and 10 just increase a stat, but not a bonus, because nothing is within 2 points of a stat increase. (Note: you can’t ever get more than two stats to +3 in RAW).

    Which means you get 5 stat bumps over the course of your career in RAW, compared to 4 in “every odd level” (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th).

    So… if you want to get the same basic effect, I think you’d want something like:

    “Increase a stat by +1 every EVEN level. At level 2, you can’t increase any stat past +2. At level 4 and beyond, you can’t increase any stat past +3. You can never have more than two stats at +3.”

    This gets you the same 5 stat bonuses, the same “rounding out” on your first stat bump, and the same “can’t get a +3 at level 2” dynamic, and the same “only two +3s” limit as RAW.

  7. Jeremy Strandberg I see your point; I’m going to incorporate these “rules” around stat/level limits, and the Even level adjustments. Is it a bad thing to add rules for balance, though? I suppose it isn’t that much more complicated, and the rules only come up every other level.

  8. Is it a bad thing to add rules for balance, though?

    The limitations I described are certainly inelegant, I’ll grant that. And you could certainly drop them. But you’d have to judge the consequences and decide whether the fiddly limits were worth it.

    Not having them would mean:

    * You could (and I’d guess that you often would) see +3 stats as of 2nd level (with the other stats at +1, +1, +0, +0, and -1 until 4th level).

    * It’d be possible to get 3x +3 stats by 10th level (with the others are +0, +0, and -1).

    I think the game “sings” when stats are +1 or +2, so I’m wary of those possibilities. You might not care!

  9. It is really tempting to want to get rid of the ability scores and just run with modifiers, since they often confuse players new to RP and they don’t seem to do a lot in Dungeon World. Granted, they are fairly vestigial, and I’d love to play without them myself.

    I think the reason that this is a slightly more complex change than, for instance, swapping alignment with drive is that it’s tied into how leveling up works, which causes some number issues.

    The best advice I would have for this would be to check out how it’s done in “The Sprawl” which is a modifiers only system. Leveling up means picking from a suite of advancement options, one of which is to bump a modifier. For DW, I think you could simply add the option to bump a modifier of your choice at fixed level benchmarks, or to do it on any level up at the cost of taking a new move.

  10. I wonder if you could do something clever by tying stat advances to specific advanced moves. Make each advanced move on the playbook also nominate an associated stat; for every two advanced moves you pick associated with the same stat, get +1 to that stat’s modifier. Balance each class’ advanced move list so the associated stats are spread around and you can’t just spike the class’ “prime requisite”. The whole “level 2-5” and “level 6+” restrictions would also help spread things out.

    OTOH it might bias advance move selection in a way that wouldn’t be fun in play. Also, it would require a fair amount of customisation work on every playbook.

  11. Eamon Mulholland that’s an interesting idea; sort of like creating a move specifically for advancing ability scores.

    Robert Rendell it sounds like you have a similar idea, which would of course require changing every playbook – might be a lot of work!

    If anything, this discussion has taught me to respect the current Ability Score RAW more than I did before…

  12. Ive been messing with WoD rules in regards to this. To be honest. The more i play the less i like leveling up modifiers. It really has nothing to do with the challange and difficulty of monsters, quests and adventure.

    Ive been having the adventures have set STATs for life. Unless the fiction changes it.

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