D&D Ability Score Dissection


What’s this? Another post on attributes. Yeah sorry, I’m sick, I’m tired, and I am somewhat confused. We’ll see how long that goes on, and I’m sorry if I accidentally write something stupid. But now: attributes!

Cutting Up the Attributes

Sometimes (cough, cough) I have a problem with how D&D works. Today it’s about the ability scores (attributes), more specifically for 5th edition. There’s six of them, let’s have a look at what they do.


  • Adds a bonus to melee hit rolls.
  • Increases melee damage.
  • Increases the amount you can lift.
  • Adds to one skill (Athletics).
  • Increases an uncommon saving throw.


  • Adds to ranged hit rolls.
  • Increases ranged attack damage.
  • Adds to finesse weapon hit rolls.
  • Increases finesse weapon damage.
  • Increases AC (defense score).
  • Adds to three skills.
  • Increases initiative (go first in combat).
  • Increases a useful saving throw.


  • Increases hit points (health).
  • Increases a useful saving throw.


  • Adds to five skills.
  • Increases an uncommon saving throw.
  • Used by some spellcasters.


  • Adds to five skills.
  • Increases a useful saving throw.
  • Used by some spellcasters.


  • Adds to four skills.
  • Increases an uncommon saving throw.
  • Used by some spellcasters.

Now then, let’s begin with the mental attributes, and, if we ignore what type of spellcasters use them, they seem reasonbly equal. Wisdom is probably the strongest one, based on saves and which skills the attributes modify. But it’s probably the attribute that makes the least sense to me. It includes common sense, willpower, perception, and the ability to commune with gods. This feels somewhat lika a hodgepodge mix to me. Maybe it was made to fill up a hole in what attributes represented. And on the physical attribute side, dexterity just seems plain stronger than strength (unless you are a barbarian and/or are using two-handed weapons). Now how could one try to steer up these (mostly working) attributes?

Well… I’ll just do some silly stuff and we’ll see what happens. What’s there to spread on the stats?

  • Melee and ranged attacks
  • AC (defense)
  • Saving throws (6 different ATM)
  • Skills (18 in the game)
  • Spell casting… perhaps
  • Hit Points
  • Initiative
  • Carrying Capacity
  • 5 + 3 + 9 + 18 + 3 + 2

Have I missed anything? Let’s try a four attribute method, maybe?

“Physique” (Strength + Constitution)

  • Melee attack hit and damage.
  • Hit point bonus.
  • Increase 1 skill
  • Save vs. physical effects (str&con)
  • Lifting ability

“Agility” (Dexterity)

  • Ranged attack hit and damage
  • AC bonus
  • Increase 3 skills
  • Save vs. fast things (dex)

“Cunning” (Intelligence + 1/2 Wisdom)

  • Increase 9 skills
  • Initiative bonus
  • Save vs. confusion? (Int)

“Presence” (Charisma + 1/2 Wisdom)

  • Increase 5 skills
  • Save vs. scary and stuff (wis&cha)

I probably have to move some skills (2, actually) from Cunning to Presence to balance out, but it probably work if you don’t mind having fewer attributes. Now… let’s do it the other way around! More stats!


  • Melee attack hit and damage
  • Lifting ability / encumbrance
  • Weak saving throw (str)
  • 1 skill


  • Hit points
  • Strong saving throw (con)


  • 3 skills
  • Ranged attack hit and damage


  • AC
  • Strong saving throw (dex)


  • 5 skills


  • 3 skills
  • Initiative


  • Strong saving throw (wis)
  • Weak saving throw  (cha)
  • Weak saving throw (int)
  • 1 skill


  • 5 skills

Now… I think both of these approaches should work decently. Why did I do this when I could just start over? In case someone wants to house rule their 5e a bit. And the 8-stat one is similar to the one I used in my own only 5e campaign, which was ridiculously house ruled. But this is part of a random thought of reworking DnD until it isn’t even DnD anymore. We’ll see if I ever get to that, and if I create an alternate 6-stat system.

Not sure I’ll keep up the a-post-per-day rate, but I’ll try to drop some each week at least. But now… It’s late and I’m sick. I’m out.


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