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D&D/Pathfinder repurposed: Variant attribute rules

Updated on November 20, 2010

House-ruling the attribute rules

I've always felt, on my journey from 4th Edition D&D through to Pathfinder, that something was somehow... wrong in the allocation of attribute modifiers and bonuses.

Here's how I think things should pan out - comments appreciated:

RPG attributes: A different perspective.

STRENGTH represents, in my mind, a character's physical muscle mass - thus also encompassing "toughness" as well as "strength". More muscular characters can deal more damage, carry more and condition their bodies to resist injury - but why do they have a greater chance of hitting in melee combat?

  • STR modifier is added to melee / bow damage rolls as standard, but not to attack rolls.
  • Rules for carrying capacity remain unchanged.
  • New Feat: Body Conditioning. Characters with STR 14+ may take this feat (once only) to gain DR 1/non-melee attacks. These characters have learned how to tense and relax their not-inconsiderable muscles to deflect, or minimise the damage caused by, blows in combat.

CONSTITUTION represents a character's vitality and health, as opposed to "toughness".

  • CON remains the base attribute for Fortitude saves, and modifies HP as normal.
  • New Feat: Hearty Constitution. Characters with CON 14+ may take this feat (once only) to increase their natural healing rate by 50%. This does not affect magical healing or their ability to heal others.

DEXTERITY represents reflexes and manual precision, and should therefore modify all attack rolls, not just ranged ones. I feel that being quick on your feet should not affect your initiative in combat, as there are other factors to consider as to who gets the edge over whom.

  • DEX bonus is applied to all attack rolls - removing the "need" for finesse weapons and feats - and to Reflex saves as normal.
  • DEX is no longer used to modify Initiative bonuses, except through the use of:
  • New Feat: Fast Reactions: Characters with DEX 14+ may take this feat (once only) to gain a +1 insight bonus to their Initiative. This does not apply if the character is surprised, unless they pass a Reflex save with a DC of 10 + (highest) opponent's Initiative bonus.

INTELLIGENCE represents reasoning, problem solving, and the capacity to learn. I feel that INT is under-represented, and only considered to be of use to arcane spellcasters and crafters.

  • INT bonus is applied to skill points etc. as normal.
  • New Feat: Canny Combatant. Characters with INT 14+ may take this feat (once only) to gain a +1 insight bonus to their BAB. While this bonus represents the character observing the movements of her enemy and considering her strikes more carefully, the DM may rule that it does not apply when facing particularly outlandish or hard-to-read opponents.

WISDOM represents common sense, experience and level-headedness. Generally, I think WIS is well used - but should also form the base for combat Initiative rolls as experience and awareness should contribute more to tactical advantage than physical speed.

  • WIS modifier is now applied to characters' Initiative bonus instead of DEX.
  • Will saves no longer rely on WIS, for reasons detailed below...
  • New Feat: Situational Awareness. Characters with WIS 14+ may take this feat (once only) to gain a +1 insight bonus to any two of their saves, chosen when the feat is taken.

CHARISMA is, I feel, another under-represented stat. To my mind, CHA represents not just a character's likeability but their sense of self, their confidence and their self-belief. As such, CHA should be used as the base for Will saves as self-doubting characters are more easily swayed.

  • CHA is now the base attribute for Will saves, instead of WIS.
  • New Feat: Not Dead Yet: Characters with CHA of 14+ may take this feat (once only) to gain a +1 situation bonus to stabilisation rolls and death saves, representing their steely refusal to let themselves slip off the mortal plane.


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    • deltamonk profile image

      deltamonk 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Earl, your stuff - particularly the adventure seeds - is pretty cool too...

      This is just the start of a project for my own setting for 3.5/PF, alignment and race modifications are in the pipeline too, so watch this space!

    • Earl S. Wynn profile image

      Earl S. Wynn 7 years ago from California

      You are awesome. I'm going to check out the rest of your hubs now (I found this through the hopper.) :)