Ability Scores

Table 2-1: Ability Score Costs

Score Points
7 –4
8 –2
9 –1
10 0
11 1
12 2
13 3
14 5
15 7
16 10
17 13
18 17

Ability scores represent a character’s most basic attributes. They are his raw talent and prowess. While a character rarely rolls a check using just his ability score, these scores, and the modifiers they create, affect nearly every other aspect of a character’s skills and abilities. Ability scores for characters generally range from 3 to 18, although racial bonuses and penalties can alter this, and the average of any score is 10.

Table 2–2: Total Points

Campaign Type Points
Low Fantasy 10
Standard Fantasy 15
High Fantasy 20
Epic Fantasy 25

Determine Bonuses

Each ability, after changes made because of race, has a modifier ranging from –5 to +5. Table 2–3 shows the modifier for each score. It also shows bonus spells, which you’ll need to know about if your character is a spellcaster.

The modifier is the number you apply to the die roll when your character tries to do something related to that ability. You also use the modif ier with some numbers that aren’t die rolls. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.

Abilities and Spellcasters

The ability that governs bonus spells depends on what type of spellcaster your character is: Intelligence for wizards, Wisdom for clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers, or Charisma for sorcerers and bards. In addition to having a high ability score, a spellcaster must be of a high enough class level to be able to cast spells of a given spell level. See the class descriptions for details.

Table 2–3: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells

Bonus Spells (by Spell Level)
Score Modifier 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1 –5 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
2–3 –4 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
4–5 –3 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
6–7 –2 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
8–9 –1 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
10–11 0
12-13 1 1
14–15 2 1 1
16–17 3 1 1 1
18–19 4 1 1 1 1
20–21 5 2 1 1 1 1
22–23 6 2 2 1 1 1 1
24–25 7 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
26–27 8 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
28–29 9 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
30–31 10 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
32–33 11 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1
34–35 12 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
36–37 13 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
38–39 14 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2
40–41 15 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2
42–43 16 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2
44–45 17 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3

The Abilities

Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of his actions.

Strength (STR)

Strength measures your character’s muscle and physical power. This ability is especially important for those who engage in hand-to-hand (or “melee”) combat, such as fighters, monks, paladins, and some rangers. Strength also determines the maximum amount of equipment your character can carry.

You apply your character’s Strength modifier to:
• Melee attack rolls.
• Damage rolls when using a melee weapon or a thrown weapon (including a sling). (Exceptions: Off-hand attacks receive only half the character’s Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks receive one-and-a-half times the Strength bonus. A Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies to attacks made with a bow that is not a composite bow.)
• Climb and Swim checks. These are the skills that have Strength as their key ability.
• Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).

Dexerity (DEX)

Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, but it’s also high on the list for characters who typically wear light or medium armor (rangers and barbarians) or no armor at all (monks, wizards, and sorcerers). This ability is vital for characters seeking to excel at ranged weapons, such as the bow or sling.

You apply your character’s Dexterity modifier to:
• Ranged attack rolls, including those for attacks made with bows, crossbows, throwing axes, and other ranged weapons.
• Armor Class (AC), provided that the character can react to the attack.
• Reflex saving throws, for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly.
• Acrobatics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks. These are the skills that have Dexterity as their key ability.

Constitution (CON)

Constitution represents your character’s health and stamina. A Constitution bonus increases a character’s hit points, so the ability is important for all classes. Some creatures, such as undead and constructs, do not have a Constitution score.

You apply your character’s Constitution modifier to:
• Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result below 1—that is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each time he advances in level).
• Fortitude saving throws, for resisting poison, disease, and similar threats.

If a character’s Constitution score changes enough to alter his or her Constitution modifier, the character’s hit points also increase or decrease accordingly.

Intelligence (INT)

Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for wizards because it affects how many spells they can cast, how hard their spells are to resist, and how powerful their spells can be. It’s also important for any character who wants to have a wide assortment of skills.

You apply your character’s Intelligence modifier to:
• The number of languages your character knows at the start of the game.
• The number of skill points gained each level, though your character always gets at least 1 skill point per level.
• Appraise, Craft, Knowledge, Linguistics, and Spellcraft checks. These are the skills that have Intelligence as their key ability.

A wizard gains bonus spells based on his Intelligence score. The minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the spell’s level.
An animal has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2. A creature of humanlike intelligence has a score of at least 3.

Wisdom (WIS)

Wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, awareness, and intuition. While Intelligence represents one’s ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and conscious of one’s surroundings. Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score.

You apply your character’s Wisdom modifier to:
• Will saving throws (for negating the effects of charm person and other spells).
• Heal, Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, and Survival checks. These are the skills that have Wisdom as their key ability.

Clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers get bonus spells based on their Wisdom scores. The minimum Wisdom score needed to cast a cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger spell is 10 + the spell’s level.

Charisma (CHA)

Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one is perceived by others in a social setting. Charisma is the most important ability for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to channel energy. Every creature has a Charisma score.

You apply your character’s Charisma modifier to:
• Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device checks. These are the skills that have Charisma as their key ability.
• Checks that represent attempts to influence others.
• Channel energy difficulty classes (DC) for clerics and paladins attempting to turn zombies, vampires, and other undead.

Sorcerers and bards get bonus spells based on their Charisma scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a sorcerer or bard spell is 10 + the spell’s level.