Ability Scores

Ability Scores

Generating Ability Scores
Determine Bonuses
Abilities and Spellcasters

The Abilities

Strength (Str) (Carrying Capacity)
Dexterity (Dex)
Constitution (Con)
Intelligence (Int)
Wisdom (Wis)
Charisma (Cha)

Ability Score Bonuses

Ability Score Damage
Ability Score Penalties
Ability Score Drain

Ability Scores

Each character has six ability scores that represent his character's most basic attributes. They are his raw talent and prowess. While a character rarely rolls a check using just an ability score, these scores, and the modifiers they create, affect nearly every aspect of a character's skills and abilities. Each ability score generally ranges from 3 to 18, although racial bonuses and penalties can alter this; an average ability score is 10.

Table: 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
Table: Ability Score Points
Campaign Type Points
Low Fantasy 10
Standard Fantasy 15
High Fantasy 20
Epic Fantasy 25

Generating Ability Scores

There are a number of different methods used to generate ability scores. Each of these methods gives a different level of flexibility and randomness to character generation.

Racial modifiers (adjustments made to your ability scores due to your character's race—see Races) are applied after the scores are generated.

Standard: Roll 4d6, discard the lowest die result, and add the three remaining results together. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is less random than Classic and tends to create characters with above-average ability scores.

Classic: Roll 3d6 and add the dice together. Record this total and repeat the process until you generate six numbers. Assign these results to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is quite random, and some characters will have clearly superior abilities. This randomness can be taken one step further, with the totals applied to specific ability scores in the order they are rolled. Characters generated using this method are difficult to fit to predetermined concepts, as their scores might not support given classes or personalities, and instead are best designed around their ability scores.

Heroic: Roll 2d6 and add 6 to the sum of the dice. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This is less random than the Standard method and generates characters with mostly above-average scores.

Dice Pool: Each character has a pool of 24d6 to assign to his statistics. Before the dice are rolled, the player selects the number of dice to roll for each score, with a minimum of 3d6 for each ability. Once the dice have been assigned, the player rolls each group and totals the result of the three highest dice. For more high-powered games, the GM should increase the total number of dice to 28. This method generates characters of a similar power to the Standard method.

Purchase: Each character receives a number of points to spend on increasing his basic attributes. In this method, all attributes start at a base of 10. A character can increase an individual score by spending some of his points. Likewise, he can gain more points to spend on other scores by decreasing one or more of his ability scores. No score can be reduced below 7 or raised above 18 using this method. See Table: Ability Score Costs for the costs of each score. After all the points are spent, apply any racial modifiers the character might have.

The number of points you have to spend using the purchase method depends on the type of campaign you are playing. The standard value for a character is 15 points. Average nonplayer characters (NPCs) are typically built using as few as 3 points. See Table: Ability Score Points for a number of possible point values depending on the style of campaign. The purchase method emphasizes player choice and creates equally balanced characters.

Click on the button in the box below for the number of points you are able to spend on Ability Scores. The content in the box below is hosted off-site. Click here to email the developer or click here to open this in a new window.

Determine Bonuses

Each ability, after changes made because of race, has a modifier ranging from –5 to +5. Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells shows the modifier for each score. 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 modifier with some numbers that aren't die rolls. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty. The table also shows bonus spells, which you'll need to know about if your character is a spellcaster.

Abilities and Spellcasters

Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells
Ability Score Bonus Spells per Day (by Spell Level)
Modifier 0th 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
Table: Carrying Capacity
Strength Score Light Load Medium Load Heavy Load
1 3 lbs. or less 4–6 lbs. 7–10 lbs.
2 6 lbs. or less 7–13 lbs. 14–20 lbs.
3 10 lbs. or less 11–20 lbs. 21–30 lbs.
4 13 lbs. or less 14–26 lbs. 27–40 lbs.
5 16 lbs. or less 17–33 lbs. 34–50 lbs.
6 20 lbs. or less 21–40 lbs. 41–60 lbs.
7 23 lbs. or less 24–46 lbs. 47–70 lbs.
8 26 lbs. or less 27–53 lbs. 54–80 lbs.
9 30 lbs. or less 31–60 lbs. 61–90 lbs.
10 33 lbs. or less 34–66 lbs. 67–100 lbs.
11 38 lbs. or less 39–76 lbs. 77–115 lbs.
12 43 lbs. or less 44–86 lbs. 87–130 lbs.
13 50 lbs. or less 51–100 lbs. 101–150 lbs.
14 58 lbs. or less 59–116 lbs. 117–175 lbs.
15 66 lbs. or less 67–133 lbs. 134–200 lbs.
16 76 lbs. or less 77–153 lbs. 154–230 lbs.
17 86 lbs. or less 87–173 lbs. 174–260 lbs.
18 100 lbs. or less 101–200 lbs. 201–300 lbs.
19 116 lbs. or less 117–233 lbs. 234–350 lbs.
20 133 lbs. or less 134–266 lbs. 267–400 lbs.
21 153 lbs. or less 154–306 lbs. 307–460 lbs.
22 173 lbs. or less 174–346 lbs. 347–520 lbs.
23 200 lbs. or less 201–400 lbs. 401–600 lbs.
24 233 lbs. or less 234–466 lbs. 467–700 lbs.
25 266 lbs. or less 267–533 lbs. 534–800 lbs.
26 306 lbs. or less 307–613 lbs. 614–920 lbs.
27 346 lbs. or less 347–693 lbs. 694–1,040 lbs.
28 400 lbs. or less 401–800 lbs. 801–1,200 lbs.
29 466 lbs. or less 467–933 lbs. 934–1,400 lbs.
+10 ×4 ×4 ×4

The ability that governs bonus spells depends on what type of spellcaster your character is: Intelligence for wizards; Wisdom for clerics, druids, and rangers; and Charisma for bards, paladins, and sorcerers. 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 in Classes for details.

The Abilities

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

Strength (Str)

See Carrying Capacity for details on lifting and dragging.

Strength measures muscle and physical power. This ability is important for those who engage in hand-to-hand (or “melee”) combat, such as fighters, monks, paladins, and some rangers. Strength also sets the maximum amount of weight your character can carry. A character with a Strength score of 0 is too weak to move in any way and is unconscious. Some creatures do not possess a Strength score and have no modifier at all to Strength-based skills or checks.

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 1–1/2 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.
  • Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).

Your Strength score determines your characters carrying capacity.

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Strength score give you a bonus on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The bonus also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and to your Combat Maneuver Defense.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Damage: Damage to your Strength score causes you to take penalties on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The Ability Damage penalty also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and your Combat Maneuver Defense. See Ability Score Damage below.

Dexterity (Dex)

Dexterity measures agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, but it's also useful for characters who wear light or medium armor or no armor at all. This ability is vital for characters seeking to excel with ranged weapons, such as the bow or sling. A character with a Dexterity score of 0 is incapable of moving and is effectively immobile (but not unconscious).

You apply your character's Dexterity modifier to:

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Dexterity score give you a bonus on Dexterity-based skill checks, Ranged attack rolls, initiative checks, and Reflex saving throws. The bonus also applies to your Armor Class, your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Tiny or smaller), and your Combat Maneuver Defense.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Damage: Damage to your Dexterity score causes you to take penalties on Dexterity-based skill checks, ranged attack rolls, initiative checks, and Reflex saving throws. The Ability Damage penalty also applies to your Armor Class, your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Tiny or smaller), and to your Combat Maneuver Defense.  See Ability Score Damage below.

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. Their modifier is +0 for any Constitution-based checks. A character with a Constitution score of 0 is dead.

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.

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Constitution score give you a bonus on your Fortitude saving throws. In addition, multiply your total Hit Dice by this bonus and add that amount to your current and total hit points. When the bonus ends, remove this total from your current and total hit points.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Damage: Damage to your Constitution score causes you to take penalties on your Fortitude saving throws. In addition, multiply your total Hit Dice by the Ability Damage penalty and subtract that amount from your current and total hit points. Lost hit points are restored when the damage to your Constitution is healed.  See Ability Score Damage below.

Notes:

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for wizards because it affects their spellcasting ability in many ways. Creatures of animal-level instinct have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Any creature capable of understanding speech has a score of at least 3. A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is comatose. Some creatures do not possess an Intelligence score. Their modifier is +0 for any Intelligence-based skills or checks.

You apply your character's Intelligence modifier to:

  • The number of bonus languages your character knows at the start of the game. These are in addition to any starting racial languages and Common. If you have a penalty, you can still read and speak your racial languages unless your Intelligence is lower than 3.
  • 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.

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.

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Intelligence score give you a bonus on Intelligence-based skill checks. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Intelligence.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

FAQ

If I wear a headband of vast intelligence, do I get retroactive skill ranks for my Int increase in addition to the skill ranks associated with the item?

No. The skill associated with the magic item represents the "retroactive" skill ranks you'd get from the item increasing your Intelligence. You don't get the item's built-in skill ranks and another set to assign however you want.

[Source]

Unofficial Board Post

"All bonuses are retroactive when an ability score increases, be they bonuses to damage, to skill ranks, to hit points, to saves, to skill checks... all of them. Skill ranks not being retroactive are a 3.5 convention we specifically removed from the game because it was a weird exception to the rule, and since now there are no exceptions to this rule, there's no need to specifically state that skill ranks are retroactively granted if your Intelligence goes up."

[James Jacobs]

Ability Damage: Damage to your Intelligence score causes you to take penalties on Intelligence-based skill checks. The Ability Damage penalty also applies to any spell DCs based on Intelligence.  See Ability Score Damage below.

Notes:

  • Animals have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2 (no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal).
  • Oozes do not have an Intelligence score, and as such they have immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). An ooze with an Intelligence score loses this trait.
  • Regular plants, such as one finds growing in gardens and fields, lack Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores; even though plants are alive, they are objects, not creatures.
  • Vermin do not have an Intelligence score, and as such they have immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). Mindless creatures have no feats or skills. A vermin-like creature with an Intelligence score is usually either an animal or a magical beast, depending on its other abilities.

Wisdom (Wis)

Wisdom describes a character's willpower, common sense, awareness, and intuition. Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for monks and rangers. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score. A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious.

You apply your character's Wisdom modifier to:

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

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Wisdom score give you a bonus on Wisdom-based skill checks and Will saving throws. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Wisdom.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Damage: Damage to your Wisdom score causes you to take penalties on Wisdom-based skill checks and Will saving throws. The Ability Damage penalty also applies to any spell DCs based on Wisdom.  See Ability Score Damage below.

Notes:

  • Regular plants, such as one finds growing in gardens and fields, lack Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores; even though plants are alive, they are objects, not creatures.

Charisma (Cha)

Charisma measures a character's personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance. It is the most important ability for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to channel energy. For undead creatures, Charisma is a measure of their unnatural “lifeforce.” Every creature has a Charisma score. A character with a Charisma score of 0 is not able to exert himself in any way and is unconscious.

You apply your character's Charisma modifier to:

Bards, paladins, and sorcerers gain a number of bonus spells based on their Charisma scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a bard, paladin, or sorcerer spell is 10 + the spell's level.

Temporary Bonuses: Temporary increases to your Charisma score give you a bonus on Charisma-based skill checks. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Charisma.

Permanent Bonuses: Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics as appropriate. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Damage: Damage to your Charisma score causes you to take penalties on Charisma-based skill checks. The Ability Damage penalty also applies to any spell DCs based off Charisma and the DC to resist your channeled energy.  See Ability Score Damage below.

Notes:

  • Regular plants, such as one finds growing in gardens and fields, lack Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores; even though plants are alive, they are objects, not creatures.

Ability Score Bonuses

Some spells and abilities increase your ability scores. Ability score increases with a duration of 1 day or less give only temporary bonuses. For every two points of increase to a single ability, apply a +1 bonus to the skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability.

FAQ

Do Temporary Ability Score Increases affect the DCs of monster and PC supernatural abilities based on those ability scores?

Although the description of temporarily ability score bonuses just refers to increasing spell DCs, that is a legacy of some older game terminology not being updated as new features were added to the rules. Temporary ability score increases should affect supernatural ability DCs based on those ability scores, such as a medusa's gaze attack or a witch's hexes.

[Source]

Temporary Bonuses

Strength: Temporary increases to your Strength score give you a bonus on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The bonus also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and to your Combat Maneuver Defense.

Dexterity: Temporary increases to your Dexterity score give you a bonus on Dexterity-based skill checks, ranged attack rolls, initiative checks, and Reflex saving throws. The bonus also applies to your Armor Class, your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Tiny or smaller), and your Combat Maneuver Defense.

Constitution: Temporary increases to your Constitution score give you a bonus on your Fortitude saving throws. In addition, multiply your total Hit Dice by this bonus and add that amount to your current and total hit points. When the bonus ends, remove this total from your current and total hit points.

Intelligence: Temporary increases to your Intelligence score give you a bonus on Intelligence-based skill checks. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Intelligence.

Wisdom: Temporary increases to your Wisdom score give you a bonus on Wisdom-based skill checks and Will saving throws. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Wisdom.

Charisma: Temporary increases to your Charisma score give you a bonus on Charisma-based skill checks. This bonus also applies to any spell DCs based on Charisma and the DC to resist your channeled energy.

Permanent Bonuses

Ability bonuses with a duration greater than 1 day actually increase the relevant ability score after 24 hours. Modify all skills and statistics related to that ability. This might cause you to gain skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. These bonuses should be noted separately in case they are removed.

Ability Score Damage

Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

For every 2 points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a –1 penalty to skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability. If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die. Unless otherwise noted, damage to your ability scores is healed at the rate of 1 per day to each ability score that has been damaged. Ability damage can be healed through the use of spells, such as lesser restoration.

Strength: Damage to your Strength score causes you to take penalties on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The penalty also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and your Combat Maneuver Defense. A character with a Strength score of 0 is too weak to move in any way and is unconscious. Some creatures do not possess a Strength score and have no modifier at all to Strength-based skills or checks.

Dexterity: Damage to your Dexterity score causes you to take penalties on Dexterity-based skill checks, ranged attack rolls, initiative checks, and Reflex saving throws. The penalty also applies to your Armor Class, your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Tiny or smaller), and to your Combat Maneuver Defense. A character with a Dexterity score of 0 is incapable of moving and is effectively immobile (but not unconscious).

Constitution: Damage to your Constitution score causes you to take penalties on your Fortitude saving throws. In addition, multiply your total Hit Dice by this penalty and subtract that amount from your current and total hit points. Lost hit points are restored when the damage to your Constitution is healed. A character with a Constitution score of 0 is dead.

Intelligence: Damage to your Intelligence score causes you to take penalties on Intelligence-based skill checks. This penalty also applies to any spell DCs based on Intelligence. A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is comatose.

Wisdom: Damage to your Wisdom score causes you to take penalties on Wisdom-based skill checks and Will saving throws. This penalty also applies to any spell DCs based on Wisdom. A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious.

Charisma: Damage to your Charisma score causes you to take penalties on Charisma-based skill checks. This penalty also applies to any spell DCs based off Charisma and the DC to resist your channeled energy. A character with a Charisma score of 0 is not able to exert himself in any way and is unconscious.

Ability Score Penalties

Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damage, but they cannot cause you to fall unconscious or die. In essence, penalties cannot decrease your ability score to less than 1.

Ability Drain

Ability drain actually reduces the relevant ability score. Modify all skills and statistics related to that ability. This might cause you to lose skill points, hit points, and other bonuses. Ability drain can be healed through the use of spells such as restoration.