# Modifiers for attributes over 18

I was playing a game with a DM using a BECME module and I drank from a pool that had the possibility of lowering or raising stats, and ended up with a 20 DEX. My question is, what is the statistical methodology behind the stat bonuses, and how would it apply to “supernatural” ability scores like this? I would like for a 20 DEX to mean a +4 bonus to AC at least.
I checked the B/X Rules Cyclopedia and there was nothing in there about above 18 scores so I’m stumped.

You could use either of these choices:
18-19 +3
20-21 +4
22-23 +5
24-25 +6
etc

Or
18 +3
19-20 +4
21-23 +5
24-25 +6
27 +7
28-29 +8
30-32 +9
etc

Not to gainsay the game’s lead developer, but given the mathematical progression of the attribute modifiers within the 3-18 range, wouldn’t gaining another +1 for every number over 18 be more appropriate? Alternately, you could actually invert the math progression and begin gaining larger bonuses for each number above 19, but that would quickly get ridiculous (a +13 at Dex 22, for example).

In any event, since only PCs and NPCs have attribute bonuses (monsters just use their HD for such things), and since there are so few ways to increase one’s stats after character creation (especially beyond 18), what’s the harm in allowing those who somehow manage superhuman attributes to gain superhuman benefit?

That’s an honest question, not a merely rhetorical one.

Hello SClaytonU,
You can gainsay me as much as you’d like. ACKS is more-or-less a tinkerer’s game and every campaign is a law unto itself, etc.

What I was offering in the 2 progressions above was:

1. An assumption that the bonus terminates at a limit of +1 per 2 attribute points, with 19 as a “hidden” companion to 18; or
2. An assumption that the bonus is “wavy” such at it increases by 1/3, then 1/2, then 1/1, then 1/2, then 1/3, then 1/2, then 1/1, then 1/2, then 1/3.

But you absolutely could assume the bonus terminates at a limit of +1 per attribute point, or develop a progression that increases the bonus exponentially (so that a half-point 18.5 gives +4, 19 gives +5, 19.33 gives +6, etc.).

Fair enough. I was just wondering if there were any other considerations at work. Although I don’t forsee any circumstances under which a PC would manage a score of 21+ in any attribute without explicit DM assistance, I think your +1 for every 2 points after 18 would probably lead to fewer potential game balance issues in the unlikely event that it happened.

I just like playing with the numbers and their consequences.

Thanks.
I think the first one is pretty reasonable. I don’t foresee this situation coming up very often, though, but it’s very helpful for my game. (You saved my character’s skin with that extra 1 AC!)

I’ve actually been wrestling with this very thing especially in regards to Str/giant Str. While B/X x2 damage is simple it leaves some troublesome inconsistencies for me (specifically why doesn’t it grant a bonus to hit?). I know this legacy from when everything did 1d6 in the LBB except giants who did an amazing 2d6.

Anyway I’ve been looking at AD&D bit the exceptional strength throws everything. I think continuing to increase accuracy and damage bonus at the same rate has definite potential problems (because AC doesn’t increase as quickly).

Anyway I do like those charts.

## Ability Scores for Monsters

In ACKS, human and demi-human characters are assigned ability scores between 3 and 18 in Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma, representing their ability in these areas relative to the human average of 10.

Monsters can also be assigned ability scores. For simplicity, we assume most monsters are average specimens of their species, with ability scores ranging from 9 and 12, with 10 being the average for the monster’s species. Note that a monster’s ability scores are not measured against the human average. A horse with INT 18 is smart for a horse but is not capable of tool use or mathematics. A giant with STR 7 is quite weak for a giant but is still considerably stronger than a man!

As with human and demi-human characters, a monstrous ability score of less than 9 or greater than 12 will provide a bonus or penalty on rolls and throws related to the ability score. Except as noted below, the bonus or penalty is identical to that for human and demi-human characters.

Strength: Apply the standard bonus or penalty from Strength to all attack throws in melee. The bonus or penalty to damage rolls, however, is adjusted by how damaging the monster’s natural attacks are. Cross-reference the monster’s STR score with its average damage from each attack on the table below to find the bonus or penalty to that attacks’ damage rolls.

 Ability Score 2 or less 3 – 6 7-12 13-24 25 or more 3 -2 -3 -6 -8 -12 4 -1 -2 -5 -7 -10 5 -1 -2 -4 -6 -8 6 0 -1 -3 -4 -6 7 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 8 0 -1 -1 -2 -3 9 0 0 0 -1 -2 10 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 0 0 +1 +2 13 0 +1 +1 +2 +3 14 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 15 0 +1 +3 +4 +6 16 +1 +2 +4 +6 +8 17 +1 +2 +5 +7 +10 18 +2 +3 +6 +8 +12

EXAMPLE #1: A dragon turtle deals 1d8 points of damage (4.5 average) with its claws and 1d6x10 (35 average) with its bite. A dragon turtle with STR 18 deals 1d8+3 points of damage with its claws and 1d6x10+12 with its bite.

EXAMPLE #2: An ordinary hawk deals 1d2 points of damage (1.5 average) with its talons. An ordinary hawk with STR 4 deals 1d2-1 points of damage with its talons. An ordinary hawk with STR 18 deals 1d2+2.

Note that a monster’s ability scores are not measured against the human average. A horse with INT 18 is smart for a horse(*) but is not capable of tool use or mathematics. A giant with STR 7 is quite weak for a giant but is still considerably stronger than a man!

Huh. I think you may have just retroactively fixed up the whole d20 issue with escalating ability scores (which escalated to-hit and damage, which escalated AC and HP, which escalated ability scores…)

So a Storm Giant from d20 goes like so:

Greatsword +26 melee (4d6+21/19-20) or slam +26 melee (1d6+14) or composite longbow (+14 Str bonus) +14 ranged (3d6+14/×3)

Assume he’s their best warrior and has a 18 STR, in Storm Giant terms. He’ll have a +3 to hit with his melee attacks, if he’s still got 19 HD his attack throw is -6+, but the damage goes to:

Greatsword : 4d6 : Average is 14: that becomes 4d6+8

That’s still a good amount of damage, but the static bonus isn’t overcoming the dynamic damage roll half the time.

He’s gonna hit you (has to roll a natural 1 to miss anyone less than AC 7) at an average of 22 damage; it’s gonna hurt. A 14th level fighter averages from …50 to 92 HP without magic, that’s ~2 to 4 hits.

Comparatively, a d20 attack bonus of +26 is hitting d20 AC 28, which is ACKS AC 18 (impossible?) or less on all but a natural one (probably, it’s early AM), averaging 35-70 damage, making a leap of faith about how often the 2nd and 3rd iterative attcks hit). A 20th level d20 fighter averages from 110 to 190 HP, so that’s 3-5 hits at the minimum avg. damage, if we only count the first full BAB attack.

(the giant’s third iterative attack at +16 hits d20 AC 18 100% of the time, which is ACKS AC 8, but I’ve had first level characters with AC 18 in d20)

The 14th level d20 fighter, to keep the HD numbers the same, averages 77 to 133 HP - which gets us to 2 to 4 hits.

With a very broad brush, I paint the same results with smaller numbers, and de-MMORPG-ize d20.

Anyway. The actual ACKS Storm Giant does 8d6 damage, averaging a much more swingy 28 damage, doing at least 22 points 90% of the time.

</end math which was probably wrong>

Is this table something from the sometimes-mentioned “Monsters & Lairs” book?

*(and explained both Shadowfax and Mr. Ed)

I love this! Thanks Alex.

So the only question to me becomes how could a belt of (hill) giant strength be changed to be consistent with the above (and allow for belts of bigger giant strength)?

Wow. Love that monster ability score chart!

Also interested in this.

Yes, it’s from Lairs & Encounters.

Avoiding the outrageous problems of D20 ability score inflation was very much on my mind, though I can’t claim to have done the analysis as closely as you just did.

This system does have the downside that you can’t as easily compare across dissimilar creatures (“is a white ape or saber-tooth tiger stronger?”) but then that’s true of most real-world measures of ability scores, too – is a dog smarter than a cat?

Rule: Double the character’s damage dice and double the STR modifier to damage when a belt of giant strength is worn.

Explanation: A hill giant (defaulting to STR 10) does 2d8 damage. He is assumed to be wielding a spear with two-hands. In a man-sized creature, this deals 1d8 damage. In a hill giant-sized creature, this deals 2d8 damage, or double damage. (From this we can conclude that a hill giant is roughly twice as strong as a normal man.)

Assume the hill giant has STR 18. Consulting the table from Lairs & Encounters above, we see that when average damage is 9, STR 18 provides +6 to damage. Therefore a STR 18 hill giant deals 2d8+6.

Note that the +6 bonus is twice as great as a human’s +3 bonus, which makes sense because the hill giant is roughly twice as strong. (The hill giant does not get +6 to attack throws, however, just +3.)

I have my doubts the above analysis holds water under actual scrutiny and/or expansion.

That is true (being unable to compare directly) but that was always a false comparison anyway.

I could possibly see merit in being able to compare broad structure-based types (how strong is that white ape compared that human and that giant, how strong is this dire wolf compared to that tiger and this triceratops), but except in overly supernatural circumstances, raw size ought to be enough to decide.

Actually, now that I say that, I could instead see being able to compare size Small-Colossal creatures of the same general structure - how does a STR 18 brownie compare to a gnome, human, ogre, giant, storm giant, titan, etc. of the same STR score.

Just in case you’re arm-wrestling a brownie, perhaps.

It would be interesting to see if that table could be expanded to include modifications to what weight the creature can carry, if it would be anything more complicated than extrapolating out the same ratios from the already provided table for that.

In Lairs & Encounters I also developed an algorithm for determining a creature’s HD based on its body form and mass, and for determining its carrying capacity based on the same.

For instance, the mass formula is (HD*10)^(Body Form Factor). Each +/-1 counts as 0.25 HD for these purposes. Body Form Factor is 1.53 for a great cat, 1.6 for an ape, 1.7 for a bear or wolf, 1.9 for a goblin, 2.0 for an elephant, 2.15 for a horse, 2.5 for a human.

The lower the Body Form Factor, the more ferocious the creature is for its size.

A 1-1HD goblin weighs (0.75x10)^1.9 = 45lbs.
A 1-1HD man weighs (0.75x10)^2.5 = 155lbs.
A 3HD heavy horse weighs (3x10)^2.15 = 1,500lbs.
A 5HD lion weighs (5x10)^1.53 = 400lbs.
A 5HD bear weighs (5x10)^1.7 = 775lbs.
A 10HD elephant weighs (10x10)^2 = 10,000lbs.

I’m still working through the exact implications of how this will fit together with ability scores, creature size, and damage.

It’s this kind of explanation of system underpinnings that I love about ACKS. One can take it or leave it, but if you want to muck about in the guts of the system, it’s there. Thank you.

Oh, and hurry up with the writing on Lairs & Encounters (or Auran Empire, or whatever) already.

Sometimes, I find myself posting and betting myself on if you’ve got a table for it.

I’m really looking forward to L&E.

Random Determination of Tables table
Roll (2d6) Result
2 No table exists yet, but one is planned.
3-5 A table exists, but it is only available in an unpublished doc.
6-8 A table exists, but it is only available on the Autarch forums.
9-11 A table exists and has been published in the official rules.
12 No table is necessary.

To me, the game designer is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me, he heaps me; I see him with outrageous reasoning, with inscrutable tables sinewing it.