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Musings on stats, post Tasha update

Tasha Changes

PF2 has a lot to like but one thing I don’t like is the ancestry/ability mod type system. In 5e post Tasha they go the complete opposite route. The bonus you get from what type of being you are you now can assign anywhere. So when it says “+2 charisma, +1 intelligence” you can now set “+2 anything, +1 anything else” (but not both to same). Tiefling monk, finally!♥︎♥︎♥︎

How to Properly Generate Stats

AD&D style (4d6 drop lowest, arrange freely) is what I like over cockamamie point shifting systems or the Lego-style system in PF2. (PF2 has this Rube Goldberg-like multi step point buy system where your class and your ancestry and some other things create your stat row. Not into it.)

When I first heard of 4d6 drop lowest I thought it sounded cheaty AF, as if it was a house rule of some group who wasn’t satisfied with 3d6, but it leads to some cleaner math.

More on 4d6 drop lowest vs 3d6.

Normally I prefer Moldvay/RC over the “advanced” line but this is one of the rare occasions I, after a while, ended up siding with Gygax. Now, I’m especially arguing for “4d6 drop lowest” vs “3d6”. The “arrange freely” vs “in order” part I don’t feel as strongly about. In order can be cool, as long as you don’t have any shenanigans like re-rolling, shifting points here and there, “you can swap any two stats” etc. Don’t keep half your foot in the door. Commit to a style.

Ability score generation is one of the rare places where I don’t house rule anything. Which is weird because it’s one of the most house ruled areas of the game, typically. But I’m happy doing it as the Player Handbook does it:

Just good clean fun.

Yeah, I know that I have a super optional system where you can get a random order for your standard array. But that is a strict subset of the standard procedure. (Also it’s a much faster way to get a character.) It is the standard array except the order is random instead of chosen by the player.

Dumb Game Mechanics Are Smart

Even the Player’s Handbook itself has a suggested house rule right there in the text — a point buy variant. I can’t even with this fiddly stuff. I used point buy when I was a player and I found that it was a math puzzle that’d always lead me down to the same answer. Whereas placing the numbers from the standard array, or a similar array but rolled, leads to some tough choices.

Sometimes what seems like dumbing a game down leads to more choices, not less. I was among the players who protested the then new “conga line” blocking rules in Magic the Gathering ten years ago. “Noo! We wanna do our clever Mogg Fanatic ‘damage on the stack’ trick!”

Turns out it was just that. A cheap trick. New players didn’t know about that loop hole in the rules and were dazzled or frustrated by it, and once you did know about it, you’d almost always wanna use it. With the “conga line” you need to actually make a decision. Ping or block? You can’t do both any more.

Similarly, I don’t really agree with the Celeste design team’s decision to keep free wall climbing and free extra dashing in the game “for speedrunners”. Those maneuvers aren’t that hard to do once you know about them, and they take away a lot of the decision making and challenge in the game. Now, speedrunning Celeste is still more than I can handle because the game is a challenging game even with these tricks, and, there are plenty more speedrunning tricks in the game that are hard for me to pull off. Not saying I’m ready to take on the AGDQ crowd any time soon!