When making characters for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, a lot of people run into issues with what is known as Multiple Attribute Dependency, a general issue when your character needs to rely on multiple ability scores to succeed or play better. Before we look at that we need to take a quick look at ability score generation itself.
Ability Score Generation Methods (From the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook):
“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.”
Now in reviewing these methods the most common (in my experience) seem to be “Purchase” (Or “Point-Buy,” common to PFS and some home games) or “Standard” (4d6 drop one dice and assign as desired). Both of these can result in characters with highly varied scores and while “Standard” MIGHT yield a few high scores it doesn’t always do that. Bad luck with “Standard” can yield scores lower than point buy. And point buy on the other hand simply doesn’t allow for multiple stats at strong scores and thus characters with Multiple Attribute Dependency are nearly guaranteed to suffer.
Why is that a problem? Until Pathfinder Roleplaying Game – Unchained, monks stood as one of the MOST MAD character classes were often regarded as substandard in over strength despite a huge array of state dependence for abilities. Often times the choice to play a class like monk is the choice to choose which core class ability your care less about and choose to “sacrifice it.” The situation is even worse if you play two or more classes. Most multi-class characters have lower caster levels, BABs, and stunted ability progressions. Effectively punishing MAD characters twice for needing to have better stats.
Causes of MAD
- Base Classes: Monk, paladin and third-party classes like Rogue Genius Games’ magister all rely and multiple ability scores to drive them mechanically. Even other classes highly benefit from strong attribute suites (melee fighters generally benefiting from higher Dexterity or low Will save classes leaning on a strong Wisdom to compensate).
- Multi-class Characters: Players start playing multi-class characters for a lot of reasons. Synergy, role-playing, and prestige class qualifications are all fairly common reasons. They are among the most vulnerable to issues around MAD.
- Roleplaying: Sometimes you just want to do something off a class’ base mechanic needs. A strong wizard or a charismatic fighter are exceptionally common examples of this phenomenon.
There are a lot reasons to end up with a character that needs better stats but can’t really rely on getting them. In turn this may limit options, decrease play-ability of new concepts and lead to characters that engage their players less.
Enter: Bloodborn and their Sourcerunes
One of principle racial abilities of the Bloodborn is made to support Multiple Attribute Dependency via their Sourcerune selection. The primary rune selection allows the character to select a single class and realign it via Sourcerune to a new ability allowing the bloodborn’s spiritual-runic attunements to solve their mechanical needs.
Their secondary rune allows them to support the same or a second class via new favored class mechanics and the two have a paired synergy which may have even more mechanically significant impact on how the character works (more on this in the next update!)
Allowing bloodborn into a game might be just what a player needs to move past MAD and move into character creation territory that will be even more textured and unique. Want to learn more? Next entry we will go over the Sourcerune attunement system and the other story and mechanics options your new PC might come to the table with.