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I noticed recently a handful of D&D 4E races have been updated, to have one fixed ability bonus and one choice, between two other stats.

When did that happen? What was the reasoning behind this?

I also noticed some of the races don't have any choice, is there a reason for this?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It all started with Player's Handbook 3, which offered alternative, non-fixed ability score bonuses for its new races. This new design was then adopted as the default and included in subsequent books.

Some of the "core" races of Player's Handbook and Player's Handbook 2 have then been updated in the Essentials line books (Heroes of the Fallen Lands + Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms), at least as far as these books contained the mentioned races.

Later, on March 14th 2011, a publicly available Dragon article added alternative ability score bonuses for all remaining races and provided an overview of the ability modifiers of all playable races.

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The reasoning behind it is likely to give each race a larger number of viable classes, since primary ability scores matter quite a bit. –  Jason White Jan 13 '12 at 1:21
    
@JasonWhite do they really matter that much? –  Pureferret Jan 13 '12 at 9:05
    
Well, your primary stat gives you a bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls on all your powers and increases your skills that you've taken based on that stat. Depending on your class, your primary stat can also increase your AC and other defenses, so I'd say its pretty important. –  Jason White Jan 13 '12 at 15:37
    
Does this mean that the dragonborn isn't the most versatile race now (at least from waht i've noticed) –  DForck42 Jan 16 '12 at 16:27
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