I have played D&D only once as a guest in a campaign, so I have little to almost no experience. I am now in a new group, and am one of the two players that have played before. So between the new players the question about how you increase your stats was asked. Just to be sure I read again the handbook and realized that I didn't know if the answer I was about to give was correct.

After reading I was troubled about the ability score imrovement between the race and the class. I don't understand which one you use when the class table reffers to ability score improvement. I came to a conclusion that you use the race improvement at the beginning and the class improvement on every level that mentions it but I am still not certain and I want to give a clear and correct answer to the new players.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to see how this Q&A site works best. Thank you for your question. I have edited it a little bit so that it is more organized. Please review the edit to make sure your meaning is retained. We hope you'll continue to participate here; happy gaming! :) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13 '17 at 12:11

You understand the way to boost ability scores correctly

At the beginning, when you make a character, you apply the ability score boost due to race after you have assigned the numbers to each of the six abilities.

When Ability Score Improvement(ASI) comes at 4th level, 8th level, (and 6th level for Fighters) and so on, you can apply two points to any ability score at that time when you have gained 4, 8, (etc) levels in a class.

As an example, a human barbarian

On page 49 of the Players Handbook, the Barbarian class feature of Ability Score Improvement tells you that you can at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19 increase one ability score by two points, or two scores by one, and none may be increased beyond 20. Each class has an entry for ASI, so the player needs to read the ASI entry for their class. (It's different for Fighter, for example.) Let's say that our Barbarian was a human who rolled the following raw scores for abilities.

Str 15 Dex 11 Con 14 Int 10 Wis 11 Cha 10

A human gets to add one to each ability score.(The racial boost you use at character creation).

Str 16 Dex 12 Con 15 Int 11 Wis 12 Cha 11

At 4th level, the barbarian gets to add two points(ASI).

Either add two to one score, or add one to two scores.

Examples of making that choice:

Str 18 Dex 12 Con 15 Int 11 Wis 12 Cha 11 (+2 to Str)

Str 16 Dex 12 Con 16 Int 11 Wis 12 Cha 12 (+1 each to Con and Cha)

If any of your players wish to multiclass, ASI is based on class level, not total character level.

For example: a third level Barbarian who chose a level in Fighter when enough experience points were earned for 4th level (2700 XP, p. 15, PHB, table) would not get an ASI, being Barbarian (3) Fighter (1). He would need to earn 4th level in either barbarian or fighter before getting an ASI.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps note explicitely that the ASIs are tied to class level, so a barbarian 3 / fighter 1 would not get an ASI. \$\endgroup\$
    – TBP
    Aug 14 '17 at 7:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TBP While you are right, this question is aimed at helping a table full of beginners, so I am not sure that multiclassing is where they are. Then again, it never hurts to add it as a note/caveat. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14 '17 at 12:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I considered that, and then it occured to me that being a beginner with at best partional knowledge and an incomplete understanding of what I'm getting into never stopped me from diving headfirst into the most complicated thing if it looked fun and exciting - often with the obvious consequence of getting things dead wrong :) \$\endgroup\$
    – TBP
    Aug 16 '17 at 7:56

The Ability Score Improvement, on this site often shortened as ASI, that you get on certain levels like for example level 4 allow you to increase ability scores of your choice. So whenever your class says that you get an ability score improvement you can choose to increase whatever ability you want by 2 or two abilities of your choice by 1.

The ability score improvements from the race are only used once. When creating a character you distribute your points and then you add the improvements from your race. That's before the game begins, at level 1. You will never use these improvements again. They don't constraint what ability scores you improve at certain later levels.


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