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In an attempt to have players deal with more difficult decisions, I have been considering the idea of making it so that saving throw bonuses don't actually rely on your modifier, but instead use your mod +1 if the attribute is an odd number (effectively making it round up).

For instance, under the current system (RAW): if your Dexterity score is 13, your Dexterity modifier is +1, meaning you add +1 to the d20 roll when you make a Dexterity check (assuming your proficiency bonus is not being added to the specific check). If you are not proficient in Dexterity saving throws, your Dex save modifier is also +1.

Under my proposed system: If your Dex score is 13, your ability score modifier for Dex checks (when prof. bonus is not added) is still +1, as in RAW. However, under my proposed system, your Dexterity saving throw modifier (not including your proficiency bonus) would instead be +2.

The idea here is to make it so that you feel more comfortable spreading out your stats rather than bulking them on individuals.

But I know how big of a deal saving throws are in higher-level play. Would this have a negative effect, and does this address a real concern common to players (or am I just making an assumption)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm unclear what you're asking. Are you suggesting that if a character had a score of 13 in an ability score, that would provide them a +2 modifier instead of a +1? Would other skills that key off ability scores still function the same? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jul 5 '18 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is what I am suggesting. Other skills and attacks would function as normal. A 13 would mean +2 for the saving throw, +1 for the relevant skill/attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 5 '18 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanielZastoupil wouldn't that create the staircase problem on the even numbers then? Where now 14 is no better than 13? \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Jul 5 '18 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even numbers would give value in terms of skills and attacks, odd numbers would give value to saving throws. That way, you feel less wasteful when you spend a single attribute point. Or that's the intent. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 5 '18 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited in an example to make it clear what you're proposing; feel free to revert it or edit it if you'd like. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 6 '18 at 2:36
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A slight increase in survivability for the players

Depending how far you want to take it, the impact would probably be a marginal increase in survivability for the players. This does depend upon the nature of the table and players around it, but even heavy min-maxing won't result in a dramatic increase in saves since that many odd scores would be offset by less than optimal stats in key skills.

In general, players are still going to focus upon keeping their prime stats on even scores so as to get the most use out of them. The ones that are most likely to be odd scores will be abilities that don't see nearly as much use for their character.

As a result, suppose the Barbarian dumps their Intelligence score and lets it be a 9. They would normally have a -1 for their Intelligence saves, which will increase to a +0.

I do think you will see an uptick in standard humans (as opposed to Variants), since a lot of times after point distribution is optimized, a +1 across the board isn't usually ideal expressly because so many scores end up being odd, but your proposed house rule would alter that the impact of that.

There will be one other effect and that relates to how you adjudicate this for NPCs. It's probably not worth it, but were you to apply this to all creatures, it would mean you would need to modify the saves for a lot of the monsters in the MM. I think this is unnecessary legwork as a DM, but you might prefer to roll that way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the response, that's what I figured. A difficult question then: Between modifying skills, attacks/spells, saving throws, and HP, where is that "razor's edge" of having it be fairly balanced both ways? What I mean is, if it was set to increase just skills and saving throws to follow this rule, but not attacks/HP/spells, would you say that it's fairly balanced to have even/odd, or does that tip the balance too far, or cause too much confusion? \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 5 '18 at 22:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted, but the part about non-variant humans doesn't make much sense. If I optimize, my values are even after I add racial modifiers. I guess no one optimizes first, and then just slaps a race on it. \$\endgroup\$ – András Jul 6 '18 at 7:43
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Use a Luckstone

Following from your comment on Pyrotechnical's answer, if you want to increase skills and saving throws only but do not want to affect spells, HP, and all the stats of all the NPCs and monsters, what you're effectively looking for is a +1 to all skills and saving throws.

Instead of changing how the rules work to suit this need, how about just hand out Stones of Good Luck? This item does exactly that. If it's acceptable for them to all have an Uncommon item that uses up attunement slot, this may be an easier solution (or just say that everyone gets 4 attunement slots, or just houserule that this item doesn't require attunement after all).

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    \$\begingroup\$ A simple solution without changing much, but the goal wasn't so much to increase survivability, but to actually increase the value of odd attributes, which can really only be done by modifying the rules. I appreciate your response, though, and I will look into implementing these luck stones as simple defensive tools. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 6 '18 at 15:57

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