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I'm trying to explain how Dungeon World works to someone who isn't familiar with the concept of having ability scores and modifiers based on them. So in DW, when you have a Constitution (CON) score of, say, 13, you have a CON modifier of +1. These modifiers are used all over, especially when rolling for a move.

What exactly are ability scores used for?

So far, I've been able to come up with the following list of things:

  • Character creation: you choose scores from a list, or you roll 3d6.
  • Hit points: your HP are your class base HP + your CON score.
  • When you level up, you add 1 to an ability score.

Is that it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also really helpful mentally to use the full word (Constitution) when referring to the ability score, and the capitalised abbreviation (CON) when referring to the modifier. If you read the sheets and rulebook that way, everything is clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Horam Mar 31 '16 at 5:33
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There are a very few things actual scores are used for… but they're nothing that needs scores from a design perspective, since they could instead be based on the modifier, right? The reality is that they exist only as a nod to, or (depending on how you look at it) a holdover from D&D itself.

Why? If I recall the conversation correctly, Adam and Sage felt that Dungeon World wouldn't feel enough like D&D with just the modifiers, so they were kept to help preserve the intended D&D aesthetic.

For someone like your friend who doesn't have prior experience with D&D's mechanical aesthetics it will be mostly lost on them. That's ok, and you can explain it away as a holdover and nod to the game that defined the experience Dungeon World is attempting to distill.

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Other than Consitution, the scores aren't used directly for anything. However, they are available for use in custom moves, e.g., using Wisdom for a sanity mechanic, if desired.

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This may be a case of pointing out the obvious, but you're allowed to raise one stat score by one point every time you level up, which in turn may increase the modifier. How you choose to allocate/generate your scores during character creation influences where and how you choose to improve those scores over the life of the character, so they play a somewhat important role in that sense, as well.

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Your Charisma (not CHA) affects prices you pay for some goods and services.

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IIRC, Strength, not STR is used to determine load value.

Looks like it was STR at first, then changed to Strength, then back. I myself prefer Strength.

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