A friend of mine is GMing a group that I am in. He has played once before but is a first time GM, and we are all first time players. While reading about combat after our first session, I learned that you are supposed to add your strength modifier to your melee damage rolls (or your dex mod in some instances), but he is only having us add them to the attack rolls. This is how he was taught to play and he said it would be overpowered if we did that. I feel he is ignoring a major game mechanic that goes above what would be considered a house rule. How can I convince him that it makes sense from a game and logical standpoint? Or should I just let it go?

Edit- I don't actually know if he changed how the monster's damage is calculated too, but I don't think he plans super precisely or far ahead in terms of what enemies we face and what their stats are. From my perspective as a player, implementing this change should not be difficult if he chooses to accept it. If we do more damage then so would the enemies, or he could simply add more. As I mentioned, we've only had one session and we're all still learning.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you ask your DM if he has modified the stat blocks of monsters to reduce their damage? \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Jul 2 '16 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of How does a player correct a GM mistake without being a rules lawyer or pushover?. Ryan, do the answers to that question solve your problem? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '16 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might consider showing him this page. That is to say, the voting system here can really help convince someone when they won't take your word for it. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jul 3 '16 at 2:23

Houserules can be anything, including huge things like changing the basic damage roll math. Still, that is a huge houserule.

For one, you are correct. Strength is added to most weapon damage rolls (Dexterity is only added when a feat or class feature says so, so that is rarer). Specifically, the rule is



Strength Bonus

When you hit with a melee or thrown weapon, including a sling, add your Strength modifier to the damage result. A Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies on damage rolls made with a bow that is not a composite bow.

  • Off-hand Weapon

    When you deal damage with a weapon in your off hand, you add only 1/2 your Strength bonus. If you have a Strength penalty, the entire penalty applies.

  • Wielding a Weapon Two-Handed

    When you deal damage with a weapon that you are wielding two-handed, you add 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus (Strength penalties are not multiplied). You don't get this higher Strength bonus, however, when using a light weapons with two hands.


For another, this is a major reason why people would choose to use a two-handed weapon. The slightly-larger base weapon damage of two-handed weapons is not valuable (it averages only 1 damage and that never improves). If you aren’t getting that half-again Strength bonus to damage, there’s no good reason to use two-handed weapons—you should just stick with a shield...

Or dual-wield, since now you also don’t have the drawback of dealing only half-Strength damage on the off-hand attack with the Two Weapon Fighting combat option.

Going beyond the choice of which weapon to use, there is also the issue that Strength is now really quite pitifully under-utilized. It just doesn’t get added to enough, or important enough, things to justify increasing it. Optimally, everyone should be picking up Weapon Finesse or using ranged weapons, and focusing on Dexterity instead.

And finally, the monsters are designed with this concept in mind. Their damage rolls include these bonuses in their statblocks, and their design chooses HP values for them such that they can only survive a certain number of blows. Without these ability scores added to your damage, they will last much, much longer—and thus have far more opportunities to damage the party, deplete their resources, or kill someone. Or everyone.

These would be the cases I would bring to the DM, anyway.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to balance and optimization issues, consider that this will make fights take longer without necessarily being any more interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Jul 3 '16 at 1:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll be sure to mention the points you made, I had similar things in mind to tell him. I had no idea so many other game mechanics revolve around it, and I don't think he realized it as a new player/GM himself. In my mind it rather nullifies the purpose of making strength one of the highest attributes for a character. As a new player I needed a better grasp of how important this issue might be, and I think this will convince him. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Jul 3 '16 at 4:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan It may be worth noting that, with the official rule, 1. damage values are quite high; it’s not hard to create characters that can kill almost anything they can full-attack, 2. two-handed weapons are just better than dual-wielding or sword-and-board, thanks to that half-again Strength bonus (and the fewer feat taxes), and 3. even so, Strength is still often considered a relatively undesirable ability score, since Dexterity does so much more and beyond that magic is so powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 3 '16 at 4:15

I would ask what's overpowered about it and, as was already stated by someone else, if he alters monster stats to reflect this change as well (since strength is already automatically added to damage in most cases). Don't be argumentative, simply try to discover what your GM considers overpowered about it. If it comes down to something the GM he played with said, you can perhaps ask him to try letting the players add strength to melee/composite bow damage rolls (and dexterity in the situations where that would be appropriate) and see if it still feels overpowered to him upon actually seeing it in practice. This may not change his opinion, but, as the GM, it is really up to him how he wants to run his game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that was his main point of contention, that he had already balanced the monsters around it. However, seeing as we're both still new, I thought it worthwhile to try to convince him to change since we're only one session in, and that he had only done this nerf because it was how he was taught. That's a good idea to try for a trial session with it and see how it feels. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Jul 2 '16 at 23:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ As long as he adds strength back into the monster damage as well, he may find it doesn't actually feel much different (since everyone will still be on approximately the same power level). Characters who actually have a high strength score will get more out of it by reverting back to the base mechanics here, which is always nice when spellcasters are already stronger and more variable, in general, than most non-spellcasters. \$\endgroup\$ – amandamonium Jul 3 '16 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if he has 'balanced the monsters' not by adjusting their damage, but by populating quests with either fewer of them, or lower level monsters. Adjusting back would then mean redoing dungeons &c. Not that that is necessarily an argument against changing to match the rules, just a point which occurred to me while reading this. \$\endgroup\$ – David Conrad Jul 3 '16 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yea, fair point. Personally, when I GM, I tend to roughly plan the creature type and then decide exactly what I want based on what is happening (making any custom NPCs/encounters I want beforehand, of course). I suppose that might be more related to the fact that I started GMing quite a while ago than anything, since I just feel comfortable adjusting things while encounters are happening if it feels necessary to do so to keep a proper level of tension. \$\endgroup\$ – amandamonium Jul 3 '16 at 3:14

As mentioned, I'd be interested in knowing his side of the argument so that we might be able to better advise you on how to approach his concerns. You said he thinks it is OP. How so? Why? etc. If it was just that he designed the encounters around not using it, that shouldn't be tough to change his mind on.

On the other hand... did he previously play a mage that one time in a low level campaign? Because when you look at the advantages of a high strength vs a high int at level 1 to 4 they are MASSIVE. Mages can rock but after you use your spells up for the day, that strength and dex bonus that applies every time someone else rolls the dice can seem very OP. It isn't until you cast your first fireball or lightning bolt that you start thinking of strength bonuses with a bit of contempt. ;-) It would be magnified even more if he was a level 1 mage and didn't get a chance to replenish spells for some reason. He got to be a mage that one time, the opponent made the saving throw, and then he was a really crappy fighter for the rest of the time?

No matter how you slice it though, or whatever his history is that causes him to think it is OP, this is a huge house rule... A house rule where you don't bother with Charisma bonuses when interacting with NPCs is less of an issue in most campaigns than ditching combat stat bonuses. On the flip side though... if your campaign is all RP, political intrigue, etc with very little combat at all, the opposite becomes true. I mean you are basically talking about the equivalent of me being able to hit as hard as Conan the Barbarian - or more accurately Conan can't hit any harder than I can. Sure he can pick up his 2 handed sword and it does a bit more damage than my 1 handed sword but if we go to unarmed combat, he isn't any better off than I am? That seems a bit odd to me - to say the least. I'm a bit more agile than I am strong but even still the Dread Pirate Roberts wouldn't break a sweat handing me my hat while using his rapier left handed. Hell, I'd be happy to beat in in thumb wars and I've got a double jointed thumb.

To build on the idea of a trial session with it... If he has only played one other time, this is just how he learned, and you are all first time players, then using trimmed rules to start with makes sense. But the big rules should be the ones that get added back in ASAP (which would be most everything related to stats.) Keep in mind that you have focused on the stuff that matters to you and the other players have done the same. The DM, on the other hand, is expected to be the "master" in of it all. He may be overwhelmed and not even realize it and this is his way of making it more manageable. He may also have a reason for it that hasn't become apparent but again ... Conan and Roberts wouldn't be Conan and Roberts with that house rule, even in a political intrigue campaign with hardly any combat. If combat did break out, they should have the upper hand compared to others.

I'd approach it by asking him if you can do it for a couple sessions AND/OR if he would like you to be the "assistant" in that area. Alternately, ask if you can reallocate your stats since strength and dex don't have any effect ... and I'd lobby hard for the former.

If he is open to you being the assistant in that area, there may be other house rules that could be changed if other players helped in those areas.

Being a DM is hard to start with. It takes a while to get comfortable with it. In addition to knowing all the rules, worrying about rules lawyers, min/maxers/etc, you also worry that the players aren't going to enjoy the story among a billion other things. It isn't for everybody and everyone does it a tiny bit differently. Keep that in mind when talking to him about this. Don't necessarily say it to him, but remember that he may be overwhelmed and not even realize it.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!


In general I don't recommend arguing with the DM's house rules. If your DM were unaware of the real rule, it might be worthwhile pointing that out, but in this case it sounds like your DM prefers it this way. The risk is that arguing might make the DM think of you as a rules-lawyer.

On the other hand it's probably a good idea to switch to a character that won't be affected too hard by this nerf. Consider switching to a spellcasting class, or perhaps a rogue.

  • \$\begingroup\$ When I did ask him about it, I neglected to ask if he was aware that it was a real rule. I'll bring that up, and I also agree that I don't want to argue with him. Switching characters isn't really an option, other than a rouge I'm the only melee. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Jul 2 '16 at 23:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The difference between "has literally never realized this is a real rule" and "has played precisely one previous session with the houserule and never with the real rule" is insignificant with a rule of this importance. The DM clearly has nothing resembling an informed preference for the houserule. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Jul 2 '16 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know what DMs you're playing with,but discussing such a major house rule shouldn't be a problem,as long as you're not interrupting a session for a lengthy discussion(maybe even discussing this in private) and you don't insist on removing that house rule.BTW:I wouldn't say discussing a single rule would make you a rules-lawyer - doing this frequently would.And even if you're considered a rules-lawyer,what's the worst thing that could happen?The DM throws you out? This wouldn't be a DM you'd want to play with.In all other cases you can simply prove the DM wrong in the next sessions. \$\endgroup\$ – fabian Jul 3 '16 at 10:20

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