Sunday, 5 December 2010

Intelligence Score (Part 6): You catch on quick: Only Intelligence gives XP bonus

I propose making intelligence give XP bonus/penalties for all characters.
Only intelligence gives XP bonuses, not prime requisites.
3-5                   (-20% earned experience)
6-8                   (-10% earned experience)
9-12                 (no bonus)
13-15               (+5% earned experience)
16 +                 (+10% earned experience)

Suddenly even the fighter, thief, dwarf, elf and halfling would like a high intelligence score. Voila EVERY ability score is important for EVERY character.

How can this be justified?

Justification 1: Class Prime Requisites don’t make sense.
Despite B/X (B6) saying: “The ability most important to a class is called the prime requisite for that class. The higher the prime requisite score, the more successful that character will be in that class.” I’ve never understood why high strength gives a fighter an experience bonus. Why does high strength improve one’s ability to do something over time? Strength just is, giving the same advantage at Level 1 as at Level 36. The same goes with dexterity.
Level advancement leads to: better to hit rolls, more attacks, more hit points, better saving throws, more spells and spell levels, improved thief skills.
I can’t see how the improvements listed above are intrinsic to strength or dexterity to make them prime requisites for fighters and thieves. This can be seen with what level advancement does not do.
Level advancement in old school D&D does not lead to improved ability scores, better armor class or greater damage with a particular weapon.
These might be expected if strength for example, was a reasonable prime requisite for a fighter or dexterity for a thief.

Let’s consider two examples:
Thieves Guild, Year of the Purple Worm. Two new recruits are learning how to disarm traps for the first time. Nimble Pete (Dex 16, Int 6) and Shaky Steve (Dex 6, Int 16). The Guild teacher is instructing, “When faced with a choice between a red or blue wire, always cut the blue wire.” Later that day Nimble Pete and Shaky Steve are facing their first disarm traps exam, success will advance them to the next level. The trap has a red and blue wire. Who do you think advances to the next level? Shaky Steve tremors and sweats but cuts the blue wire. Nimble Pete, with a steady hand, prepares to cut the wire, but which one, didn’t the Guild teacher say always cut the… but he can’t remember. Oh look, a nice shiny red one…

Boxing School, Year of the Butterfly. Two new recruits are learning how to box for the FIRST time. Mr T (Strength 16, Int 6) and Steve Buscemi (Strength 6, Int 16). They have NEVER boxed before, they are raw recruits. Into the ring they go: who do you think wins? Mr T, naturally! During the first week of training they learn about upper cuts, feints, watching your opponents eyes not his hands. At the end of the week they fight again: who wins? Ok, Mr T does again. But not as much as before! You see Steve Buscemi has improved during the week. Mt T, he couldn’t really understand all he was being taught and certainly he can’t apply it. The next week Steve Buscemi is sick and can’t train but Mr T continues his training. They fight again. With another week of training Mr T has picked up something from his lessons. He gives Steve Buscemi a whipping!
Now my question is this, which game mechanic models this example best? Mr T gaining an experience bonus because of his high strength or an experience penalty because of his low intelligence? I think you know my answer.

Justification 2: You’re pretty smart, you catch on quick
If the improvements from gaining levels are: better to hit rolls, more attacks, more hit points, better saving throws, more spells and spell levels, improved thief skills. Then what of the six ability scores helps one to gain these new improvements the quickest? Intelligence and Wisdom are the only real contenders.
Re-quoting Gary again “The intelligence rating roughly corresponds to our modern “IQ” scores. However, it assumes mnemonic, reasoning, and learning ability skills in additional areas outside the written word.
Wisdom: For game purposes wisdom ability subsumes the categories of willpower, judgment, wile, enlightenment, and intuitiveness.

Looking at improvements from gaining levels which offers a better association: intelligence or wisdom?
Better to hit rolls – some skill, some learning, some wile (Intelligence borderline winner)
More attacks/ round for a fighter –new/improved style of fighting (Intelligence winner)
More hit points – wile, intuitiveness, some learning (Wisdom winner)
Better saving throws – willpower (already direct Wisdom bonus to magic/spells), intuition, some learning (Wisdom winner)
More spells and spell levels – learning especially for magic users, enlightenment for clerics (Draw)
Improved thief skills – learning (Intelligence)

You don’t have to agree with my ranking to at least concede that Intelligence as an ability is a reasonable rival to Wisdom, if only one ability score is to be linked to XP bonus. What I am up against to convince you is that the word experience is so close to wisdom in your thinking. But if I said level, class or year group, for schooling you might think that it’s one’s intelligence that helps one do well year to year more than one’s wisdom. The same might be argued for military advancement, lieutenant, major and colonel; though the wise sergeant without the officer education should not be discounted.

What nails it for me is that Wisdom already has a save bonus against magic, and it’s a magical world.

Intelligence is the dump stat in need of rescuing. Linking it to XP bonus elevates it to desirable for EVERY character.

And that’s what this posting has been all about!

I leave you with a final Rules Retrospective: Terms and descriptions used in the various editions for Intelligence, Experience and Wisdom.

Rules Retrospective: Terms and descriptions used in the various editions for Intelligence, Experience and Wisdom

Descriptions for
Descriptions for
Levels or Experience
Descriptions for
M&M: 10, 18
Sup1: 7,8
Intelligence is the prime requisite for magical types.
Allows additional languages to be spoken
Intelligence is not only the prime requisite for magical types but it also delineates how many spells they can and may know and learn.
Experience points are awarded to players by the referee with appropriate bonuses or penalties for prime requisite scores. As characters meet monsters in mortal combat and defeat them, and when they obtain various forms
of treasure (money, gems, jewelry, magical items, etc.), they gain "experience".
Prime requisite for Clerics
Wisdom rating will act much as does that for intelligence. [Hah?]
Wisdom acts as an experience booster for clerics, serving in no way to help them in either learning or knowing spells. All cleric spells are considered as "divinely" given and as such a cleric with a wisdom factor of 3 would know all of the spells as well as would a cleric with an 18 wisdom factor.
5, 11,12
Prime requisite for magic-users.
Learn additional languages.
Accumulated experience is measured by experience points.
Also, characters advance in experience be level and at each new level they increase their hit dice (the amount of damage they can take) and increase in special abilities such as theft or magic.
Prime requisite for clerics.
Learn and remember knowledge
Solve problems

A ‘level of experience’ is a general term meaning an amount of experience points.
The ability most important to a class is called the prime requisite for that class. The higher the prime requisite score, the more successful that character will be in that class.

Common sense
Wisdom aid in solving problems when Intelligence is not enough.

Mental might (Cyc 6)
Number of languages
Number of general skills
(Cyc 10)
Tells you it’s raining (B5)

Prime requisite: each class has a specialty.(B23)
As characters go through a lot of adventures, they gradually get better and better at what they do. Everyone learns to fight better (especially fighters). Everyone learns to withstand damage better (more hit points and better saving throws), and so forth. (Cyc 12)
Only through the acquisition of experience points can characters improve their abilities; without experience, the characters would forever be frail and weak. (Cyc 127)
In the game, your character will become more powerful each time you complete an adventure. The way of measuring this “power” is another number, called Experience Points (B12)
Strength of understanding of the world, the way things work, the forces of nature and so forth. Affects the characters natural abilty to resist magic spells.
(Cyc 6)
Tells you to go indoors to avoid catching a cold [when it’s raining] (B5)
PH 10,11, 106
DMG 15, 86
“IQ” Mnemonic
Reasoning Learning Written Word
Forte of magic- users
Perspicacious (keen mental perception & understanding)
Experience points are merely an indicator of the character’s upward progress towards greater proficiency in his or her chosen profession.
Experience is the measure of a character’s ability in his or her chosen profession, the character’s class.
No use of the term prime requisite.
[Gary offers a defense of using monsters killed and treasure taken to reflect level advancement in a chosen profession]
Enlightenment Intuitiveness
Effect on saving throws against some magical attack modes.
Utmost importance to clerics

1 comment:

  1. The more I reflect on prime requisites, the more I think they are an historical oddity, not an intrinsic game mechanic of D&D. They were created at a time in OD&D when there were only three character classes (Fighter-strength, Magic-User-intelligence and Cleric-wisdom). Which came first - a desire for thieves or a desire to have a fourth human character class matched to the fourth ability score? Prime requisites were created at a time in OD&D when ability scores did not give bonuses or not as it would in the future editions.
    Is it any wonder that AD&D, with it's plethora of character classes and it's inflated ability score bonuses, dropped the term prime requisite all together. Have a look in the index, prime requisites aren't there. Character classes are awarded a flat 10% XP bonus for exceptionally high ability scores eg >15.