Epic Path uses the standard array of ability scores for a classic D20 system game: Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Constitution (CON), Intelligence (INT), Wisdom (WIS) and Charisma (CHA). As this game was being developed we examined numerous enhancements and alternatives to this system, but eventually decided, why mess with a solid system that works great? Each ability score is given an initial value during Character Creation, but can be raised, either temporarily or permanently, by character level, class abilities, feats, spells and spell effects, magic items, etc.
Ability scores are split into two categories: physical and mental, each of which has three of the ability scores:
- Physical: STR, DEX and CON
- Mental: INT, WIS and CHA
Temporary Ability Scores
Temporary adjustments to your ability scores may be caused by any effect which has a duration, such as a spell effect, or an effect which isn't always active, such as a bonus from a magic item that has limited uses per day.
In addition, for the first 24 hours of wearing a magic item which boosts ability scores, the ability score increase granted is treated as a temporary ability score. Once the character has attuned to the item (by wearing it for 24 hours) the ability score increase granted by the item is considered a permanent ability score.
Temporary Ability Scores are fairly rare in Epic Path, because we find the book-keeping involved for the players is burdensome. We recommend that GM's simply ignore Temporary Ability Scores, and instead make attuning items have no effect at all in the first 24 hours, for simplicity. Of course, GM's can run the game they wish to run, and if magic wisdom-granting fountains and booster pills are a thing in your world, go for it!
Permanent Ability Scores
Permanent ability scores are pretty self-explanatory -- they're ability scores that don't wear off, don't have a limited duration, or are part of the character's innate ability scores. The value of a character's ability scores is usually the sum of their starting values, any increases they've gained from levels, feats, or class abilities, and (non-temporary) increases granted by magic items. By default in Epic Path, all items grant such permanent boosts after an initial 24-hour attunement period, but GM's may adjudicate this as they wish.
Some abilities and effects ignore temporary ability scores, and are based purely on permanent ability scores. It is therefore important to keep track of your permanent ability scores separately from your temporary scores.
The ability modifier is the numerical advantage or disadvantage that an ability score provides to your character when that ability score is used to roll skills, saving throws, combat maneuvers, increase hit points during character advancement, and other activities. Each ability modifier is calculated by subtracting 10 from the ability score, and then dividing the remainder by 2, dropping fractions. For example, the ability modifier for a Strength of 15 is +2, calculated as (15 - 10 = 5 / 2 = 2.5 rounded down to 2). In the entries below, each ability score details how its ability modifier is used. You can also refer to the table below for a listing of the modifier for each ability score value.
Note that not all ability scores have equal complexity in the game mechanics. Constitution, for example, seems quite 'boring' compared to Strength, or Intelligence. This is a balance mechanism. Con has a pretty simple effect, but a high Con adds DIRECTLY to your characters hit point total, which directly impacts how much bad stuff you can survive. This is a simple effect, but it is very powerful. Just because a score doesn't have a lot of tables and rules doesn't mean it can be used as a dump stat. Oftentimes, simple is awesome.
It is important to keep an eye out for abilities and rules which call for an ability score versus an ability modifier. Using an ability score in a game mechanic is rare, but it does happen. For example: the starting hit points for a 1st level character uses a character's Constitution ability score, but all future levels' hit point increases use their Constitution ability modifier.
When an ability score is permanently increased to a higher ability modifier, the benefit of that modifier is retroactively applied for each character level. For example, if a character's Constitution score is raised from a 15 to a 16 permanently, raising their modifier from +2 to +3, they would gain 1 hit point for each character level they currently have, as if they had always had that extra Constitution each time they leveled. Similarly, if a character's Intelligence increased to a higher modifier, they would gain an additional skill point for each character level they currently have. Refer to the individual Ability Score entries below to see how increases impact the character's other attributes.
Caster Ability Score
Spell-casting character classes always use one particular ability score modifier (sometimes referred to as their 'caster stat mod') when calculating the saving throw difficulty class (DC) of their spells. In addition, if their caster ability score is high enough, they may gain the ability to cast bonus spells, extracts or poultices per day based on a high ability score in their primary spell casting stat. The spell casting classes and the primary casting stat for each is listed below:
Class Stat Alchemist INT Bard CHA Cleric WIS Druid WIS Paladin CHA Ranger WIS Sorcerer CHA Wizard INT
Bonus Spell Slots per Day
Spell-casting character classes who possess a high primary casting ability score may qualify for bonus spells (or extracts, or poultices, depending on their class), per the table below. These bonus spells are an additional number of spells the caster may cast each day. They do not affect how many spells the character knows, only how many spells they can cast. Note that, even if a character's caster ability score is very high, they may not cast spells from spell levels higher than their current level in their caster class allows. Once they gain a high enough level to get access to the higher spell levels, any bonus spells they qualify for are also unlocked at that time, and are added to their number of spells castable per day.
- For example, a 3rd level wizard with an Intelligence score of 18 gets 1 additional castable spell per day of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spell levels. However, because they are only 3rd level, they only have access to 2nd level spells from their caster class, and therefore the bonus 3rd and 4th level spells from their high Intelligence score are unavailable to them until they are high enough level to cast 3rd and 4th level spells.
- Used In
- Adds to player to-hit rolls and damage rolls with melee attacks and melee touch attacks. Adds to damage for thrown weapons (but not to-hit rolls). Determines how much a character can carry without being encumbered (see below). Some skills make use of the character's Strength modifier. This is a simple but huge benefit for having a high Strength, and if you want to be good at weapon combat, a high Strength score is awesome.
Carrying Capacity and Encumbrance
Carrying capacity is the amount of weight that your character can pick up, wear, wield, and move around. Carrying capacity and encumbrance are a set of 'realism' rules, to prevent such things as the fighter from carrying around one of every single martial weapon, 'just in case'. Granted, with the right magic items a fighter can get frighteningly close to doing that at the upper reaches of play, but it should be a Big Deal.
All items in the game have a weight defined in pounds. Note that this weight is a bit abstract. Many items are a bit 'heavier' in pounds than seems reasonable. This is because 'pounds' in game terms are not based on real-world pounds, they are a combined measure of weight and awkwardness. A real-world long sword doesn't weigh anywhere close to 4 pounds, but the extra heft accounts for the scabbard, the belt and fittings to carry it, and the general awkwardness of day-to-day handling a meter-long hunk of scary-sharp metal. Similarly, 'treasure', in the form of Sellable Goods dropped by monsters are valuable, but they're also wretchedly heavy, awkward, drippy, dirty, sharp, sticky, off-balanced, and generally inconvenient. Their 'weight' abstracts all of that detail.
A special note must be made of medium and heavy armors and the various shields. Such things are not only heavy when measured in 'game-pounds', but wearing them also inflicts penalties over and above any penalties incurred just because of their weight, bulk, and stiffness. Even if a suit of heavy armor is literally the only thing your character is wearing and the weight is well under your 'light load' threshold, that suit of armor still slows your movement and inflicts a penalty on your strength- and dexterity-based skill checks (see armor check penalty). This simulates the fact that, while surrounding yourself with hardened steel and bulky padding like an insect's carapace is very effective at warding off attacks, it comes at a cost.
The carrying capacity of your character is defined in the table below, based upon your current strength ability score (not strength modifier). Anything that increases your strength also increases these numbers. In addition, ranks in the Might skill increase your carrying capacity even further. Some of the fantastic races (such as Arborians) even gain racial traits that enable them to carry more weight than would be normal for a creature of their size and strength.
If the total weight of all equipment, armor, weapons, foodstuffs, and other gear your character is carrying is less than or equal to the value listed for Light Load, based on your characters Strength ability score, your character is considered unencumbered, and suffers no penalties. It is generally recommended that characters try to avoid ever carrying more stuff than their light load would allow them to carry.
If your character is carrying more weight than the listed Light Load value, but less than or equal to the listed Medium Load value, they suffer a -5 foot penalty to all movement speeds they possess until they can reduce the amount they are carrying to back under their Light Load value.
A character's Medium Load value is double their Light Load value.
If your character is carrying more weight than the listed Medium Load value, but less than or equal to the listed Heavy Load value, they are Slowed with all movement speeds they possess until they can reduce the amount they are carrying back under their Medium Load value. This is not a normal Slowed condition, since it cannot be 'cured' through any means except reducing the amount of weight your character is carrying.
A character's Heavy Load value is triple their Light Load value.
If your character is carrying more weight than the listed Heavy Load value, but less than or equal to their listed Max Drag value, they can still move around under all of that weight, but they are considered Overburdened. While Overburdened, all squares of terrain are treated as Impeded to all movement types, even teleports.
If you try to carry more than your Max Drag, you collapse, and depending upon the GM's rulings, you might suffer the Pinned condition, or even go into the Environmental Effects Rules for suffering under a collapse. This is terrible, don't try it.
If you are swimming or flying, there will be other consequences that your kind GM will be sure to inflict upon you, such as sinking like a stone.
A character's Max Drag value is 15 times their Light Load value (or 5 times their Heavy Load value).
Drag and Lift Over Head
You can lift an object that weighs less than or equal to your Max Drag value over your head, but if it weighs more than your Heavy Load value by itself (not including any gear you are also carrying), you are Immobilized while doing so, until you drop that ridiculously heavy thing. However, if the object you are lifting, plus all the equipment you are currently carrying, brings your total encumbrance greater than your Max Drag value, you cannot lift the object off the ground.
If you are only dragging an object (i.e. some part of it is still on the ground), you can move around with the object, only suffering the movement penalties for what that object's weight does to your total load (i.e. if it pushes you to a Heavy Load, you become Slowed, etc.). If the weight of the object you are dragging brings your total weight carried to a number greater than your Max Drag value, you cannot drag it; it is simply too heavy.
If you attempt to drag an object, or lift it over your head, and the object by itself weighs more than your Heavy Load value, you are also Flat-Footed while doing so, in addition to all other penalties described above. Because of this, it can be very risky for the low-strength Sorcerer to try to drag their armor-clad Partisan friend out of the way of a lava flow in the middle of combat. It's certainly very heroic, though, and the Partisan should definitely buy that sorcerer a tasty adult beverage when they get back to town, assuming they manage to survive such shenanigans.
Table: Carrying Capacity By Strength Ability Score
|Score||Modifier||Light Load (lbs.)||Medium Load (lbs.)||Heavy Load (lbs.)||Max Drag (lbs.)|
- Used In
- Adds to a character's Armor Class value (though most armors inflict a penalty to your Dexterity modifier, as it applies to armor class). Adds to Reflex saving throws. Included in to-hit roll calculations for ranged weapons (both thrown and projectile). Used by a large number of skills.
- Used In
- Adds to a character's hit points each time they gain a level. (This is really, really nice.) Adds to Fortitude saves. Used for a very small number of skills. Did we mention it adds to your hit points and fortitude saves?
- Used In
- Used by several classes for arcane spells and other class features. Used in a lot of skills. Determines how many languages you start with and can learn from your race's starting language list.
All player characters can speak, read, and write the Common language at native familiarity, regardless of the race chosen, or their intelligence score. Some races provide an additional language to starting characters, regardless of their intelligence score. Characters with secondary languages from their race can speak, read and write these languages at native familiarity as well.
In addition to the starting language(s), characters with a positive Intelligence modifier gain one bonus language per +1 of their modifier. That is, a character with a 14 intelligence (which grants a +2 INT modifier) would learn 2 bonus languages. These bonus languages are selected from the list of bonus languages available to their chosen character race. Bonus languages are always learned at the fluent level of familiarity.
If a character improves their Intelligence through a permanent source (such as a magic item, a manual, or through level advancement), sufficient to increase their INT modifier, they gain an additional bonus language, chosen from the same list of their chosen race. If a character's INT modifier increases to the point where they could gain more bonus languages than those offered by their race, they no longer gain bonus languages for increasing their Intelligence (though they still gain additional skill ranks each level; see below).
Characters may also learn additional languages by placing ranks in the Linguistics skill.
- Used In
- Used by several classes for divine spells and other class features. Used in a few skills, but they are quite important. Adds to Will saving throws, and that's rather nice.
- Used In
- Used by several classes for arcane spells and other class features. Used in a lot of good skills. Makes you real good lookin', and who doesn't like that?
Other Ability Scores
Some campaigns will have campaign-specific ability scores, which can have game effects specific to the campaign. If the optional Auramancy rules are used, for example, characters may begin with a seventh ability score called Blood (BLD) which dictates the strength of their Bloodline.