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It is one of the core stats for old D&D. It covers juggling ability, sleight-of-hand, reflexes, lock picking, speed, agility, dodging, all things to do with speed and motion even aiming.


But I got to thinking about it and I wondered why all those things were automatically lumped together.



17 Dex


That is a high score: Consider a Tree-Sloth: it is incredibly agile - 17 makes sense; its hands (and feet!) display tremendous dexterity - 17, sure; but is if fast? no, it should get a 4-5 Dex when considering its speed.


Consider a Gnomish Clockmaker: very, very, good with his hands - 17 makes sense; but only average agility (10 Dex?); not very fast with the short legs (7 Dex?); might be a deadly shot with a clockwork crossbow - back to 17 for aiming again.



Human Acrobats - could easily be good at juggling, sleight-of-hand, reflexes, tumbling, agility, dodging; but might not run so fast or be any good with fiddly tasks wanting fine motor skill like picking locks or adjusting clocks.

:upside: :upside:





Has anybody else run into this sort of conundrum or made adjustments to the rules of their RPG to address this kind of thing?


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Nah, I consider that all role-playing. My players know when they're doing what they aughtn't... They know because I give them the look. The look of dread. Like this:




















Nah, but seriously, I've not had an issue with it. The sloth seems a bit wonky, though - how are they dexterous, with those BA claws? They're certainly not high-dex because of their movement rate...

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I think part of the problem is that whole generation of people (or gamer people) now have a wrong-headed idea about what dexterity means. Gary G. effectively expanded the definition and subsumed other words. It should mean just this:

dexterity [dek-ster-i-tee] /dɛkˈstɛr ɪ ti/


skill or adroitness in using the hands or body; agility.



Even though it lists agility as a synonym I can think of people (or characters) who break the mold. The wide receiver who is acrobatic on the field, has amazing reflexes, can bend and twist to get his foot down in-bounds, runs fast...


...that guy is fast and agile...


...but he can't type, tape up his ankle, or set the time on his Rolex® ...because other than catching a football he sucks at tasks involving the hands (dexterity).

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Eh, the alternative is to have 500 stats, which is does not sound fun to me, or a pure skill game like fate, which does seem fun but is a different kind of play.



I have a friend who's a two-time state champion wrester in the heavy-weight class; he's a massively constructed human being and is wicked fast with wrestling moves and very nimble for his size. In a foot race I'd kill him...but that doesn't mean he's less dextrous than me.


I think of stats more around the idea of what you spend more time focusing on. For instance, I'm sure my wrestling friend was MORE dextrous when he was actively wrestling than he is now. Just like I'm stronger when I've spent time in the gym vs. letting my muscles atrophy. Or my mind is more 'trained' when I've been reading a lot and deeply thinking through concepts and ideas that stretch my thinking. 


A wizard's high intelligence isn't just about being naturally intelligent as much as that's where they focus their attention. A fighter is stronger b/c of weight training and honing his physical prowess. A rogue is more dextrous b/c they spend time working on fine skills and being sly/sneaky.


Yes, we all have abilities to which we have a stronger predilection, but it doesn't define all of my personal stats.

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Intelligence & Wisdom



These are a problem (at least to me) when the score you'd give the player is much lower than the score rolled up on the character sheet. How is a fool supposed to role play a Cleric with a 17 Wis?  How does a barely literate teenager role play the Wizard with an 18 Int?


I never spotted a good answer for that.



Dexterity & Movement


There were points when the rules severed Speed from Dex. Adrift, would have a higher Move number than his wrestler buddy.

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It's not about a full capability sim. Stats in DnD are roles... or more like tropes:


The nimble one

The strong one

The tough one

The smart one

The wise one

The charismatic one


Because nobody cares if you're "the one who's fairly quick on your feet and probably alright at dodging but not actually that good with stuff where you need fine motor skills and focus"


It's not a slice-of-life drama.

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There was a fair amount of discussion about smart/dumb players playing smart/dumb characters in the Alignment Thread a few months ago back.  Consensus was not reached.  I'm in favor of letting player intelligence rule when playing a puzzle game or tactical game, and lettings rolls rule when playing a role-playing game.  Again, the constraints of an attribute based system make for a different kind of game than a skill+aspect system.

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