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Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of his or her actions.

Every character has six basic Ability Scores:

  • Strength (STR)
  • Dexterity (DEX)
  • Constitution (CON)
  • Intelligence (INT)
  • Wisdom (WIS)
  • Charisma (CHA)

The Score of these Abilities ranges from 0 to infinity. A limit, if any, will be specified in the rules. The normal human range is 3 to 18. It is possible for a creature to have a score of "none". A score of "none" is not the same as a score of "0". A score of "none" means that the creature does not possess the ability at all. The modifier for a score of "none" is +0.

  • STR 0 means that the character cannot move at all. He lies helpless on the ground.
  • DEX 0 means that the character cannot move at all. He stands motionless, rigid, and helpless.
  • CON 0 means that the character is dead.
  • INT 0 means that the character cannot think and is unconscious in a coma like stupor, helpless.
  • WIS 0 means that the character is withdrawn into a deep sleep filled with nightmares, helpless.
  • CHA 0 means that the character is withdrawn into a catatonic, coma like stupor, helpless.

Keeping track of negative ability score points is never necessary. A characterís ability score canít drop below 0.

ABILITY MODIFIERS

Each ability will have a modifier. The modifier can be calculated using this formula:

(ability/2) -5 [round result down]

The modifier is the number you add to or subtract from the die roll when your character tries to do something related to that ability. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.

STRENGTH (STR)

Strength measures your characterís muscle and physical power. This ability is especially important for fighters, barbarians, paladins, rangers, and monks because it helps them prevail in combat. Strength also limits the amount of equipment your character can carry.

You apply your characterís Strength modifier to:

  • Melee attack rolls.
  • Damage rolls when using a melee weapon or a thrown weapon (including a sling). (Exceptions: Off-hand attacks receive only one-half the characterís Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks receive one and a half times the Strength bonus. A Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies to attacks made with a bow that is not a composite bow.)
  • Climb, Jump, and Swim checks. These are the skills that have Strength as their key ability.
  • Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).  

DEXTERITY (DEX)

Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, but itís also high on the list for characters who typically wear light or medium armor (rangers and barbarians) or no armor at all (monks, wizards, and sorcerers), and for anyone who wants to be a skilled archer.

You apply your characterís Dexterity modifier to:

  • Ranged attack rolls, including those for attacks made with bows, crossbows, throwing axes, and other ranged weapons.
  • Armor Class (AC), provided that the character can react to the attack.
  • Reflex saving throws, for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly.
  • Balance, Escape Artist, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Ride, Sleight of Hand, Tumble, and Use Rope checks. These are the skills that have Dexterity as their key ability.

CONSTITUTION (CON)

Constitution represents your characterís health and stamina. A Constitution bonus increases a characterís hit points, so the ability is important for all classes.

You apply your characterís Constitution modifier to:

  • Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result below 1óthat is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each time he or she advances in level).
  • Fortitude saving throws, for resisting poison and similar threats.
  • Concentration checks. Concentration is a skill, important to spellcasters, that has Constitution as its key ability.

If a characterís Constitution score changes enough to alter his or her Constitution modifier, the characterís hit points also increase or decrease accordingly.  

INTELLIGENCE (INT)

Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for wizards because it affects how many spells they can cast, how hard their spells are to resist, and how powerful their spells can be. Itís also important for any character who wants to have a wide assortment of skills.

You apply your characterís Intelligence modifier to:

  • The number of languages your character knows at the start of the game.
  • The number of skill points gained each level. (But your character always gets at least 1 skill point per level.)
  • Appraise, Craft, Decipher Script, Disable Device, Forgery, Knowledge, Search, and Spellcraft checks. These are the skills that have Intelligence as their key ability.

A wizard gains bonus spells based on her Intelligence score. The minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the spellís level.

An animal has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2. A creature of humanlike intelligence has a score of at least 3.

WISDOM (WIS)

Wisdom describes a characterís willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition. While Intelligence represents oneís ability to analyze information, Wisdom represents being in tune with and aware of oneís surroundings. Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score.

You apply your characterís Wisdom modifier to:

  • Will saving throws (for negating the effect of charm person and other spells).
  • Heal, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks. These are the skills that have Wisdom as their key ability.

Clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers get bonus spells based on their Wisdom scores. The minimum Wisdom score needed to cast a cleric, druid, paladin, or ranger spell is 10 + the spellís level.  

CHARISMA (CHA)

Charisma measures a characterís force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one is perceived by others in a social setting. Charisma is most important for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to turn undead. Every creature has a Charisma score.

You apply your characterís Charisma modifier to:

  • Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device checks. These are the skills that have Charisma as their key ability.
  • Checks that represent attempts to influence others.
  • Turning checks for clerics and paladins attempting to turn zombies, vampires, and other undead.

Sorcerers and bards get bonus spells based on their Charisma scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a sorcerer or bard spell is 10 + the spellís level.

When an ability score changes, all attributes associated with that score change accordingly. A character does not retroactively get additional skill points for previous levels if she increases her intelligence.

CHANGING ABILITY SCORES

Ability scores can increase with no limit.

  • Poisons, diseases, and other effects can temporarily harm an ability (temporary ability damage). Ability points lost to damage return on their own, typically at a rate of 1 point per day.
  • Some effects drain abilities, resulting in a permanent loss (permanent ability drain). Points lost this way don't return on their own.
  • As a character ages, some ability scores go up and others go down.

When an ability score changes, the modifier associated with that score also changes.