D&D Stats in Simple Language

I’ve heard a lot of interpretations of ability scores. The most common of these is “Charisma correlates strongly to good looks”, which is incorrect and tends to irritate players of low-Charisma characters, but anytime there’s something the stats don’t cover explicitly (like weight and build), we try to draw conclusions about them based on the hard numbers we have. The problem is that this still leave a lot to interpretation. What’s the actual strength difference between a person who can lift 80 pounds and a person who can lift 100 pounds? How tough is a bard with Constitution of 14, really? What does it mean for my character when I roll poorly and have to drive the 3-Charisma barbarian?

I put together this list a few years ago to try to put this in simple language. Below are some quick descriptions of every stat, from 1 (a modifier of -5, or as low as a character can get without being undead or a construct) to 25 (a modifier of +7, or as high as a PHB character can get without magic):

  • Strength
    • 1 (–5): Morbidly weak, has significant trouble lifting own limbs
    • 2-3 (–4): Needs help to stand, can be knocked over by strong breezes
    • 4-5 (–3): Knocked off balance by swinging something dense
    • 6-7 (–2): Difficulty pushing an object of their weight
    • 8-9 (–1): Has trouble even lifting heavy objects
    • 10-11 (0): Can literally pull their own weight
    • 12-13 (1): Carries heavy objects for short distances
    • 14-15 (2): Visibly toned, throws small objects for long distances
    • 16-17 (3): Carries heavy objects with one arm
    • 18-19 (4): Can break objects like wood with bare hands
    • 20-21 (5): Able to out-wrestle a work animal or catch a falling person
    • 22-23 (6): Can pull very heavy objects at appreciable speeds
    • 24-25 (7): Pinnacle of brawn, able to out-lift several people
  • Dexterity
    • 1 (–5): Barely mobile, probably significantly paralyzed
    • 2-3 (–4): Incapable of moving without noticeable effort or pain
    • 4-5 (–3): Visible paralysis or physical difficulty
    • 6-7 (–2): Significant klutz or very slow to react
    • 8-9 (–1): Somewhat slow, occasionally trips over own feet
    • 10-11 (0): Capable of usually catching a small tossed object
    • 12-13 (1): Able to often hit large targets
    • 14-15 (2): Can catch or dodge a medium-speed surprise projectile
    • 16-17 (3): Able to often hit small targets
    • 18-19 (4): Light on feet, able to often hit small moving targets
    • 20-21 (5): Graceful, able to flow from one action into another easily
    • 22-23 (6): Very graceful, capable of dodging a number of thrown objects
    • 24-25 (7): Moves like water, reacting to all situations with almost no effort
  • Constitution
    • 1 (–5): Minimal immune system, body reacts violently to anything foreign
    • 2-3 (–4): Frail, suffers frequent broken bones
    • 4-5 (–3): Bruises very easily, knocked out by a light punch
    • 6-7 (–2): Unusually prone to disease and infection
    • 8-9 (–1): Easily winded, incapable of a full day’s hard labor
    • 10-11 (0): Occasionally contracts mild sicknesses
    • 12-13 (1): Can take a few hits before being knocked unconscious
    • 14-15 (2): Able to labor for twelve hours most days
    • 16-17 (3): Easily shrugs off most illnesses
    • 18-19 (4): Able to stay awake for days on end
    • 20-21 (5): Very difficult to wear down, almost never feels fatigue
    • 22-23 (6): Never gets sick, even to the most virulent diseases
    • 24-25 (7): Tireless paragon of physical endurance
  • Intelligence
    • 1 (–5): Animalistic, no longer capable of logic or reason
    • 2-3 (–4): Barely able to function, very limited speech and knowledge
    • 4-5 (–3): Often resorts to charades to express thoughts
    • 6-7 (–2): Often misuses and mispronounces words
    • 8-9 (–1): Has trouble following trains of thought, forgets most unimportant things
    • 10-11 (0): Knows what they need to know to get by
    • 12-13 (1): Knows a bit more than is necessary, fairly logical
    • 14-15 (2): Able to do math or solve logic puzzles mentally with reasonable accuracy
    • 16-17 (3): Fairly intelligent, able to understand new tasks quickly
    • 18-19 (4): Very intelligent, may invent new processes or uses for knowledge
    • 20-21 (5): Highly knowledgeable, probably the smartest person many people know
    • 22-23 (6): Able to make Holmesian leaps of logic
    • 24-25 (7): Famous as a sage and genius
  • Wisdom
    • 1 (–5): Seemingly incapable of thought, barely aware
    • 2-3 (–4): Rarely notices important or prominent items, people, or occurrences
    • 4-5 (–3): Seemingly incapable of forethought
    • 6-7 (–2): Often fails to exert common sense
    • 8-9 (–1): Forgets or opts not to consider options before taking action
    • 10-11 (0): Makes reasoned decisions most of the time
    • 12-13 (1): Able to tell when a person is upset
    • 14-15 (2): Can get hunches about a situation that doesn’t feel right
    • 16-17 (3): Reads people and situations fairly well
    • 18-19 (4): Often used as a source of wisdom or decider of actions
    • 20-21 (5): Reads people and situations very well, almost unconsciously
    • 22-23 (6): Can tell minute differences among many situations
    • 24-25 (7): Nearly prescient, able to reason far beyond logic
  • Charisma
    • 1 (–5): Barely conscious, incredibly tactless and non-empathetic
    • 2-3 (–4): Minimal independent thought, relies heavily on others to think instead
    • 4-5 (–3): Has trouble thinking of others as people
    • 6-7 (–2): Terribly reticent, uninteresting, or rude
    • 8-9 (–1): Something of a bore or makes people mildly uncomfortable
    • 10-11 (0): Capable of polite conversation
    • 12-13 (1): Mildly interesting, knows what to say to the right people
    • 14-15 (2): Interesting, knows what to say to most people
    • 16-17 (3): Popular, receives greetings and conversations on the street
    • 18-19 (4): Immediately likeable by many people, subject of favorable talk
    • 20-21 (5): Life of the party, able to keep people entertained for hours
    • 22-23 (6): Immediately likeable by almost everybody
    • 24-25 (7): Renowned for wit, personality, and/or looks

This really isn’t valid for 4th-Edition though. For one thing, the minimum you can get is 4th is a score of 3, and the minimum the system wants you to have is 8 since it discouraging rolling for stats at all. On top of that, the maximum is 30, and I’m not entirely sure where you can go from the capstones above. Stats also (always) scale with level and there are no magical ways to modify them, so it feel more like the ability scores are shoved to the back end of the character sheet, used in other calculations but meaningless for an actual description of a character.

Edit: Given the popularity of this post, it’s been retroactively extended with additional analysis in two parts:
What Measure is an 18?
The Definition of Charisma

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74 Responses to D&D Stats in Simple Language

  1. Daniel says:

    Not sure how often you check these, but just wanted to thank you for this list. I’ve been looking for something like this since I started playing P&P games.

    Is this just your personal interpretation and/or elaboration of descriptions provided in PHBs? Or adapted from another work?

    • MssngrDeath says:

      I made it up, using brain thinking. I don’t expect that it’s a perfect definitive list, and I know a few players and DMs who would rather think of low-Charisma characters as simply ugly but otherwise entirely playable.

      • Dimir says:

        Most of the time Charisma is how good with people someone is. considering revising the lower levels of this to reflect inaptitude of basic sociatal standards, such as “Please” and “Thank you,” however, this guide is highly accurate on all other accounts.

        • stan says:

          I think that was implied in “able to hold a polite conversation.” as being the threshold of what you are talking about with “please and thank you.”

    • Stormbow says:

      This is actually not a good representation as it doesn’t take into account what previous editions of D&D have told us, what Dragon magazine has explained, and is very much this author’s personal opinion on the subject without admitting to such.

      • Stormbow says:

        The author gives almost all baseball players an 18-19 DEX. That alone should be a huge red flag to anyone that knows anything at all about baseball…

        • MssngrDeath says:

          You may be interested in the follow-up “In Defense of D&D Stats in Simple Language: What Measure is an 18?”, where I explicitly say that this is not relevant to other versions of D&D and explain why. There’s a link to it at the end of this post.

          I think it’s wisest to not get into a discussion on the canonicity of Dragon magazine.

          Assuming we have the same definitions of “often”, “small”, and “moving”, I’m not surprised that professional baseball players have high stats. Their job is to be at peak physical ability specifically in the context of hitting and throwing small, fast-moving objects. An ordinary person who has no training, experience, or equipment would need a Dex of 18 or 19 to compete with them. Ability scores are not the only thing that goes into a character.

        • yeson says:

          they practice daily to do that, it’s their job.
          A prof. bonus of 2-3 makes up for the possible gap, but he’s right, they are peak physical.

        • Jerry Allen says:

          The lack of “success” in hitting in Major League Baseball is more due to good pitching rather than poor hitting. Not only that, but hitting the ball isn’t that difficult, it’s htting it well enough to get on base that is.

  2. Amy says:

    I thought it would be funny to put my group’s stats in. This is how the people of Faerun see them;
    Derrik – Derrik is a slightly shorter than most dwarf with wavy black hair, pale skin, and brown eyes. He’s a bit on the skinny side, and could manage to put on a couple pounds. However, what weight Derrik has, is tied into his muscles, as he is visibly toned. He would be a bit most of a lady-killer if he wasn’t quite so clumsy, and was better with polite conversation (And the need to constantly be nude). He tends to have an average amount of common sense, though he can read people and situations better than most.
    Aemon – Aemon is a normal human. He’s fairly average, though with a set of love handles. His stunning blue-green eyes, and warm brown hair makes up for this. His stunning smile tends to pull people into conversations with him, and makes women give him a second look. Occasionally, he makes a good decision… not where women are involved, though! He seems to turn into putty around them! Which is kind of surprising, because he’s a decently well-read guy. I saw him in a bar fight once, and he was barely holding his own… until he tripped on his shoelace.
    Lara – Lara is a very pretty red-headed pixie. For being so tiny and frail, I was surprised how fast she was when someone threw a rock at her! She was panting pretty hard after that short zip, but she didn’t seem very angry. She realized that it was just a few kids playing and they didn’t mean to hurt her. So she just gave them a lecture on how to be more aware of their surroundings next time.
    Xzilliana – For being a half-orc, her gray skin, black hair, and light blue eyes make her quite stunning. People seem willing to talk to her when they won’t talk to other orcs. She seems like a salt of the earth kind of girl, and likes to talk about simpler things. She was just getting over a cold when I met her, so I was surprised when she was able to catch a runaway pig with just one arm!

  3. Bret says:

    If these are true… I, and many people I know, have a stat buy in the 75-100 range. If this is the classification you use for stats, your world is very heavily skewed towards power. We definitely use the much older and much less “power creeped” stat explanations of third edition and earlier.

    • Ash says:

      No..yours is skewed..I have been using the 1-3 edition for over 20 years and these descriptions are correct, you aren’t supposed to even have a stat over 20 when creating a new Chr.also depending on the race, you shouldn’t even have a stat above 10. Only with experience can you get to 100 unless you are cheating or creating new chrs at a much higher level.

      • Just John says:

        Ash (I know you are unlikely to read this as it’s been a couple years, but anywho…) If you played 1-3rd editions, then you would know that (especially in 1st and 2nd) *any* stat at 19 or higher was completely superhuman. Individuals with INT:18, for example, were among the smartest people in the world; those with 19 or 20 were understood to have cognitive processes beyond human ability. The OP’s examples in his lists skew too high (going up to 25, as if 25 even in 3.0/3.5 were stats that any conventional human(oid) would ever have sans magic or being a non-standard race — like the PC-stat’d centaurs, who could start with STR:26-28 if they rolled well) relative to a number of values. He has it right in a number of examples, but the scaling goes off-mark in several places (particularly, for example, his descriptor of “fairly intelligent” for INT:16-17 — that stat range allows a person to easily apply-and-be-accepted to MENSA, as well as have a genius level IQ well above the real-world 142-148, per some examples cited in Dragon over the years). You might want to re-check *your* take on things relative to the discussion…

    • nope says:

      Uh, you realize the GODS don’t go above 25? by second edition standards this one heavily underrestimates what stats mean.
      20 would be a good indicator of super genius, 25 would mean something like “one of the smartest people that will ever live in this or any other universe”

      • Just John says:

        Nope: the “stat buy” reference was in terms of overall point costs for the stats, not the ratings themselves. (They weren’t citing a *score* of 75-100, but rather a *point buy* range/cost of that, which is entirely possible as it would cost over 100 pts in the buy systems to have 18s in all stats, let alone have deity level stats up to 25, or 30 in 5e… or 40/50+ in 3.0/3.5…)

      • MssngrDeath says:

        Point of order: gods in 3E bottomed out at 26 for all stats. The only exception I recall is Garl Glittergold, who had a Strength of 24 but gnomes have a Strength penalty so I’m not surprised.

  4. JudgeX says:

    Great list… coming from an older D&D tradition, I tend to think of scores greater than 18 as where they start becoming super human… but still, a very great list that jives quite well with post 2nd edition rules :).

  5. Goglutin says:

    I do not agree with this description.

    Of course this depend of the edition but still… humans stats should range from to 3 to 20 for starting characters (depending editions). But they are HEROES. A normal human is between 8 to 12 for most of his stats. 5 (or less) is for a deficient and 17 (or more) for a prodigy.

    I see it so that a base of 9-11 is average for a human but it goes exponential whether you go up or down… 16 STRENGTH is like my brother who is able to lift 100 pounds of a bench 10 times without being too much tired (he’s not a super human but he’s trained and, you’d be better avoid a punch from him) while having 4 charisma is having literally no manners enough so that everyone avoids you (burping and farting loudly in public as an example)!

  6. Scarsh says:

    I like this description. I’m still a bit of a n00b at D&D, and have never DM’ed before, (in fact, I’m pretty sure I suck at D&D lingo), but I’m trying to make my own campaign, and this is going to help a lot, especially since I’m adding my own new race, the Shadelings, and have only 1st edition reference guides, like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual 2 and Faerie Mound of Dragonkind. The way Shadelings are initially, they would be like this, from an outside perspective –
    I was sitting in the local tavern one evening, writing my weekly report for the construction of a new house and I saw a small hooded figure sitting at a table in the corner, eating alone. I shrugged her off as a simple Halfling, or maybe a Dwarf. I returned to my task, and after a fair while, reached for my coin purse to pay for my meal, and noticed it was missing. I looked around the room to see who would have taken it. I noticed the hooded person grinning, still in the corner, and she held up my money and waved it lightly. I walked over to her and told her angrily that theft would not be tolerated, and she replied with “I don’t care. Go bother someone else, and avoid this particular Shadeling from now on. Oh, and watch your back,”. She then proceeded to kick my leg. Then, as angry as I was, I swung my fist at her, but she seemed to disappear, in nothing more than a blur. I heard the sound of leather being cut, and my trousers fell to the ground, my belt cut. I turned around and saw her running through the door.

  7. Jeff says:

    This is nice, and it was obviously a lot of work, but hate to say I think you are underestimating the stats.

    Mind you that I’m primarily familiar with D&D 1st edition, AD&D, and passingly only with third edition. That said, a bit of historical reference can be a benefit. D&D (original) limited every stat to a range of 3-18 (human). AD&D introduced stats from 19 – 25, but only for supernatural beings and giants.

    In the original AD&D monster manual, a vampire was listed as having a strength of 18/97. That puts things in perspective. Per the D&D and AD&D manuals, a strength of 17 and above had a chance to bend steel bars (such as in a jail cell). Stats of 19 and above were reserved fro supernatural beings (gods, demigods, devils, demons and deities) or for giants (a hill giant was a 19 strength). Stats above 18 could be applied to player characters (or NPCs) only via magic items.

    With that information, you can estimate that a stat score of 18 would be at the extraordinary end of human ability. Stephen Hawking and Einstein would each have a 17 or 18 intelligence. Circus performers such as those that did the high wire acts and flying acts, as well as professional athletes (basketball, baseball, hockey, shooting sports) would have dexterity in the 15 – 18 range, with most falling at 15 – 17. Gandhi would probably have a 16 or 17 charisma (not 18, because his looks at least could have been improved and you have to leave room for that). Gandhi would probably come in at 17 or 18 for wisdom. The guys that compete pulling trucks, or doing olympic level weightlifting, would be in the 17 – 18 range for strength.

    Using that rational, an example of people with over 18 for stats would have to be pulled from fiction. Wolverine (from the X men) would have a constitution around 23 – 24 (heals from almost any injury instantly, but still ages). Superman would probably have a 24 or 25 strength. The Flash a dexterity of 24 – or 25. Sheldon, from TVs “Big Bang Theory”, would be an example of someone with a 18 – 19 intelligence and a wisdom in the range of 4 – 6.

    • Blash says:

      This is much better

    • Just John says:

      Pretty much on-point, Jeff. (I’d disagree with only a couple cross-examples for, say, 3.0/3.5 scaling — wherein Superman would have a STR:125, per the translation rules from the DC Writers Bible to DnD 3.0 — but that’s being nit-picky. Overall, his STR:25 in the 2.0 setting would be understood to mean that he could move vast castles/nearby mountain ridges, etc….)

  8. Thomas says:

    Using your descriptors I have determined what my character scores would be if I were a DnD character.
    Str: 10
    Dex: 11
    Con: 10
    Int: 15
    Wis: 17
    Cha: 17

    Which is surprising and amusing because I tend to play Fighters.

    • Xavier Spade says:

      If you were beginning your adventure at first or second level, I’d recommend multi-classing Druid/Sorcerer.
      The Cleric’s heavy armor proficiency couldn’t be put to use with your strength (no offense intended).
      I regret that multi-classing causes one to miss the high-level spells; but think of all that volume and variety you’d have to cast from without having to seek out libraries and universities.
      A cleric that eschews armor would also work, but I really like the synergy vibe coming off the Druid/Sorcerer.
      All in great fun.
      Here’s to never being too old for D & D.

  9. Big D says:

    I like what you’ve done.

    My only observation/Criticism would be that you are underselling high stats.
    An 18 strength, for example, is the pinnacle of human achievement, a paragon of muscle and power. This would be more like an Olympic power lifter, not someone who can break objects like wood with their bare hands. This holds true all the way up to 3.5, but I never played 4th ed. so I don’t know how stats compare in that edition.

  10. thevultureGM says:

    I really like the descriptions as a primer, a starting point for what the numbers mean in real life terms. My only question is this: isn’t Charisma also a measure of the characters force of will? A person with a low charisma score should be more meek and easily pushed around in interpersonal interactions, even when the player doesn’t have their character act that way. I won’t force my players to play a certain way, but NPC’s respect or contempt is based upon how they carry themselves.

  11. WarlockMasterDM says:

    Based on this my stats would be as follows: Strength – 12, Dexterity – 18, Constitution – 12, Intelligence – 17, Wisdom – 19, & Charisma – 6. Sorta ironic that my favorite class in D&D 3.5 & 5th edition would be my worst stat in real life but that’s why we play the game is to play something that we normally couldn’t do in real life.

    Just wish there was an updated chart for D&D 5th edition.

  12. Xavier Spade says:

    Thank you so much for posting this for People to look at.
    It’s so true about the top 3 attributes decreasing with age, while (hopefully for anyone willing to learn) the bottom 3 attributes increase.

    In real life my attributes used to would have made for an awesome heavily-armored FIGHTER, with LOTS of skill points… or an extremely strong WIZARD, with lots of hit-points…
    Now, I’m putting all my levels into wizard for sure, and am starting to get more in touch with nature.

  13. Crim Crysari says:

    I slightly disagree with the low Intelligence options, One of my players rolled a 5 on his Cleric and decided to dictate that onto his Intelligence. However, since he also had 16 Charisma we decided that he was quite eloquent and well spoken. To roleplay his incredibly low Intellect he instead acted and sounded quite smart, however the things he were saying were some of the most baffling thoughts possible. Mainly correlating the religious explanations to most subjects, especially spells. Him and our Wizard ended up having some of the most hilarious conversations as he mocked and insulted the 18 Intelligence Wizard for his “stupid” explanations and nonsensical “science”.

    Examples – Wizard “Water is nothing more than tiny air joined together” Cleric “You must be a complete moron, Water is made from God’s crying in the sky because of heathens such as yourself spouting nonsense.”

  14. Alexis The Dragon says:

    Think some of these are kind of dumb.

    For strength each level should be one step higher, like 1 needs help standing and so on.

    Also I don’t think really low attributes should mean you can’t do certain things, just you are really incompetent in them

    Dexterity saying u have pain when u move is low constitution really, not dexterity, you should said something like they have extremely bad centre of balance.

    and 25 is described by the rules as Dragon/Godly Avatar strength, by that level of strength you can knock down pure metal doors, HARD, right off their hinges and a like 10 feet back.

  15. Tolemac says:

    MssngrDeath, you wrote, “The most common of these is “Charisma correlates strongly to good looks”, which is incorrect and tends to irritate players of low-Charisma characters, …”
    I agree completely and this is why the original rules had Comeliness along with Charisma.

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  17. Karasu Kuro says:

    I am trying to come up with a simpler RPG system, drawing from many sources of inspiration, and found myself trying to comprise a list exactly like this. I was wondering, if you do not mind terribly, if I may use this list almost verbatim? I have no problem giving credit.

  18. cbo says:

    I have the same request as Karasu Kuro before me. I’m working on a utility for an upcoming campaign we’ll be starting sometime in the spring and would like to include a variation of your above ideas. Do you have any terms or conditions for usage?

    Thanks for the blog. Good luck on NaNo!

  19. Coolman says:

    I am
    S 19
    C 7
    D 15
    I 13
    W 13
    C 16

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  21. Beauxbella says:

    Not so cool with the idea that autistic people are not charismatic or the implecation that if you aren’t charming you’re autistic. It’s quite harmful and ignorant and probably hurts a lot of people who come here with the hopes of gaining more insight into character creation… Not cool my friend…

    • MssngrDeath says:

      I interpret Charisma to include reading social cues, effectively communicating, and empathizing with others. This may only further betray my ignorance, but I understand autism to be a disorder characterized explicitly by having difficulty with these things. Wouldn’t it then follow that there could be an association between low Charisma and autistic behavior?

      Of course, it’s not as simple as all that; there’s no Charisma score below which a character is definitely autistic, there’s no personality or action that dictates a certain Charisma score, and autism as a concept is so broad and misunderstood that just having a solid definition of “autism-like behavior” is difficult if not impossible for the layman. But as far as ten-word descriptions of ability scores written with the intention of getting players to think more about the traits and in-world abilities of their characters go, I think it’s better to broach the topic and consider it than labor under the incomplete idea that an especially low Charisma score’s only effect is to make you especially bad at Charisma checks.

      • Anthony says:

        I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to comment as a person who has dealt with being ON the autism spectrum, I agree with MssngrDeath. I am all for being supportive of people on the spectrum, for example, by not using “autism” to mean stupidity or using “autism” as an insult. That said, autism has a particular meaning, and my understanding of that meaning is match with the one expressed by MssngrDeath. It definitely adds great challenges to dealing with people.

  22. Lorna says:

    Do you have a version of this for 5e?

    • MssngrDeath says:


      The simplest way to make one for 5E is to remove your two least-favorite tiers from each ability score, shifting the 24-25 values down to 20. The harder way is to add seven tiers but compress them so each pertains to one ability score value instead of two. That is, Str 14 is “Visibly toned” and Str 15 is “Carries heavy objects with one arm” even though they have the same modifier. It’s possible, I just haven’t done it.

      • 793 says:

        Would love to see your implementation of the second way. In 5E there are some requirements specifically for odd (not even) stats like 13/15 for normally wearing heavy armor, so I believe they should be differentiated despite having the same modifier as one point lower values.

        Of course, I can try to do it myself, but I’m not feeling experienced enough and thus won’t be able to recommend it to others, especially to less experienced players.

        P.S.: thank you for your work, I found lots of interesting and helpful articles here!

  23. Aaron Reamer says:

    I honestly don’t think there is an accurate way to convert the ability scores into plain language simply because no matter how they’ve been defined they don’t entirely make sense. I know editions have added descriptions of how much you can lift with strength, what checks they can pass, etc… but let’s take a different approach.

    Let’s take a look through the approach that we base everything around the d20. I know the rules do say that any raw comparison of an ability score doesn’t need to be tested with a roll but let’s take a look at how much these ability scores contribute when two people are put up against the same DC with an ability score.

    Each result on a die has a 5% chance of being rolled. From this we can devise that every +1 modifier increases the chance of success by 5% (assuming the challenges are doable). This means that the person with 20 (5) has only a 25% greater chance of succeeding on any strength challenge than the average person. So that person who has 20 strength is only 25% better than the average person while also 50% better than someone who is morbidly weak (Note: the advantage system from 4e & 5e can have this type of effect on it’s own under certain circumstances).

    This is fine for play and doesn’t break suspension of disbelief since those percentages are a lot on the small scale and since some things are impossible according to the dice but this still makes your descriptions not to match cleanly.

    The reality is that ability scores are just a game thing and can’t have literal representations but have an abstract representation of how much they contribute to your tasks.

  24. Brian says:

    I think this is an excellent guide If you are trying to figure out how to role play your character, But obviously ability scores don’t translate perfectly to real life,

    Example: I personally am able to hit small targets with consistency, and no, I do not have much training, indicating my dexterity should be 16, but I also trip over my own feet, indicating it should be a 9. In short, I have excellent fine motor control over my hands, I can hit targets, pick locks, solder fine components, but I probably can’t dodge or evade anything, I trip over my own feet, and I knock things down.

    Reality is inconsistent, unlike D&D, and most of this is pointless to argue over.

    Side note: I do think you underestimated the high stats a little.

  25. Samantha says:

    I absolutely love this. I came across it from https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/81cras/dd_ability_score_ranges_described/?st=JEG9PF0A&sh=dbde1713 which made some tweaks. Just thought I’d let you know that I used your content to make this:


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  27. Sky says:

    I really appreciate this list. The autistic slur really hurts, but the list is nice.

    • Anthony says:

      I don’t know whether or not you are on the autism spectrum yourself, and I do not know if this helps or hurts things to say, but I, myself, am on the autism spectrum, and I agree with what the author said about this in a reply to Beauxbella back in November.

      It does frustrate me when people use the term “autistic” as an insult or as a synonym for “stupid”, but I did not interpret it as such in this case. To me, it seems more like recognizing what it means to be severely challenged in dealing with other people.

      At any rate, I appreciate the list, too. Best wishes! :)

  28. Rob says:

    I am working on a board game and while I doubt this will ever be published, I love your Stat Descriptions and wanted to know if I could use them or use it as a base and make changes here and there. Credit will be given if I ever finish this up.

  29. JD says:

    I think you might have wisdom mixed with intelligence, i’m not sure though; One of them should be perception or something because wisdom and intelligence are pretty much the same thing to me.

  30. Brett Skillen says:

    This is very helpful in understanding how the numbers correlate to real life. My friends and I are going to be playing an altered version of D&D 5e where our characters are based off of us but all the Skills, Abilities, and Attributes are what we have in real life. the motto of this game for us is “If I can, my character can!”

  31. 1 (–5): Barely conscious, probably acts heavily autistic (charisma)

    Really? As a person with autism, I would like to point out that even non verbal autistics (considered “low functioning” by many) are capable of complex conscious thought, and aren’t barely conscious at all

    • Ember says:

      I’d just like to point out that “acting” and “being” are not necessarily the same thing. The idea is that someone with low Charisma would be externally and socially nearly identical to someone with low-functioning autism.

      • Debbie says:

        I’d argue enough people have flagged this particular comparison up to make its inclusion significantly problematic.

        Autism is the catch-all term for a wide spectrum of neurological differences, some but by no means all of which revolve around social function. Non-verbal people with ASD aren’t AND don’t appear as ‘barely conscious’. There can be significant social impairment and lack of awareness of situations but it’s neither universal (even across non-verbality) nor is it enough to render an autistic human being below the level of an animal in D&D 3.5 stat comparison. The tag is assumptive and inaccurate, has offended a few different people, and should be revoked.

        • MssngrDeath says:

          Everything in this list is assumptive (What is a “strong” breeze? What is a “noticeable” effort? What is a “light” punch? What is “limited” speech?). Almost nothing here is discrete, solid, and factual. That’s the point. Different characters treat the same ability scores different ways. These are baselines for players who have stats and want some idea of how a character might act, not medical analyses.

          But I can’t deny that several people have a problem with it based on more thorough research than mine. My understanding of autism is not what it was when I wrote this in 2004, and while I stand by this definition for the layman’s definition of autistic behavior, that definition isn’t the catch-all I thought it was.

          Do you have a recommendation? I’m looking for something that means “an inability to understand unspoken or understood information that can manifest as significant social impairment and lack of awareness of social situations”, but in a single word, and I worry “non-empathic” would be construed as simply “heartless”.

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  34. Eric says:

    From earliest editions the base understanding was that an “average” person would have scores of 10 or 11 (which also matches what 3d6 would get you), with the PC adventurers typically being notable for being exceptional in some scores.

    The descriptions above for the 10–11 ability scores are close to the mark, but possibly a bit under. Nudge them down one step (i.e. make the 10–11 description now be for 8–9) and it’ll feel more right. IMHO.

    That said, I’m not fond of a detailed “ladder” of descriptions, it all sounds too bland and predictable. I don’t recall where, but there’s a blog post which proposed a different framing: the middle scores were “average”, and for low scores you’d get to pick one or more “disadvantages” from a list, depending on how low the score was. For example, for every point below an intelligence of (say) 8 you pick one of “Bad with names”, “Numbers above 10 are incomprehensible”, “Can only add by counting”, “Words of two sounds only”, “Wildly inaccurate estimations” (and so on.. there was about 10 or so to pick from). Wisdom disadvantages included things like “Doesn’t learn from mistakes”, “Bad sense of direction”, “Out of sight = out of mind”; and Constitution had “Can only stomach bland food” and “Constantly wheezing”.

    It was a fun way of adding variety for bad stats, with additional RP opportunities.

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  36. LostArt says:

    I found the table presented rather interesting and helpful. I also found all of the rules lawyering, contention about what version said what and when to be rather typical of what this venerable RPG has come to. It amazes me that one of the first things (and no, I do not mean first in a literal ‘this was the first thing said in print’) expressed by the late Gary Gygax within the bindings of the DMG that everything listed, was effectively a guideline to help make things easier to create. But that in the end, it was your world, to build as you wish, in whatever way you saw fit to do so. As far as he was concerned, you could burn the book or you could behold it as a bible, and fostered neither idea as proper. Nonetheless he and his companions spend countless hours building reasonable boundaries for one to work within.

    When these things come up, I just want to say, as I always have “Run your campaign or adventure as you see fit. I’ll run mine the way I see fit.” I have never seen these books, in any of the various editions, as de facto “rules”. If you want to see a set of true rules, take a glance at the comprehensive rules for Magic the Gathering.

    I do see them as a best practices concept though. It’s like an example given about players being, say a troll. It isn’t recommended, mainly due to, as explained, the idea of what the hell would a troll due in a group? You would need to skew the entire party to try and accommodate that concept. But at no point does it claim this is “against the rules”. Yet, I do know of a few people who did play in one-off adventures way back in the early days of Gen-Con as non conventional characters like trolls, giants and such.

    I’ve been in campaigns where characters have hit point values in the hundreds, stats above 19, use of crazy artifact level weapons and spells that would warp pretty much any regular campaign setting. Why it worked is because that DM decided to build his world in a way that these things made sense. Was he breaking the rules? If you think there are rules, then…maybe.

    I’ve been an observer of, and been involved in, numerous ‘but this and but that’ fights over supposed rules and how this can be and that cannot be because it was or wasn’t spoon-fed out into print as such. It’s lame, ineffectual and against the very concept that bore out the first fledgling ideas of Dungeons & Dragons.

    I guess my point is that the OP’s take on a table that could help someone understand what a stat may mean is not something meant to be considered the be-all-end-all of information. With that, I am very perplexed that it devolved in to some kind of adolescent pissing match.

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  38. Ryuh Dragoon says:

    I am very happy to have finally found the origin of the table of interpretation of stats, which I see happening for years.
    Since the time that I see them pass in the form of image, it is really pleasure to see the original article, with in addition the corrective and adjustment that there has been since all this time.
    I greatly congratulate the author for his work, which crossed the border (little salute of France) and has become a reference aid in my parts of DnD for almost 7 years.
    We have been using your work in my playing circle for so long, without knowing its origin, that it is now time to give back to Caesar what is Caesar.
    A big thank you to you for your work that has helped us so much.

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