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D&D 3E
Str vs Dex 
17th-Oct-2004 11:37 am
leonal
Now I thought I read it somewhere, but correct me if I'm wrong.
Melee touch attacks, such as with touch spells can be made using the better of Str or Dex bonus to hit, right?
Grappling too?

But now what about Unarmed Strikes? Are those Str-only or can I use Dex bonus to hit(or would I need Weapon Finesse?)
Comments 
17th-Oct-2004 08:48 am (UTC)
-Melee- attacks, touch or otherwise, are always done using the Str modifier, *UNLESS* the character has Weapon Finesse, in which case light and finessable weapons (including "touching" someone) use the Dex modifier.

-ranged- attacks ALWAYS use the Dex modifier to attack.

All attacks that use the character's strength--i.e., everything save for crossbows, firearms, & magical spells--always use the Str. Modifier to damage.
17th-Oct-2004 09:15 am (UTC)
I guess I've never really thought about it, but why do melee touch attacks use Str as opposed to Dex? I would think quickness would count for more than raw power. It isn't like you need to penetrate armor or other protections. I understand why Weapon Finesse allows you to use Dex over Str for regular attacks. You're basically using quickness to target more vulnerable areas and connect where you want to rather than brute force penetration.

I'm sure there is some reasoning behind the melee touch attack issue. I wonder if it has ever been covered in Sage Advice or the like.
17th-Oct-2004 09:33 am (UTC)
Dexterity isn't necessarily quickness. It has a better analogue to agility, so how flexible you are.

And yeah, as D&D combat works, raw power is more important. The to-hit roll is a check to see if you can both hit the other guys ability to bend out of the way (dexterity) and the ability to get through their armor (most everything else) to actually damage the person underneath the mail. The harder you swing, the better chance you have.

For ranged attacks, the question is whether you can aim enough to hit them, hence dex.

Weapon finesse allows you to try and use your agility to get around the other guys defenses and find the weak points in their armor. Basically you wiggle around enough until you get through, hence you're using dex, and you need to train specifically to do this (i.e., take a feat).

Of course, if you disagree, you can allow the characters to use whichever is better in your campaign, but the standard is as planesdragon said.
17th-Oct-2004 09:42 am (UTC)
The simple answer is "stronger people move their limbs faster."

For a melee attack, be it with your fist or with a ten-foot pole, moving your limbs quicker equates to hitting you target better. There are, of course, techniques that allow you to replace raw speed/strength with precision of movement, and for those we have weapon finesse.

(For ranged attacks, precision of movement is ALL that matters when you want to hit, and thus Dexterity is always used.)
17th-Oct-2004 09:51 am (UTC)
Much of its down to play balance, so Fighters can fight in melee with one high stat like wizards only need INT. Its a holdover from the "prime requisites" of first edition.

In RuneQuest, which uses similar statistics, a more realistic contribution of the stats to skills is made: DEX and INT are far more important than STR for hitting people, but all three are vastly overshadowed by training and experience. Realism isn't everything though, so for D&D the STR stat subsumes the concept of "talent for melee combat".
17th-Oct-2004 10:26 am (UTC)
In RuneQuest, which uses similar statistics, a more realistic contribution of the stats to skills is made: DEX and INT are far more important than STR for hitting people, but all three are vastly overshadowed by training and experience. Realism isn't everything though, so for D&D the STR stat subsumes the concept of "talent for melee combat".

Most modern games share the same "strengh is the most important for combat" convention, and not just because Gygax did it with D&D.

I've heard more than a few actual "martial artists" (i.e., they've actually fought hand to hand) defend strength being more important than dexterity for untrained combat.

Considering that everyone fights, and even Wizards & Sorcerors want one secondary stat high, a more balanced way WOULD be to make Dex "to hit" for everything. But in the real world if you want to smash something, strength simply is the most important thing.
17th-Oct-2004 07:47 pm (UTC)
In Whitewolf (at least in Vampire), attacks are determined by your dexterity and damage by your strength, and so I often think the same thing myself, but in D&D, strength is not just raw muscle, but fighting prowess in and of itself when it comes to hand-to-hand (as well as muscle, brute force, etc.), or at least that's my take on it.
17th-Oct-2004 04:37 pm (UTC)
as i understand it, melee TOUCH attacks are made with dex. touch attacks require hitting an opponent's touch AC which consists solely of dexterity, deflection and dodge bonuses (but not armor bonuses as the attacker is trying to hit an opponent's position, and does not need to penetrate armor). melee (non-touch) attacks are made with str because the attacker does have to power through an opponent's armor.

monks' unarmed attacks are made with str just like regular melee attacks because they do have to penetrate armor to be effective. melee TOUCH attacks are usually those attacks loaded with magic that goes off when the attackers simply touches his/her opponent. like when a cleric casts harm and attempts a melee touch attack against an opponent. the cleric does not need to penetrate armor, he/she only needs to touch his/her opponent's position - the magic of the harm spell does the rest.
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