Explaining DnD Ability Scores Using COVID-19
Ability Scores are the foundation of the character creation process in an RPG. Most everything your character is, and will ever become, is based on these 6 scores. If you are new to Dungeons and Dragons, this step in the process can be the most overwhelming and confusing. What do these scores actually mean in real game play? Well, I’ll show you!
A situation that we are all way too familiar with is the Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s a complicated problem requiring all our physical and mental faculties. Which means there is no room for dump stats! Every Ability Score is important in it’s own way.
Strength & Dexterity
I lumped these two Attributes together because these “physical stats” have similar but slightly different functions. Strength allows your character to do things like lift heavy objects or do more damage with a great sword. Dexterity, on the other hand allows you to move and dodge with ease.
In a pandemic, these stats take the form of daily exercise. Whether stuck inside the house or hitting the gym, it is important to get your body moving at least 30 minutes a day. Why? Unlike the zombie apocalypse, this disaster doesn’t require fight or flight. (Unfortunate, I know. Zombies would be WAY cooler). What it does require, however, is a strong immune system. Studies have shown that an active lifestyle can boost your immune system and make you healthier. Think of it like this: Strength is weight training and Dexterity is cardio. A good balance of both will keep you healthy and strong!
Your character’s final “physical stat” is Constitution. This translates into your character’s Hit Points. The higher your character’s constitution, the longer they will be able to stand and keep taking the punches. It is also the way your character fights off pesky little conditions like Poisoned and Diseased.
This one is kind of obvious, right? We need a high constitution to fight off disease. So how do you give yourself a bonus to your Constitution Score in real life? Make sure you take your vitamins and eat healthy! Eat a “rainbow” of vegetables and get lots of protein to get the most nutrients out of your food. Invest in vitamin supplements proven to boost your immune system like vitamins C and D. Take care of your body so that it can fight the good fight if the time ever comes!
Here is where we get into the ever elusive “mental stats”. Intelligence is a versatile attribute that represents how much knowledge your character possesses about the world around them. Wizards are the only class in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition that cast their spells using their intelligence. This is because Wizards learn magic through reading… lots and lots of reading.
You can probably see where we are going with this. And it is a divisive topic to be sure! In a world of “fake news” and an ever flowing stream of propaganda and social media noise, it is imperative that we understand how to sift through it all. After all, knowledge is power! If you don’t know how to identify reputable sources of information on the internet, take the time to teach yourself. Your brain, and your sanity, will thank you. Knowledge of science, even just a couple of skill points worth, will help you to make the best decisions for you and your adventuring party, and help you to avoid pitfalls and traps along the way. This leads us to our next Attribute.
As the old adage goes, Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it into a fruit salad. Wisdom is the stat your character uses to interpret and act upon the world. It is the attribute that helps with their perception skill, which is the one you will probably use the most, as well as skills like survival and medicine. Clerics, Druids, and Rangers all use Wisdom as their Spell Casting Modifier. Wisdom is knowing that during battle, its probably a good idea to spread out to avoid the entire party being taken down with a single spell. You don’t want to be caught in “fireball formation” when the enemy casts it.
So, in the world of Covid-19 how do you take the knowledge you receive and apply your wisdom modifier? Do you wear a mask in public? Do you practice social distancing with extended family and friends? Do you go to the grocery store or have your food delivered? Do you send your kids to school, or teach them from home? We are absolutely bombarded with decisions like these on a daily basis. Some answers are more universal, while others are more complex. Therefore, wisdom is also the ability to realize that the best decision for you might not be the best decision for someone else. As a parent, the school question has been a main topic of conversation in our home. What if you are a single parent who cannot afford to stop working to keep your kids home? That parent may make a very different decision than the stay at home mom in an affluent neighborhood. Even with the same information, these two adventuring parties come to different conclusions on how to proceed. Wisdom is looking at a complex problem and a series of information, and making the best decision possible for you in that single moment. It is both the most elusive and the most important attribute during a pandemic.
We have reached our final Ability Score, Charisma. It is often called the “Social Stat” because it represents how well your character interacts with others. Persuasion, Deception, and Intimidation are all effected by your charisma, so if you are a “face” character, meaning you plan on talking a lot to the NPCs (Non Player Characters) in your adventure, this is one attribute you do not want to skip out on. Charisma is the spell casting modifier for Bards, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Warlocks. Each of these classes typically uses their charisma in a different way. Bards, for example, are iconic performers where as a Paladin’s charisma usually takes the form of protector and savior. Sorcerers, as instantaneous casters, are masters of improv, while Warlocks have a deep connection with a patron.
Charisma is important during the COVID-19 Pandemic because it is more important than ever to find safe and unconventional ways to connect with our friends and families. Maybe you are planning your Thanksgiving feast over Zoom this year. Or maybe you have moved your DnD campaign onto an online platform like Roll20. Maybe you bought a firepit, or a space heater, so you can still see each other face to face as the temperatures plummet. Whatever you are doing, it is important. Humans are social creatures, and these connections will not only ward off depression and anxiety during this time, but it will remind you that you are not alone.
Any DnD player can tell you that it doesn’t matter how strong, how dexterous, how hearty, how intelligent, or wise their character is. Not one class in this game is made to be played alone. They all have incredible strengths and unavoidable weaknesses. Only as an Adventuring Party can they overcome the challenges they will face. It is the same with us friends. Roll for initiative. Be brave. Stay together.