UHR #3: Ability Advancement
Points by Level
Each time a character reaches a new character level, compare the point-buy value of their ability scores with Table 1. If the amount listed for their new character level is above the value of their actual scores, they are immediately granted ability increases to be applied as they see fit, up to the total value listed on the table. A character may not increase a single ability score by more than one point per level. If desired, a character may choose not to spend these points at any given level, in order to save up for a higher-cost increase, or to focus only on certain scores.
If your Scores Are Higher
At 4th-level and every 4 levels thereafter, if a character’s ability scores are still higher than the amount listed on the table above, and their highest ability score (before racial modifiers) is less than 15 plus 1/4 their hit dice, they are at least granted the standard +1 to any ability as per the core rules. This increases the value of their actual scores accordingly. The maximum ability score at which a character is entitled to this +1 at each of these levels is laid out in Table 2 for ease of reference.
Table 3 lists the cost of any ability score from 3 to 45 in these rules (32 being the highest conceivable number that can be gained by 20th-level, and this only if every other score remains a 3). Note that this is both the value of that score and the cost to increase/decrease to this score from a base of 8. Increasing a score from 16 to 17 would only cost 3 points, not 13.
When calculating the value of a character’s ability scores, include only the base values as modified by level-based increases. Do not factor in racial, age, enhancement, inherent, competence, unnamed, or any other type of modifier to a character’s ability scores (these apply outside of the point-buy values, and are therefore kept separate). When a character loses Constitution due to death, this adjusts the base value of their score, lowering its point value. This allows the Constitution to be recovered eventually.
It has come to my attention that the Dragon Disciple prestige class grants ability bonuses "as if through level advancement". If such is the case with a class ability that grants ability bonuses, do not factor this into the point-buy value of the character's scores. The bonuses apply to the scores themselves, but when calculating the character's point-buy value, they should not be penalized for a class ability. Instead, consider the ability bonuses granted by the class to be entirely separate and different from level-based increase.
Variants: Setting a Rate
As can be seen in the example variants below, the amount of points gained at each level follows a simple pattern, starting with 1 point per level and increasing after a set amount of levels (typically a multiple of 4). To adjust the gain of attributes to your liking, simply adjust how many levels pass between each increase of rate.
Variant 1 (Heroic)
This variant progression rate is intended for high-powered games. Characters will end up larger-than-life in a fashion befitting the epic Greek tales. Each PC can have one or more abilities far exceeding those of ordinary humans, lending them legendary status in the campaign world beyond even what their high levels give them. NPCs who receive stats based on this table will similarly become more and more powerful as levels increase, leaving only the strongest and deadliest alive to threaten the PCs at high levels.
Variant 2 (Balanced)
This variant is for games in which the desire is for fairly "standard" power levels, especially those who use a lower starting point-buy such as 25, or those who use standard die rolling without any methods to increase the PCs' stats beyond what the Player's Handbook rules intend to give them. They will end up with scores a bit higher than those granted by the core ability advancement rules alone, and this combined with the freedom to optimize those scores a little more may mean a serious advantage over their otherworldly peers chained to the core ability advancement rules. As an option for NPC stats at a given level, this is a fairly balanced option, but unfitting for "big bads" and other powerful foes.
Variant 3 (Minimal)
This variant rate is designed with hardcore gaming in mind. The ability advancement over the first twenty levels very closely matches with what a character having 25 point-buy would get using the core ability advancement rules. Since these rules allow for a slightly higher level of optimization and help weaker characters to catch up, this is an excellent option for games in which PCs start with lower-than average scores, but it is not desired for them to eventually end up much more powerful than a standard array character. Using this table for NPC stats also keeps some less spectacular foes around at higher levels, making the truly unique and powerful villains that much more memorable.
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