Ability Modifiers and Level Benefits

Each ability, after changes made because of race, will have a modifier ranging from -5 to +5.

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. For instance, you add or subtract your Strength modifier to your roll when you try to hit someone with a sword. You also use the modifier with some numbers that aren't die rolls, such as when you apply your Dexterity modifier to your Armor Class (AC). A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.

 Bonus Spells (by Spell Level)
1-5Can't cast spells tied to this ability
2-3-4Can't cast spells tied to this ability
4-5-3Can't cast spells tied to this ability
6-7-2Can't cast spells tied to this ability
8-9-1Can't cast spells tied to this ability

Abilities And Spellcasters

The ability that spells relate to depends on what type of spellcaster you are: Intelligence for wizards; Wisdom for clerics, druids, paladins, and rangers; or Charisma for sorcerers and bards. In addition to having a high ability score, a spellcaster must be of sufficient level in order to gain a bonus spell of a given level. (See the class descriptions for details.) For instance, the wizard Mialee has a 15 Intelligence, so she's smart enough to get one bonus 1st-level spell and one bonus 2nd-level spell. (She will not actually get the 2nd-level bonus spell until she is 3rd level, the minimum level a wizard must be to cast 2nd-level spells.)

If your character's ability score is 9 or lower, you can't cast spells tied to that ability. For example, if Mialee's Intelligence dropped to 9 because of a poison that reduces intellect, she would not be able to cast even her simplest spells until cured.

The Abilities

Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of your character's actions.


Strength measures your character's muscle and physical power. This ability is especially important for fighters, barbarians, paladins, rangers, and monks because it helps them prevail in combat.

You apply your character's Strength modifier to:


Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important ability for rogues, but it's also high on the list for characters who typically wear light or medium armor (barbarians and rangers) or none at all (monks, wizards, and sorcerers), and for anyone who wants to be a skilled archer.

You apply your character's Dexterity modifier to:


Constitution represents your character's health and stamina. Constitution increases a character's hit points, so it's important for everyone.

You apply your Constitution modifier to:

If a character's Constitution changes enough to alter his or her Constitution modifier, his or her hit points also increase or decrease accordingly


Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. Intelligence 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. It's also important for any character who wants to have a strong assortment of skills.

You apply your character's Intelligence modifier to:

Wizards gain bonus spells based on their Intelligence scores. The minimum Intelligence needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the spell's level.

Animals have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Creatures of human-like intelligence have scores of at least 3.


Wisdom describes a character's willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition. While Intelligence represents one's ability to analyze information, Wisdom is more related to being in tune with. and aware of one's surroundings. An "absentminded professor" has low Wisdom and high Intelligence. A simpleton (low Intelligence) might still have great insight (high Wisdom). Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and is also important for paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have keen senses, put a high score in Wisdom.

You apply your character's Wisdom modifier to:

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


Charisma measures a character's force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. It represents actual personal strength, nor 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.

You apply your Charisma modifier to:

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


Over time, the ability scores your character starts with can change. Ability scores can increase with no limit.

When an ability score changes, all attributes associated with that score change accordingly For example, when Mialee becomes a 4th-level wizard, she decides to increase her Intelligence to 16. That gives her a 3rd-level bonus spell (which she'll pick up at 5th level, when she is able to cast 3rd-level spells), and it increases the number of skill points she gets per level from 4 to 5 (2 per level for her class, plus another 3 per level from her Intelligence bonus). As a new 4th-level character, she can get the skill points after raising her Intelligence, so she'll gets points for achieving 4th level in the wizard class. She does not retroactively get additional points for her previous levels (that is, skill points she would have gained if she had had an Intelligence score of 16 starting at 1st level).

Intelligence, Wisdom, And Charisma

You can use your character's Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores to guide you in roleplaying your character. Here are some guidelines (just guidelines) about what these scores can mean.

A smart character is curious, knowledgeable, and prone to using big words. A character with a high Intelligence but low Wisdom may be smart but absent-minded, or knowledgeable but lacking in common sense. A character with a high Intelligence but a low Charisma may be a know-it-all or a reclusive scholar. The smart character lacking in both Wisdom and Charisma is usually putting her foot in her mouth. A character with a low Intelligence mispronounces and misuses words, has trouble following directions, or fails to get the joke.

A character with a high Wisdom score may be sensible, serene, "in tune," alert, or centered. A character with a high Wisdom but a low Intelligence may be aware, but simple. A character with a high Wisdom but low Charisma knows enough to speak carefully and may become an advisor or "power behind the throne" rather than a leader.

A character with a low Wisdom score may be rash, imprudent, irresponsible, or "out of it."

A character with a high Charisma may be attractive, striking, personable, and confident. A character with a high Charisma but a low Intelligence can usually pass herself off as knowledgeable, until she meets a true expert. A charismatic character with a low Wisdom may be popular, but she doesn't know who her real friends are.

A character with a low Charisma may be reserved, gruff rude, fawning, or simply nondescript.

Aging Effects

As your character ages, her physical ability scores Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution) decrease and her mental ability scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) increase. (See below.) The effects of each aging step are cumulative. However, any of a character's ability scores cannot be reduced below 1 in this way.

For example, when an elf reaches 175 years of age, his Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores each drop 1 point, while his Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores each increase 1 point. When he becomes 263 years old, his physical ability scores all drop an additional 2 points, while his mental ability scores increase by 1 again. So far he has lost a total of 3 points from his Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity scores and gained a total of 2 points to his Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma scores because of the effects of aging.

RaceMiddle Age*Old**Venerable***Maximum Age
Human35 years53 years 70 years+2d20 years
Dwarf 125 years188 years250 years+2d% years
Elf 175 years263 years350 years+4d% years
Gnome 100 years150 years200 years+3d% years
Half-elf62 years93 years125 years+3d20 years
Half-orc30 years45 years60 years+2d10 years
Halfling50 years75 years100 years+5d20 years
*-1 to Str, Con, and Dex; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
**-2 to Str, Con, and Dex; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.
*** -3 to Str, Con, and Des, +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha.

When a character becomes venerable, the DM secretly rolls her maximum age, which is the number from the Venerable column on the table above plus the modifier from the Maximum Age column on that table, and records the result, which the player does not know. When the character reaches her personal maximum age, she dies of old age at some time during the following year, as determined by the DM.

The maximum ages on the table above are for player characters. Most people in the world at large die from pestilence, accidents, infections, or violence before achieving the venerable age range.

Level-Dependent Benefits

In addition to attack bonuses and saving throw bonuses, all characters gain other benefits from advancing in level. The table below (Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits) summarizes these additional benefits.

XP: This column on the table below shows the experience point total needed to achieve a given character level. For multiclass characters, XP determines overall character level, not individual class levels.

Class Skill Max Ranks: The maximum number of skill ranks a character can have in a class skill is equal to his or her character level + 3. A class skill is a skill frequently associated with a particular class - for example, Spellcraft is a class skill for wizards. Class skills are listed under each class description (see Skills for more information on skills).

Cross-Class Skill Max Ranks: For cross-class skills (skills neither associated with nor forbidden to the character's class), the maximum ranks are one-half the maximum for a class skill. For example, at 1st level a wizard could have 2 ranks in Move Silently (typically associated with rogues, and on that class's list of class skills), but no more. These 2 ranks in a cross-class skill would cost 4 skill points, whereas the same 4 points would buy 4 ranks in a class skill such as Spellcraft. The half ranks (1/2) indicated below do not improve skill checks. They simply represent partial purchase of the next skill rank and indicate the character is training to improve that skill.

Feats: Every character gains one feat at 1st level and another at every level divisible by three (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th). Note that these feats are in addition to any bonus feats granted by class and the bonus feat granted to all humans. See Feats for more on feats.

Ability Increases: Upon gaining any level divisible by four (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th), a character increases one of his or her ability scores by 1 point. The player chooses which ability score to improve. For example, a sorcerer with a starting Charisma of 16 might improve this to Cha 17 at 4th level. At 8th level, the same character might improve the Charisma score again (from 17 to Cha 18) or could choose to improve some other ability instead. The ability improvement is permanent.

For multiclass characters, feats and ability increases are gained according to overall character level, not class level. Thus, a 3rd-level wizard/1st-level fighter is a 4th-level character overall and eligible for her first ability score boost.

Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits
Skill Max
Skill Max
1266,000157.55th 3rd
16120,000199.5- 4th

Character Creation