Standardized Bonus Types (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Author: Ghostwheel (talk)
Contributors: MisterSinister
Date Created: September 16, 2016
Status: Finished
Editing: Clarity edits only please
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Standardized Bonus Types[edit]

The Problem[edit]

The motivation behind typing DnD bonuses is quite a sensible one - it is designed to avoid things stacking onto each other into infinity and completely anally-destroying any semblance of the RNG. However, unfortunately, the number of bonus types so created is so large that they actually fail to achieve this result at all, instead acting as a licence for RNG-rape.

To make matters worse, these bonus types have loose (if not outrightly no) definitions of what they can (and more importantly, can't) apply to. This leads to people doing stuff like putting insight bonuses on armour and luck bonuses on saves, which just makes for even more number inflation and dumpster-diving. The result of this is that people end up falling off the RNG, or in some cases, have to struggle to get meaningful numbers with dumpster-diving and searching for stackable options.

Part of the solution for this is, of course, not to make such a thing a necessity.

The Solution[edit]

Instead of allowing multiple bonuses to add to a single statistic, we only allow a small number, plus one more of whatever type the character possesses, giving both a rigid framework that keeps things fairly balanced while at the same time giving freedom within that framework.

Each of the major character statistics we cover here can have a number of listed modifiers (as bonuses, not penalties) that can be added to it, plus one other of the character's choosing.

  • Armor Class: Armor, Enhancement, Ability Score (one), Enhancement Bonus to Natural Armor, Deflection, Size
  • Attack: BAB, Ability Score (one), Enhancement, Size
  • Saves: Base Saving Throw, Ability Score (one), Resistance
  • Skills: Skill Ranks, Ability Score (one), Circumstance, Size, Racial
  • Ability Scores: Racial, Enhancement, Inherent, Level
  • Difficulty Class: Bonus from Spell Level or Hit Dice (or equivalent bonus), Ability Score (one)

Fixed bonuses granted by feats (for example, Dodge or Weapon Focus) and temporary bonuses due to non-permanent spells or positioning and the like do not count towards the limit of sources from which statistics can benefit. Again, it is important to note that any number of penalties can be added to any of the above statistics with no limitation.


Let's say we have a first level Human Monk with a Dexterity of 16, and a Wisdom of 16 who has had Mage Armor cast upon them and who is wearing a +1 Ring of Protection and a +1 Amulet of Natural Armor, along with the Dodge feat.

In this case, their armor class would be equal to 10 (Base) + 3 (Dexterity) + 3 (Wisdom) + 4 (Mage Armor) + 1 (Deflection) + 1 (Enhancement Bonus to Natural Armor) = 22, and 23 against their chosen Dodge target. Note that in this case, their one miscellaneous bonus chosen would be their Wisdom modifier. As Dodge gives a fixed bonus to Armor Class (+1), it does not count against this limitation.

However, if they then had a high enough Use Magic Device skill to activate a wand of Shield, they would now have an armor class of 23 (or 24 against their Dodge target) rather than 27 as per the normal rules. Since they only have one miscellaneous bonus to their statistic, they would need to choose either their Wisdom modifier or their Shield bonus, and since their Shield bonus (+4) is higher than their Wisdom bonus (+3), they would invariably choose the Shield bonus. The only exception is if they were attacked with a Touch attack, which would cause them to use their Wisdom modifier instead as it is more beneficial.

Ghostwheel's Homebrew (310 Articles)
AuthorGhostwheel +
Identifier3.5e Variant Rule +
RatingUndiscussed +
TitleStandardized Bonus Types +