What Ability Scores Do I Set
In DDO, ability scores or stats start at 8, 10 if favored, 6 if non favored. There are a total of six ability scores, STRENGTH, DEXTERITY, CONSTITUTION, INTELLIGENCE, WISDOM and CHARISMA. Depending on whether you have access, a player has 28 or 32 build points to increase the ability scores. The only exception is drow which does not have 32 point builds. Each ability score can be increased by 10. The first 6 has a ratio of 1 build point to 1 stat point. The next 2 will cost 2 build points each and the last 2 will cost 3 build points each. Thus the higher you increase 1 attribute by, the lower will be your other ability scores since it cost most to focus. The focus on ability scores is dependent on how important that ability score is and also how stat heavy the build will be.
There are several ways each ability score can be improved. Tomes and level up points (5 total for 20 levels) add directly to the base stat and are counted towards feat pre-requisites. Items and enhancements will also increase the score as will certain spells but these are not used in determining whether a build can take a particular feat. Ability scores, like your hit points can be reduced by spells and weapon effects. When a score reaches 0, your character will be rendered helpless and is susceptible to critical hits.
Strength is the primary attribute when it comes to accuracy and damage dealing with melee weapons. It also affects carrying capacity. A low strength will mean that you are easily encumbered. When a character shifts from light to medium load, it will take a penalty to movement rate and armor class. Thus, it is important for a character not to start with low strength scores.
For general melees, the minimum recommended is 12. With the use of a +1 strength tome, the character can reach 13 strength which is the pre-requisite of power attack, which in turn opens up cleave and great cleave. 14 is a better choice if your build can afford it, however, since strength directly leads to DPS for melees. Strength base melees should start with a minimum of 16 strength and should invest all their level up points to strength.
For casters and healers, a good start, if possible, is 10. Without a high enough strength, you are easily susceptible to enemy strength debuffs like enfeeblement which will render you helpless, and you may have difficulty carrying lots of gear without becoming encumbered.
Dexterity determines how nimble your character will be. The dexterity modifier is added to armor class which makes your character harder to be hit. If you are wearing armor, however, the bonus will be limited by your armors 'Max Dex Bonus', which caps your dexterity modifier at a specific value. Dexterity based melees will take the weapon finesse feat which allows your attack bonus to be based on dexterity rather than strength. The damage, however, is still dependent on strength. Dexterity also provides a bonus to the reflex save and hence it is wise not to neglect it.
An important aspect of dexterity is two weapon fighting. You need 15 dexterity to gain access to the Two Weapon Fighting] feat. More importantly is the need to reach 17 dexterity for the very powerful Improved Two Weapon Fighting] and Greater Two Weapon Fighting] feats. This is not a problem for dexterity based melees but it can be hard for strength based melees. Depending on build and availability, starting at 15 or 16 dexterity should allow the character to hit the necessary 17 dexterity for the two weapon fighting feats.
For casters and healers, dexterity is less of an issue. Some can leave it at 8, using it as a dump stat to allow points to be used in other ability scores. Others could invest 2 points.
Constitution affects your hit points and fortitude saves. The higher it is, the more health you will have. The other important aspect is fortitude saves. A low constitution will mean a lower fortitude save which in turns means more failure at resisting the heavy spells like disintegrate or finger of death.
In general, a good starting constitution is 14. This gives the build a solid base to work with and ensures that one can meet the minimum hit point requirements in raids with the help of gear. In general, most builds do not focus on constitution, but it is an important stat that should not be neglected. Prospective builders can use a technique called 'retro-building', which involves setting a target hit-point number, such as 400, and subtracting from that value known quantities like class hit dice and the effects of various items, to arrive at a final value that must be made up through starting constitution. In doing so, it ensures that the character will have a comfortable hit point value while limiting the expenditure on build points.
Intelligence is the ability score which affects the number of skill points one would get. In most cases, a 14 in intelligence should cover for the builds that are skill heavy such as a rogue or a bard. There are 2 particular feats that are strongly associated with intelligence. The first is combat expertise which has a pre-requisite of 13 intelligence. While many melees may choose intelligence as a dump stat, those that are built for tanking mobs will usually make some accommodation for it since it is used to raise armor class. For wizards and artificers, intelligence is their primary casting stat and hence, most caster wizard builds will see intelligence maxed out. Wizards also use their high intelligence to take advantage of the insightful reflexes feat to use their intelligence modifier for reflex saves rather than dexterity. The last important use of intelligence is the assassinate ability of assassins. The difficulty check of this ability is dependent on intelligence and it is not uncommon to see assassins starting with a high intelligence score.
For all melee classes, except barbarians, i usually put 2 build points into intelligence to get it to 10. The reason is that while combat expertise is a good feat, it is not something all melees should have. With a 10 intelligence, one can still qualify for it when they get a +3 tome which is more commonly found in raid end chests. For builds that rely on tanking as their primary playstyle, my advice is 12 intelligence and a +1 tome. Assassins should start with at least a 14 intelligence to make full use of the assassinate ability. Melee wizards only need to have a sufficiently high score to allow them to cast spells, items and tomes included of course.
For casters and healers, it really depends on what you want to achieve. For bards, a decent intelligence of 12 or 14 should cover most needs, clerics have less need of intelligence and can afford to use it as a dump stat. Casting wizards should maximize their intelligence and sorcerers will find it beneficial to have a decent score to cover their skill needs, especially using magical device.
Wisdom for most class have little use save for improving the will save. In DDO, many melees and casters use wisdom as a dump stat, preferring to boost their will saves through feats, gear and build design. The main use of wisdom is for the casting of divine spells as well as monk armor class bonus. Clerics, paladins and rangers require wisdom in order to be able to cast divine spells. For paladins and rangers, this pose less of a problem as a base wisdom of 12 should be sufficient to cover that. While wisdom also affects the number of spell points, most of the spell points come from items and level ups rather than wisdom itself. For favored souls, wisdom determines the difficulty check of their spells. A low wisdom will mean less effective spells for a caster favored soul.
For non divine casting melees, a wisdom of 10 is more than sufficient for most situations. As mentioned, do look out for gear to boost your will save. For paladins and rangers, my advice is a wisdom of 12. The more well gear players can even afford to go 10 if they have the tomes to boost it up. Monks and monk splash will require a higher wisdom score to take advantage to the armor class bonus. The highest I recommend is 14 as that represents an investment of 6 build points. If you increase the wisdom any higher, say to 16, you will have to spend 4 build points which represents a rather large investment. Having said that, a Monks wisdom modifier is a factor in calculating the DC's of finishing moves and Stunning Fist attacks, also the chance to proc more shuriken from 10k Stars.
For non clerics casters, 10 wisdom is fine. For caster or healer clerics the bare minimum one would have is 16. Many caster clerics would even start their wisdom at 18 just so they can have maximum effect on their offensive spells such as destruction, blade barrier and cometfall.
The charisma stat is probably the least used among the 6 ability scores. For most classes, it does not do anything except to get a few more coins from a sale (haggle) or to scare mobs more with intimidate. For sorcerers, favored souls, bards and paladins, charisma is very important. For paladins, charisma increases the saves through the divine grace feat. It also opens up enhancements for more damage as well as the hitting ability for smites. Sorcerers and bards have charisma as the primary casting stat. It not only affects the spell level but the difficulty checks and other abilities associated with the two classes. For favored soul, charisma is less important but many will just have a sufficiently high stat to be able to cast the high level spells.
For all melees except paladin or their splashes, use charisma as a dump stat. Build where intimidate is important could probably start with a maximum of 12 but do note that a higher charisma can actually lower the overall efficiency of the builds. Paladin splashes generally have a 10 or 12 charisma. Since many are built with the saves as a bonus rather than the core build design, a higher charisma is not needed. For pure paladins, due to the class being stat heavy, i generally do not advice anything more than 15 charisma. The higher your charsima, the lower your other stats will be.
For wizards and most clerics, charisma can be used as a dump stat. While charisma is tied to the turning ability of clerics, turning in DDO does not work well in the higher levels and hence less important. The most important aspect of charisma is its use as "charges" for the number of divine vitality or divine healing. Even so, 14 charisma is plenty. For caster bards and sorcerers, max out charisma to maximise the classes' abilities.