Rules of the Game02/03/2004

Does It Stack? (Part Three)

Now that we've figured out Armor Class, let's take a peek at the attack bonus that our example character has. We'll move on to the Reflex save and jumping after that.

Attack Bonus

Our example character enjoys several attack bonuses for both melee and ranged attacks.

  • +5 on melee attacks from Strength 20 (base score of 16 and a +4 enhancement bonus from the bull's strength spell [the +2 enhancement bonus from the gauntlets of ogre power overlap with the bonus from the spell and doesn't apply]).
  • +3 on ranged attacks from Dexterity 17 (base score of 13 and a +4 enhancement bonus from the cat's grace spell).
  • +1 morale bonus on all attack rolls from the aid spell.
  • +1 luck bonus on all attack rolls from the prayer spell.
  • -2 penalty on all attack rolls from the shaken condition (courtesy of the doom spell).

That's a lot of bonuses (and one penalty), but all of them stack. Our example character enjoys a +5 bonus on melee attacks and a +3 bonus on ranged attacks.

Please note a couple of things here:

Base Attack Bonus Not Included: Whatever base attack bonus the example character might have isn't figured in here.

Penalties Are Unnamed: In the current version of the D&D game, no penalty has a name, so it "stacks" with any bonus and it also stacks with all other penalties (but not with itself).

Full Dexterity Bonus Still Applies: Wearing armor does not reduce your Dexterity score or your Dexterity bonus. It just limits how much of that bonus you can apply to your Armor Class. Our example character gets the full +3 on ranged attacks from Dexterity 17.

Reflex Save

Most of the saving throw bonuses our example character has collected apply to all kinds of saving throws, but let's just look at the Reflex save:

  • +3 on Reflex saves from Dexterity 17 (base score of 13 and a +4 enhancement bonus from the cat's grace spell).
  • +1 morale bonus from the aid spell if the attack is a fear effect (not many fear effects have Reflex saves, but anything is possible).
  • -2 penalty on all saves from the shaken condition (that nasty doom spell again).
  • +1 luck bonus on all saves from the prayer.

Everything here stacks, so the example character has +2 bonus on Reflex saves (or +3 if the save happens to be against a fear effect).

Some more notes:

Base Save Bonuses Not Included: Whatever base save bonus the example character might have isn't figured in here.

Full Dexterity Bonus Still Applies: As note previously, the Dexterity cap for armor applies only to Armor Class.


Our example character actually is quite a jumper, even without the jump spell, thanks to a great Strength score and all that speed, but let's work though all the modifiers:

  • +5 from Strength 20 (see the section on attack bonus).
  • -4 armor check penalty for the +2 chainmail (chainmail normally has a -5 penalty, but our example character has magic chainmail, which has to be masterwork to receive any magical enhancement, so the penalty drops by a point).
  • -2 armor check penalty for the heavy shield.
  • +5 competence bonus from the boots of striding and springing.
  • -2 penalty from the shaken condition (the doom spell once again).
  • +4 bonus for speed 40 (see the section on speed).
  • +1 luck bonus from the prayer spell.

Once again, all these stack, so our example character has a +7 bonus on Jump checks. Given a running start, the example character can make a long jump of 27 feet given a really good roll; the character can count on making at least a 17-foot jump in most cases.

Notable things here include the following:

Bonuses to Skills Count for Untrained Checks: When a skill can be used untrained, any bonuses to the check that a character may acquire apply to the check.

The Jump Spell

A jump spell would give our example character at least a +10 enhancement bonus on Jump checks. This stacks with all the example character's other Jump bonuses, for a total Jump bonus of +17, allowing running long jumps of up to 37 feet.

Coming in Part Four of Does It Stack?

Skip shows us the exceptions to the rules and other things of note.

About the Author

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and has been the Sage of Dragon Magazine since 1986. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (his borscht gets rave reviews).

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