You only have six ability scores – you have modifiers for each ability score (like strength) and modifiers for each skill (such as athletics). When you create a character, you choose the initial values for each of your six abilities (by rolling dice, using point purchase or using the standard chart). The race you choose will change some or all of these values, and as you progress, you may be able to increase these values.
Your score in a particular ability determines your modifier for this ability (subtract ten, divide by two, round down).
- Example (STR 17): 17-10, divide by 3.5, modifier = 3
Your skill modifier equals your modifier for that ability, plus your mastery bonus if you master it well.
So, for example, suppose your starting strength was 15 when creating the character, plus 2 from a half-orc. So, at level 1, you write "17" as the strength and "+3" as the force modifier. Your level 1 skill bonus is always "+2". Therefore, your track and field modifier is either "+3" or "+5", depending on whether or not you have chosen athletics as one of your initial skills.
Your skill modifiers are constantly "updated" to match the affected capacity modifier. Thus, if later your strength goes from 17 to 18, these +3 modifiers all become +4.