Characters cannot normally have an ability score higher than 20 …
The general rules for capacity score maximums are set out in the "Capacity Scores and Modifiers" section of Chapter 7 of the PHB and the basic rules (emphasis added):
A score of 10 or 11 is the normal human average, but adventurers and many monsters exceed the average in most abilities. A score of 18 is the highest that a person usually achieves. Adventurers can have scores of up to 20, and monsters and divine beings can have scores of up to 30.
This paragraph explains a few things about ability scores.
- First, 10-11 is the "average" score for humans in general. This
corresponds to a modifier of +0, and the common NPC statblock
seems to match that too, with a score of 10 out of the six
capabilities. (These two facts also seem to correspond to the
expecting the rules to be written in a way that treats humans as
the "defect", common in the material plan of each official
, at least in 5th grade.)
- Second, a score of 18 is the highest that a person "usually"
achieved. We don't know exactly what it refers to or what
the purpose of this sentence is. If I had to guess, it’s for
the fact that 18 is the highest possible capacity score value before
racial modifiers for a level 1 character (assuming the default method
determine the ability scores: roll 4d6 and roll the lowest die,
- The last sentence says that the adventurer's ability scores can be as
as high as 20, and as monsters (and "divine beings", maybe
referring to powerful NPCs who might not be considered "monsters")
can have a capacity score as high as 30.
In my opinion, this last sentence (in bold in the quote above) is a clear statement of the general rule for PCs: Players have a maximum capacity score of 20. Unless there are specific things that negate this statement, these describe the maximums for ability scores for Adventurers and Monsters / NPCs respectively.
The description of the additional honor ability score option also refers to the existing limit of player character ability scores and also extends it to the new score (DMG, p. 265; emphasis). on me):
Unlike other abilities, honor cannot be increased with a normal ability score increase. Instead, (the DM) can grant increases to Honor – or impose reductions – based on a character's actions. (…) As with the other capacity scores, the honor of a character cannot exceed 20 or fall below 1.
This clearly implies that the 6 regular capacity scores cannot normally exceed 20 or fall below 1 either.
Rules designer Jeremy Crawford also noted in a September 2017 unofficial tweet:
Ability scores do not exceed 30. For regular people, they do not exceed 20.
Essentially, unless otherwise indicated (by a class characteristic, a magic object or other), the maximum capacity score for a player character is 20.
… but there are specific exceptions to the general rule
You may have already noticed my disclaimer regarding "specific things that void this statement". The reason why I note this, even if it is not mentioned in the quoted rule, is because of one of the basic rules of D&D – General specific Beats:
That said, many racial traits, class characteristics, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other elements of the game somehow violate the general rules, making an exception to how the rest of the game works. ; don't forget this: if a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule prevails.
The question cites descriptions of a number of things in the game that don't ignore the general rule about a character's maximum ability score, and just a few things that do.
The general rule applies in most cases
Most of the things that increase an ability score are limited by the character's maximum ability score. For example, the Ability Score Improvement class feature, ioun agility stone, and all "half-exploits" (which increase an ability score and also confer another benefit) all indicate that the increase in ability score they grant can only carry the character to a maximum of 20.
Essentially, they reiterate the general rule on the maximum ability score of a character, not constituting a specific rule where there is no general rule. This is a redundant clarification, but which is useful to do when there are other elements that to do ignore or generally increase this maximum (as shown below).
Some things set a capacity score at a fixed value, ignoring your maximum
There are a few things that essentially ignore your normal score for a certain ability (as well as your normal maximum for that score), and just set that ability score to a particular value (unless your base score is already higher).
For example, the gauntlets of power ogre just set your Strength score to 19, unless it is already higher. Likewise, the giant force belt changes your Strength score to a value between 21 and 29, depending on the variety. (A giant force potion has a similar temporary effect.) intellectual headband sets your Intelligence score to 19, and health amulet does the same for the Constitution.
All these elements, however, only set the score at this value when they are granted (or for 1 hour, for the giant force potion. Most importantly, they do not interact in any way with your maximum normal capacity score; they simply set your capacity score to the specified value, unless your "true" capacity score (i.e. your score without the temporary boost) is already higher – in which case they are not have no effect.
Things that specifically increase your ability score by a particular amount (for example, UPS, other magic items) only affect your base ability score, not the fixed value that you is assigned by any of these. Crawford confirms this interpretation in a series of unofficial tweets from August 2015. (Multiclassification prerequisites are also expected to be satisfied by your base score.
Some increases in the capacity score have their own limit, only for this increase
As mentioned, the Star card from bridge of many things increases the ability score by 2; its description indicates that the score can exceed 20, but cannot exceed 24. This reiterates the general rule to explain how the element ignores it; if there were no general rule, it would be needless to say that the increase may bring the score above 20.
Note however that, as designer Chris Perkins explains in a unofficial tweet in December 2016:
It increases a capacity by 2, up to a maximum of 24. It does not increase your maximum for this statistic otherwise.
In other words, the Star card does not actually change your maximum capacity score by going forward; it only increases it (if necessary) to 24 for the increase granted by the card itself, then your maximum ability score starts again to apply. For example, if your Strength score is 18 and the Star card increases it to 20, gaining an Ability Score enhancement can't increase your Strength later (unless something is actually increased your ability score from 20 to something more).
One of the advantages of Book of exalted acts says it increases the Wisdom score by 2, up to a maximum of 24. This is identical to the formulation of Perkins' tweet above, in that it increases your current score ( temporarily increasing the maximum only for this increase, if necessary), but does not & # 39; & # 39; t change your maximum capacity score otherwise.
(In appearance, if the Star card brings your score to 21-24 and it is above your maximum capacity score, your capacity score after the card actually becomes your new maximum. However, I don't know how this new maximum would interact with effects that reduce your ability score. It would be best to ask this question separately.)
Very little definitely increases your overall limit
On the other hand, there are only a few elements which explicitly increase a maximum capacity score in general. For example, the remunerative exercise manual says explicitly (it's me who points out):
your Strength score increases by 2, just like your maximum for this score.
There are six of these items with this benefit alone, one for each ability:
One of the advantages of orb of the veil ((Wildemount Explorer's Guide, p. 268) is also identical to that of tome of understanding.
If there were no general rule of "maximum capacity score", the last part of the quoted statement would make no sense.
In other words: if we assume that only the Ability Score Improvement feature (as well as other features or objects that increase the Ability Score) is limited to a maximum score of 20, and if not anything else can increase your Ability Score above 20 (as other answers suggest), so what does "increase your maximum for this Score" by 2 mean? A nonexistent value cannot be increased. If there were no general rule, it would be easier to leave this part of the sentence entirely.
Thus, it is clear that the characters have a maximum default capacity score of 20 for each capacity score. This maximum can be increased or ignored / replaced by certain elements if they say so explicitly, but if not, it usually works as an upper limit of the character's ability score.
Crawford confirmed how some of these exceptions interact in a series of March 2018 tweets:
If I use a Tome or a Manual to jump from a 19 to a 21 in a stat and increase my maximum, can I use a "half feat" like Resilient to get to a 22?
If your maximum capacity score is raised to 22, this means that you can now increase this score to 22.
If you find multiple books or have a long shelf life, can you get this bonus multiple times?
That wouldn't allow a creature to ignore the maximum limit of 30, would it?
the lightning hammer is a bit similar, but is a bit of a special case. To adapt to it, you must wear a giant force belt and the gauntlets of power ogre. (As Crawford pointed out in a January 2018 unofficial tweet, the description of lightning hammer does not say that you should adapt to these two other items, but simply that they should be worn.)
The relevant part of the description of the lightning hammer said:
While you are listening to and holding this weapon, your Force score increases by 4 and may exceed 20, but not 30.
(As mentioned above, you may or may not be in tune with one or both giant force belt and the gauntlets of power ogre; since everyone sets your Strength score to a fixed value, and all variants of the belt set it to a higher value than gauntlets. Normally, you can expect your Strength score increase to apply to your base score, rather than a fixed value defined by a magic element – but Crawford clarified in another August 2014 unofficial tweet that the lightning hammer is intended to increase your current strength by 4, regardless of how it is determined, so that it would stack with the benefit of the belt if necessary.)
Indeed, the lightning hammer sets your Maximum Strength score to 30 instead of the regular maximum of 20 – but only when worn. (Again, he reiterates that your usual maximum is 20; if there was no general rule limiting player character ability scores to 20, there would literally be no reason to explicitly mention "20".)
The increase in Strength score is mentioned separately from the possibility that your Strength score exceeds 20; this suggests that your Strength score could be increased up to the new limit of 30, if you have not already reached this limit, as long as you are in phase with the lightning hammer. (Note that most things that simply increase your Ability Score normally only affect your true score, not a score defined by an element, but the wording seems to indicate that you are ignoring your maximum normal strength while tuning and treat 30 as your maximum instead.)
If this is correct, however, it is not clear what happens to anything that has increased your Strength score above 20 (or whatever your usual ability score maximum is) if you ever finish harmonization with the element. The most likely result would be that your current Strength score will be reduced to the maximum of your previous Ability Score again, unless you tune to the item again. That said, the lightning hammer is a confusing outlier, and I may be partly wrong about how it is supposed to work.
Ability scores can never exceed 30; there is no mechanics for that
Although the maximum default capacity score of 20 for player characters can be changed by more specific things in the game, the maximum listed capacity score of 30 for monsters is flawless; no modifier is listed for scores above 30, and no official monsters have ability scores above 30. In addition, according to the rules for creating a monster stat block , the section "Step 5. Scores and capacity modifiers" reiterates the relevant rule (DMG, p. 274):
A monster cannot have a score lower than 1 or higher than 30 in any ability.
In fact, this also extends to PCs – even the exceptions to the maximum capacity score of a character cannot carry you above 30, as the game does not allow scores above 30 or less than 1.
What to say about bag of beans?
Now that I have been wandering for far too long on the general rules on capacity score maximums – and on items that explicitly respect the default value, increase this value or respect their own restrictions – let's move on to the bag of beans.
The description of bag of beans said:
If you remove a bean from the bag, plant it in the ground or sand, then water it, the bean produces an effect 1 minute later from the soil where it was planted. The GM can choose an effect from the following table, determine it at random or create an effect.
Line 81-90 of the following table indicates:
A 1d4 nest + 3 eggs gushes out. Any creature that eats an egg must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, a creature permanently increases its lowest ability score by 1, randomly choosing from equally low scores. On a failed save, the creature takes 10d6 force damage from an internal magic explosion.
The question asks whether the bag of beans can increase a capacity score above 20. So for this scenario to happen, all of the following conditions must be true:
- Someone has a bag of beans (obviously)
- Whoever reaches the bag manages to draw this specific type of
bean, which requires your domain manager to choose
specific effect, or roll a d100 and get this result (of which there is
- You eat one of 4-7 eggs (of which you probably know nothing)
which springs from this magic bean
- You pass a DC 20 Constitution saving throw (not an easy task)
- All your capacity scores are 20 or higher before you eat the egg
(which seems practically impossible in real game unless you are
cheat to build an artificial scenario …)
Now, if all of this is true in one way or another … Then the only information that the description of the object gives you is that "(the) creature definitely increases its score 1 "lowest capacity. There is no mention of a maximum capacity score. However, as stated in the rest of the answer, all characters have a maximum capacity score of 20 in each default capacity score, unless it is increased by another effect. Since this element does not explicitly say that it ignores or (temporarily or permanently) increases the maximum, it probably does not; So, he cannot increase a capacity score greater than 20.
However, if all of the conditions listed above were met, it means that the DM almost certainly created this whole situation just to test this strange and tiny edge case of rules that I'm sure even the designers ignored. So, at this point, do the maximum capacity scores count? Do what you think is fun.