Multiple Ability Dependency

(Redirected from MAD)
"MAD" redirects here. This article is about a D&D term. For when people are MAD, which they generally are when they have to deal with MAD, see rage. For the national security policy see Mutual Assured Destruction.

Multiple Ability Dependency, often shortened to MAD, is a Dungeons & Dragons term that refers to a class or build that requires high scores in many different stats in order to be effective, as opposed to classes which are dependent on only one or two. Classes or builds that suffer from MAD are generally underpowered in comparison to more specialized classes, as they require each Ability to be roughly as high as those dependent on smaller numbers of abilities, even though getting high scores in a large number of attributes is difficult. It is the opposite of Single Ability Dependency, or SAD, which is a class that only relies on one ability or stat to do its job, and so benefits from being able to ignore all the other stats and put more points into the only one they care about.

The archetypical example is the vanilla 3rd Edition Monk, which is dependent on:

  • good strength to be a good melee striker;
  • good dexterity to make up for its lack of armor, boost initiative to minimize the number of hits enemies get in, and to power up bonus feats like Combat Reflexes;
  • good constitution because, as a melee brawler, it needs hitpoints;
  • good wisdom to make up for its lack of armor (monks gain bonus AC for high wisdom scores) and to increase the difficulty class of saving throws against its Quivering Palm and Stunning Fist abilities;

It also benefits from good intelligence to make the best use of its skill list and probably likes charisma to hire henchmen and make use of some of your other skills on the list.

Thus the monk is relegated to tier 5, where it begs for spare change alongside the Healer class, the NPC "Expert" class, and unoptimized Fighters. One might think that if a monk specializes in throwing shurikens, it can ignore strength and wisdom, and focus on dexterity. However, thrown weapons, unlike ranged ones, still derive their damage from a character's strength modifier.

For the 4e equivalent, see nonhuman Star Pact Warlock.

The Dark Eye, in contrast to its American counterpart, makes most classes depend on multiple attributes. It accomplishes this by making all skill and spell rolls require passing three checks, each based a different attribute and you have to divide your skill rating between them (e.g., with a SR of 9 you can dump all 9 points on one rolls, split it evenly so each roll is 3 better ect.). This is further complicated by rolls not just being straight pass/fail but giving a higher quality rating by how much you can pass the roll. In particular contrast to the idea of fighters being the one with MAD, it's mages that are most hindered by this, making all schools of magic based on different three attributes, while by contrast attack rolls and parry rolls are based on a single attribute. Of course, if the system as a whole makes all classes multi-ability-dependent, then it's instead designed around preventing dump stats.