Simplified modifiers for D&D 4e

One of the innovations of D&D 5th edition was the removal of the “gear treadmill” and “feat taxes”, or having to take certain feats and having to earn certain quality of loot at certain levels in order to keep pace with steadily increasing monster stats.

It’s also possible to do this in 4th Edition, since the math is so straightforward:


Simply put, whenever the player makes an attack roll, they would add their ability score modifier, plus this Proficiency Bonus. As well, when computing their Defenses, it would be 10 + ability modifier + Proficiency Bonus

Core assumptions:

  • The Proficiency Bonus includes the Half-Level bonus
  • The Proficiency Bonus includes the “+1 per tier” bonus granted by Versatile Expertise and Improved Defenses
  • The Proficiency Bonus includes the “+1 per 5 levels” bonuses granted by magical items, such as +1 swords and +2 plate armor. The pace I’m using in this case is faster than if one were to use “Inherent Bonuses”, which is deliberately set to be slower than if loot was just being handed out normally.T
  • This does not yet include Weapon Proficiency bonuses from weapon attacks, though one could default that to a +2.
  • This does not yet include the flat AC bonus from simply wearing any sort of armor

For a detailed breakdown of how I arrived at these numbers:



An example of this system at work would be:

A level 3 Warlock with 18 Charisma, attacking with an Eldritch Blast, would roll:
[d20 + 4 Charisma modifier + 3 Proficiency bonus]

A level 10 Fighter with 22 Strength, attacking with a Reaping Strike (and a +2 weapon proficiency battleaxe), would roll:
[d20 + 6 Strength modifier + 8 Proficiency bonus + 2 weapon proficiency]

Defenses would be calculated as:
[10 + ability modifier + Proficiency bonus]
AC for Light Armor would be calculated as:
[10 + Dexterity/Intelligence modifier + Proficiency bonus + armor bonus]
AC for all other armors would be calculated as:
[10 + Proficiency bonus + armor bonus]


Under this model, you wouldn’t need to hand out magical items, except for their powers/special abilities, which is similar to how 5th edition already operates.

2 thoughts on “Simplified modifiers for D&D 4e

  1. Very interesting! I am soon starting a campaign, in which I’ll use the Companion Characters idea from the DMG2 as full PCs, but tweaked to allow magic items (per Inherent Bonus rules) and the standard half-level advancement. Looking also at the NPC generation guidelines in the DMG1, I came up with a flat +1 per 5 levels both to AC, Defenses and Damage, to take into account Feats (that I am not using) and reduced access to magic. Half-level would also be added to AC and Defenses per standard rules.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s