Multiple Ability Dependency

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"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.

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

  • good strength to make up for its lack of weapons;
  • good dexterity to make up for its lack of armor and to power up Combat Reflexes;
  • good constitution because some assclown decided that it should be a melee fighter;
  • good intelligence for when you multiclass into Wizard or Psion after realizing how fucking horrible monks are;
  • 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;
  • and probably charisma to seduce the dragon when slapping it to death fails.

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.