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. 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 archetypal 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 in the front-line like a fighter and not second-line like rogue;
  • 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 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.