A phenomenon that occurs in games that involve multiple attributes for your characters and allow you to customize those attributes in some fashion. This is the stat that you put your lowest score in, or else don't spend any points on at all.
This can occur for multiple reasons:
The stat is an ill-defined "flavor" stat that doesn't help your character survive the frozen wasteland or kill the evil troll king. After all, how much sense does it make to pump your Orc Barbarian's "Hairdressing" skill?
The effect of the stat is overshadowed by, or even made redundant by, the effects of a different stat. If the only purpose of wisdom is to affect your defense, and dexterity affects your defense while also improving your accuracy, why waste points on the less efficient stat? (Even having wisdom exert a greater influence on your defense than dexterity can't always alleviate this.)
The stat affects absolutely useless aspects of the game. Why put points in stun resistance when a character with the minimum stun resistance never noticeably gets stunned anyway?
The stat would be useful if it wasn't nerfed into oblivion at some point in the testing process. Luck increases your chance to instantly kill weaker enemies! ... by .01% per point, and it maxes out at 10. Pass.
The stat is glitched so it doesn't do what it's supposed to. Final Fantasy VI's Physical Evasion or Final Fantasy VII's Armor Magic Defense are two notorious examples.
The stat actually is useful, but made redundant by other party members who are potentially more capable with it. Therefore, it's illogical for your character to waste resources in this area. Why bother teaching your Knight Lock-Picking for Dummies when you have a master thief working for you? Or when your Wizard has a spell to automatically pick locks?
The particular game requires you to have a dump stat, either implicitly (e.g., a game where a score of 2 in a stat is "average" and you have 3 stats but only 5 points to buy them with) or explicitly (e.g., the same game, but instead of having points to spend, you are simply told to assign one stat a value of 1, one a value of 2, and one a value of 3).
It's just a stat you don't need for this character or playthrough. If Min-Maxing is involved, playing twice with different styles will pay better than playing it with average in all stats, so one has to be sacrificed.
The phenomenon has many causes. The primary cause is poor game design; ideally, all of your customization options should have some use beyond "flavor". Another common cause is that a game system is designed to handle multiple facets of gameplay, but the game itself only encompasses a few of those facets. If your party ever went into town to barter instead of trawling the depths of this dark dungeon, maybe your Barter stat would see some use. Another common reason is that a game engine has been copied over from a tabletop game to a digital game verbatim; it's really damn hard to make a Charisma stat do anything reasonable when your interaction with NPCs is suddenly governed by cold, unfeeling dialogue trees instead of a reactive and creative game master.
Another common cause of dump stats is tweaks to the game system during testing. Initially, maybe Diplomacy was wicked awesome; however, it let a savvy player win the game in ten minutes without lifting a finger. Unfortunately, when they scaled the skill back enough to prevent that contingency, they also scaled back the completely reasonable uses of the skill to the point where it's not worth using in any situation. This occurs frequently in game testing because some powers don't scale well; putting a few points into the skill works as intended, but putting all of your points into the skill breaks the game. Diminishing returns are really hard to balance and, honestly, how many bored players are going to choose to go through your high-octane first person shooter with maximized Basket Weaving anyway?
Note that in multiplayer games, this trope is not necessarily a bad thing, at least in some forms — as long as the stat isn't always a dump stat for everyone. Assuming everything else is balanced, encouraging players to make highly-focused characters allows each player's character an area to shine without competition and ensures that nobody feels overshadowed. In single-player games, it often doesn't make as much sense, but many such games use it anyway...
Not to be confused with "the stat you dump all your points into", that's One Stat to Rule Them All.
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In the Might and Magic games, intelligence has no effect on classes lacking elemental spellcasting abilities, while personality is useless for classes that can't cast self magic. Very few classes make actual use of both.
Attacks in Pokémon are divided into physical and special; usually a Pokemon naturally has one attack stat higher than the other. By teaching a Pokemon inclined towards Special attacks only Special moves, the Attack stat becomes completely useless. The opposite is also true; similarly, it's not usually worth it to boost either defensive stat for Glass Cannon Pokemon who have really bad HP, since they're not going to survive much of anything anyway, or the speed stat for a slow Pokemon, because once you're slower than any likely opponent, the stat doesn't matter anymore (and some attacks/sets benefit from a low Speed stat, like Gyro Ball, which gets more powerful the higher the targets speed is compared to yours, and Metal Burst, which doesn't even work unless you go last). There are, however, some movesets that take advantage of upping what would normally be a Dump Stat in order to barely survive what would normally be a lethal blow, or to better-utilize attacks that work well against an otherwise difficult opponent.
Each Pokémon Nature gives a bonus to one non-HP stat and a penalty to another (except for a few that don't increase/decrease anything), thus it's generally advised to select a Nature where the penalized stat is the Dump Stat. For example, a pure physical sweeper would want Adamant to maximize their Attack and lower their Special Attack, which they do not need. A speedy special sweeper would want a Timid nature to maximize their Speed and lower their Attack. A physical wall would want a Bold or Impish nature to maximize its Defense, and lower Attack or Special Attack. So on and so forth.
Some Elite Tweak builds that emphasize this to the extreme. The most ridiculous example is for Shuckle, which naturally has four dump stats: its Speed, Physical attack, Special attack, and HP are all, to be charitable, quite abysmal. Due to its absurdly high Defense and Special Defense, as well as the Sturdy ability (which allows it to resist One-Hit Kill attacks), it can afford to use only Standard Status Ailments to deal damage — a strategy used by the Pike Queen in Emerald. Using this strategy, everything except HP becomes a Dump Stat when leveling up: the two defenses are already high enough that they don't need the help (though Defense will end up getting points anyway because they have to go somewhere), the attack stats are irrelevant, and Shuckle is going to be going last so often (i.e. pretty much always) that there isn't much point to increasing its Speed.
Pokemon actually encourages the dump stat mentality for Special Sweepers; it's more advantageous to have a special sweeper with a low attack than a high one. Why? Confusion damage is calculated based on the attack stat, so a Pokemon with a higher attack will take more damage hurting itself in confusion. That's the whole point of Swagger. There is also a move called "Foul Play" which uses your attack stat against you instead of the user's, and several special attackers are already weak to the move from Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
The Pokemon Shedinja essentially has three dump stats; since its HP is always set to 1, putting effort values in HP, Defense, or Special Defensenote unless you baton pass a substitute to it, then the last two have a use, though not a major one is altogether meaningless, not to mention its pitiful Special Attack.
There was a Suicune build in the second generation that actually used Speed as a dump stat — even though it's normally the God Stat! You see, the vast majority of people dealt with powered up Pokemon by using Roar or Whirlwind, which normally goes last... but a bug made them fail if it went first, and if both pokemon used Roar or Whirlwind, only the slower one succeeded.
Any game with a "luck" or "charisma" stat will most likely be a dump stat, for most characters. Final Fantasy XI, for instance, subverts this in the case of the bard and beastmaster, charisma is central to Ogre Battle, and in Fire Emblem, luck is the only stat that provides critical avoid (prevention of critical attacks), which is very useful in a game where one critical hit can kill off a character permanently.
"Comeliness" in Champions does little to nothing with the base rules (its effect on social skills is a recommended houserule), and actually gives bonuses to Presence Attacks if it's low enough. Since it's also the cheapest stat in the game (1/2 point per increase), most people either sell it back to get an extra skill, or buy it up when they can't think of anything else during character creation.
In Sixth Edition Hero System (which is based on Champions), the Comeliness stat has been dropped — if you want looks that have an in-game effect, you buy Striking Appearance. If you don't care if your looks have any in-game effect, you can define them however you want.
Also in Sixth Edition, the OMCV stat (Offensive Mental Combat Value) has essentially no use whatsoever for non-mentalist characters. They still get it at its starting value of 3 for free, though, which can mean some easy free points by the simple expedient of buying it back...
Defensive stats in Nippon Ichi games can be viewed as dump stats (unless using a class whose attacks are based on them), especially at moderately high levels (say, when you first top 1000). This is because the games are turn-based and damage is calculated in such a way that the absolute value of an attack stat matters quite a lot (i.e., 17K attack against 17K defense can still do several thousand damage while 100 attack against 100 defense will barely scratch). Depending on the game, it may be best to view Bonus Dungeon maps as one-turn blitzes.
SPD, especially in the later Disgaea games is useful though; since almost everything in the post-game is a one-hit KO even with maxed defensive stats, simply being hard to hit is a good way to be defensive. Not only that, but for fists (which are one of the better weapon types due to the Big Bang ability), the SPD stat is half of the damage calculation, making it quite the opposite of this trope for fist users, acting as both offense and defense.
Every build in Dungeons & Dragons has at least one Dump Stat. One of the keys to good Min-Maxing is to identify your dump stats - what don't you need/want to care about? The D&D 3.5 community developed the term MAD (Multiple ability Dependency) as a criticism of classes that couldn't effectively dump several stats, and had to spread their resources too thin to be effective at anything—a classic case of Master of None. Some notable cases of and references to Dump Stats are listed below,
Strength for most Arcane casters. At lower levels, anything not worth using a spell on isn't worth the damage bonuses that Strength provides to physical attacks, while at higher levels, using Polymorph to turn into a creature with high Strength is the best option if you can't use your offensive spells. The only disadvantage comes from the encumbrance rules, but spells, magic items, and pack animals provide easy ways around a low carrying capacity. Beyond that, in 3.5, if you have a good Dexterity score and a 'light weapon' you can take a feat to use your Dex modifier instead of your Strength modifier for attack rolls.
In D&D3, any build without feats, skills, or class features based around that stat can afford to have a low Charisma. Of the six basic stats, Charisma has no intrinsic value. For builds based around Charisma, on the other hand, it can easily become One Stat to Rule Them All. This is likely why classes outside the core tend to favor Charisma as the stat that powers their special abilities. Even with whats said about Diplomacy below, the effectiveness of Charisma and Charisma based skills is more subject to DM interpretation than any other aspect of the game.
Check out the rules on Diplomacy checks in 3.5. Charisma is, if anything, the most singularly BROKEN stat of all six—it can be used at low levels via Diplomacy and the proper coordination of Synergy bonuses between skill sets to shift the attitudes of NPCs enough to avoid battles entirely. Many players simply never think to use a Diplomacy check ("because Charisma's a Dump Stat"), and a DM can impose circumstantial bonuses or penalties as the rules suggest or at their leisure, but mind that this skill can be used on ANY NPC. It's easy enough to have a +20 bonus to Diplomacy checks before tenth level with maxed Charisma and ranks in Diplomacy with a minimum of five ranks in Bluff, Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty), and Sense Motive. This is before you're even rolling any dice. It only takes a compounded roll of +35 to shift an NPC from 'Hostile' to 'Friendly', which means you have a 25% chance outright—and rolling between a 20 (which with a +20 bonus, short of rolling a 1, you effectively CANNOT roll less than) and a 35 will still improve the 'Hostile' NPC's attitude to 'Unfriendly' or 'Indifferent'. Of course, this can also be an awful and effective way of killing any actual roleplaying. Diplomacy can even be used in battle—it just takes ten full-round actions to complete or a single full-round action at a -10 penalty. This is but ONE of Charisma's many applications.
The Diplomacy option can amount to Crippling Overspecialization in many types of campaigns, including traditional dungeon crawls where most monsters either won't understand you or are too dumb to care. And you generally won't have time to talk. Even in city campaigns, lords are likely to have you killed if you're wielding that kind of influence. You can't use your Diplomacy against an enemy who sneaks up and drops you from behind and if you've invested everything you need to get your Diplomacy that good, you won't have the Awareness or the combat skills to counter such an attack.
In earlier editions, Charisma was needed to hire and keep the henchmen that were helpful for survival at lower levels — not much use after that except improving NPC relations. Usually the party needs only one charismatic negotiator. Forgotten Realms paid attention to non-hack and slash play, so there's a classic character (AD&D 1 campaign set and Gold and Glory) apparently existing just to give a decisive answer on two questions: "who needs topped out Charisma?" and "What Kind Of Lame Power IsMindlink Anyway?". Not many adventurers get onetreant, mimicorbeholder hireling...
4th Edition avoids having a universal Dump Stat. The three defenses (Fortitude, Reflex and Will) are each based on the higher of two stats; Str/Con, Dex/Int and Wis/Cha respectively, so every stat has some intrinsic value while still allowing for each build to have its own Dump Stats. That being said, some stats consistently show up as Dump Stats for builds not based around them:
Strength. The builds that can take advantage of a good Strength bonus (pretty much any melee class that isn't based on one of the other attributes) generally need it, leaving the survivability-boosting Constitution a better choice for those that don't.
Intelligence. Dexterity grants an initiative bonus and Dex-based skills are necessary for survival in a dungeon, while Arcana is the only major skill that gets bonuses from Intelligence, making Dex a much better choice for classes not based on Int. (Note that Int and Dex both apply to AC, whichever is higher, but if you're wearing heavy armor, neither apply. Sometimes you can dump both if you don't mind a low Reflex defense.)
Charisma and Wisdom. Aside from the bonus to Will defense and class-specific abilities, these stats are mainly useful for skills that someone in the party needs to have, but not everyone. As such, builds that aren't based around Cha or Wis can afford to dump one of them.
That being said, each individual character is bound to have at least two Dump Stats. Since the rules allow for all of your useful abilities to be powered by One Stat to Rule Them All, pretty much everything else becomes one of these (except Con, because everyone needs hit points).
Most 4th edition characters need two good stats to work properly. Their main stat, which covers attack and damage rolls, and a secondary one depending on their powers (like Rangers and Paladins needing at least a little bit of Wisdom, and the Fighter either Wis, Dex or Con depending on the weapon for secondary effects). Anything else can be dropped in case of extremely bad dice rolls.
In Dungeons & Dragons Online, every class will have to pick a dump stat just like the P&P version if they want to be the best at what they do. However there is a number one rule of character builds that all veteran players agree upon: "Con(stitution) is NOT a dump stat" for any class, due to hitpoints being extremely important for fighting (and sometimes the only defense against) high level monsters.
R. Talsorian's Mekton and Cyberpunk games effectively made every stat except Reflexes (and possibly Body) a Dump Stat. The Reflexes stat was the One Stat to Rule Them All: all-important to every aspect of combat and if your character did happen to get hit, Body determined how hurt he was. Several of the others - Empathy, Cool, and Technical Ability, were worthless. The most egregious of these was Attractiveness. No. Use. At. All. That said, house-rules can save other stats - something so simple as a "Luck Save" will convince Player Characters not to skimp on anything. Except Attractiveness.
Cyberpunk 2020 also has two dump skills. The Brawling skill is added to a character's Reflex score when they make an unarmed attack. The Dodge & Escape skill is added to a character's Reflex when they try to avoid an attack or escape when grabbed. But the Martial Arts skill is added to a characters Reflex score when making an unarmed attack and when avoiding an attack or escaping when grabbed, and is added to the damage of unarmed attacks, and gives the character an additional bonus with "key" attacks (e.g., kicking for Muay Thai, throws for Judo, holds for Wrestling). This was supposed to be offset by the fact that each Martial Art had a difficulty factor, by which you multiplied the cost to improve the skill during play ... but some Martial Arts (like Wrestling and Boxing) have difficulty factors of 1. This makes Dodge & Escape useless unless your Game Master doesn't let you use Martial Arts for dodging non-melee attacks, and makes Brawling completely useless for anything other than role-playing a character who had no formal combat training.
Empathy was actually ridiculously useful in Cyberpunk, as it determined your starting Humanity score, which determined how many cybernetic enhancements you could cram in your body before flipping out and killing everyone. This had the ironic effect of guaranteeing that anyone who wanted to end up as a weapons platform with (most of) a human brain somewhere inside it had to start out as one of the most empathic people on the planet. Conversely, Attractiveness and Movement Allowance (MA) were not only of little use, but could be replaced wholesale with biosculpting or cybernetic legs respectively. With most stats you were either stuck with your starting score or could only modify it to your starting score plus a few points, but Attractiveness could be raised to a maximum of 12 whether it started at 1 or 10 (you paid by the point, so it did cost a litte more if you started ugly) and anyone could buy a pair of cyberlegs that set their MA at 16 (out of a human maximum of 10) regardless of how fast they were with their organic legs. So, yes, it was a game of lightning fast sharpshooter supermodels with personalities like The Terminator who started life as glacial sharpshooter trolls with the compassion of Mother Theresa.
In Ancient Domains of Mystery, charisma and appearance are dump stats. Outside of shop prices, they have very minor effects on gameplay. Shop prices, after the mid-game, are irrelevant because there is a way of generating an endless supply of money (the Casino).
The LCK stat in Ragnarok Tactics. It raises magic attack and criticals, but 1. Criticals almost never trigger and 2. It's easier and more efficient to raise magic with the MAT stat, which raises magic attack, magic defense and MP at the same time.
The World of Darkness games make players decide on a Dump Stat Category due to being a Point Build System - you choose one category to get the most points for, one for the middle amount and one for the least. Mental Attributes are the most common choice; while you want to be able to put up a fight and be smooth, you can get by with one dot for each stat in Mental (you start with one automatically and two dots are the human average).
Or, if you're playing the Old World of Darkness, put most of your mental attributes in Perception (being able to spot what's trying to kill you can come in handy) or Wits so that you can attack sooner rather than later and make others suffer due to wound penalties for their rolls, and don't bother with Intelligence unless you're playing a character specialized in knowledge/occult skills.
Many campaigns make physical stats Dump Stats. Sure, the buffed out PC can bash an opponent or two into the ground, but the master of Social Fu can determine the course of whole cities, mind control the Big Bad, call in higher powers from their faction, or buy their way out of problems. Much like in Real Life, being able to beat others up comes in handy every once in a while, but being well-connected and clever can come in handy daily. As a general rule in both Old World of Darkness and New, Werewolf and Hunter value physical stats more, Mage and Vampire value mental and social more, and the other games can go either way.
In Devil Survivor if you make your Player Character a magic user (you should), increasing strength serves no purpose except when you run out of MP (which you shouldn't if you increase magic properly), don't have any other physical attackers on your team, and need it to use certain spells/passive abilities.
Different Shin Megami Tensei games have different dump stats - and some have none, while others are dependent upon your build choice. In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, for example, Strength is most definitely not a dump stat and a physical attacker is a very powerful build, and good physical attack options in Persona 4 are important to your longevity while dungeon crawling.
In Soul Hackers, the magic stat serves absolutely no purpose for the Player Character since he can never use magic. There are a few pieces of equipment which require a certain Magic stat, but they are very late-game, and although they grant certain elemental resistances they also grant some weaknesses.
The first Kingdom Hearts makes you choose a dump stat. It's odd, in that its effects on your stats is minimal, but its effect on when you learn which abilities is massive, making the choice very much a Guide Dang It.
In EVE Online, only characters training to be traders, corporation executives and fleet commanders benefit from high Charisma, and even they need the other stats to train to fly the right ships as well.
The developers attempt to make charisma more useful by making a high Charisma stat grant a boost to learning the skills that boost stats, so having a higher charisma means you spend less time boosting the skills that boost your stats, but the effect is minor enough that it takes at least a year to recoup the time you invested in boosting your charisma.
GURPS carefully avoids a universal dump stat, mainly by using optional traits for things that are mandatory in other games. However, many character designs benefit from picking a dump stat, e.g. A brilliant telekinetic can afford to drop his ST down pretty low in order to get points to enhance his powers instead. Additionally, although the game lacks an official Charisma stat, many players tend to saddle themselves with social problems for more points, turning social skills into a Dump "Stat". This pattern can get players in a lot of trouble, however, if they are in situation where they ever need to pump NPCs for info: just because you can kill some one with your brain doesn't mean you can scare people to get the info you need.
In GURPS 4ed games where the party have access to firearms, strength is only useful up to the minimum needed to effectively use your weapon. 11 is enough to use nearly anything. Light machineguns or very heavy magnum handguns may require as much as 13, but any more than that is a waste if it's a point short of 20, where things like heavy machineguns become possible. (While HP is also based off of strength, almost any firearm is capable of dealing enough damage to kill you instantly, and so HT, used to save against death, becomes a far bigger deal.)
Also, HP can be bought independently of strength, or sold back for points to below what the character's strength would imply, and so is really only based on strength in name only. However, the core rules do recommend allowing HP to only be bought up +30% of its default ST-based value for "normal" human(oid) characters.
Out of three core stats of Strength, Agility and Intelligence each class is geared towards one of them and the gear with others is mostly worthless and the loot distribution system tries to prevent players from grabbing an inappropriate equipment. One of them is always present on a piece of gear. Stamina is present everywhere and simply gives HP.
Ironically, vanilla Warcraft had intelligence a dump stat for mages of all people, as it only affected mana pool and gave a very minor critical hit bonus, making stamina a much bigger help in surviving. It has since been upgraded to primary stat as it now gives a one-to-one increase in spell damage in addition to the extra mana.
All other stats are deemed secondary and are randomly distributed. Haste, Critical Strike and Mastery used by damage dealers and healers alike, while tanks get defensive stats of Dodge (every class), Parry (every class except Druids) and Shield block (Warriors and Paladins). Expertise stat is for melee classes (including tanks) only and cannot be found on caster-oriented Intelligence gear. Hit is used by every non-healing spec. Spirit's main purpose is for healing with secondary use by substituting for hit for caster Shamans, Druids and Priests.
Even these secondary stats can become dump stats based on role. For druids, Critical Strike and Mastery are dump stats for Balance Specs but necessary for Restoration Spec; Haste is the dump stat for Restoration Spec but necessary for Balance Spec
In Final Fantasy VI, you can boost your Strength, Magic, Speed, Stamina, HP, or MP when you level up with the correct Espers, but you only get so many levels. For those players who want to max their stats, boosting your HP or MP for more than a few select levels turns out to be a waste — not because of the stats being useless, but because HP and MP increase with levels anyway, and come pretty close to the max without Espers. The true Dump Stat is Stamina. All it does is improve your resistance to instant death attacks (which can be blocked entirely anyway), and increase the power of Poison or Regen when afflicted to the character. That's right, boosting your Stamina increases the damage you take from Poison. The Regen boost isn't worth the bonuses you could be getting in Strength, Magic, or Speed, so a savvy player won't bother deliberately boosting Stamina. Additionally, Physical Evasion does literally nothing in the SNES version; Magic Evasion covers both physical and magical effects.
And considering spells and items can get your offensive and defensive figures as good as maxed without the need for Esper bonuses, Speed can easily be considered The One Stat. One turn per two seconds is a lot better than one turn per six.
The intelligence stat in the original Final Fantasy is bugged; it does absolutely nothing.
Diablo II has Energy, which controls mana. No one, not even Sorceresses, puts a single point into it for several reasons. Your mana pool increases with character level, and high level items add a lot of mana as well. Mana steal scales with weapon damage, making it more effective too. There is also a runeword for hirelings that gives the entire party a large mana regen bonus. Also, mana potions are readily buyable and dropped in massive quantities by every mini-boss if those are still not enough for you. Meanwhile, very few skills go up in mana cost per skill level. This means if you just wait for a few more character levels, your lack of mana will solve itself.
The same applies to strength: the damage bonus is negligible, so the only reason to invest into strength is item requirements and you can make do with zero strength if you have some + strength items. Therefore 95% of the viable builds in the game require the same stat point distribution: the minimum strength to wear end-game gear, just enough into dexterity to attain max block and everything else into vitality.
There is one build that actually benefits from a lot of Energy, but that build only uses the extra Mana to sponge damage, not to fuel attacks: the Sorceress skill Energy Shield transfers some damage from health to mana, so it's possible to crank it up to the point where you take very little actual damage, but it puts a huge stress on your mana pool. Instead, Vitality and/or Dexterity becomes the dump stat, depending on your focus.
In the first Diablo, healing potions were both plentiful and easy to spam, so any damage you took could be undone right away. The main danger on higher difficulty levels was inescapable stunlock from multiple enemies attacking at the same time. To counter stunlock, you needed miss chance which was provided by armor. In short, the size of one's health pool was largely irrelevant and Vitality was mostly useless beyond the early game. Luckily you could purchase stat points and max out everything anyway.
Vitality was actually worse than useless for sorcerers. The Mana Shield spell enabled you to use your mana pool as hit points. Due to a bug, taking lethal damage did not stun you, even if the damage was then absorbed by Mana Shield. Basically if you kept your health as low as possible, you were immune to stun from Hell difficulty monsters, giving you a slight advantage in combat. Players even intentionally allowed themselves to get hit by Black Death zombies (which permanently drain hit points) to further reduce their maximum health.
Dexterity for sorcerers was a noob trap. Yes, the only thing that could kill triple immune enemies was a weapon. But what the game didn't tell you was that the Stone Curse spell sets enemy armor to zero, and your attack speed was so slow that you pretty much had to stone your targets anyway just to win the fight. Also, there was a rollover bug that made high level opponents trivial to hit.
Charisma in Murkon's Refuge just reduces the rates you pay at inns and clinics. And the inn in the first town is always free, so if you keep that as your home base, it only affects clinic prices. (In the pre-web version, it instead affected how often monsters were friendly, a feature which the creator decided to dump for the web port.)
For a long time, moxie became a bit of a dump stat in Kingdom of Loathing, to the degree that having a high level of it would make the final boss battle exponentially harder, with the main attractiveness of the moxie classes (the special Moxious Maneuver) being less than useless. This disparity has since been modified. A bit.
To this day, no one has figured out what Combat Shooting does in the PC port of Wasteland. It's one of the most attractive point sinks to first-time players, and yet it might well be good for absolutely nothing. (On other platforms, it simply doesn't exist.)
1047. If my troll is the smartest character in the party, the entire party is vetoed.
1097. Even if he used INT as a dump stat, I don’t have to carve ‘this end towards enemy’ on the barbarian’s axe blade.
The Elder Scrolls series has a few, though players focusing on roleplaying can find uses for many of the stats listed below.
Personality in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: there are ways to boost the stat for the infrequent few seconds you need it, and you typically only need it for a few seconds because time freezes when you start a conversation.
Personality was also a Dump Stat in the first two Elder Scrolls games (plus the spin-offBattlespire). In Arena, all it affected was prices, which wasn't really an issue past the very early stages of the game. In Daggerfall it also affected whether the randomly generated townspeople would give you information, but even with the lowest possible starting Personality, you could just ask someone else and would always find what you were looking for in a few tries. In Battlespire it's even more useless since just about anything you talk to is trying to kill you anyway!
If the game didn't give you unlimited skill points, security (the skill governing your ability to pick locks) would be this in Oblivion: successfully picking a lock is based more on player skill than anything else; high Security only slows down the tumblers to make them easier to set (which is already easy with practice) and affects what happens when you fail to set a tumbler (each Security "perk" reducing the number of tumblers that fall back into place by one). Additionally, the Open Lock spell makes lockpicking redundant, and the Skeleton Key gives effectively infinite lockpicking attempts. In Morrowind, on the other hand, lockpicking is based on character skill instead of player skill, so Security is a worthwhile investment . . . at least so long as you didn't bother enchanting items with Unlock spells.
Monster language skills in Daggerfall: they only allow you to speak with a particular class of monster to have a chance to avoid combat. Even more useless as you also needed to sheathe your weapon, not a good idea in a monster-filled dungeon.
Luck in Morrowind: its use is never clearly stated, so it's an obvious place to avoid putting points. On the other hand, for people who know how it works, Luck is the One Stat to Rule Them All: it affects a large number of actions which involve random chance, including the likelihood of a spell-cast succeeding, the chance of hitting an enemy, and the chance of being hit. This is shown masterfully with Gaenor in the Tribunal expansion; his absurdly high Luck stat of 770 makes him absurdly difficult to even put a scratch on.
In Morrowind, there really wasn't any need to bother with the Destruction skill since all the damaging spell effects it incorporated were massively trumped by Mysticism's Absorb Health. Oblivion partially averted this by making Absorb Health a touch-only effect, but in a sense compensated for that by moving it to Restoration (thus giving all the more reason to invest in said skill). As such, Mysticism became even more of a dump-skill than Destruction. For that matter, with the removal of Levitation and Jump effects between Morrowind and Oblivion (combined with the ease of lockpicking in the latter), Alteration got likewise nerfed from one of the best schools to one of the worst.
In Oblivion, your Luck doesn't affect the loot from containers, but instead gives boosts to nearly all of your skills, meaning putting points into it helps with pretty much everything. It has a minor impact on a couple other things in the game, but the skill increase is by far the most useful, making it an incredibly useful stat when you know what it does, and a likely Dump Stat for people who don't. See here for details.
Willpower in Oblivion. One of the only things it affects is your maximum fatiuge, which is also affected by other stats. It also controls your rate of magicka regeneration, but it's more effective to increase your Intelligence so you have more magicka in the first place.
In Skyrim, they've gotten rid of stats all together. Everything boils down to Health, Magic, and Fatigue. There are, however, dump-skills that would be inefficient to waste perk points on; Lockpicking and Speechcraft work just fine without putting any perk points into them or artificially trying to raise them.
Between Health, Magicka and Stamina (Fatigue), the middle one is the dump stat even (especially) when playing a mage. Yes, having more magicka lets you cast more spells. Right up until you figure out enchanting and amass a total of -100% destruction spell costs on your equipment. All of your level-ups into magicka (and the points into reduced magicka perks) are now wasted. At least you can respec, right? Just kidding. Start over.
Space Munchkin parodies this trope with "Stat X" a mystery stat in addition to the 6 core D20 stats.
The Game Master is, however, advised to make Stat X count for something awesome if someone actually bothers to put a high score in it.
Each stat in Arkham Horror is inversely linked with another. You can take a dump stat but it's always risky: lowering your Will gives you a better Fight but then just seeing the monster drives you insane, for example, and any stat could be called on in a random encounter. Luck of the draw and strategy factor heavily in the game. You can change stats at the start of every turn to adjust to the situation and having the right items can mitigate the risks of having a dump stat.
The D.C. Heroes Roleplaying Game had three categories of stats (physical stats - Reflex, Strength, and Body; mental stats - Intelligence, Will, and Mind; and spiritual stats - Influence, Aura, and Spirit) and three types of stats (an action stat that determined how well you "maneuver" in that category, including making and avoiding attacks; an effect stat that determined how powerful you were in that category, including the damage of your attacks; and a resistance stat that determined how durable you were in that category, including how hard you were to hurt and how much damage you could take). Having a low action stat made you a sitting duck to attacks in that category. Having a low resistance stat meant that you were a pushover if you ever got hit by an attack in that category. Having a low effect stat meant that if you chose to make an attack in that category, it wouldn't do much damage unless you had a high action stat and rolled well. Anyone could make physical attacks (it's called a punch). Only telepaths or people drawn into mental combat by a telepath could make mental attacks. There was no way to make a spiritual attack without using magical powers (which would have their own rating, which could be linked to your Aura stat, but didn't have to be). Not a lot of characters had high scores in Aura, the spiritual effect stat.
In the doujin game Touhou Labyrinth, points put into stat and skill advancement, equipment enhancements to them, and points from gaining experience levels all act as a percentage multiplier to the base score. Thus it's hard to avoid emphasizing a character's initial strengths and weaknesses. Beyond that, every character (and monster) has one common dump stat: due to an unfixable bug in the game engine, it is impossible to avoid attacks, making Evasion completely useless (This is quite bizarre, as basic Touhou gameplay is built on dodging).
Mutants & Masterminds and DC Adventures (the 3rd edition of the game) feature this for Presence, which only has the effect of adding bonuses to three solitary Skills, all of which can be bought up for cheaper than spending points in Presence. It was already a weaker option in the 2nd Edition, and the changes in the 3rd Edition made it even worse. The Dexterity stat can also become a Dump Stat at times, as anyone who isn't a long-range fighter can just take a "0".
INT in Dragon Quest. Yes, it's useful in the early levels, but it suffers serious decay since it does not determine magic damage. (Magic damage is fixed and then multiplied by elemental resistance.) INT and its cousin, VIT, are still useful, mind: They do raise HP and MP. But after a while, that's irrelevant.
The Charisma and Wisdom scores are typically dump stats in Baldur's Gate II. Unless you're playing as a Cleric, Wisdom is only useful for the Wish spell, and even then you can just get a character with high wisdom to cast it. As for Charisma, you get a ring after completing one of the first quests in the city which boosts your Charisma score to 18 when wearing it.
The defense stat in the Mario & Luigi games is pretty much useless, since you can dodge every single attack in the game and none of them are that hard to dodge (except for the Elder Shroob Princess' spinning tentacle attack in the second game, fumble-fingers nonwithstanding), spending your bonus at level-up on the defense stat or getting accessories and clothes that increase your defense instead of your attack is a waste.
Certain types of equipment in La Tale such as gloves can be enchanted with unique enchantments that tend to be prioritized, but all equipment that can be enchanted can have the base four, strength, stamina, magic, and luck. Strength and magic boost damage for physical and magical classes respectively, but by such a small amount that almost everyone prefers luck (boosts the odds of a critical hit) and stamina (only base stat to boost survivability) over them.
Final Fantasy XIIIdoes away with the concept of Dump Stats by giving players only three stats to worry about: Hit Points, Strength, and Magic Power. Defensive boosts are only governed by special accessories that block attacks based on a percentage. Though the Paradigm system kinda plays it straight, basically, of the 6 Paradigms, each character has three they can use from the get-go, and it's these the game really wants you to level them in. Sure, by Chapter 10 you can start making everyone anything you want, but the non-specialized roles provide far worse gain for exponentially greater cost than the starting ones, so they essentially become Dump Paradigms. (Unless you're going for the Max out all characters Achievement/Trophy) Sazh is an exception, as he can be good (but not amazing) at just about anything.
Snow is probably the only character with a Dump Paradigm among their starting 3, namely Ravager. Ravager!Snow really only gets Water and Ice spells, giving him pathetic weakness coverage, and he has the lowest Magic stat in the game to boot. Literally everyone else does Ravager better than him (even Fang, who doesn't even start with the role) so players generally only put CP into his once they've maxed Commando and Sentinel.
Ironically, this actually ends up being a mistake come endgame, because Snow's fast csating speed means that when given a Soul Blazer (or Save The Queen made from it). he becomes the best Ravager in the game against any enemy which doesn't resist both Ice and Water. Casting spped also means that Fang (who, as previously stated) doesn't start with Ravager, is the second best in the game, followed closely by Lightning. Hope and Vanille (who have the highest Magic stat in the game) then follow, with poor old Sazh coming last due to his slow casting speed, mediocre magic, and poor selection of elements (only Fire and Thunder).
Thanks to bugs, the Agility stat is worthless for every character not named Hawk in Seiken Densetsu 3; the only things it affects are Hit Rate and Evasion Rate, which don't work, the speed the trapped chests' roulettes spin, which is insignificant, the rate at which Hawk learns skills, and the damage of some of Hawk's skills. And for this reason, the spells Speed Up and Speed Down do nothing of value, either (they don't even work on Hawk!)
The campaigns of Dawn of War II both require and encourage this trope, as Attribute Points are severely limited and certain stats provide incredibly powerful traits at higher levels. For example, it is just as useless increasing the melee damage of Avitus (a ranged specialist) as it is increasing the ranged damage of Thaddeus (a melee specialist) or the health of Cyrus (a Glass Cannon). The only uncertain character is Thule however, who gains useful traits from all his stats and which one a player decides to be the Dump Stat (or whether he will be a Master of None) is entirely a personal preference.
It is somewhat averted with Tarkus and Thaddeus since putting points into their "dump stat" actually allows them to change specializations to a limited degree by allowing them to equip new weapon types (Tarkus get the ability to equip melee weapons while Thaddeus becomes able to use ranged weapons), it's debatable how useful this is though.
The Chaos Rising expansion plays with this, however, by putting several near- or outright Game Breaker traits (we're looking at you, Cluster Mines) in progression tracks of attributes you'd normally not consider putting points in (in the case of the aforementioned Cluster Mines, Cyrus' melee attack. Cyrus is one of two characters who can't even equip a melee weapon).
In Progress Quest, Strength is the only stat that affects gameplay at all (increases your carrying capacity, which means fewer trips to the store for faster leveling). The rest are completely useless.
Planescape: Torment averts this with the main character. The Nameless One can be a fighter, thief, or mage, which means Wisdom and Charisma should be unimportant stats. However, combat is not a major focus, so Wisdom and Charisma are both extremely valuable, while Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution are fine at fairly mediocre values.
Poor little Charisma in Fallout 3. While the other SPECIAL values control things like damage, criticals, enemy spotting, health, skill points per level and action points, charisma controls very little. It is rarely if ever used for speech checks, usually defaulting to its respective Speech or Barter skills, and has little other practical use. This is most glaring in Fallout: New Vegas, where about all Charisma controls is how much damage your very optional companions do, which in its defense makes them much more powerful; but the entire game can easily be done solo. The bonuses to its skills are also so minimal that they can be overcome in a single level. There are also only two Perks that require Charisma to gain. It's just easier to rely on alcohol and items to boost your Charisma the few times you need it.
Charisma is surprisingly useful in Fallout 2. as it determines how large your party can be. Specifically, you can have a number of squaddies equal to half your Charisma score, rounded down, meaning a Chosen One with 1 Charisma can't even convince one person to travel with him, while a player with 10 Charisma will have a veritable army. Since followers don't change the amount of experience you receive, they make the game a lot easier. Sulik, Marcus, and Cassidy are each a force to be reckoned with.
Fallout 2 has a different Dump Stat, that may come across as surprising: Endurance. Most of the skills it modifies can be increased by books or quests. The resistances it provides are rarely relevant (and reloading the game is always an option) and items exist to erase any effect that Endurance resist. It influences Hit Points, but so does Strength (albeit to a lesser degree) and there's enough good armor laying around that you're rarely going to take damage that isn't a freak One-Hit Kill critical, anyway.
In Eon, the attribute Bildning, roughly translated to Education, is often treated as a dumpstat. Education shows how much general knowledge a character has about the world and things in it, and players make a check in case they want to see if their character knows something about the town they're in, what races are common in the country, and other miscellaneous stuff. The thing is, pretty much everything you get to know by making a check against Education, can also be revealed by making a check against an appropriate skill, like History or Cultural Knowledge. These skills are often more specialized, granted, but at the same time they provide more in-depth information than Education. Besides, most classes that are expected to have a high score in Education also have most of these additional skills. Also, if there's anything worth knowing about a town, odds are a NPC is willing to share some knowledge, or one of the PC's have already been there before.
In Final Fantasy X, Luck is a dump stat, but not for the reason you'd expect. In terms of what it does for your characters, Luck is absolutely godly, combining the effects of two other stats (in a game that generally averts this trope) and increasing your critical hit rate to cap it all. The problem is that the developers realized this, and made the Luck stat ridiculously hard to actually put points in - while you'll have more of the spheres increasing every other stat than you know what to do with, you'll get a grand total of four spheres for Luck boosts over the course of the main game, and if you want more you'll have to kill one of the game's Bonus Bosses at the Monster Arena, for one each time. Most players just invest in the two other stats (Accuracy and Evade), since it's just so much easier to do.
In System Shock 2, Endurance becomes a dump stat on the Hard and Impossible difficulty settings. On Easy you gain ten HP per point of endurance, on Normal it's five (not a whole lot, but still useful to a point), and on Hard and Impossible it's a paltry three, which doesn't justify the hefty cyber module cost. It also adds resistance to radiation and toxins, but you find a Rad Suit in the early stages that gives you 75% resistance to both anyway...
The Exotic weapons tree also qualifies. Not only are they situational weapons with very sparse and limited ammunition, you also need to sink a ton of modules into the Research skill before you can even begin to use them. Meanwhile, the basic pistol and shotgun (and grenade launcher) have plenty of ammo to scavenge and cost far fewer modules to access...
In the first four Inazuma Eleven games, Stamina only affects how fast a character uses up GP, representing physical fatigue. Characters will eventually hit a point where they'll seldom if ever become fatigued, making Stamina only useful early in the game. Usually, you can stop caring about your team's Stamina entirely around halfway to 2/3rds through the story. Inazuma Eleven GO 2 fixed this with the introduction of the Mixi-Trans Super Mode, which drains the user's GP very quickly.
With the revamped stat system in Inazuma Eleven GO, adding 4 points to a character's Technique stat had the exact same effect as adding 1 point each to Kick, Dribble, Block, and Catch, making Technique a dump stat. This was also fixed in GO 2 with the addition of Critical Failures, the odds of which decrease as user's Technique stat increases.
The Avatar creation system in Fire Emblem Awakening goes out of its way to avert this. Whichever stat you pick as 'worst' will actually lower other stats too, though not as much. Picking Luck or Resistance (generally considered Dump Stats) for worst will also lower Strength and Magic or Magic and Speed respectively, all of which are considered very important stats.
In practice, Luck still ends up as this more often than not. the deficit in Strength or Magic can be easily worked around, and the Avatar's initial Luck growth (which the Asset/Flaw system also influences) will be quite high anyways. Averted however with Resistance, due to Speed being as important for offense as it always is, and Magic being an important stat for those who go with magic classes as well (and, to a lesser extend, hybrid classes). Also averted with Skill (the third consideration for a Dump Stat) because a high Skill growth helps to ensure that you're able to Dual Strike more easily, and Skill itself factors into the proc rate of many useful (offense or defense) skills in the game. In addition, taking Skill as a Dump Stat also results in a deficit in Defense and Strength, both useful stats (with Defense being the most useful of the two for any character).
The Luck Stat, even if chosen as your flaw, will usually eventually reach near the cap, mostly due to how much you'll probably use the main character and put him/her through reclasses which basically amounts to infinite levels, meaning that even with flawed luck you can still reliable or assuredly pull off the skill that uses it the most, which most people want because it lets you use a weapon without expending the uses.
HP in The World Ends with You. Not because it isn't useful, but because the only thing that has much effect on it is your effective level. Equipment can have a huge effect on your other stats, but will never do much, positive or negative, to HP, even if the item is dedicated to it. The gains from food are so minimal that it's only really worth bothering if the character has maxed everything else.
Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has Beauty. It affects people's initial reactions to you, which in most cases either won't affect their dialogue in any meaningful way or can be made positive just by asking them to tolerate you for the duration of the conversation. Possibly the only way it impacts upon the game is by altering how much merchants will charge during trade dialogue.
In Dark Souls, resistance increases physical and flame defense and resistance to poison. This first two are almost useless because they both go up nearly as much when you raise any stat (because this raises your level, which increases all of your defense stats) and you can gain much more defense against every type of damage (including lightning and magical, which Resistance does nothing against) by wearing heavier armor and putting points into Endurance (which decides carrying capacity) to compensate for the extra weight. Poison resistance is rather situational, so it's better to just get a poisonbite ring and/or poison resistant armor to switch to when you're in poison-heavy areas like Blighttown. To make it even worse, Diminishing Returns for Balance kicks in once your armor-less defense reaches a certain point from putting points in resistance or level up—so you're just getting a headstart up a slop that gets pretty close to being flat at higher levels. It's likely for this reason that Dark Souls II got rid of Resistance and instead made the various defenses increased by other stats, and not all leveling up.
E.Ψ.Ǝ.: Divine Cybermancy has Mental Balance, which reduces the likelihood of the player freezing up or going insane when casting psychic abilities or taking huge amounts of damage. However, insanity can be cured by using the Maintenance ability, which only takes a few second at the cost of locking up your weapons and screwing with your vision. Not like it particularly matters if you die while using it, because you have multiple resurrectors in each mission. Mental Balance is made further redundant by researched items which increases your resistance to insanity, and later can make you outright immune to it.
The four spellcasters that join your party in Mana Khemia use magic for everything, even standard attacks. This gives them no way to use their attack stats. Pamela's immunity to physical attacks also renders her defense stat useless once unlocked.
In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, MP is by far the least useful stat in the game to invest in. This is because the game uses a system where all characters start at 0 MP and accumulate it over time during each battle, at a rate of 10 per turn. There are ways to gain MP faster within battle, but almost invariably your characters will never need more than 50 or so, and certainly no more than 100 - and both numbers are trivially easy to reach without any investment whatsoever in the MP stat. The only reason your MP cap would even slightly matter is if you were using the MP Shield reaction ability - and given that you would need to actually reach the cap every time you used that unit, even that is absurdly impractical.
Enforced for the Tech-Priests in Dark Heresy, who quite simply cannot improve their Fellowship stat (unless they take a certain career choice on creation), and who have upgrades available that automatically reduce it.
Tales of the Abyss's ENH stat, in subsequent playthroughs. The game gives characters special skills in combat that are based on the buffs they've received to their stats; for example, buffing AGL can increase speed in combat, or allow for a Double Jump, while buffing P. Atk can increase your number of basic attack hits. ENH can give some of the best abilities in the game when invested in, but it doesn't do anything other than give these abilities. The skills you get from these stat boosts carry over to a New Game+, but the boosts themselves don't. So ENH has the odd position of being very well-balanced and important on your first playthrough or two, but once you've gotten all the skills to start carrying over and start playing Unknown, ENH may as well not even exist.
Similar to baseball, in professional cricket, the very best bowlers tend to be the very worst batsmen. Australia's Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, the West Indies' Courtney Walsh, and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan are four of the only five bowlers to take over 500 Test wickets in their international careers, and are also four of the only five batsmen to have been out for a duck (zero runs) more than 30 times.note The fifth bowler to break the 500-wicket barrier, India's Anil Kumble, was out for a duck while at bat 17 times; the fifth batsman to break the 30-duck barrier, New Zealand's Chris Martin, took 233 wickets as a bowler.
In professional basketball the Quadruple-double is one of the rarest feats of the game because it forces a player to be dominant on both offense and defense. Most elite players focus on the offensive feats of points, rebounds and assists while using defensive skills like blocks and steals as their dump stat. Likewise this is why a Quintuple-double has never been accomplished above the high school level.
Belkar's is Wisdom, which is so low that he can't even cast the most basic of the spells associated with his ranger training. (He apparently took the training just so he could learn Dual Wielding.)
V's are Strength and Charisma, fittingly for a Squishy Wizard and Insufferable Genius. Some of V's later actions also imply that in spite of having high Intelligence, V's a bit lacking in the wisdom department.
Roy's seems to be Dexterity, if only because all his other traits are above average.
Haley's is probably Constitution; she doesn't get hit often but takes it hard when she does.
Crystal is either another Intelligence dumper or a minmaxer—she seems to have emphasized Dexterity the way Thog emphasized Strength, but it's uncertain how high her Strength and Constitution are, and her Charisma seems to be at least moderate.
Much later, Jim is preparing to debut his new character. When Chewbacca shows himself incredibly dignified, refined, and well-spoken, Jim comments that he gave his sidekick high points in all his character's dump stats. Then Jim brings out the new character, "Greedo" (a renamed version of Han Solo), and he's a horrible Italian stereotype who speaks in broken English.
High performance vehicles typically use driver comfort, ride quality, interior luxury and cargo space as their dump stats. Sometimes justified in the pursuit of higher performance and saving weight, but sometimes not where the modifications are a form of performance theatre to make the driver feel that they are going faster.
Aesthetics, aka Fit and Finish, tend to be the dump stat for military weapons built during time of war. Sometimes the low stat only affects appearance, other times it results in poor ergonomics or low mean time between failure.
Fuel Efficiency was the dump stat for American vehicles up through the early 2000's. Cars could be made cheap and powerful (or cheap and "luxurious") as long as one didn't care how much fuel they used to reach those speeds or move that bulk. Initially justified because oil was never something that was going to run out. Fuel efficiency mattered for a brief period in the 1970's, but that was followed by another two decades of low oil prices that put an emphasis on vehicle size and off road capability.