Follow TV Tropes


Dump Stat

Go To
Who needs Charisma for smashing orcs?

A Dump Stat is a phenomenon that occurs in games which 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? note 
  • 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.)
  • Advertisement:
  • 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! .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 teamwork from 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 Lockpicking for Dummies when your Thief starts out already better at lockpicking than the Knight could ever hope to become, or when your Wizard can learn a spell that magically unlocks any lock?
  • Advertisement:
  • 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).
  • The stat is useful in theory, but in practice its applications don't come up often. If the DM prefers to resolve social interactions based on how well the players can talk it out instead of dice rolls based on/modified by character stats, there's very little incentive for them to invest points in charisma and social skills. Conversely, a game where social skills are paramount and fights happen rarely might leave the stuff meant for physical combat collecting dust.
  • The stat does have its uses, but it's possible to get by without it even if you plan on using it — for instance, Strength might boost your damage with melee weapons, but it's still possible to max out your melee damage though other ways if you haven't put any points in it.
  • The stat can be patched up even if you don't put many points into it to start with. If there's a sidequest or a common buff that gives you a +5 to the stat and the maximum is 10, then there's no real need in putting a 6 or more in it even if you are a character that uses it.
  • The stat only provides any benefits past a certain level of investment. If a Luck of 6 or higher boosts your crit chance, then anything below 6 might as well be a 1.
  • 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.

Sometimes, this is deliberate; the game has a class system or a limited number points to put into your character, forcing a degree of specialization. In this case, the dump stat isn't necessarily a bad stat, but is overshadowed by more suitable ones for a particular build. A warrior wielding a greataxe may find little use in a Dexterity stat, but an archer will rely on it.

Sometimes this is due to 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 for this is that a game engine has been copied over from a tabletop game to a digital game verbatim. In games where Charisma only affects conversations, it's really damn hard to make it translate well 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?

Not to be confused with "the stat you dump all your points into": that's One Stat to Rule Them All (also often referred to as the God Stat).

Depending on the game system, Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities can fit under this trope as well, if you're expected to distribute points among various character skills which aren't all equally useful.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Near the end of B-Daman Fireblast/season 2 of B-Daman Crossfire, Kamon and Riki receive Ultimate upgrades of Drive Garuburn and Rising Dracyan. While Kamon's Garuburn's stats and abilities make them a Master of All, Ultimate Rising Dracyan's specialty is attack, and only attack. This becomes a problem for Riki when he has to face Bakuga in the semi finals of the Phoenix Grand Prix.
  • In Beyblade Burst, Xander's bey, Xeno Xcalius's design maximizes attack by specializing in One Hit Kills, but has critically low stamina.
  • The Good Point Choice Board in Doraemon can control the IQ, strength, and look of anyone assigned by the user, however as one stat is heightened, the other two will drop. Nobita at first uses this on himself, sacrificing his strength and IQ for a better look. But after he accidentally enrages Gian, Nobita realizes he's now too clumsy to run away from him, so he first lowers Gian's strength then pushes his own strength to the maximum regardless of how low his IQ and look will become. This makes Gian suddenly become handsome and Nobita successfully beats the crap out of him with no effort, but then Nobita becomes so ugly that Doraemon cannot recognize him at all, while Nobita's IQ becomes so low that he cannot recognize Doraemon either.
  • Gen discusses this about main character Senku in Dr. Stone. While Senku clearly reached a near-cap in intelligence, his luck goes the opposite direction. This forces him to use his smarts to balance things out when a plan doesn't go his way.

    Fan Works 
  • For quite some time in Game and Bleach, Ichigo put no points into Charisma and only a few points into Luck, seeing them both as fairly pointless. It's only when he finds himself with hundreds of allocated stat points that he bothers to raise either of them.
  • Roman Torchwick in Playing Our Roles doesn't spend a single point on Luck, despite it being the only stat he couldn't Level Grind. It's not until his relatively abysmal Luck gets him arrested due to facing an enemy with a Luck stat over eight times his own that he allocates any points to it and works on finding a way to grind it.
  • Risk It All: Due to the raw power of Soul-Crushing Strike, Strength becomes Ren's dump stat as he prioritizes his other stats to make up for his shortcomings, though he still invests enough to reach the peak of athleticism for someone his age.

  • Pitchers in baseball tend to have hitting as their dump stat as they spend virtually no time working to improve it. The American League overcomes this problem by use of the Designated Hitter, a man who bats instead of the pitcher but doesn't field (the National League isn't allowed to do this, and even the American League team can't if they're playing against a National League team).
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Goaltenders in hockey generally are poor puckhandlers and spend little time trying to improve it. This is because goaltenders generally shouldn't be handling the puck if there's an opposing player anywhere near it. There are exceptions, of course, the most famous being Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was so skilled at handling the puck, it basically made the dump-and-chase tactic worthless when he was in net, since any time the puck was anywhere near him, he would quickly play it out of the zone. Brodeur was sometimes called a "third defencemen", and he was a significant factor in the NHL changing the rules to limit where goaltenders could play the puck.
  • Another hockey example is enforcers and, to a lesser extent, pests. Both types of players have things like "scoring", "stickhandling", and "skating" as dump stats, skills you would probably consider fairly critical to being a hockey player. However, they make up for this in secondary talents - for enforcers, they are generally kept on the roster to deliver big hits, fight when called upon, and protect star players from being targeted; for pests, they are there to annoy the other team's star players with Trash Talk and borderline dirty plays to goad them into taking penalties, which not only removes the star player from the ice for a few minutes, it also gives the pest's team a power play. Both types of players were common in the 80s, but modern rules and the NHL's salary cap have largely discouraged teams from wasting salary on these types of players, unless they're decent at actually playing the game as well. However, modern-day pests and enforcers have one other dump stat that team owners appreciate: their salary is often amongst the lowest in the league.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Matches And Matrimony, Propriety is the one stat that isn't required to get any of the good endings and will even lock you out of some of these good endings if it's too high. Since several activities that raise other stats increase Propriety too, it can become something of a challenge to keep it low.
  • In Nicole, there are five main stats: Amity, Wit, Diligence, Zeal, and Clues. The last tracks the progress you're making on the mystery; the first four pertain to the love interests. Each guy has a single stat that appeals to them, and you can only end up with one guy, so the best way to win the game is to focus on Clues and the chosen guy's stat. The three remaining stats have no effect on gameplay and putting points into them is a waste of time.

    Web Comics 
  • Alt-text in Rusty and Co. suggests Madeline the Paladin's choice of dump stat has made her... a little gullible.
  • As the characters in The Order of the Stick are in a RPG-Mechanics Verse, they sometimes go as far as explicitly referring to Dump Stats. A running theme in the comic is that most characters would be considered poorly optimized in a real D&D campaign, and thus more often than not have bad choices of dump stats.
    • V is a very fascinating example in that they are the strongest member of their team despite sometimes being called "the master of the dump stat." They are Strength (can only carry one Bag of Holding), Constitution (elf; plus a backstory that involves studying, but little exercise), and Charisma (genuinely worried about being capable of apologizing to Elan), fitting for a Squishy Wizard Insufferable Genius. Heck, based on the large amount of very poor decisions, Wisdom also appears to be this (at least initially) and Dexterity seems to be mediocre (they're pretty poor with a bow, despite the racial bonus of an elf). Despite this, V being a Wizard means they can still change entire battlefields. However, V is also impeded by their school of choice, or rather the two schools they disbarred (namely Conjuration, which has some of the most useful spells in the game and would've saved the team a lot of trouble).
    • Haley's is Constitution and Wisdom. She doesn't get hit often, but when she does, doesn't take much to make her fall. Fits her Rogue nature. Wisdom meanwhile shows through her poor Will saves and her questionable choices (from humorous ones such as going dungeoneering in a leather tanktop to more serious ones such as dealing with her feelings). It's implied it's the result of being reared by her dad, a well-meaning, but paranoid rogue who taught her as such to protect her (but also left her an emotional mess until she confessed to Elan).
    • Elan's is Intelligence (and to a lesser extent Wisdom), best shown in his various ditzy decisions, moments and choices (though he is still Genre Savvy due to his bardic training and has shown growing amounts of Simple-Minded Wisdom). Ironically, much like Thog, he is actually the most optimized among his peers as his base Bard class and his Prestige Class Dashing Swordsman allows him to use his monstrous Charisma to full effect.
    • 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). And while he's not that dumb (meaning he didn't really dump intelligence), he's horribly impulsive and prone to awful decisions, forcing the other party members to rein him in at all times. He's suggested to be average at best in the Charisma department, as well, with his violent personality and impulse control hindering him among anyone with a conscience (though he tends to be more sociable with evil types). Really though, given his Square Race, Round Class nature, he needs all the points in physical stats he can afford.
    • Durkon's is implied to be Charisma. While he also The Heart (well, behind Elan), he's a dwarf, he's blunt, introverted, and not particularly personable, and his Turn Undead has a consistently poor success rate.
    • Roy plays with this trope. On the one hand, he doesn't seem to have a dump stat; all his traits and stats seem to be at least above average and thus making him a very well-rounded individual.note  On the other hand, most of those stats aren't made full use of because he plays a straight Fighter class rather than a class that would take advantage of his Lightning Bruiser stats (such as a Warblade), or even a caster class which would be stronger in the long run and make use of his impressive Intelligence. The latter is even lampshaded by his father. Roy noted he chose not to be a Paladin or Cleric because of his secular worldview and he refused become a spellcaster as a way to spite his Jerkass dad and because to follow in his father's (Roy's grandfather) footsteps of being a fighter, even using the family sword.
    • Charisma is O-Chul's. It's not that low, but for his badassery he not only needs high Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution (especially the last), but also high Intelligence and Wisdom as well. According to O-Chul, he chose Charisma as his dump stat back when he was a Fighter. It has come to bite him in the butt since it means he sucks at lying. It also doesn't help that Charisma is either required for or adds power to some of the core Paladin abilities, but O-Chul is tough enough to usually work around that.
    • Nale's is Wisdom in contrast to Elan. While most of his plans we see are successful, they are often needlessly complicated, and he has an almost pathological tendency to brag about his accomplishments even when the situation calls for him to lay low. He's a multiclass Fighter/Rogue/Sorcerer, a needlessly complicated mix that effectively gives him the same abilities as a single-class Bard, something Elan himself points out when they first meet.
    • Intelligence is Thog's dump stat. Despite this, he ironically is better optimized than most others and thus has made the smarter choices for himself compared to the Linear Guild or Order of the Stick (outside perhaps V and Elan). note 
    • 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. Her Wisdom also seems to be low. Ironically, she's an Assassin, a class that actually does make use of Intelligence a fair bit (for both spellcasting and the saves of its One-Hit Kill).
    • Celia seems to have dumped Wisdom, being a Stupid Good Genius Ditz. She's a good lawyer, but very unfamiliar to how things work on the mortal planes as supposed to the Plane of Air (though she does point out humans don't even have an entry in the Monster Manual she could look up, despite other beings like elves and dwarves do).
    • Eugene Greenhilt is also lacking in the Charisma Department, and since he's already dickish enough to begin with he's horribly unpleasant to be around; he was a Grumpy Old Man even when he was young, as his wife put it.
    • Xykon's seems to be Wisdom, given his impulsiveness and lack of planning, and his Berserk Button is that he's always being treated like an idiot by wizards despite showcasing average intelligence. Or — on several occasionsabove average intelligence. Rather than striving to fix this, he's simply convinced himself he doesn't need planning when he has overwhelming power and knows when to start fighting seriously.
  • Referenced by name in Darths & Droids #102. The Rant explains the idea even earlier and calls out Charisma as the useless one. 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.
  • Stat Dump haunts protagonist in Crawlers on the page titled Skills You'll Never Use.
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, Mary is shocked that Bill focused on charisma for his character.
  • Secret from Keychain of Creation has only 2 in Stamina.
  • Avengers Adventure: Tony's is established to be his Wisdom score, resulting in frequently low Perception rolls and, in at least one instance, a negative result on a Heal check.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-896 is a fictional MMORPG where a player who creates a character with the same name as them "imprints" the avatar onto them, causing the player's real body and mind to change depending on how their avatar's stats are increased. Testing has five characters focus on five different stats, to the initial exclusion of all others, as the page says:
    D-896-a: Knight - character focus on stamina.
    D-896-b: Berserker – character focus on strength.
    D-896-c: Cleric – character focus on wisdom.
    D-896-d: Warlock – character focus on intelligence.
    D-896-e: Bard – character focus on charisma.
As testing progresses, it becomes clear that focusing too much on one stat is dangerous, as it causes the player's other stats to weaken. The players who focused on mental stats start to quickly lose muscle mass, while those focused on physical stats have their IQ drop. Shortly after, every player becomes stupid, even Warlock and Cleric, due to Warlock's lack of wisdom (the subject has near-perfect memory, but is terrible at logic) and Cleric's lack of intelligence (the subject has extremely limited long-term memory). The physical characters start to experience Body Horror as Barbarian's muscles become larger than his skin can contain, while Knight's skin becomes solid, requiring lacerations to be made with a diamond-bladed jigsaw so he can move.

    Western Animation 
  • Alicorns in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have the traits of all three pony kinds: the flight of pegasi, the magic of unicorns, and the connection to nature of earth ponies, with the last of the three effectively being their dump stat. No alicorn thus far in the series has ever used, bothered with, or even mentioned their earth pony abilities in any way because of how Overshadowed by Awesome and redundant they are in the series. It's particularly telling with Twilight Sparkle when she became an alicorn: a big deal was made of her learning to fly, but when it comes time for her to work with plants she just casts the same kind of spell she would have used as a unicorn, and even when teaching the earth pony Apple Bloom how to grow plants she teaches her how to make a magical potion rather than to use her inherent abilities. She also never shows the Super Strength that Earth Ponies have, using her telekinesis for everything the way she did as a unicorn.

    Real Life 
  • 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. The Bugatti Veyron goes the opposite way; it's an extremely luxurious vehicle, with all the creature comforts you'd expect from a less sporty vehicle, good insulation, ride stability, etc, while retaining a massively powerful engine. It sacrifices weight and handling instead : the car weights about 2 tons. As a result, the Veyron was soundly beaten by lighter vehicles like the Porsche 911 GT3 and Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, despite its positively ludicrous acceleration and record-setting top speed.
  • Aesthetics, a.k.a. 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. This was lampshaded by the Webley company during World War II with their Mk IV revolvers, which were stamped with "WAR FINISH" to make sure that no-one would think the painted-on finish and visible tool marks were the norm for a Webley product.
  • Fuel Efficiency was the dump stat for American vehicles up through the early 2000s. 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 1970s, but that was followed by another two decades of low oil prices that put an emphasis on vehicle size and off-road capability.
  • Your classic battleship was a compromise between Armor, Firepower and Speed. Being warships, firepower as a dump stat was never a consideration. Speed was invariably the dump stat, ensuring battleships could take as much as they could dish out. Battlecruisers were an offshoot of battleships designed to have armor as a dump stat relying on their speed to stay away from what their guns couldn't outrange. As cruiser-killers and scouts, this was an effective (though very expensive) solution, but it didn't go so well when they were shoved into the line of battle and expected to stay there. Which sadly proved an almost irresistible temptation to admirals due to their battleship-like firepower.
  • Tanks are similarly designed with a compromise between Armor, Firepower and Mobility. (Which encompasses ability to handle rough terrain as well as just straight-line speed.) While not all tanks have a dump stat (depending on the particular tank's role, being merely decent in all areas might be considered acceptable), heavy tanks invariably have speed as their dump stat while light tanks inevitably dump armor and often firepower as well. Dump stats tend to be even more exaggerated with tank destroyers (which specialize solely in taking out other tanks); firepower is always emphasized, and either mobility or armor gets dumped almost to nonexistence.
    • Since WWII the vast majority of armies have opted for the Jack-of-All-Stats approach and settled for a fairly homogenous definition of "main battle tank": Something with as much armor as possible on a roughly 50-ton vehicle, a 120-125 mm gun, and an all-terrain speed of 40-60 kph. The new dump stat has become the general category of "crew comfort", since the only way to make a vehicle both heavily armoured AND light weight, is to reduce overall vehicle size. The Soviet Union embraced this approach, first reducing interior space with sloped and rounded armour and then reducing interior space further with even thicker sloped and rounded armour and low profile designs. Western tanks, that included crew comfort in their Jack-of-All-Stats approach, are almost hotels by comparison.
      • The Soviet T-64 was described as "a great tank for robotic dwarfs, but a poor tank for humans."
    • When a standard American main battle tank was exported to the new post-war Japanese Army, crew space that was at most adequate for the averagely built American soldier became absurdly spacious for a typical Japanese adult male, with a massive increment in the "crew comfort" stat.
      • Another way to dump stat crew efficiency is to simply eliminate members of the crew. The first to go was the bow machine gunner/radio operator/assistant driver. Some armies then went further and replaced the human loader with an auto-loader that took up less space. However this move has not been universal as auto-loaders have a reputation as Reliably Unreliable Guns, and fewer crew members mean fewer people on hand to do maintenance in the field.
      • Before the development of the Main Battle Tank concept, tank development went through a couple of periods of different plays in dump stats. First was the Heavy Tank, which as the name suggests was a big tank with heavy armor, a big gun, and low speed. However, two things happened that rendered the idea obsolete — first was the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which gave off bursts of lethal radiation that really didn't care how heavily armored a tank was. The second was the proliferation of anti-tank missiles, especially infantry-portable and helicopter gunship carried ones. At that point, it was decided that Armor Is Useless and thus the generation of tanks built at that point were Glass Cannon Fragile Speedsters who had enough armor to protect from machine guns but defended more on speed and being able to shoot first for protection. This was followed by the development of new armor types, like Chobham and Reactive armor, which are much more effective against such weapons while keeping weight more reasonable than simple steel armor, so armoring up tanks was once again seen as feasible.
  • Ship armour became a quintessential example of the dump stat following World War 1. Previously, cruiser and battleship armoring had assigned at least a few points of protection to all parts of the ship. The most vital areas (engines, magazines, primary weapons, steering and fire control), would get the majority of armour "points", but less-critical areas would still get something. After careful analysis in the years prior to World War 1, the United States Navy determined that less-critical areas outside a ship's central citadel were basically expendable and since any shell penetrating the citadel might result in the immediate loss of the ship, all the armour points should be applied to its protection. This resulted in the All or Nothing armouring scheme that was Exactly What It Says on the Tin with critical components getting the maximum possible armour protection and non-critical components (crew areas, the superstructure, etc.) getting virtually none. Instead of being Crippling Overspecialization, this design was borne out in several World War 1 naval engagements where a number of Royal Navy ships were lost due to magazine explosions while sister ships with comparatively more damage in less critical areas were able to keep fighting.
  • Following World War II, warship armour became such a dump stat that the entire stat was basically dumped; modern torpedoes relied on breaking a ship's keel by exploding beneath the ship and no armour could prevent it, and the demise of gun battles between ships due to the ascendance of the aircraft carrier, missiles, and precision munitions meant you didn't need armour to deal with heavy shells any more, and while theoretically you could armour against the warheads carried by aircraft and missiles, that just slows you down making you an easier target for the One Shot Kill torpedo.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: