If you don't like the idea of XP benefits for high stats (and I do not like that at all; nor requirements for certain classes) then I think you're left with two rational decisions. Either make all the stats mean something or dump them.
This got me thinking: what if all the characteristics were dispensed of? All mechanical bonuses associated with characteristics could then be tied to classes. This got my creative juices flowing and I came up with the following:
- Archer: This class is good with ranged weapons. They receive a +1 to hit with all ranged attacks.
- Berserker: This class is good at delivering devastating blows in HTH. They receive a +1 to all damage rolls in HTH.
- Sergeant: This class represents natural born leaders. Other classes may have a maximum of 3 hirelings. Sergeants may have up to 6. These hirelings have a +1 to their morale. Sergeants may also forfeit an action to provide a floating +1 bonus to a fellow party member for that round (to hit HTH, to hit ranged, damage or AC).
- Shield Maiden/Tank: This class is good with armor, shields and defense. They receive a -1 bonus to their AC.
- Weapon Master: This class is good with HTH weapons. They receive a +1 to hit with all HTH attacks.
- Clerics, Elves and Magic Users do not receive any bonuses beyond their spell casting abilities.
- Dwarves get a +1 HP for every HD.
- Halflings get a +1 to all saving throws.
Now, personally, I like a little randomness in my character generation. This can be accomplished in any combination of the following:
- Roll a d10 to determine which class the character is.
- Roll a d6. On a 1-3 the class bonus remains at 1. On a 4-5 the bonus is 2. On a 6 the bonus is 3.
- In addition to the class bonus, roll on the following table:
1-2: +1 to hit with ranged attacks
3-4: +1 damage with HTH
5-6: -1 AC
7-8: +1 to hit with HTH
9-10: +1 HP per HD
11-12: +1 to all saving throws
13: -1 to hit with ranged attacks
14: -1 damage with HTH
15: +1 AC
16: -1 to hit with HTH
17: -1 HP per HD
18: -1 to all saving throws
19-20: Roll twice ignoring 19-20.
Archers, Berserkers, Sergeants, Shield Maidens/Tanks and Weapon Masters function as fighters. The other classes all function as otherwise written.
D&D without characteristics — makes me go hmmm...