Thoughts on Character Attributes
The four basic elements of task resolution mechanics are:
- How much you do (Damage)
- How likely you are to do it (Attack)
- How well you ‘avoid’ things (Defense)
- How much you can take (Soak / Fatigue)
How do we design a Stat system that reflects this?
In my previous system I had derived this and set an attribute relative to these things for each of the general Categories of action, namely Physical, Mental and Social.
There were problems with it. The first was the difference between mental and social were not always clear. The second was that the relative value of these twelve attributes were not event.
Lack of baance in the previous system was to a certain extend okay, since the Character Point mechanics were to a certain extent self balancing. However it was imperfect at best, though arguably better than most systems.
If we assume I’m going with my proposed Dice Mechanic, then there is a nice automatic balance here. Instead of having Strength, Dexterity, Agility, and Endurance, there are simply the dice. It would work as follows.
The “attack” and “damage” portions would be covered by the different selections of dice. A fast weakling would be
Physical Action: d4, d4, d4, d4, d4
and a Strong clumsy guy would be
Physical Action: d20
But then we still need to figure out defense. In this case our defense is a minimum ‘to hit’ and ‘damage’ needed to make an effect on the character. We could use the following rule. The “width” (accuracy) needed is equal to the half number of dice in that stat round up. The “height” (force) is equal to half the average of the dice round down. So the Fast guy would be
Physical Defense: 3 x 2
and the Strong clumsy guy would be
Physical Defense: 1 x 10
And if you had a complex stat block like:
Physical Action: d4, d4, d6, d6, d20
The defense would be equal to 5 x (4+4+6+6+20)/10 or
Physical Defense: 5 x 4
There is a certain element to this that is compelling. One stat block can cover a whole domain of action. Alternatively this could be laid out for a set of skills. Or I could do both skills and attributes and they could be summed together. Also, there are fun options that can be added like fixed numbers instead of dice, or rerolls, etc…
That being said, there is a risk here. If the system is primarily skill based there could be too many sorts of dice a player must keep track of. If the system is just three attributes (or even two), there is a risk of lack of character diversification. A combined system needs to address how the combination would happen. All that being said there is something very pleasant about defining so much with a simple dice pool