Abilities scores for an universtal system.

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
When we want to play a TTRPG but with a different system one of the main challenges is the list of abilitie scores or atributtes.


The six abilies scores is one of the sacred cows by D&D/d20 system.

Fallout, the famous videogame saga, has got the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck

The Storytelling System by White Wolf/Onyx Paths has: Intelligence, Strength, Presence, Wits, Dexterity, Manipulation, Resolve, Stamina, and Composure

Call of Culhtu RPG has: Strength (STR), Constitution (CON), Dexterity (DEX), Size (SIZ)(body mass), Intelligence (INT), Power (POW), Appearance (APP) and Education (EDU)

7th Sea has: Brawn (physical might), Finesse (agility), Wits (intelligence and thinking on your feet), Panache (style and charisma), and Resolve (physical endurance).

Legend of the five Rings: Stamina, Willpower, Strength, Perception, Agility, Intelligence, Reflexes, and Awareness

Shadowrun: Body (BOD). Agility (AGI), Reaction (REA), Strength (STR), Willpower (WIL), Logic (LOG), Intuition (INT), Charisma (CHA), Edge (EDG), Essence (ESS) Initiative(INI) and Magic (MAG)

Some players would rather a low number of attributes, but I wish the opposite.

If you were hired to create a open licence TTRPG for all genres, but east to be adapted from other system, what attributes or abilities scores would use? The list would be 9-12, not lesser 6.

My goal is something like a d20 Modern 2.0. with some little changes in the abilities scores, adding more, so that all 3rd Party Publishers would want to use it for their no-medieval fantasy titles.

Would you add acuity/perception to search clues, or hidden traps, and anything like luck/karma/fate/divine grace/guardian angel, what attribute for social manipulation, but not charism?

Would you use "substats" as a bonus feat or merit?

* What system would you use for sanity/madness, points pool as call of chulhtu, "flaws/aflictions" as in Storytelling System, or anything as the mental health "pillars" by Unknown Armies (Violence, Reality, Remorse, Helplessness, Isoliation)?

* How would you mix the classic hit-points and a health(/blood points) pool as injuries levels?
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Generic is my least favorite type of system. Things needed to support gritty fantasy may be unneeded for hard SF, and by the same token the things hard SF wants may be more granular then makes sense for that gritty fantasy. And neither fits well the 1920s elder-horror, which has only some overlap with modern investigators, which bear some resemblance to a modern vampire campaign and to a teenagers-from-outer-space campaign, even though though they bear little resemblance to each other.

The other aspect is that the scale can and should vary some. A physical strength score for a Titan in the Epic Ancient Greek Heroes game should be a huge number compared to PCs, while in the modern werewolf game every PCs should put normals to shame. And the 007-expy game should have just normal human variation with some of the cat-petting villains have lieutenants that are right on the top edge of human potential.

So the answer that's not helpful is if I wanted a generic system, I'd go for something like Cortex Prime, where literally what abilities are used are changes from campaign to campaign. What do you want to focus on. PbtA games are a great example of having few ability scores but tailoring them to be what you want to focus on in the individual games.

But trying to be helpful, I'd probably go for a generic list, and then have different figured characteristics based on them that vary by genre type. So how good of a natural pilot you are could matter in the WWII Aces campaign as well as the Space Opera campaign, but you wouldn't need it for the high fantasy game (or maybe you do).

Since you want 9-12, let's go with an idea I played with a long time ago. A 3x3 grid which ends up giving 9 characteristics. One axis is Body/Mind/Soul (or Heads/Hands/Heart). The other axis is Force, Savvy, and Innate. The intersections of the give us the 9 ability scores, and should be generic enough to cover diverse things like a magic system, psionics, jedi powers, and insanity. I'd leverage that it's a grid that the initial step in determining ability scores would be ranking the axis, and then the combined would become the

To give an example of the Body column, in D&D it would be equivalents of Str, Dex, and Con (which the whole Str adds to hit taken out). The Force are indications of might and power - forceful and direct, Savvy is about finesse, application, accuracy, and Innate would be more of a resistance or threshold to overcome.

And as in any generic system that uses ability scores, it's up to the DM to make sure that the abilities are useful in every campaign. That there's a use for the Soul row in the police procedural you are running.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If you were hired to create a open licence TTRPG for all genres, but east to be adapted from other system, what attributes or abilities scores would use? The list would be 9-12, not lesser 6.
I did create an open license TTRPG for multiple genres. I went for:

Strength
Agility
Endurance
Intuition
Logic
Willpower
Charisma
Luck
Magic/Psi/Chi (named by genre)
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
My idea is starting with the six abilities scores by d20/D&D because is the most popular or known: Str,Con, Dex, Wis, Char and Int. Then I would add three more: Courage (bravery, resistance against mental stress) Acuity (Astutenes + Perception) and Spirit (luck/karma/fate/guardian angel/divine grace but also hope, faith in oneself). For a time I had thought about Technique as a new attribute for crafting, playing music, dacing or maneuver of martial arts, about actions what need more time, or prelearnt actions, but now I think as a bonus substat feat could be enough.

After buying and reading my Eclipse Phase RPG my head is thinking about Ego+Morpho, and some rule for mind-transfer and digital immortality. (Altered Carbone will be a TTRPG soon).

And I am thinking about character stats with two parts, the level of power and level of knownledge. The first is the classic leveling-up, but the secon if all in the memory of PC and nPCs. This would allow more modulable characters, for example a final boss, or a big fish in the metaplot. The level of power can change for the PCs, but the level of knownledge (all learnt or studied in the memory) would be constant. In online videogames the level of knownledge wouldn't change when the PCs go to lower level zones where they suffer nerfing.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
Luis- I think you're starting to blend skills/proficiencies with attributes. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you can reconcile why the two different things follow the same rules (attribute rules). When games have higher numbers of attributes, this is often what's happening. To put it simply:

Attributes are who you are.
Skills are what you do.

Which is why it's good to see Size in one of the above attributes lists; size isn't something you do! I was also hoping to see Comeliness as well (was that an actual D&D attribute or an optional rule?).

Anyway, I'd go the route @Blue mentioned, and expand three basic attributes (physical, mental, metaphysical) into two or three sub-attributes each. Unless, of course, I'm really trying to adhere to a niche, in which case I'd just cherry-pick a few more attributes.

Sanity/madness could just be a parallel hit points track. But it's more flavorful if you use steps with conditions.

...which ties into Injury levels. If you're going to have three levels of sanity condition, you might as well have three levels of physical condition. Each step gains a condition based on what caused the injury, and when all three are full, you're in trouble. I think Zweihander blends this with a hit points concept. You should check it out.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Comeliness/Appearance could be a substat working as a bonus feat for some social interactions. And beauty is subjetive. Sometimes when you are used to see a beatiful thing, for example a gothic cathedral front of your house, it isn't so atonishing as by the tourist who discover it for the first time.

My point of view about Wisdow is different. For me this symbolizes the good sense, the emotional intelligence to understand oneself, the psychological maturity, self-control, making chooses about ethical matters and long-time consequences by your own actions, the gift to give good advices, serenity and inner peace. And also means the sanity, mental resistance against madness.

Intelligence means faster learning and more complex thoughts.

Acuity would be the astuteness + perception (+intuition), noticing about little details as potential clues for an investigation, or the exploration in a zone, but also social manipulation, creativity, improvisation and intutition. In my games the evil clerics would use acuity instead Wisdow. With Acuity the PC is noticing when somebody is lying, but with Wis notices when other is using fallacies or emotional manipulation.

Courage would be useful for horror adventures, but also in mass battles, or warbands skimirshes where troops need morality checks to stand in the fight.

My version of "spirit" is a mixture of "blessed by the Heaven/chosen by the gods" but also willpower, hope and optimism, joy for living. A character with low spirit would be a "jinx", but also may be cynical people with a bitter vision of the life, or a toxic personalities seing only flaws and the worst parts, and even willing to join to the side of the bad guys because he doesn't trust the victory by the heroes. Examples of characters with high spirit would be Mariannete Dupond-Cheng "Ladybug" or Steve Rogers "Captain America", very idelist. Not only would be as the "Con", resistance for your "spiritual aura" against taint by supernatural menaces, but also this attribut also be would useful in games with low level of supernatural elements.

* About the sanity points I don't agree because different characters can bear better or worse according to the cause, for example a veteran solider could face violence better than a erudite, but a pious archivist can stand better suppernatural menaces because his faith says they will saved by a miracle of the Rose of Gualupe (SPOILER: he is right! but Black Dog Games doesn't want you to know this). In the past I suggest a house rule.

* Starfinder has got a system of stamine points. Maybe this is I am looking for. My idea is supernatural creatures with life-draining coulds could get "blood points" for their own "mana pool" and spending theses to use their "discipline powers". And this also would replace the Con reducciont and changing all stats about hit-points, save bonus and like this.
 
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aco175

Adventurer
I recall when 2e had an advanced book when they further divided the 6 stats further and we had Strength divided in to Power and something like Raw Strength. I do remember trying it and it became unwieldy. I do not think I would like to change D&D since it has been that long and a sacred cow.

I also see where D&D has skills and some of the other systems has some skills as stats, like perception/ awareness. I would look at the skills to see which needs another stat since there is none that really fits and then maybe change or add more.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I recall when 2e had an advanced book when they further divided the 6 stats further and we had Strength divided in to Power and something like Raw Strength. I do remember trying it and it became unwieldy. I do not think I would like to change D&D since it has been that long and a sacred cow.
We’re not talking about changing D&D. We’re talking about attributes of a hypothetical new universal genre RPG system.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Pick any stats, say seven (a cool number): Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Education, Charisma, Sanity; all skills track to a stat.
 
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uzirath

Adventurer
Serendipitously, the newest GURPS supplement, released a few weeks ago, provides an extended examination of this very issue: GURPS Power-Ups 9: Alternate Attributes. There's was also a lively discussion on the GURPS forums where people shared their own attribute schemas. For myself, I like the idea of a small number of core attributes that may have linked attributes beneath them. In a point-buy system, you can buy the main attribute for a hefty price which brings up all the sub-attributes, or you can fine-tune the various individual elements. This gives room for beginners and pickup games along with tinkerers who love exploring the weeds.
 

Anoth

Adventurer
Toughness
Guile
Wit
Awareness
Presence
Sanity
luck
Intuition
Will
Education
Honor
Grace
Faith

no physical stats
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Toughness
Is toughness not physical, at least to some degree?

Education
Would you consider this to be educational potential or the level of education that one had achieved thus far in one's life? Would this stat degrade somewhat over time? (I suppose many stats would, with age.)

How would this be connected to one's reputation? If you acted dishonorably, would your stat go down? If one were thought to have acted dishonorably and developed a dishonorable reputation, would that affect the stat?

I assume you're talking about social graces (courtesy and whatnot) rather than physical grace. Would that change from culture to culture? Is it more about intent than execution?

Would one need to specify the object of their faith? Or would you use this only in a campaign setting with a hard-coded religious cosmology?

no physical stats
I'm curious why you made this choice.
 

Anoth

Adventurer
Is toughness not physical, at least to some degree?



Would you consider this to be educational potential or the level of education that one had achieved thus far in one's life? Would this stat degrade somewhat over time? (I suppose many stats would, with age.)



How would this be connected to one's reputation? If you acted dishonorably, would your stat go down? If one were thought to have acted dishonorably and developed a dishonorable reputation, would that affect the stat?



I assume you're talking about social graces (courtesy and whatnot) rather than physical grace. Would that change from culture to culture? Is it more about intent than execution?



Would one need to specify the object of their faith? Or would you use this only in a campaign setting with a hard-coded religious cosmology?



I'm curious why you made this choice.
toughness as in Clint Eastwood or balls of steel. Not tough like my mother’s chicken.

Education more for starting skill points or something like that. I like how it works in call of Cthulhu.

grace as in “saved by grace” sort of divine favor. God really likes you.

honor I Could see going up and down

faith for me would be for whatever religious system you follow. Atheist have zero. Alternatively I like an older definition of faith that only used belief indirectly. It wasn’t belief as much as it was the ability to act on your religious beliefs. The more i think about it I can see faith offsetting sanity loss. An anchor that atheists wouldn’t have.

the reason I went for no physical stats is because I got tired of every fighter in d&d having a 20 strength or 20 dexterity to be effective. I think tough guys do more damage And can take more damage. So you Can have a tough guy that people fear without being built like Lou Ferigno.

deliberately avoided wisdom and intellect And charisma ecause I think these attributes are easier to roleplay.
 
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Tonguez

Adventurer
Firstly I really like Fate Accelerated Approaches and that they describe character behaviours rather than attributes, thus first list
Careful, Clever, Sneaky, Forceful, Flashy, Quick

Second I also like systems that go straight to Skills instead of Attributes then Skills so
Athletics - Used for Melee Combat and Skills that require application of physical strength (break, lift, drag) or endurance (carry, hold on) or stamina (resist, hold breath). - When Athletics = 0 PC is Unconcious
Agility - Skills that involve movement, flexibility, balance and reaction time. When Agility = 0 PC is Immobile
Dexterity - Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and ranged combat (aim).
Logic Used for Problem solving skills, Academic recall, Procedural knowledge (how to do stuff)
Perception - Used for observation skills, and reading social situations
Persuasion - Used to interact with others and social combat
WIllpower - used to overcome mental limitations (including magic/psionics), morale* and sanity.

Status - a setting specific stat that determined social status in community and thus wealth (ability to call in favours and get stuff) -3 Slave -2 Villein -1 Peasant 0 Freeman+1 Yeoman +2 Aristocrat+3 Noble

* Morale is resistance to running away (run away is assumed to be the default reaction to all frightened effects)

Third For My minimalist list
Wit - used for all mental/social stats
Physique - used for all physical stats
Knack - used for special abilities/magic/stunts
Move - how many actions per turn

my absolute minimalist list though is "There are no Attributes - choose 6 things that your want your character to do and distribute 8 points across them -3 to +3

Oh I forgot my Factions List used for treating organisations/villages and kingdoms as NPCs
Economy (con)-Yield v Consumption
Might (str)- Defense v Offense
Mobility (dex)- Reaction v Stimulus
DIplomacy (Cha) -Rule v Intervention
Society (wis)- Stability v Agitation
Scholarly (int)- Research v Stagnation
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
If you were hired to create a open licence TTRPG for all genres, but easy to be adapted from other system, what attributes or abilities scores would use? The list would be 9-12, not lesser 6.
The most important thing about any set of ability scores is that you can easily distinguish between them. It's easy to see the problem in D&D, which fails to properly distinguish between Intelligence and Wisdom. There's no point in writing down two different numbers, if we can't even agree on when we should be using each one.

Strength is good. Everyone is in agreement on when dumb muscle is the relevant factor.

Agility or Dexterity is useful. Most people can agree on when a problem needs finesse, rather than power. A lot of games try to use both stats, under the observation that tying so much into one stat might be unbalancing, but that leads to ambiguity. Does it require Agility, or Dexterity, to avoid an incoming sword swing? You could argue equally for both, so a good system should only include one of them. I'll go with Agility, so nobody assumes that Dexterity is only manual dexterity.

Constitution is solid. The ability to withstand a hit is distinct from the ability to dish out hits, even if most people who have one will also have the other. It is not a requirement of this exercise that every stat be independent. I'll go with Toughness for the name, though, because Constitution is too strongly tied to D&D.

You need some sort of mental stat, to delineate the fact that the character knows different things than the player. Intelligence and Wisdom are too nebulous, though, so I'll go with Mind. If it has anything to do with knowing or understanding things, it's Mind.

Wisdom is nebulous. Perception isn't. You need a stat to determine whether or not you notice something, and this solves the whole problem. Never again do you have to worry about the difference between Spot and Search. This also gives you a convenient place to stick a species bonus, if a class has good senses.

Appearance is in the eye of the beholder, and Charisma is famous as a dump stat, so you might as well combine both together with every aspect of etiquette and diplomacy into a Social stat.

Actually, Social sounds more like a skill than a stat, but there's no requirement that this hypothetical system has to have both stats and skills. Following on that, you might as well introduce stats for Crafting, Magic, Melee and Ranged Combat.

I feel like we're missing some, but this is a good start. That's ten stats for use in any game, or nine stats for use in any game that doesn't have magic.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
The most important thing about any set of ability scores is that you can easily distinguish between them. It's easy to see the problem in D&D, which fails to properly distinguish between Intelligence and Wisdom. There's no point in writing down two different numbers, if we can't even agree on when we should be using each one.
You're such a blasphemer. :geek:

It's a good point, though. And one that needs to be considered every time another attribute is added to the list.

Also, you can keep Magic as an attribute in multiple genres. Because: the Force, Vulcan neck-pinch, and whatever the heck MacGyver was up to. But since we're already having trouble with the line between "abilities," "attributes," and "skills," would you save "stats" for a different thread?
 

steenan

Adventurer
If you were hired to create a open licence TTRPG for all genres, but east to be adapted from other system, what attributes or abilities scores would use? The list would be 9-12, not lesser 6.
How wide range do you have in mind when writing "for all genres"? Both in the sense of kinds of settings and in the sense of kinds of stories. Depending on that, the attributes need to be more or less abstract, fit different thematic areas and different kinds of activities.

Does the game you envision cover:
  • AIs and body-skipping post-humans for whom any physical characteristics don't really matter?
  • Gods ruling various aspects of reality in a world similar to our own?
  • Typical high schoolers with no supernatural abilities?
  • Talking and tool-using mice?
  • Hundred mile long snakes living on the World Ash?
Should it be able to support a story of:
  • An epic conflict where the fate of the world is at stake?
  • Teens fighting in a desperate uprising, doomed to lose?
  • A budding romance between two mature people with complicated past?
  • A cooking contest against an enemy of existence?
  • Purging a society of demonic corruption?
  • Finding out who you are and what is your path in a world full of conflicting expectations?
None of the examples above are made up - they are settings and themes of existing RPGs. If you want your game to be fully universal, it should work for each of them, which puts very different requirements on the set of stats it uses than a narrower thematic range would.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
Power
Wisdom Courage​

Half joking, but I do prefer systems with less stats than some of the suggestions here. I truly think we could move D&D to five stats and it still work well.
 

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