Abilities scores for an universtal system.

DMMike

Game Masticator
D&D is perfect for dungeon-crawling, but not so good for other games with more investigation or social interactions.
Perfect? That's very nice of you. :whistle:
Other idea is some attributes are modular, optional, this means you are free if you want to use them in your game or not. Maybe in a sci-fi game only one PC has Techniche attribute because she is a techy who repairs/fixes machines, or a cofrater (member of a brotherhood, a jedi knight ersatz) with martial maneuvers of light saber. Maybe a DM would rather to use Technique because she wants (munchkin) players to choose between better Agility for Reflex saves or better technique for stealth or to disarm traps, martial maneuvers or drawing runes.
Hmm. Optional attributes? I'm not sure if this has been done (Fate's aspects), is actually a skill idea instead of attributes, or if it is worth fleshing out.

I'm interpreting your example to mean breaking up Dexterity into two attributes, and spreading the related rules around. That strikes me as top-down engineering of D&D's (thoroughly playtested) rules, which is risky, but also probably where the term "house rule" first came up. Go right ahead, but I wouldn't expect all of the third-party publishers to jump on the bandwagon.

* My own point of view see the differences between Inteligent, Wisdow and Acuity, but maybe others can't. Int is the nerd who goes to the university thanks a scolarship or the chess game champion. . .
INT is for nerds? I don't know if this will scare away or draw more PCs to it.
* To avoid some abuse by munchkins I have thought about two pools of creation points, one for the main abilities scores, and the other for the attributes no-so-useful.
You're redesigning attributes, right? If I were you, I'd try to make all attributes useful.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like a hierarchy of stats, like D&D 3e/4e, but more explicit.
So you have primary stats composed of secondary stats and some checks or saves target primary stats and some secondary stats.

Primary Stats:
Fortitude (Str & Con)
Reflex (Dex & Wis or Int)
Will (Cha & Wis or Int)

Secondary Stats:
Strength
Constitution
Dexterity
Intelligence
Wisdom
Charisma
 

dave2008

Legend
The most important thing about any set of ability scores is that you can easily distinguish between them.
In general I agree with this (and most of your post), however...

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 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.
I do think it is important to have more than one mental stat. I think intelligence, wisdom, and will are all distinct. A RL example: my sons are both more intelligent than I am, but they lack my wisdom (even for their age), and one of them has a stronger will than I. I don't know that D&D defines them clearly, or that I can, but it is like porn: I know it when I see it.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I didn't get this, even after reading your example. Could you explain again/further?

Thinking about this under my own understanding, I think that switching genres isn't necessarily hard if the basic resolution methods are known. For instance, I use Prince Valiant (Brawn, Presence and skills) for relatively thematically light mediaeval romance. I think it could also be used to do Conan (maybe tweak the skill set a little bit) and light-hearted thievery and probably pirates.
hmmm....I guess I think like this: You have a system with flexible frameworks of dramatic "modes" instead of traditional attributes (even if you call them attributes). The other, more simulationist traits act only as minor bonuses and permission-granting. Thinking of a system like MHRP powers...it really doesn't matter what the modes are, the power works the same way. Fate Accelerated could be tweaked to work the same way.

So now, imagine, you have a character (pick one from fiction). First, ask yourself what attributes you would give him from....say the Wicked Age set, then do it again with the Fate Accelerated set. My thought is that its easier to "recast" dramatic attributes than it is to recast simulationist ones. Especially since they can work on the same abstract scale of affecting the story, rather than affecting the gameworld "physics". You don't have to worry about inventing a "universal" Strength or Toughness scale that will include Inara from Firefly and the Hulk from Marvel without making either the difference between Inara and Jayne (also from Firefly) pointless or make the Hulk cost so much (whatever that will mean in the system) that he is an unstartable character.

But if someone wanted tactical resolution, or gritty injury and healing, then Prince Valiant won't help whatever the genre. For fantasy/mediaeval, at least, switch to Burning Wheel!
I think this is mostly right. But I think that tactical resolution systems are inherently limited in genre (although perhaps in an oddly specific way). You can rub the trappings serial numbers off and re-flavor them rather generically (your Savage Worlds power really doesn't care if its a fireball or a grenade), but the underlying tactical engine will always be relatively constant. That means that you are stuck with whatever genres that engine serves best (possibly limited to the way physical conflicts work in-genre). If you make one that features lots of close-in combat maneuvers and finely-grained movement and reactions...it groans a lot when you try to re-flavor it for gunfights or blaster battles, or try to include something like the Hulk.* Sure, many of those systems can kit-bash themselves to sorta work outside their normal modes....but there's always a bit of hammering on square pegs to get them into the round holes, or even re-working the genre to fit the existing engine (very common). IMO, this is proportional to the level of detail or resolution that the engine imparts. The better/best "universal" tactical engines are always the ones that are the least fine-grained. (Of course, if you're a hard-core simulationist, you might read that and wonder what the heck I'm talking about.)

*Not that its an absolute impossibility, but there's a difference between when a system is "singing" and when its barely keeping up.
 

pemerton

Legend
imagine, you have a character (pick one from fiction). First, ask yourself what attributes you would give him from....say the Wicked Age set, then do it again with the Fate Accelerated set. My thought is that its easier to "recast" dramatic attributes than it is to recast simulationist ones. Especially since they can work on the same abstract scale of affecting the story, rather than affecting the gameworld "physics". You don't have to worry about inventing a "universal" Strength or Toughness scale that will include Inara from Firefly and the Hulk from Marvel without making either the difference between Inara and Jayne (also from Firefly) pointless or make the Hulk cost so much (whatever that will mean in the system) that he is an unstartable character.
I get the bolded bit, I think - you're saying that a given character can be moved from drama-ish system to drama-ish system with the attributes being reworked to fit the system without significant loss of character integrity. And you're doubting that it's so easy to do that moving from (say) D&D to GURPS to RQ/BRP to . . . Where I'm getting a bit lost is the stuff about the Hulk and Firefly characters. Is the idea that to make a sim-type system truly universal it has to capture what matters about every arbitrary contrast-pair of characters (because after all in a truly universal system we might want to play any character!) and this is an impossible demand?

I think that tactical resolution systems are inherently limited in genre (although perhaps in an oddly specific way). You can rub the trappings serial numbers off and re-flavor them rather generically (your Savage Worlds power really doesn't care if its a fireball or a grenade), but the underlying tactical engine will always be relatively constant. That means that you are stuck with whatever genres that engine serves best (possibly limited to the way physical conflicts work in-genre). If you make one that features lots of close-in combat maneuvers and finely-grained movement and reactions...it groans a lot when you try to re-flavor it for gunfights or blaster battles
This is why I confined my recommendation of Burning Wheel to mediaeval/fantasy. It has an intersting skirmish system that can handle bows, muskets and lightning bolts but as it stands I don't think it's up for machine guns and enfilading fire. (Whereas Prince Valiant, with some changes to the skill set, might be.)

That said, I think "light"/"drama" engines can still have genre limitations. I suggested that Prince Valiant might be able to do Conan, but I don't think it could do CoC. Nor WWI in (what I would consider) a sufficiently serious way, even though I think it can handle automatic fire and enfilading without a lot of work - it's too light-hearted.

Of the Cortex+ games the one I know is Marvel Heroic RP. With its stress tracks and complications I think there are also probably limits on how serious it can be. Melodrama, sure, but I don't think it's up for anything really heavy.

That's not to say that GURPS is necessarily up for that either. The contrast I'm seeing is with systems like Burning Wheel (real consequences), Apocalypse World and DitV.
 
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Aldarc

Hero
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.
This is one of those strange occasions when the planets and stars align and Saelorn and I agree about game design philosophy.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
On attributes/ability scores if we're looking at a universal system how granular do you want to get? Do you want to differentiate between fast twicth and slow twitch strength in muscles? Do you want there to be a difference in manual dexterity versus body position awareness? How about recall versus reasoning ability? Introversion versus extroversion?

In the end no system is universal, they excel at some things and stink like day old skunk carcass at other things. Some systems are good at a relatively wide swath of genres (GURPS when approached from a particular vector) but not good at others (GURPS when approached for a particular vector) so it really depends.

Are we doing something to play action/adventure games akin to D&D, or GURPS, or Hero, or Savage Worlds. Those need a very different set of attributes than a game about training Pokemon, the trainer doesn't need to worry about personal strength, or agility; everything they want done is going to be acheived by their trained Pokemon.
 

Saelorn

Hero
I do think it is important to have more than one mental stat. I think intelligence, wisdom, and will are all distinct.
I'll give you Willpower as distinct, but between Intelligence and Wisdom, which one is entirely irrelevant when it comes to providing first aid? Or surgery? Is this something that a feral child, literally raised by wolves, would be good at? Or is it the domain of the ivory tower scholar, who has read a million books, and has no practical experience?

In order to justify separate stats, there needs to be very little overlap between stats on any given check you would want to make. Most tasks that are primarily governed by Intelligence would also benefit from Wisdom, and vice versa, which makes it hard to justify them as distinct.
 
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LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Let's say Int is about logic, calculating, learning and remembering, and Wisdow is more the good sense, good judment, wit, being sensible or prudent, self-control, psychological maturity and resistance against mental stress and sanity against madness. With Int you can the best way to earn money, but with Wis is about the best way to spend and manage it.

And I have said my goal is a d20 system variant easy to be used and comfortable for players and 3rd party publishers. I have suggested some attribute are optional, even only used by a PC but not for the rest of the group (for example Technique or Spirit). And I also I have suggested some attributes would be only substats, working as bonus feats, for example appearance.

What about adding Acuity (Perception + Astuteness) and Courage as two new abilities scores? They could be suggested in some future UA articles about modules or optional rules.
 
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Tonguez

Adventurer
Let's say Int is about logic, calculating, learning and remembering, and Wisdow is more the good sense, good judment, wit, being sensible or prudent, self-control, psychological maturity and resistance against mental stress and sanity against madness. With Int you can the best way to earn money, but with Wis is about the best way to spend and manage it.

And I have said my goal is a d20 system variant easy to be used and comfortable for players and 3rd party publishers. I have suggested some attribute are optional, even only used by a PC but not for the rest of the group (for example Technique or Spirit). And I also I have suggested some attributes would be only substats, working as bonus feats, for example appearance.

What about adding Acuity (Perception + Astuteness) and Courage as two new abilities scores? They could be suggested in some future UA articles about modules or optional rules.
The problem with Wisdom is not how its defined but rather what it does in game. What are the mechanics of rolling a prudence or maturity check? ie When confronted with an in game choice what does prudence actually do for a character? (The same question applies to Courage really).

Can you give any examples of use?
 

dave2008

Legend
I'll give you Willpower as distinct, but between Intelligence and Wisdom, which one is entirely irrelevant when it comes to providing first aid? Or surgery? Is this something that a feral child, literally raised by wolves, would be good at? Or is it the domain of the ivory tower scholar, who has read a million books, and has no practical experience?
But I feel that is true for the other stats, if to a lesser degree. Is CON all you need to resist poison, no STR helps too. Is Dexterity all I need for acrobatics, no STR helps too. Is STR all that is need to grapple, no DEX helps too.

That is why I prefer a tiered system, something like Fortitude, Reflex, Will & STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, CHA
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Wisdom to notice when somebody is trying emotional manipulation, or an intuition check and then the DM warns the player is just to do something really stupid, focus and concentration, for self-control checks (but fear, here we would use Courage), and better defense against mental damage by madness. In some cases DM could allow Wis instead Int for skill checks about knownlegde.
 
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Anoth

Adventurer
But I feel that is true for the other stats, if to a lesser degree. Is CON all you need to resist poison, no STR helps too. Is Dexterity all I need for acrobatics, no STR helps too. Is STR all that is need to grapple, no DEX helps too.

That is why I prefer a tiered system, something like Fortitude, Reflex, Will & STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, CHA
This really makes me think why we need to go to a percentile skill system and not shoehorn everything into a universal mechanic. The ability scores would just be a modifier like in the 2E thief skills. For example climbing or athletics could be dex+strength percent chance of success initially. And each level you get so many points to distribute. And that way a person without super high ability scores could still get good in a skill and at the same time those ability scores are good for helping you get started on those skills.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
This really makes me think why we need to go to a percentile skill system and not shoehorn everything into a universal mechanic. The ability scores would just be a modifier like in the 2E thief skills. For example climbing or athletics could be dex+strength percent chance of success initially. And each level you get so many points to distribute. And that way a person without super high ability scores could still get good in a skill and at the same time those ability scores are good for helping you get started on those skills.
Before 3e came out I was doing a % based homebrew system where Attributes were based on 2d10 and SKills were derived from them thus

Str+ Con = Athletics
Str+Dex = Agility
Dex + Wis = Precision

Int + WIs = Education
Wis*+ Int = Perception
Wis + Cha = Persuasion
Wis + Cha = WIllpower

You'll see that Wisdom became the Uber stat that does too much and that Int + Wis was used twice. I thought then that maybe Perception should become its own Attribute. But the natural progression from there was just to drop the attributes entirely and go straight to Skills

then d20 system came along and I saw oh it is a % based system with 5% steps so I abandoned my attempt...
 

Anoth

Adventurer
Before 3e came out I was doing a % based homebrew system where Attributes were based on 2d10 and SKills were derived from them thus

Str+ Con = Athletics
Str+Dex = Agility
Dex + Wis = Precision
Int + WIs = Education
Wis*+ Int = Perception
Wis + Cha = Persuasion
Wis + Cha = WIllpower


You'll see that Wisdom became the Uber stat that does too much and that Int + Wis was used twice. I thought then that maybe Perception should become its own Attribute. But the natural progression from there was just to drop the attributes entirely and go straight to Skills

then d20 system came along and I saw oh it is a % based system with 5% steps so I abandoned my attempt...
Stealth = Dex x 2
Intimidation = charisma + strength
Persuasion = charisma + wisdo
Deception = charisma + intelligence

i would have to get rid of tool proficiencies with this kind of system
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I get the bolded bit, I think - you're saying that a given character can be moved from drama-ish system to drama-ish system with the attributes being reworked to fit the system without significant loss of character integrity. And you're doubting that it's so easy to do that moving from (say) D&D to GURPS to RQ/BRP to . . . Where I'm getting a bit lost is the stuff about the Hulk and Firefly characters. Is the idea that to make a sim-type system truly universal it has to capture what matters about every arbitrary contrast-pair of characters (because after all in a truly universal system we might want to play any character!) and this is an impossible demand?
Yes. I think that's pretty close to it. Although I would shy away from "impossible" and lean more towards "impractical" or "clunky at best". Which is basically my experience when examining most sim-ish "universal" systems.

I don't think that this is some fundamental weakness of wanting simulationism, either. Fundamentally, its a recognition that different genres have different conventions vis-a-vis the "physics" (to use the term loosely) of the universe in which they take place. This is especially true in genres where the "physics" bends to serve the drama. So it will be very difficult to "sim" a system that can traverse the MCU and hard-core military adventure.

This is why I confined my recommendation of Burning Wheel to mediaeval/fantasy. It has an intersting skirmish system that can handle bows, muskets and lightning bolts but as it stands I don't think it's up for machine guns and enfilading fire. (Whereas Prince Valiant, with some changes to the skill set, might be.)

That said, I think "light"/"drama" engines can still have genre limitations. I suggested that Prince Valiant might be able to do Conan, but I don't think it could do CoC. Nor WWI in (what I would consider) a sufficiently serious way, even though I think it can handle automatic fire and enfilading without a lot of work - it's too light-hearted.
Sure, but that's with one set attribute system. What I was suggesting is that you could mix-n-match attributes as needed. Even if you associate certain moves/triggers/actions (a la Apocalypse World) with certain stats...its an easy task to select from a catalog of such moves to reflect different genres. (Although I would say its non-trivial to develop such a broad set in the first place.)

Of the Cortex+ games the one I know is Marvel Heroic RP. With its stress tracks and complications I think there are also probably limits on how serious it can be. Melodrama, sure, but I don't think it's up for anything really heavy.
I think that that was somewhat intentional on the designers' part. But, drop the Marvel modes and splice in Smallville's values and relationships and you've got a superhero soap-opera....well, another one. In a similar vein, Fate accelerated GMs regularly change their set of modes to better reflect whatever genre they're going for.

Fate is, I think, an interesting case here. Because, out-of-the box, the heroes are supposed to be competent proactive characters...but all the things that mechanically reflect that are either A: not scaled vs. any "reality" other than table agreement, or B: presented as "dials" [e.g. Stress Tracks] that the GM/table can alter to fit mood or purpose. That makes it very hard to "pin down" and nowadays you regularly see disagreement between Fate afficianados over exactly what it can't an can do in various genres.

That's not to say that GURPS is necessarily up for that either. The contrast I'm seeing is with systems like Burning Wheel (real consequences), Apocalypse World and DitV.
Not 100% sure what you mean here.
 

pemerton

Legend
What I was suggesting is that you could mix-n-match attributes as needed. Even if you associate certain moves/triggers/actions (a la Apocalypse World) with certain stats...its an easy task to select from a catalog of such moves to reflect different genres. (Although I would say its non-trivial to develop such a broad set in the first place.)
In Apocalypse World going aggro is based on Hard, while acting under fire is based on Cool.

Are you envisaging a long list of movews each associated with a particular stat - or are you envisaging changing the state to reflect genres and what is expected to matter in play? The former seems like it might still be genre-limited. The latter seems like we're now setting out a whole design philosphy or approach rather than an actual system. (I would put PbtA - as opposed to any particular PbtA game - in this category.)

drop the Marvel modes and splice in Smallville's values and relationships and you've got a superhero soap-opera....well, another one. In a similar vein, Fate accelerated GMs regularly change their set of modes to better reflect whatever genre they're going for.
This looks like you're describing a meta-system - a basic system structure/framework, with the details to be cashed out based on particular genre.

Not 100% sure what you mean here.
I think that there is a relationship between system/mechanics, and the sort of thematic "heaviness"/"seriousness" that a system can produce/support.

I'm asserting that neither Prince Valiant nor MHRP can handle really serious genre/theme - eg WWI - because of their approach to consequences. Whereas I think BW and AW can handle more serious stuff.

I'm not sure it's easy to explain why, but here's one thought: in Prince Valiant it is always up to the GM to stipulate the consequences of being dropped to zero in Brawn or Presence as a result of conflict. How would the GM, in good faith, stipulate a consequence of (say) drowining in chlorine gas in a shellhole? In MHRP a player has to stipulate a consequence (a complication, or pushing through Stress to Trauma), to bring it about.

Whereas BW puts it much more into the system to produce harsh consequences. And makes it easier for players to put more on the line in their action declarations.
 

Saelorn

Hero
But I feel that is true for the other stats, if to a lesser degree. Is CON all you need to resist poison, no STR helps too. Is Dexterity all I need for acrobatics, no STR helps too. Is STR all that is need to grapple, no DEX helps too.
Look at the extremes. A person who was very robust person, with no arms and no ability to exert force, would be just as resistant to poison as someone who did have massive biceps. People who have high Strength tend to have high Constitution, but they are still very distinct aspects. Likewise, while gymnasts tend to be very strong (for their weight), having extra muscle doesn't actually contribute to swinging on ropes; in fact, the sort of muscle which is associated with high Strength is likely to be a hindrance in many ways.

Grappling is probably the best example of a single-attribute task: You could be grappled by the mechanical arm of a construction crane, with (3E-equivalent) Strength 60 and Dexterity 1, and its lack of dexterity wouldn't make it easier for you to escape.

I guess you could say that it's just a matter of degree, but the degree of ambiguity between Strength and Dexterity is significantly less than between Intelligence and Wisdom.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Agility is to dodge, dexterity is hand-eye coordination, for example to dance...or martial arts keys, strength is to carry heay loads (weapons or weapons).

And we guess it has to be a easy system for new players, easy to be understood if somebody tries the first time.

* What do you think about a WotC no-D&D videogame using d20 system but without any sacred cows? For example Gamma World or Star*Drive with nine abilitie scores.
 

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