We must define our heroes by a set of … something to compare how tough, strong or smart they are. Every system I’ve ever seen starts with a basic outline of who someone is. What do need to define someone? Before I get too far I want to insert my own person bias. I like character attributes that feed into and form other secondary attributes. There are a number of systems that do this in one form or another. I’ve always felt a wizard that is super smart should get some sort of power bonus to spell casting, either stronger or more or something.
Starting with physical:
Strength. (Bod, PS, etc): Measures how strong someone is, but not how healthily.
Dexterity( REF, PP, Agility) Measures overall coordination and nimbleness.
Stamina: (Con, Endurance, etc) This reflects overall health and sturdiness.
Attractiveness. I question whether to put this here. Some games you have to pay extra for this. Some it comes with the package and it shares finite character resources to have any about the most basic. How often would this become just a dump stat? Not sure I’m sold on this a base stat, but since unless we’re talking about inner beauty, it goes here.
Intelligence: Raw IQ. This is not street smarts, book smarts and pure brain power only.
Wisdom (Common Sense, etc): This is important. I really dislike systems that leave this out. Perhaps their designers have never met that person who get straight A’s in school, but then asks a police officer where to score drugs. They are out there.
Willpower: Inner resolve and such
Mental Endurance. This is from Palladium/Rifts. I think it has place in a well rounded character.
Perception: Skill or a Stat? I’ve seen both. Not sure which side I’ll fall on,
Charisma (Charm, Cool, PRE etc): Pretty much the catch all social stat. Some spell casters use this as how they affect this universe. This is described as using their presence to manipulate the world. Seems like it should be a different attribute.
Manipulation: This exists in only White Wolf (that I know of). The whole social tree never felt right. On one side, someone who is in real life, charming, eloquent or attractive could use that via role-playing and never have to make a roll and could put very few resources there. The inverse is also true, someone who isn’t socially gifted, can pile points into the stats and get out of role playing by leaning on the dice. I don’t think I’d include this one.
Other possible attributes to consider
Spirit/Inner Strength/Mojo- I feel there should always be a tie in to physic powers, arcane power or relationship with the whatever gods your character believes in. I don’t like this tied to brain power or common sense. It should be its own stand alone.
Empathy/Humanity. Cyberpunk, Shadowrun and even Vampire have something like this. Could be a useful trait to add flavor to a character.
Education and Social Standing. (From Traveler) Interesting, not sure if I’m sold yet.
Another way to go: I was just flipping through my Ninja Crusades 2nd Ed and the I don’t see stats at all. It looks as if basic hero level bad-ass-ery is assumed and the skills levels replace stats all together. Fantasy Age does a combination. I’ve never played either, so I don’t know what that looks like in practice.
I’m torn between how many is too many. 8? 9? If we have too many, any point based system we come with will create mediocre heroes, as there attributes become spread too thin. White Wolf break it in to categories, letting your specialize in an area. There is some wisdom there.
Next Week: Secondary Stats