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Author Topic: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?  (Read 713 times)

PsyXypher

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What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« on: November 04, 2021, 11:22:53 PM »
And as a different but intrinsically related question, should an OSR style fantasy game strive to focus on a specific fantasy genres or a wide variety of them? I'll get to how that's related in a moment.

The base idea of this system is to give more depth to character choices by making it so their race has more significant effects on their character track. Each race, in addition to having normal modifiers to statistics, would have a racial Hit Dice. Humans would have a d8, sturdier races like Dwarves and Orcs would have a d10, and Elves, being all wiry and frail, would have a d4. This was inspired mainly by ADOM (and a bit by Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, which had similar mechanics, though I've never played) where races would have their own advancements and modifiers to things like spell learning, hit point advancement, natural Hit Points/Power Points and hit point/power point regeneration. Some races had their own special abilities too; Mist Elves had a modifier that cut their total Hit Points in half, but also an ability that halved all physical damage they took.

The idea here is that your Elf could have a bonus to their Constitution, but this was offset by a low natural Hit Point growth for their race. Of course, they'd get a class Hit Die, which could help offset this inherent weakness if they chose something like a Fighter. However, they could also choose to be a Wizard, which would come with a low Hit Die as well. This gives a huge variety; it also allows for a bigger difference in character statistics. For example, you could give the Elf more bonuses and have it offset by their Hit Dice. So your Elves could have a bonus to Constitution, Dexterity and Intelligence (and a minus to Strength, which I think is fitting). You could also have different bonuses for some races (maybe Orcs automatically grow bigger and stronger every few levels, for example).

Anyway, since I've got the primary idea behind the system out of the way, I'm onto the first sticking point; Attributes. I've found this is a little challenging to come to a final agreement too for a fantasy game, since Fantasy style Tabletop RPGs could cover a huge swathe of different genres, as well as the general fit some stats would have for a system. D&D has the classic six, while the game ADOM has nine: Strength, Toughness, Dexterity, Perception, Learning, Willpower, Charisma, Appearance and Mana. I probably won't add Appearance as a stat as it's a tad arbitrary and also very niche, but most of the other stats are fair game.

I guess I could divide this into "Stats I will add" and "Stats I'm unsure of".

What will be added:
1. Strength: Naturally. How many fantastical creatures and heroes are known for their great strength? If I had to list them I'd be here all day.
2. Dexterity: Another mainstay.
3. Endurance/Toughness: Instead of linking hit points directly to strength, I'll have this be the main influencing factor in Hit Points and overall health, stamina and resistance to physical hazards.
4. Intelligence: Something for skill growth and learning spells. This is where the uncertainty starts. Maybe spell power? I don't know.

All the different sub attributes I'd need to fit into the system would include: Spell power, magical energy reserves, sensory ability, resistance to mental/magical attacks and social interaction rolls. The problem is here is trying not to make a certain stat too powerful or too weak. I plan to let players train their stats over time, so you won't have static stats for your whole adventuring life. The "training" aspect is meant to be like in ADOM or Nethack, where it will occur over time, semi independent of level.

Some ideas:

-Perception: If its functions aren't mixed into Intellect or some Wisdom equivalent, I'll probably have it as a stat. Granted, there's not many different functions for it, which is a problem.
-Willpower: Mental defense as well as how powerful your spells are, if that function isn't molded into intelligence. This one is a big problem, but really I just need to decide how to divide up this potential.
-Charisma: A similar boat to Perception. An overly important function but not really that much versatility. I've seen it folded into Willpower.
-Mana: Not sure if I'll add this or not. It fits in some genres and not so well in others (like Dark Sun, where the stat would be quite strange to have). If I do add it, it would determine magical energy reserves as well as resistance to magic to some degree (and maybe an influence on magical strength, but I want that to be Intelligence or Willpower primarily). I find that it helps for differentiating races based on magical power, but that can just as easily be done with say, a modifier to their Power Point growth. Though a temporary Mana penalty seems to work for creating magic items.
-Wisdom: If I don't add one of the other stats, it might be folded into Wisdom. Though I want to avoid doing that, personally; I'd need to get rid of most stats to justify having Wisdom.

Anyway, I made this post because I needed some outside input. If it seems a little disjointed, that's because it took me many distracted hours to properly type this out, and I only published it in the state it's in now because if I spent any longer I might never get it done. I'm a mess. :P

If you have any questions about what else I had planned for this system (such as derived statistics, classes, etc) if you feel you need more explanation. Or are interested.

Hopefully your input drives me in the right direction.
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Zalman

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2021, 09:26:19 AM »
 
All the different sub attributes game widgets I'd need to fit into the system would include: Spell power, magical energy reserves, sensory ability, resistance to mental/magical attacks and social interaction rolls.

This is the key place to start for me -- fixed for emphasis. What elements do want to have in your game at the table, during play. My advice would be to begin there and work backwards, keeping a few things in mind:

Not every game mechanic needs to necessarily be tied to an "Attribute".

Game attribute threads tend to digress into a discussions about how to provide an accurate attribute-map for modeling real humans, but that's a different goal than designing attributes for a game. Focusing on the needs of the game over creating a realistic human gestalt is a great way to avoid those vestigial stats that have no meaningful role at the table.

And then, do that: include only the attributes that directly contribute to in-game actions and decisions.

Also include only the attributes that contribute significantly. If there is only one  game widget that leverages "Intelligence," that widget is likely better served by a unique mechanic than by shoehorning it into an "attributes for everything" system.

Whether a game is "fantasy" or some other genre may not be a relevant question. Attributes (along with every other mechanic) work best when they match the style of play you're looking for, more so than the genre.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2021, 09:29:29 AM by Zalman »
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PsyXypher

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2021, 06:29:33 PM »
Holy shit a response! Finally!  ;D

Yeah, something I've been wondering about is if I should make this as a more generic fantasy system that is setting adaptable, or make it for a specific setting. Like, if I want to adapt this system to play Forgotten Realms or Dark Sun.

I have a decent idea of the sub attributes (or widgets, as you called them) that would go into this system. I'm guessing by your comment that the answer to my question would be to focus on a specific setting to play my system in, no?

Maybe you'll say otherwise. Still, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm looking for, just not how to implement it.
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Wrath of God

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2021, 05:31:50 PM »
For my Warhammer variant I used:

Strength
Toughness
Vigor
Dexterity
Agility
Intelligence
Perception
Intuition
Wits
Charisma
Fellowship
Willpower
Resolve
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"

PsyXypher

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2021, 09:08:34 PM »
For my Warhammer variant I used:

Strength
Toughness
Vigor
Dexterity
Agility
Intelligence
Perception
Intuition
Wits
Charisma
Fellowship
Willpower
Resolve

Lot of redundancies there, it seems. Did you format that correctly?
I am not X/Y/Z race. I am a mutant. Based and mutantpilled, if you will.

caldrail

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2021, 10:46:56 AM »
I have experimented with an attribute-less system. Story driven RPG's don't actually need them to be honest, but I decided that a simple 'advantage' system would work for both scifi and fantasy. It revolves around the concept that all Humans are average, thus 0 in everything is applicable. So if you have more muscles, then Strength+1 is applied. If you happen to be overweight, then Weight+1. Negatives allow for disadvantages. Skills just plug into the system on the same basis. That way the character doesn't have any redundant stats, just the ones that make a difference.

Zalman

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2021, 09:05:07 AM »
I'm guessing by your comment that the answer to my question would be to focus on a specific setting to play my system in, no?

Setting can definitely be a driver for how the game will be played and what attributes will be called for. That said, there's no reason a game can't target "generic" play and setting-adaptability, and let that be a driver.

An even larger driver for me than setting is, for lack of a better word, "flow". That is, how do you want the session to move? Is there combat? exploration? How long does combat take, and how involved is it? And a million other questions like that.

And perhaps the most important of all for me: where are the decision points for the players? I'd suggest that every game widget contribute to a meaningful player decision, and I'd further posit that in-game decision making (i.e. how many dice to put in my attack pool, or when to use a bonus action) is much more fun than are out-of-game choices (i.e. made at build time or when leveling up).
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avaia

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2021, 08:12:42 AM »
In my Tapestry RPG System, I originally started out with 12 primary attributes: 4 physical, 4 mental, 4 social. Over time, I came to believe that most of the social attributes should really just be aspects of role-play, so I am down to 9 primary attributes:

Strength (STR)
Agility (AGI)
Dexterity (DEX)
Constitution (CON)

Intelligence (INT)
Intuition (IN2)
Willpower (WIL)
Memory (MEM)

Charisma (CHA)

All of which should be fairly self-explanatory. The astute reader will realise that what I did was split D&D's Dexterity into Agility (gross motor control, the big muscles) and Dexterity (fine motor control, the small muscles), split Intelligence into Intelligence and Memory, and split Wisdom into Intuition and Willpower. In addition, attributes are determined by 8d3, 6d4, or 4d6 reroll 1s, which results in a range of 6-24 median 15 or 8-24 median 16, with the primary resolution die being a d30 instead of a d20.

I think this makes the game slightly more granular and slightly more realistic, without abandoning the benefits of abstraction entirely.

From the values of the primary attributes are determined by mathematical formulae a number of secondary attributes, like Life Points, Armor Class, Spell Points, etc. You might guess that because Life Points are derived from the primary attributes, none of which can be higher than 24 at the time of character creation, there aren't going to be any characters with ridiculously high HP (or, in this case, LP). The formula is generally (Att1/1 + Att2/2 + Att3/3), so if a PCs three primary relevant attributes were all 30, they would have no more than 30 + 15 + 10 = 55 points in the relevant secondary attribute, and a median character will have half that, or only 27.5 LP. If a sword does d8 damage, there aren't going to be any protracted combats due to absurd HP levels.

Furthermore, the rate at which a PC naturally heals SP and LP is dependent on their level of depletion or injury. Natural healing is 1/10 the current LP level, so a character reduced to 1 LP heals only 0.1 LP the first day, while a PC with 40 LP would heal 4 LP in the same day, and 4.4 the next day. Gravely injured PCs will therefore heal far more slowly than PCs who are barely scratched, for a little more realism.

I will also say that recently I have been thinking, after perusing Shawn Tomkin's Ironsworn, about the idea that there seems to be a dichotomy in the RPG community between people who are more interested in a set of attributes that make combat and conflict resolution more streamlined, and people who are more interested in fleshing out an avatar they can inhabit. I fall into the latter camp, though I do appreciate the former. I probably will not end up playing Ironsworn, but that doesn't preclude me from admiring it.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2021, 08:19:11 AM by avaia »
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Wrath of God

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2021, 08:37:07 PM »
Quote
Over time, I came to believe that most of the social attributes should really just be aspects of role-play, so I am down to 9 primary attributes:

What were those 3 extra social ones?
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

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avaia

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2021, 03:08:28 AM »
Quote
Over time, I came to believe that most of the social attributes should really just be aspects of role-play, so I am down to 9 primary attributes:

What were those 3 extra social ones?

Education, Beauty, Social/Economic Class
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Wrath of God

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2021, 06:11:27 AM »
Then it's good pick I think you've made.

I mean Education is probably better explained by skill-set than specific attribute (though if you used some sort of Resource System - high Ed could just give more skill-points), and Social Class is probably better as modifier decided by game position than attribute. Beauty could be fine, but maybe somehow renamed for something less... subjective.

I think attributes work best if they are considered to be inherent biological potential. Anything else tend to be bit wonky.

If I was doing social attributes I'd probably use something like: Charisma/Presence, Charm/Grace, potential Empathy is already in your Intuition I guess as mind-attribute, Cool/Patience/Composure as more defensive attribute equivalent of Willpower and Constitution as main defence mechanism.

That combination I think allow to roll/pick characters with very various social natures and fortes easily.
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

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axiomsofdominion

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2022, 01:54:18 PM »
For me I like to see a lot of stats vs shoving everything into 6, but it depends on tabletop vs crpg because of the computer handling complexity vs the players/DM. I've seen systems with 16-24 attributes that I think are really cool for a computer game. Something like Luck And Chronomancy on Royal Road would make an amazing crpg, especially adding a Talent system vs the more common class or open skill systems.

Wrath of God

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Re: What Attributes/Stats are desirable for a fantasy style game?
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2022, 06:58:02 PM »
Quote
Lot of redundancies there, it seems. Did you format that correctly?

Well yes. It was purposeful to break certain attributes into two, and give option of having one low, and another high.
Like with Charisma and Fellowship - difference between born leader and born rapscalion.
Difference between Willpower and Resolve - difference between forceful but impatient barbarian, and cowardly but disciplined and patient buerocrate.

And so on.

"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”

"And I will strike down upon thee
With great vengeance and furious anger"


"Molti Nemici, Molto Onore"