Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attributes pounderings

Well, one vacation down and another coming up! But enough about that, let's discuss the idea of attributes!

As a few of my posts have shown, I am not just planning and thinking about my Celtic/Gaelic/Welsh setting "Lands of Eira". I am also, working slowly on a fan rpg of Star Trek. Obviously this is redundant with games like "Spacemen & Space Ships", "X-Plorers", and "Stars Without Number",  but I am a redundant person.

So, while on my three-day weekend, and mini vacation, I was pondering about the default attribute system that has been a part of the world's first rpg since, apparently, its inception with little change (and those only to modifiers). No reason to fix what isn't broken and the six attributes have always worked. However, I believe it could be modified for faster play, especially with younger players and new players. Also, while the six attributes are humanity boiled down, some checks (in later systems) and tables/saving throws in earlier and OSR games, don't seem to make sense to me.

The idea I have is to keep the six attribute system, Strength, Dexterity,Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma but split them into two distinct categories. These categories would be Physical and Mental, with Strength, Dexterity and Constitution falling under the physical and the rest mental.

Now, the player would roll his scores as normal, 3d6 down the line. Once those scores are created, take the three for physical and average them,the bonus received would be the same as the normal bonuses. Rinse and repeat for the three attributes that fall under mental.

Example:

Cinderella the Barbarian rolls her dice and comes away with: 18 10 13 for her physical and 14, 12, 17 for her mental. Next she would take her three results for physical and average them: 13.67 (round down) 13 for a bonus of +1. She does the same for her mental attributes and gets a 14, also a +1. Since Cinderella is a fighter class character she would still apply her natural strength bonus, dexterity bonus and constitution bonus to things like parry, hit-points per level and combat bonuses. However, for anything else, like say moving a boulder, jumping over a chasm, etc. the +1 from the averaged scores would be used (if the referee allows such things to be added to saving throws).

Why do this though, it seems needless complicated and adds to another stat. I'm looking at things from the prospective of the person making the character sheets for other players. My daughter and her group, love to play and love to tell me what they want to play. However, they as of yet have not grown to wanting to create those characters for themselves. The pre-existing character sheet typically has a place for damage bonuses, AC bonus, number of parries,etc. The default sheet doesn't however have anything for possible bonuses to saving throws, so when the player wants to jump that chasm they have to search the sheet. Having a huge header, PHYSICAL +1 draws the eye, and makes the player have a general idea for any basic thing they want to do. Woo the princess? Mental. Translate that ancient gnomish scroll? mental.  Pick up a boulder and throw it? Physical. In the end it lowers the amount of time between asking the player for a result and getting one.

Now this also works in Science Fiction to help speed things up and keep the tension going. Take Captain Kirk's fight with the Gorn and his building of the bamboo cannon. Obviously not everything would be a saving throw, but I would estimate there would be at least five. By having the averaged bonus, Kirk's player would get through the scene quicker and be off to woo Orion slave girls.

Now for the negative. Averaging the scores does make it so that one of two things happen. The first is that the averaged score will always be low, the second is that the player will almost always have a bonus.

As always, opinions and such are greatly welcomed. And remember the greatest thing about the oldest form of The Game is just how adaptable it was. Play around if you haven't already!

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