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Author Topic: Attributes for a scalable/telescopic system  (Read 3947 times)

Posts: 91

« on: May 09, 2010, 04:45:30 PM »

A while back some of you may remember me posting about the concept of a scalable or telescopic system, that is, one which can easily be made simpler or more complex depending on how players like it.  Or, depending on the system or setting, you could use the complex versions of certain aspects of the system and simpler versions of others (like dungeon crawlers would have complex combat but simple social interactions).  Part of the idea, too, was to encompass all potential aspects of gameplay with equal detail, giving equal coverage to combat, social interactions, economics, etc.  I believe I had some ideas at the time, but more recently I've designed what I believe to be a better system for attributes.  I don't claim that it's perfect, but I think it's better than the previous ideas I had come up with.  I'm mostly just posting here to let people know about this, I haven't actually worked on it in a while, and don't expect that I'll have much time to work on this for a while.  Feel free to take anything from here to use in your own system.

I... might actually have already posted this here.  I can't remember, and I haven't changed this in some time.  Moving on.

This system has 39 total attributes, which sounds like a lot but when you see how it's organized actually makes a lot of sense.  The idea is that there are 3 basic attributes, each of which has 3 subattributes, each of which in turn also has 3 subattributes, for a total of 3 + 9 + 27 = 39 attributes.  Theoretically you could take this out further, but I don't really see any reason to.  The first tier of attributes is of course a standard division between the three aspects of a human being: Body, Mind, and Heart (or "Soul," or "Spirit" or whatever, technically "soul" refers to the mind or consciousness rather than the spirit).  The second tier is loosely divided into three categories: power, speed, and inertia.  The third tier I pretty much just chose whatever seemed appropriate.

The letters in brackets are abbreviations of the attributes, using a single letter for superattribute plus the attribute itself.  So without further ado, here are the attributes:

[B] Body Represents overall physical fitness and aptitude.
[BA] Athletics Physical power.
[BAS] Strength Amount of physical power that can be exerted in an instant.
[BAE] Endurance Ability to continue physical activity without rest.
[BAF] Fatigue Ability to sustain physical activity over a short period of time.
[BD] Dexterity Physical speed and deftness.
[BDA] Agility Ability to move quickly and accurately.
[BDR] Reflexes Ability to respond quickly.
[BDC] Coordination Finesse and manual dexterity.
[BC] Constitution Physical toughness.
[BCF] Fortitude Resistance to physical harm.
[BCR] Recovery Natural healing of physical injuries.
[BCS] Size Overall weight and mass.

[M] Mind Represents mental abilities.
[MI] Intelligence Ability to comprehend complex ideas.
[MIC] Creativity Ability to invent new ideas.
[MIL] Logic Ability to reason and understand.
[MIM] Memory Retention of skills and knowledge.
[MC] Cunning Practical thinking.
[MCP] Perception Ability to see that which is hidden.
[MCW] Wit Mental agility and quickness.
[MCF] Forethought Planning and foresight.
[MS] Sanity Soundness of the mind.
[MSG]* Suggestibility Resistance to psychological suggestions.
[MSS] Stability Ability to cope with cumulative mental stresses.
[MSR] Resilience Resistance to traumatic events.

[H] Heart Represents emotional and spiritual aspects.
[HC] Charisma Powers of persuasion.
[HCC] Charm Ability to make people like you.
[HCI] Influence Ability to make people do what you want.
[HCE] Empathy Ability to understand other people.
[HP] Personality Likability.
[HPR] Reserve How well others can read your emotions.
[HPC] Composure How easy it is to provoke a reaction from you.
[HPS] Sociability How well you socialize with others.
[HW] Will Force of spirit.
[HWC] Self Control Ability to force action or inaction when the contrary is against your will.
[HWD] Determination Morale; resistance to demoralization.
[HWS] Spirit Faith and spirituality; alternatively or additionally magical ability.

*[MSG] Stands for Mind Sanity Gullibility, and also Monosodium Glutamate

Now, you can do whatever you want for this, but my idea was that super/subattributes would be interrelated, while at the same time being distinct attributes.  In the system I'm working on, the rank of a superattribute is the average rank of its subattributes.  For example, during character creation, you might distribute points between attributes on the first tier, then you would have 3 times the number of points spent on a single attribute to distribute among that attribute's subattributes.  So if you spend 10 points on Body, then you have 30 points to distribute among Athletics, Dexterity, and Constitution.  Same for the third tier.  If subattribute's rank changes, then the superattributes' ranks are adjusted as well, and vice versa.  With this, you can easily see at a glance what your general abilities in a certain area are without having to check all the numbers.  In addition to this, though, the superattributes are distinct attributes themselves, and are used in certain calculations.  For example, Personality represents how likable the character is, but its subattributes don't really have a direct effect on likability.

I realize that using this many attributes in a pen and paper game is really unfeasible, so I decided to just take it all the way and design this system with a computer RPG in mind.  Hence some of the derived characteristics are more on the complicated side (but not too much so far).  For example, Health is Body + Constitution + (2 * Size), or [B ] + [BC] + 2*[BCS].  I'm not planning on using Health as hit points, but rather Health determines how damaging an attack must be in order to inflict an injury.  For example, with a Health of 10, an attack that does less than 10 damage might not inflict any injury, an attack that does 10 to 19 damage might inflict a light injury, an attack that does 20 to 29 damage might inflict a moderate injury, etc.  The only really complicated derived stats I have are that a character's actual attributes are a function of that character's "genetic" attributes, age, and lifespan (the actual function would depend on the race and/or gender of the character).  Age would obviously be that character's age, and the lifespan would depend on the race (maybe somewhere between 70 and 100 years for humans?).

Anyway, I'm not so much asking for input as I am putting this out there for others to use if they want.  Feedback, however, is always welcome.  Particularly I'd like a better name for Suggestibility, preferably something that denotes the opposite of that, and that doesn't start with an 'S', or even something entirely different to replace it with.  Also, I'd welcome ideas for a skill set analog to this concept.  I started one that worked on the same principle, using the basic categories of Physical, Education, and Social.  Problem being that skills are a lot harder to come up with, and are often interrelated.  Also, I feel like I need more tiers to describe individual skills with enough detail.

Phillip Lloyd

Posts: 85

« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 02:26:09 PM »

wow it does seem like a lot of attributes.  i don't think you need so many.

i'm a big believer in the 9 major attributes and generally don't think you need more.

- physical strength
- physical endurance
- physical agility

- mental strength
- mental endurance
- mental agility

- social strength
- social endurance
- social agility

some could argue that social agility and mental agility can be combined, I won' t argue but I believe that any system can use these as a basis to do anything the system may need.

Have you made any characters using this system?  Is each attribute used more or less equally with the others.  I find in a complex system that some stuff that was intended to get used will get forgotten leaving the system overly complex with no payout.

You could also argue that any system could use a total of 10 attributes and skills total to do anything.

brawn: PS + PE
acrobatics: PA
will: MS
insight: MA
charisma: SS
etiquette: SA
awareness (combine into insight?)

its even possible to combine stealth into acrobatics or athletics into brawn, and the terms used are just semantics but I can't think of much else a game would need that doesn't use one of the above.

What I find people have the most trouble with is how to apply their attribute and skill values over leveling.  A designer will intend for the character's to gain level or skill and its important for these to scale well.  Using a d20 systems and success based systems is easy.  But a lot of times its much harder to control min/max situations as we all have seen from problems in Rifts, Shadowrun, and DnD.

Check out my game Age Past, unique rolling system, in Beta now.  Tell me what you think!

Jeff Mechlinski
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