Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Attributes and Related Skills

So, here it is - my new attribute system that I'm sad to say has taken me the last five months to get into shape.


Attributes are broad brush bonuses to represent aspects of your character to give consistent characters. Aspects of your character which you role play (problem solving, personality / conversations) are not covered by attributes, nor are physical attractiveness or luck.

Each attribute is a bonus of 0,1,2 and three attributes bonuses apply to each skill, giving each skill a bonus between 0 and 6.

Related Skills

Attribute bonuses tell you something specific about the character, and have little or no overlap. In contrast, because related skills share some (or all) attributes, related skills have similar bonuses.

The following diagram shows which skills share two or more attributes, and hence which have similar bonuses:

For example, Thown and Scout share all three attributes, so share a box. These skills have the same bonus.
Healer, Bows, Thief and Art all share (Manual) Dexterity and Perception, so are joined by lines going to a circle marked "DP". These skills have bonus within 2 points of each other. (I'm amused that Artists and Thieves are closely related!)

This diagram allows you to not only to spot related skills, but to spot skills that should be related (but aren't) or skills that are related (but shouldn't be). This allowed me to spot flaws in the system and hence refine it. Note that all skills are related to at least one other skill.

This is an evolution of the previous system where Kill & Lift were linked to Body because the first pair using STR whereas Body used CON which was a linked attribute. If I drew a related skill diagram for the previous system however it would be extremely sparse and simplistic.

The Attributes

Height (Tall/Short)
Being taller also makes you heavier and thus stronger and resilient.

Build (Broad/Slight)
Being broad makes you heavier and thus stronger and resilient.

This makes you stronger, but not heavier, thus improving your power-to-weight ratio.

Includes endurance / stamina, and resilience to damage or poison.

This is manual dexterity - coordinated finger and hand movements.

The ability to move the body smoothly in a controlled fashion. It includes balance, hand-eye co-ordination, and proprioception.

The ability to make the body respond and move quickly (but not necessarily with any power behind it).

The ability to notice things with the senses - for example judge how far it is to the tree, or how windy it is, or to notice a damp patch on the floor - but not to infer anything from them.

The ability to make inferences without conscious logical thought - for example to draw conclusions from your perceptions as to what is important.

The ability to learn and recall knowledge. Note that most skills require you to remember things - memory only helps skills which require large amounts of memorising.

The ability to understand and interpret the feelings of others. It has a supernatural side, similar to sensing someone's aura.

This is both the artistic soul, and the magical soul.

Attribute Bonuses

Which attributes apply to each skill and save is described below, along with an explanation of why the attribute applies. This should clarify further what the attributes mean.

Note that two combinations of attributes are repeated several times:

- Coordination + Quickness combined form overall Agility.

- All ranged attacks (thrown / bows / directed spells) use  Perception (for sensing the target), and Intuition (for judgements such as the distance to the target)

Note that in some cases the attribute helps in learning the skill which thus indirectly helps in performing the activity. Similarly if the attribute mostly helps then that positive reinforcement helps you improve at the skill which makes you better in general.

Soul (to sense the magic in the runes), Memory (to remember Rune Lore), Intuition (to apply the rune lore).

Detect Magic
Soul (to sense the magical aura), Perception (to sense the physical manifestations of the magic), Intuition (to sift through the sensory information and determine what is magical).

Soul (for artistic performance), Coordination and Quickness (for overall agility).

Art (Painting / Sculpture)
Soul (for artistic ability), Perception (for seeing the world), Dexterity (for handling the tools).

Music (by Instrument)
Soul (for artistic performance), Empathy (for a performance with feeling), Dexterity (to play fast / complex music).

Lore (by Subject)
Memory (to remember the lore), Perception (to examine things - both when learning and when applying the lore), Intuition (to apply the lore).

Memory (to remember the words/grammar etc), Intuition (to apply it in unfamiliar situations, to improve), Empathy (picking up emotional signals helps communication).

Perception (to notice things), Intuition (to sift through what you notice to spot relevant things or draw inferences), Memory (to remember what things should look like and thus spot inconsistencies, or simply to recall prior hiding places).

Directed Spells
Soul (for controlling the magic), Perception + Intuition (for ranged attack).

Psychic Defence
Soul (for sensing the attack magically), Toughness (for resisting the attack physically), Memory (for resisting the attack mentally).

Psychic Attack
Soul (for controlling the magic), Perception (for sensing the target physically), Empathy (for sensing the target mentally).

Coordination and Quickness (for the required physical agility), Empathy (for connecting emotionally with the mount).

Perception (to correctly perceive the problem), Memory (to remember what to look for and what to do), Dexterity (to fix the problem).

Scout (Sneak / Hide)
Perception (to spot the squeaky floorboard), Intuition (to work out where to stand so you remain in shadow), and Coordination (to step over the squeaky floorboard carefully).

Thief (Pick lock / disarm trap / pick pockets)
Perception (to examine the trap/lock carefully), Intuition (to work out how to disarm this particular trap), and Dexterity (to disarm it with steady hands).

Wilderness (Navigate / track / survival / snares / forage)
Perception (to notice the tracks), Intuition (to judge where to look when the tracks vanish), Memory (to remember what animal makes those tracks). Wilderness is highly related to Observation but here the Memory bonus is recalling all the miscellaneous facts / sights / sounds / smells of the wilderness.

Athletics (for power-to-weight ratio), Toughness (for endurance - being able to maintain the speed), Quickness (for speed of movement of limbs).

Athletics (for power-to-weight ratio), Build (for muscle bulk for an explosive acceleration), Quickness (for speed of movement of limbs).

Athletics (for power-to-weight ratio), Coordination + Quickness (for overall agility).

Parry / Dodge
Coordination + Quickness (for agility), Athletics either as per Acrobatics (for Dodge) or for blocking the blow (for Parry).

Perception + Intuition (for ranged attack), Dexterity (for accurate controlled releasing of the bow).

Perception + Intuition (for ranged attack), Coordination (for accurate throwing motion).

Melee & Unarmed
Coordination + Quickness (for agility), Intuition (for selecting the best attack opportunity).

Height + Build (for pure bulk), Toughness (for resistance to damage).

Kill & Lift
Height + Build (for strength from bulk), Athletics (for power-to-weight ratio).

Note that all attributes give a bonus to at least one offensive or defensive capability. Out of the four bonuses you can get in combat - on attack, damage, dodge, and body - attributes give bonuses to at most two of these.

Next post I'll talk about how you go about determining your attribute bonuses to shape the character you want.

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