Strength and Constitution as separate stats in modern/sci-fi games?

DarcyDettmann

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
6
Reaction score
4
I always liked the M&M3e split up. Agility and Dexterity being two stats, Fighting being it's own stat (I think it's also an interesting idea to make Fighting a mental stat rather than a physical stat)
Yep, much better for modern games. But then M&M is pretty much an outright improvement on its predecessor and shows what D&D could have been if it wasn't bogged down by an excessive numbers of holy cows!
I think it make things worse in M&M 3e, i understand splitting Dexterity in Agility and Dexterity. But in M&M, Dexterity becomes useless, and everyone only put points in Agility and Fighting, because they improve you attack, defenses, and initiative, while Dexterity improved only ranged attack and two skills (Vehicles and Sleight of Hands, both pretty "meh" skills).

And there is Presence, nobody talks about Presence.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
Wait what? No one using ranged attacks in a superhero game????

And Charisma type stats like Presence are only underpowered in games where GMs let them be underpowered. Unless you mean that Presence is overpowered, as I can't tell what you mean by "nobody talks about Presence".
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
5,731
Reaction score
5,261
I think it make things worse in M&M 3e, i understand splitting Dexterity in Agility and Dexterity. But in M&M, Dexterity becomes useless, and everyone only put points in Agility and Fighting, because they improve you attack, defenses, and initiative, while Dexterity improved only ranged attack and two skills (Vehicles and Sleight of Hands, both pretty "meh" skills).
How is that worse from everyone pumping out Strength and Dexterity? Especially considering that you'd also get damage bonuses, ranged attacks bonuses and the two skills you mentioned, just by putting points into Str and Dex?
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
Also, who is flying the quinjet/blackbird if no one has good Dexterity...

(not to say that dump stats don't happen in M&M3e for specific characters, it always will happen in every game, there is going to be something not particularly useful to some characters, but honestly I've found the way M&M3e is designed, a lot more of the games stats has to do with making a character that represents what you see your character being, rather than "I need x stat because of y")
 

Gringnr

Chief of the Boat Feels
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,937
Reaction score
2,721
I tend to look at it like this:

Powerlifter: High STR
Marathon runner: High CON

For me, there's an internal logic to separating the two. But, as I said, it depends on the system/setting as well.
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
2,456
What I've come to after writing entirely too many half completed game is this:

Coordination (Agility, Dexterity, Reflexes)
Intellect (Knowledge, Reason, Talent)
Physique (Size, Strength, Endurance)
Personality (Appearance, Voice, Charisma, Willpower)
Perception (Sight, Hearing, Smell)

Now, I will note that I don't use all of them as characteristics in my games. The core five with advantages for tweaking is probably the best way to go. Agility is really mostly Strength - Size. I generally subsume the size on human sized characters into Strength. Dexterity would largely be dependant on sight and touch. Reflexes is partly perception, partly talent for the ability to act without hesitating, and partly agility for motor memory and simply that ability to move faster.

My own preference is for about a dozen attributes and three per skill as the math is simple enough and it cuts down on dump and god stats while allowing characters to good at things more than one way, though it does mean that the best of the best will be maxed out in three stats.
 

VisionStorm

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
80
I agree 100% with the OP, not just for modern games focused on vehicles and firearms, but even in D&D Strength is barely useful outside of melee combat (and less now in 5e with Finesse weapons getting a Dex bonus even to damage), and Constitution only gives you HP and affects NO actions. Dexterity (or its equivalent depending on system terminology) tends to be vastly more useful because it covers a wider range of activities.

Granted, this depends a lot on what these abilities do in any given system, which can vary widely, and some systems split “Dexterity” into stuff like “Agility” and “Reflexes/Coordination” (even Movement/Speed as well sometimes) as separate abilities. But I’m not a fan of that approach because it tends to complicate the system with an excessive number of attributes with limited usability. My preference is for attributes to be highly consolidated and affect a significant range of functions, or at least give you significant benefits if they cover only a limited range of actions. And specialized abilities should always be treated as something other than attributes, like skills or “traits”, even if they deal with functions tied to “natural” abilities.

IMO, Strength and Constitution should be folded into a single attribute, which could be called Fitness, Brawn, Might, or any other appropriate sounding name that evokes physical power and resilience (I tend to use “Might”). And strength-related functionalities, like breaking down doors or lifting objects, could be covered by “Strength” skill based on that attribute. I would also make melee damage bonus an exclusive benefit of this “Physical Power” attribute, though, I’m OK with Dexterity governing accuracy, which fits my own experience training with melee weapons (strength just affects which types of weapons you can use effectively due to their weight, but doesn’t really affect accuracy directly). But there’s no reason to dedicate an entire attribute just to handle your character’s ability to carry loot around.

Thing is, when I wrote my dissertation on the human proprioceptive system back whenever that was, the medical research I cited stated that muscular strength was one of the main contributors to patients recovering their co-ordination balance after suffering debilitating accidents, and that in sports such as acrobatics it was also muscular strength that was the main contributing factor.

So, in that aspect, Dexterity is actually a component of Strength too
This is technically true, but there’s a lot of overlap that exists in real life between natural abilities that is next to impossible to properly express in terms of the game rules. And this also doesn’t explain why some very muscular people are slow while some lightly muscled people are quick, despite both relying on muscle fiber to move. So IMO, it’s best to separate Strength (or whatever we call the folded Strength + Constitution attribute if going that route) from Dexterity, and simply assume that the character with high Dexterity developed the type of muscle fibers that facilitate quick movement rather than physical power.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
I agree 100% with the OP, not just for modern games focused on vehicles and firearms, but even in D&D Strength is barely useful outside of melee combat (and less now in 5e with Finesse weapons getting a Dex bonus even to damage),
I normally play either mages, rogues or bards in classic fantasy games. None of these are very strength dependent, so I don’t tend to have characters who are very strong. A few years ago I decided to switch it up and play a berserker. Having high strength was amazing! Being able to wear heavy armour and carry lots of stuff around was incredibly useful! Maybe if the GM doesn’t use encumbrance then strength is less important, but it can be. Even in modern and sci-fi scenarios strength can significantly impact the weapons you can carry and use effectively. Those oh-so-sexy mini-gun rigs require a lot of muscle to tote around...
Constitution only gives you HP and affects NO actions.
Constitution is the stat that keeps you live in terms of both boosting ’health’ and resisting positions, diseases and so on. We are currently playing Out of the Abyss and there are so many toxic enemies it’s really scary as a PC with only a +1 Con Save... I’d argue that Con effects all actions because without your character will die far more quickly.
Dexterity (or its equivalent depending on system terminology) tends to be vastly more useful because it covers a wider range of activities.

Granted, this depends a lot on what these abilities do in any given system, which can vary widely, and some systems split “Dexterity” into stuff like “Agility” and “Reflexes/Coordination” (even Movement/Speed as well sometimes) as separate abilities. But I’m not a fan of that approach because it tends to complicate the system with an excessive number of attributes with limited usability.
I could go with a dexterity / agility split for hand-eye versus whole-body coordination.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,750
I think ultimately, the best course is always, decide what activities your characters are most likely to be doing during a game, snd then tailoring the attributes to those, leaving Skills an advantages/disadvantages to cover the edge cases.

In most modern games, I would tend towards just "Fitness" (or some equivalent term) covering physical health, endurance, and strength, and then a stat for coordination/accuracy/reflexes to cover shooting, piloting a vehicle, etc.

I mean, of course, it always depends on the divide of characteristics used to define a character in the game too. In BESM, you get by with three basic stats because evry quality you have that is outside of this baseline is covered by the numerous traits. But in a game with no merit/flaw-type system, it's about how you want to distinguish character abilities using attributes. In a 0-baseline system like Tribe 8 OTOH, you can have tons of Attributes, because once again, characters only need to record the ones that deviate from "typical". And hop on over to the Outlaws thread to see a system that I think works really well, where the somewhat artificial divide between attributes and skills is handled in, IMO, aa much more natural and realistic manner.
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,914
Reaction score
3,113
This is technically true, but there’s a lot of overlap that exists in real life between natural abilities that is next to impossible to properly express in terms of the game rules. And this also doesn’t explain why some very muscular people are slow while some lightly muscled people are quick, despite both relying on muscle fiber to move. So IMO, it’s best to separate Strength (or whatever we call the folded Strength + Constitution attribute if going that route) from Dexterity, and simply assume that the character with high Dexterity developed the type of muscle fibers that facilitate quick movement rather than physical power.
Well, it is to do with the type (fast twitch, slow twitch etc) and concentration of muscle fibres, really, along with how many are typically activated. A very fit person, who does a lot of training, may not have a massive build, but may have a lot of muscular strength. The balancing/agility aspects of movement tend to improve as you increase physical strength.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
@TristramEvans And talking of BESM's approach, OVA went even further and was just like, eh, everything is a merit/flaw type thing. You are considered average in everything you don't take a stat for.

Cause honestly if it isn't important, then there is generally no reason to stat it (depending on playstyle of course).

I can see going both ways, breaking up things like Dexterity more, and just combining Str/Con and just getting rid of set stats altogether.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,750
I have a game I've been working on (not much, most of my attention is focused on Phaserip), just as a laark in my spare time, that is more culture game, a deeply-focusedRPG about myths and mythology, inspired by Planescape, Everway, Amber, and Tribe 8, and books like Hodstock's Mythago Wood, Mirlee's Lud-in-the-Mist, and Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter.

Anyways, in it, I eschewed all normal type statistics and instead use the suits of the Tarot, and their associations as described in fortune-telling.

Swords determines your intellect, reason, ability to problem-solve, strategize, and your general Wits.
Cups determines your empathy, intuition, charisma, and personal interactions.
Wands determines your creativity, energy, spirit, and courage.
Coins determines your morale, luck, steadfastness and fortitude.

None of them map exactly to a single attribute or skill, just as the divide between them is very different than one usually encounters. But I find more and more that it matches the interplay in old fairy tales, and suits the occult reality of the Fae Otherworld.
 

VisionStorm

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
80
I normally play either mages, rogues or bards in classic fantasy games. None of these are very strength dependent, so I don’t tend to have characters who are very strong. A few years ago I decided to switch it up and play a berserker. Having high strength was amazing! Being able to wear heavy armour and carry lots of stuff around was incredibly useful! Maybe if the GM doesn’t use encumbrance then strength is less important, but it can be. Even in modern and sci-fi scenarios strength can significantly impact the weapons you can carry and use effectively. Those oh-so-sexy mini-gun rigs require a lot of muscle to tote around...
Armor is not that useful in D&D, unless you have low Dex, and being able to haul stuff around is a very limited and situational benefit. Like I said at the end of that section of my post, there’s no reason to dedicate an entire attribute just to handle your character’s ability to carry loot around.

It’s not a question of whether there’s technically some usefulness to some function covered by an attribute, but whether it’s truly necessary to dedicate an ENTIRE attribute to just that one function, as opposed to handling it some other way.

Attributes are not the only class of abilities that can exist in a RPG. Just because something sounds like a natural ability that people might have in real life (such as Resolve or Intuition) that doesn’t mean that it needs a whole attribute dedicated to just that one function. You could handle it as a skill or trait based on a more general attribute instead, or treat it like an advantage/disadvantage or some similar type of ability.

Constitution is the stat that keeps you live in terms of both boosting ’health’ and resisting positions, diseases and so on. We are currently playing Out of the Abyss and there are so many toxic enemies it’s really scary as a PC with only a +1 Con Save... I’d argue that Con effects all actions because without your character will die far more quickly.
It’s still a very specialized function to have an entire attribute dedicated to just doing that.

I could go with a dexterity / agility split for hand-eye versus whole-body coordination.
Yeah, but the question is: Is that necessary? And what does that accomplish? IMO, most people that have good reflexes tend to be quick on their feet as well, and if they’re not, it’s usually as the result of some secondary cause, like having a limp or being on a wheelchair, rather than these abilities truly being separate in a fundamental way—specially for rules purposes, which always involve a degree of abstraction.

If this is only an arbitrary change all that does is split the player’s resources when assigning their attribute scores and create odd cases of clumsy yet agile characters, rather than add anything meaningful to the system.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
@TristramEvans Yeah, I really like nonstandard stats. There is a PbtA game that also uses Swords/Cups/Coins/Wands as the stats that is based on Persona (the video game) called Voidheart Symphony (It is a sequel to another PbtA game based on Castlevania called Rhapsody of Blood that uses Iron, Glass, Sulphur, Mercury)
 
Last edited:

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
Armor is not that useful in D&D, unless you have low Dex, and being able to haul stuff around is a very limited and situational benefit. Like I said at the end of that section of my post, there’s no reason to dedicate an entire attribute just to handle your character’s ability to carry loot around.
I was thinking about this overnight, and it occurred to me that, at least in 5e, Heavy Armour means that your Dex is irrelevant for defence. You can also throw weapons using Str as the attack and damage modifier. So 5e has built in structures which mean you can be a high-Dex warrior or a high-Str warrior whilst avoiding a degree of MAD*. And in a game about killing things to take their stuff, a stat which help kill things and carry stuff seems pretty useful!

Don’t think that D&D is my view of a game that ‘got it right’. I play D&D because my group really like it, and it is extremely well supported. Games I enjoy more:

Savage Worlds is my current favourite, which has five stats. They don’t directly affect your skills, they make it cheaper to increase your skills up to a given level. It has both Strength and Vigor (plus Agility, Smarts and Spirit) and those two don’t govern hardly any skills but they are still useful in my experience. It does have quite restrictive encumbrance rules.

GURPS was my go-to for a very long time. It has four stat (ST, DX, IQ, HT) on the surface but actually each of those can be broken down into sub-stats if you want more detail (striking strength, lifting strength, hit points, arm dexterity, initiative, speed, perception, will power, fatigue, difficulty to kill, difficulty to stun - phew!). Personally I tend to just stick with the four main ones. The mitigation factor here is that DX and IT (which govern skills for the most part) cost twice the amount to increase than ST and HT which rarely do.

Fate is a game I really enjoy, but my group don’t. It doesn’t have stats in the same way as other games. Its skills can sometimes look like stats, with skills of Strength or Might perhaps. The idea is that you only put stats in things that are relevant or exceptional about your character. If your character has a rating in might, for example, then they will be tending to use that to solve issues either in or out of combat.

D&D faces a few legacy challenges, in that all the stats are priced equally so need to be seen as equally useful. It’s also not possible (in core versions) to chose to buy up all or many stats to a high level if that is what your character concept needs. All the games I enjoy happen to be point-buy which clearly says something about me... :grin:

* Good old Multiple Attribute Dependency, which really nobbles some character concepts like monks and hampers others like barbarian and ranger.
 

PolarBlues

Legendary Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
726
Reaction score
1,191
Part of the problem is that one of the things we look for in attributes are descriptors, something to give us a quick, "at a glance" picture of what the character is like which can get lost if you just have a long list of skills. And that is what draws designer to put in stats like strength, size, attractiveness even when, contextually, some of these attributes may of limited use during play compared to other attributes. From a purely mechanical point of view, you'd want all the attributes to be different but equal, from an aesthetic point of view you the sum of the attributes to give you pretty good picture of what the character is like.

Fate gets away with just having skills because the character at a glance function is handed over to Aspects (and as you mention some skills would be treated as attributes in a different system).

GURPS manages by detailed, differentiate costs.

I suspect, with a bit of tweaking, Savage World could get rid of the attributes and just have skills, but it would lose some of the colour. It is an interesting way to address the issue, but I have not played it enough to a feel if in practice there are attributes players always end up skimping on.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
I suspect, with a bit of tweaking, Savage World could get rid of the attributes and just have skills, but it would lose some of the colour. It is an interesting way to address the issue, but I have not played it enough to a feel if in practice there are attributes players always end up skimping on.
In Savage Worlds the stats give you passive abilities and function a lot like saving throws for different things:
  • Strength governs damage damage and encumbrance
  • Agility serves as a saving throw against area effects
  • Smarts is used to recover from things like confusion and resist illusions
  • Spirit is used to recover from being Shaken and resist fear
  • Vigor is used to Soak damage and sets your Toughness
Skills are now almost exclusively used when your character actively does something.

it’s quite a nice model. Things which are instinctive are basically stats, whilst things that as learnable are skills.
 

VisionStorm

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
80
I was thinking about this overnight, and it occurred to me that, at least in 5e, Heavy Armour means that your Dex is irrelevant for defence. You can also throw weapons using Str as the attack and damage modifier. So 5e has built in structures which mean you can be a high-Dex warrior or a high-Str warrior whilst avoiding a degree of MAD*. And in a game about killing things to take their stuff, a stat which help kill things and carry stuff seems pretty useful!
I don't think that D&D necessarily has to be about killing things and taking their stuff (though, I know that it somewhat encourages that type of play), but even when a campaign is about that, you don't really need Strength to carry stuff. You could always buy a wagon with some donkeys and carry the loot back to town that way, in greater quantities than you ever could on your strength alone. You could even keep your provisions and campaign gear in the wagon while delving into the dungeon to lighten your load while exploring, etc. Which is usually what my groups tend to do when they know they're gonna be hauling a lot of stuff.

That being said a lot of this depends on what attributes even do in any given system and most of my points only apply in systems where attributes are not just game stats (affecting only stuff like Hit Points), but rather act as core abilities that help define an entire range of activities that you might be good at. But in systems where attributes act more like game stats, and just give you some baseline bonuses that act more similar to saving throws, HP, etc. and don't really affect an entire range of activities, with skills treated as a separate thing almost entirely unaffected by attributes, then attributes that only have specialized functions might make more sense.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
You could always buy a wagon with some donkeys and carry the loot back to town that way, in greater quantities than you ever could on your strength alone.
In the most recent fantasy game I ran (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy) huge effort was expended to keep the two donkeys alive - it kind of became the signature of the game. The Mage in the party spent more energy levitating donkeys over ravines etc. than he ever did on blasting enemies...
 

Toadmaster

Legendary Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
1,238
Reaction score
2,180
I probably wouldn't play a game with traditional stats that combined str and con into one stat as they represnet very different things. Str value derived from other stats including con would work for me though.

Size is a grossly under represented as a stat, that has much more effect than it is given credit for. Runners and climbers are very fit, but often not powerful and you simply don't see light, lithe competitive power lifters.

When you have dump stats / uber stats it is usually a result of the game being broken, and failing to include a use for the stat. Str has used in modern / sci fi games, the problem is in defaulting everything to dex, not a lack of need for str. Cha in D&D as a dump stat is due to games promoting murder hobos over talk / the idea that physical needs to roll, but social role play. In the second the issue is providing a stat that gets bypassed by play style (and not enforcing stats in RP).

Personally I am a fan of using multiple stats to develop bonuses. Dex and int for ranged, str and dex for melee. Str and con for hp (assuming no size value). This helps to encourage rounded stats, and doesn't favor one stat wonders.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
1,283
Reaction score
2,475
Size is a grossly under represented as a stat, that has much more effect than it is given credit for. Runners and climbers are very fit, but often not powerful and you simply don't see light, lithe competitive power lifters.
(emphasis mine) I couldn't agree more. Trouble is that size + strength is too granular for most systems but I'd love to hear solutions.
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,914
Reaction score
3,113
The thing about adding Size as a stat, as was done in RuneQuest is that it provided a buffer of sorts when deriving attributes like HP (if you average two stats, you are less likely to have extremes), while Strength, Constitution and Size interplayed with each other in character development. That is, you could raise Strength and Constitution to match Size, but not the other way round (if Strength or Constitution was highest, you couldn’t increase it further). As such, Size set the parameters of physical development, and literally gave the character a physical dimension.
 

carpocratian

Legendary Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
343
Reaction score
459
I prefer to keep Strength and Constitution separate, since they are different things in real life.

I would like to see more games separate agility from manual dexterity, though. They are very different things, too.
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
5,731
Reaction score
5,261
(emphasis mine) I couldn't agree more. Trouble is that size + strength is too granular for most systems but I'd love to hear solutions.
I'm pretty sure that Str+Size has been working just finefine since 1978 or thereabouts:smile:.
As a bonus, it makes big enemies legitimately scary.
 

S'mon

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
295
Reaction score
390
I agree, I like Mini Six's four stats which are Might (in D&D terms, STR & CON), Agility (DEX), Wit (INT & WIS) and Charm (CHA). Unlike its D6 System progenitor it moves melee combat skills over from Agility/DEX to Might/STR. D&D's separation of STR & CON is not very plausible when muscle mass directly affects damage resistance and the main function of CON is to affect hit points.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
D&D's separation of STR & CON is not very plausible when muscle mass directly affects damage resistance and the main function of CON is to affect hit points.
Careful, or you’ll kick of the perennial ‘what is a HP?’ debate! :grin:
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
2,456
I've always wanted to do a game where your mass is the basis for your hitpoints but imposes an encumbrance penalty on physical activities and everything else is hours spent training.
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
5,731
Reaction score
5,261
I've always wanted to do a game where your mass is the basis for your hitpoints but imposes an encumbrance penalty on physical activities and everything else is hours spent training.
Like, no other attibutes? Because if you do have other attributes, I remember bigger Size being an impediment for some skills in RQ2:smile:.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
I've always wanted to do a game where your mass is the basis for your hitpoints but imposes an encumbrance penalty on physical activities and everything else is hours spent training.
GURPS is half way there for you as ST is explicitly 'meat points' in that system. If your bulk comes from fat rather than muscle it has your second point covered, too.
 

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,877
Reaction score
2,456
I could see arm length as a melee modifier but no, the game would mainly be you can master any skill if you put in 10000 hours. The character sheet would be a day planner.
 

VisionStorm

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
80
When you have dump stats / uber stats it is usually a result of the game being broken, and failing to include a use for the stat. Str has used in modern / sci fi games, the problem is in defaulting everything to dex, not a lack of need for str. Cha in D&D as a dump stat is due to games promoting murder hobos over talk / the idea that physical needs to roll, but social role play. In the second the issue is providing a stat that gets bypassed by play style (and not enforcing stats in RP).
Or alternatively maybe the stat doesn’t have much concrete to offer mechanically in terms of the game rules, either in general or for what that game system is about. Stats shouldn’t be forced into the game simply because you think they represent qualities people have in real life, but because they serve a practical function in the game and have merits that allow them to stand on their own. If a stat doesn’t do anything or simply can’t realistically do much compared to other abilities then it should either not be included in the game or it should be demoted to a less valuable type of ability that’s not on the same level of cost and importance as other stats or attributes.

Strength, for example, could simply be a skill based on a more general Fitness or Might attribute that incorporates elements of physical power (Strength) and resilience (Constitution). Or it could simply be a lower cost stat depending on how abilities are handled in the game.

Cha isn’t a dump stat in D&D because the game promotes murder hobos. Cha is a dump stat because for most of the game’s history Cha served no useful mechanical function and because having an ability roll take precedence over actual RP is tedious and lame, and inhibits RP rather than promote it. If all your RP can be outdone by a simple stat roll then what’s the point of RPing? Why not just Roll-play it out and skip all the silly RP talk?

The reason why physical actions need rolls in RPGs is precisely because you can’t RP your way around them, not because RPGs favor physical actions. So you need some way to determine whether your character managed to accomplish their task. The same thing applies to technical skills or any other types of tasks that aren’t even combat oriented. Social interaction is an odd case because RPGs themselves are already a type of social interaction, and unlike any other type of task you can actually RP social interaction. So you don’t even need social skills. The only real mechanical function that type of abilities can realistically have in the game is either as social buffs (you inspire your allies with your bearing and grace into action) debuffs (you cause your enemies to cower in your presence), or as a minor type of mind control that allows you to “force” NPCs to do stuff when what you’re asking through RP might be too risky or costly for them.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
1,283
Reaction score
2,475
Cha isn’t a dump stat in D&D because the game promotes murder hobos. Cha is a dump stat because for most of the game’s history Cha served no useful mechanical function and because having an ability roll take precedence over actual RP is tedious and lame, and inhibits RP rather than promote it. If all your RP can be outdone by a simple stat roll then what’s the point of RPing? Why not just Roll-play it out and skip all the silly RP talk?
Surprisingly enough a lot of players (especially newer ones) are uncomfortable staying 100% in character and enjoy playing it out like "Gorak does this," or "Gorak says so-and-so" if they aren't feeling inspired. Also, it is common for players (especially newer ones) to take the role of idealized alter egos who are stronger, smarter, or more charming than themselves. If a player with average social/mental skills IRL wants to play a charming scoundrel or brilliant scientist I'm gonna be cool and let them go for it without having to convince me with their acting skills.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
Surprisingly enough a lot of players (especially newer ones) are uncomfortable staying 100% in character and enjoy playing it out like "Gorak does this," or "Gorak says so-and-so" if they aren't feeling inspired. Also, it is common for players (especially newer ones) to take the role of idealized alter egos who are stronger, smarter, or more charming than themselves. If a player with average social/mental skills IRL wants to play a charming scoundrel or brilliant scientist I'm gonna be cool and let them go for it without having to convince me with their acting skills.
Also it is easy to include the rolls INSIDE of roleplaying. I usually give people that make good persuasion rolls against a target the idea on what methods of argument would be most effective against them. They still tell me what they say, they just get more information to decide what to say.

Basically how I do it, have them do a starting bit of the conversation, then have the persuasion roll at what I feel is a good "ice is broken" point, then tell them what they can tell about what is likely to work or not depending on how good the roll is.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
Indeed, so much so that I ended up adding it to Phaserip in the form of Stature.
This perception interests me. All the games I play on a regular basis acknowledge size as a factor. The amount of space a creature takes up, the reach they have, the ease or difficulty of hitting them with an attack. What do you feel is missing?

Also, how granular do you feel this needs to be? One of the things that puts me off GURPS is the needless precision in some areas. For example, height advantage in melee is calculated in 1-foot increments. Whilst that is manageable for the occasional fight between duelling masters it is tedious for every fight, everywhere. Making something into a stat puts a lot of importance on it (which is kind of the corollary of this thread), and makes it harder to ignore.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,750
This perception interests me. All the games I play on a regular basis acknowledge size as a factor. The amount of space a creature takes up, the reach they have, the ease or difficulty of hitting them with an attack. What do you feel is missing?
I wouldn't be able to say without knowing the games. I just happen to know numerous systems that ignore size as a factor. It's one of the few things I felt needed to be actually added to MSH, as opposed to streamlined.

Also, how granular do you feel this needs to be? One of the things that puts me off GURPS is the needless precision in some areas. For example, height advantage in melee is calculated in 1-foot increments. Whilst that is manageable for the occasional fight between duelling masters it is tedious for every fight, everywhere. Making something into a stat puts a lot of importance on it (which is kind of the corollary of this thread), and makes it harder to ignore.
For myself, I generally hate precision - the threshold between what actually matters during a game vs the rules interfering with gameplay is pretty low for me. Systems that incorporate Size as an attribute and the interaction are established before play are fine, but when it comes to adding to a game I tend to get pretty abstract.
 

dbm

G-Man
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
1,068
Reaction score
2,058
I wouldn't be able to say without knowing the games.
Not that we need to drill into this unless you want to, but we play a lot of D&D, a chunk of GURPS and a growing amount of Savage Worlds.

We also recently played The One Ring and I don’t recall size being a factor there, but it is more an abstract game.
For myself, I generally hate precision - the threshold between what actually matters during a game vs the rules interfering with gameplay is pretty low for me. Systems that incorporate Size as an attribute and the interaction are established before play are fine, but when it comes to adding to a game I tend to get pretty abstract.
In that case I am interested to hear how it will work... :grin:
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,750
Not that we need to drill into this unless you want to, but we play a lot of D&D, a chunk of GURPS and a growing amount of Savage Worlds.
I don't know the rules for current D&D, I'm playing in a 5th edition campaign, but I'm also lazy. I just tell the DM what I want to do and then rolll the dice. I don't recall if or how 2nd edition dealt with size, but it was probably a sub-system we ignored back in the day.And yeah, never got into GURPs as a system (despite probably owning more sourcebooks for it than any other game). I've only played Savage Worlds once - I liked it. Liked it alot. But ultimately it didn't do anything that other systems I use already do for me, so while I'd gladly play in another Savage Worlds game, I didn't go out and buuy any of the rulebooks. I think I have the Goon sourcebook for Savage Worlds somewhere around here, but haven't really explored it yet.

So, yeah, not really talking about any of those games I guess.

In that case I am interested to hear how it will work... :grin:
In Phaserip? Oh, very loosely. Each character chooses from one of ten Statures that roughly represents their size and shape:

stature.PNG

These act the same as Traits in the game - they can be invoked by a player for a bonus to a roll in appropriate situations, or employed by the Judge to inflict a penalty in others.
 

VisionStorm

Active Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
40
Reaction score
80
Surprisingly enough a lot of players (especially newer ones) are uncomfortable staying 100% in character and enjoy playing it out like "Gorak does this," or "Gorak says so-and-so" if they aren't feeling inspired. Also, it is common for players (especially newer ones) to take the role of idealized alter egos who are stronger, smarter, or more charming than themselves. If a player with average social/mental skills IRL wants to play a charming scoundrel or brilliant scientist I'm gonna be cool and let them go for it without having to convince me with their acting skills.
This is common enough, and most people playing RPGs are not improv actors, but “Gorak says so-and-so" is still RP. I just go with whatever makes sense in any given situation based on what players tell me they’re doing and require rolls only in situations where they’re asking too much of NPCs, or trying to fool them (Bluff attempts) or get some sort of advantage over them. Otherwise we just RP it out and keep it moving.

...

On the topic of Size, I’m not a fan of treating “Size” like an attribute like they do in BRP/CoC because it’s not something that you could “use” or improve, like Strength, Intelligence or Charisma, but rather just an unchanging physiological trait that’s hard to express in terms of the game rules outside of size categories. So it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the same category as proper abilities. Though, I do make the distinction between “attributes” and “game stats” in that I tend to frame attributes more as core abilities that govern a range of activities, while “game stats” tend to be more like game rule data, like Character Levels, HP, AC, etc. And I do tend to see “Size” as a game stat.

In a system I’m working on size or “Scale” is a game stat that modifies a creature’s or object’s (or even an effect’s) physical capabilities, though, the stat covers size categories rather than tiny variations in body types between creatures of the same species. Scale is set at “0” by default, representing an average size adult human. Any creature or object significantly larger than adult human average (including exceptionally large humans) has positive Scale value, while any creature or object significantly smaller than adult human average (including exceptionally small humans) has negative Scale value.

Positive Scale is added to Might (which governs physical power and resilience, effectively making a creature stronger and more durable), but subtracted from Reflexes (which governs all actions involving physical finesse and mobility, including combat and defense, making larger creatures clumsier and easier to hit). Negative Scale works the opposite way, making creatures weaker, but more mobile and difficult targets.

Variations in physical power or durability due to size are handled entirely through Scale, so that exceptionally large creatures, like Dragons, have the same base range of physical attributes as humans, but those abilities are modified by the creature’s Scale. And since a dragon’s Scale is bound to be significantly high, that means that their effective Might will be that much higher by virtue of their high Scale value.
 
Top