Monday, 15 September 2014

Attributes, Skills or... ??

Separate attributes and skills for a character has been the way of things since I started in RPGs.

But as I look to write my own, I wonder why  - and if that's the best way to build a character.


Attributes define the basics of a character, whilst skills define what the character can do.


However, looking at things more deeply, it seems that attributes are more present as default skills than anything else.


In most RPGs, the value used to resolve actions is based on a value derived from attribute+skill or attribute bonus+skill - and a default value based on the attribute if no skill available.


But other than that, attributes aren't used much at all after character generation.


I understand and appreciate the logic, even if i don't agree with it, where it would take lots of time and effort to list every skill that someone has and adds complexity to character generation - many of which would never be used in a RPG session.


I also understand that attributes define a character, allowing his strength and intelligence to be noted.


But for use in an RPG ??

I see little use, apart from default values.

For example, need medical training to treat wounds ??

Use medical skill, or default to intelligence attribute.

Need to hit someone in a fight ??

Use fighting skill, or default to dexterity attribute.

Need to drive a car to get away from the police ??

Use driving skill, or default to dexterity attribute.

Need to sweet talk someone to gather information ??

Use persuasion, or default to charisma attribute.

And so on.


So, I'm going to reverse the equation and have something that combines attributes and skills.


This has the advantage of simplifying character generation, as only a single set of values have to be determined.


These values will be present in all characters, in varying degrees, and will be umbrella skills that all skills and attributes fall into - In effect, characters will be defined by their ability to do things, but not by how that ability is determined.


Since Nexus Tales is a near future game of action, that is the setting my abilities need to fit into an work with.


My current abilities are :-


  • Athletics - climbing, throwing, swimming, lifting, running
  • Driving - cars, boats, helicopters, planes, bikes
  • Fighting - fisticuffs, swords, claws, martial arts, clubs
  • Shooting - pistols, lasers, rockets, smgs, crossbows
  • Making - electronics, cooking, metalwork, carpentry
  • Communication - talking, teaching, painting, streetwise
  • Covert - pick locks, stealth, hiding, palming
  • Outdoors - riding, survival, navigation, hunting, tracking
  • Gaia - spells, rituals
  • Learning - maths, research, law, area knowledge, trivia, design, memory
So, every skill that can be known will be contained within these 10 categories of ability.

Should specific attributes be required, they are inferred from the abilities - remembering the action film nature of the RPG.

For instance, someone with excellent athletics ability would probably be healthy, fit, strong, agile, with good stamina - so any need to check their health, strength or stamina could be accomplished by referring to the athletics ability.

And so on.

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