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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Attributes and skills Dancing the forbidden dance.

Yes the attribute and skill Lambada will be performed to Frank Zappa's "Bee-bop Tango."

I have a thing about skills and attributes as a designer I love to link them solidly together in nice little covalent bonds of  character capability. Working on my  most recent project I have run into a bit of a problem.

I have decided to make attributes much less static crossed characters.
Whereas in the "best known RPG of all and ever," All characters are measured by Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intelligence and Charisma. I am taking a different approach with players being able to define three unique attributes in three categories Physical, Mental, and, Social.

My current challenge is tying skills to the attributes while still being able to give each attribute some mechanical weight. I am currently toying with  tying skills to the  broader category then having different possible roll outcomes based on what attribute is invoked. I like the effect, but it does not smack of a system that "gets out of the way." It feels to me like a way of rewording invoking aspects from FATE which in my view is not a system that gets out of the way, at all.

So while I want my skills and attributes to get dirty and make  babies I am now rethinking the approach. While I like the  5th-ed approach of Roll + attribute mod + Skill mod if applicable vs difficulty. It's sleek easy to understanding and implement. While it does not fit what I am working on that kind of simplicity is  what I'm scratching around for. I think I'm on the edge of finding it.
Think for a moment if having a skill did not create a mathematical addition of + this or that to the roll but gave the character advantage in the action. I know that's equivalent to something like + 5 on the roll and I am not seriously suggesting  ripping the new D&D apart yet, but what I am saying is pulling the skill bonus out of the  roll equation makes the whole thing "feel" different.

Skills are the difference between knowing  how to do some thing and  simply knowing about something. I know about  the pistons in my car I know what they do. I know there are valves and rocker arms, the pistons move due to combustion caused by the ignition of gas and air injected into the combustion chamber chamber. I know these things don't allow me to change a piston in your car! I don't know how.

I'm not dumb I might be able to boggle it out if I had decent instructions, but chances are I would mess the car up quickly and badly.  My general Intelligence is not enough of a bonus to make that action of replacing a piston a good idea. It's about training. A normal person can be trained to do things like replace pistons.

The game I am working on is not about way above average people. It's about colorful personalities who are in  crazy situations. The  levels of intelligence are not going to be all that out side of day to day average, no super smart wizards or extra beefy barbarians running around. I think for this game I can abandon my  normal preconceptions concerning stats and skills and focus more on  how trained a character is in a given area.

Or even go in a even more minimalist approach and  nix the idea of skills at all. Just tell me what your going to do and what attribute you are going to use to do it...now roll.

Thank you for reading,
Leave any comments or questions in the trunk of  Dodge swinger below.

*Edit 2 hours latter and I don't think I'm really going to do it this way .. such is gamer brain.. I took out the dice parts of this post as they were no longer relevant.