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Does Strength deserve to be an attribute?

Susanoo Orbatos

Social Justice Mindflayer
Validated User
You can certainly take that approach, but--to be honest, I find that at least as convoluted as just having the stats separate. And that's one I see often enough I don't consider it trivial.
I PERSONALLY don't see it often as intention vs "hey I can build this as an artifact of the game" Like the sickly strongman, or the Dumb Knight who has no social skills. Or the wizard who knows basically nothing except blasting.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
I PERSONALLY don't see it often as intention vs "hey I can build this as an artifact of the game" Like the sickly strongman, or the Dumb Knight who has no social skills. Or the wizard who knows basically nothing except blasting.
Don't know what to tell you; I've specifically seen people complain over the years about this every time I've run a game with lumped Strength/Toughness (Interlock and original Star Wars come to mind).
 

A.J.Gibson

Actual Size
Validated User
I always thought that the Mayfair DC Heroes approach was interesting: it took the sort of traditional Str, Dex and Con (which they called Body) approaches and sorted them into acting (Dex), effect (Str) and resistance (Body), and then did the same for mental and mystical attributes, so you had nine total attributes on a grid, divided one way into physical/mental/mystical and divided the other way into action/effect/resistance.
I've seen that approach. My issue with it is that it isn't as clear what your attributes means for mental and social stats. What is mental power? Is it processing power like Intelligence, or force of personality like Will? What do I use to fix a computer? What is the difference between action and power when dealing with something completely theoretical? Having the social division also strikes me as problematic, as you end up with a class of attributes that will be dumped by many people, and if you want to play the social character in the group, you'll be penalized.
 

Four Color

Out of Space
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Inspired by the 3x3 matrix in DC Heroes and the simplicity of the Tri-Stat system, I use a 2x2 matrix of physical and mental skill and force attributes in my game: grace, might, sense, and will, which combine in pairs of 1 skill + 1 force to determine chance of success in combat and challenges of four energy types, somatic, kinetic, mystic, and psychic (for example, grace + might = the somatic stat). I like the differentiation between skill and force, and the elimination of differentiation between strength-as-force vs. constitution(etc.)-as-resistance. Secondary stats act as resource pools, such as luck (grace + sense) and life (might + will).

This is for a multiverse game ala Lords of Creation where the four energy types would all come into play, so there are no dump stats. Works for me. Now if I could only get someone to play it! ;)
 

SignoreDellaGuerra

Audii alteram partem
Validated User
I see normally two way of thinking:

Or you go the simple route, with simplified stats

You go the complex route with elaborate stats

Either works if what you do with the stats is right.
 

kenco

Registered User
Validated User
My gaming background features a lot of D&D/d20, but also some Traveller, Shadowrun and WoD, and in my experience, Strength ends up being a dump stat for a large chunk of characters. Sure, some people want to play the Strength character, but if an attribute is a dump stat for so many character builds (as it especially is in games with lots of ranged weapons), does it really make sense for Strength to be it's own stat? Wouldn't it make more sense to roll it together with some other physical attributes? I know some people like being able to represent Strength separately, but so many things get rolled together already (like agility, dexterity, and speed in a lot of games), it feels like a legacy from D&D and not a logical design choice. I think it makes more sense for Strength to be rolled into what stat represents physical health, that way you can play melee guys more cheaply, and the resulting stat has both active and passive applications. I'm told Edge of Empire does this, as did BESM (though it only had 3 stats).

So what are your preferences?

(Also, should Charisma be a separate stat?)
Go ahead!

It really depends on your game/ setting etc. And what you mean by 'Strength' (of course). In a fire-combat kind of game raw weight-lifting ability is not likely much help (and being big might be a positive disadvantage - see Stormbringer). In a game about sumo-wrestlers or superheroes, it's likely pretty significant.

I think there is a place for a Strength stat (or two) in games that focus on muscle powered combat. There is no doubt that size and strength matter in something like wrestling or judo. Arm/ wrist strength/ training seems to matter for sword play, despite an earlier note to the contrary. And a military longbow required years of training to develop the specialised strength to use it.

There's much less need for a physical strength stat in games of social interaction, puzzle solving or piloting space ships and operating computers.
 

Old Toby

Least Known Dog on the Net
Validated User
I tend to approach the question more from a perspective of "what kind of characters does this let you build", rather than, say, "is this realistic" or "how balanced is this" (those aren't unimportant concerns, but they're secondary).

So we get a sharp bifurcation between Str and Dex because "the big, slow guy, and the quick, little guy" is a popular literary archetype, so games give us a way to emulate that.

Str and Con are less clearly differentiated. "Strong but frail" doesn't really resonate, but "the big guy who dishes out a lot of damage, but goes down quick when hit" is kind of another take on that, as is "strong but easily winded". And the "tough-as-nails guy who's not particularly strong" is also not too rare.

But then, it occurs to me that a lot of these combinations also have other elements. Frex, the "quick, little guy" is almost always smart. Maybe not "book smart", but cunning and crafty. Which makes me wonder if the best way to emulate them is by combining stats.

Hmm...

Let's say we have four stats: Action, Endurance, Craft, and Spirit.

Barbarians are big, tough guys who use their hardy toughness and willingness to endure pain to fuel savage power-blows and desperate dodges. And use their powerful bodies to bully through even non-physical challenges. They can add together their Action and Endurance.

Rogues are quick, clever fellows, who use precision and cleverness to undermine their enemies and move with maximum effect. And use lightning reflexes and finesse to pull off cunning designs. They add together Action and Craft.

Paladins are proud, confident champions whose inner strength is channeled into outer strength. And whose vigor and energy fuel powerful personalities. They add together Action and Spirit.

Rangers are tough and clever. They use insight into their environment to keep going even under the toughest circumstances. And their willingness to embrace pain and do it the hard way makes them pragmatic, can-do thinkers. They add together Endurance and Craft.

Monks train to exceed the normal limits. Their esoteric disciplines let them overcome physical limits with sheer will. And their training-hardened minds and bodies grant them an indomitable spirit. They add together Endurance and Spirit.

Bards are brilliant and inspired. Their soaring hearts fuel acts of genius. Their studied understanding of the human soul unlocks the keys to inner strength. They add together Craft and Spirit.

Obviously there are a few... standard fantasy archetypes missing, but it could be a start. Maybe you could also have double-stat classes: Double action Fighters, Double Endurance Sorcerers, Double Craft Wizards, Double Spirit Clerics? But the fact that they'd only have to invest in one prime stat seems like it would wreck the play balance... Perhaps this is compensated by only being able to apply their bonus in half the situations... assuming all situations are equally distributed and non-fungible...

Old Toby
Least Known Dog on the Net
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
While none of that is exactly wrong, Toby, it tends to be a bit reductionist, and ignores people who are trying to do something a bit off the beaten path. Its the same problem that haunted early D&D and its character class system; if you wanted something other than was already on the menu, you were out of luck.
 

A.J.Gibson

Actual Size
Validated User
I tend to approach the question more from a perspective of "what kind of characters does this let you build", rather than, say, "is this realistic" or "how balanced is this" (those aren't unimportant concerns, but they're secondary).
If attribute balance doesn't matter to you, then fine. But for those of care, Strength is usually ends up being a dump stat for some, if not most, PC's in games that have it as an attribute. And it always seems to be an automatically include because people want to represent strong but not tough characters in the attributes themselves, rather then using a feat or advantage or something.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
If attribute balance doesn't matter to you, then fine. But for those of care, Strength is usually ends up being a dump stat for some, if not most, PC's in games that have it as an attribute. And it always seems to be an automatically include because people want to represent strong but not tough characters in the attributes themselves, rather then using a feat or advantage or something.
All doing the latter does usually is move the problem around, so I don't see a big virtue in it.
 
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