Musing on Attributes

I’ve thought about how to attributes are implemented before, but here I go again. Many RPGs have attributes (ability scores, or whatever you call them). This set of numbers define your basic character, but sometimes are a bit poorly set up in my opinion.

But I’m not here to complain today, but to write some hopefully interesting stuff about attributes. Let’s start with some background thoughts.

Attribute levels

I’ll group attribute levels into “how much difference it makes”. What that means is that each level should be distinctively better than the one before. How so? For example, if two different people who can lift, say 100 and 110 kg respectively (that is ~225 and ~245 lbs), one’s obviously stronger than the other. But if we didn’t have the exact measurement we would probably guess they are about equally strong, and that’s not too far off. And how much difference do their strengths make in daily life? Not much, I would guess. So, should these people have different “strength” scores? In a very crunchy (rules heavy) system, yes. Otherwise, probably not.

Then how to deal out attribute levels? We could group them into different “bands” or levels depending on how gifted (or not) one would be. Maybe a “two steps, double bonus” would work. That means each level is √2 times the one before it. That should be an, at least, noticeable enough difference. It could be too high for some games, but should work as a baseline. This can obviously be tweaked later.

Then we get something like this, were 4 would be average:
Attribute Score    1        2        3        4        5        6        7        8        9        10
Multiplier             0.3   0.5    0.7     1.0    1.4     2.0     2.8    4.0    5.6     8.0

Then, for a less “game-y” verision we could name the levels something along the lines of:

(1) Pathetic. This, being 1/3 of normal capability, is obviously not very good at all.
(2) Very low. Half normal capability is bad no matter how you look at it.
(3) Quite Low. Having a little more than 70% of normal capabilities is probably okay.
(4) Average. This is just what the name says.
(5) Quite High. Almost half again as good as normal, pretty decent.
(6) Very High. This is getting serious, double normal.
(7) Amazing. Nearly 3 times normal, very much better.
…And so on. These names are not very good, but you get the idea.

Now what?

Who knows. This was just an idea I had about attributes. Something like this has of course been done before, both with named attribute levels and a logarithmic increase, but I wanted think it through a bit anyways. But now… This wouldn’t work well with intelligence as, as I understand it, people without additional problems can’t have an IQ below 70. This would probably apply to other kinds of intelligence too. Soooo… What to do? One could use the mean of the multiplier and one, to get 0.65, 0.75, 0.85, 1.0, 1.2, 1.5… Maybe a bit closer to how it should be? And in the end it’s just thought work, I’ve gotta check this up to some statistics… Some other time.

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