Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Non-Numerical Approach To D&D Attributes

Well, there may not be much new Lands of Ara content from me this weekend, for although I am very close to having "Deities of Ara" ready to go, I keep getting distracted by various (real-world) housekeeping tasks (I changed the cats' litter boxes today) as well as some inspirational reading of other old-schoolers' blogs and websites.  Along this line, I caught wind (via P_Armstrong at Ode to Black Dougal) of a really provocative and smart proposal at Robertson Games' site about approaching attribute "scores" in a more qualitative, comparative way rather than a roll-dice-for-numerically-quantitative-scores kind of way.  It is worth checking out and something I will be pondering for possible future use in my own campaigns. . .

Charlie the cat says: Happy Sunday!


  1. I like the idea of non-numerical stats. I recall playing around with this 15 years ago.

    The only challenge was to come up with descriptors that were suitably evocative, but also seemed progressive. For example, strong (13-15), very strong (16-17), mighty (18), hurculean (19+). Easy for strength perhaps. But try to create textual descriptions for the other 5 stats, both high and low ranges, and have the text as an accurate descriptor of the ranges. I finally abandoned the attempt.

    You could have only 3 descriptions for each stat (for strength, weak, average, strong) but it just doesn't evoke the same image.

  2. Yes, it seems like this approach would make things more difficult to adjudicate until you got used to it. I am fascinated by the qualitative attribute concept and consider it great food for thought but will likely stick to old fashioned rolled attributes for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign.

  3. I roll attributes but then convert them to names for bonuses or penalties: mighty/feeble, bright/dim, insightful/foolish, skillful/clumsy, tough/frail, and inspirational/laughable. There's no special descriptor for the normal range, and we just say "exceptionally mighty" or "super-dim" for two standard deviations from the norm.

    I like it because it's a great way to introduce the character when I populate the roster at the start of the session - "Lotur the Scurrilous Cur is mighty, foolish, and dim" - and I'm much happier during combat having people remind me that they're mighty than that they get a +1 to hit.

    Here's the guidelines I use:

    - Tavis

  4. Wow, that looks good, thanks for the link!