Monday, February 20, 2012

[Greyhawk] Attributes as Stunts, Skills, & Aspects

One of the interesting design decisions about Fate is the idea that practically everything is a skill. I happen to really like the concept that “Strength is a skill” and so forth.

However in AD&D, you have the concept of attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Charisma) as being established at character creation and then generally not changing too much through a character’s progression through levels.

When translating attributes into skills for Fate this also means the player now has the ability to increase a character’s attributes (as skills) throughout that character’s class progression.

Some attributes are pretty easy translations into Fate skills while others might require some additional consideration.

AD&D Attributes and SotC Skills

So most attributes translate pretty easily into existing skills in Spirit of the Century...

  • STRength = Might Skill
  • INTelligence = <None>
  • DEXterity = Athletics Skill
  • CONstitution = Toughness Skill
  • WISdom = <None>
  • CHArisma = Rapport Skill (probably) we’re left with what to do about Intelligence and Wisdom attributes?

You could always just discard Intelligence and Wisdom attributes, but there's plenty of things in the AD&D gameworld that do depend on high intelligence and wisdom.

There’s always the idea that you could “just create new skills” to be 1:1 parallels. However, from a roleplaying perspective I happen to like with the idea that those skills DON’T exist as such. Additionally in Fate, I think there's some interesting things in place around the “meta” of things like intelligence and wisdom that I didn't want to mess with. So what to do?

Perhaps asking the question in a more “actionable” way... what are some other options for Fate about characters and rules that deal with very HIGH or very LOW intelligence or wisdom?

Attributes that Have No Fate Skill

I've started from an assumption where the middle range of an attribute typically has little if any effect on modifying the game. So then we'd just need to worry about the lower and upper range of character potential.

Translating LOW Attributes

Fate makes this pretty easy, by having more overtly negative Aspects to represent a character with low attributes.

So, low intelligence might be replaced with an aspect of something like:

  • “...Whaaaaat?”
  • “Tetched in the Haid”
  • “See, it’s on account of this plate in my skull...”

Translating HIGH Attributes

When translating the effect of higher attributes, I think you need to consider what the higher attribute grants the character within the gameworld.

In the case of the Intelligence attribute, one feature requiring high intelligence is that it allows the character to access the higher levels of Magic-User spells (7th through 9th level, specifically).

So, it would be possible to create Stunts like “Exceptional Intelligence” and “Epic Intelligence” for the Wizard class that act as an additional requirement to access higher spell levels. Gametesting would help determine if those stunts would be progressive (one replaces the other), or if one requires another (eg., the stunt to access 9th level spells requires having the stunts to access 8th and 7th level spells).

Gameworld Impact of Translations

With those ideas as a test, then consider the gameworld’s assumptions that are placed on that attribute.

For example, AD&D has Race / Class Restrictions for "Low Intelligence" (9 or less). Working with the idea that a negative aspect about a character’s intelligence could represent low intellect, you could implement that the following races or classes CANNOT have a negative intelligence aspect:

  • Paladins
  • Rangers
  • Assassins
  • Wizards
  • Elves
  • Gnomes
  • Halflings
  • Half-Elves
  • Illusionist

Depending upon how you translate the impact of acquiring a negative intelligence aspect, it might be appropriate to say that the player cannot advance in a class until the aspect is cleared (similar to a curse), or perhaps cannot actively access a race or class’ stunts until the aspect is cleared.

If you follow the Intelligence table in AD&D by rote, then you might also have the following requirements upon a character that reflect having higher intelligence:

  • Illusionist class require stunt "Exceptional Intelligence".
  • 7th level spells require stunt "Fantastic Intelligence"
  • 8th level spells require stunt "Epic Intelligence"
  • 9th level spells require stunt "Legendary Intelligence"

Additionally on the other end of the Intelligence stat spectrum, if you were following Race / Class Restrictions “as is” for high intelligence, you would also need this restriction:

  • Half-orc characters can only get as high as Intelligence stunt "Fantastic Intelligence"

Attributes that Have Skills

Depending upon how particular you want to get, even those skills have direct parallels might need some review. My previous translation method of looking for a metric that can be compared could apply here.

So for example, when comparing the AD&D attribute “Strength” to SotC’s skill “Might”, you could compare the following passage from the DMG, p.15:

Exceptional Strength: Assume further that a strength of 18 indicates that the creature can lift weight equal to its own body weight, or 180 pounds, whichever is the greater, above its head.

A human with an 18 strength and an additional percentile dice roll is able to lift 1 additional pound for every percentage point up to and including 50%, 4 pounds for every percentage point from 51% to 90%, and 8 pounds for each percentage point from 91 % to 00%.

...against SotC’s “Lifting Things” (p. 258)...

Characters have a default amount of weight they can lift and still do something with that weight (like moving slowly, or trying to place it carefully), shown on this page in pounds. If purely lifting without moving – like, say, a heavy portcullis so others can scurry through – they can roughly double that capacity.

...and then decide those descriptions are close enough to equate to roughly the same measure of strength and from this you could find some common metrics. Comparing the numbers, you would end up with the following:

Max overhead lift (STR Attribute) SotC Weight Capacity (Might Skill)
9 = 90 lbs
10 = 100 lbs Poor (-1) = 100 lbs
15 = 150 lbs Mediocre (+0) = 150 lbs
18 = 180 lbs
18/20 = 200 lbs Average (+1) = 200 lbs
18/50 = 230 lbs
18/60 = 270 lbs Fair (+2) = 250 lbs
18/70 = 310 lbs Good (+3) = 300 lbs
18/80 = 350 lbs Great (+4) = 350 lbs
18/90 = 390 lbs Superb (+5) = 400 lbs
Fantastic (+6) = 450 lbs
18/00 = 470 lbs
Epic (+7) = 500 lbs

It appears that the functional difference between an average attribute of 9-12 and the human maximum attribute of 18 is not terribly significant in terms of the Fate scale--it’s the difference between Poor (-1) and Average (+1). This means that generally speaking, there probably isn’t enough granularity within the range of "average human" to "human maximum" in the gameworld to really allow more than just a few stunts (2 or 3) in order to simulate the bonuses associated with high attributes.


Anarchangel said...

Now stat up a Lich with "Alexander Hamilton Intelligence"!

Anonymous said...

For Intelligence and Wisdom, why not ask what those attributes provide:

INT: Knowledge, Spell casting, Memory, Languages
WIS: Perception, Magic Resistance, Faith, Common Sense

Do they really need to be broken out on a 1:1 ratio?

Guy Bowring said...

@Anarchangel: Great! I'll put it in with "Aaron Burr Deceit"!

@Bill: I absolutely agree the key is to "...consider what the higher attribute grants the character within the gameworld."

And while I only highlighted one "trapping" of Intelligence in the post, the other benefits are certainly worth considering.

Your question about being broken out on a 1:1 ratio is a great one--I believe the granularity of translation is an important one. If you decide the answer is "yes, you need to translate everything 1:1", I would suggest saving a lot of trouble and play AD&D with Aspects.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Scott said...

You may want to look at what I did to Attributes in the FATE of Amber. Basically they are groups of skills. When you select the Attribute you get all of them at that level. There's an optional bit where you can bump one skill at the cost of another but the totals have to stay the same.

Guy Bowring said...

@Scott: Thanks for the link but can you check it out? I'm not sure it's working right.

David S. Goodwin said...

One of the first Fate games I ever ran was a late-night one-shot with an old D&D buddy of mine who had never played Fate before. With no prep and no plan, I had him build a skill pyramid out of any of the D&D skills or attributes.

Aspects covered race, class, and specialization; I ignored stunts completely. Spells and so forth were basically invokes. It was quick and dirty, but it left both of us impressed by Fate's flexibility, and it captured the D&D feel surprisingly well on short notice.