Thursday, December 09, 2010

a simple thought experiment

Begin by reflecting upon the function of the 3-18 stats in your favorite version.  Then write down six new stat names that fit the function of the stats but perhaps change the tenor of them.  Let's look at the standard arrangement:

Strength
Intelligence
Wisdom
Dexterity
Constitution
Charisma

Now imagine if we kept all the mechanics as written, but instead used these labels:

Muscle
Education
Piety
Nimbleness
Health
Beauty

Suddenly it seems more likely that a well-informed idiot could be a magic-user or that a foolish but holy-minded person could be a cleric.  And changing Charisma to Beauty clearly makes that stat veer off in one direction.  Renaming Charisma as Leadership would give it a totally different trajectory, and calling it Social Standing would lead to a whole 'nother interpretation.

And what if we renamed Strength to Brutishness?  It still does the same stuff but suddenly a high Str score doesn't seem like the greatest thing in the world.  Instead it highlights what one actually uses that score for: manual labor and violence.

EDIT TO ADD: JD over at Aeons & Auguries wrote on this same topic last year.