Practical renaming of traditional D&D stats

Thinking about renaming the six classic D&D abilities to something with a more direct meaning. Not really free-form like Fate or Over the Edge (a system I really like) more specific to your class.

It started out as this:


But then I thought about taking it a bit further. Why does a Thief need CAST if you're not using magic? Or a magic-user having bless?

How about a 'You Pick Six' or UPS system;-) where you choose the six most important abilities for your class.

So, for example, a Fighter will have some different abilities than say a Cleric.

There would be the typical pre-packaged classes. But you could customize easily as well.

I would have a seventh stat called luck, which covers rolls outside of those defined by your six ability scores.

Let's say you have a magic-user with no fighting ability. Roll equal/under Luck stat. But you're really only going to want to use this as a last option, because there is a severe chance of critical failure. But at the same time, there's always a chance for success.

Basically, to take an action roll equal or under your ability. It's like Pendragon where you want to roll as high as you can, without rolling over. But there is a difference in that there is a lower threshold as well (like Unknown Armies, but using a d20). Also you automatically miss/fail with a 1.

Back to the magic-user with a Luck score of 11. You unfortunately are in a combat situation and are forced to use a knife to fight off an enemy. This is where Luck comes in. To hit the enemy you need to roll an 11 or under. But you also have a +4 modifier which goes at the bottom. So you would need to roll 6-11 to succeed (1 is always a failure +4 for the modifier).

For spells the Magic-User uses Cast. Let's say you have a 15. Roll 'between' for the spell to be cast. 15 is a critical success (you could have 1 always as a critical failure). Also the level of spell counts as a modifier. You are casting a 1st level spell, the roll needs to be 3-15 to succeed. A 2nd level spell is 4-15 and so on. If you roll above the number nothing bad happens, you simply didn't cast it. However a roll below causes some sort of misfire (that's where some fun tables or ad lib comes in).

There are three saves (similar to that in 3e D&D) which covers reactions. Not sure if these should be specific to classes as well. Again you could use luck to cover anything outside of these using the same principle.




  • In my game, I use str for athletics and brute force attacks, dex for sneaking and finesse attacks (including shooting), con for surviving hardships, wis for detecting sneaking people and avoiding surprised, plus as a caster stat for some classes. Int and cha I only use as caster stats. Wis and dex seem like the best stats as far as I can see, since they're so multipurpose.

    But I'm happy with it as they are. It's nostalgia
  • @2097 For your Thief, outside of the thieving skills and ranged attacks--what other abilities do you use?

  • I use all of 5e except Insight, Persuasion, Deception, Intimidation, Investigation and Performance. I've removed those six skills.

    So there might be things like slinking out from a grapplehold (acrobatics), detecting surprise (perception), surviving poison, surviving mind control rays, calming down animals, finding your way in the wilderness etc. And also using the scores to calculate how long you can hold your breath, how far you can jump, how much you can carry etc.
  • Not sure if these could be used for D&D as it is, but after hacking John Harper's Wildlings I ended up streamlining this not exactly to character abilities, but to 7 main groups of skills:

    Attack: anything that dealt direct or indirect damage, or somehow improved chances of dealing damage.
    Defense: anything geared to protect, avoid, resist, reduce or ignore damage dealt to the PC or others, as well as regenerate PC health.
    Movement: anything that increased or changed the type of the character's movement, or otherwise helped to obtain a positional advantage.
    Perception: character senses, other natural and supernatural ways of getting information about the setting
    Subterfuge: anything that allows the character to avoid confrontation or contact, like stealth, disguise, invisibility, etc.
    Intelligence: anything related to having the character spout lore, offer knowledge, to remembering things that the PC is supposed to know (but not necessarily the player). Also, deductive and reasoning abilities of the character.
    Social: these could actually be on any other of the spots due to their utility, but the particular way these are played and interpreted on the game earned them their own spot.

    The advantage for this categorization is that it's easier to implement and balance a fate-like system where PCs can have and mix any type of common and supernatural skills however they want. For example, this way you can realize the real value of a vampiric ability that both damages the opponent (attack) and heals yourself (defense) and makes the player pay the actual value for it instead of getting two abilities for the price of one.

    Common sense and roleplaying still limit the usefullness of an ability on a particular situation, though this system is more geared to balance things like invisibility being utterly better than mastery of stealth, or a mix of both.
  • Don't you think that you're basically abandoning the concept of the "ability" (something everybody has to different degrees) in favour of "skill" (something you might or might not have) with this direction, though? I mean to say, it seems to me that with custom abilities you basically just have a skill list and the conceit that the player needs to pick precisely six of the skills for their character, with one actual ability - Luck - to cover the bases on what a character might lack.

    Not that this is a bad thing, mind, but it may be useful to notice that this is what's going on so as to develop the idea to its fullest extent. There are interesting things one can do with skills as well, after all.

    I might suggest that you could ditch Luck if you used character level and/or saving rolls instead. Character level is already supposed to be the most general depiction of character ability/importance/luck/narrative weight available, so it's sort of redundant to have both a Luck score and a level from that perspective. Remember how older D&D flavours have saving throws scaling with level, and how saves are used for all kinds of luck-based determinations. Also, how hit points are often conceptualized as "luck", and those scale with level as well; it's not an exaggeration to say that in D&D luck or fate is usually modeled by character level.

    A simple way to use pure level in this mechanical context is to say that a character's Luck target number is 10+level (so 11 for 1st level characters and going up from there - 5 for 0th levels) and that they roll on it as if they had the skill in question, except that any successes are only half as effective (or you need to roll twice to amass a full success), and any failures are twice as bad. You'll only want to use this as a last resort, of course.
  • Eero, the good thing, if well designed (I'm not onboard with vgunn's list yet) is that the rest can be "To do it do it". If you want to climb, you climb. Etc.
  • True, true. It'd be a lot more formalistic than D&D traditionally tends to be, but that also means more focus in what you actually want to do. I imagine the end result to resemble the various dungeoneering fantasy games that have come out of the Forge diaspora over the years - Agon, Labyrinths & Lycanthropes, Dungeon World, that sort of thing. For some people it's not that big a step, but for me these are an entirely different class of game from D&D - fine and worthy games, of course.

    The big technical, theoretical step is over the threshold where you decide (if you do) that there shall be no emergent task simulation rulings made at the table - the skill list is what it is, there's a generic case rule for handling stuff that drops in the cracks ("anything that doesn't have a skill dedicated to it is automatic success" is a good one), and the gameplay is actively formulated to ensure that things ultimately boil down to those attack, sneaking, casting checks that rest at the center of the game. This is totally a different ballgame from the way that the D&D mainline construes the entire affair of mechanizing task resolution.

    (Certain modern versions of D&D are pretty close to this already; 4th edition is particularly formalistic. The general consensus of the tradition is highly organic, though.)

    Thinking about the ability (skill) list, a feeling I personally have is that I would reduce the number of abilities per character, or structure picking them in some more detailed way than just "pick six out of a list" (or take a pre-picked list in the form of an established character class, of course). I feel that three or so per character should be enough, and result in a tighter feel.

    Like, I would expect that a perfectly serviceable fighter type could start out with "Fight" and "Survive". Maybe you have a couple of fighter classes to begin with, and they all have those two in common, but paladins also get "Bless" and rangers/ninjas get "Sneak" and cavaliers get "Charm". Anything not on your list, you do the Luck check mambo, or whatever ancillary procedures one cares to provide.

    And maybe at 3rd level or so you get to pick between multiclassing or switching out one of your class skills for an improved version. Some mid-levelers have a fourth skill, while others have an improved version of their old one. Trade "Fight" for "Kung-Fu" for example (with the understanding that the latter does everything the former did, plus more, rather than being a more narrow specialization).

    No reason why this couldn't be grounds for a fun, light mechanical chassis for D&D-like hijinks.

  • And maybe at 3rd level or so you get to pick between multiclassing or switching out one of your class skills for an improved version. Some mid-levelers have a fourth skill, while others have an improved version of their old one. Trade "Fight" for "Kung-Fu" for example (with the understanding that the latter does everything the former did, plus more, rather than being a more narrow specialization).

    No reason why this couldn't be grounds for a fun, light mechanical chassis for D&D-like hijinks.
    Maybe have improved skills behave in the reverse manner to Eero's suggested Luck=10+Level mechanic, so successes are twice as potent and failures halved. You may need to define exactly what one portion of success and failure looks like so you can quickly work out what double or half of either should be, but there could be some nice symmetry to the system here.
  • A simple fallback for "twice as effective" that can often be used in task resolution context is "needs to succeed two times for the same amount of effect" and "gets to try two times each time". Essentially the same as bonus and penalty dice ("roll two d20 and pick highest/lowest"), except you might also expend only half of the time, money, or other expense instead. (You generally don't want to give discounts on all tactical factors - one at a time more than suffices.)
  • edited April 2017

    But then I thought about taking it a bit further. Why does a Thief need CAST if you're not using magic? Or a magic-user having bless?
    If you're thinking like this, you can go all the way.


    Can't remember who wrote it, but one person had three classes and by multi-classing (having points in several classes) it was possible to get more classes. FIGHTER + CLERIC = PALADIN


    Luck stat sucks because it can be motivated to be used for everything. Be specific rather than general when naming stats/skills/classes.

    Basically, to take an action roll equal or under your ability. It's like Pendragon where you want to roll as high as you can, without rolling over. But there is a difference in that there is a lower threshold as well (like Unknown Armies, but using a d20). Also you automatically miss/fail with a 1.
    Why auto-fail on a one? Where is the fun of always be able to fail? It also renders having 1 useless. There gotta be a better way of solving auto-fail.


    Those were my thoughts when reading your post. :)
  • edited April 2017
    OK, these are my categories for replacing D&D stats (I use them mostly as alternatives to Fate Accelerated Approaches):
    - COMBAT
    - ROGUE

    This works pretty well for me (except maybe the term "rogue", perhaps something like "thievery" is beter).
  • In the interest of sharing ability arrays, here's mine:


    I use this set for D&D specifically. It's intended as an all-around improvement on the traditional set in terms of usability, realism, game fun, game balance, tactical intrigue, universal applicability and various other factors. It's pretty well established after a few hundred sessions of play, so apparently it's working for what it's being used for (challengeful old school D&D).

    The ability check is king in my homebrew rules, so I can get why one would want to rename and redefine the traditional stats to make it more clear how and where they're used. I've opted for retaining the character-descriptive names (instead of renaming on the basis of activities) specifically to keep the stat array relatable: one of the key concerns for me is that the numbers can be read for a vivacious image of what the character is like, which is no longer true if the stats are merely a list of skills.
  • edited April 2017
    Worth noting: in OD&D, the stats are presented in a different order: Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, and Cha. And importantly, the first three give out almost no pluses on rolls—Str is actually just a measure of whether you get an XP bonus as a fighter (and only gives you plus to damage if you are a fighter I think—I could double check that), same as Int for Magic-users and Wis for Clerics. So they are absolutely class-scores (there is no thief).

    I have pluses from all scores in my game, but I've also extended this so there is a further direct relationship of Dex = Halfling, Con = Dwarf, Cha = Elf.

    Also, prior to writing a Supplement with all the silly AD&D classes reinterpreted, I totally bought into dual-classing as the way to achieve them all. Also, the magic-user is the thief.
  • As always some great feedback.

    I like the number at six. I think that it is a bit broader than a single skill. Sneak covers most of what a thief does for example.

    After thinking about it, I'd remove luck. Saving Throws for things outside of what your character specializes in can do that. I think three (though not exactly the same as 3e) could handle it. Not sure what to name them. These scores are lower than what you'd have for your six stats.

    This is a (VERY) rough example:



    Fight (melee)
    Charm (leadership, persuade, intimidate...)
    Survive (first aid...)
    Brawn (feats of strength--bend bars, lift, things like that)
    Moves (Climbing, agility things)
    Lore (specific knowledge)


    Head (mental)
    Hand (physical)
    Heart (social)

    Something along these lines.

  • In my Grim Tales B/X homebrew we used the following attributes (with their associated skills added):

    Might - Craft, Fight, Force
    Tenacity - Resist, Traverse
    Finesse - Shoot, Sneak
    Lore - Advise, Heal, Know
    Wits - Assess, Search
    Presence - Manipulate, Misdirect

    Then it evolved into this:

    Might - Craft, Fight, Force
    Tenacity - Survive, Traverse
    Finesse - Shoot, Sneak, Steal
    Insight - Heal, Research, Vigilance
    Presence - Manipulate, Misdirect

    But I'm still making adjustments to the list.
  • Eero,

    I'd love to hear how and when you distinguish uses of WITS, WILL, and KNOWLEDGE. When are they typically rolled, in your game?

    Quite a few years back, when I was working on my own dungeon crawl game, I had the following:

    Tough: Strong, untiring, hardy.
    Used to: Beat people up, resist wounds or fatigue, intimidate others, carry or lift heavy things.
    Cunning: Clever, crafty, good with his or her hands.
    Used to: Tie a complicated knot, figure out how to open a secret door, disarm a trap, see if a trick worked on an opponent, play dead.
    Sneaky: Stealthy, careful, street smart.
    Used to: Do something without attracting attention, hide, steal something, hide something, sneak up on someone.
    Quick: Agile, fast, coordinated.
    Used to: Outrun someone, climb things, catch things in midair, get somewhere in time.
    Wary: Sharp, alert, perceptive, keen-sighted.
    Used to: Spot danger, throw, shoot, or launch something at a target, see through deception.
    Smooth: Charming, eloquent, persuasive, sexy.
    Used to: Convince someone to listen to you, attempt diplomacy, get a better deal on a sale or purchase, lie convincingly, seduce someone.
    Deadly: Well-trained, experienced with weapons.
    Used to: Wield a weapon in a fight, try to kill someone in an unusual way.
    Lucky: You're a survivor; fortune smiles on you.
    Used to: Survive a deadly poison, escape from a death trap, be in the right place at the right time, find the magical item, avoid a curse
    I think I would do it a bit differently now, but there it is.
  • I'd love to hear how and when you distinguish uses of WITS, WILL, and KNOWLEDGE. When are they typically rolled, in your game?
    They're quite distinct, and intended to be easily and intuitively understood as part of the initial design. I had several priorities in choosing this stat array, but one of the earliest ones was to create a breakdown of character that was simultaneously realistic, usable and compelling (that is, the numbers provide clear indications of what your character is like as a human being). A secondary priority was to make all abilities compelling and useful - not because players would min-max between them and I wanted tough choices (they're randomized initially), but rather because I wanted the choice of character class to be a real choice no matter your stat array, and that's not true if every fighter wants high Strength and the other stats can go hang.

    WITS is how quick-thinking and alert your character is. It's used for spot checks (lots of those in D&D), initiative, practical magic and certain types of skilled work. There are various ways to leverage WITS in combat as well (replacing STAMINA in attack rolls, etc.) High WITS indicates potential for the character to be a "clever" hero, and I feel that it works pretty well as a roleplaying indicator and a source of color.

    WILL is how certain and self-knowledgeable your character is. It's used the least of all the five stats (and I have considered dropping it from the array, but the players have generally resisted that), but it has its uses in carrying on in the face of adversity (e.g. you take an injury in a fight but refuse to go down), resisting temptations and commanding others; it is also the primary magic stat in that most types of magic tend to start with it when checks are needed. Again, I think it's pretty easy for people to get a sense for what it means for their character to have a low or high WILL, insofar as the fiction goes.

    KNOWLEDGE or "Experience" as one could translate it (in Finnish it's "Sivistys", 'Erudition') - is simply a gestalt of the character's schooling and experience. It's used in knowledge checks (figuring out what your character knows about thing X) and as a basis of various skill checks. Depending on character background a high score may indicate e.g. formal schooling or a varied career path.

    If I were to go to a four-stat array, it'd be by combining WILL and CHARISMA into a single stat. They're not quite as redundant as it seems, as while "charisma" as a word implies a passive strength of character, the stat actually means and is utilized more as a "social intelligence" statistic, more relevant to understanding others and perceiving their social cues than anything else. These are the two stats that generally cause the most overlap ambiguity about "which one should I roll in this situation", but it's generally clear enough to me as the GM that this isn't a real problem.

    Presumably a combined WILL+CHARISMA would be called something like "Nature", and the same stat would be used for perceiving social cues, empathizing with human motivations, holding your ground against adversity, convincing and commanding others, and wielding magic. Feels good in my particular mechanical context, but we'll see if I ever get to make the change; players do seem to love the distinction between strength of will and social facility.
  • Presumably a combined WILL+CHARISMA would be called something like "Nature", and the same stat would be used for perceiving social cues, empathizing with human motivations, holding your ground against adversity, convincing and commanding others, and wielding magic.
    Maybe, PERSONALITY. And I like that it would remain the main "magic guy" attribute (I am, for some inexplicable reason, almost inordinately fond of having "Charisma" as a main wizardly stat, and not in the benign, almost afterthought-ish way of an d20 bard). It also looks like an almost complete overlap with Will in Sorcerer, at this point, doesn't it?

    BTW, which attribute if any governs ranged attack rolls in your home D&D, Eero? Is it STAMINA or WITS?
  • Yeah, the similarity with Sorcerer has occurred to me - many of my motivations with that stat line are quite similar to what Ron was going for in Sorcerer. Meaty abilities that are important and have multiple ways to map them into fictional meaning; I remember well how I first got into fiddling with the D&D stats because I grew bored with the relatively cliched imagery associated with the physical stats in D&D. By lumping them together I got rid of the strength-dexterity-constitution emphasis and freed characters to express their physicality more freely.

    As you correctly infer, ranged attacks are not quite intuitive here. I have it under WITS by fiat, basically - I mean to say that unlike most issues, proficiency with missile weapons doesn't fall obviously and entirely under either statistic, but in the interest of not having to think about it I just tend to call it WITS. It sort of resonates with the narrative genre, people tend to assume that a bowman is sharp-eyed and keen-witted and so on.

    The way I handle these straddling issues (there are others, but the missile weapons thing is by far the most prominent) is basically with various compromises that amount to "use both" in various ways just shy of calculating an average and using that. For example, a character may have the option of learning a specific martial style that flips some weapon usage from STAMINA to WITS or vice versa. Or, a character whose secondary stat is higher than their primary may get a +1 bonus doing the thing. Or perhaps a character can get some other benefit from the other stat.

    For example, one conceit that we've been fiddling with is that perhaps a bow-user needs to switch to using STAMINA after the first few shots when they're in a situation that requires constant fire for more than a few repetitions. Things like that. Maybe I just need a new stat, but "Hand-Eye Coordination" is such a dull concept for a whole stat that I haven't gone that way.
  • edited April 2017
    My current OSR game has been successfully using Might, Agility, Acuity, and Charisma. (The last is really more like general social presence, but "charisma" is a far more flavorful name.) I'm not quite 100 percent fixed on this array, but I'm liking it a lot right now!

    ETA: These are interpreted both literally and metaphorically, so a lot of typical "will" stuff might fall under Might, while certain mental exercises count as Agility, and so forth.
  • In a D&D/OSR type of game (not looking to make it generic) what are you rolling for (types of actions)?

    Let's say you are playing a cleric, do these six cover most of what you need?


    Bless (divine spells)
    Turn (destroy undead)
    Charm (convert, alms)
    Crusade (holy warrior, combat)
    Lore (religion, diseases)
    Survival (first aid, shelter, food, water, nagivation)


    Confront (opponents)
    Avoid (obstacles)
    Solve (dilemmas)

    Any other action that uses your class you roll equal/under 11 + level bonus. So at 1st level roll 2-11 to succeed (1 is always failure). Difficulty could add to bottom threshold.

    Any other action that doesn't use yout class roll equal/under appropriate save (1 is always a failure).

    Starting characters roll 3d6+1 ten times, use lowest score for hit points. Next three lowest scores place in saves.

    Sample character I rolled up:

    Pontus--Cleric (level 1 -- 11 other class rolls)

    Bless: 15
    Turn: 14
    Charm: 12
    Crusade: 15
    Lore: 11
    Survival: 13

    Confront: 10
    Avoid: 9
    Solve: 10

    Hit Points: 8

    With each level you can increase 1 point in a single stat or save score.

    Also at these levels, your class score will increase.

    LVL = Class Score
    19 = 20
    17 = 19
    15 = 18
    13 = 17
    11 = 16
    9 = 15
    7 = 14
    5 = 13
    3 = 12
  • Here is a similar system I've used:
    - Body - Heart - Mind
    - Yin - Yang

    So, you get a matrix of six parameters:
    - Body/Yang: strength, sheer power
    - Body/Yin: dexterity, agility, speed
    - Heart/Yang: negotiation, impulse control, authority
    - Heart/Yin: charm, empathy, rapport
    - Mind/Yang: focus, concentration, vigilance, intelligence
    - Mind/Yin: intuition, wisdom

    Paul: I like "lucky". I've seen it often in Japanese RPGs. It is a good catch-all and also a good balance for less powerful characters.
  • @vgunn,

    That "roll for everything, and the lowest roll is your hit points" has a certain elegance I really like! Hmmmm...
  • Yes, not bad in terms of an elegant closed system. I would personally be bothered by how formalistic it is (that is, organic creative impulses and real factors from the fiction are more difficult to incorporate), but it is evident that a highly elegant, streamlined and unified system like this makes it easier to get a handle on a complex subject matter and stay on course in general.

    One observation I have about the "what are you rolling for" question is that in my experience all characters tend to be rolling about the same things. This can very easily be an artefact of the fact that Ability checks are in a very prominent position in the main flavour of D&D I've been playing over the recent years - when your system uses Ability checks, obviously all characters tend to be rolling the same checks, as they all have somewhat similar Ability scores and so on. Would be different if the game had a mechanical emphasis towards the differences between the classes, so that e.g. non-fighters couldn't make fighting checks and so on.

    Examples of common checks that people are making all the time at our table:
    - Various spot checks are called for when characters might or might not notice something.
    - Knowledge checks when a character observes something, so as to know how much to tell.
    - Social checks for gauging NPCs (sort of like a spot check for social situations) or for social competence.
    - Initiative, attack and defense maneuvers of various types.

    Those are all checks that everybody's doing all the time, no matter the character class. This is definitely not the only way to go about things, and I would actually be very interested in playing a D&D where, as a matter of design, most character classes couldn't make e.g. observation-related checks, or social checks - or combat checks for that matter. It would be one of those D&D flavours that emphasizes class roles, instead of de-emphasizing them as my homebrew tends to do (characters only gain class flavour in my system as they gain levels; 1st-levelers tend to be fundamentally similar when all's said and done, although my recent skill system has done things to alleviate that a little bit).
  • Eero, I'm not a big fan of social checks. Really I my players to role-play that rather than the dice always determine the result. I do understand that sometimes it is needed, but want it to be at a minimum.

    I do think it is possible for non-fighter characters in this design to not have a 'fighting' ability. If it came to situation where it was needed that character would roll a Confront save.
  • Paul, thanks. I think I'm getting really close with what I want with this design.
  • Eero, I'm not a big fan of social checks. Really I my players to role-play that rather than the dice always determine the result. I do understand that sometimes it is needed, but want it to be at a minimum.
    I personally like requiring both whenever the social situation becomes uncertain: getting a social check requires choosing an angle of approach (you can do this either by "roleplaying" the beginning of the conversation or with a third-person declaration), and the angle you choose determines the difficulty of the check. The results of the check justify various imponderables that we wouldn't normally talk about in advance, such as non-verbal cues, unknown personality issues and so on, plus the GM is saved the trouble of making very complex choices about social reactions; it would be about as easy to decide whether a character hits with sword in combat based on attack description as it would be to decide whether a NPC reacts favourably to an approach, I think.

    The advantage here is that it doesn't feel so much like trying to kiss up to the GM to get what you want, and we get more of the social strategy/skill aspect of the game up on the table for overt consideration: the players get to see how easy or difficult it is, exactly, to threaten or bribe or cajole the amazons, and the player who chooses the right approach gets to feel smart about it. If you're feeling inspired, give an in-character spiel and it's worth a circumstance bonus to the check, too.

    Plus, this allows quiet and socially clueless players to play smooth and charming adventurers by the virtue of their strong social stats, even if the player doesn't really understand the social nuances very well. Works for us.
  • Thanks for all the comments, its been very inspiring for me!
  • edited May 2017
    I would like to see if you can some up with any stats that you can think of for these classes:


  • Those are all checks that everybody's doing all the time, no matter the character class. This is definitely not the only way to go about things, and I would actually be very interested in playing a D&D where, as a matter of design, most character classes couldn't make e.g. observation-related checks, or social checks - or combat checks for that matter.
    I've long thought that one of the most interesting questions about D&D design has been trying to figure out when and how we roll for certain things.

    We can start with a vision of D&D where we "roleplay" every interaction - whether with a trap, a monster, or a person - and only go to the dice when we come to a point of uncertainty. Or, we can start with a vision where the rules formalize when to roll dice and when not to (as with attack rolls or saves).

    Further, we can look at D&D as a game where your fictional decisions put you in a position of being able to do things, but we can fall back on the dice as your character's last resrot:

    In this case, we get a careful style of play where if you're rolling the dice, you know you've made an error.

    The purpose of the roleplaying, then, is to position your character so as to avoid rolling the dice (like when you try to disarm a trap - you're hoping you come up with a clever solution so that you don't have to make a saving throw).

    However, another approach is to say that the purpose of the roleplay is to position yourself so as to be able to make a roll. (In this case, your exploration of the trap is an attempt to justify making a "Disarm Traps" roll, which is something you're good at - otherwise, you're at its mercy.)

    In practice, most versions of D&D I've seen mix these things in various ways, but a more "pure" version would be really interesting to try, I think.

  • It seems to me that pretty much all classes have SURVIVAL, it's sort of in-built in being human. Maybe Monks have something better instead.

    Sage-type classes probably all have the following three:

    UNDERSTANDING - interpret a thing's nature from observations, find its weaknesses, learn new things etc.
    LORE - know useful stuff
    OBSERVATION - notice things, perceive hidden things, etc.

    (No CHARM, note - the sage-type doesn't do charm, they UNDERSTAND you and then offer you wise advice.)

    Because Alchemist, Bard and Wizard are all "sage-types", they will therefore probably share those four stats of SURVIVAL, UNDERSTANDING, LORE, OBSERVATION. Perhaps drop one for semi-sages.

    Alchemists obviously have PRECISION (focus and execute recipes) and INVENTIVENESS (create and adapt recipes), as those alongside LORE are the cornerstones of their craft, I would assume. I would also drop OBSERVATION for either WARPING (dark alchemy - mutations caused by long practice, think Jekyll/Hyde) or ENLIGHTENMENT (light alchemy - same as Monks get, except provided by e.g. Taoist and Euro-style historical spiritual alchemy practices), as alchemists don't need to be alert, and they can do about half of the observation stuff with PRECISION anyway (e.g. search for stuff).

    Bards would have MUSIC and WANDERLORE (street smarts, geographic knowledge, languages, etc.) on top of the sage package, presumably. Perhaps drop UNDERSTANDING for FIGHT depending on how you see the concept.

    Wizards would have the sage package, plus RITES (ritual magic, memorizing spells, etc.) and SHAPING (shaping wild magic, improvised magic, cantrips, counterspelling, controlling on-going magic, etc.).

    Sorcerers/witches aren't really sages, but in comparison, they would have RITES and SHAPING like Wizards. They would also have e.g. BLOOD (replaces SURVIVAL, plus replaces LORE as a source of magical insight) or PACT (social stature with spirit forces that the magic comes from) and so on.

    Druids would be like Clerics, except swap CRUSADE and TURN with WILDSHAPE (nature skills + shapeshifting) and ELEMENTALISM (elemental magic plus dimensional wackery etc. setting-depending). Rangers are like Fighters, except they also get WANDERLORE instead of WARCRAFT and some sort of super-SURVIVAL that covers nature skills as well.

    Speaking of, Fighters presumably have the following:


    plus something else.
  • Wanderlore, I really like that word!

    Bushcraft is a must for Ranger.
  • For the Fighter, I think you could wrap leadership into Warcraft and keep Charm.
  • You could, but you could also decide that perhaps their wartorn nature has made them a little, you know, limited about this whole human interaction thing. They'd presumably interact with Warcraft and Leadership when it comes to other tough guys, but what does the killer know of human niceness? CHARM isn't used for threatening others anyway, for that you'd use LEADERSHIP presumably. (Maybe stupid brutes call that ability MENACING instead, in fact...)

    That is to say, in your stead I would consider the holes I leave in the ability array as much as the exceptional abilities I'd put in there. Aside from giving the classes interesting weaknesses, it also allows other classes to shine, making them more attractive and encouraging teamwork. Having "Charm" as one of your abilities feels a lot like a standard slot (it is a traditional D&D ability, after all), but when some classes don't get it, you start to appreciate it much more. Those Thieves and Clerics and Bards are more interesting if CHARM is something exceptional to them.

    That's why I singled out SURVIVAL earlier, that's one stat you'll probably want to give everybody (unless they have something to cover it, of course) due to how important the rolls made on it tend to be. I could see treating it as something special, too, in which case only Barbarians and Fighters and such would have it.

    And yeah, BUSHCRAFT is the word I couldn't think of when typing the above. Covers much of SURVIVAL, plus more.

    Regarding the non-human classes, they probably have ALIENESS as one of their stats, representing their elf/dwarf/halfling nature (social checks with their own kind, using their cultural tools, using their racial special powers, etc.). Aside from that they're probably pretty similar to their parent classes, so dwarves are like Fighters (maybe the "dwarviness" stat replaces LEADERSHIP or whatever social stat Fighters end up with), halflings like thieves or fighter/thieves of some sort, and elves are fighter/magicians.

    The Elf array specifically might look like this:

    ALIENESS (or ELFINESS, if you prefer)

    The Elf doesn't need the RITES stat I suggested earlier for magic-users because their ALIENESS stat covers that - the elfier you are, the more spells you know and learn and so on.
  • This is exciting! I particularly like this bit
    CHARM isn't used for threatening others anyway, for that you'd use LEADERSHIP presumably. (Maybe stupid brutes call that ability MENACING instead, in fact...)
    Like a character with MENACING might be drill-sergeant good at growling recruits, but that's their only tool for directing others. Whereas a character with LEADERSHIP instead might be noble and inspiring in all their interactions, but how are they going to intimidate some thug in a back alley?

    I think the more specific and flavourful the better for these skillstats. CRUSADE is strong for Clerics, but TURN is so rooted in D&Disms that it's almost flavourless. I also like the idea of stats that can cover multiple bases (physical, mental, social, and arcane).

    Like my Cleric would have PURGATION (driving out evil) and HEALING (bringing back wholeness). A Cleric could use PURGATION to turn undead and exorcise demons, but also to drive out sickness and infection, or rid a repentant sinner of their guilt. They could use HEALING to repair broken bones and knit together torn muscle, but also to heal a rift between two warring families, or best friends suffering a misunderstanding. CRUSADE could be used to war against the unholy, but also to stir the faithful to battle.


    Rather than thinking about the mechanical role of a class, how about the social role of the archetype? I think by doing that you can capture both the adventure function and the human-interactive function with both greater specificity than trad D&D stats, and broader reach than your more specific skillstats.
  • Eero, can comment on what you mean by the Fighter skill WARCRAFT?
  • Just the fighter equivalent of intelligence and erudition - knowledge about logistics, tactics, strategy. How to conduct sieges, how to set up the baggage train, how much feed you need for a hundred mules, what the Varangian guard are like, and so on. Knowledge and organising intelligence, but applied particularly through the mind of a soldier.
  • edited May 2017
    @Andye Yes, I like the more flavorful stat names!


    For Fighter I would replace WARCRAFT with BATTLE. Instead of CHARM, maybe COMMAND would be better.

  • One thing I really like about this is that it gives you the option to come up with many custom classes.
  • edited May 2017
    So this is still rough and changes to be made, but I really like where it is going.

    I changed wanderlore to WORLDLY, since I have the world lore already.

    Understanding and observation is merged into ADVISE.

    Precision and inventiveness can go into POTION and RITUAL.

    Alienness/Elfness is FEY.

    Shaping and blood becomes HEATHEN.





















    ADVISE—interpret opinions through acute observation and understanding
    BATTLE—military knowledge and strategy
    BLESS—divine favors and powers
    BRAWN—feats of might and strength
    BUSHCRAFT—hunting, foraging, trapping, tracking
    CANT—language and recognition of underworld activities
    CAST—ability to use spells
    CHARM—allure, inspiration, and persuasion
    CHIVALRY—code of values and military training
    CLOISTER—religious study and knowledge
    COMMAND—charm, inspire, intimidate, and lead
    CRUSADE—fighting for a cause
    DELVE—underground abilities, such as mining and stonework
    DISGUISE—ability to deceive for a select purpose
    FERAL—savage empathy, command, intimidate, and persuade
    FEY—alien, wild charm
    FIGHT—melee combat ability
    GLAMOUR—faerie illusional magic
    HEATHEN—pagan knowledge, wild favors and powers
    LORE—knowledge of particular fields and subjects
    MURDER—melee and missile combat
    PILLAGE—robbing and taking by force
    POISON—study and use of harmful substances
    POTION—study and use of components for various effects
    PSIONIC—psychic and paranormal powers
    PURLOIN—casing and burglary
    RAGE—brutal fighting methods
    RITUAL—components, symbols, and study of ritualistic magic
    RUNES—study and use of rune magic
    SNEAK—subterfuge abilities such as moving silently
    SURVIVAL—first aid, shelter, food, water, navigation
    TROUPE—thespian and musical expertise
    TURN—ability to destroy unholy and undead
    WORLDLY—street smarts, geographic knowledge, languages, customs
    WRIGHT—particular expertise in building items and weapons
    ZEAL—a religious form of charm and command
  • edited May 2017
    Okay, I think I'm going back to what I originally began with.

    Six Abilities:

    ADVENTURE—constitution (this also covers: first aid, shelter, food, water, navigation)
    DELVE—wisdom (this also covers: perception, notice, observation)
    CHARM—charisma (this also covers: allure, diplomancy, intimidation, persuasion, seduction)
    MOVES—dexterity (this also covers: sneak, feats of strength, athletics, acrobatics)
    LORE—intelligence (this also covers: worldly, languages, ballads, rituals, spells)
    VIOLENCE—strength (this also covers: melee, unarmed, missile, ambush combat)

    Your class really defines what you do and how you can do it. Skills and backgrounds, also it can include specfic, special talents for each class. A cleric turning undead, a paladin laying on hands, the rage of a barbarian and so on.

    A thief will use different moves than a fighter. A barbarian has a different way of using charm versus a cleric. Lore works differently for a magic-user, giving them the ability to cast spells, while for a cavalier this could include some chivalry knowledge.

    So non-specific actions using your class are: roll equal/under 11 + level bonus. So at 1st level roll 2-11 to succeed (1 is always failure). Difficulty could add to the bottom threshold.

    When your character reaches the following level, your class score will increase.

    3 12
    5 13
    7 14
    9 15
    11 16
    13 17
    15 18
    17 19
    19 20

    Now lets say you are a first level thief (11 score) with a MOVES score of 15 and you're trying to move silently. Instead of using your class score, you can use MOVES (roll 2-15 to succeed).

    Anything not covered by class or ability, you'll need to roll a save.

    I'm not sure about saves, not sure if I should go with three: AVOID, CONFRONT, SOLVE or perhaps just one: DANGER.

  • The obvious question: if you're a Thief with MOVES 15 and I'm a Fighter with MOVES 15, then which one of us is better at moving silently? How about tumbling? How about breaking down doors?

    I suppose the ol' standby would work - when a character's class competence overlaps with something anybody can try, the classed guy gets to try twice. So e.g. a Thief gets to try both a class check and a MOVES check for sneaking, while the Fighter only gets the MOVES check. Vice versa for breaking down doors, if you'd consider that to be part of the Fighter's class curriculum. Simple and robust, been ever since Thief skills came into the picture [grin].

    Not much else to add, you've currently got something that seems basically orthodox - what you describe is pretty much how D&D usually goes.
  • There are a some of things to offset it. One, AC adds to the difficulty for sneaking and climbing. So that fighter will find it more difficult if wearing heavy armor.

    Lets say a fighter with Moves of 15 and wearing chainmail (AC 5) is attempting it. Normal resolution is 2-15 (1 is always a failure). Add the armor however, then it goes to 7-15.

    Since it is a signature move for the thief (AC 2, leather), they add +2. So the roll is 4-17.

    Depending on the situation, the fighter may have to go with a DANGER (or AVOID) save instead of using MOVES. That save score will be lower than the ability.

    For breaking down the door, the same thing can apply. A signature move (+2) for the Fighter. The roll would be 2-17. For the Thief the +2 goes at the bottom, making the roll 4-15.

    Now let's say there are enemies behind the thief and the door must be broken down quickly to escape. That would call for a DANGER save and would become even more difficult.

    Again, being a signature move for the Fighter, no danger save is required (though you could add difficulty at the bottom since it is time related).
  • I've decided to just call the saving throw SAVE :smile:

    Can't use your ability or class, roll SAVE.
  • VGunn, your 6 abilities look much better already. I like "adventure" as a category.
    Prefer "force" over "violence" which sounds somewhat negative.
    I like the thief vs fighter observation. Some kind of "cunningt/street-wise/sneaky" category ciuld be useful in general.
  • @BeePeeGee Thanks! Violence for some is a last resort, while for fighters it is key to their class. I thought about HARM which I've used before in my games.
  • I’ve gone back and forth on this design, here is what is starting to look like now.


    Decide on what type of character you would like to play, then choose 6 Adds that best represent the key aspects of your character. Adds are similar to skills, attributes, or traits. Whenever you can use an Add in a response, you’ll have an advantage and will roll 2d20–keeping the highest result. You can only use one Add per response.

    Adds, and their use, are explained hereafter:

    [sample list—incomplete]

    ADVISE—interpret opinions through acute observation and understanding
    ALCHEMY—study and use of various components and harmful substances
    BATTLE—military knowledge and strategy
    CHARM—allure, inspiration, and persuasion
    CHIVALRY—code of values and military training
    CLOISTER—religious study and knowledge
    COMMAND—charm, inspire, intimidate, and lead
    DELVE—underground abilities, such as mining and stonework
    GLAMOUR*(pick specific power)—faerie illusional magic
    LORE—knowledge of particular fields and subjects
    MAGIC*(pick specific spell)—ability to use spells
    MIRACLES*(pick specific gift)—divine favors and powers
    PSIONIC*(pick specific power)—psychic and paranormal powers
    SCOUT—hunting, foraging, trapping, tracking
    SNEAK—subterfuge abilities such as moving silently
    TROUPE*(pick specific method)—thespian and musical expertise
    TURN—ability to destroy unholy and undead
    WEAPON*(pick specific type)—combat prowess and skill
    WORLDLY—street smarts, geographic knowledge, languages, customs

    Every character in the game has in common three Moves: Active, Reactive, and Creative. These scores range from 1 to 14, and are added to any d20 rolls you make. You’ll begin play with 7 points and you may divide them amongst the three, with a maximum of 4 in any score. Active Moves are used for direct actions such as attacking an enemy. Reactive Moves are used for response actions such as avoiding a trap. Creative Moves are actions used to alter a situation, such as casting magic.

    Grit measures your determination, morale, and staying power—especially in battle. When your character takes damage in combat, or certain situations, you lose Grit. Each character starts out with 8 Grit points. However, you can buy anoher Add or increase weapon damage by reducing your Grit by 1 point. Magic spells and divine miracle each cost 1 Grit point per power level.


    Ulli, the DWARF

    Moves—Active: 3 Reactive: 3 Creative: 1
    Adds—Camp; Delve; [First Aid]; Exert; Ruck; Survival, Axe

    Grit: 6 [1 point spent on extra weapon damage, 1 point spent on Add for First Aid]

    Resistance: 9 [1 level + 5 + 3 Armor]
    Armor: Medium [+3 added to Resistance]
    Weapon: Axe [1d6+1]


    Whenever you are in a situation and success is not automatic, you'll use one of your Moves and roll a d20. If the result is higher than your opponent or the Difficulty number, you have succeeded. If you can use one of your Adds, then roll 2d20 and keep the highest result.

    There are mitigating factors, such as combat, where if both combatants have an advantage—then they cancel out and they will roll one d20. The Referee will roll very little in the game, usually for Monsters in combat and for damage.

    Difficulty numbers run from 5 for Easy tasks, topping out at 19 for Extreme tasks. Most often, penalties will be added to the Difficulty number. However, the Referee might decide that a task is particularly risky, or your character is at a disadvantage, and you’ll need to roll 2d20, keeping the lowest result. On the other hand, some situations could allow for a 3d20 advantage/disadvantage roll—or even be considered so simple that success is automatic.

    No matter what the task and what modifiers may be applied, a roll of a natural 20 (ie, the d20 comes up with a ‘20’) is always a success. Conversely, a roll of a natural 1 is always a failure.
  • When playing in English I use the traditional names b/c nostalgia.
    But when I translated them I changed intelligence to knowledge, wisdom to awareness, and charisma to sense of self. That's more in line with how I use them.
  • That's an interesting design, VGunn, I could see some use cases for something like that. Good job.
  • I love MADCORPs practical renaming of stats, there was never any doubt which you'd use with a certain special ability or ability check. A Sawbones surgery check was THINK but a Hardcase would ENDURE self-surgery. The Helter-skelter would ENDURE drinking gasoline then HIT with the fire magic.

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