Thursday, August 12, 2010

Characteristics, a Replacement for Ability Scores

I had this idea a couple of days ago while reading this post on B/X Blackrazor. Rather than rolling up ability scores (strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, charisma) you would roll up certain traits or characteristics for your characters. I'm working on a list of 100 traits, I have about 60 so far and am slowly cranking them out.

Essentially, instead of having a high strength giving a character +1 to melee attack and damage, I might have a character that has a "Bulky Build" or a character that "Sleeps with his Eyes Open." Characters also include races, such as "Dwarf", "Goblin," and "half dragon centipede" or professions, such as "farmer", "blacksmith," or "astronaut."

A character with a Bulky Build, for example, gains a +1 bonus to damage, but must have armor resized for him (costing twice as much). A Dwarf, on the other hand, has a 2 in 6 chance to notice inconstancies in stone.

At the beginning of the game, a player would roll up a trait for his character. While traits aren't exactly balanced, there wont be any character with three 18s and anthers with all scores below 6.

When I finish up the chart, I'll post it here and say a it more. To speed things along, it would be pretty cool if you guys could post a couple characteristic ideas as comments.

By the way, I'm still looking for a few more players for my PBP Carcosa game. Just tell me if you're interested and I can reserve a spot from you. I'm planning on beginning character creation as soon as Finarvyn get's back from his surgery.


  1. I think this is kind of neat (kind of like aspects in FATE). When it comes down to it, do you really need ability scores in D&D? They've been there since the get-go, but you can still have all the class and race goodness without them. And without Ability Scores, the player is free to imagine their character as they'd like.

  2. Neat idea, but I can see it being a pain to actually conjure up enough characteristics to make the system workable.

  3. HeroQuest uses a similar idea--there aren't really any standard abilities.

  4. This is an intriguing idea, especially if the traits a player rolls for the character are randomized---then you could even add classes into the mix.

    Or, of course, the player could choose six (or however many) traits, roll 3d6 for them, maybe be allowed to shift them, and away you go!