Stat of the nation

Has there ever been a better set of stats than those presented in D&D? I don’t think so. I think D&D got it bang on from the outset and every game released since then has had to be different, and has had to compromise on quality as a result.

The 6 characteristics are like a catechism for me,  strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, charisma. The symmetry is beautiful and elegant. You have  3 physical, and 3 mental. There are 3 pairs that correspond to (roughly) mind, body and soul. They are hard coded into defences (or saves). They even show you the underlying priorities in the game, athough you might have to squint to see that!

They literally define your character, they are the skeleton that every other rules hangs  off of. One of the very few things that irritates me about 4e is seeing them relegated to the bottom of the  character sheet, I prefer to see them front and centre, proud of what they are.

There have been pretenders to the ability throne. Perception is perhaps the most popular. Doesn’t sit well with me. I can understand it as a skill (don’t get me started, I’d dispense with the lot of them), but as a pure stat? What would it do? Con gives you hits, Str gives you power, Dex keeps you safe, Cha? Well that’s a post of it’s own. But Per? I say it’s the DMs job to be your eyes and ears, not the number on your character sheet.

Credit where it’s due, Castles & Crusades gave stats the treatment, and reverence, they deserve with their SIEGE engine. White Wolf have a decent set up with their 3×3 grid. Apart from those? You tell me. Who’s got stats right?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Stat of the nation

  1. I’m not really understanding what you are trying to say about Perception, it isn’t really a Ability, it’s similar to a defence, it’s affected by skills. A DM may not be your eyes and your ears, they may want to surprise you with an ambush that you might escape with a right Perception check.

    I’m not really sure what you would define as Stats, everything at the top of the character sheet? If so, then what about Insight?

    • Abilities then, or characteristics, or traits. RPGs have loads of different terms for them, but I think we all know what I mean don’t we? I even listed them.
      Perception checks are fine are far as they go. I have no problem with the ambush scenario you use. Where I do have an issue is with promoting perception to be an ability like Str or Dex. There’s not enough justification in my eyes.
      And no, insight is not a stat. That would be Wisdom.

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