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Attributes: How many?

jasimonjasimon Flagstaff, AZMember Posts: 87

One common element in (most?) all RPGs is the attribute system.  They may differ in what they include, but they all have them.  


The traditional DnD model has:


Strength - physical strength

Dexterity - agility and speed

Constitution - ability to resist damage and disease

Intelligence - mental acuity

Wisdom - intuition and sense of things around himself

Charisma - force of personality and physical attractiveness


You typically see some variant on this in most RPGs.  Most MMOs don't use Charisma, but the others are usually there.  Wisdom is sometimes replaced with "Spirit" or some similar term.  


Some condense these six even more, some split them.  You'll sometimes see Speed split off from Dexterity.  Sometimes you'll see Constitution split into things like Endurance, Toughness, etc.  Many MMOs also have secondary attributes that are either derived from the core attributes or separate, things like crit chance, crit power, etc.  Sometimes Health, Stamina, Mana are derived from core stats, sometimes they're calculated on their own.


What do you think is the best course to take for an attribute system?  Is more better?  It certainly gives you a better ability to control the small details without affecting too much, but at what point does it become too cumbersome and complicated?  What do you think are the essential elements?


Health is usually one of the most important and universal of all attributes.  Then you have some sort of energy mechanic to limit the use of powers/abilitites, which can either be done through Stamina, Mana, cooldowns, or some combination of the three.


You typically need an attribute to determine the strength of attacks, whether physical or magical (usually covered by Strength and Intelligence, respectively).  The accuracy of these attacks can either be covered by a skill or an attribute, or a combination of the two.  Some systems combine the damage and accuracy attributes, but I don't particilarly like that approach.


Defense/resistance is usually covered either by equipment (armor) or an attribute such as Endurance/Toughness/Constitution.


Your thoughts?

Top MMOs: Asheron's Call, Shadowbane, EVE Online, Planetside
Played: Pretty much everything at one point or another


  • anemoanemo Member Posts: 1,030 Uncommon

    As many as you need to limit players abilities the way you want.


    If stat growth was completely linear under all conditons and offered minimal power I would probably only go with 3. IE Skill unlocks, allowed to use gear.   Mechanics like abilities getting buffed, carrying more items not existing.

    If leveling was exponential-ish(more exp required each level) based on stat total I might go with 6 or 7.   Then have mechanics like stats mattering a lot in ability use.

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

    "At one point technology meant making tech that could get to the moon, now it means making tech that could get you a taxi."

  • KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INMember Posts: 5,035 Uncommon

    One way to break these down is as primary and derived attributes.  Primaries are directly assigned and modified by gear/buffs/debuffs.  Derived are calculated based on formula from primaries.


    Organizing them this way helps keep the calculation and update processes more clear.  It might also provide room for more primary attributes, giving more flexibility in character creation and progression.


    I've been thinking a third layer might be useful as well.  Turning this into primary / modifiers / derived.  Placing bonuses into their own category would prevent having to recalculate base attributes each time a buff hits or gear is changed.


    Overall, any attribute that is useful in shaping character performance is a good thing.  I'd like to see Charisma / Personality used more often, sort of how Oblivion did with interacting with NPCs.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.
  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAMember Posts: 6,690 Rare
    I'd say it's all about your plan and purpose for attributes.   It's vague but in my mind it's all about what  you are trying to accomplish with your game.

    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

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  • AdamantineAdamantine NowhereMember Posts: 3,880 Uncommon

    I usually prefer to call "attributes" stats, short for "statistics", because "attribute" is a much more vague term that could apply to any property of a class. However, I will stay consistent with the rest of the thread, and thus will use the word attribute here.


    The primary concern about attributes is that they are in so many games not what they should be.

    Attributes, just like all other variables in character creation, such as class, race, gender, name etc, should be actual choices for the player about what kind of character they want to play.

    In many games however attributes are just a knowledge test: how well do you know the correct skilling of your class. So you dont really get an actual choice. You only get offered the risk to create a weak character.

    Personally I think before you have such a system, you rather should skip attributes alltogether. Makes it easier for developers to balance the game and less frustrating for the player to play it.

    Thats why I really loved the idea of Guild Wars of having class dependent attributes, though maybe not so much the actual implementation, which was something completely different. But if we take this idea and actually use it on what attributes are supposed to be, one could for example have a tank class and give the player choices about physical defense, magical defense, hitpoints and aggro generation. So one tank could have a lot of hitpoints, but not as good defenses and aggro as other tanks. They would need a lot of healing and with multiple healers, they would be superior; with only one healer, though, they would constantly lose aggro to the healer in tough fights. So thats a real choice for the player to make.

    But even if you dont have class dependent attributes, the general attributes you offer should still offer a real choice for the player, even if some skillings are maybe obviously stupid. Thats kind of hard to avoid with a general set of attributes. A mage with high strength just doesnt make any sense.

    An idea about that would be to make indirect general attributes; attributes that mean a little bit different things depending upon the class choice. For example there could be an attribute Power, and a player who plays a mage with high Power does more damage and casts spells faster, while a fighte with highr Power does more damage on their special attacks. Then there could be another attribute Endurance, and a mage with high Endurance would have a larger mana pool and would be harder to disrupt during spellcasting, while a fighter with high endurance could manage heavier armor and get higher base damage.


    So now about the core question: how many ? Thats rather simple to answer, really: However fine you want the player to be able to modify them. The more you want the game to be an indepth roleplaying experience, the more likely you will have more stats. However, D&D is really a very indepth rulesystem, and even D&D only has six attributes, and for many classes they are more a knowledge test than anything else.

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