Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Old School setting with New School stats

Sometime before, more than once, I've found myself looking at the ability scores in my D&D character sheet and thought, "something here doesn't quite click". Take Charisma for example. Why does my Sorcerer's charisma allows him to cast spells? Why does my Paladin's charisma influences the effectiveness of his powers, does his looks or personality have a say on how pious he is? I mean, the Bard, ok that fits, but the others? And sometimes Wisdom and Intelligence kind of get me similar itches. I know it's just an abstraction, and obviously I just let it thru. And don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed hours and hours of gaming with those Ability Scores but, what if? Just, what if?
So here I am taking a shot, and trying something different, following the lead of other RPG designers. I'm gonna try to run my Ravenloft setting with completely new stats for the characters, borrowing concepts from Apocalypse World and other Powered by the Apocalypse games (particularly Monsterhearts and Tremulus). So let's be clear: I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here, I'm just experimenting.
When I was deciding about the stats, I tried to keep in mind three things, the original Apocalypse World stats and basic moves, the D&D character classes as presented in Dungeon World, and the Ravenloft setting itself and the kind of stories that can be told there. And this is what I came up with:
  • Might: meaning aggressive, violent, physically strong, resilient.
  • Steel: meaning cool headed, resolute, brave, strong-willed, unfazed.
  • Finesse: meaning artfully subtle, graceful, quick, nimble.
  • Reason: meaning rational, clever, alert, perceptive, learned.
  • Passion: meaning impulsive, intuitive, sensitive, alluring, inspiring, full of fervor.
  • Taint: meaning stained with corruption, dark-hearted, connected to the Dark Powers.
  • Virtue: meaning holy, righteous, good-hearted, ethical, highly moral.
Well, it's somehow easy to see thru them, and pinpoint their ancestors.  
Might is like Hard from AW and it's also a mix between Strength and Constitution. It will be the main stat for the Warrior.  
Steel is like Cool and is kind of like the Will save from 3E which was modified by Wisdom... (see what I mean?), I'm thinking in this stat for the Fear and Horror moves, the trademark of the Demiplane of Dread.  
Finesse doesn't have an equivalent in AW, but it does in DW: Dexterity. This is the main stat for the Knave and perhaps the Hunter, shooting a bow has nothing to do with Might, right?  
Reason is like Sharp, and it's a mix between Intelligence and Wisdom. It will be of course the main stat for the Conjurer.  
Passion is kind of like Hot, but I'm really borrowing it from the Tremulus role-playing game. It will be a substitute for Charisma, and it will help the Minstrel to perform and the Believer to turn undead, and its passion what moves the Wildling to protect Nature.
And finally Taint and Virtue are like the substitute for Weird, but split in two. Taint will be what you get from failed Dark Power "checks", and I imagine that instead of opening your brain to the maelstrom, you can talk to the Dark Powers to get answers... always for a price. Virtue will help you resist the influence of evil, and I think it can be an important stat for the Saint, the Believer, and perhaps the Wildling. Overall Taint and Virtue will be like the moral system of the game, somehow replacing Alignment. Perhaps.