Thursday, April 4, 2013

[Design Journal: Heroes of Legend RPG] Attributes and Skills

This is another Design Journal entry for Heroes of Legend, a fantasy roleplaying game I’m currently developing. In the last couple of articles I talked about combat. I’m switching gears here and discussing some more general types of actions.

In every RPG you need some sort of system to determine whether a character succeeds or fails at a task. Can you fast talk your way past the guard? Can you climb the wall? Can you spot the monster hiding in the bushes? In most games you roll one or more dice and check the results to answer those questions. Your character’s innate abilities or learned skills might have an impact on the outcome. In HoL there will be a system like this as well.

Each character will have nine primary attributes. These attributes could be sorted into three categories, being physical, mental and social. Each category will contain three attributes that fit the concepts of strength, finesse, and resistance for that category. This places your attributes in a sort of three-by-three grid. The attributes are:




I’m taking the basics of this idea from the World of Darkness RPG. I like the symmetry of it – how it gives equal attention to physical, mental and social abilities. It is also a good bit more nuanced than the attribute systems in many other games.

In HoL each of these attributes will have a rating in the form of a die size, ranging from d4 to d12. Whenever a character attempts an action with some uncertainty as to its success, the GM tells the player which attribute the character would be using for that action and then the player rolls one or more dice of the appropriate size for that attribute. The number of dice rolled is based on the complexity of the action and how long it would take to perform. Then, the numbers rolled on all of the dice are added together and the total is compared to a target number set by the GM and based on the difficulty of the action being attempted. If the total meets the target number then the action was successful.

In addition to these nine basic attributes, characters will also have skills. Skills in HoL will represent certain training or knacks that your character has. Each skill will grant a bonus to attribute rolls to attempt certain types of actions. Or, a skill may allow a character to attempt a new type of action or activity with a particular attribute.

Next time, I’ll talk a little bit more about attribute checks, different types of actions, and an important design principle related to these. In the meantime, I’d love to read any feedback you may have regarding this project. Thanks!

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