Jeff Rients recently tossed out an intrguing idea like a grenade. It was a simple thought experiment about re-wording the terms used for the basic six stats/attributes in OD&D-descended games. Sure, this isn't exactly new, and you're probably saying to yourself that you've seen this all before whilst stifling a big yawn. But the timing was just right for the Rients-bomb to shed a little light on something that we've been wrestling with for a while now. Essentially it's mostly a matter of combing through a couple of good books like the handy thesaurus, dictionary and so forth and compile a mass of terms that seem to fit the various slots within the six-fold stat system and then picking ones that best work for the setting(s) in question. This also ties directly into our work with the chakra system and how to merge stats and chakras into something workable, playable and relatively simple. It also plays nicely off of our reworking of the classes in certain contexts like the Cleric as Dogmatist adaptation we suggested in the recent Charles Fort post. Renaming Classes is easy, and we've experimented with that quite a bit, but re-naming the Stats/Attributes was one of those things we've tended to keep pretty-much as it was when Gygax dropped it into place. It was one of those unchallenged assumptions that we're definitely dissecting merrily now, thanks to Mr. Rients and his simple thought experiment.
Previously, we've been considering using additional stats to handle functions/phenomena/abilities that we wanted to make intrinsic to the characters, but were not represented adequately with the existing stats. But before adding any stats or further complicating matters unnecessarily, it might be a good thing to re-examine the assumptions regarding Stats and the names they have. Perhaps a simple name change might just clear away a lot of cobwebs and debris. Just as long as we can steer clear of Fantasy Heartbreaker territory...
Names carry power, and by realigning the names of the stats with something more setting-appropriate you get both instant flavor and super-easy backwards compatibility. As long as the terms chosen make sense, and can be said in public with a straight face.
Maybe we can find a way to finally resolve the whole Dexterity/Agility conundrum, or find a way to handle both Willpower versus Perceptiveness or Education versus Comprehesion or Critical Thinking. More inclusive terms might be a better gambit than a increasingly divisive and restrictive approach that betokens an ever-increasing proliferation of sub-sub-sub-attributes and crap like that.
We'll be kicking this idea around for a while I imagine...
Thanks a lot Mr. R!
A few quick inks to other explorations into the Re-Naming of Stats
- Wikipedia has a few suggested synonyms/alternative terms for the various stock attributes, so that's a nice place to start things off.
- What's in a Name? Ability Scores and Their Names by J. D. Jarvis/Aeons & Auguries
- This ancient Renaming Attributes thread at RPG.net also has some good ideas in it.