ORACLE

7/31/2011

D&D Sacred Cows: Ability Scores

I have been thinking about all the different components in D&D system, and I can't help but wonder what most people would considered "sacred cows" of the game? You know, the various elements of the system that would be considered game breakers if removed or changed.

Abilities (I prefer calling them attributes) are a good example of what I mean. Seeing the six of them listed together (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) is a clear indicator that the game is D&D. But does this mean they are hardwired into the system and if taken away, or altered, would this somehow change the game in a negative way? Would doing this make it something other than D&D?

Playing around with Microlite20 (M20) has me questioning their importance. M20 uses Strength, Dexterity and Mind, which seems obviously influenced by The Fantasy Trip. Personally, I really like this approach, and applaud the design choice to take a bold step toward simplicity. Some people add Charisma back into the scheme, but this is a point of debate in the M20 community. I can see using Charisma only if henchmen are a key element of the campaign, but if not, then there is no real need for it. But I digress...

So, I have given all of this a lot of thought, and here are the abilities I would use if I did decide to change them:
  • Body (BODY): Represents physical strength, toughness and overall health.
  • Mind (MIND): Represents reason, analytic thought and the ability to learn.
  • Prowess (PROW): Represents agility, hand-eye coordination and reaction speed.
  • Spirit (SPIR): Represents personality, ability to lead, intuition and strength of will.
Pointing out the obvious here, but I rolled Strength and Constitution into Body, changed Intelligence to Mind, as well as Dexterity to Prowess, and I rolled Wisdom and Charisma into Spirit.

So, what do you think? Do you like the abilities I have chosen? Would using these abilities change the game so much it would no longer "feel" like D&D? If you would change, or have changed, the standard array, which abilities would you choose to use?
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