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(Redirected from Ability Scores)
Not to be confused with Statistics.

Stats are one of the key mechanics near-universal to roleplaying games and war-games. Defining various statistics or proficiencies of a character, monster, vehicle, weapon, etc., stats provide a testable medium to compare against - basically, ability scores are what makes something /tg/ worthy as opposed to just a game of "let's pretend".

Stats differ from skills as "nature" differs from "nurture." Both describe what something can do, but stats are what something is and skills are what something has learned or acquired. Still, a system that uses both skills and stats may cause someone with high stats and little to no ranks in a skill to outperform someone with poor stats and high ranks in the skill. The importance of a stat may cause a God Stat or a Dump Stat if the stat is under-represented in the RAW of the game. A class that requires multiple high stats to function is said to have multiple ability dependency, or MAD.

Some stats are divided into 'primary' and 'secondary' (or even 'tertiary'). Secondary stats are measurements of distinct aspects but they are derived from 'primary' stats instead of having their own measurements. (i.e.: psionic power maximum points as the sum of a character's smarts, judgement and confidence stats, or health-points as the average of one's endurance and strength stats)

Some systems avoid stats entirely and go with a skill based system instead. Some people call skill ratings stats, too. In fantasy games, a person's nature can be altered relatively easy, making stats something you can acquire like skills. The distinction is a bit muddy.

Methods of generating them vary. Sometimes, the player "rolls" for them in various ways, sometimes they spend points to raise them above a minimum. While the former has many well-documented issues, principally players getting screwed by their dice, the latter can incentivize perverse methods of character generation. For the most part, though, they've been smoothed over with time and experience: few games that roll for stats require "honest rolls," while few modern point buys don't have a few safety rails in place.

Dungeons & Dragons has one of the most iconic line-up of stats, called Ability Scores, in the form of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Three physical, three mental. This line-up is so iconic that most other RPG ability score sets boil down to renaming and sometimes expanding (or, more rarely, contracting) this list.

In war games, stat lines are used to keep combat flowing smoothly. For example, in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000, you have the stats of Movement (how far a unit can move in a turn), Weapon Skill (likelihood of hitting with a melee attack), Ballistic Skill (likelihood of hitting with a ranged attack), Strength (ability to inflict damage), Toughness (ability to withstand damage), Wounds (how much damage it can take), Initiative (how fast its attacks are) and Leadership (morale).


GURPS has four main stats:

  • ST: Strength. Well, it's physical strength. Works mostly like D&D, BUT also determined hit points.
  • DX: Dexterity. Controls about half of the skills in the game, so more expensive than Strength. Also controls your accuracy with weapons.
  • IQ: Intellect. Controls the other half, so just as expensive as DX.
  • HT: Health. Like Constitution in D&D, but without the hitpoints. You use it for fatigue points and rolling vs unconsciousness/death/poison/disease.

It has also secondary stats:

  • Per: Perception. Based on IQ, can be changed for points. The stat you roll for any perception roll.
  • Will: Will. Works like Perception. The stat you roll for defense against mental effects.
  • Basic Speed: (DX+HT)/4. Used in combat, for initiative, and as a base for your active defenses.
  • Basic Move: Basic Speed, but rounded. Your speed in yards/s.

Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. The SPECIAL stats are:

  • Strength: A measure of your raw physical power. It affects how much you can carry, and determines the effectiveness of all melee attacks
  • Perception: How good you are at noticing stuff. A high perception grants a bonus to the Explosives, Lockpick and Energy Weapons skills, and determines when red compass markings appear(which indicate threats).
  • Endurance: Endurance is a measure of your overall physical fitness. A high Endurance gives bonuses to health, environmental resistances and the big guns and unarmed skills.
  • Charisma: Having a high Charisma will improve people's disposition toward you, and give bonuses to both the Barter and Speech skills.
  • Intelligence: Intelligence affects the Science, Repair and Medicine skills. The higher your Intelligence, the more skill points you'll be able to distribute when you level up.
  • Agility: Agility affects your Small Guns and Sneak skills, and the number of Action Points available for V.A.T.S
  • Luck: Raising your luck will raise all of your skills a little. Having a high Luck will also improve your critical chance with all weapons. It also raises the chances of weapon misfire for opponents, and increases chances at gambling in New Vegas.

Car Lesbians has only two stats for any of the car-racers that represent players: Car and Hotness, because the mechanics orbit entirely around car-racing and chicks making out with chicks. The game is about as deep as a pleather miniskirt, so it doesn't need much.

Ironclaw stats for people Race, Career, Mind, Body, Speed and Will, each measured in the size of a die. Checks are done by rolling dice for the stat(s) relevant to the task at paw hand, adding the skill die if you have it, and comparing the sum to a target number.

White Wolf's Storyteller System, on whose chassis most of their games are built, has nine stats for each character, grouped into three sets of three as Physical, Mental and Social stats. These stats were measured in points or dots from 1-5. Every check involved a relevant stat and skill (measured from 0-5) to see how many dice you would roll. Stats are broadly applicable because every check must involve a stat, but there are fewer stats than skills. Furthermore, some reaction checks use only a stat and no skill.

Legend of the Five Rings uses a complicated system, with each element having a physical and mental stat (Agility and Intelligence for Fire, Reflexes and Awareness for Air, Strength and Perception for Water, and Stamina and Willpower for Earth), a Ring rating equal to the lowest of the two associated elemental stats (and your Rings affect all manner of derived stats so leaving either body or mind too low isn't a great idea, especially for a caster), and a fifth Ring, Void, which plays by its own rules and effectively represents a pool of points to draw on for special tricks each day. Tests involve rolling a number of d10s equal to stat + skill, then totaling a number of dice equal to stat to get your final result.

Its sister game, 7th Sea, has a much more straightforward set of stats: Brawn, Finesse, Resolve, Wits, and Panache. Novelly, all five stats are totally combat-critical, meaning there is no safe dump stat for any character in a scrap. Otherwise, resolution works like L5R, rolling stat + skill in d10s and keeping a number equal to stat.

The Iron Kingdoms RPG system is another 9-stats-system, with three stats for the Physical (Physique, Strength, Speed), Agile (Agility, Prowess, Poise) and Mental (Intelligence, Perception, Arcane) traits of the character in question, with these stats all having a particular role to fill in the game. As this system is famous/infamous for being combat heavy (as the current edition is pretty much lifted from the Wargames of the same setting, most of these stats have are useful in combat. For example, Speed is the amount of inches your character can move in a turn, Poise and Prowess are for ranged and close combat respectively and Physique and Agility are for Armour Rating and Defense Rating respectively. The only stat really useless is probably Intelligence, though a good GM might allow a player to detect enemy weaknesses and strengths through some well timed Int-checks.

Shadowrun had six stats through Third Edition: Strength, Quickness, Body, Intelligence, Willpower, and Charisma. Fourth Edition split Quickness into Agility and Reaction, Intelligence became Logic, and Intuition was split from Willpower. All living creatures have Essence, a measurement of how "spiritually whole" they are; it starts at 6 and the creature dies if Essence reaches 0 (essentially, the creature's soul can no longer recognize the mutilated meat as "self" and leaves). Installing cyberware and bioware, reaching the burnout stage of addiction, or getting your soul sucked by a vampire or other supernatural nasty costs Essence. Player characters, great dragons, and prime runner antagonists have Edge, which is spent to alter the outcome of dice rolls and escape certain death, but great dragons can do more with it. Bastards.

The 40k RPG systems are designed to be fairly interchangeable with only a little tweaking to shift laterally between the systems. The core characteristics are Weapon Skill for melee, Ballistic Skill for ranged attacks, and Strength, Toughness, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, and Fellowship being fairly straightforward (just remember melee damage in increased by Strength bonus, and all damage received is reduced by the Toughness bonus). Willpower is a bit trickier, generally detailing how mentally tough and the character is, as well as ruling over some skills that influence NPCs and other characters through sheer...well, willpower; Willpower also gets a bit more involved as it's used in Fear tests, using Psychic powers, and resisting psychic powers. There's also a corruption track to monitor how influenced by the powers of Chaos a character is, Insanity to monitor that the character has seen some shit, and Psy Rating for psykers, which is essentially a 1-10 scale of how powerful the psyker is. There are also Fate Points (or Infamy point for Black Crusade), which is a measure of how much divine influence a character can muster (i.e. spent to reroll tests, or to heal damage), though these can be "burnt", or permanently spent to survive an otherwise fatal situation. There's finally a last track which monitors roughly how well a character has done in regard to the game, and it typically changes from system to system (Influence in Dark Hersey (although this only applies to Ascension really), Profit Factor in Rogue Trader, Renown in Deathwatch and Infamy in Black Crusade).

Pillars of Eternity, due in part to its origins as a "I can't believe it's not D&D" video game, has an interesting solution to the dump stat problem: Make all the stats valuable for just about all the classes. Patterned after the D&D system, but with changes, here are the six stats:

  • "Might" boosts your damage and healing, regardless of whether you're a Wizard, Priest or Fighter. Also carry weight.
  • "Constitution" boosts your HP.
  • "Dexterity" boosts your speed, no matter what you're doing.
  • "Perception" boosts your ability to Interrupt somebody in their action, and gives a small boost to Accuracy.
  • "Intellect" boosts Area of Effect and Duration of all abilities for all classes.
  • "Resolve" boosts your defenses against Interruption (from Perception) and a small boost to the game's version of Armor Class.
    • In addition to the above, each stat is paired with another to increase one of three saves.

Note in particular that the results are somewhat interesting: Among other things, Wizards have reasons to invest in Might, and Barbarians have reasons to invest in Intellect (their abilities last longer). (For what it's worth, the recruitable NPCs in the game are intentionally under-optimized, due to the designer feeling a need for them to be more versatile then powerful so they could fit in just about any party setup.)

Pendragon has got either five stats or thirty-one, depending on how you count. The listed statistics are all purely-physical, and consist of Size, Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, and Appearance. They mostly handle passive scores and derived stats; the meat of combat is largely skill-based and the stats affect things like how easy you are to knock down, how much damage you do, or how easily you can turtle up. But virtually all (and we do mean all) non-skill-based mental activity is governed by a list of twenty-six personality traits, organized into thirteen sets of opposing poles: Modest vs. Proud, Valorous vs. Cowardly, Prudent vs. Reckless, and so on.