- Not to be confused with Statistics.
Stats are a measurements of a character or objects inherent abilities. Example stats would be:
- for people: strength, smarts, magical mojo, agility, anal circumference.
- for vehicles: move speed, acceleration, armour resilience, cargo capacity, size of cupholders.
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 the most-imitated set of stats ever: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma. Three physical, three mental.
GURPS has only four 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 would use only a stat and no skill.
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, 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).