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Rough Quests


by Sergio Mascarenhas
Dec 16,2005



By the end of last column the set of attributes to be retained in Rough Quests was finally established. These are four physical stats -- Vitality, Size, Dexterity and Agility --, and four psychological traits -- Intellect, Communication, Charisma and Determination. To day I'm just going to define these in more precise terms, so that we know what they are intended to mean in the context of Rough Quests.


Attributes correspond to the congenial performative abilities of the character. They are used to determine the level of success of the actions attempted by the character. There are three primary attributes (Adroitness, Intellect and Communication) and three combined attributes that result from the combination of the primary ones (Dexterity, Grace and Persuasion).

Primary Attributes

Adroitness (ADR) corresponds to the general ability to move and act physically. It also incorporates the sense of balance and equilibrium. It is used for athletic feats, maneuvering, displays of agility, etc.

Intellect (INT) measures the ability of the character to reach correct conclusions from the data available to him. It can be done based on a logical and reasoned chain of inferences, or the result of outright intuition.

Communication (COM) represents the interpersonal interaction abilities of the character. A communicative person revels in socializing while the non-communicative character will tend to stay put to himself and avoid social events. Communication is also used to perceive feelings, moods, and other states of mind on the part of the people and creatures the character interacts with.

Combined Attributes

Dexterity (DEX = ADR + INT / 2) measures hand/eye coordination, the ability to manipulate things, execute fine crafts and perceive minute details through tact.

Grace (GRA = ADR + COM / 2) represents the natural demeanour of the character, the gracefulness of his movement and body language. Grace is particularly useful for those that specialize in performing arts like actors, dancers, juglers, etc., but it is also mandatory for courtisans and seducters. A graceful character will also be better at controling his physical presence by concealing his movement when times call for it.

Persuasion (PER = INT + COM / 2) is mandatory to impress one's will on others through reasoned arguments. It is the basis for oral dialetics, public speaches, diplomatic negotiations and similar activities. Persuasion is used both to impact the thinking of others and to resist and counter-argue the persuasive attempts from another character.


Characteristics correspond to features of the character that influence the outcome of his actions (their active aspect) and, on the other hand, represent the ability of the character to endure the impact of events and actions on the part of other characters that may affect them (their passive aspect). Just as with attributes, there are three primary characteristics (Vitality, Size and Charisma) and three combined ones (Toughness, Endurance and Presence).

Primary Characteristics

Vitality (VIT) measures the life forces of the universe and all entities that exist in it. Vitality is everywhere as an amorphous, changeable energy, but it stabilizes and acumulates in organic, living beings. VIT determines the health of the character thus corresponding to his ability to face sickness. VIT also fuels magic and can be magically sensed as the aura of the character.

Size (SIZ) corresponds to the character's useful physical mass that fuels action: bones, muscle, etc. SIZ also provides a rough indication of height and weight. This relation is direct in the case of a fit, athletic and well proportioned character. (Optional rules allow you to calculate the height and weight for non-fit characters -- slim, fat, stocky, etc.) SIZ is useful to determine strengh, resistance to damage, etc.

Charisma (CHA) is the impression the character generates on others, his psychological presence. A charismatic character is less likely to fall into the influence of others or to be affected by events around him. A non-charismatic character has a harder time trying to influence others.

Combined Characteristics

Toughness (TOU = VIT + SIZ / 2) measures the ability of the character to endure physical hardships like wounds. TOU also measures the ability to sustain the effects of drugs and poison.

Endurance (END = VIT + CHA / 2) corresponds to the ability to face deprivation coming from fatigue, extreme cold or heat, lack of food or water, and similar situations.

Presence (PRE = SIZ + CHA / 2) corresponds to the immediate impact a character has on others by just being there. The character with high Presence stands out in the middle of a crowd, attracts the attention when he enters a public space and generaly makes himself noticed the moment he appears.

Final comments

You may notice that I changed my list of combined attributes from what I proposed in previous columns. This is work-in-progress so it is subject to be revised at any moment.

I started up my search of attributes for Rough Quests by looking at a set of games, with a special emphasis to RuneQuest. The end result may not be far from what can you can find in your game of choice, but at least I know why I have the attributes and characteristics I have, these and none other. If we compare my list to RuneQuest's list of primary attributes you may notice that I kept most (Size/Size, Constitution/Vitality, Dexterity/Adroitness, Intelligence/Intelect, Charisma/Charisma), I dropped a couple (Power, Strengh) and I introduced another (Communication). The main differences are not there, they are in the way I derive secondary attributes from the core ones, and in the way I plan to use those traits with the game mechanics. But that's for another occasion.

That's it for Rough Quest's traits. It was a long process of going forward and back but I'm finaly done with it. Now it's time to move to another set of character descriptors, skills. But that's for another set of columns.

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