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Rough Quests


by Sergio Mascarenhas
Jul 22,2005



Last time I prepared a table with a list of primary attributes in different RPGs broken up into two categories, physical and psychological stats. Today I will look specifically at the physical traits.

The first problem we face if we want to meaningfully compare different games sprouts from the diverse terminologies they use, to the point that two games may employ the same word to mean different things while other games may use different words to refer to the same concept. Because of this it is useful to standardize the terminology found in the games under consideration. As I proceed with the analysis I'll do just this.

The second thing to notice is that some games bundle all physical abilities under a single trait. We know by now that I will not follow in their path but it is still important to consider these games when looking at physical attributes. I will refer to it as the Body trait.

Breaking up Body, the core physical attribute

Games that have various stats to represent physical abilities basically break up Body into different functions. I'll contend that there are two core functions: A 'resource' function that corresponds to aspects such as constitution, health, endurance, etc.; a 'dynamic' function that incorporates things like dexterity, agility, adroitness or speed. I will designate the first function by the word Physique and the second function by the word Coordination.

Both Physique and Coordination can be further sub-divided. Within physique we usually find two aspects: Stats that represent physical Power, the ability to actively "re-shape" other physical things. That's the case of traits like strength or size. Next we have stats that represent Vitality the ability to sustain physical hazards. Here we find attributes such as constitution, health, endurance, etc.

On the other hand, within Coordination we find manual ability and hand/eye coordination, or Dexterity; the ability to use the body as a whole for movement, etc., standardized as Agility; and speed or quickness, bundled under Speed.

Based on the analysis so far we can map physical attributes into the next chart:

As I mentioned above, it is useful to standardize the terminology used in the different games if we want to compare the way they deal with physical attributes. This you can find in the following table (you may notice that I updated my list of games by including Lord of The Rings, Skyrealms of Jorune and Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing): RQ09_t1.pdf

A cursory reading reveals that the most common approach to physical attributes handles these with ( Power + Vitality ) + Coordination. I'll leave the detailed analysis for the next two columns, first by handling Physique and next by looking at Coordination, but before that there are a couple of notes that I may enunciate right away:

I can advance some ideas about how the analysis will impact Rough Quests. Since I said that I want to have at least two physical stats, it makes sense to settle that I'll have at least a trait for Physique and one for Coordination. It is to be seen whether I'll decide on breaking it up even more.

The break up of Coordination includes Speed as a stat separate from agility. You may notice that only a minority of the games include this stat. You may also notice that the implementation of this stat is not completely consistent with my break up of attributes since there are games that have a Coordination stat covering both Agility and Dexterity and a Speed stat. The truth is that I think I can drop Speed from the list, not only because it is a marginally used stat or because it does not fit the model. More important than that, I can live without it since to me Speed is a sub-function of Agility. It does not justify an independent treatment.

That's all for today. Next time we will look at Physique and its subdivisions and how Rough Quests should handle it.

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