I’ve had a bunch of stuff on the back burner for a while now — formulating plans and designs and mechanics, trying to get stuff off the ground, get the ball rolling, however you like to phrase it, and I’ve been curiously silent about it all.

Transparency is one of those philosophies I like to adhere to, and I find that I just don’t have much to talk about if I’m not talking about what I’m thinking about.

So, to start, I thought I’d bring up some superficial changes to ability scores — these are mostly name changes, but there’s a bit of trickle-down to derived statistics, and in some cases I really just wanted to change terminology at the “ability score level” to free up verbiage for use in other design areas.

ability scores

Strength – weapon attacks & damage
Fortitude – base hit points
Dexterity – Armor defense
Intellect – Reflex defense
Willpower – Mettle defense
Courage – Resolve defense

If you’re a long-time reader — and most of you aren’t — you might wonder why I’m doing this again. Well, I’ve worked out some things and I figured out how to make some of the stuff I’ve always wanted work the way I’ve always wanted it to — which means I get to go back and make the changes I’ve always wanted to make.

First thing: I hate the Dexterity ability score modifying ranged attack rolls. I’ve practiced archery, I’ve practiced several forms of dance — ballet, tap, ballroom, jazz — and “Dexterity” is simply not a factor in these things.

Now that I’ve made my point, I’d like to say “grace” and “hand-eye coordination” enter into the equation at some point, but that certainly isn’t where it starts or stops. If we were talking about firearms, it might be a different discussion, but we aren’t. We’re talking bows and thrown weapons.

So Strength? Yeah, Strength is used for all weapon attacks. Period.

…But this is a game with an exception-based rule set, so while Strength may initially determine the effectiveness of all weapon attacks, that doesn’t mean it’s the only ability that determines all weapon attacks. It’s just a place to start.

Second. Fortitude replaces Constitution because it’s a more ambiguous word. Constitution is a long and cumbersome word, and Fortitude can be interpreted in terms of both physical and mental hardiness — that flexibility is key.

I have gone back and forth on whether Fortitude should plug into hit points or not, what the ramifications for doing so are, and what exactly its place in the grand scheme of things is — and I can’t express in words the frustrations of dealing with this thing. Constitution is so passive. So… totally not heroic.

I will be giving Fortitude a bigger place when it comes to magic and rituals and stuff, and you can see the early form of that if you check out my Lifedrinker and Bloodknight classes, … well, most of my Shadow-powered classes anyhow.

Finally. The other four ability scores? All of them are used for a different defense. I’ve thought about this from a couple difference angles. While I like 4e’s “best of two” approach for defenses, I don’t think it works as well in differentiating attack and effect types, … or ability scores for that matter.

So, there’s one ability score for attack. One ability score for hit points. And four ability scores for defense. Dexterity is the one most of you will recognize, plugging into “Armor” — I don’t like the AC abbreviation — and probably the defense you should worry about the most on average. I’ll be back to discuss the rest.