Yesterday I followed a link in a post by Alex Schroeder that took me to an article on The Forge, entitled “Fantasy Heartbreakers.”

Alex Schroeder
Link: Writing Your Own RPG Rules

The Forge
Link: Fantasy Heartbreakers

Across my blog, I’ve talked about ability scores a lot — trying to make them more useful, more iconic, easier to integrate and understand and translate, and all manner of things. I’ve forgotten more mechanics than I remember which are designed to reinforce the importance of six ability scores.

On more than one occasion I’ve tried to remove one or more ability scores.

In my home games, I’ve pushed players toward rolling for scores and away from point-buy methods, because I’m of the mind that point-buy effectively sterilizes PCs — I think PC individuality ought to begin with ability scores.

In Part Two of his Heartbreaker essay, Ron Edwards discusses alternatives to the 3d6 method of determining ability scores being a recurring theme throughout D&D clones, and mentions the prevalence of “cheating” those rolls.

I realized something I’d forgotten about the Seven States magic system — something I’d been pushed to utilize as many alternative magic types as possible over the years — was that I not only wanted to incorporate every type of magic I wanted to create a magic type as an extension of each ability.

About a week ago I think, I had a couple ideas for how to deal with the requirement for a “generic” ability score modifier associated with racial or thematic powers that could be hypothetically attached to any class. 4e permits a PC to use the “highest ability score,” which is usually the same as their class’s primary ability.

It occurred to me that with the stripping of most of the game’s bonuses, it should easily be possible to replace those requirements for a “generic” with a bonus in a range of two to five — which is what you’d expect from an ability modifier.

This morning it occurred to me to apply this to an entire school of magic.

Specifically to the Spectral State — which corresponds roughly to the “Dark Side of the Force,” or Necromancy, or what-have-you. What that would mean from a thematic perspective is that the Spectral State welcomes practitioners who don’t have to excel — you get PCs with any kind of ability scores.

In effect, it creates a range of character types that can be played when you’re unlucky enough to roll truly awful ability scores. Can’t hack it as a Fighter? Play an Immortal! Too dumb to make it as a Mage? Necromancy is the easy way! Didn’t choose a deity in Priest training? Healers can treat anyone with a wound!

Of course, heroes of the Spectral State still benefit from high ability scores in a given area, but they aren’t required like the other types of magic.

So the Seven States of magic represent not only major schools of magic — but also the six ability scores, plus the absence of an ability score.

I will have to continue thinking on this.