In the last blog, we looked at some established percentile-based role-playing games and saw how they typically define their characters by two sets of numbers:
- Characteristics that are typically rolled randomly during character generation, e.g. 3d6 for Strength, etc.
- Skills, representing various specific competencies, e.g. Climb, Dodge, etc. The initial values for each skill are often derived from, or influenced by, the relevant characteristics.
Depending on the complexity of the system, it is not uncommon for the combined number of characteristics and skills for a given character to run to 30 or more (and sometimes a lot more!).
In seeking to develop a more streamlined d100 game, the first thing Hack100 will do is replace these two sets of numbers with a single set that we will call “Abilities“. Abilities can be thought of as a hybrid system of characteristics and skills that describe a character’s inherent qualities and competencies. They will each be represented by a percentile number that represents a character’s relative performance in that regard.
Altogether, Hack100 will have just twelve Abilities. These have been selected to cover the most common situations that a character is likely to encounter in a game. There will be four Abilities relating to a character’s physical capabilities, four relating to their mental or intellectual capacity, and four relating to their broader expertise in key areas of competence. They are summarised below.
- Strength is a measure of physical power. It is the relevant Ability when trying to push, pull or lift heavy objects. Strength also affects the amount of damage inflicted by a character in hand-to-hand combat.
- Agility quantifies physical dexterity. Jumping, balancing, climbing and dodging are all examples of activities covered by Agility.
- Stealth describes the ability of a character to go unnoticed. It covers aspects such as moving silently, traversing ground without leaving tracks, hiding, and blending into a crowd.
- Toughness characterises inherent physical resilience. A high Toughness means that a character will, for example, be more resistant to poison, disease, harsh environments and prolonged exertion.
- Perception represents how observant a character is. This includes finding hidden objects, spotting small details and reading the intentions of others.
- Reasoning is an indication of mental agility. It is the ability to comprehend complex concepts, solve problems and recall details from memory.
- Influence describes the ability to sway the opinions or actions of others. This might be achieved by a variety of methods including charm, reasoned argument, or intimidation.
- Will Power characterises mental resilience and tenacity. It is the determination to keep on going when things are tough. Or having sufficient strength of mind to avoid giving in to temptation.
- Hand-to-Hand is a combat Ability. It is used to resolve close-range fighting, whether unarmed or with weapons.
- The Ranged Ability is used to determine the accuracy with which a character can throw or shoot something.
- Arcane represents a character’s understanding of matters mysterious. Depending upon the setting of the game, this might include magic, the occult or highly advanced technology.
- The Spiritual Ability is a measure of a character’s attunement to their belief system, whether that’s religious, philosophical, or something else. The higher a character’s Spiritual Attribute, the more likely they are to derive benefits from their belief system, e.g. having their prayers answered, or being able to perform “miracles”. This is another Ability for which the effects will be dependent upon the setting of the game.
In the next blog, we’ll look at how we’ll supplement these twelve core abilities with a small number of Specialisms to allow for a degree of character customisation and differentiation.