Saturday, January 21, 2012

Attributes and Skills

Psi-punk takes a multi-level approach when it comes to skills and attributes.  We feel that having multiple traits to describe key aspects of a character is a good thing; though simpler is better overall, humans are complex beings and we're made up of more than just a few narrow skill sets or overly-broad attributes.

While we do have both attributes and skills in Psi-punk, our approach to building these traits during character creation is different than most other systems.  We feel like a character's attributes are largely reflective of the skills he possesses; a character who has spent a lot of time honing athletic skills, for example, is likely to have a strong body.  Though the inverse could also be true in real life (someone with a natural tendency to be strong or hardy may be good at certain types of athletics) we feel that tying attributes to skills -- rather than skills to attributes -- better represents practice and one's drive to hone his skills and improve his other attributes.

A Three-tiered Approach
Psi-punk's skill and attribute system has three parts:
  1. Parent Attributes: Body, Mind, and Persona.  These attributes are the most broad representation of a character's overall traits and abilities.  They represent the physical, mental, and social attributes of a character.  Parent Attributes add to a character's defenses versus certain forms of attack and are primarily used defensively.
  2. Secondary Attributes: Dexterity, Strength, Focus, Spirit, Presence, and Status.  Each of these is associated with a Parent Attribute: Dexterity and Strength with Body, Focus and Spirit with Mind, Presence and Status with Persona.  They provide a breakdown of how the character's Parent Attributes are determined (for example, is a character with a high Body trait more dexterous or strong?).  These attributes determine the number of Fudge dice that are rolled when a character uses Luck Points to re-roll a skill with an associated attribute.
  3. Skills: If attributes represent what a character is like, skills represent what a character can do.  When building a character using the Objective Character Creation rules (a point-buy system), Skills are the only traits on which characters can spend their Build Points.  Players (with the aid of their GM) determine which Secondary Attribute their Skills are linked to, and for every 15 BP spent on appropriately-linked skills their Secondary Attribute increases.
Let's take a brief look at how this all plays out.

Spending Build Points
Characters receive 55 free Build Points to spend during character creation.  Remember what we said earlier about BP only applying toward Skills; the various attributes will be increased accordingly for every 15 BP spent on linked skills.

All Skills begin at a level of Poor (-2) and can be purchased by spending points according to the table below:

Table 2.2: Skill Cost

 * Characters may not start with a skill of this level.  Instead, he/she must spend this number of Build Points through the character advancement process (see below).

** These trait levels are restricted.  No player character may have a trait level above Phenomenal or below Poor; these levels exist merely as a reference point for rolled results outside of the typical range.
Let's say a player decides to spend 15 BP to bring his Athletics Skill up from Poor to Superb.  He does so, and he chooses to link the skill to his Dexterity attribute.  The GM decides to allow this because Athletics is generally a physically-oriented skill; it would make just as much sense to be able to link to Strength, for example, but not Presence or Status.

Because he spent 15 points on Dexterity-linked skills, his Dexterity attribute increases by 1 level to Good.  Likewise, because his Dexterity attribute increased to Good his Body attribute raises to the same level.

Now let's assume the same player spent 15 BP to raise his Melee Combat skill to Superb.  He decides to link that skill to the Strength attribute, which again the GM approves.  He has now spent 15 points on Strength-linked skills and his Strength increases to Good as well.  Because Body is a composite of both the Dexterity and Strength attributes, it too increases by +1, to a total level of Great (+2).

His character sheet would now show, among other things:

  • Superb Athletics [Dexterity]
  • Superb Melee Combat [Strength]
  • Good Dexterity
  • Good Strength
  • Great Body
As you can see, the attributes are built upon the skills the character has.  As his skills continue to improve, so too do his attributes!

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the basics of the Character Creation system.  This just scratches the surface of all the great options you have available to your characters.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks, and of course feel free to comment!