On RPGs: Important Stats


#1

What kind of stats do you think are important/essential for a good RPG? What would these stats do that would make them significant? Are there any stats you’d consider less necessary, but maybe unique and fun to have?

Obviously in this case, weight/fat/whatever would be a necessary stat to have, but it’s typically handled differently from the average stat.

Note: I intend to ask more of these “On RPG” based questions, but I don’t know if at some point something would constitute spam. I feel a set of responses under a similar title might be easy to find and useful for those looking to create an RPG, but want ideas.


#2

Feel free to ask as many of these as you might like. As long as you dont post a ton at once or the same topic multiple times we wont consider it spam.

Now on the topic this is a hard question to answer (and I know I am saying this again) because it depends on your design. For example lets say we define a RPG a some system where the player roams around and fights people. Under this case the minimum you would need would be:

  • HP
  • Attack
  • Defense

But lets shake it up. Lets now say we make the RPG something that does not have combat in it. Maybe you are just a traveler and you can be a merchant, a cartographer, ect but not fight since there is no combat system. In this case you may want:

  • Barter
  • Speech
  • Observation

The problem is the general case is hard to define since a RPG is all about playing a role and the stats you would want available would be dependent on the roles and objectives you want to push the players towards.


#3

Alright, thank you. I will make sure that is all followed.

You are correct, and honestly that hadn’t even crossed my mind until you said such. I was focused primarily on combat related RPGs without any thought of other possible ones. I suppose it would be wiser to ask instead what you consider important stats in your preferred RPG style, that way that would clear up some confusion.

That being said, there are some (though much larger, industry based games) that combine both of those. Take Skyrim for example, which has it’s stats made solely for combat, but also has features made solely for communication, bartering, or even theft. But then again, I suppose that would tie in with your last point.


#4

I’ve found that I like the traditional RPG format of base statistics, like

  • strength
  • dexterity
  • constitution
  • etc.

some important skills in particular are dexterity and willpower, or whatever you call your mental fortitude. in one of my favorite RPGs, dexterity played a role in many physical skills, as it’s a measure of your physical coordination, essentially. and willpower played into spellcasting, as your power to bring forth your magical energies. HP, stamina, and more basic attack and defense skills are alright, but I’ve found you can make a much more engaging system with the traditional RPG statistics like you’d see in DnD, being modified by other specific skills, racial or class bonuses, equipment bonuses, and so on.


#5

I kind of feel like the less stats the better, but I may be biased since I kind of hate the whole min/maxing thing for RPGs and figuring out character sheets. That said, I really love it when stats have their uses outside of combat, like those that @grotlover2 mentioned. They don’t exactly have to be exclusive though!

The older Fallout games was what first came to mind for me, with things like Intelligence impacting the dialogue choices you have for your character. I like the idea of something like a higher Strength stat, for example, not only giving your attacks higher damage, but also allowing you more interactions outside fighting, like being able to shove a boulder to clear a path.

Then there’s the more unique situation to consider when it comes to this forum, which would be how weight impacts all these stats, though I feel like that’s a discussion that’s been had plenty of times. :yum:


#6

fallout is one great example of how to use base stats as well! you aren’t blocked from quests, but you can be gated from specific things based on your skills. or skills could open up new opportunities to approach a situation.


#7

I’d say that it depends on how the game is balanced and how useful the player considers those stats to be. Even if a certain stat isn’t objectively useless, it can feel that way in practice if the other stats seem more useful.

For example, consider a choice between increasing a character’s base damage and increasing the chance of a critical hit. Even if a critical hit deals damage like a runaway freight truck, no one is going to go for a crit build if they think that their infrequency makes them less reliable than just making every attack hit harder.

The player’s decisions can also be influenced by base stats. Many RPGs have taught me to maximize what my characters and equipment are already good at. Give me a tanky character, and I’ll make him my party’s tank. It’s true that I have the option to have him hang back and grant heals, but why would I do that if doing so is objectively less effective?

Then, there’s the issue of what the game communicates to the player. Every time a player receives positive feedback, it carries an implicit message that they just did a good thing and should keep doing it. On the other hand, a lack of clear communication can result in players making assumptions. When I first tried my hand at Dark Souls III, I was completely stumped by which starting class to pick. How was I supposed to know which attributes would be useful to me? How much of a difference does +3 Strength make? What’s the difference between Vigor and Vitality? What the fuck is Faith? Even if I just researched these things, I don’t even know what my preferred play style is going to be. All I could do was take a guess and try to make do with my probably wrong choice.


#8

The classic RPG stats really are just a way to measure how strong and how fast your mind and body are. About 4 stats are all you really need in a basic enough RPG system. Adding stats on top of that should play to the quirks and strengths of your game’s style and universe.


#9

I’d say that it depends on how the game is balanced and how useful the player considers those stats to be. Even if a certain stat isn’t objectively useless, it can feel that way in practice if the other stats seem more useful.

I think this is very important. This is a problem in tabletop D&D right now with the intelligence stat. It’s only useful to Wizards, and is essentially a dump stat for every other character, which means that, in practice, you mostly get a bunch of apparently incredibly stupid characters running around, even though a higher intelligence should be useful for every character. Maybe this is social commentary by the game designers, saying that only incredibly stupid characters would ever go out to adventure. I think it’s just bad game design.

When I first tried my hand at Dark Souls III , I was completely stumped by which starting class to pick. How was I supposed to know which attributes would be useful to me? How much of a difference does +3 Strength make? What’s the difference between Vigor and Vitality? What the fuck is Faith? Even if I just researched these things, I don’t even know what my preferred play style is going to be. All I could do was take a guess and try to make do with my probably wrong choice.

This is an aspect of the Souls series in general. These games provide minimal information up front, and you have to discover the plot and the mechanics through observation and experimentation (or by checking a wiki online, I guess). This is part of what die-hard fans love about the series. It’s definitely not friendly for new players, but if you can get over that steep learning curve, the Souls games are some of the most satisfying to play.

There is always a tradeoff with hand-holding. The more hand-holding you do, the more the player is taken out of an immersive experience. If you provide a lot of complicated stats, and then feel the need to explain them all, then you’re going to have a very different gameplay experience than if you provide a bunch of mysterious stats the players have to experiment to understand, or if you provide very few stats that the player barely has to pay attention to.

I agree with everything @grotlover2 said, but you may also want to ask, “What experience do I want my players to have?” If you imagine a game where the players are completely immersed in the setting, where they are in the world, then you’re going to want fewer stats, no hand-holding, voice acting, etc. If you want them to be focusing on stats and mathematics, then throw every stat you can think of at them plus the kitchen sink and have nice, detailed explanations for everything. That experience will be great for min-maxers who love to tweak the system and use probability distributions against the game system itself. Or you could provide something with more balance.

Also, remember, you don’t have to show the player the stats at all, if you don’t want to. They can be completely behind the scenes. I’ve always been curious to play a game where the character’s stats are obfuscated, and leveling up comes with only vague, “You feel stronger, more agile” type messages.


#10

dark souls is a good example of a stat system that isn’t well explained to a first time player, because you really don’t know what’s good for what until you find things that use X skill.

and the idea of a tank wanting to spec into healing or support is silly, but what if someone does? and what about the player who wants to play support?

in my opinion, this is why I love the deep skill systems that DnD and some RPGs have: you see the base stat, like strength, dexterity, willpower, etc., then you can turn the page and see all the things that those stats modify! and as for the souls series, there are purposes for each skill, it does just take exploration and experimentation to find out, like MOP said. and you don’t always have to show some stats like they said as well, like chances to hit, exact damage numbers, special effect chances or power, etc.

like I’ve said before, I think that more depth-y systems make for more interesting ones, albeit more complicated ones. for example, I adore Tyranny’s spellcrafting system, even though it’s really only useful for characters with high lore skill… but it’s complicated, a tad confusing, but damn is it interesting and strong when you invest in it. but I’d much rather have that than a simple “+1” system for upgrading or static spells altogether.