D&D attributes out! Alternative Stats for our games



So lately I’ve been tinkering with the system a lot, making changes that lead me to more changes, tweaking and adjusting things and coming up with different mechanics.

This one was born out of my player’s frustration. It is time to talk about the fundamental six DnD attributes that ICRPG borrows for its core mechanic and how I grew to dislike

I have a HEMA instructor in one of my games, and he (naturally) plays a fighter-type character. A hoarder of weapons and an enthusiast of medieval combat, we discussed an issue a short while ago, about how his character stats where all weird and maybe even wrong. His character was a fisher that became a knight (starting your chars as commoners is the best damn thing ever), and although he bumped his STR at creation, he wanted a talented fighter so he put more points into DEX… Now DEX in the game doesn’t influence your Melee combat at all, unless you’re using some kind of dagger or “finesse” weapon bs. “LET THE FIGHTER HIT WITH DEX” I said to myself and the table and it just worked for a while with no problems. The issue raised again when he aquired a longbow… I myself practice traditional archery so we instantly started to feel weird about a longbow not actually requiring you to be STRONG in order to shoot it. It doesn’t even ends there, as I’ve found myself answering “is it a WIS or INT check?” with “Whatever is your highest”. I’ve touched the point where I stopped and asked myself “Why do I keep bothering with these impractical attributes?”, why do I need to have 3 separate stats for one single thing?

Now we all played Ryuutama (which is a beautiful game and I super recommend it go check it out!! NOW!! lol) and Runequest, and we love the idea of rolling two attributes togheter for stuff, like shooting a longbow would be a DEX+STR roll while lifting would be a STR+STR one… that works but not so well with our d20 system in ICRPG.

So I ended up going the mod route, and homebrewing a set of attributes for universal play that are intended to reduce the stress of “#NotSureWhichStatYouShouldRoll”.

  • Might: STR, CON and melee DEX all clustered into a single stat. Use this to dash, jump, push people, swing swords and shoot non-mechanical ranged weapons. The reasoning behind it, is that your vitality and fighting capability are affected mostly by your training and fitness.
  • Wit: Craftiness, cunning and perception. This is the “finesse” side of your normal DEX stat and the “instincts” that you’ll normally roll with your WIS. Use this to evade, aim, find and hide.
  • Intellect: Your brainzzz! This works as your usual INT.
  • Will: This is the strength of your soul and personality, the thing you roll for WIS spells and resisting the effects of weird magical chains and stuff.

Has anyone else also modified their attributes? cheers!

Character Sheet with an inbuilt step-by-step guide, TAGS & MAGIC

I keep thinking of using Fate Accelerated stats - need to see if I can get under the hood of Roll20


I like what you did. I’ve often wondered why skill roles as such as Athletics and Acrobatics are seperate because each can be so reliant on both STR and DEX. And your longbow example is perfect. So, are you using Wit for something like a blast rifle?


I never liked INT and WIS as two separate stats, its confusing and even in D&D is isn’t obvious which stat is for what.

For system/resource compatibility I would just combine INT and WIS into one stat.


Indeed, if you have to “aim” aligning some iron sights (or a sci fi hud) with your target, wit is the roll. Crossbows, shotguns, six shooters, shurikens, lockpicking, anything that requires precise eye-body coordination. It also makes sense to use this as your Perception stat. Basically rogue’s one stop :stuck_out_tongue:

On the flipside, might can also replace DEX for things that are more “muscle memory” based like the acrobatics example you mentioned or using a sling.


You might want to take a look at this so you don’t end up reinventing the wheel.


Well I got inspired by WR&M microlite20, tinyd6, FATE, Ryuutama, Shadow of the Demon Lord and the like for this, so more than a reinventing it is kind of a re-interpretation :stuck_out_tongue: ty anyway I love microlite


I’ve got an alternative stat idea I’m tinkering with, boiled down to 3 main ones. Kinda thinking of creating a system around it someday, but honestly it would be one of the very few differences from ICRPG, so I’ll probably just roll it into FORCES:

BODY. Strength and fighting, physical resistance and health, nimble fingers and reflexes.

MIND. All things mental, clever, logical, curious, magical, and observant.

SOUL. Kind or malicious, coward or courageous, suave or repulsive, joyful or melancholic, determined or pusillanimous.

Would likely be a simple Bonus+TAG (just one like MAGIC) mostly for role play flavor. Added to ORIGIN, DESTINY, KIND, and CLASS, I think you really would have a full, complex character in 7 words.

I’m also working on creating “spheres of skill” to complement MAGIC, with a character sheet that allows players to mix and match what they want a character to be (including spellswords, weaker than new Mages and straight Fighter types, but versatile). Could be interesting.

Of course, would need to create some kind of “conversion” for CORE racial and LOOT bonuses, but that should be simple as “STR, DEX, and CON = BODY; WIS &INT = MIND, CHA=SOUL.

Still VERY much a beta idea. I like the simplicity and narrative use of stats, but it lacks the granularity to really differentiate characters for players, hence the TAGS and extension of MAGIC rules to non-mages. I’m trying to build a one-shot to test it, but finding time to DM (or even play) is tough for a teacher…


Big Eyes, Small Mouth uses these 3 attributes, you should aslo check out Warrior, Rogue and Mage. I really like the idea of combining tags with stats and character keywords.


Please translate WIT. This thread is interesting but I don’t understand the meaning of “WIT”.


Got it: google translate :face_with_monocle:


This topic raises its head from time to time, and I think it’s great to rebrand, consolidate, or modify stats. The only piece I would add is that as much as it makes sense to you and your players to consolidate Str and Dex into “Might” (or insert another similar rebrand of one’s choice here), there are plenty of other folks who might be left scratching their heads. For example, to my brain, “Might” doesn’t feel like the right buzzword to describe running across a tightrope or balancing on a skateboard (or even more impressive, using in-line skates, lol). My son is crazy dexterous, but not necessarily super strong. He can ride a unicycle but he can’t play basketball or exhibit any of that type of athleticism.

I only bring this notion up because I think if folks are going to go down this road, it also pays to understand what you’re giving up. There’s no right or wrong to this, as there are a million ways to try to simulate reality in a game, but I think there is a cost benefit analysis. For example, I like the distinction between Int and Wis only because I’ve seen it play out in real life. One of my sons is crazy smart and well-read, and so anytime he is confronted with a problem, he has a bank of knowledge to draw on. My other son notices everything, no matter how small the detail, and when it comes to fixing things, he doesn’t fall back on any innate intelligence or know-how; he just looks at the parts, and they all make sense in his head how they work. He just intuits the rest. Both can reach the same solution, but they go about it in vastly different ways. Now, if I consolidated Int and Wis, and if I rebranded them as something else, let’s call it “Head-Power,” I potentially run the risk of limiting the types of characters that show up (one who isn’t necessarily book smart or intuitive, but just has “head-power”).

Why does this matter? Practically, it may not make a difference, and it may not “feel” any different at your table if everyone agrees on the fiction. On the other hand, it could limit the in-game fictional role-playing options. Conveying a consolidated “Head-Power” attempt is different than a character like Shawn Spencer from Psych who figures things out by being highly observant and has a high Wis. That character may be highly different from Gandalf, who has tons of knowledge to draw from after years of training, education, and experience, and so uses his high Int to figure things out. Consolidation maybe makes the distinction between these two players somewhat flat. Gandalf is the same as Shawn, who is the same as Albert Einstein.

Another trade-off is that consolidation robs a group of several ways to figure out a problem. Whenever I say “roll Int or Wis, whichever is best for your character,” that never feels bad to me because now the group has more than one avenue to succeed. When you take away these options, you are taking away possibilities to succeed from the group. Can you intuit it out? Or do you just have the knowledge to draw on? Either way, however your character is best suited to the challenge, he or she has a shot. If everyone just has a “Head-Power” stat, then it’s more of a flat playing field, and parties have less avenues or lanes to succeed. Taking it to an extreme, One could have just “Brains” and “Meat.” Now the differentiation between characters becomes really flat, and the avenues to success become really limited.

Again, there is no right or wrong to this topic, but I think from a game design standpoint, you have to consider what you gain and what you lose when you move from six stats down to four or three or even two. Otherwise, you could inadvertently take your game mechanics in a direction you didn’t anticipate.


indeed! Some great insight on this topic. I do have a couple of little sisters that actually behave a ton like what you describe from your kids, which is kinda awesome!

To comment on the merging of stats and the “narrative granularity” as an advantage, I do agree with you in a simulationist way. I came up with these as a necessity of my particular approach to game running and game design, as you say, considering what I gain what I lose from these kind of modifications. It just works as a consolidation of a style of gaming that was somewhat dragged down by the granularity of the core stats. The same can be applied to the lack of “skills” and different weapon damage in ICRPG, things hank got rid off because they wheren’t necessary for the enjoyment of his particular style of gaming. I actually see it more as a “tweaking” for gameplay, moving around the meaning of the stats to streamline a bit the usage of them.

On the wording of things… yeah we actually tested this out and “Physique” (translating from the original spanish stats I wrote) kind of works better for the “Body” stat, it just sounds weird to use blunt “body”, kind of like if I would say “meat” running with your example.

D&D attributes suffer from 2 problems imho. 1st, they are too abstract sometimes. Newbies almost AAALWAYS get confused on what da hell is CON for… the same with CHA and WIS. This drags out the learning curve of the game and makes character creation kind of a newbie trap, as it is really frequent to have players who want to change around their stats because they don’t suit their character archetype/idea after trying them out.

The second problem comes directly to gameplay. D&D stats are designed to be “PASSIVE” scores, and ICRPG in particular is reaaally into using them as ACTIVE abilities. “I use my WIS, I use my INT, You can use your STR” are regular phrases while playing. Changing them around to things people normally associate with active problem solving is kind of what I intended with this, you’re not JUST dexterous but clever/witty instead.

It gets really weird really quick tho. I kind of settled with “might” for verbal simplicity. But that’s the reasoning behind it, if it makes ANY sense at all :stuck_out_tongue:

You could go the other way around and just evade stats at all, using a “queue” of tags and skills for adding bonuses to your roll. “I’m a paladin so I get +1 to smash evil dudes, and I’m also STRONG so I add +1 to using a heavy melee weapon so I get a total of +2 to this roll?”


In my version of the Traveler RPG (sorry I don’t have ICRPG, I like traveler lol) I have run across this issue and I went the complete opposite to solving it. Traveler uses the same setup in a way (it uses Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education and Psychic Power) and instead I added an attribute called Reflexes, this is mostly because traveler is an attribute damage system (there are no HP) and I figured the following: Strength is your arms, Dex is your hands, Reflexes is your Legs, Intelligence is your Right brain (creativity), Education is your Left Brain (logic), and Psychic is well your Soul.
So as far as combat I decided STR is for Two Handed Weapons and Heavy Guns (like rockets and such), While Dex is for one-handed melee weapons and EDU is for Guns.
Might be completely unnecessary from what you’ve worked on (like I said you took the right and I took the left basically), just thought I’d throw it out there.


Hello, new to this forum but longtime fan of hankerin and icrpg stuff.

I dabbled with the storytelling system a bit. It is a 9 attribute system on a grid.

You have Mental, Physical, Social that cross with Power, Finesse, Resistance.

These cross over into their own attributes, for example - Physical Power is Str, Physical Finesse is Dex, Physical Resistance is Con. Mental Power is Int, Mental Finesse is Wits, Mental Resistance is your Resolve or Will. Social Power is Presence. Social Finesse is Manipulation. Social Resistance is Composure.

Seems to cover most things that would come up in a game. I like your idea of rolling 2 stats at the same time also, never thought of that.


It seems like you could also just have those as six stats: Mental, Physical, Social and Power, Finesse, and Resistance. But when it’s time to call for a roll, people combine the two relevant stat modifiers.

“Oh, it seems like you are trying to resist poison: So add your Strength (+0) with your Resistance (+1) and give me a roll.”


I could do a long post on this, but believe me, there is good reason to have the stats separate.
I work with engineers that build aircraft carriers. Many of them are extraordinarily intelligent, with no common sense when it comes to many simple things. They are THE prime example of why INT and WIS rightfully separate stats. My father, was not an idiot, but his IQ was very average. Yet, he possessed the wisdom to always make REALLY good decisions in life. Same scenario, just reversed.

On the STR vs DEX. Doing things like using dex for daggers and such makes total sense. However, yes…you DO have to be strong to use a longbow, but only strong enough to pull the string back. This is something any archer could do. (English longbowman were typically commoners and not of a heroic build). Instead of letting the player argue a stat for a weapon just use sense. There is a reasonable assumption here that you can draw the string. At that point, the hand eye coordination to aim well, falls under dex.

Be careful your not letting players argue using alternate stats just to give them benefits with their weapons.


The video game Fable used Might, Skill and Will. That set of three has always made sense to me. But hey, you can always just let the player use different stats that the suggested ones. Not hard either way. :slight_smile:


Indeed. In the end, it always boils back down to what fits best for your group to have fun.


I agree that we can distinguish between people who to have high education smarts but lower common sense smarts, and vice versa. Though I would also note the adage that “common sense is not that common.” However, we could also likely find people who have high common sense but seemingly no willpower, perceptibility, or other traits that D&D associates with Wisdom. This is simply because human beings are complex creatures. What’s more, there is an extraordinary amount of overlap in the descriptions and associations of the various stats. Charisma and Wisdom are both associated will. Intelligence and Wisdom are used for various types of general knowledge.

But I personally find the traditional D&D stats to be somewhat unhelpful or unintuitive for new players. (IME, most advocates for the Six typically have simply grown accustomed to the justifications and rationalities of the Six.) Reorganizing the stats into 3-5 stats would be beneficial for a quick, fast game like ICRPG. Constitution, for example, does not have too much of a game purpose beyond its passive use for making Con saves. It does not contribute to HP in ICRPG like it does in D&D. Sure we could probably distinguish between healthy, tough individuals with no strength and strong, mighty individuals who are in poor health in real life, but Constitution does not really do all that much.

Much like in this Angry DM article, “I Hate Ability Scores (In 5E D&D),” I would favor a clarity of purpose for and between each stat. And I would probably retool the stats in ICRPG for the sort of game that ICRPG seems to want to be. I’m not sure what that would be, and I may have to revisit this thread for a little brainstorming. But that will be for another time.