Let’s make an RPG Part 2: Statistically Speaking

RPG stands for “Role Playing Game.” It’s a game in which you take on a role of a character, in a world which might be very similar to your own or vastly different. The idea is that your character is participating in a story. A story you get to be a part of.

So we need a character. And we’ll want to describe that character. Is this character young or old? Male or female? Does he tower over members of his acquaintance? Do they tower over him? And most importantly, how many dice do I get to roll for damage when I land a double-critical with my Greatsword of Overwhelming Munchkinism that technically cost more than I told the GM I paid for it?

Let’s get to the basics, shall we? As mentioned previously, Dungeons and Dragons has six stats: Strength(how strong you are), Dexterity(how nimble you are), Constitution(how tough you are), Intelligence(how smart you are), Wisdom(how wise you are), and Charisma(how charming you are). We could further split those down(and many systems do) to include physical agility, physical attractiveness, force of personality, leadership capability, relevant forms of learning, social awareness, upper body strength, lower body strength, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

We could also go the other direction, as some systems do, and only have 1 stat. Everything you do derives from this stat.

How about some compromise, eh? We’re going to take BESM’s lead and split our character into 3 categories.

Body: how athletic you are. This can be people who are physically strong, nimble, quick on their feet, can take a dozen punches. Whatever. The point is, this is how adept you are physically.

Mind: smarts, wisdom, intuition. Are you the kind of person who just seems to know the answer? This is what represents that.

Soul: They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Soul is how a shepherd of no serious note can kill a champion and lifelong warrior. Soul is how a man who admittedly was never very good at math becomes a world-renowned physicist remembered for an equation that everybody knows but few people actually understand. Soul is how a midget of a miner who never believed in himself until there was nobody else left to believe in him can stab a thousand-year-old tyrant to death with his car keys.

To give us a sense of perspective, we’ll need to define some ranges for these.  For Mind, Body, and Soul, 1-12 is a good range.  It breaks down about like this.

0 nonexistent
1-2 poor
3-5 average
6-8 noteworthy
9-12 epic
13+ legendary

We have a size.  The average size of an adult American male is 5’10” or 1.77 meters.  In the interest of mathematical efficiency, we’ll call this Size 10.  The average adult American male of that size who is of a decent level of fitness weighs in around 176 pounds or 80 Kilograms, and we’ll call that Mass 10.

Going up a Size level doubles your volume.  Going down a Size level halves it.  Mathematically, this works out to increasing your height by 25% or decreasing it by 20%.  The variance is due to a mathematical oddity whereby 25% of, say, 4 is exactly the same as 20% of 5, so if your starting value is 4, and you go up 25%, you’ll be at 5.  Then you go down 20% and you’ll be back at 4.  Here’s a table to help.

Some example sizes

Some example sizes

Mass is like Size.  Going up a level doubles your mass(weight), going down a size halves it.  This is a bit easier than working with Size, so you don’t need the table.

That’ll do it for our core stats.   Now for the derived ones.

Most characters have some degree of substance.  A physicality, which is worn away by attack, disease, and injury.  It’s customary to abstract all of these away into a pool of Health Points, or HP.  We’ll set HP to be the Body stat, plus the Soul stat, all multiplied by the Mass value.  For our average human male, that’s (B+S)*10.

Some characters in these settings also have a pool of energy points.  These are typically used to represent some form of mental fortitude, or some sort of magical or spiritual energy.  These are often used to cast spells, but have other uses, as well.  We’ll call these Energy Points, or just Energy.  Being more of a mental thing, Energy points will be based on Mind instead of Body.  Energy = (M+S)*Mass.

Your Movement speed is the same as your Size.  For the sake of argument, we’ll say this is the number of yards(or meters) you’re able to move within a 6-second period.

Finally, your Attack and Defense values are equal to the average of your Body, Mind, and Soul stats.

Attack = (B+M+S)/3

Defense = (B+M+S)/3

If it doesn’t count to exactly 3, hold onto the spare 1/3 or 2/3.  They’ll be used to help resolve ties.

Most tabletop RPGs have some system of generating randomized outcomes for events.  Dice are commonly used, and your typical tabletop gamer has a rather pricey and exotic collection.  In the interest of simplicity, we’ll be using dice that pretty much everyone has at least a couple of: your old friend, the six-sided die.

And we’ll only need 2 of them.



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