Thoughts on Ability Scores14-Jul-08
Some more variant rules here. This time, it’s my thoughts on ability score generation methods. I propose a distinction between ‘old-school’ and ‘heroic’ methods, and recommend a different approach to Pure Humans in Mutant Future.
In the core Mutant Future rules, the default method for ability score generation is to roll 3d6 for each ability, then either assign them in order or assign at will, depending on the whim of the referee. Once scores are determined, Pure Humans add +3 to CON, INT, and CHA (although INT and CHA may go up to 21, CON is limited to 18).
This works well enough, but I propose two refinements.
First of all, I believe that referees should make a distinction in their game whether it’s being run ‘old-school’, or with ‘heroic’ PCs. In a campaign with hard-core ‘old-school’ cred, characters are just average joes who must prove their worth, while in a ‘heroic’ campaign PCs have been drawn to a life of adventure due to their above-average capabilities. It’s up to the referee what type of campaign they want. (For the record, Barrier Peaks is a ‘heroic’ campaign.)
In an ‘old-school’ campaign, characters are subject to the whims of fate. Players have limited choice in ability generation, and the scores themselves are quite average. In a ‘heroic’ campaign, players can choose their strengths and weaknesses, and most PCs are better than the average wasteland scav.
Second, I have a problem with Pure Humans. I like the idea of an ability score range of 3 to 18 representing the ‘normal human’ range. Compared to most characters, Pure Humans end up with super-human capabilities and – in particular – a high number of Hit Points.
I propose that instead of getting a flat ability score bonus, Pure Humans get to roll an extra die for each ability and drop the lowest value. That way, they’re still in the 3-18 range but on average have superior scores than other characters.
Old-School Ability Scores:
Select a race. All characters except Pure Humans roll 3d6 six times and assign to each ability, in order. Pure Humans roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die, assigning each score in order.
Once ability scores are rolled, players have the option of swapping any two values (but are not required to do so).
Heroic Ability Scores:
Select a race. All characters except Pure Humans roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die, repeated for a total of six scores. Pure Humans roll 5d6 and drop the two lowest dice. In either case, the resulting scores can be assigned as desired to each ability.
As you can see, the ‘old-school’ approach produces very random characters, while the ‘heroic’ method allows a larger degree of player control. In either case, Pure Humans end up with generally higher scores, but still have a minimum of 3 and maximum of 18. In addition, you need to pick a race before rolling for abilities, which I concede is a drawback to this approach.