Friday, November 22, 2013

Ability Score Tags

Ability Scores that are high or low enough to engender a bonus or penalty can also be assigned Tags. Tags are six-letter words used to emphasize a specific facet of an Ability Score. 

These tags can be chosen/determined initially or developed during play. The original intention was solely to help mitigate the effects of a low ability score, or accentuate certain qualities of a high score by providing some exposition/justification.

Ability Score Tags provide explanations for Ability Scores outside the normal assumptions (for example: Low Strength doesn't necessarily mean one is Weak, they could just suffer from ASTHMA). Negative Tags can also sometimes be used in a positive fashion with a little ingenuity and creativity. The converse is also true. 

Roll or Choose
Low Strength Tags
Roll or Choose
High Strength Tags
1
SVELTE
1
BIGGER
2
PAUNCH
2
BRAWNY
3
ASTHMA
3
VEINED
4
FEEBLE
4
BICEPS
5
ANGINA
5
MUSCLY
6
PETITE
6
LIMBER
7
DAINTY
7
STURDY
8
SPRAIN
8
VIRILE
9
HERNIA
9
METTLE
10
ANEMIC
10
ACTIVE

Roll or Choose
Low Dexterity Tags
Roll or Choose
High Dexterity Tags
1
OAFISH
1
NIMBLE
2
CLUMSY
2
ADROIT
3
THUMBS
3
SPRYLY
4
KLUTZY
4
REACTS
5
JINXED
5
POISED
6
BUMBLE
6
LIVELY
7
FIDGET
7
SUBTLE
8
BUM-LEG
8
FASTER
9
RUSHED
9
TIPTOE
10
MAIMED
10
SPEEDY

Roll or Choose
Low Constitution Tags
Roll or Choose
High Constitution Tags
1
PAINED
1
RUGGED
2
FEVERS
2
STURDY
3
SICKLY
3
HEARTY
4
SMOKES
4
IMMUNE
5
PALLID
5
LOPING
6
NAUSEA
6
ROBUST
7
ADDICT
7
INURED
8
COUGHS
8
GRITTY
9
EFFETE
9
HUNGRY
10
FAINTS
10
STOCKY

Roll or Choose
Low Intelligence Tags
Roll or Choose
High Intelligence Tags
1
SAVAGE
1
PEDANT
2
OBTUSE
2
GIFTED
3
MISLED
3
SAVANT
4
NITWIT
4
CLEVER
5
VACANT
5
GENIUS
6
MYOPIC
6
SHREWD
7
BORING
7
MATURE
8
DROWSY
8
DEBATE
9
QUIRKY
9
DIRECT
10
ARGUES
10
MENTOR

Roll or Choose
Low Wisdom Tags
Roll or Choose
High Wisdom Tags
1
PANICS
1
MUSING
2
RUEFUL
2
CALMED
3
PRISSY
3
POLITE
4
PHOBIA
4
MELLOW
5
CHOLER
5
SOLEMN
6
SHAKEN
6
STABLE
7
STINGY
7
STEADY
8
STOLID
8
DARING
9
VOICES
9
FRUGAL
10
TEMPER
10
HUMANE

Roll or Choose
Low Charisma Tags
Roll or Choose
High Charisma Tags
1
DEMURE
1
CHUMMY
2
CHILLY
2
HONEST
3
ORNERY
3
FLIRTY
4
BIASED
4
EXOTIC
5
MOROSE
5
URBANE
6
SHIFTY
6
BLITHE
7
SHRILL
7
BEAUTY
8
SLEAZY
8
CHATTY
9
VULGAR
9
CHEERY
10
COARSE
10
EYEFUL
11
CRABBY
11
FORMAL
12
DOWNER
12
HAIRDO
13
HOMELY
13
COMELY
14
EGOIST
14
IMPISH
15
LECHER
15
JOCOSE
16
IRKING
16
KINDLY
17
KOWTOW
17
JOVIAL
18
LAPDOG
18
LEADER
19
ABRUPT
19
LOOKER
20
SCOWLS
20
FRIEND

I usually stick with a single Tag per Ability Score, but you could just as easily allow a Tag for each +1/-1, or even a Tag for each point above or below 10 for really colorful characters.

Note: Ability Score Tags also come in handy when generating Henchmen, Hirelings and other non-player characters. 

Ability Score Tags Subsystem: 

The fact that all Tags are six-letter words allows for a simple Tag Improvement/Replacement/Removal subsystem that utilizes a d6. 

For example: Say an individual with the PHOBIA Wisdom tag would like to overcome their fear. At certain intervals (each time the object of the PHOBIA is encountered, the Tag comes up in play, each session, or what-have-you) the player can roll 1d6. If a six is rolled, then the player can mark through a letter and next time the interval arises, they will be able to mark on a 5-6, and so on. Once all the letters are marked out, the PHOBIA has been overcome. Invert this for low-rolling = good d6 resolution. 

This accommodates character improvement that is not necessarily level-dependent. I suppose it would also be possible to tie this improvement to ability score advancement (if applicable, ability score inflation is not everyone's cup of tea), to divorce that from level-based increases as well. 

I tend to prefer the frequency this generates, tying it to a random roll makes improvement considerably less predictable, and more special, as well as encouraging the player to put the character in situations where their Tags are applicable. But it could also be tinkered with by adding or subtracting level to the roll to insure more consistent improvement.

I wouldn't suggest that the Tags themselves amount to additional bonuses or penalties to accomplish specific tasks (as the Tags come from a bonus or penalty), but they could. For instance: an individual with the STURDY Strength Tag might receive a bonus to prevent them from being knocked down. Fair Warning: using the Tags in this fashion could lead to bonus inflation and optimization.  

I tend to lean toward using Tags to provide a little more customized rationalization for a character's high and low ability scores, and potentially using them for Ad Hoc role-playing rewards (although with the Subsystem, using them becomes it's own reward). Let me know if you find a use for this subsystem or the Ability Score Tag tables in your game.