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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Which Scores Overlap? Part I

In Why I Like Both Wisdom and Intelligence, I talked about those two scores overlapping and suggested there may be other potential overlaps in the six ability scores. One thing I was thinking of was Strength and Constitution.

Most people wouldn’t think of those two ability scores as overlapping. I mean, they are pretty well-defined, aren’t they? Constitution governs health and resistance to physical damage. Strength, on the other hand, is an active ability, rather than a passive one, and governs damage dealt and weight carried.

But think about another physical quality that’s pretty important: endurance. How long can a character run, hold up a falling timber, or hold their breath? There are no hard rules for these things in OD&D, so referees have made their own rulings when necessary. Those that hate overlaps probably pick Con for holding breath, Strength for holding up a timber. But I’m willing to use the best of Strength or Con when trying to judge those situations.

A few people have felt the need for a separate Endurance stat to cover this. Some RPGs even treat this as a calculated stat, an average between two other stats like Strength and Con. A good way to look at overlaps is to ask “in games that use derived stats, what stats are considered derived? Which stats do they use as their parent stats?” My preference is to just use the parent stats directly, either the highest or lowest of two as the situation calls for it.

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