Friday, June 20, 2008


Wisdom is the last dumping ground for stats, for being like charisma and intelligence it has no direct influence on combat. I considered long and hard on how to have this affect the players, and settled on the idea that the character would have made friends or enemies during their early life; the wisdom table is meant to reflect that.

Now, most times, a character couldn’t give a rat’s ass what their family thought of them growing up. Family members do not generally have any place in D&D (nerds must dislike them, hm?), and I haven’t seen a player make much use of the positive results of this table. Most of the time, a player is too busy globetrotting to care much what mum and dad are doing back on the farm. Still, I feel the table has relevance and I don’t feel any need to change the subject matter.

The biggest dispute might be the result where a proficiency or a number of cantrips are lost. I agree, this is nasty. So is losing a limb, or being covered with burn scars. If you accept the negative results of the first two tables, you must accept that occasionally a character is going to have fucked up their studies in their youth. You might want to create some means by which they can take “night courses” and get back that proficiency or cantrip. Or simply eliminate the result from your campaign.

One thing that can be considered is the juxtaposition of this table with the father's profession table I posted days ago. If your father is no one special, then it doesn't much matter how the character is viewed. But if your father was merchant guildmaster (and loaded), and your fighter is HATED by his family...well, that just sucks, doesn't it?


  1. These background tables based on ability scores are inspired genius. I think it's interesting that you've chosen the familial and community relations of the character to be determined by their wisdom score.

    Did you build these ability score-to-consequence relationships slowly over time, or did you sit down at your desk one day and say, "Wisdom will determine friends and enemies, Intelligence will determine financial/criminal factors,"? It seems a bit like the latter, but these tables look like they've gone through a few iterations.

    I ask this because after reading your intelligence table, I think I could make an argument for using "lose a toe" in the wisdom table instead of intelligence. Curiosity killed the cat, and a dangerous curiosity is something I'd attribute to high-intelligence, low-wisdom folks.

    Regardless, these are great, and I'd like to use them in my upcoming game. I'll attribute them to you, of course.

    One final thing before I head back into the salt mines: I put such a strong emphasis on skills, lanugages and their use in my D20 game that I've not seen anyone use Intelligence as a dump-stat for a long time. In my games it's usually charisma unless they're a bard, sorcerer or cleric. The bard and sorcerer relying on charisma for their spellcasting ability and the cleric for his ability to turn undead.

  2. I didn't quite do them in a day, but I conceived of them and wrote them in a two week period between sessions, then immediately sprang them on my party.

    Anything that puts the emphasis on I, W and C is good in my books. As far as the tables going through a redux, they have and they will again. It would be nice to have a least a hundred results for each table.

    I guess I see losing a toe as stupid, not unwise. Unwise always suggests a decision made at some point in the past, as in, "I won't need that toe, so I'll risk it," as opposed to, "Oh shit, my fucking toe!"

  3. This concept is simply phenomenal.

    Thank you so much for sharing these house rules, for other systems (GURPS, etc) seem to encourage players to take flaws/disadvantages for a direct trade-off for access to more room for powers/advantages. To me, this completely annihilates any chance of a flaw turning into hamartia.

    Also, the genetic approach to ability scores is very, intriguing and has excellent, far-reaching backstory connontations. These rules seem to compliment the mechanical benefit of placing a score in a combat-related stat nicely.

    Kudos, sir, for you have rocked my Classic D&D world.

  4. Dear the Tao of D&D, please explain:

    "Began playing dungeons and dragons at the age of 15 with Men & Magic and Characters & Combat."

    What exactly is, and where might one find "Characters & Combat."?



  5. Ktrey,

    I hadn't thought of the exchange of bad for good, but your point is well made. It's fundamentally a philosophical outlook...the game-makers think that a good game is in everyone being treated fairly. But life isn't fair. To be real, to make the game feel real, there has to be a bit of winding up behind the eight ball. The "balance" is not in giving some other power to the character, but in the character learning how to make his or her deformity, misanthropy or stupidity an asset.


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