TGR and Other Stats

A year ago, I wrote up a very rough, basic game framework  called TGR — The Generic Rules — not a playable game, but something I could base TableMaster tables on, so there would be some degree of consistency in their references to various stats, monsters, etc. You can find them here: Stats, Races & ClassesMonstersSpells & Effects.

TGR has a basic set of character stats that cover most uses, but there are some interesting exceptions. Those generally apply to settings other than the classic “knights and monsters” fantasy setting.

Because it has, as I said in the first post, mostly “nouns” and few “verbs” — that is, lots of things, but few if any applications of those things — TGR is independent of levels, skills, etc. When I was sketching out the system, I had three games in the back of my head: D&D, Traveller, and to some extent GURPS — the first two I have run extensively, and the latter I’ve played a few times, but mostly looted its many supplements for ideas for other games. It’s not coincidental that these three are a level-based and two skill-based systems; I wanted anything I did based on TGR to be usable for either style.

The existing TGR stats cover most things:

Strength – your basic physical brawn.
Stamina – endurance, physical fortitude, etc.
Agility – bodily agility, reflexes, and athletic ability.
Dexterity – manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Intelligence – smarts, and mental strength.
Will – stubbornness, basically mental stamina.
Alertness – chance to notice things that matter.
Personality – charm, charisma, ability to get along.

In general, those stats can be translated fairly directly to your game system of choice, because they cover most of the fundamental aspects of a character, especially the ones that can be affected by things on tables.

For instance, D&D rolls Dexterity and Agility are rolled into a single stat, and has no equivalent of Alertness. So an effect that affects either Agility or Dexterity would be applied to D&D’s Dexterity, while one that affects Alertness could be used as a modifier on D&D’s rolls for surprise, spotting traps, and other things.

Traveller gets more complicated. Not only does it combine Dexterity and Agility, but it has no equivalent of Will, Alertness, or Personality, and adds two, potentially three, other stats: Education, Social Standing, and possibly Psionic Strength. It’s not as complicated as that, though. Most of the things TableMaster tables roll up are unlikely to affect Education or Social Standing, so we really don’t need to deal with them at all. The otherwise-unused Will could be repurposed to become Psionic Strength when necessary, though that does leave open the question of how it would affect non-psionic characters; it’s a bit complicated.

Call of Cthulhu, as another example, uses fairly D&D-like characteristics, so there are direct counterparts of Strength, Stamina, Dexterity/Agility, Intelligence, Will, and Personality, namely Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Power, and Appearance. Again, the Education stat that CoC has and TGR does not would rarely if ever come into play in tables. Size is more problematic, but any effects on a character’s size are generally extreme (for example, reducing him to the size of a mouse) so that’s easily handled by the gamemaster. Most of the derived characteristics such as Luck, Magic Points, and Damage Bonus likewise are likewise things that relate mostly to “verbs” rather than the “nouns” that are most of what TGR has. The one exception here is Sanity.

CoC is not alone in having a Sanity-type characteristic. It might have different names and effects on gameplay, but most horror-genre games have some sort of “how much they’re freaked out by this” value. (Incidentally, an interesting use of it outside the tabletop realm is the computer game Darkest Dungeon, which I highly recommend) It’s something that everyone has in the game systems that include it, rather than some of the characters and not others, such as magical ability or psionics.

There are also many games in which there is some stat independent of the regular ones that only some characters have: psionic strength, magic points, etc. That stat not only doesn’t exist in all game systems, but it doesn’t exist for all characters in the systems where it does occur.

To cover those two elements, I’ve added two more stats to TGR:

Sanity – holding it together in the face of horrors.
Esoteric Power – psionic strength, magic points, etc.

If you’re running a game that does not have a Sanity attribute and using a table that produces Sanity damage, you have a number of options. You could completely ignore the effect, of course, on the theory that for people who routinely fight dragons, a mere Horror from Beyond Space and Time is nothing. Or you could give the affected player a roll to not freak out at the sight of said Horror from Beyond Space and Time, and leave it at that.  If you’re running a horror-themed game, you may have some system already that you can apply it to. In general, the “save vs. freakout” approach will cover most things.

Esoteric Power is a different issue, and one that really has to be decided by the individual GM based on their specific campaign and how things work in it, because the handling of it differs not only between rules systems but sometimes even between different campaigns using the same rules. For example, in a game where psionic abilities are a thing, what happens when some type of “psionic shock” is directed at a non-psionic character? Do they not even notice it, fall into a coma, or something in between? In a game with magic, what happens when something or someone attempts a magic draining effect on a non-magical character? Esoteric Power effects should be handled the same way.

Whenever I happen to be tinkering with an existing table, particularly from the Fantasy Table Packs, I’ve been updating stat, monster, etc., references to coincide with TGR. Generally, that’s pretty straightforward — just changing stat names — because TGR is really little more than documentation of the way I think about how game characteristics and such work.

Speaking of Table Packs, assorted chaos has delayed the new one — mostly, I’m chasing a bug in TableMaster — but 20+ tables for it are finished, and I’ve got the cover art. So it’s definitely coming soon.