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Old 06-04-2009, 09:10 PM   #1
LazarusDarkeyes
 
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Default Attribute Limits

I like to run 'realistic' (no cinematic abilities, no "supers" fantasy characters) swords & sorcery fantasy games. There are 5 common fantasy races for the world (no humans) with appropriate modest bonuses and penalties to attributes.

Inspired by the rules stating that HP and FP should be within 30% of the norm, I have been applying a rule that character's attributes must be within 30% of the racial norm. The exception I make is ST can go 60% above the racial norm.

These would mean that a human PC falling under these rules can only have attributes as follows:
ST = 7 - 16
DX = 7 - 13
IQ = 7 - 13
HT = 7 - 13

EX Race: Vaug (ST+3, DX-1, IQ-1, HT+1)
ST = 7 - 16
DX = 7 - 13
IQ = 7 - 13
HT = 7 - 13

The sidebar on Basic: Characters, p.14, indicates that humans can have attributes less than -40% from racial norm and be considered to be "Crippled" in that regard and that +50% from the racial norm is amazing. On the top of page 15 they state that "even humans can have a ST score of over 20" (+100% or more ST), but I don't know how 'realistic' that is.

I'm curious for insights or comments from this forum. Does such a percentage limit I have been imposing make any sense? Does the limit maybe make sense but the % needs tweaking (alter the lower limit % or higher limit %)? What about having a small Unusual Background cost to exceed the limits (whatever they are decided upon)?

...or I can just scrap the limits altogether...
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Old 06-04-2009, 09:32 PM   #2
Turhan's Bey Company
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

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Originally Posted by LazarusDarkeyes View Post
...or I can just scrap the limits altogether...
This. First, assuming you aren't handing out vast numbers of points, your players are unlikely to build characters with excessive attributes in the first place. If they do build characters with excessive attributes, they're likely to be crippled in other areas (sure, someone's got a 20 DX, but he's got a 7 in any two of ST, IQ, and HT) that they won't last long and the problem solves itself.

Second, and more importantly, I don't see how it makes actual play more fun to basically force PCs not just to fall into a realistically possible range, but a statistically likely one. You, the GM, may get a certain philosophical satisfaction in the abstract appreciation that the PCs in your campaign fit some kind of mathematical ideal, but that doesn't make the players more interested in or satisfied by their characters. If they're having adventures, even if they never break a single law of physics, they're clearly operating under exceptional conditions. Let them be exceptional people. Indeed, if you're running a truly realistic campaign, they must be exceptional if they're going to survive.
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

This doesn't make any sense to me.

The easiest Attribute to measure in the real world is ST. And we see that humans can demonstratably have ST that varies by much more than this. A small and slender woman with ST 5-6 isn't crippled, she's just really waif-like. And plenty of people have ST 17+ in real life. ST 16 people simply cannot perform the feats seen in the World's Strongest Man contest, not to mention lift the weights that are the world records in various lifting sports.

If the 60% variation is too little, I think there's an excellent chance that the 30% might be as well. Granted it's much harder to measure DX, IQ and HT; but rudimentary work with standard deviations reveal that agility and intellect can vary by an astonishing amount between individuals of the same species.

In my 'realistic-themed' games, I strongly discourage DX, IQ and HT above 15 for humans, but I set no lower limits (extremely low scores represent some sort of medical condition, but unfortunately, those aren't all that rare in the real world). For ST, I suggest that HP and Lifting ST above 'pure' ST might be in order, since the GURPS ST damage tables are legacy code that doesn't really scale with Basic Lift once you get above the 7-12 range.
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:17 AM   #4
Amra
 
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

I like the "Realistic" limits suggestions in Martial Arts, much like Icelander's discouraging scores above 15, I think it's only one Attribute above 14 in MA.
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

We have a permanant campaign starting limit [even for cinimatic games!] of:
Base stats max +100 points, Min -40 points.
That gives:
ST and HT 6-20
IQ and DX 8-15.

we also limit physical modifyers to +/- 2, for example vision and hearing bonus's and striking ST etc.. and skills to 20.

works for us.
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

In the game I GM there is a limit set at 15 for primary attributes(and there are limits for secondaries too). That limit can be exceeded by GM permission with Special Exercises perk. But at most for one primary attribute/character.
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Old 06-05-2009, 02:03 AM   #7
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
This doesn't make any sense to me.

The easiest Attribute to measure in the real world is ST. And we see that humans can demonstratably have ST that varies by much more than this. A small and slender woman with ST 5-6 isn't crippled, she's just really waif-like. ....
I have trouble believing any person without some kind of severe dwarfism sand other problems would have strength comparable to my cat.
My Cerbee had a strength of 5. He was a ball of muscle, but less than 20 pounds.
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Old 06-05-2009, 02:10 AM   #8
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
...ST 16 people simply cannot perform the feats seen in the World's Strongest Man contest, not to mention lift the weights that are the world records in various lifting sports.
....
But those records are after MASSIVE training, almost certain steroid use, in perfect health for that moment, exert themselves beyond what their bodies should be doing, and usually suffer crippling injuries as a matter of course.

I would put world record holders as having one muscle group pushing the limits with others being more in line... as well as having a very high will plus everything lining up perfectly for that moment.
I consider records as example of extreme normal strength coupled with a moment of hysterical strength.

In other words, I don't see how we can really agree on supposedly easily measured strength let alone the other stats.

Or to make a rambling story short, it's all good.
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Old 06-05-2009, 02:51 AM   #9
Sam Baughn
 
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

One thing about this approach is that it actually makes racial attribute modifiers meaningful. If elves get +2 DX in a normal fantasy game, then that isn't really relevant, because the human PCs are likely to have DX 12 or better anyway. If that +2 DX lets you buy up to DX 15 when everyone else is stuck at DX 13, then it's a lot more significant.

I'd suggest letting characters push the limits a bit with an unusual training perk though. Say another +10% (or 20% for ST) with the perk, so it is possible to play a human genius or the worlds strongest dwarf if you really want to.
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Old 06-05-2009, 03:13 AM   #10
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Attribute Limits

Quote:
Originally Posted by LazarusDarkeyes View Post
Inspired by the rules stating that HP and FP should be within 30% of the norm, I have been applying a rule that character's attributes must be within 30% of the racial norm. The exception I make is ST can go 60% above the racial norm.
Perfectly all right, as long as those limitations apply to all your characters as well, and apply just as hard to them - all the millions of NPCs living in the setting - as they do to the players' characters.
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