Attributes, what are they? They're some things ... things, that are related to the core of the game mechanics rather closely. Yet when one refuses to go the bland way of generic ruleset, attributes can be very setting-specific, too (in the FUDGE-ish way of thinking, that is).

Taking the aforementioned into consideration, attributes can be ...

  • Explicit (mentioned in the rules) or implicit (missing in writing, but considered in the minds of the players)
  • Rule-determining or descriptive (these have no impact on game mechanics)
  • Of equal importance or hierarchized (i.e. a "superatribute" and its children)
  • Tied into the system (as in many other mechanics depending on them) or loose
  • External (i.e. body mass) or intrinsic (take willpower, for example)
  • etc. (feel free to add some classifications)

Now, the question is ... how should one go about determining the fitting set of attributes for a specific setting? I was thinking about sort of a factor analysis: i.e. taking a some characteristic story of the setting, writing down all the events that the characters in the story do, then finding the underlying behavioral themes underneath, and constructing the attributes based on these.

But I apparently have no idea ...

Another perspective: look at the attributes in the images related to this article. Now, how (the hell) did these people come up with their attributes?

Beware, an update (I was told that specific questions land the success around here ... and that generalizations are to be left out).

Specifically, I'm looking for a fitting set of attributes for a postapocalyptic setting that involves a lot of gritty fighting, sneaking, none of the conventional magic, and a tiny bit of steampunk/magitech, with some Jungian occultism of the soul to boot (you know, the shadow and stuff).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I feel this question is better suited to a discussion than to this format. Upon which criteria would you decide a better answer? I don't feel like there is one single valid way of determining a fitting set of attributes. What does fitting mean, after all? In addition, the topic is too broad: you're basically asking us how do people do game design, for every game out there. Maybe a Role-playing Games Chat discussion about game design principles would serve you better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Mar 22, 2014 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let's take fitting as in reflecting the theme of the game in some fidelity, i.e. accenting the feel of the specific setting. Upon which criteria would I go for the best answer? I'd go for elegance (technically easy, but philosophically rich solution). \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Mar 22, 2014 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even with the edit this question is still massively broad. The attributes you pick depend on a huge number of variables, only one of which is the setting you are designing for. For example, do you want a narrative, abstract, or crunchy setting? Without a significant rethink of the way the question is structured, I am voting to close, and I agree with @Zachiel that even then you are likely to get much better responses from a discussion forum that the format of this site \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Mar 22, 2014 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


To answer that, you (the designer) have to first answer a higher-level question:

What do you do in this game?

Having answered that, you are now equipped to self-answer the question of what stats you need:

You need exactly and only the stats necessary to achieve that.


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