Attributes, skills and masteries

My intention for this first draft of attributes and skills is to use a mix of systems that I like: Dungeons and Dragons, Might & Magic and Elder Scrolls. Needless to say, this is a draft and several things will change.

The system is classless: characters are free to develop as they like, mixing and matching from a large pool of skills, where standard archetypes (fighter/wizard/rogue) are implemented as strategies for attribute and skill allocation.


Attributes define the potential of a character for performing/using skills. They change infrequently, so they act as a skeleton for builds. They affect skills by providing bonuses (or penalties) and restricting skill mastery. I’m going with the typical DnD attributes except constitution.

  • STRENGTH: Physical power and resilience. Affects hitpoints.
  • AGILITY: Motor skills.
  • INTELLIGENCE: Intellect, reasoning. Affects spellcasting.
  • PERCEPTION: Intuition, awareness, insight.
  • CHARISMA: Influence on others

For starters, I’ll use the DnD scale where a value of 10 is average. Similarly, characters gain a point every 3 levels.


Skills are areas of expertise and training. They are split into multiple categories: Body and mind, offense, defense, stealth, lore, perception, crafts, magic, social and adventure. The categories are just a way of grouping related skills, so that players do not see a massive flat list of skills.

Skills can be used in a variety of scenarios, when a character is attempting certain actions (swim in the river/climb mountains: use Athletics. Attack with a greatsword: use “two handed style”. Talk to a guild member, use “persuasion” or “renown”. etc).

Skills start at 0 can be trained up to 50. Characters will earn 5 skill points each level to distribute. A skill value cannot be higher than 2x character level. So, a skill can be maxed at lvl 25. For reference, the soft cap for character level would be around 30, reached at about 20h of playtime.

Skills have optional associated major and minor attributes (in the below table, in column 3, if only one initial appears, it’s a major attribute). Major and minor attribute affect skill advancement as explained in the masteries section below.

Athletics Body and mind SA Climbing, swimming, etc
Fortitude S Resilience to effects on the body, e.g. poison and disease
Reflexes A Avoidance of physical effects
Willpower P Resilience to effects on the mind, e.g. charm, sleep, hypnotize. Also used for morale checks in combat.
Concentration I Resistance to being interrupted while using powers and casting spells
Body building S Hit points bonus
Meditation I Mana points bonus
Weapon style [two-handed] Offense S Effective wielding of two-handed weapons + tactics
Weapon style [one-handed] SA Effective wielding of one-handed weapons, with or without shield + tactics
Weapon style [dual-wielding AS Effective wielding of two weapons simultaneously + tactics
Weapon style [ranged] AS Effective wielding of ranged weapons + tactics
Melee weapon mastery [blunt] SA Effective use of blunt weapons: stunning, etc
Melee weapon mastery [slashing] AS Effective use of swords and axes: bleeding, etc
Melee weapon mastery [daggers] A Effective use of daggers: backstab bonuses, critical, etc
Melee weapon mastery [polearms] SA Effective use of polearm weapons
Ranged weapon mastery [bows/crossbows]
AS Effective use of bows and crossbows
Ranged weapon mastery [slings/blowpipes]
A Effective use of slings and blowpipes (stunning for slings, criticals for both, etc)
Ranged weapon mastery [thrown] SA Effective use of thrown weapons (knockback effects when using heavy items, etc)
Armor [light] Defense A Effective use of light armor: focus on mobility and stealth
Armor AS Effective use of medium armor: tradeoff between protection and mobility/stealth
Armor [heavy] S Effective use of heavy armor: focus on protection
Shield mastery SA Effective use of shields: bucklers to tower shields
Sleight of hand Stealth A Pickpocketing creatures, burglary
Hide A Hide in shadows (opposite of Spot skill)
Lockpicking A Opening locked doors, chests and any containers that are mechanically locked
Move silently A Opposite of Listen skill
Item lore Lore PI Item identification and knowledge
Creature lore PI Creature knowledge
History and legends PI Knowledge about myths, legends, history and past world events
Dungeon lore PI Knowledge about dungeons (architecture, layouts, etc)
Arcane lore PI Knowledge about arcana
Literacy I Knowledge and ability to decipher dead languages, old scripts, etc
Detect traps Awareness P Ability to detect traps
Spot P Ability to spot difficult to see creatures, items and dungeon features
Listen P
Ability to listen to moving creatures in dungeons, other dungeon sounds (e.g. water running in secret room), enemy ambush in the wilderness, etc
Sixth sense P Ability to sense danger (ambush, powerful creatures, strong traps)
Disarm traps Crafts AP Ability to disarm traps
Repair SP Ability to repair items
Cooking IP Ability to cook nourishing meals
Make weapons SI Ability to make weapons. Skill in particular weapons is needed too
Make armor SI Ability to make armor. Skill in particular armor is needed too
Make accessories and utility AI Ability to make jewelry and general utility items
Enchant item Magic I Ability to enchant items
Alchemy I Ability to effectively mix potions
Wand mastery I Effective use of wands (single hand, with shield, dual-wielding)
Staff mastery I Effective use of staves as magic spell conduits
Magic school mastery [command] I Effective use of command magic spells (charms, curses)
Magic school mastery [alteration] I Effective use of alteration magic spells (buffs, debuffs)
Magic school mastery [divination] I Effective use of divination magic spells (magic mapping, detection)
Magic school mastery [creation] I Effective use of creation magic spells (heal, summon)
Magic school mastery [destruction] I Effective use of destruction magic spells ( elemental, damage)
Leadership Social C
Ease of recruiting and maintaining followers. Also, summoning strength/effectiveness, otherwise e.g. powerful summons can turn against you. Also affects party morale in combat
Persuasion C Extract information, convince, reduce relationship penalties
Haggling C Cheaper prices for everything
Renown C Effectiveness of adventuring feats and deeds in terms of renown
Perform C Musical instruments, dancing, acting
Scouting Adventure PI
Sight radius, more info on nearby overworld entities (e.g. creature groups and locations), ambush bonuses
Survival PI Effective camping and travelling in the wilderness, ambush bonuses, finding more food
Find more things, find less curse and more blessed items, maybe occasional reroll when getting gravely injured

Again, the above is still work in progress and several things are prone to change. What’s missing at the moment are active abilities, but that’s for another time and out of the scope of this post.

Skill mastery levels

For each skill, there are several mastery levels / tiers. Everybody starts at the Novice level. When the character has allocated a certain number of points to a skill and fulfills certain attribute requirements (see Major/Minor attributes in previous section and column 3 in previous table), the character is eligible for advancing the mastery level, typically using a guild/trainer (for grandmaster level and maybe more, quests would be involved, as in Might and Magic games). Advancing a mastery level will give fixed bonuses and affect interactions with the character in the game world, unlocking quests, affecting relations, etc. For requirement purposes, the game will use natural values, not counting effects from spells/items/etc.


Skill mastery level names Skill Req Maj Attr Req Min Attr Req
Novice 0 0 0
Apprentice 1 4 2
Adept 5 8 5
Expert 15 12 8
Master 30 16 11
Grandmaster 50 20 14

If a character does not fulfill the attribute requirements for a skill, they cannot allocate points any further. For example, a fighter character with STR=17, DEX=13 and INT=10 can achieve:

  • Master in Heavy Armor ( STR > 16)
  • Master in Shield ( STR > 16, DEX > 11)
  • Expert in Make Weapons ( STR > 12, INT > 8)


The game will use standard cRPG values for life and spellcasting.

Max hitpoints for a level can be calculated from level, Strength attribute and Body building skill. Max spell points are similarly calculated from level, Intelligence attribute and Meditation skill. The formula draft at the moment (which will change with 99.9% certainty) is:

Level x ((Attribute-10) x 1.5 + Skill x 0.5 + 10)

Testing things out

At the moment I have a character generator based on predefined archetypes (fighter/wizard/mage/etc), so the next step is to design “challenges” for characters, their cost in terms of HP/MP and their value in terms of experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.