February 26, 2014
Dealing With Dexterity
Dexterity is often a problem attribute, the problem being that it is often far too good. Labeled as the “god-stat” in many games, Dexterity often influences a character’s defense, attack, initiative, and no shortage of very useful skills. Many games have tried to circumvent this in some way with some of them succeeding, and others failing miserably. With this in mind, lets look at how some different games handle this.
Dungeons & Dragons/Pathfinder: The classic role-playing game is the game that made Dexterity such a powerful ability. In this game it influences your Armor Class (defense), your Reflex saving throw, initiative many skills, and with a single feat, your attack rolls with lighter weapons. While not the worst offender of Dexterity being the “god-stat,” it is certainly up there.
Shadowrun: This game divides Dexterity into the attributes of Agility and Reaction, with Agility influencing attack rolls and Reaction influencing defense and initiative. With net hits on attack increasing damage, this was a necessary step in making sure fast characters do not possess an overwhelming advantage over all others.
World of Darkness: Like D&D/Pathfinder, it has only a Dexterity stat and in terms of combat ability, this game definitely has Dexterity a bit too overpowered. It influences defense, initiative, skills, and ranged attacks with net hits becoming damage, however melee attacks are based on Strength (again, with a single merit needed to have them based on Dexterity). The saving grace of this game is that it is rarely focused on combat, and a combat-build character will often find themselves out of sorts and out of their league.
Anima: Beyond Fantasy: Like Shadowrun, Anima divided Dexterity into two stats – Agility and Dexterity – with Dexterity influencing Attack and Block while Agility influences Dodge. Dodge is often the preferable defense, and while Dexterity can still be a “god-stat” in this game, this is a game where overpowered characters do become the norm, so it is often less noticeable.
Iron Kingdoms: This game actually divides it into three stats: Agility, Poise, and Prowess. Agility determines defense and speed, Poise determines ranged attacks, and Prowess determines melee. This division may be a little too extreme at times, but it definitely works in making fast characters a little more on par with others.
The Dresden Files RPG: This game gets around the “god-stat” problem of Dexterity by not having a Dexterity stat, or any stats whatsoever. An interesting method that goes against many gaming conventions and works incredibly well.
Scion: Never before have I ever seen a game in which the term “god-stat” is more appropriate. Dexterity influences defense, speed, initiative, attacks with excess going into damage, skills, many of the combat focused powers, and more. In this game, fast characters win. The end. So much so that there are many players who find this game to be unplayable, and even my group uses a great deal of house-rules for playing the game, many of which are set specifically to weaken Dexterity and its influences over all.
As always, I thank you all for reading and wish you all the very best of games.
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