Monday, November 14, 2016

Characteristics in DragonQuest

Like all Role-Playing Games DragonQuest has a set of characteristics that represent a characters physical and mental attributes and capabilities.  In DragonQuest there are 6 primary characteristics determined by the player during character creation from a pool of Characteristic Points. These are:
  • Physical Strength (PS)
  • Manual Dexterity (MD)
  • Agility (AG)
  • Endurance (EN)
  • Willpower (WP)
  • Magic Aptitude (MA)
There are two derived Characteristics:
  • Fatigue (FT) - Determined by Endurance
  • Tactical Movement Rate (TMR) - Determined by Agility
One Characteristic with a fixed starting value:
  • Perception (PC) - Starts at 5 (8 for Bantam 2nd ed. or TSR 3rd ed.)
And an Optional random Characteristic:
  • Physical Beauty - Determined by 4d5+3 roll.
All of these have some impact on a characters abilities in combat, their skills like Ranger, their ability to use/cast magic and just generally surviving the cold, cruel world.  The degree of that impact varies quite a bit between the various characteristics.  Below I provide some detail on how and where a characteristic is used as well as some comments about them.

Physical Strength (PS)

Generally you want to have enough PS to use any chosen weapons and perhaps more importantly carry around your adventuring gear.  There are significant AG penalties when you are carrying too much.  Check the 82.9 Fatigue and Encumbrance chart at the end of Book 3 to see how much you can carry at a given PS.  Try to hit a break point (9, 13, 18, 21, 24) so that you can carry what you need without putting more points into PS than needed.
  • Weapons have minimum PS requirements for use
  • Optional extra damage when PS exceeds weapon requirement by 5 or more.
  • Improved strike chance and additional damage for Unarmed Attacks for PS > 15.
  • Restrain attacks based on (PS + mAG).
  • Break Contact in Close uses D10 + PS - (Opponent(s) PS) >= 10
  • Resisting dragon wing buffeting and knockdowns from tail attacks. (Cuz that will be your main concern when facing a dragon.  hahahaha)
  • Carrying capacity for both FT loss and AG loss.

    Manual Dexterity (MD)

    Manual Dexterity contributes directly to your chance to hit the bad guy.  Every point of MD is a 1% better chance to hit. It also factors significantly into the various Spy/Thief abilities (see below).  In my opinion however having sufficient MD to use the desired weapons is probably enough unless you are a Spy or Thief.  If you plan to use a shield in combat you'll want a few extra points of MD to counteract the MD loss from the shield or you could take a 5% per point under minimum hit to your Strike Chance.
    • Weapons have minimum MD requirements for use
    • MD contributes directly to Strike Chance.  SC = Base Chance + mMD + 4 * Rank
    • Rolls to avoid breaking or dropping weapons.
    • Rolls to use envenomed weapons without killing yourself.
    • Alchemist - Chance of accident is (30 - [(2 x Rank) + (MD)]% (with liquids).
    • Courtesan - Experience Point cost increased or decreased for low or high MD values.
    • Mechanician - Experience Point cost increased or decreased for low or high MD values.
    • Spy - Pick Lock ([MD] + [4 x Rank] - [6 x Lock Rank])
    • Spy - Open Safe ([MD] + [3 x Rank] - [7 x Safe Rank])
    • Spy - Remove Trap ([MD] + [7 x Rank] - [5 x Trap Rank])
    • Thief - Pick Lock ([2 x MD] + [6x Rank] - [6 x Lock Rank])
    • Thief - Open Safe ([2 x MD] + [5 x Rank] - [7 x Safe Rank])
    • Thief - Remove Trap ([2 x MD] + [11 x Rank] - [5 x Trap Rank])
    • Spy/Thief - Pickpocket  ([3 x MD] + [6  x  Rank])%
    • Thief - Climb ([4 x MD] + [10 x Rank] - [Height in Feet/10])%

      Agility (AG)

      Your Modified Agility (mAG) is your base defense against attacks and factors into a significant number of other combat related values as noted below.  In general I try to set my AG high enough to keep a TMR of 5 (for a human) after any armor and encumbrance penalties are applied which usually means around 17.  As it contributes directly to Initiative Value, a higher AG can be helpful and I'll often put "leftover" points into AG just for that reason.  Spies and Thieves or other characters likely to use Stealth a lot will also want more AG.
      • Determines Tactical Movement Rate (TMR)
      • Defense Rating - mAG + Shield bonus
      • Initiative Value - Engaged (mAG + PC + Rank w/prepared weapon)
      • Initiative Value - Unengaged (mAG + PC + D10 + Rank w/Military Scientist)
      • Very low or high values reduce or allow extra movement in combat.
      • AG of 26+ allows two actions per Pulse.
      • Rolls to avoid tripping - 3 x mAG
      • Rolls to avoid falling prone - 3 x mAG
      • Restrain attacks - PS + mAG
      • Base chance for Unarmed Combat is (mAG x 2)
      • Foes with low mAG may be attacked 2x (<=12) or 3x (<=8) per pulse with dagger.
      • Armor reduces AG
      • Encumbrance reduces AG
      • Horsemanship - [(mAG + WP)/2 + (Rank x 8)]
      • Stealth - ([3 x AG] + [5 x Rank])%
      • Alchemist - Chance of accident is (30 - [(2 x Rank) + (AG)]% (with solids or gasses).
      • Courtesan - Experience Point cost increased or decreased for low or high AG values.

        Endurance (EN)

        First and foremost, Endurance is how much physical damage a character can take.  So from that perspective more is better.  It factors into only a couple combat related calculations (see below) and is not used for any skill determinations.  EN does determine your starting FT which is important for the amount of damage you can take as well as spell-casting and some skill use.  It's hard to go wrong putting a few extra points into EN and hitting a FT break point isn't a bad idea.
        • Determines Fatigue (FT)
        • Determines Stun level - Effective damage >= EN/3
        • Recover from Infection without help - D100 <= EN

          Fatigue (FT) [Derived]

          Fatigue is your first line of defense in that damage from attacks are subtracted from FT first.  FT can be recovered relatively quickly in hours not days.  When you run out of FT, your defense and attack suffers.  As FT is derived from EN, at character creation you can only get more FT by putting more points into EN.  As it takes 3 points of EN for every point gained in FT getting more is best done by spending experience points later.  FT is one of the least expensive characteristics to increase.
          • FT required to cast spells.
          • Used by Astrologers when exercising their abilities.
          • Used by Healers when exercising their abilities.
          • Used by Troubadours employing Bardic Voice.

            Perception (PC) [Fixed starting value]

            Arguably the most important characteristic but it can only be improved through experience.  As players quickly discover your character's starting PC is painfully, woefully low.  It is used by almost every skill and is significant in combat for Initiative Value.  Most experienced DQ players will try to raise PC at every opportunity and it is the least expensive characteristic to raise.  Some say that PC is too important and there is merit to that position.  In many situations it is kind of a replacement for an Intelligence characteristic which DragonQuest doesn't have.  The list of ways it is used in the game below shows how important it is.
            • Used to observe or detect events and gather information about environment.
            • Initiative Value - Engaged (mAG + PC + Rank w/prepared weapon)
            • Initiative Value - Unengaged (mAG + PC + D10 + Rank w/Military Scientist)
            • Checks for surprise - (PC x Readiness Factor)
            • Affects stealth chances of foes
            • Reduces chance of being fooled by disguises
            • Used by a number of spells and talents for detecting or predicting.
            • Alchemist - Analyze chemicals [PC plus (8 x Rank)]
            • Assassin - Recall details ([5 x PC] + [2 x Rank])
            • Astrologer - Seek answers ([6 x Rank] + [4 x PC])
            • Healer - Empathy ([PC] + 10 x Rank])
            • Merchant - Assay items ([PC] + [(12 or 9 or 6) x Rank])%
            • Military Scientist - Perceive Tactics ([PC] + [9 x Rank])%
            • Navigator - Determine compass direction (PC + [10 x Rank])
            • Navigator - Read map ([2 x PC + [8 x Rank])%
            • Navigator - Predict weather ([PC] + [5 x Rank] )%
            • Navigator - Recognize danger ([3 x PC] + [7 x Rank])%
            • Ranger - Determine shortest route ([2 x PC] + [7 x Rank])%.
            • Ranger - Detect ambush ([3 x PC] + [5 x Rank])%
            • Ranger - Track ([PC] + [6 x Rank])%
            • Ranger - Recognize effects of plant/animal products ([PC] +[10 x Rank])%
            • Spy - Detect Trap ([2 x PC] + [7 x Rank])
            • Spy - Photographic memory ([2 x PC] + [12 x Rank])%
            • Thief - Detect Trap ([PC] + [11 x Rank] )
            • Thief - Photographic memory ([PC] + [10 x Rank])%
            • Spy/Thief - Detect secret/hidden aperture ([2 x PC] + [5 x Rank])%

              Willpower (WP)

              Represents your mental fortitude and ability to fight on when battered and bruised.  Depending on the GM and campaign WP is sometimes considered a "dump stat".  Someplace you put the left over starting points after getting all the others where you want them.  It does factor into a number of calculations but whether or not those are important will vary significantly depending on the campaign style.  For many the two most important uses are in recovering from stun and resisting magic.
              • Recovery from stun - (2 x WP) + (Current Fatigue)
              • Base Magic Resistance - Non-adepts (20 + WP), Adepts (WP)
              • Willpower Checks against paralysants - [(4 x WP) + 20 - (5 x Alchemist's Rank)]
              • Concentration Checks - (4 x WP)
              • Resistance to torture
              • Resist Fear - (3 to 4) x WP
              • Resist Charm - (2 to 4) x WP
              • Affects Base Chance for Sorceries of the Mind
              • Affects Base Chance for College of Illusions
              • Affects Base Chance for Summoning/Controlling Elementals
              • Astrologer - Make Predictions  ([5 x WP] + [4 x Rank] - 30)
              • Beast Masters - Must have 15 or greater
              • Beast Masters - Animal loyalty checks
              • Military Scientist - Number of troops led (15 + [Rank^2] + [4 x WP])
              • Military Scientist - Number of personal guard (15 + WP)
              • Military Scientist - Rally troops ([WP] + [10 x Rank] - [Number of Beings])%
              • Horsemanship - [(mAG + WP)/2 + (Rank x 8)]

                Magic Aptitude (MA)

                Only used by Adepts.  If your character isn't an Adept then you will only put the minimum 5 points into it leaving you 10 points or so to put into other characteristics like, say, Willpower.  As an Adept you'll need at least as much MA as is required by your chosen college.  You'll really want  more as each point over 15 gives +1% to your cast chance and, if using the Bantam 2nd ed. or TSR 3rd ed. rules, you can cut experience costs when increasing ranks in spells by 5% for every point over 15.
                • Minor Magics - (Difficulty Factor) x MA
                • Colleges have minimum MA to join.
                • Affects Cast Chance - Add (MA - 15)%
                • Affects Experience Point costs for spells - Reduced by 5% x (MA - 15)
                • Used as Base Chance for various rituals.

                  Physical Beauty (PB) [Randomly determined]

                  Though technically an Optional characteristic it is significant to Courtesans.  For interactions between the characters and other sentient races it can have an effect their reactions.
                  • May affect reactions of monsters and NPCs.
                  • Courtesan - Experience Cost increased/reduced for PB < 15 or PB > 20
                  • Courtesan - Seduction chance ([PB] + [10 x Rank])

                    Tactical Movement Rate (TMR) [Derived]

                    As it is a fixed value that is determined by your Modified Agility, i.e. your AG modified by armor, encumbrance and any other factors, there isn't much you can do about it except put more points into AG.  Remember you don't have to outrun the dire wolf - you just have to outrun the dwarf.

                    Experienced DragonQuest players probably didn't learn anything from this (and probably didn't read this far).  But there may be some who never really looked at how much or how little a particular characteristic is used and so for those few it may provide a new look at things.  More recent or new players may find this more helpful.

                    Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the importance of different characteristics or how you prioritize your points when creating a new character.


                    1. Replies
                      1. Thanks. I probably should have also mentioned that it would be hard to really cripple your character with the choices made at character creation. As characters progress their rank with skills, spells and weapons tends to minimize any the effects of too few points in a characteristic. As well you can always spend experience points to raise problem characteristics.

                    2. Yes, a good summary Phil. If you like, we can make the revised encumbrance chart available here.

                      1. Thanks. I should probably put one up. I think pretty much every GM has extended out the encumbrance chart to be by each individual point of PS instead of ranges.

                    3. This looks quite interesting. First of all, congrats for creating a blog entirely devoted to a single old fantasy rpg.

                      Secondly, as i said, the outline of Dragonquest stats that you described in this post are pretty interesting, therefore i would like to ask you these are the mechanincs of DQ 1st or 2nd edition? Thanks.

                      1. Thanks.

                        This was all in reference to DQ 2nd Ed, Bantam Printing.