One other interesting thing that came out of the Leverage game at PAX-east was a discussion of stats. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s worth noting that Leverage has some very normal stats (Strength, Agility and whatnot) but no “social” stat. This may seem a bit odd in the context of a game with such a strong social component, but it’s something the book tackles head on. See, it’s not that there’s no charisma equivalent, it’s that EVERYTHING is a charisma equivalent.
To illustrate that, let me point to the very specific case in the game that Logan Bonner‘s magnificent Grifter made more than a few rolls of “Strength + Grifter”. At first blush, that seems like a nonsensical combination, but that’s only the case if you think very literally. Instead, in this case, Strength also represented a kind of approach. The Grifter was coming across forcefully, relying on strength of personality (natch) to carry things through, so strength was the appropriate stat. If he’d been talking fast, it might have been Agility.
Using stats this way – to reflect HOW you do things, rather than what you do – is an idea I’ve grown more and more fond of with time, and I recently heard Cam Banks use the term “Active Stats” to describe them in conversation, and it’s stuck with me. It puts a lot more of play in the player’s hands, and that’s always a good thing.
Now, this is not always easy. Leverage’s stats are intentionally backwards compatible with previous Cortex products, if only to make things more familiar to old fans. This means the mapping of stats in this way is not always intuitive, and it’s a big reason why I tend to re-tune the stat list when I do a new hack. Interpreting active stats from an existing list is always going to be harder than starting from scratch.
This is why I was delighted to get a mail from Logan Bonner proposing the (awesomely named) FAQ hack for Leverage. While he didn’t call it such, he basically proposed a trio of active stats: Forceful, Analytical and Quick. He explicitly excluded an endurance-equivalent as out of genre (and he was right to do so) but in doing so he did a couple of things. First, he proposed a very workable hack – one I could totally get behind – but second he provided some independent confirmation of a suspicion of mine regarding the 4 core active building blocks.
See, my default active 4 are Force, Grace, Insight and Resolve, and the map directly to Force, Quickness, Analytical and the unused fourth. That pleased me because Logan’s a pretty sharp guy, and if we both hit on this same pattern, it suggests it may have some backbone.
Anyway, I mention this now for all you folks looking to hack Leverage and thinking about stats. I would absolutely encourage you to pursue an active stat model since I think you’ll find it a lot more rewarding in play, and I’d be very curious to hear if other people have active stat models of their own that differ from this 4 pointed structure.