Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Target 10 System for chart-less Attribute Attack Resolution

Mutant Future contains a chart based resolution mechanic for Willpower attacks.  Many mutations call for a Willpower attack rather than a melee or ranged attack roll; the chance of success in a Willpower attack is determined by cross-indexing the attacker's and defender's attribute score on a chart to get a "to hit" number for a d20 roll.

I took this idea and ran with it, coming up with the general idea of attribute attacks.  Any attribute can be the basis of an attribute attack; just like Mutant Future's Willpower attack, there are Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Strength and Charisma attacks.  I used this a lot while writing the "quirks" (mutations by another name) for my Fantasy Quirks character creation supplement for Mutant Future.  I created a version of the Willpower Attack Table found in Mutant Future for any attribute attack:

There are two things that I like about attribute attacks; they do not gain potency while leveling up unless the ability itself increases, so 1st level characters with high attribute scores can contribute meaningfully alongside high level characters in combat; and (more importantly to me) it makes each attribute a defense.  It makes the random attribute increase that is the result of leveling up 80% of the time in the Mutant Future a much more valuable thing.  In a similar fashion to how 3e and 4e took saves and made defenses out of them, this gives me as a DM an easy mechanic to use for all sorts of attacks against the PCs.  Demonic possession?  A Willpower attack with the demons WIL of 15.  A run of the mill pit trap?  Dexterity attack with an attacking DEX of 10.  I would write the previous example using the following shorthand: DEX10 ATT 3d6 (meaning if the Dexterity attack succeeds against the character, the character takes 3d6 damage).

A cloud of gas?  CON15 ATT, 5d6 dmg save for 1/2

Bribing an official?  Obviously a Charisma attack situation.  I don't always (or even most of the time) call for rolls when players attempt to do things, but it is nice to have an easy and unified mechanic to use when I do.  When I don't know the attribute of a creature or situation (in the case of a pit trap or other inanimate attacker or target), I generally use 5/10/15+ as a good guide:  If the creature is not known for that attribute, or if the challenge is easy, I use 5.  If the creature has no reputation for that attribute, good or bad, or if the challenge is moderately difficult I use 10 as the target attribute.  For a creature known for the attribute in question or a difficult challenge, I will use 15 or more.

Today, I looked at the chart a little closer and realized that I could express the attack resolution in very simple terms to allow attribute attacks on the fly without having to look up a target number on a chart.

I realize that many people love looking up numbers on charts.  In my case, it is often one of the only times I have to refer to a book at all while running my Mutant Future game, and I would just as soon not have to break my stride to look at the attribute attack chart one more time.

So here it is:

The “Target 10TM” system for chart-less attribute attack resolution .

(Target 10TM Carl Nash 2010)

d20 roll + (Attackers Attribute - Defenders Attribute) ≥ 10 = Success

In words:  Subtract the defender’s attribute from the attackers attribute.  The result (positive or negative) is the modifier to the d20 roll.  A modified result equal to or greater than 10 is a success.


An attacker with CON 13 makes a CON attack on a defender with CON 15.

Attacker’s CON - Defender’s CON = -2

-2 is the modifier to the d20 roll

The attacker would have to roll a 12 or better (12-2=10)


  1. Nice and simple. Its very similar to the Resistance Table used in many of Chaosium's games. But must each attack attribute be matched up against the same attribute for defense? In some cases, it wouldn't make sense.

    You could use this system entirely for combat. STR vs DEX for Melee combat. DEX vs DEX for Ranged combat.

    Radiation, Poison and Diseases would have an Itensity or Potency score vs CON.

    The possibilities seem endless.

  2. You are certainly correct, sir - there is no need to match attribute for attribute. I am just starting to play around with this, but it has been a great DM's tool so far.

  3. @ Greg again - upon further reflection, in the case of the DM's shorthand, it doesn't matter WHAT the attacking attribute is; knowing its value, and what defending attribute to compare that value to, is enough.

    So notating the pit trap example as DEX10 ATT doesn't necessarily mean the pit trap is attacking with a Dexterity score - it just means the character's Dexterity is the relevant attribute to avoid the attack, and the relative difficulty is a 10 on the attacker's ability side of the equation.



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