While translating Adventure Frameworks from a home brew to something I could publish, at each stage I have to ask myself “does this add enough to warrant explaining it to a stranger?” Originally there were six attributes, pretty close to the traditional six you’d see elsewhere. And initially they made sense. Strength and durability are two different things, you can be tough without necessarily being strong, and you could be coordinated without being either tough or strong. But when you add skills as a different layer some of those distinctions start to go away. What was the cut off point for what should be an attribute vs what should be a skill, other than just tradition?
What it came down to for me was function. Attributes in AF have always had ‘controls’ that give you a bonus to something, skills, dice, and so on. Then a score that you had to make a few key checks against (like rolling durability to avoid being injured). And often there was a damage track of some kind that had as many bubbles on it as your score. But not every attribute had all of these characteristics, and some that did were decidedly forced.
So I narrowed it down and said that if it had a score, a track, skills based on it, and a control that did something it was definitely an attribute. If it didn’t, it was probably a skill instead. Likewise any skill that I wanted to use a control on or a track for should either be promoted to attribute or that track or control should move to an existing attribute instead. When I looked at it like that, my six original attributes collapsed down into two, and some related leftovers taken together ended up being promoted to a third.
Strength ended up covering what strength, coordination, and durability used to handle in pieces. Sense ended up working for what used to be reason and experience, with perception rolled in as well. Heart covered will, plus some influence based uses left over that hadn’t fit elsewhere. Depending on the setting I could actually see other attributes being added, but that should be rare. And for the case where you want to be good (or bad) at a particular aspect of an attribute there have always been abilities and faults that tweak that, now I just have to be careful that they are actually doing their job!