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Posted by Chris Davis on 2010-09-18
Welcome to the second installment of the Abandon All Hope (AAH) Preview.

As indicated in the previous preview, I'm going to cover Attributes and Gauges. Once again, I'm going to let Dominic do the taking with an excerpt.

Attributes and Gauges In an effort to better understand human predisposition for violence and deviancy, the Pan-Terran Meritocracy developed a system of categorization in which all humans could be classified by certain attributes. In game terms, these same dehumanizing statistics are used to define a character’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

First are Attributes. Attributes correspond to the Pan-Terran Meritocracy’s “standardized categorization system”; in Abandon All Hope they are used to quantify the physical and mental abilities (as well as limitations) of each character. Since every character is, like humans themselves, different, each character’s attributes are likely to vary considerably.

Second are Gauges. As with attributes, the Pan-Terran Meritocracy attempted to predict the likelihood of potential offenders through measuring predispositions for deviant behavior. These psychological gauges were known as the “Ludovico Gauges”, and gave a specific portrait of an individual’s despair, guilt, and insanity. In game terms these “Gauges” are measured a little differently than Attributes, as will be explained later.

Attributes are rated from 1-10. Gauges range from 0-10. These characteristics are determined by a dice roll, linked to a character’s Prison Status (see last preview).

The important thing to keep in mind here is that Attributes more permanent (although not completely) and the Gauges are constantly changing depending on events in the adventure. I'm a huge fan of Gauges. I think they are good mechanic for encouraging role-playing.

The complete list of Attributes are as follows:

Prowess
The Meritocracy’s measure of fitness, skill in a fight, and the ability to perform feats of strength.

Reflexes
A measure of quickness, ability to dodge, seize the initiative, perform sleight of hand and feats that require dexterity.

Wits
A measure of intellect, technical aptitude, cunning, and especially survival sense.

Willpower
A measure of mental resistance, as well as resilience against fear and insanity, and the ability to withstand primal instincts and conscience.

Sociability
A measure of a character’s ability to interact; the ability to get along with others, to persuade, to blend in, or rise to prominence.

Intimidation
A measure of a character’s reputation, specifically her ability to impress her will on others through force or coercion.

As you can see, they are fairly straight forward and streamline.

And now the complete list of Gauges:

Despair
Despair is a measure of a character’s level of tension, anxiety, and terror.

Guilt
Guilt is a measure of a character’s conscience. Many characters in this game begin with high levels of Guilt, since most were guilty of some crime or another back on Terra.

Insanity
Insanity is a measure of a character’s mental stability.

Of those three, I personally find Guilt the most interesting. I find when I play games (both locally and at conventions), people have a tendency to perform some fairly violent and evil acts even if their characters are not. This mechanic does a nice job of giving consequences for such acts. All 3 gauges work well in this way. If you put yourself in desperate spots, your despair will rise. If you steal or murder, your guilt will rise. And as a result, you'll suffer a game mechanical hindrance. I think it's a brilliant way to handle things.

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