My first poll!
I’m wondering how important either (or both) of these aspects of a player-character in an RPG are important. Games like Searchers of the Unknown do away with primary PC attributes, defining a PC’s abilities using the same stat block as monsters. And the original Gamma World, while it had levels and experience, they pretty much didn’t matter. In fact, many people didn’t use the experience rules in Gamma World…they just played to find cool death rays and neutron bombs and stuff like that. Traveller had skill-based advancement, but it was so slow that it hardly mattered. In Traveller your character started out pretty much as good as he or she was ever going to be, skill wise.
To clarify, by attributes I mean the primary attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, etc.), not secondary combat related attributes. And by levels I mean character advancement in general, whether using a level based system, skill-based advancement or some combination of the two. Basically, character ‘advancement’ would come by accumulating wealth and advancing in-game goals (such as establishing a thieves guild in town or taking out a major enemy, for example).
My thoughts on this are two fold:
1) Eliminating attributes makes character creation that much easier, and removes the preoccupation, for lack of a better word, with attribute scores. The primary concern becomes not “what class do my ability scores allow me to play,” or “my stats suck, I want to re-roll” or “we need a complicated point-buy system so my character won’t suck.” It becomes “what do I want my character to be?” (probaby still within the framework of a character class or archetype, though).
2) Eliminating levels lets players focus on their goals, whether immediate or long term. Instead of having to kill every monster in the dungeon just to get the XP, they have more of an incentive to pick and choose their battles (old school D&D XP for GP rules kind of do this, too). Also, when a PC dies, do you make them start over at level 1 even if everyone else is level 6 or 10? Or do you let them start over at the same level, in large part removing (in my view, at least) consequential PC death? If you don’t use levels the issue becomes moot.
So if you combined the two concepts, would your gaming experience crash and burn? I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter.