- Strength (STR or S)
- Intelligence (INT or I)
- Wisdom (WIS or W)
- Constitution (CON or C)
- Dexterity (DEX or D)
- Charisma (CHA or X)
There is an obvious breakdown into three predominantly physical attributes and three predominantly mental ones: Strength, Constitution and Dexterity are physical whereas Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma are mental. This is presumably the reason why (A)D&D 3e reordered the attributes S, D, C, I, W, X?
There is, however, another breakdown that I have not seen discussed before. It may be that I simply read the wrong things online, so if you can find an earlier reference for the following please let me know. (I actually felt incredibly dense when I first realized this about a year ago and I cannot quite believe that nobody else has pointed it out before.) Instead of grouping the attributes
S, D, C (physical)let's group them thusly:
I, W, X (mental)
S, X (influence)I know. It's horribly obvious in retrospect, isn't it?
D, I (flexibilty)
C, W (stability)
Both Strength and Charisma measure the character's influence (impact?) on the external world: Strength focuses on physical influence (break down a door), Charisma focuses on mental influence (acquire and lead retainers).The only system I can recall that tries to group attributes orthogonal to mental/physical is Star Frontiers, it actually even affects (advanced) character creation there. But for what it's worth, I think this breakdown of the D&D attributes is actually nicer.
Both Dexterity and Intelligence measure the character's flexibility (adaptability? speed?) to external forces: Dexterity focuses on physical flexibility (evade attacks and react quickly), Intelligence focuses on mental flexibility (learn a language or spell).
Both Constitution and Wisdom measure the character's stability (resilience?) to external forces: Constitution focuses on physical stability (resist poison), Wisdom focuses on mental stability (resist charm).
Now I have to admit that I cannot think of a good way of using the breakdown for anything in game, so as far as I can tell it's just a curiosity. Does anyone see a way to make it matter?