The case for killing STR

Wait, what?

Yes, killing, nixing, putting STR on the chopping block. A game without STR scores.

That’s insane, I hear you cry. STR is usually one of the core scores, the hardest one to change, the last to go. It’s qualities are immediately obvious: A higher strength means you’re stronger, duh. Dexterity has to contend with conflating reaction and agility and stealth, Constitution is so often superfluous, the mental stats were (some would argue) a poor inclusion from the beginning. But Strength? Good old STR’s been here from the beginning.

So why get rid of it? Because, I would argue in this piece at least, STR gives the wrong impression. It’s the same reason a lot of OSR games don’t have a perception skill: the mere existence of tools like perception scores implies that there are mechanical button solutions to gameplay problems like spotting traps etc., when really these problems are tests of player skill. And what is STR good for anyways, when it isn’t amalgated with CON? It causes more damage, lets you kick down doors, maybe lets you force a few grapples or lift some rocks. It’s a method of bypassing challenges with brute force, being a literal measurement of brute force. It isn’t what people play OSR games to *do*.

But, I hear you cry, STR is such an integral measurement! It’s a fundamental part of a character’s toolkit! How can you just remove it like that? Simple, the way people remove mental stats: if it’s doable by a normal person, you do it. If it’s harder than that, you do it if you have the appropriate background or skill. If it’s harder than even that, you need magic or assistance. DEX makes as much sense as any stat for weapon handling, anyways. And fighters? DEX fighter all the way. The dungeon has no room for bodybuilders.

So, the next time you consider a hack without the classic six scores, think about strength. Is it necessary, in your world? Is “strong” as much of an asset as people think it is? That’s all I got.

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