Every so often, your humble host likes to share information from the pages of the World Action and Adventure role-playing game, such as a description of the various Action Guide styles. Author Gregory L. Kinney's concept of 'Acting Conditions' would be a good topic for a post; however, before taking up that subject, one should be familiar with the notion of the SHIELD traits.
SHIELD is an acronym for the six WA&A primary characteristics – called traits. These are: Strength, Health, Intelligence, Endurance, Looks, and Dexterity. Other than the distinction between Health and Endurance, the traits are self-explanatory. Health measures a character's resistance to illness. Endurance, on the other hand, represents several abilities: patience, movement rate, sanity, resisting physiological and psychological discomforts, need for sleep, and the length of time a character can hold his or her breath. A character's 'Life Points,' incidentally, are calculated by finding the average of Strength, Health, and Endurance.
Scores for a character's traits are determined by rolling a d20 eight times; any result of 3 or less is considered to be a result of 12. The two lowest results are discarded and the remaining six are assigned to the traits in the order rolled. Kinney perceptively notes that “the scale is from 4 to 20.” However, female characters have their Strength score modified by -2 and their Looks by +2. Although not explicit, it seems that Strength cannot be lowered to less than four nor Looks increased to greater than twenty.
Scores can be increased with experience, but otherwise remain fixed. In any event, scores do not measure actual ability, they represent potential ability. Actual ability is measured by ranks. Each trait has a 'rank table' where scores for that trait are indexed against a span of age periods. A character's rank in a trait is based upon her score for that trait along with her age in years. Ranks range from 2 to 14.
Let's say a character in Age Period 6 has an Endurance score of 15. According to the table on page 50 of the Official Guide, that character's Endurance rank would be 11. Such a character could run at 10.5 miles per hour for a maximum of 20 miles. That character could hold his or her breath for one-and-a-half minutes and is a “short sleeper” for purposes of the Sleep Table in Chapter 9. Additionally, the character can temporarily endure an “excessive discomfort” for thirty minutes. Examples of excessive discomforts include “[b]reaking a bone or losing part of the body” and “[b]eing teased and mocked by a group of people.”
“Check-Ups” are an interesting notion, albeit admittedly time consuming in execution. There are Health check-ups and Intelligence check-ups.
For every year of life, a character undergoes a number of Health check-ups based upon his or her Health rank. A rank of 2 must undergo 13 check-ups per year while a rank of 14 undergoes only one check-up. A Health check-up usually means the character suffers some kind of temporary, minor illness such as “slight mental depression” or “diarrhea/ constipation.” However, it's possible that a check-up may result in a 5% chance of heart attack or a 5% chance of disease. (A disease list is provided in Chapter 9.)
Unlike Health check-ups, Intelligence check-ups are beneficial. The number of check-ups to which a character is entitled per age period is based on Intelligence rank. A rank of 4 provides one check-up per age period while characters with a rank less than four do not receive Intelligence check-ups. Characters with an Intelligence rank of 14 get five check-ups per age period. For each Intelligence check-up: there is a 10% chance of learning 'instrument' (musical instrument?), a 10% chance of learning a language, a 10% chance of rolling twice on the check-up table, a 10% chance each of rolling on three other tables, and a 40% chance of learning nothing. The three other tables are: 'craft/hobbies,' 'subject,' and 'information about.' On the 'crafts/hobbies' table are such things as “metal,” “juggling,” and “stunts.” 'Subject' includes things like “reading,” “science,” and “law.” Finally, the 'information about' table has selections such as: “A map,” “Something top secret,” and “An important prisoner.”
On page 47, Kinney supplies these helpful observations about intelligence:
The power of intelligence comes from one's mind...A character with weak intelligence is sometimes considered a dunce or knucklehead by others. Often, he is given less respect than the average person gets. However, a character with high strength, or high looks score often makes up for the disadvantage of a low intelligence.