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Data and facts specific to individual entities in a game.

While most games have many different game components, not all of them have several different types of data connected to them. Those that do, and where these can change during gameplay have Characteristics.

Wikipedia describes the same concept under the entry "Statistic"[1] (which is not used in this collection because the plural form would be misleading).


Tabletop Roleplaying Games, e.g. Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS, are prime examples of games having many Characteristics attached to the characters that people play. These Characteristics typically represent both physical and mental attributes as well as skills and powers that may have been learned. Computer-based Roleplaying Games such as the Fallout series or the Dragon Age series work in a similar fashion. FPS Games that have roleplaying elements in them also make heavy use of Characteristics, but even other ones (such as the Quake series) can be said to have them through having health and armor attributes.

Strategy Games such as the Europa Universalis and Civilization series show how Characteristics can be tied to abstract concepts such as civilizations and countries rather than characters.

Using the pattern

While Characteristics naturally is part of Characters, the pattern can also be used to characterize Abstract Player Constructs or more specifically, Bases or Teams. Typical parts of Characteristics is Attributes, Advantages, Disadvantages, Factions, and Powers. As their names imply, Character Alignments, Character Classes, and Character Levels are more applicable on Characters as is Skills. Technologies in contrast are more often suitable for Abstract Player Constructs such as countries or civilizations (individual cities can also have Characteristics in games with countries and civilizations such as the Europa Universalis or Civilization series).

Equipment is typically not seen as part of Characteristics but this can vary, even within one game. For example, "Signature Gear" is an Advantage in GURPS that allows players to have items (including Tools and Weapons) that are more coupled to a Character concept, and thereby have some protection against being lost compared to other Equipment.

Changes in Characteristics are often regulated individually for each type of Characteristic but can also be changed more generally, e.g. when reaching new Character Levels.

Diegetic Aspects

The diegesis of a game typically provides the inspiration for which Characteristics are possible and relevant.

Interface Aspects

The introduction of many Characteristics can required the need for Secondary Interface Screens; for Tabletop Roleplaying Games any amount of Characteristics can require Character Sheets.

Narration Aspects

Persistent changes in Characteristics can be examples of Abstract Player Construct Development or Character Development depending on if they are applied on Characters and [Abstract Player Constructs]], and these can be important parts of a game narration.


Characteristics heavily influence how Characters and Abstract Player Constructs work in games. Competence Areas often arise when different agents have different Characteristics. Changes in them can been seen as Abstract Player Construct Development, Character Development or Team Development depending on what the Characteristics are attached to.


Can Instantiate

Competence Areas

with Abstract Player Constructs

Abstract Player Construct Development

with Characters

Character Development

with Teams

Team Development

Can Modulate

Abstract Player Constructs, Characters, Bases, Teams

Can Be Instantiated By

Attributes, Advantages, Character Alignments Character Classes, Character Levels, Disadvantages, Factions, Powers, Skills, Technologies

Can Be Modulated By

Character Levels, Character Sheets, Secondary Interface Screens

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Wikipedia entry for statistics in RPGs.