The sum of a good leader (attributes)

I have an idea. It’s a tall order, but even if I don’t succeed, the exercise is worthy by itself.

I want to create a game/story where you are a leader of a small group of people. Your goal is to build a kingdom with you as the king, of course. But the only way to do that is to convince the people you are worthy. If you are not worthy, they will hinder your progress or even rebel.

The sum of a worthy leader wouldn’t simply be are you good enough in this area or that other attribute but more of an average of everything about you. For example, you might be more humble than arrogant but more cruel than compassionate. In other words you need balance to be worthy.

So, an overall stat would be the average of lots of other stats. The overall stat would be the likelihood you become king. The lower the value, the more likely you’ll become king. The higher the value, the more likely your people will rebel and choose someone else.

Here are the opposing attributes I have so far.

humility vs arrogance
ambition vs laziness
compassion vs cruelty
intelligence vs stupidity
charisma vs repulsion
morality vs corrupt(ness)
influence vs incapable(ness)
health vs sickness

One other attribute I’ve thought of is your character’s age. The older you are, the less likely you’ll become king (though that statement’s not necessarily true). But if I went all out, time would be a factor. So perhaps there could be opposing attributes about how well you teach your son or daughter, to give them a chance to continue what you have started.



I’m not a genius at these things but I’d assume if one area excels then another would realistically suffer. A highly intelligent leader would rule by facts and reasoning and probably alienate the people around him which either leads to them seeing everyone around them as stupid(arrogant) or everyone around him feeling stupid (repulsion)

A moral leader that does everything by the book wouldn’t necessarily have the political clout and influence to make important decisions even if the civilian population likes them. An overly compassionate leader isn’t likely to make ambitious moves at the risk of hurting others. A stupid leader may actually have more influence then a clever one since others around them see the leader as a potential puppet so they work harder to be closer friends with them.

Still this is all just speculation. Seems a little too black and white of what’s better then the other but some prefer that approach. It’s an interesting idea you have about continuation to next generation. I’m really curious to how this goes.

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I like this idea.

I’m not sure all your opposed skills are the proper opposites, though. I mean…Is laziness the opposite of ambition? Or is complacency?

Does health need to be opposed at all? Or could it just be a numerical stat that is lowered by injuries?

And, should Influence be a single stat? Or should it be a stat for each faction in/around the kindom. Just a thought…

Maybe Patience/Rashness could be an appropriate opposed stat? Maybe not…

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Perhaps it isn’t a lower score, then. The best leader is the one who has a truly average score. The closet to 50 you are, the more likely you make a good leader. You don’t have anything that is either too good or too bad. Or if you do, you have some other qualities which balance it out.

That was actually my original idea, but I switched to the lower score at the last moment, as I was typing the forum message. Your examples make sense, though. Thanks for commenting.

I think making one side ‘positive’ and one side ‘negative’ is going to cause most people to try to maximize the ‘good’ attributes. It may be better to use somewhat opposed but still laudable qualities instead.

For instance:

humility vs confidence
ambition vs amity
compassion vs authority
insight vs experience
charisma vs capacity
morality vs fairness
influence vs secrecy
patience vs passion
health vs productivity


Perhaps apathy, then. Lack of desire.

I wrote the list quite quickly, so I’m sure there are others that need better labels. Morality vs … ? could simply be good vs evil. KISS … keep it simple, stupid.

I didn’t like incapable paired with influence, but I love the word influence, so I’m not sure what would help there.

I would have to rethink the formula if I have it as a single stat. Besides, there could be choices that improve health, not just damage it. But if you spend all your time on your health, that puts you out of balance, in a way. You aren’t spending time balancing your other qualities.

But I see where you are going with the single stat, so it would be something to keep in mind.

I like that one. Adding it for now.

I actually think this is missing the mark a bit. I’d suggest switching things up, making each side of the scale equally appealing.

Part of being a good ruler is making tough decisions. It’s not always being nice, compassionate, and moral.

So you’re not speaking

humility vs arrogance

you’re speaking

Humility vs Confidence

AHAHAA ninjaed by @dashingdon


That is an interesting idea. In that case, influence would be an entire array of stats. Perhaps averaged within itself before being used to average the overall stat.

Either way, thanks for the idea.

I like where this is going.

At what point would the people decide you aren’t fit to be leader?

Certainly possible, maybe even probable, but what if the choices presented are equally good and bad? Meaning, whatever you decide, there will be negative consequences. For example, the compassionate thing may not be the best thing to do. In order to retain your crown, you would have to make positive and negative decisions. Maintain your balance.

Either way, it’s worth considering both ways. Or coming up with a hybrid plan. Thanks for your ideas.

(Oh, and thanks for your wonderful website.)

That’s what I want. Tough decisions. You and @dashingdon make wise suggestions. Methinks I will think further.

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humility vs confidence
ambition vs AMIABLE
compassion vs authority
insight vs experience
charisma vs CLEVERNESS
morality vs fairness
influence vs secrecy
patience vs passion
health vs productivity

Just for my own understanding: I had to look up amity and capacity. I knew what capacity meant, but I didn’t immediately think capable of learning. I knew the word amiable but not amity. So, minor adjustments.

And I really like the productivity vs health combo.


That’s quite a bit of stats to keep track of.
Maybe split them between mind/body?
And include an option for those that don’t do so well?
Like a deal with a witch or something if you fail all the marks to be king?

Well, for example, if you were ‘overly’ just and punished everyone according to the rules of the kingdom without considering the mitigating factors of their crimes (using your ‘compassion’) then they may begin to see you as a cold-blooded adjudicator and plot to overthrow you. However, lean too far the other way and people won’t respect your laws, thinking you’re too soft to run the kingdom - then they’ll plot to overthrow you just the same.

Those are the best kinds of choices. Whether you punish a poacher trying to feed his daughter the same as a bandit hijacking a farmer’s goods for his fellow bandits the same or not will have consequences to how people see you.

  • Too lenient on the poacher? People will lose respect for your royal rights and more people will steal from the kingdom thinking they can get away with it by singing a sob story.

  • Treat them equally? People will wonder why you think hard-working farmers are equivalent to highwaymen in the eyes of the law.

  • Punish the poacher more harshly? People will be upset that you seem to believe your property is more valuable than their property.

Keeping the choices in a grey area where there really is no ‘win’ situation keeps things interesting.

Probably go with ‘amiability’ just to keep the terms consistent, methinks.

True. I’d suggest a maximum of four sets of opposed qualities for this - otherwise it’s going to be a real chore to make all of them really matter!

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Perhaps “the people” are not a single unified group, but several occasionally cooperative factions with different priorities, using the same stats the MC uses. So when high Humility factions gather the most influence, a high Humility MC will succeed. But when those factions lose position and high Confidence factions gain influence, a high Humility MC will struggle.

Then, when the balance of factions begins to shift, MCs may choose to either present a different face to the world or try to shift that balance to a faction that favors their current presentation.

There really is no universally “best” set of attributes to a leader. What works in one nation, in one decade, won’t necessarily work in a different nation. Or even the same nation in a different decade! There may indeed be a “best” set of attributes in a single location at a single time, but it won’t always be “best.”

A system where the MC receives their power from how well they can match the desires of a group of frequently-shifting factions may prove obnoxiously complex, but it could reflect that reality in a believable manner. That said, I’m quite certain such a system would be more complex than I’d be willing to code. Especially if it uses all the proposed stats instead of a select few. It may be wise to seek a simpler method.


You’ve added a complexity that would make it interesting and hard to code, like you said. Simplicity would make the coding easier but the discussion less complicated. I like complicated.

But you are right. A simpler method would be a good idea. Even if it’s just slightly simpler.

They only need to be as complicated as the story. Otherwise a simple single stat would work for a simple story line. For a multi-branching story with lots of things to consider, more variables would likely be needed, to illustrate the various outcomes. For example, perhaps not all events, choices, etc… have to be based upon an average stat. Perhaps you do want to play to one side or the other. Lots of possibilities.

You could become king by force because a certain stat is high enough to influence certain people to help you. Even if it’s against the average will of the people.

This reminds me when people complain about certain video games not being complex enough or too complex. There are times during a simulation game that I want more. The simple becomes mundane.

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Oh, if this thing were as big as I want it to be (won’t happen), then there would be tons of ways to end the game. Every decision would count. Every outcome would matter. Every stat would help determine what becomes of your character, what choices you have at what times.

Organizing of the stats would be REQUIRED!

Me changing it was more for the post. As soon as I typed amiable into the editor, it looked funny. I changed it back to amity. But I like amiability as well.

Opposed stays can be tricky and if used wrongly frustrate the reader. For example I’ve known very charismatic very clever people. There are many examples of people with lots of influence who are incapable in the area their area of influence (whether they’ve just been over promoted, inherited a role or just a con artist). The same as ambition vs amiable. Not all ambitious people will step on those along the way to get somewhere, assume will build trust and and a support base.

I think you need to tailor opposed stays to a particular storyline. So say if you have a situation where you can only be cutthroat and ruthless if you want to succeed, then the amiability vs ambitious would be ok. Other times it won’t fit the storyline well at all. Perhaps even replace ambitious with ruthless or cutthroat? But ambitious might be ok in some storylines.


In all honesty I think you’d do much better to remove negative type stats. When you have opposing variables and they’re the good versus bad things it makes the choice between them too easy.

But of your opposing stats weren’t morality based it’d make wanting to raise one or the other a bit more of a dilemma and that way you could be an evil overlord but skilled and brilliant at the same time.

Choosing between intelligence and stupidity isn’t much of a choice because very few people would decide to be stupid. But if you have intelligence opposed to intuition the choice becomes more enticing. Or oppose your abilities at warfare with your political skills.

BUT just my opinion seems an interesting story to chase after. Wish you the best of luck.