All That You Carry: Items as Stats

Art by Crom

I'm currently working on a fine tuned version of that weird tone game that I made a bit ago, but I'm taking a break from that to throw out an idea that I had quite suddenly, and would like to jot down before I convince myself that it's entirely stupid.
The idea essentially revolves around replacing the stats in any given osr-ish game with the items that your character carries. Instead of rolling Strength to see if you can lift the boulder, or whatever, you roll to see if your Sword can lever it out of the way. Instead of rolling Dexterity to pick the lock, you roll Lockpicks. 
There's a few issues that come up immediately that I'll address here: 
  • What does the stat number represent? Does my 18 in Sword mean that my sword is just a better sword than the guy with Sword 10? Could that guy kill me, take my Sword, and have 18 Sword himself? Or does it mean that I'm just really good with this particular sword, that this sword and I have a bond that the guy over there with 10 Sword just doesn't have. 
    • The answer to that question, I think, is essentially Yes. Yes, having a better Sword score means that your sword is better, and yes, it means that you're better with it. If your sword breaks, (Sword Score reduced to 0) you wouldn't be able to just replace it with any old sword off the street and expect to have your 18 Sword score back in one fell swoop. But also, I'd say it's reasonable to expect that after gaining a new sword, taking some time to attune to it and reach an understanding of it, you'd be able to have a higher Sword score (say, 15) than the guy with 10 Sword whose sword broke and now has 5 Sword. 
  • But like, is my Sword special? What if I have another sword, or I pick up an axe? Do I just gain another stat?
    • Okay, fair point. To get around this, I'd suggest declaring that the items that serve as stats are Named Items, items that carry a great deal of meaning to your character, to the point that they are deserving of a name. While yeah, you could just pick up an axe and give it a moniker, it doesn't have the same weight as the "Thrice Broken Blade of my Mother's Line", and thus, doesn't merit a stat. Essentially I guess it just comes down to GMs ruling. I can imagine that getting a new Named Item could be a really cool bit of treasure: it's a whole new stat with entirely different capabilities. 
  • How do I use non Named Items though? What if I want to cross a chasm, I have some rope, but no Rope stat? 
    • Come up with a way to involve one of your Named Items to the narration (can you tie your Sword to the end of the rope and hurl it with such force that it impales itself in a tree on the opposite side? Can you describe how how the heels of your Boots dig into the earth as you take a running leap, rope in hand? Or how your fingers, calloused from using your Lockpicks, tie deft knots in the rope?)
  • Wouldn't that just come down to someone using their 18 Sword over and over though?
    • I'd rule that the GM has the final say as to whether Sword works in a given instance or not: it might work to intimidate someone, but probably not to impress the Merciful Prince. Also/alternatively, I might rule that if you use your Sword score on a roll and fail, your Sword takes damage accordingly. Also, this should keep you in the mindset that you should only roll for actions where you stand to fail in a meaningful or significant way! Bonus!
  • How does HP work, since Constitution and all that crap doesn't exist anymore? What about AC? 
    • I'd say that when you get hit, whichever of your Named Items could convincingly defend your body takes the damage in your stead. So if you'd got Armor as a stat, that's pretty obviously effective, but who knows, if you can convince your GM that your Bag Of Turnips could have stopped the Nail King's strike, who am I to say no. As for AC, I'd go as far as to suggest that a game played with this rule would be better off with an Into the Odd style automatic damage roll as opposed to a to-hit roll, but I suppose you could rule that one of your stats serves as an Armor Class (this would assume ascending AC I guess). 
  • But how do you die?
    • Easy! If you're out of Named Items to take damage for you, the next hit kills you. People are squishy! Especially without their Armor! If that feels too harsh, go with 3 hits before death, or getting hit forces a roll on a Wounds table (I actually like that last option a lot). Since in theory you could have multiple items at high values which could soak up a lot of damage, I would suggest either allowing only 1 Named Item to serve as HP, or upping the damage values of attacks. 
  • What about like Charm spells, or Petrify, and stuff like that? 
    • Use Named Items as Saves! You would have been charmed, but reciting the Liturgy of Ten Thousand Thousand Tongues to yourself warded off the magic. 
  • What about Spells? Are classes a thing?
    • Spells are super easy! They're definitely Named Items as well, every single one of them! Roll for their score! When you cast them, they take damage! They work in more specific circumstances than most of your other Named Items, but they also do way crazier shit. You could even model other class abilities like this, if you wanted. Say someone really just wants to play an unarmed martial artist: make their Named Items different stances, or even like "Fists" "Abs" etc!
  • Okay but why would you ever do any of this?
    • Why not? I thought of this idea while doing something else and now it exists! I'm probably overlooking a lot of shit, so let me know in the comments! This is more exclamation points than I've ever used in my life! Okay I'm done. 


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