Abstraction sucks because it doesn't give you a baseline to use when making judgements. How tall is Size 9? Can she (I have a female Acrobat as a test character) reach that shelf 1.83m (approx. 6ft) up above to get the magical pie, or will she need to climb to get it?
Edit: Er, what atgxtg said...
And ANYONE arguing what is or isn't in a medival society needs to look at the GM and have him/her put her foot down and give an answer. Because it's not a Medival Recreation game, it's RuneQuest and RuneQuest is NOT Earth.
Don't like it, play something else.
I want the pie.
So I'd like to keep the baby lose the bathwater. I see Athletics, Resilience and the other skill as being the 'skill' side of characteristics. Athletics for instance representing:
-How well you've learned to use what God gave you. So a highly trained athlete or soldier might be smaller and weaker than his barbarian counterpart but his 100% in athletics means he's trained very hard and knows how to (for example) lift heavy objects by positioning his body just so, using his legs etc..
-The development of the smaller supporting muscles that let you use big muscle groups (represented by raw STR) effectively.
-Simple 'muscle memory', modelling for example the way you can perform a jump spinning side kick without thinking about it after doing it 3000 times - but applied to raw physical activities like climbing etc..
All of which is great to have modelled but shouldn't mean a damn thing when a troll is sitting on you.
I'm thinking of bringing back the Characteristic side of this in a relatively simple fashion like so:
A: If the difference in stats is greater than 20 the higher stat wins no matter what.
B: Your basic chance of success is your Athletics skill, like before.
C: If the difference in Characteristics (STR, CON, POT etc..) is less than 5 [a little wide ranging but its a nice easy number] there is no change to this formula. This is to limit the need to refer to this mechanic.
D: for every 1 point of difference beyond 5 between characteristics, apply a 5% penalty to the lesser and give a 5% bonus to the greater
E: For every 1 point of difference beyond 10 between characteristics apply a further 5% penalty to the lesser and a further 5% bonus to the greater
Lean, defined, veteran of many wars, Ancient Bob - athletics 100, STR 5
The portly Wretched Ingvar - athletics 50, STR 20
As per C: contest is effectively 10 vs 20 (ignore up to 5 points of difference)
As per D: first further 5 points of difference gives 25% penalty to Bob, 25% bonus to Ingvar
If it was 5 vs 15 we'd have an even contest 75 v 75
As per E: last 5 points gives 50% penalty to Bob, 50% bonus to Ingvar
100 vs 50 becomes 25 vs 125
Basically much like the resistance table, but scaled out a little more with some semi-irritating maths thrown in. Does this work?