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Attributes are the primary core characteristics which define the characters ability to interact with the game world instinctively without training or specific development through training.
Attributes are divided into groups, there are three primary attributes; Physical, Mental, and Social. Each group is then divided into three more secondary attributes as follows:
Attributes can be determined a number of different ways, Usually I just let the players come to a consensus on the particular system.
A few that I have used in the past
The most common system I have used is part of the Character Point System.
The second system is the random method, each character rolls 3D20 three times, these are each listed for everyone. Each person then chooses a single set of attributes from all the attributes rolled. This system has the advantage of luck playing a significant roll, and the characters remaining balanced attribute wise.
Each player rolls 3D20 four times dropping the lowest roll and assigning the remaining three among the primary attributes.
After determining the points for distribution simply distribute each primary attributes value in points between the three sub attributes of each.
The aggregate natural athletic ability of a character. The Physical Score is equal to the average of a characters strength, dexterity, and constitution.
The amount of force that the character can apply when not limited by leverage. Smaller characters in particular may be limited in the amount of strength that can be applied to a particular activity.
Strength Modifies: Melee Damage, Sprint Speed, Carrying Capacity
A combination of a character minute hand and body control, agility, reaction time, and general coordination.
Dexterity Modifies: Ranged Damage, Finesse Accuracy
The measure of a characters raw mental ability to deal with complexity and process information quickly.
A characters ability to resist mental effects and push oneself towards there limit.
Will Modifies: resistance to mental effects, willpower, mana
A characters ability to accurately and quickly attain information through the use of their senses.
A characters ability to charm those that may be suggestible to it, heavy modifiers based on a targets predisposition to the character is possible.
A characters gravitas, the natural level of respect they tend to receive based on a combination of their look and demeanor.
A characters raw physical appeal.
Questions and Answers
What do the numbers mean?
The normal range for attributes is between 2 and 20, this generally represents the range from nearly imperceptible to the peak of natural human capability.