Primary and Secondary Traits
4C System: Edition 13 is a game designed to let you role play the adventures of heroes, whether alone or in groups. But you may find yourself asking, 'just what is a hero?' Merriam-Webster ™ tells us that 'a hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities'. Expanding on that a bit, we can define a hero as a man or woman that selflessly uses their talents, abilities or resources to help others - rather than being selfish and using these qualities solely for his or her own, personal gain.
So when playing Edition 13, players take on the role of a hero, whether it's an existing comic book / cartoon / other fictional character or an original creation designed for the game by said players. In order to properly play whichever character(s) you are responsible for, whether PC or NPC, it's imperative to get a basic handle on just what they are and are not capable of. The essential capabilities of every character, no matter how strong or weak, can be determined by their traits.
Almost every character in Edition 13 is represented by eleven distinct traits. The seven primary traits are Melee, Coordination, Brawn, Fortitude, Intellect, Awareness, and Willpower, while the four secondary traits are Lifestyle, Repute, Health and Fortune. All eleven traits are described here, with generalized benchmarks provided to give one an idea of what a certain value in each trait means to a character.
Melee: 'You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.'
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Melee is a strange hybrid ability, an amalgamation of physical and mental prowess in the field of battle. It is meant to describe both natural and trained ability in a scrap. One can certainly have more of one than the other depending on their background and origins, but either way the sum of these two qualities can be used to describe someone's net fighting skill.
Melee as an ability is used to resolve mêlée, or hand to hand combat (surprise), and is also used to determine how many 'moves' a character can attempt each turn (whether talking about offensive or defensive actions). Melee is used to determine one's prowess in unarmed combat, and is the base value used whenever a character has a melee weapon in hand (whether a blunt or edged implement, or even an improvised weapon).
|2||No training or ability|
|4||Standard Human Ability|
|6||Natural ability or minimal training|
|10||Some formal training|
|20||Formal, regular training|
|30||Superior martial talent|
|40||Superior talent with extensive training|
|50||Maximum human combat prowess|
|75||Super-human training or ability|
|100||Super-human capability, extensive skill or experience|
|150||Super-human ability with unnatural training and experience|
|200||Can combat several small groups simultaneously|
|500||Long-lived being with many lifetimes of battle experience|
|1k||Can combat vast crowds simultaneously|
|3k||Ageless being with countless combat experience|
|5k||Can neutralize whole armies with sheer capability|
Coordination: 'There's no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.'
- Frank Herbert
Coordination is the means by which a character's inherent agility and nimbleness can be measured - it is both manual dexterity and one's sense of balance. Coordination exemplifies grace (if not grace under fire), and is used whenever a character indirectly interacts with his or her environment. Such interactions can involve anything from carving a statue to operating machinery to catching a Frisbee ™.
Coordination also comes into play when piloting vehicles of any type. Of course, Coordination is the primary measure of one's prowess in ranged battle, as well. It is used to handle almost all non-adjacent combat actions, whether flinging shuriken or firing a hand gun. Whether attempting an offensive or defensive maneuver involving ranged combat, Coordination is the trait which handles such concerns.
|2||Little hand-eye coordination, terrible sense of balance|
|4||Clumsy and inaccurate, primarily sedentary lifestyle|
|6||Normal human reaction time, coordination, balance|
|10||Casual dexterous discipline, conventional firearms training|
|20||Expert marksman, collegiate gymnast, circus acrobat|
|30||Professional gymnast, uncanny aim, supremely flexible|
|40||Gymnastic gold medalist, maximum human ability|
|50||Serene, alien grace, super-human ballistic prowess|
|75||Super-human training or agility, unnatural ballistic prowess|
|100||Instinctive knowledge of trajectories, flexible beyond mortal ken|
|150||Super-human training or agility, with extensive experience|
|200||Super-human training or agility, with overwhelming experience|
|500||Agile beyond mortal ken, capable of microscopic movements|
|1k||Super-human training or agility, with lifetimes of experience|
|3k||Almost never misses, reacts to environment at near-light speeds|
|5k||Absolute control of one's body, along with all it can manipulate|
Brawn: 'Perhaps I am stronger than I think.'
- Thomas Merton
A bridge of sorts between Melee and Fortitude, Brawn exemplifies the raw physical power one's body possesses. Brawn, at its base, refers to how much weight a character can lift. It also determines the amount of brute force a character can apply to their environment, or in other words, how much damage they can inflict in melee combat, whether punching, kicking, biting, or even smashing a foe with a baseball bat.
Brawn is more than just a damage rating, however. It describes how well one may apply their power over time, as well. Such indications involve how fast a character can run over distances short and long, how quickly they can propel themselves through a liquid medium (swimming), and how much weight a character may carry on his or her person without being slowed down by it.
|2||Able to lift / press up to 50 lbs, rather weak|
|4||Able to lift / press up to 100 lbs, somewhat weak|
|6||Able to lift / press up to 200 lbs, human average|
|10||Able to lift / press up to 400 lbs, well above average|
|20||Able to lift / press up to 800 lbs, human maximum|
|30||Able to lift / press up to 1 ton|
|40||Able to lift / press up to 10 tons|
|50||Able to lift / press up to 50 tons|
|75||Able to lift / press up to 75 tons|
|100||Able to lift / press up to 100 tons|
|150||Able to lift / press up to 150 tons|
|200||Able to lift / press up to 200 tons|
|500||Able to lift / press up to 500 tons|
|1k||Able to lift / press up to 1,000 tons|
|3k||Able to lift / press up to 1 million tons|
|5k||Able to lift / press up to 1 billion tons|
Fortitude: 'A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.'
- Bruce Lee
This trait is a gauge of physical toughness and endurance. Fortitude describes how long a character can continue strenuous physical activity, how resistant to killing blows and metabolic attacks they are, and how quickly they can heal actual damage inflicted upon his or her person. In other words, Fortitude is used to determine a character's base healing and recovery rates over time.
Fortitude closely ties into Brawn for movement purposes. While Brawn shows how fast one can move and with how much weight, Fortitude details just how long they may do so before collapsing in a sweaty heap. Similarly, while Brawn is a measure of how much punishment a character can dish out, their Fortitude value is instead a metric by which one can measure the punishment he or she can take.
|2||Reduced or impaired physical health, functional or limited activity|
|4||Minimal exercise, poor diet, sedentary 'desk jockey'|
|6||Occasional exercise or physical activity, human average|
|10||Regular athletic activity or training, 'blue collar' occupation|
|20||Intensive exercise and / or training, excellent staying power|
|30||Gold medalist-level staying power, maximum human ability|
|40||Incredible stamina, shrugs off that which would kill lesser men|
|50||Enhanced staying power, super-human metabolism / immunities|
|75||Super-human metabolism complemented by intense training|
|100||Great physical fortitude, rarely tires even under extreme duress|
|150||Super-human staying power and immunity, with constant training|
|200||Never tires, never slows down, physically relentless|
|500||Recovers quickly from most injury, no matter how severe|
|1k||Metabolically perfect, nigh-immune to poison, disease|
|3k||Physically self-contained, needs food and water only after injury|
|5k||Virtually immortal, can recover even after apparent death|
Intellect: 'Let every man judge according to his own standards, by what he has himself read, not by what others tell him.' - Albert Einstein
In loose terms, a character's Intellect is an indicator of his or her I.Q. - a measure of intelligence and the capacity for logical thought. It describes one's ability to create items either from scratch or from the spare parts and salvage of others, as well as their ability to understand and operate equipment from the simple to the arcane. So basically, Intellect helps when mastering either geometry or German.
Practically speaking, Intellect also shows how well your character can learn and retain knowledge - both in the short and long term - which comes in handy when either trying to solve a crime or graduate from college. This is utilized when trying to remember the features of a person's face, specific details of an encounter, or even the schematics of a device you've invented after some villain makes off with them.
|2||Understands only the simplest machines, limited intellect|
|4||Grasps complex machines, basic electronics and math|
|6||Competent problem solving capabilities, human average|
|10||Can easily repair / install modern technology for self or others|
|20||Master of a single discipline, or familiarity with several others|
|30||Disciplinary polymath, world class expert in one discipline|
|40||Understands and creates leading-edge devices, technologies|
|50||Can decipher alien technologies, maximum human ability|
|75||Develops technology far beyond modern understanding|
|100||Super-human intellect with vast knowledge in many areas|
|150||Walking encyclopedia, mastery of all terrestrial sciences|
|200||Frighteningly smart, can process advanced math in real-time|
|500||Intelligent enough to be considered an alien technology|
|1k||Can multitask in multiple advanced areas at near-light speeds|
|3k||Intellect beyond mortal ken, knows that which must not be known|
|5k||Contemplates the whole of space-time simultaneously|
Awareness: 'Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares.'
- Mahatma Gandhi
Awareness is the sum of a person's wisdom, common sense, and that sense of self that (most) people possess. A sort of counterpart to Intellect, Awareness tends to rely upon inspirational leaps and bounds as opposed to logical deductions - a fine distinction, but an important one. It helps to also gauge a person's awareness of their surroundings, showing just how in tune with the multiverse they really are (or aren't).
In game terms, one's Awareness is used when attempting to detect something, whether intentionally (such as looking for clues in a crime scene) or subconsciously (picking up on things not readily apparent). It also is the basis for most empathic abilities, whether passive (the empathy power) or aggressive (emotion control, life force manipulation). Finally, a person's Awareness value determines their initiative modifier in combat.
|2||Limited or impaired senses, extremely inattentive|
|4||Generally clueless, a little slow on the uptake|
|6||Normal human situational awareness, sensory acuity|
|10||A fine eye for the little details around oneself|
|20||Keener than normal capabilities in at least one sense|
|30||Superior situational awareness, deductive ability|
|40||Highly accurate 'gut feelings', multiple superior senses|
|50||Maximum human awareness / alertness of surroundings|
|75||At least one super human sense, superior awareness|
|100||Aware of all major events in one's city as they occur|
|150||Completely aware of one's surroundings, all senses 'super'|
|200||Knows of all major events world-wide simultaneously|
|500||Awareness of environment extends to the atomic level|
|1k||In tune with the universe, cannot be blindsided|
|3k||Is in tune with other dimensions as well as one's own|
|5k||Mind is one with all reality, aware of all simultaneously|
Willpower: 'He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.'
- Lao Tzu
Somewhat similar in function to the Fortitude ability, Willpower is a gauge of one's mental endurance. It is an excellent descriptor of the sheer strength of will and personality one has, detailing such elusive quantities as mental presence and a sense of focus. While all mental abilities are used in psychic combat to some extent, one's Willpower determines a large component of their success in such arenas.
In game terms, Willpower has two practical aspects. One is how intent and focused a body can be in the face of adversity, such as intense fear, withstanding pain, or even psychic assault. The other is sheer presence, and defines how well the character can impose their will upon others, whether he or she does so in a subtle (leadership, debate skills) or overt (manipulation, intimidation techniques) fashion.
|2||Easily dominated or (re)programmed by others|
|4||Young or untrained minds, easily indoctrinated or bullied|
|6||Normal human willpower, standard resistance to influence|
|10||Can fend off standard mesmerism with some effort|
|20||Somewhat experienced with mystic / mental forces|
|30||Trained to counter external psychic influences / forces|
|40||Impressive force of personality, sways others with ease|
|50||Seemingly indomitable willpower, maximum human ability|
|75||Incredible focus, has seeming mastery of one's own body|
|100||Intense training and experience in the use of mental powers|
|150||Overwhelming force of personality, can sway an entire nation|
|200||Uncanny convergence of will, focus and drive inspires others|
|500||Supreme force of personality, sways worlds with their words|
|1k||Can often sway others without even speaking or acting|
|3k||Absolute focus, can manipulate the world with one's thoughts|
|5k||Mind is impregnable, only affected by external stimuli if willing|
Lifestyle: 'A penny saved is a penny earned.'
- Ben Franklin
A measure of personal finance, Lifestyle describes all of the assets currently at a character's disposal. While this is mostly used to show the material resources an individual has access to in the day to day functions of the game, it can also be used to detail additional resources available to them through an organization they are a member of (though such funds often come with strings attached).
This takes into account liquid funds as well as material goods; bank accounts, furniture in storage, a perfectly preserved comic book collection, that old cave filled with high tech gadgets - all these and more contribute to the Lifestyle trait. Individuals tend to have more materials than funds, while the reverse is often the case with large financial bodies (think corporations).
|2||Reduced circumstances, on welfare / allowance|
|4||Freelancer, college students, lower class wages|
|6||Lower middle class wages, salaried pay, novice executives|
|10||Professional salaries, middle class wages, small trust fund|
|20||Small inheritance, small business owner, military officer|
|30||City economy, millionaire playboy, small business chain|
|40||Large business, small corporation, small family fortune|
|50||Regional economy, multi-millionaire, large corporation|
|75||Tiny national economy, large trust fund or inheritance|
|100||Small national economy, billionaire, world class investor or fund|
|150||Medium sized national economy, multi-national corporation|
|200||Large sized national economy, trillionaire investor|
|500||Global super-power's economy, mega-corporations|
|1k||Planetary government economy, space-faring corporation|
|3k||Multi-planetary economy, universe-spanning corporation|
|5k||Universal economy, trans-dimensional corporation|
Repute: 'Avoid popularity if you would have peace.'
- Abraham Lincoln
A sort of quirky statistic, this secondary trait measures the public acknowledgment or approval people have in their normal environment. Repute, then, is used to modify the reaction result characters receive when they interact with others (when such results are not determined in the course of regular role play). The trick is that a character may have two separate Repute traits.
A body with a secret identity will have both a 'public' Repute and a 'private' Repute; the former is their adventuring notoriety, while the latter describes their 'home life'. Furthermore, Repute can be positive or negative; a positive value implies adoration by the public (such as it is), while a negative Repute means the character is feared and/or reviled by the world at large.
|2||'Local boy made good', neighborhood hooligans|
|4||Beloved neighbors, local media, city-wide hooligans|
|6||Local celebrities or politicians, national media|
|10||National politicians, local heroes, low-rent villains|
|20||Major hero, national leader or religious figure|
|30||Nationwide hero, FBI's most wanted, war criminals|
|40||Well-received hero, world-famous actor, convicted traitors|
|50||Mass-murdering terrorist, notorious super-villain|
|75||National hero, despised tyrants or super-villains|
|100||International hero, religious figure or global threat|
|150||Hero on multiple planets, role-model for billions|
|200||Timeless hero, modern messiah, eternal villain|
|500||Well known throughout near space, for good or ill|
|1k||Beings throughout the cosmos familiar with you|
|3k||Well known throughout the universe, for good or ill|
|5k||(In)Famous in multiple planes of existence|
Health: 'Health is worth more than learning.' - Thomas Jefferson
Health is a descriptor of the amount of damage a character can sustain before losing consciousness, and possibly their life as a result. Instead of being represented with rank values as are the primary abilities, a character's Health is instead determined by adding together the rank values of their Melee, Coordination, Brawn, and Fortitude traits.
Health, then, is a pool of well-being that represents the character at the height of their ability. Whenever a character suffers harm, whether physical or mental, the damage inflicted (after any protective powers or gear) is subtracted from one's Health. When one runs out of Health, they will pass out, and may or may not begin to die, depending on the nature of the harm inflicted upon them.
Fortune: 'Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it.' - Sakyong Mipham
Fortune is essentially a measure of a person's placement in the universal scheme of things. At the beginning of play, each character will have access to an amount of Fortune that is equal to the sum of their Intellect, Awareness and Willpower traits. They will have no more, however, unless they earn it - which can be done by engaging in activities that fit the ethos of said character.
This means that heroes must fight crime to earn Fortune, whilst villains must engage in it to achieve the same. Either way, Fortune acts as experience points as well as luck; it can be saved and eventually spent to improve one's traits and powers, or it can be wielded to manipulate die rolls as a player sees fit. There is much more on the uses of Fortune later on in the Edition 13 rules.
Each character, in addition to the standard eleven attributes that are used to describe their basic capabilities, may also be quantified in terms of special traits. These are qualities that are not common to every single entity in the game, and may in fact be unique to a specific character. There are four types of special traits, including powers, skills, contacts, and quirks.
Powers: powers are what make super heroes super, as opposed to being 'just' a hero. Most PCs have at least one power, whether it be in the form of an inborn ability, a sample of high tech equipment, or such studied equivalents as spells or psionics. Just like primary traits, almost all powers are gauged by rank values - though some are instead quantified with Row Shifts.
Quirks: quirks are modifications added to a character towards the end of its creation. They are oddities that contribute to the uniqueness of a character, adding or subtracting a Row Shift to certain rolls, or merely making their life a little more interesting. Whether beneficial or an impediment, they will typically come into play at least once in a given adventure.
Skills: skills are talents that may be learned by virtually anyone, whether they be super human or not. Instead of having a rank value, almost all skills offer a boost to trait or power values in the form of a +1 or +2 Row Shift to the standard rank value (explained later) on all skill rolls, making the character more proficient in that area than someone who does not have that skill.
Contacts: a contact is a person or an organization that a body can rely upon when needed, for either information, resources, or whatever else may be necessary. Contacts are automatically considered friendly to a character for the purpose of NPC reaction rolls. A character's contacts may help to shape their origin, and are rather useful for background information.