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.

Standard 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 mle, 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).

Table 1a: Melee Trait by Rank Value
ValueMelee Benchmarks
2No training or ability
4Standard Human Ability
6Natural ability or minimal training
10Some formal training
20Formal, regular training
30Superior martial talent
40Superior talent with extensive training
50Maximum human combat prowess
Table 1b: Melee Trait by Rank Value
ValueMelee Benchmarks
75Super-human training or ability
100Super-human capability, extensive skill or experience
150Super-human ability with unnatural training and experience
200Can combat several small groups simultaneously
500Long-lived being with many lifetimes of battle experience
1kCan combat vast crowds simultaneously
3kAgeless being with countless combat experience
5kCan 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.

Table 2a: Coordination Trait by Rank Value
ValueCoordination Benchmarks
2Little hand-eye coordination, terrible sense of balance
4Clumsy and inaccurate, primarily sedentary lifestyle
6Normal human reaction time, coordination, balance
10Casual dexterous discipline, conventional firearms training
20Expert marksman, collegiate gymnast, circus acrobat
30Professional gymnast, uncanny aim, supremely flexible
40Gymnastic gold medalist, maximum human ability
50Serene, alien grace, super-human ballistic prowess
Table 2b: Coordination Trait by Rank Value
ValueCoordination Benchmarks
75Super-human training or agility, unnatural ballistic prowess
100Instinctive knowledge of trajectories, flexible beyond mortal ken
150Super-human training or agility, with extensive experience
200Super-human training or agility, with overwhelming experience
500Agile beyond mortal ken, capable of microscopic movements
1kSuper-human training or agility, with lifetimes of experience
3kAlmost never misses, reacts to environment at near-light speeds
5kAbsolute 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.

Table 3a: Brawn Trait by Rank Value
ValueBrawn Benchmarks
2Able to lift / press up to 50 lbs, rather weak
4Able to lift / press up to 100 lbs, somewhat weak
6Able to lift / press up to 200 lbs, human average
10Able to lift / press up to 400 lbs, well above average
20Able to lift / press up to 800 lbs, human maximum
30Able to lift / press up to 1 ton
40Able to lift / press up to 10 tons
50Able to lift / press up to 50 tons
Table 3b: Brawn Trait by Rank Value
ValueBrawn Benchmarks
75Able to lift / press up to 75 tons
100Able to lift / press up to 100 tons
150Able to lift / press up to 150 tons
200Able to lift / press up to 200 tons
500Able to lift / press up to 500 tons
1kAble to lift / press up to 1,000 tons
3kAble to lift / press up to 1 million tons
5kAble 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.

Table 4a: Fortitude Trait by Rank Value
ValueFortitude Benchmarks
2Reduced or impaired physical health, functional or limited activity
4Minimal exercise, poor diet, sedentary 'desk jockey'
6Occasional exercise or physical activity, human average
10Regular athletic activity or training, 'blue collar' occupation
20Intensive exercise and / or training, excellent staying power
30Gold medalist-level staying power, maximum human ability
40Incredible stamina, shrugs off that which would kill lesser men
50Enhanced staying power, super-human metabolism / immunities
Table 4b: Fortitude Trait by Rank Value
ValueFortitude Benchmarks
75Super-human metabolism complemented by intense training
100Great physical fortitude, rarely tires even under extreme duress
150Super-human staying power and immunity, with constant training
200Never tires, never slows down, physically relentless
500Recovers quickly from most injury, no matter how severe
1kMetabolically perfect, nigh-immune to poison, disease
3kPhysically self-contained, needs food and water only after injury
5kVirtually 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.

Table 5a: Intellect Trait by Rank Value
ValueIntellect Benchmarks
2Understands only the simplest machines, limited intellect
4Grasps complex machines, basic electronics and math
6Competent problem solving capabilities, human average
10Can easily repair / install modern technology for self or others
20Master of a single discipline, or familiarity with several others
30Disciplinary polymath, world class expert in one discipline
40Understands and creates leading-edge devices, technologies
50Can decipher alien technologies, maximum human ability
Table 5b: Intellect Trait by Rank Value
ValueIntellect Benchmarks
75Develops technology far beyond modern understanding
100Super-human intellect with vast knowledge in many areas
150Walking encyclopedia, mastery of all terrestrial sciences
200Frighteningly smart, can process advanced math in real-time
500Intelligent enough to be considered an alien technology
1kCan multitask in multiple advanced areas at near-light speeds
3kIntellect beyond mortal ken, knows that which must not be known
5kContemplates 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.

Table 6a: Awareness Trait by Rank Value
ValueAwareness Benchmarks
2Limited or impaired senses, extremely inattentive
4Generally clueless, a little slow on the uptake
6Normal human situational awareness, sensory acuity
10A fine eye for the little details around oneself
20Keener than normal capabilities in at least one sense
30Superior situational awareness, deductive ability
40Highly accurate 'gut feelings', multiple superior senses
50Maximum human awareness / alertness of surroundings
Table 6b: Awareness Trait by Rank Value
ValueAwareness Benchmarks
75At least one super human sense, superior awareness
100Aware of all major events in one's city as they occur
150Completely aware of one's surroundings, all senses 'super'
200Knows of all major events world-wide simultaneously
500Awareness of environment extends to the atomic level
1kIn tune with the universe, cannot be blindsided
3kIs in tune with other dimensions as well as one's own
5kMind 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.

Table 7a: Willpower Trait by Rank Value
ValueWillpower Benchmarks
2Easily dominated or (re)programmed by others
4Young or untrained minds, easily indoctrinated or bullied
6Normal human willpower, standard resistance to influence
10Can fend off standard mesmerism with some effort
20Somewhat experienced with mystic / mental forces
30Trained to counter external psychic influences / forces
40Impressive force of personality, sways others with ease
50Seemingly indomitable willpower, maximum human ability
Table 7b: Willpower Trait by Rank Value
ValueWillpower Benchmarks
75Incredible focus, has seeming mastery of one's own body
100Intense training and experience in the use of mental powers
150Overwhelming force of personality, can sway an entire nation
200Uncanny convergence of will, focus and drive inspires others
500Supreme force of personality, sways worlds with their words
1kCan often sway others without even speaking or acting
3kAbsolute focus, can manipulate the world with one's thoughts
5kMind 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).

Table 8a: Lifestyle Trait by Rank Value
ValueLifestyle Benchmarks
2Reduced circumstances, on welfare / allowance
4Freelancer, college students, lower class wages
6Lower middle class wages, salaried pay, novice executives
10Professional salaries, middle class wages, small trust fund
20Small inheritance, small business owner, military officer
30City economy, millionaire playboy, small business chain
40Large business, small corporation, small family fortune
50Regional economy, multi-millionaire, large corporation
Table 8b: Lifestyle Trait by Rank Value
ValueLifestyle Benchmarks
75Tiny national economy, large trust fund or inheritance
100Small national economy, billionaire, world class investor or fund
150Medium sized national economy, multi-national corporation
200Large sized national economy, trillionaire investor
500Global super-power's economy, mega-corporations
1kPlanetary government economy, space-faring corporation
3kMulti-planetary economy, universe-spanning corporation
5kUniversal 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.

Table 9a: Repute Trait by Rank Value
ValueRepute Benchmarks
2'Local boy made good', neighborhood hooligans
4Beloved neighbors, local media, city-wide hooligans
6Local celebrities or politicians, national media
10National politicians, local heroes, low-rent villains
20Major hero, national leader or religious figure
30Nationwide hero, FBI's most wanted, war criminals
40Well-received hero, world-famous actor, convicted traitors
50Mass-murdering terrorist, notorious super-villain
Table 9b: Repute Trait by Rank Value
ValueRepute Benchmarks
75National hero, despised tyrants or super-villains
100International hero, religious figure or global threat
150Hero on multiple planets, role-model for billions
200Timeless hero, modern messiah, eternal villain
500Well known throughout near space, for good or ill
1kBeings throughout the cosmos familiar with you
3kWell 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.

Special Traits

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.

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