Primary and Secondary Abilities

The Saga System 13 Role Playing Game (or just System 13) is designed to let you vicariously experience the adventures of heroes, whether all by oneself or alongside a group of like-minded souls. 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 his or her talents, abilities or resources to help others - rather than being selfish and using these qualities solely for personal gain. So when playing System 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 the 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 ability scores.

Standard Abilities

Almost every character in System 13 is represented by six ability scores. The four primary ability scores are Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower, while the two secondary ability scores are Hand and Edge. All six character traits are described here, with generalized statistical comparisons to give one an idea what a certain level in each ability score means in the course of play.


Strength: "Perhaps I am stronger than I think."
- Thomas Merton

Strength exemplifies the raw physical power one's body possesses. At its base, Strength 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 hard and how accurately they can strike in melee combat, whether punching, kicking, biting, or even smashing a foe with a baseball bat.

Strength 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 competently a character can swim or how high they can jump, and how much weight a character may carry on their person without being slowed down by it.

Table 1a: Strength Ability by Intensity
ScoreStrength Benchmarks
1Able to lift / press up to 25 lbs, particularly feeble
2Able to lift / press up to 50 lbs, rather weak
3Able to lift / press up to 75 lbs, somewhat weak
4Able to lift / press up to 100 lbs, slightly below average
5Able to lift / press up to 150 lbs, human average
6Able to lift / press up to 200 lbs, slightly above average
7Able to lift / press up to 300 lbs, well above average
8Able to lift / press up to 400 lbs, full-time training regimen
9Able to lift / press up to 600 lbs, Olympic ™ lifter
10Able to lift / press up to 800 lbs, human maximum
Table 1b: Strength Ability by Intensity
ScoreStrength Benchmarks
12Able to lift / press up to one ton
14Able to lift / press up to 10 tons
16Able to lift / press up to 50 tons
18Able to lift / press up to 100 tons
20Able to lift / press up to 500 tons
22Able to lift / press up to 1,000 tons
24Able to lift / press up to 10,000 tons
26Able to lift / press up to 100,000 tons
28Able to lift / press up to 1 million tons
30Able to lift / press up to 1 billion tons


Agility: "There's no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves."
- Frank Herbert

Agility is the means by which a character's inherent coordination and nimbleness can be measured - it is both manual dexterity and one's sense of balance. Agility exemplifies grace, if not grace under fire, and is used whenever a character physically interacts with his or her environment. Such interactions can involve anything from carving a statue to operating machinery to catching a Frisbee ™.

Agility also comes into play when piloting vehicles of any type. Of course, Agility 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, Agility is the ability score which handles such concerns.

Table 2a: Agility Ability by Intensity
ScoreAgility Benchmarks
1Physically limited, either by accident or design
2Particularly clumsy or uncoordinated, especially sedentary
3Normal human reaction time and hand-eye coordination
4Casual dexterous discipline, minimal ranged combat training
5Competent ranged combatant, trained dexterous discipline(s)
6Professional training in dexterity, trained marksman
7Expert marksman, collegiate gymnast, professional athlete
8Professional gymnast, exceptional hand-eye coordination
9Elite gymnast, world class marksman, supremely flexible
10Olympic ™ gymnast, maximum human ability
Table 2b: Agility Ability by Intensity
ScoreAgility Benchmarks
12Super-human coordination, staggering ballistic prowess
14Instinctive knowledge of trajectories, unnaturally flexible
16Super-human coordination, with extensive experience
18Super-human coordination, with overwhelming experience
20Agile beyond mortal ken, capable of microscopic movements
22Super-human training or agility, with lifetimes of experience
24Safely walks on mono-wire, movements on the atomic scale
26Almost never misses, reacts at near-light speeds
28Grace so extreme that movement itself implies liquidity
30Absolute control of one's bodily movements and processes


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 score 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 his or her 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 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 3a: Intellect Ability by Level
ScoreIntellect Benchmarks
1Barely sentient, completely bewildered by tools, causality
2Can operate (if not understand) complex machines, devices
3Competent problem solving capabilities, human average
4Grasps complex electronics, mathematics, and physics
5Can easily repair / install modern technology for self or others
6Master of a single discipline, or familiarity with several others
7Fluent in several languages, understands even more
8Disciplinary polymath, world class expert in one discipline
9Understands and creates leading-edge devices, technologies
10Can decipher alien technologies, maximum human ability
Table 3b: Intellect Ability by Intensity
ScoreIntellect Benchmarks
12Develops technology far beyond modern understanding
14Can improve and / or modify alien technologies
16World class in several disciplines, or worlds beyond in one
18Super-human intellect with vast knowledge in many areas
20Walking encyclopedia, mastery of all terrestrial sciences
22Frighteningly smart, can process advanced math in real-time
24Worlds beyond modern knowledge in many fields
26Intelligent enough to be considered an alien technology
28Can multitask in multiple advanced areas at near-light speeds
30Contemplates the whole of space-time 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

Willpower is the sum of a person's wisdom, common sense, and that sense of self that (most) people possess. A counterpart of sorts to Intellect, Willpower tends to rely upon inspirational leaps and bounds as opposed to logical deductions - a fine distinction, but an important one. It also helps to gauge a person's awareness of his or her surroundings, showing just how in tune with the multiverse they really are (or aren't).

Willpower is used to showcase a character's mental might, too. It acts as a descriptor of the sheer strength of will and force of personality a character has, which helps either when they steel themselves against the influence of others, or attempt to exert their own on the world at large. Willpower is thus a counterpart to Strength as well, providing an inherent barrier against damage of the supernatural sort.

Table 4a: Willpower Ability by Intensity
ScoreWillpower Benchmarks
1Easily dominated or (re)programmed, oblivious to the world
2Young or untrained minds, easily indoctrinated
3Normal human willpower, situational awareness, sensory acuity
4Headstrong and self-reliant, can usually detect manipulation
5Shrugs off standard mesmerism, actively studies surroundings
6Somewhat experienced with psychic forces, fine eye for detail
7Trained to counter external psychic influences / forces
8Highly trained, disciplined mind, superior situational awareness
9Impressive force of personality, highly accurate 'gut feelings'
10Seemingly indomitable willpower, maximum human ability
Table 4b: Willpower Ability by Intensity
ScoreWillpower Benchmarks
12Has seeming mastery of one's own body, superior awareness
14Intense training and experience in the use of mental powers
16Astounding force of personality, manipulates crowds handily
18Unbelievable focus and presence, commands total attention
20Overwhelming force of personality, can sway an entire nation
22Uncanny convergence of will, focus and drive inspires others
24Dominating presence, whole world hangs on your every word
26An adamantine mind, nigh-uncontrollable by external forces
28Supreme force of personality, sways worlds with mere words
30Mind is one with reality, unaffected by external influences


Hand: "Life may not have dealt you a great set of cards... but who says the one with better cards will win?"
- Manoj Vaz

The System 13 game, unlike most role playing systems out there, relies upon cards instead of dice to resolve actions. Thus, each player character will be dealt a Hand as play begins, with which they can attempt any number of feats both mundane and fantastic. And the larger a Hand each character has, the more options they have at any given moment when they make such attempts.

Hand also represents the ability of a character to withstand damage that gets through their Strength, Willpower, and/or defensive powers (if any). Any damage that makes its way past these barriers will subtract from a character's Hand, which rapidly reduces their options in battle. Non-player characters, on the other hand, will simply make use of a flat sum of Health, as they aren't dealt their own Hand.


Edge: "The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."
- Hunter S. Thompson

Representing a character's experience, karmic balance, and/or sheer luck, Edge is a trait that showcases their ability to perform amazing feats above and beyond the norm, and which may in fact seem downright impossible! Using their Edge, characters may play more than one card from their hand per exchange - if the value of that card is equal to or less than that of their Edge score.

One's Edge is generally determined by their Hand Size, the former being of a value that is two less than the latter, barring character hindrances or augmentations that dictate otherwise. Thus, characters with a Hand Size of two possess no Edge to speak of, which is why they require some hero or another to rescue them from calamity so often.

Special Abilities

Each character, in addition to the six standard attributes that are used to describe their basic functions, may also be quantified in terms of special abilities. These are those traits 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 abilities, including powers, skills, contacts, and callings.

Powers: powers are what make super heroes super, as opposed to being 'just' a hero. Most player characters 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 abilities, almost all powers are gauged by intensities - though some can be rated as modifiers instead.

Skills: skills are talents that may be learned by virtually anyone, whether they be super human or not. Instead of having an intensity, almost all skills offer a reduction in the difficulty of a given action, making the character more proficient in that area than someone who does not have that skill. With enough skills under one's belt, there is almost nothing they cannot accomplish!

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 aura readings. A character's contacts may help to shape their origin, and are rather useful for background information.

Callings: something of a baseline motivation for a character, their calling is what eggs them on into action - or inaction, as the case may be. One's calling is not their entire personality rolled into a one word summary, but it does help to describe how they might react in a given situation. This can be useful for players who need help running a character, as well as fodder for their foes to exploit.

Last | Main | Next