The following descriptions are lifted from the core rulebook, with a few edits that suit the Waking the Dead universe. Emphases are credited to the writer of this guide.
People have the inherent capacity to act, behave and think. We can perform actions and have intuitive talents such as running, theorizing and persuading others. So does your character. His basic, fundamental capabilities are represented with Attributes, which are the foundation of all the acts that he performs. These traits are classified into three categories – Mental, Physical and Social – and are rolled to determine how well your character accomplishes efforts in the game.
Mental Attributes suggest how insightful, clever and determined your character is. They are Intelligence, Wits and Resolve.
Physical Attributes indicate how strong, graceful and enduring your character is. They are Strength, Dexterity and Stamina.
Social Attributes determine how imposing, magnetic and dignified your character is. They are Presence, Manipulation and Composure.
The Attributes of ordinary people are rated from 1 to 5. It’s possible for someone to have more dots, but these individuals are typically beyond the human ken, partially or fully a part of the mysterious supernatural world. Perhaps they’re touched by spirits or born to a legacy of service to unseen beings.
Your character, even as a mortal human, automatically starts with one dot in each Attribute. When your character performs an action, the Attribute most appropriate to the effort is referenced. If he tries to remember what he read during library research last week, you look to his Intelligence dots. If he tries to jump a chasm, you check his Strength. If he tries to make a good first impression on a group of people, you apply his Presence score.
Your character’s dots are usually rolled as part of a dice pool. Attributes are sometimes combined and rolled to see if an action can be accomplished, but they are more often combined with Skills. The Storyteller will tell you what Attributes are applicable to your character’s actions, and what rolls you can make. In general, the three classes of Attributes are used based on the circumstances. One of each of the Mental, Physical and Social traits has bearing on a different kind of action, as outlined below:
Power is the degree of effect that your character has on others and his surroundings. The higher his score, the smarter, more potent or more imposing he is. Intelligence, Strength and Presence therefore apply when your character seeks to force himself on his environment.
Finesse is a measure of your character’s capacity to interact with the world and influence others. The higher his score, the craftier, more delicate and more influential he is. Wits, Dexterity and Manipulation have bearing when your character tries to anticipate and react to his environment, and to coordinate others.
Resistance indicates how well your character copes with influences from both without and within that might affect him adversely. The higher his score the more staunch, sturdy or dignified he is. Resolve, Stamina and Composure apply when your character responds to coercion, injury and influence. Resolve tests his ability to resist efforts to direct his mind, Stamina helps him shrug off physical trauma, and Composure helps him recover from horrifying experiences or social tension and still maintain control.
Thus, you don’t usually check Strength when your character is challenged in a social situation, because brute force doesn’t apply where Composure (social recovery) is concerned. Similarly, Dexterity doesn’t typically have bearing when interpreting a foreign language. That act calls upon the power of the mind and is the purview of Intelligence.
Attributes are rated 1 to 5 for ordinary people, and each score suggests the degree of your character’s raw capability in that area.
|•||Poor. Unexercised, unpracticed, or inept.|
|••||Average. The result of occasional effort or application.|
|•••||Good. Regular practice or effort, or naturally talented.|
|••••||Exceptional. Frequently applied, tested and honed, or naturally gifted.|
|•••••||Outstanding. The peak of normal human capability. Continuously exercised or naturally blessed.|
Normally, it’s not possible for a character to have zero dots in an Attribute. That suggests the absolute vacancy of any capability in the trait in question.
The table below has been made to give a general reference for stats above 5, for exceptionally strong supernatural characters.
|••••••||Unbelievable. Still within the realm of human capability, but it entails a life of constant practice.|
|•••••••||Preternatural. Completely beyond the realm of human capability.|
|••••••••||Supernatural. Within the realm of imagination, but exceeding human ability.|
|•••••••••||Imperial. Appears to be bestowed with the grace of the gods, by merit of their nature.|
|••••••••••||Godly. This level of power is a distant dream, even for the finest and strongest supernaturals.|
Note, of course, that particular restrictions apply to buying the sixth dot and above in an Attribute for supernatural characters. Generally, a supernatural character must possess an effective Supernatural Advantage (i.e. Gnosis, Primal Urge, Blood Potency, and so on) rating of 6 or above. Furthermore, after the fifth dot, the dot cap for Attributes and one’s current Supernatural Rating are exactly equivalent. As such, you cannot buy a seventh dot in an Attribute if your Supernatural Advantage rating is not at 7.
Now, a person could be physically, mentally or socially disabled or crippled. Those conditions are reflected with Flaws, however, not through zero-rated Attributes. Just about the only instance in which an Attribute can be reduced to zero (and usually temporarily) is by supernatural means. A spell, curse or affliction is imposed on your character that eliminates all of the dots in his trait. In these cases, no roll can be made at all whenever the Attribute in question would normally be called for. So, if your character is afflicted with total loss of bodily control (zero Dexterity), you make no rolls for any situation that calls for Dexterity in a dice pool, even if he has dots in a pertinent Skill or has access to tools that would be helpful. Your character can’t even hope to aim a gun or direct his movements. In essence, the action fails outright.
The raw power of the mind. Cognitive capacity. The inherent capability to digest, comprehend and remember information – and to learn more. Intelligence is a direct measure of how smart your character is. She may be dull-minded or have narrow-vision. She may be book-smart, or she may simply be able to grasp concepts, interpret situations and solve problems quickly. Intelligence is valued by planners, theorists, scholars, white-collar employees and leaders.
The ability to think on one’s feet, under pressure or duress, without letting them see you sweat. Wits also encompasses an eye for detail, the ability to absorb what’s going on in the environment, and to react to events. It might mean recognizing that the temperature in a room slowly drops, that a landscape painting incorporates a disguised human face, or that a trap is about to be sprung.
Wits involves the powers of perception and response. Your character may be oblivious, dumbfounded, quick-eyed or wary. The trait is useful for entrepreneurs, charlatans, athletes, tacticians, lawyers and criminals.
The focus and determination to see your character’s will done. The capacity to stay on target, ignore distractions and to resist coercion or browbeating. Resolve is your character’s mental fortitude. His personal conviction. His clarity of vision or spirit. Your character may be easily distracted, unable to concentrate, resolute or single-minded. The trait is pivotal to resisting supernatural forms of mental control; it acts as a veritable defense of the mind. Resolve is valuable to leaders, motivators, soldiers, athletes, police and organizers.
Physical might. Sheer bodily power. The capacity to lift objects, move items, hit things and people, and do damage. Strength is a measure of muscle. Your character could be 98-pound weakling, he could carry a spare tire, or he could be lean and cut or bulky and brawny. Your character’s Strength score is used in hand-to-hand combat. This trait is instrumental to laborers, thugs, athletes, brawlers and law-enforcement agents.
Quickness. Response time. A delicate touch. Dexterity indicates how quickly and with how much finesse your character responds to his physical world. While high Wits dots helps your character spot trouble, high Dexterity dots help him react to it, whether with a counteraction or to simply get the hell out of the way. Dexterity also helps with hand-eye coordination, be it to fire an accurate shot, to juggle objects or to perform delicate jobs such as handle explosives. Your character might be sluggish, clumsy, slight, quick or nimble. Dexterity is invaluable to criminals, sports stars, surgeons and dancers.
Sturdiness. Steadfastness. Sheer physical resilience. Stamina is a measure of how tough your character is. It indicates how far she can push her body, and how much physical abuse she can endure. Your character might be sickly and frail, or hardy and unstoppable. Bouncers, brawlers, triathletes, survivalists, heavy lifters and workaholics thrive on Stamina.
Bearing. Stature. Assertiveness. Presence suggests the power of your character’s very identity. Attractiveness is only part of the trait. Your character may be jaw-dropping gorgeous, plain-Jane or downright ugly, but her Presence means much more. It reflects her sheer command over the attention of others. It’s her capacity to impose her will on others by being socially aggressive or powerful – a veritable bull in a china shop or someone who simply doesn’t accept no for an answer. This trait is essential to leaders, enforcers, interrogators, models, politicians and salespeople.
Note that attractiveness alone is represented by the Striking Looks Merit, which grants bonus dice to Presence rolls.
Charm. Persuasiveness. Charisma. The capacity to play upon the desires, hopes and needs of others to influence them. Manipulation reflects your character’s finesse in social situations. How well he can appeal to, gain the favor of and generally coerce others. Manipulation is applied to win smiles, to put people at ease or to gain favors.
Where Presence deals in social force, Manipulation focuses on social subtlety. It’s the tool and trade of businesspeople, politicians, salesfolk and publicists. Your character may be a wallflower, he could frequently make off-color statements, he might have a winning smile and a hardy handshake, or he may be able to sell sand in the desert.
Poise. Dignity. The capacity to remain calm and appear – and actually be – unfazed in social and threatening situations, usually harrowing ones. Your character might lose his temper at the slightest perceived insult, collapse emotionally under a mere pretense, weather a storm of verbal (or literal) slings and arrows, or have the nerve to look unspeakable horror in the eye. This trait is a measure of emotional fortitude, restraint and calm. It’s ideal among leaders, soldiers, moderators and anyone whose movements are public consumption. Composure is vital to resisting social influence and pressure – overt, covert or otherworldly.
Composure is pivotal to resisting supernatural forms of emotional control; it acts as a veritable emotional defense. The trait is also vital to efforts among supernatural beings such as vampires and werewolves to restrain themselves when their blood is raised and frenzy threatens.