The Measure Of An Identity

Personae identities, whether they be characters or otherwise, are comprised of attributes and traits.


Every identity has attributes, an array of innate descriptive qualities. Attributes are an identity’s point of origin: they provide modifiers to skill rolls, and determine the maximum number of a trait that each attribute is associated with. Abbreviation functions as reference to attribute value, e.g. POW for Power. Each attribute is assigned a numerical value, expressed as whole numbers. By default they are never less than one(1), with the exception of hindrance priority attributes which can be zero(0). The maximum value of an attribute is imposed by the order of importance.

Attributes Explained

  • By default, all Personae identities have six(6) attributes.

  • When an attribute value is referenced in the text below, the following abbreviations will be used to mean the corresponding attribute’s value:

    • Competence - CMP

    • Cunning - CNG

    • Power - POW

    • Prowess - PRO

    • Knowledge - KNO

    • Stature - STA


Competence represents keeping your head in the midst of uncertainty. It's a combination of an identity's force of personality, their presence of mind, social awareness or "street smarts".

The greater your Competence is, the more capable you are at performing different types of actions under pressure, in situations where your skill is matched in opposition with another identity.

  • The maximum number of unlocked skills an identity can begin play with is equal to their CMP.
  • Competence is a good attribute to add to skills rolled in interaction challenges that involve social situations.
  • The Counter skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their CMP.


Whereas Competence deals more with the big picture, Prowess is all about details and particulars, formulating a plan and seeing it into action. Prowess is the measure of a character’s capacity for organization, their receptiveness to rigor and formal training, turning broad fields of capability into well-honed assets that get results.

Whereas Competence opens the door to a skill by unlocking it, Prowess improves the skill, increasing an identity’s chance to succeed a challenge, whether in stressful situations or when pitted against their opponents.

  • A character's Prowess pool, the maximum number of dice an identity’s unlocked skills can be increased by when play begins is equal to their PRO × 3. Ex. Your PRO is 4, you have 12 dice in your Prowess pool
  • The Prepare skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their PRO.
  • Prowess is a good attribute to add to skills rolled in challenges that involve discipline and rigor.


Cunning represents the quickness of a character’s wits—their perceptiveness, ingenuity, hand-eye coordination, agility (particularly of the mind), ability to improvise, and poise/positioning.

  • The maximum number of enhancements an identity can begin play with is equal to their CNG.
  • The Discern skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their CNG.
  • Cunning is a good attribute to add to skill rolls in challenges that involve maneuverability, awareness, and acting on instinct rather than rational thought.


Power represents exerting force of will. There are many words synonymous with this, such as determination, resolve, drive and conviction, but they all refer to the same principle: ensuring that your desire takes shape when confronted with the desires of others who may stand in your way, and refusing to allow those conflicting desires to take shape as well. For characters who practice the supernatural, it is the avenue by which they tap into the source of their craft to manipulate reality, breaking the theories and laws dictated by science.

  • The maximum number of powers an identity can begin play with is equal to their POW.
  • The Steel skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their POW.
  • If the supernatural exists in the fiction, all characters have the capability to manipulate it in one way or another. Not all characters produce the more drastic types of effects covered by powers, however, and may use those points to upgrade enhancements instead.
  • Power adds to skills that are necessary for using powers (that call for you to issue a power challenge), and otherwise is a good attribute to add to skills rolled in challenges that involve rebuffing challenges intended to sway the character’s mind.


Knowledge represents a character's aptitude for academic interests and craft. This includes what the character knows about any given topic (such as history, alchemy, medicine), or how to make things with craftsmanship (such as weapons, sailing ships or furniture). The character turns what he knows into languages, areas of expertise, or resources that represent material wealth.

  • The maximum number of talents a character can begin play with is equal to their KNO.
  • The Deduce skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their KNO.
  • Knowledge is a good attribute to add to skills rolled in challenges involving knowing, learning, or acting on information already known.


Stature represents the character’s physical body. Stamina and raw might both fall into this category. Stature reflects how much punishment a character can take, expressed as the character's vitality.

  • The number of hits a character may sustain before marking shock level 1 is equal to their STA + 1. Example: An identity’s STA is 5; they can sustain 6 hits before marking shock 1.
  • The Defend skill is automatically unlocked for all characters when play begins, modified by their STA.
  • Stature is a good attribute to add to skills rolled in challenges that involve , brute force, endurance, or hardiness.


It's not enough that characters are strong, smart or wily—if that strength, intelligence or cleverness can't be put to use, then they can't ever accomplish anything worth telling stories about. Traits are the means by which identities interact with the fiction, turning their hopes and dreams into reality. Characters with compelling stories don't exist without a vehicle for achieving the goals and desires that they cherish the most.

By default, Personae identities have five different types of traits: skills, enhancements, powers, talents, and vitality.


Skills represent the time, training, and devotion that a character invests into becoming better at performing actions. Skills are the foundational basis for performing actions.

Most of these actions are what any sentient creature might be capable of doing: swinging a sword, deciphering encoded text, or avoiding notice from others. Skill is not just performing at the action in question, but excelling at it—performing it with skill.

Supernatural practice is included in these types of actions, initiating effects that transcend the mundane world. Those who conduct supernatural practices who wish to succeed more often than not spend a great deal of time turning mere practice into mastery in the use of their powers.

  • Skills involve both violent and nonviolent applications—mechanically speaking there is no difference between striking a dragon with a sword and using rhetoric to convince a listener of your political opinion.
  • When a character issues or answers a challenge, the player rolls one or more dice for the purposes of resolving the challenge.
  • A character does not have to have a skill unlocked in order to perform an action; a character can attempt any action that the player chooses, even if the appropriate skill has yet to be unlocked (the character is considered unskilled for a skill that has yet to be unlocked). Players attempting an action that isn't covered by one of their unlocked skills may always roll one(1) die by default, and add an attribute considered appropriate to the action being attempted.
  • If a character has unlocked skills, then this allows the player to roll more dice if the challenge involves one of the unlocked skills; the rating of the skill equals the number of dice you roll. Unlocked skills always have a starting rating of two(2) dice.
  • When a skill is unlocked, the player then chooses an attribute that they will, by default, add when rolling that skill in the process of either issuing or answering a challenge. Sometimes this will be obvious—weapons-related skills, for example, that involve hand-to-hand combat will generally involve adding the character's STA, whereas ranged weapons (bows and the like) will add CNG.
  • Provided that the player has a valid rationale, however, for picking the default attribute for the skill being unlocked, and there is agreement between player and chorus that makes sense in the fiction, then any attribute could conceivably be chosen as the default for a given skill when it is unlocked. This does not mean, however, that the default attribute will always be added for a given skill; the chorus may note that circumstances warrant another attribute being used to add in lieu of the default. (chorus should note that these should be exceptions rather than rules, otherwise it marginalizes the default attribute chosen by the player when the skill was unlocked.)

Specific Skill List: By default, Personae has no specific list of skills. Any skills chosen by player- or chorus-controlled identities will depend entirely on what makes sense within the fiction. That doesn’t preclude, however, a group deciding on a list of common skills in advance to serve as a handy reference when it comes to choosing new skills to unlock as play progresses.

Prowess Pool: Players increase their characters' skill ratings with dice from the Prowess pool.

  • The character's Prowess pool is the sum total of dice that the player has assigned to the character's skills, whether play progresses over the course of one session or several.

  • The Prowess pool is initially set at creation (see Prowess above). The player may distribute dice from the pool to the character's skills as he or she chooses. When a character's Prowess increases, their Prowess pool increases accordingly.

  • It is not mandatory that the player assign all of the character's starting Prowess pool dice at creation. If a player chooses to leave dice from the Prowess pool unassigned, however, then those unassigned dice should be noted as distinct from the total pool.

  • Your skill rating, the maximum number of dice that can be allocated to a skill, is equal to the character's potential threshold (potential + 2).

Ex. Your potential is 1, your skill rating max is 3


Enhancements (Es) take a character from ordinary to extraordinary, constantly testing the boundary between possible and impossible. Es make a character better at their other traits in a variety of different ways, such as superior training or the more subtle influence of the supernatural. Es can also improve or modify the effects of a character's powers. The exact benefit that each of a character's Es provide are agreed upon and defined through player-chorus consensus, in keeping with commonly agreed-upon internal consistency and sense of the fiction.

At creation the maximum number of Es a character can begin play with are equal to their CNG.

What Enhancements Can Do: Better defined by the Es themselves than an over-reaching description, the category encompasses a variety of resources available to the character. Es can, for example... ...add an additional number to the result of a skill roll in addition to attribute, thereby improving it. [Skill] Training: Add one(1) to the result of all attack challenges issued or answered with your [Skill], along with all other modifiers. ...add one or more dice to a skill roll. These dice are in addition to the rating of the skill, but it should be decided as to whether or not they can cause the number of dice rolled to exceed the maximum skill rating. Expert [Skill]: Roll one additional die whenever you issue or answer challenges with [Skill]. ...allow you to reroll one or more dice before determining the result of a skill roll. It should be decided whether or not the second or better result is taken, and if any other special circumstances must be considered. [Skill] Focus: Reroll one die whenever you issue or answer challenges with [Skill] (take second result, can't be highest). ...force an opponent to reroll one or more of their dice before determining the result of a skill roll. Just as with the character having a reroll enhancement, the fictional circumstances must be considered. Misdirection: When you succeed an interaction challenge against an opponent with [Skill], you can issue an immediate follow-up challenge; when your opponent answers the follow-up challenge, it must reroll one of their dice in the skill used to answer (take second result, can't be highest). ...increase the number of hits an opponent sustains with a successful attack challenge. Brutal [weapon Skill] Strike: Your opponent sustains one additional hit when you succeed an attack challenge with [weapon]. ...provide an additional or alternate benefit to one of your skills. Taunt: When you succeed an interaction challenge against an opponent with [Skill], you automatically escalate to a violent encounter, and your opponent must immediately issue you an attack challenge. ...provide an additional or alternate benefit to one of your powers. Spread [Power]: [Power] can affect one additional opponent. ...allow you to perform stupendous feats of derring-do by spending criticals. Horrific Wound: If you succeed an attack challenge against an opponent with [weapon Skill], and you spend one of your criticals, the opponent immediately sustains enough hits necessary to become Injured, no matter how many there are. This is not an exhaustive list. Es don't have to have a mechanically quantifiable rating or effectiveness level, however, and can instead have an impact on the fiction without a mechanical benefit. Work with your chorus if you're interested in taking an E that doesn't necessarily fit into one of the examples provided above.

Scope of Enhancements: In the midst of a nonviolent or violent encounter, a character's use of Es is limited. A character may only benefit from one E in the course of their turn, unless either they have powers or enhancements that say otherwise, or the E has an identifier that says otherwise.

Identifiers: Es have identifiers that help clarify, refine or limit their scope. Below are just some possible identifiers; this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Background (B): Characters may begin play with one free enhancement that expresses an ethnic group, species, nationality, or some other background element that helps to elaborate on the character's origins. It should not only serve the purpose of identification in this regard, but provide a mechanical benefit as well.
  • Conditional (C): When a player decides to limit, or "hamstring" an E by dictating it can only be used, for example, once in an encounter (a condition outside the fiction), or it can only be used, for example, only against those opponents who have previously committed a crime (a condition within the fiction), then the E is identified as conditional. Conditional Es can be upgraded once for free for each limiting condition imposed upon it.
  • Superior (S): An E identified as a superior, is always in effect in addition other Es that must be chosen during a character's turn during a nonviolent or violent encounter. You have the option during either creation or advancement to upgrade an E to superior (explained in "advancement", below). Applying the Superior identifier to an enhancement requires investing more than one creation point or development point (see “Creation Points” and “Advancement”, respectively).
  • Exceptional (X): Es identified as Exceptional are those that represent such a significant degree of investment in the enhancement they're applied to that no circumstance, fictional or otherwise, can ever deprive the identity possessing it of its benefit. Applying the Exceptional identifier to an enhancement requires investing more than one creation point or development point by default (see “Creation Points” and “Advancement”, respectively).
  • Es must have the superior identifier first before they can be exceptional—a total expenditure of 3 creation or development points.


Commanding bolts of lightning to strike from the sky, running faster than an arrow in flight, gazing upon distant vistas through a polished mirror—all of these, and too many more to count, are what we call powers: the direct application of the supernatural. Practitioners who use powers initiate drastic changes to reality, breaking the rules of science to make the impossible possible. The maximum number of powers a character begins play with is equal to their POW, and power is the default attribute that gets added when either issuing or answering power challenges.

Depending on the character, and the character's particular supernatural practice, powers can be expressed in different ways. Regardless of those descriptive details, mechanically speaking powers work the same way (unless a game group institutes additional rules for different methods of accessing or practicing magic). Also too, while the source of supernatural aptitude might differ from character to character, there is no mechanical difference between someone who practices "psionics" versus "divine magic", just as there is nothing mechanically different between someone who taps into the supernatural innately versus someone who does it through intellectual discipline and study (unless a group institutes mechanical differences of their own devising).

While characters are capable of attempting just about any sort of action that their players can think of, there is a limitation on the kind of magical effects that can be produced. In short, a character wanting to, for example, create an illusion of a giant fire-winged demon in order to scare an opponent, must have a “Project Illusion” power in order to bring about such a result. So long the character has the power, however (namely, that the power was acquired either at Character Creation or through advancement), that power—and any others the character has—can be initiated at will, an infinite number of times in the course of an encounter (unless a restriction has been instituted by the game group), directed by the identity power's duration.

The possible applications of a character's powers are limited only by the player's imagination. powers might cause the character to double in size, grow extra limbs, make the character's voice sound more pleasing and persuasive, or might change a clear sky to a driving hailstorm. The specific effects of powers, and their mechanical applications, are agreed upon both player and chorus, and both should make sure that the effects and applications make sense in the fiction.

Duration: Many powers will operate for an amount of time during a scene that is agreed upon between the player and chorus. However, when a scene escalates to a nonviolent or violent encounter, and time is tracked in rounds (see Space and Time below), a power's duration—the length of time that a power lasts for—falls into one of four categories:

  • Instant (I): Instant powers don't last longer than the end of a character's turn. They typically require an action to initiate—the effect takes place, and it's done. Supernatural attacks (such as effects directed at an opponent that inflict injury) are always Instant powers.
  • Maintain (M): Maintain powers require the character who initiated the power to spend an action to “keep up” the power's effect for as long (in the case of a violent encounter, this means how many rounds) as the character wants the power to last for.
  • Independent (T): Independent powers are the same as Maintain powers, however they remain in effect regardless of the action of the character who initiated the power—the power is brought into effect, and remains in effect until the end of the nonviolent or violent encounter.
  • Special (S): Powers whose durations do not fall into one of the three above duration categories have a Special duration. A power with Special duration has its duration specifics detailed in the power's description, e.g. a power that is activated as a violent encounter begins without needing to use an action to activate it.


Talents are similar to skills but differ in an important respect: whereas talents also represent things that a character is good at, it's through skills that the character thrives in a world of conflict. A character might be good at baking or playing the tuba, but unless you're in a baking contest, or a battle of the bands, your capability with either of these things is categorized as talent rather than skill, mechanically speaking. This doesn't mean, however, that talents have no mechanical impact on a character. On the contrary: talents either represent languages the character knows, subject areas the character has expertise in, or sources of material wealth for the character. At creation, the maximum number of talents a character begins play with is equal to their KNO.

Languages: The ability to speak languages is covered under the category of talents.

  • Characters begin play able to speak (and write, if the language has a written form) one language of their choice that makes sense within the fiction;
  • The ability to speak or write additional languages is available to characters if they are chosen as identity talents;
  • This can also cover secret, fabricated, or cipher languages, depending on a given setting, genre, or style of play and consensus among the group.

Expertise: When a talent is identified as an expertise, once per game session a player may call on that talent to gain one(1) additional die when rolling to either issue or answer a challenge, provided that the player can reasonably justify how the talent would factor into the challenge in question. This bonus die functions as all other dice do, and can generate a critical if an unmodified 10 is rolled.

Resources: When a talent is identified as a resource, this means that the talent is a source of material wealth for the character.

  • Every resource talent contributes to the character's resource cap, a number equal to one or greater that represents both wealth in tangible assets as well as purchasing power.
  • Characters cannot purchase items whose cost rating exceeds their resource cap.
  • Items whose cost rating is equal to or lesser than the character's resource cap can be purchased, but may have a chance of reducing the cap.
  • The chorus should pair a range of cost ratings with a rarity heading as is appropriate to the game or setting in which the game takes place.

Cost rating 0: Common Cost rating 1-3: Uncommon Cost rating 4-6: Rare Cost rating 7-9: Very Rare Cost rating 10+: Unique

The cost ratings of items represent a combination of the value of an item as well as its availability. (An item's legality, for instance, can affect its cost category; a pack of cigarettes might be considered of common cost in one country of your game's setting, for example, but in another country, where tobacco is a religious taboo, it might be considered of rare cost). Circumstances throughout the course of a story might result in one or more characters being granted a temporary increase in their resource cap (finding a cache of jewels and coins, a boon from a king or wealthy lord, the theft of antiquities from an ancient history museum). This temporary boost should be correlated to a specific number of scenes before being expended.


Vitality represents the degree to which an identity is able to issue or answer challenges, to affect the direction of the story with their goals and desires. It is most immediately relevant in violent encounters, but the effects of a decrease in vitality may be experienced beyond one encounter and into others. This is dependent, as are many things, on sense within the fiction: for a character, for example, this might represent health, whereas if the identity is a locked door, and you are operating under the principle that “anything can be an identity”, the vitality of the door is how many hits it can take before being rendered no longer an obstacle.

An identity is negated—approaches inoperative status, either either temporarily or permanently—as it sustains too many hits during violent encounters, progressing through a series of four shock levels, each one more precarious than the last. By default, a character can sustain a number of hits, marking them against their vitality, equal to 1 + STA, before sustaining shock level 1. A character's vitality, shock levels, how an identity sustains hits to vitality, identity negation, and other related matters are further explained in "Violent Encounters".



CC BY 4.0
This site is powered by Netlify