Rank Values and ACTIONs
A character's traits, powers, and more are represented by rank values. Rank values are measures of prowess or raw power in a trait or superhuman ability. Each rank value is represented by a primary number, as well as a range that surrounds said number. Rank values may be identified by that primary number (rank value 30, for instance), or they may be instead identified with a special descriptive name, if desired.
Human Rank Values
|2||1-2||Doddering, Weak, Feeble|
|4||3-4||Poor, Inferior, Shabby|
|6||5-7||Average, Mundane, Typical|
|10||8-15||Accomplished, Good, Competent|
|20||16-25||Excellent, Exceptional, Skillful|
When discussing normal human beings, this range of rank values will most often be used to describe them. While some traits can be higher and be considered within the range of a 'normal' human's, these five rank values are where the vast majority of such individuals will fall in all of their statistics. This is particularly true of Brawn, which literally cannot be higher without some sort of super-human capability.
Furthermore, most super-humans will have traits that fall within this range as well. They may have a few which exceed these rank values, which is par for the course, but few individuals are super-human in every trait - and those that are usually turn out to be the most dangerous by far. Power values that fall into this panorama are nonetheless quite useful, if not generally considered 'world shaking' in nature.
Super-Human Rank Values
|30||26-35||Extraordinary, Remarkable, Super|
|40||36-45||Fantastic, Incredible, Wonderful|
|50||46-62||Amazing, Astounding, Legendary|
|75||63-87||Colossal, Monstrous, Monumental|
|100||88-125||Astonishing, Marvelous, Unearthly|
This spectrum of rank values is most often used to describe ascendant humans - those who have spectacular powers for some reason or another, or perhaps inhuman beings of some sort. A few exceptional 'normals' may have traits that fall within this neighborhood, as a human's Melee trait may range as high as rank value 50, but this area is where you'll find a majority of the super-powered population.
Supers typically have one or more traits in this range, though most of theirs still reflect their basic, human nature. Many of their powers will fall into this category, however, which is what makes most super-humans, well, super. Sure, the right power at rank value 2 can do a lot of damage if wielded properly, but the same one with a value of 100 can dish out that much more.
Cosmic Rank Values
|150||126-175||Shift X, Inconceivable, Uncanny|
|200||176-350||Indescribable, Shift Y, Unthinkable|
|500||351-999||Improbable, Unimaginable, Shift Z|
The three cosmic rank values represent extreme levels of power. They're so potent that they're generally considered out of the human experience entirely, hence some of their potential descriptors. A majority of super-human beings won't possess a trait or power at one of these values, though a rare few might manage it through sheer luck or happenstance (certain powers notwithstanding).
No, those beings who possess standard rank values within this spread tend to be alien in both body and mind, often from other worlds or planes of existence. They may be bona fide deities, or perhaps simply take advantage of the superstitions of lesser beings to perpetuate such belief to their own benefit. Nonetheless, entities with levels of power in this strata are not to be taken lightly, for they can easily change the world.
Abstract Rank Values
|1000||1000-2999||Staggering, Unfathomable, Class 1000|
|3000||3000-4999||Incomprehensible, Class 3000, Overwhelming|
|5000||5000+||Class 5000, Impossible, Unobtainable|
Finally, the abstract rank values are those which are even more inexplicable than those three which came before. These represent forces which can destroy worlds, if not whole universes when used aggressively enough. The three classes of top-tier might are rarely, if ever, attained even by gods (or cosmic beings) themselves, for they are most often possessed only by abstract, alien entities.
Such creatures (if they can even be classified as such) are those which serve as an embodiment of some grand force or concept. Their sphere of power is nigh-absolute in their area of focus, thus justifying these extreme levels of power. Typically these entities are the 'base' from which gods who embody related, but lesser concepts or principles draw their might from - or must pay homage to somehow.
Rank Value Conditionals
In addition to the sixteen standard rank values, there are four rank value conditionals. These are all rank values (or a range of such) that one will not attain normally under most circumstances, but may nonetheless be forced to roll on now and then. Access to rank value conditionals are typically only granted with the Gamemaster's approval; they may be seen as either too limiting or too powerful (especially the second one).
Rank Value Zero: barring a severe injury or illness, or perhaps a non-humanoid body (or a lack therein), most characters will never actually possess a trait or power that functions at this rank value. This is because this condition indicates a lack of power or ability. Having an actual rank value of zero (0) in a statistic means that one has no inherent use of said trait or power (it's useless to them).
For the most part, a character will make use of rank value zero when a higher value is modified to function on this row. This can happen as a result of severe penalties to a desired action that, while not making it impossible, just get one very close to such a state. Actions attempted at rank value zero are the most likely to fail, but nonetheless have a slim chance at success (usually with a dash of Fortune to help).
Rank Value Infinity: similarly, characters will not possess any trait or power at rank value infinity, for the most part. This level of might indicates ultimate power, gained only in the rarest of situations - either when several value 5000 powers are used in conjunction, or when it is assigned to the most potent of abstract beings. When the latter occurs, such a character is usually just a plot device.
The reason for this is that rank value infinity transcends mere game mechanics, it is all powerful. Anyone who manages this level of might evolves beyond the game's boundaries, after a fashion. On occasion a character may manage to achieve this rank value in some capacity or another for a short period of time - fiction is replete with such examples, after all - but such a situation is highly transient in nature.
The Hyperexhaustive Rank Value: this is a special rank value conditional that is applied to powers only, never to traits. A power that is hyperexhaustive physically drains its user, being incredibly hard to operate or control. When a hyperexhaustive rank value appears during character generation, either due to lousy rolls or when chosen as a limitation, roll again.
This second result will be the base for power factors such as range, damage, and so on. The result is the hyperexhaustive rank value. This will read as HE-(rank value). For example, a player eventually rolls a hyperexhaustive rank value for a power. They immediately roll again on the applicable chart; the result being rank value 20. As such, this power is of rank value HE-20. The tricky part is actually using such powers.
When a character wields a hyperexhaustive power, the necessary die roll is made on the rank value zero row, as wielding it is particularly difficult. Whether the use of this power succeeds or fails, it (and the character who possesses it) will be drained by the effort involved. Ideally, the power should not be used again for twenty-four hours of game time, allowing it to recover from this extreme exertion.
If this rest period is observed, no undue harm will come to the character. However, failing to do this will drain the power further, and require it be rested for one week without further use. If the power is drained to this point, a week's worth of abstinence on the part of this power's use is required to recharge it fully. However, sometimes this is not practical, and this tricky power must be used yet again.
Bypassing a required week-long rest on a hyperexhaustive power extends the time necessary for a full recovery to one month. If this third and final extension is not observed, the power will be completely burned out. While the Gamemaster has the option of allowing it to come back after perhaps a year of game time (certainly a considerable wait), the most likely outcome is that the hyperexhaustive power is gone forever.
Recovery of the ability may be possible, but may require a special mission or other extreme measures, all at the Gamemaster's whim.
The Hyperkinetic Rank Value: the flip side of hyperexhaustive values, a hyperkinetic rank value implies a trait or power that normally operates at a functional value (determined in the same way as a hyperexhaustive power), but will suddenly 'spike' in power under certain circumstances. This stimulus cannot be something always present in the environment, such as water or oxygen, but need not be especially rare, either.
When exposed to the predetermined stimulus, the hyperkinetic effect is activated, and the power in question begins to function at a +1 RS. For each round of sustained stimulus afterwards, the power will be increased in scope by a further +1 RS, until it hits an upper limit of rank value 500. This enhancement lasts until the stimulus is all gone, plus 1d10 turns, at which point the power value will revert to its normal, functional state.
While such an extreme boost in power may be exhilarating, it is not without adverse effects. For one thing, controlling extreme levels of power can be difficult. For every +1 RS the hyperkinetic trait or power experiences over one's Willpower, apply a -1 RS to ACTIONs required to control it. Such high levels of power are difficult to keep a handle on.
Furthermore, when the hyperkinetic power wears off, the character will be left somewhat spent, suffering a -2 RS penalty to all die rolls for a number of turns equal to the time in which they were, for the lack of a better term, hyperkinetic. During this time, one cannot reinitialize the hyperkinetic state, which may leave him or her in something of a pickle depending on the circumstances of its use.
While a character's traits may be bolstered by a hyperkinetic effect, their Health and Fortune sums will not be affected by this change (even if an over the top boost seems like it should double - or more - such sums). Finally, hyperkinetic powers are noted with a special prefix, as are hyperexhaustive abilities. A rank value 20 hyperkinetic power, for instance, would be noted as rank value HK-20.
Assessments of Capability, Talent, Influence, Operation, or Nature (ACTIONs)
Whenever a character attempts a feat with significant difficulty, he or she must normally make an ACTION roll to determine whether or not it succeeds, ACTION being an acronym for Assessments of Capability, Talent, Influence, Operation, or Nature. An ACTION is made by rolling a d100, and checking the result against the rank value in question on the Master Table.
This procedure is the basis for all actions in Edition 13 of the 4C System, and after playing for a while will come naturally. There are four color bands on the Master Table that stretch through the rank values. When attempting an ACTION, a black result usually indicates failure. A red result represents a sufficient success, a blue result an exceptional success, and a yellow result the best possible result one can achieve.
Consider a hero in mortal combat with their deadly nemesis. To hit with a left hook, the hero must pass a successful Melee ACTION roll. Normally a red result will do, so the player rolls the dice, the result being a 42. Tracing along the '41-45' column of the Master Table, we see that if our hero has a Melee value of 20 or better, that punch will indeed strike their foe!
This is an over-simplification of the variables that can occur in combat, but will do to demonstrate the basic idea of an ACTION.
Determining ACTION Intensities (Difficulties)
One area heavily involving ACTION color results is the idea of ACTION intensities. ACTION intensities come into play when a character encounters something of a set level of power or ability in the course of play, and pits their traits and/or powers against it. This can be as simple as lifting a significant weight, or as complicated as attempting to reverse engineer alien technologies.
When attempting an ACTION that is well within one's ability - say, a character with a Brawn of rank value 30 attempting to lift a 400 pound weight - a red ACTION is usually all that is required. This can be represented in game terms by declaring the difficulty to be red if the action attempted is from -1 RS to -3 RS below the trait or power being tested (in our example, the weight indicated is benchmark of a Brawn -2 RS in value).
ACTIONs that are of an intensity equal, or nearly so, to one's capabilities often require a blue ACTION. For instance, our high tech hero with an Intellect of rank value 50 is trying to figure out how an alien whatsit they found works. If the difficulty of an ACTION is equal to one's own rank value, it will generally fall into this category; our example showcases an ACTION that is of the same rank value as our hero's ability.
If one attempts a feat with a difficulty that is greater, such as the above hero with a Brawn trait of 30 trying to lift over a ton, a yellow ACTION is typically required. Furthermore, significant modifiers may apply to the attempted ACTION (see below). This represents a character being pushed to the absolute limits of their capabilities - and trying to succeed nonetheless.
Automatic and Impossible ACTIONs
In the course of play, characters may attempt feats that are particularly easy - or astoundingly difficult. The Gamemaster may often rule that die rolls are unnecessary when a character does something, as it may be a matter of incredible ease... or staggering impossibility.
Automatic ACTIONs are often those which have an intensity more than three rank values below the ability of a character attempting said ACTION. If a character with a Brawn trait of 100 had to roll the dice every time they picked up a light pole, game play would quickly become very tedious. As such, the Gamemaster may dispense with die rolls if they feel there is no reasonable chance of failure when attempting an action.
Impossible ACTIONs include those with a difficulty two or more rank values higher than the character attempting it. If one has a Brawn of rank value 50, they can bench press up to 50 tons with some difficulty, but 200 tons - usually a hallmark of characters with a Brawn of rank vale 200 - may be quite beyond him or her. In such situations, the Gamemaster may just say the ACTION is simply outside of the character's capabilities.
If mitigating circumstances are in play, the Gamemaster may nonetheless allow (or insist upon) die rolls, even if an ACTION is normally considered automatic or impossible. In such cases, it is recommended that a modifier equal to the difference between the character's value and the difficulty at hand be applied to their die roll - positive for automatic ACTIONs, negative for impossible ACTIONs.
Such mitigating circumstances usually include the threat of immediate death to a character or someone in their vicinity (often an impetus for surprising feats of strength), or when a character is resisting untargeted attacks (like psychic assaults). It is generally bad form to disallow players a resistance roll to such, though Gamemasters can readily do so where NPCs are concerned, if he or she wishes to speed play along.
Altering basic ACTIONs, extenuating circumstances may modify the odds of success or failure while attempting a given ACTION. For example, firing a gun at a fast moving, randomly dodging target whilst standing on oil-slicked ice and avoiding incoming fire yourself is a bit more difficult than hitting those stationary targets in an air-conditioned firing range. Circumstances like these are handled by Row Shifts (RS).
A +1 Row Shift, downwards on the Master Table, is a shift for the better. This means the circumstances for executing this ACTION are more favorable than normal. In other words, in this particular situation, a character attempting this Row Shifted ACTION does so as though the effective rank value they're using is one higher than would otherwise be indicated.
A -1 Row Shift, upwards on the Master Table, is a shift for the worse. This demonstrates an added difficulty the character attempting the ACTION must overcome. Or, to put it bluntly, they attempt the ACTION as if the trait or power they wield was one rank value lower than their statistics would lead you to believe.
Further shifts one way or the other serve to amplify the help or hindrance a situation applies to whatever ACTION a character is attempting.
Row shifts come in three forms in the Edition 13 system. The first is the inherent Row Shift. It is a positive or negative modifier that occurs because the character possesses a skill or quirk that assists or hinders the ACTION being attempted. Inherent Row Shifts most often come in the form or a +1 or +2 RS, but may be a negative modifier as well, in the case of quirks.
The buddy Row Shift is the second kind of RS. It involves a person lending a helping hand to the character attempting the ACTION roll. As long as the helping hand has a value within 1 RS of the value being checked, the person rolling adds a +1 RS to their rank value. For example, two characters with rank value 10 Brawn attempting to lift a rank value 20 weight would allow the player rolling the dice to do so with a +1 CS bonus.
Or, in other words, perform as if their character had rank value 20 Brawn instead of just rank value 10.
Finally, there is the situational RS, a type of Row Shift not covered by the other types of RS. These are basically Row Shifts caused by all other situations and modifiers, and run the gamut of environmental difficulties to the actions of others helping (or hampering) one's chances of success. When a situation invokes a Row Shift (for good or ill), it will be explained in the course of play.
Types of ACTIONs
Trait ACTIONs are those that are based on a character's primary traits - whether Melee, Coordination, Brawn, Fortitude, Intellect, Awareness, or Willpower. These are the easiest to manage, in that traits from one character to another work exactly the same, and it is often easy to determine when one is required. Trait ACTIONs are also the easiest to resolve, thanks to the benchmarks provided in the previous section.
Power ACTIONs are similar in function to trait ACTIONs, in that it is usually easy to tell when one is needed. Instead of referring to a trait, however, a power rank value is used to resolve this type of action. Normally, power ACTIONs are streamlined to work in the normal way, but any variations are noted in a power's description.
A special kind of power ACTION is the power stunt. This is a use for a power that is unaccounted for in its description. If the Gamemaster allows one to try it, a power stunt fails unless a character passes a yellow power ACTION roll. The next four times a character attempts a power stunt, the difficulty is blue. Finally, the last five times a character attempts said stunt, he or she need only roll a red power ACTION.
After he or she has tried a stunt ten times, the character has effectively mastered it, and need not attempt ACTIONs just to see if it will work - it is now part of their standard power usage. At any rate, each time a character tries a power stunt, they must pay 100 Fortune points if they wish to have any chance of success. This forces characters to pay for their new power stunts, though stunts are nonetheless cheaper to work out than new powers altogether. That costs a lot more Fortune in general, depending on the origins of a character's powers.
Skill ACTIONs are those required when one attempts to use a skill in the course of a game. These are primarily based on traits, but modified per the skill's description. Normally, a skill applies a positive Row Shift modifier to a trait (or power) ACTION, but some skills offer other advantages. However, if a character tries an action requiring a skill they lack, he or she will do so at a penalty. In other words, attempting brain surgery without the medicine skill is a very, very bad idea.
The basic penalty for attempting a skill ACTION without the proper skill to back it up is -1 RS. However, if a character has a similar skill that could help an ACTION out while lacking the exact skill required, this penalty is removed; similar weapons or technical training, for instance. In the end, however, if Gamemaster feels an action cannot succeed without the right skill(s) to back it up, the task is simply impossible.
Lifestyle ACTIONs are made when a body attempts to buy something. The difficulty of this ACTION is dependent on the cost provided by the item to be purchased. This ACTION can be automatic under several conditions (a rich guy buying some hamburgers, for example), and a roll isn't needed. A Lifestyle ACTION represents a major use of one's available resources, and may only be attempted once per game week.
All other attempts after the first will automatically fail. Think of this as a short-term cash shortage, or some such. Furthermore, without the assistance of another character, no one can purchase any item whose price level is greater than their own Lifestyle value, unless they break down and get a loan. A loan allows a character to make said Lifestyle ACTION roll - if yellow - but the trick is that he or she must then pay back the loan.
Once a month, a character who has a loan must pass a Lifestyle ACTION of an intensity equal to the cost value of the object purchased -2 RS, for a number of months equal to the loan's rank value (items with a cost value of 4 will take four months to pay off, items with a rank value expense of 30 take thirty months, and so on).
|Row Shift||Situational Modifier|
|+3 RS||Target benefits greatly|
|+2 RS||Target of same mindset|
|+1 RS||Target benefits somewhat|
|-1 RS||Item is of rank value 10 cost|
|-2 RS||Item is of rank value 30 or greater cost, or is at risk of not being returned|
|-3 RS||Item is placed in danger or is unique|
Repute ACTIONs are normally required when a player wants something from another character, whether it be information, money, equipment, or anything else they think they can get away with. When a character attempts such an ACTION, their Repute trait is the base value he or she will use on this roll. This rank value is then given potential Row Shift modifiers based on the situation at hand. There's only a few basic RS modifiers to a Repute ACTION, and they're listed on the table to your right.
Of course, these Row Shifts aren't all that goes into the Repute ACTION roll. No, the general disposition of the person a character asks for aid decides the color difficulty of a Repute ACTION. A red ACTION is called for when one is friendly to the character attempting the Repute ACTION. Those neutral to the character make for a Repute ACTION of blue difficulty. A yellow Repute roll is necessary when unfriendly people are the subject of this ACTION.
But what does all this mean, you ask? Well, friendly NPCs are those who are good friends with the character, or folks listed as his or her contacts. Neutral NPCs are people who don't know a character (but have heard of them) or large bodies of strangers. Unfriendly NPCs include total strangers, folks who haven't heard of the character, neutral folks the character has ticked off by not returning an item previously, or persons having opposing Repute (negative versus positive, or vice versa).
Finally, hostile individuals are people who are actively opposed to a character, or perhaps sworn enemies. A Repute ACTION is unnecessary with individuals of this stripe, as they are considered impossible for the purpose of Repute ACTIONs. They will never help a character thanks to the whims of dice. In fact, they'll never help a character at all, unless doing so would specifically help their agenda significantly; very good role-play may shift the difficulty of such an ACTION from impossible to 'merely' yellow.
|2||Brush, clothing, glass, electronics, paper|
|4||Crystals, 'soft' plastics, particle board|
|6||Ice, interior walls, rubbers, sheet metal, wood|
|10||Aluminum, 'industrial' plastic, light machinery, asphalt|
|20||Concrete, bullet proof glass, iron, outer walls|
|30||Reinforced concretes, steel, solid stone|
|40||Plast-steels, volcanic rock, heavy machinery|
|50||Granite, high strength steel, osmium steel|
|75||Diamond, super heavy alloys, titanium|
|100||Iridium alloys, generic mystic alloys|
One last area that deeply involves both ACTION intensity and Row Shifts is relative strength of a given material. Material Value (MV) is the overall strength of a material. Mostly, MV is used when a person or weapon attempts to break (or break through) an object, like a street, wall, or vault, for instance. The table provided here describes a basic gamut of relative strength for common - and uncommon - materials.
Materials of greater MV than those listed are often campaign specific super-materials, those that are 'unbreakable' or otherwise have special properties. Substances of this variety are beyond table 15's intent.
The thickness of a mass or object also plays a part in determining its MV. If an item is less than 2 inches thick, the MV of this item is the listed value -1 RS. If the item is between 2 inches and one foot thick, it is of standard MV. If the item is between 1 and 2 feet thick, its MV is the listed value +1 RS. Finally, if an object is 2 feet thick or more, its MV is the listed value +2 RS.
Example: A two-foot thick cube of granite would have an effective material value of 100, while an inch thick coating of asphalt would be of only MV 6.