Like almost every other rpg system, Epic starts with a set of attributes that define your character at her most basic level. Epic has ten attributes, or five categories each with two attributes. The categories are also meaningful, and I like how it all breaks down.
The five categories are Vigor, Reflexes, Clarity, Influence and Anima. Each of these represents a pool of points you can spend in-game to accomplish various tasks, either without resorting to the dice or by augmenting the dice somehow.
Vigor is used to resist fatigue and to engage in brief bursts of strength or activity. It is also what is lost when one is wounded or worn down from exertion. Under the category of Vigor are Strength and Endurance, which are both pretty self-explanatory. Vigor is restored by resting, eating and sleeping.
Reflexes are spent in combat or in other physical tests to react to unforeseen events. For example, if you have declared that you are, say, attacking someone with your sword, but notice at the last moment that another opponent is behind you with a spear, you can spend a point of Reflexes to turn and respond to the new threat. Or, if you are making your way along a narrow ledge and slip, you can spend a point of Reflexes to catch yourself at the last minute on a root or a handhold in the rock. You’re still in dire straits, but one intention behind this is to prevent PCs from dying for what I think are stupid reasons – falling into holes or botching climb checks. Not very heroic. Under the category of Reflexes are Dexterity and Perception, which again are pretty self-explanatory. I’m actually not sure yet how Reflexes should be restored – for now I just have a relatively arbitrary idea where it is regained at particular points in the story – for now, whenever the GM (or Fate) decides.
Clarity is spent to ignore distractions, and can also be used as a way for the player to coax information about the game out of the GM. To solve a puzzle quickly or to cut to the core of an issue (example of help from the GM), Clarity is what you use. When trying to use fine motor skills or make quick decisions when under fire, or to resist being seduced, Clarity is what you use. Under the category of Clarity are Reason and Learning. Reason includes skills with formal logic and problem-solving as well as cunning and wits. Learning includes not only academic learning, but also life experience that make the character wiser. Clarity is regained through deep, uninterrupted sleep.
Influence is spent to call upon NPCs and organizations that support the PC during the game. It is a way for the PC to manipulate how the game plays out and who is involved. Often it is best for the PC to define what kind of NPC she is looking for with the Influence expenditure. Influence can take many forms, from calling in favors from the nobility to finding members of an old gang to locating a fellow lore-master to discuss natural philosophy with. Influence can also be a method for a player who isn’t very charismatic to charm or intimidate an NPC. In the category of Influence are Presence and Appeal. Presence is the force of personality that the character can bring to bear, where Appeal includes not only physical attractiveness but how trustworthy the character appears, for example – what their Credit Rating is, for those of you who play Call of Cthulhu. Appeal is one thing that even a brief fight will reduce quickly, and governs first impressions. Influence is regained at a rate determined by the GM – the rate will be quicker when the characters are around more people, and will be much slower when they are in the wilderness and are disconnected from their contacts and relationships.
Finally, Anima is spend to power Gifts – the heroic (or villainous) supernatural and magical abilities that player-characters have in Epic. It is also used to call upon Intrinsic Magic, and is also involved in the technological innovation and “tinkering” system – essentially, Anima is what drives amazing things. This will be dealt with in more detail later on. Under Anima are Will and Vision. Will is relatively self-explanatory. Vision has the sense of “visionary” – it includes imagination and creativity as well as the power of the character’s drives. Vision is what prophets, artists and inventors all have. Anima is regained through spiritual relationships and introspection.
To review: Vigor, Reflexes, Clarity, Influence and Anima represent pools of points which are spent to accomplish things with dice and without dice, and which can also be gained and lost as the game progresses based on what happens to the character. Skills, on the other hand, are rooted in Strength, Endurance, Dexterity, Perception, Reason, Knowledge, Appeal, Presence, Will and Vision. These attributes also have effects on their own, which we’ll also get into later on.