All attributes start at Fair. Each character may take two free attribute levels, either raising one attribute two levels, or two attributes one level each. (The GM may allow more or fewer free attribute levels see Campaign Power Levels in the online version of Five-point Fudge.) In addition, players may trade levels that is, lower an attribute to Mediocre in order to raise one other attribute one level, and so on. Also, subject to GM approval, a character may raise an attribute by taking an additional Fault, or by foregoing one of the two free Gifts.
Conversely, a player may forego one of his free two attribute levels in order to take an extra Gift again, subject to GM approval.
Attributes are not linked to skills in this game. The player is encouraged to choose attribute levels which make sense, given his skill list. For example, three or more points spent between Combat, Scouting and Athletic skills means that the character would logically be above average in Strength, Agility, and/or Health. If the player decides not to raise at least one of these attributes above Fair, he should have a good story as to why they are abnormally low.
Attributes are used for three things in the game:
- As very broad skills. There will be times in which no particular skill listed in the rules is appropriate for the task the character is attempting. In these cases, the GM will choose the closest attribute and have the player roll versus the attribute.
- In certain opposed actions, such as attempting to sneak by a guard (Move Quietly skill vs. Perception attribute) or a swindle attempt (Con skill vs. Reasoning attribute) or an attempt to strangle someone (Strength attribute vs. Health attribute). The GM will think of other cases readily.
- As a broad handle on who the character is. A high Reasoning, low Strength character has a different flavor from the opposite attribute levels.