Attributes are the most basic building block of any character and represent the inborn aptitude a character has without regard to what the character may have learned throughout her life. Altogether there are nine attributes which are split into a three by three matrix based on whether they are physical, mental, or social (the columns) or whether they represent power, finesse, or resistance in those categories (the rows).
Attributes start at 0 at character creation, which is the human average. A character can "sell off" ranks of attributes in order to go into negatives if they want, which grants them additional ranks to work with.
The range of 1 to 2 ranks would be considered above average. These would be the people who stand out to us as good workers or always on top of their tasks. They tend to gravitate toward key positions in life because they are the best equipped to handle them. With few exceptions, most of the important NPCs in the world have attributes in this range.
The range of 3 to 4 represents paragons of talent far in excess of the average and would be used for someone who stood out as an exemplar even in their respective fields. Attributes in this range are mostly reserved for player characters and major enemy characters. If any NPC characters have attributes in this range they are considered among the best of the best.
A 5 is the pinnacle of natural human potential, a legend among legends and likely considered the greatest of a generation. Think Einstein and Newton here. Not just great physicists but ones that single handedly changed our fundamental views of the world. The world only has a few people of rank 5 in it at any one time. Rank 5 and above is entirely the realm of the player characters.
When progressing a character after character creation, each rank costs progressively more than the last, with rank 1 costing 3 CP, rank 2 costing 6 CP, etc. A shorthand way to describe this progression as “3 x new rank” or “three times new rank”. Purchasing the natural maximum for the setting (typically the fifth rank) or above costs twice as much per rank (6 x new rank).
Mental Attributes are the first group of attributes, and they describe how a character’s mind works. How fast can she do complex arithmetic? How easily can she solve intricate puzzles? How much trouble does she have ignoring distractions?
Physical Attributes determine how a character interacts with the physics of the world. Can she pick up that object? How does she move? How long can she hold her breath?
Social Attributes describe the details of how a character interacts with others. Does he command attention wherever he goes? Does she have a way of engendering confidence and trust to those she speaks to? Is he hard to embarrass or slow to anger?
Some attributes are independent and describe a unique facet of an individual while other attributes describe qualities that are functions of other qualities. VERS refers to these as Figured Attributes, and their ranks are not determined by purchase but by calculating them based on the character’s ranks in her core attributes.
The final Attributes, neither primary or figured but other are typically static values that get assigned by the GM, and are used to define objects in the environment.