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VERS -> Making a Character -> Mechanical Aspects -> VERS:Abilities

Abilities are, in essence, everything else a character can do. Psychic abilities, punching through walls, casting spells, or anything else that makes sense in your game. Like everything else in VERS, abilities are based on ranks, and have a few guiding concepts. Ultimately, however, abilities are very freeform and individual.

Abilities are used in the same way that other actions are, making an activation roll, which is usually also a targeting roll (meaning that the roll may take a penalty based on Dodge, Discipline, or some other reaction skills). There are multiple ways to do this, based on the genre and setting, but GMs should decide on which method they are using for their game and stick with it across all abilities in that game.

The most common is for the ability to be tied to an attribute, and use it as a TN for the roll, with the ability ranks as a bonus. This is especially useful for superhero games. The other method is more common in fantasy and sci-fi games, and involves a special skill being added (typically Magic, or Psionics, or something along those lines). In this case, the activation roll gains a bonus from the skill (which will be defined as using an attribute for the TN) and uses the rank of the ability only to set the EV.

Ability Concept/Description

This is the most basic part of the Ability, and is just a brief description of what the ability should be like. Typically this will include a description of what it looks or sounds like, as well as what it actually does. Think of this as the normal language text translation of the following technical information.


This is what the ability looks, sounds, smells, tastes, or feels like. It, of course, can also take on more esoteric manifestations, such as a change in color of the user’s aura, or a feeling of psychic pressure. Ultimately, every ability must be perceivable in some way by those being targeted by it, even if that perception is a specialized perception that not everyone has.


A tag, sort of like Power Source, that describes in very basic terms how the ability interacts with the world. For instance, the Fire property means that the ability acts like what we understand as fire: it can ignite cloth and wood, sheds light, and can spread from one source to another. None of this has to be specified in the ability itself, the Fire property takes care of that. Properties that do not have real world counterparts, like Magic or Chaos would have to be defined by the GM. Below is a non-exhaustive list of example properties and the genres they may fit.

  • Fantasy: Air, Balance, Chaos, Decay, Earth, Energy, Evil, Fire, Good, Law, Life, Light, Magic, Physical, Plant, Shadow, Water
  • Horror: Biological, Divine, Dreams, Infernal, Madness, Mysticism, Spirit
  • Modern: Electricity, Magnetism, Radiation, Sound, Technology, Training
  • Sci-Fi: Alien, Cosmic Energy, Gravity, Kinetic Energy, Mutant, Psionic, Time


The duration can be Instant, Sustained, or Inherent. Instant is basically what it sounds like, an ability that is used and its effect happens immediately, and then it's over. This does not mean that the consequences are immediately lost, however. Damage is still felt, summoned creatures still exist, etc. It is just that the user does not need to continue to focus on the ability to maintain the effect.

Sustained, however, is exactly the opposite, with the effects and their consequences only existing while focus is maintained. Examples would be a force field that protects those within it, a stealth spell, or creating a telepathic connection in order to communicate non-verbally. These abilities give temporary Focus conditions at the lowest level possible for the entire duration (see the gameplay section below for more information). What this means practically is that a character that uses lots of sustained abilities can also be defeated by confusing them or otherwise damaging their Focus.

The final duration is Inherent, which means that the ability is always on, as it is just part of the character. This is often used in superhero games, but could also model an enchantment like Achilles’ invulnerability in a fantasy setting, or the biological ability for an alien species to breathe underwater. Inherent abilities do not take up Focus condition slots, however they also cannot target other characters. They are personal only.

Special Rules

Between the three types of damage conditions and the possibility of giving penalties and bonuses from abilities, most abilities that can be imagined can be created. There are a handful of situations, however, that do not fit within these simple rules.

For these other situations, there is a system of generic conditions: Simple, Minor, Major, and Extreme. These are used for the majority of other effects, such as curses that transform a target into a monster, or mental abilities that can forcibly extract information, mind control, or create illusions.

Simple conditions should generally be mostly cosmetic and not change the way the character is played in any meaningful way. Minor conditions would be weak diseases or poisons, or being changed into a creature that can still manipulate its environment, but maybe not as well as a human. Major conditions are much more devastating, drastically changing the character and their play style, like a curse that changes a character into a cat, or a deadly disease. Finally, Extreme conditions are things like being turned into stone, or a poison with no antidote.

The golden rule is that any ability should have a way to be undone, however. Curses can be lifted, illusions disbelieved, and mind control broken.

Setting Costs

Once everything else has been determined, it is time to set the costs for each rank of the ability. Unlike attributes and skills, abilities do not have one unified base cost, although they do follow the same increasing cost pattern as skills and attributes, in which the 3rd rank costs 3 times the base cost, while the 4th rank costs 4 times the base cost.

All abilities start with a base cost of 3 CP, and can be modified from there based on how easy or hard they are to use and what advantages and disadvantages are associated with them. The base cost must be at least 1 CP, and should not be more than 5 CP. Generally speaking, if the ability seems better than the average ability build (it is area of effect, has a rarer than normal defense, or is able to ignore cover, as examples) then increase the cost by one. On the other hand, if the ability is generally worse than the average ability of its type (only targets a specific subset of creatures, ineffective against common defenses, or requires more than a Simple Action to activate, as examples) then reduce the cost.

For examples of abilities for multiple genres, see the Appendices.

VERSIcon.png VERS Playtest v20.7 - Online Rule Reference
General Rules Basics
Making a Character Character Profile - Mechanical Aspects (Attributes - Skills - Abilities - Gear)
Gameplay Mental Conflict - Physical Conflict - Social Conflict - Stunts
GM Info NPCs
Optional Rules Not Yet Complete
Gamemastering Not Yet Complete
Storytelling and Drama Not Yet Complete
Advanced Techniques Not Yet Complete
Appendices Example Abilities Fantasy - Psionics - Superheroes
Example Gear Prehistoric to Dark Ages - Medieval to Renaissance - Modern - Sci-Fi
Example NPCs Animals - People - Fantasy - Horror - Sci-Fi