Each player gets a number of points, for example 15, to spend on the characters' attributes and background-related knowledge. In a story about exceptionally skilled characters, the players should have more points.
Attributes normally range from 5 (untrained) to 12 (master). More than 12 indicates superhuman abilities, should such be permitted in the campaign1). An 8 represents what you'd expect from a professional - someone who relies on that ability quite often.
Four attributes, Stealth, Melee, Ranged and Toughness, use a different scale, with Melee and Ranged starting out negative for the untrained. A typical soldier has Stealth, Melee and Ranged 0, and Toughness 8.
Next to each attribute is a row of squares. Spend one point to fill one area in one square. The first square, in most cases representing a five, is already filled and doesn't cost points.
If a square is divided into two parts, filling that square costs two points. Squares are filled from left to right, and the value of the attribute equals the number printed above the last square to be completely filled. For example, spending 4 points on Ranged would give the character Ranged 0 – not 1.
Stronger characters hit harder. This is represented by a Damage modifier, which corresponds to the number in the leftmost unfilled Strength-box. For example, Strength 5 has -1, and Strength 11 has +1. This modifier is used when writing down any melee weapons the character picks up, as explained in the Equipment section.
Backgrounds are notable aspects of a character that cannot be described by high or low attribute values. They could be professions or other bits of life experience, whether pleasant or horrid. As far as the rules are concerned, they're Backgrounds if the character has picked up something useful from them. Your first Background is free. Any additional ones cost a point each.
To a degree, Backgrounds determine how the attributes may be used. For example, a character with the Lawyer Background can use different arguments in an Influence roll than one with the Mercenary Background. While both characters can have a high Influence attribute, that difference may dramatically affect the chance of success depending on the situation. Similarly, the Cowboy Background in a Western setting can handle most revolvers and rifles, but not a Gatling gun. As a GM, ask yourself: does it make sense that a <Background> can do this? If it's too far out, apply a penalty to the roll. When in doubt, let it slide.
Special abilities, for example magic ones, cybernetic enhancements or ones associated with an alien race, are also written among Backgrounds because we couldn't be arsed to put a separate header on the character sheet. Such abilities may have different point costs, and you don't get the first one for free.
It is customary to award additional points after completing missions. Agree on what rate of progression, if any, is appropriate for your campaign. Such points are used in the same fashion as those in character creation. We recommend keeping the number of points equal in the group. That means new or returning characters, whether from more players joining or as replacements for the dead, should get the same total amount of points as the rest of the group. The purpose of points is to distribute the capacity to contribute to a mission's success as evenly as possible among the players.