To generate attributes, you get 36 points to spend on the following chart:
Strength is raw physical power. It adds to your melee attacks and damage. It also determines how much load you can carry.
Supernatural strength is strength that is well beyond the human scale. It’s measured on the same scale, however, but with two important differences. First, all of the lift/carry amounts are multiplied by 10. Second, a creature with supernatural strength is capable of dealing megadamage with its natural and melee attacks (so long as the melee weapon is an MDC structure).
Dexterity is physical finesse. It adds to your ranged attacks, Defense, Initiative, and Reflex saves.
Constitution is physical endurance. It adds to your vitality and Fortitude saves. It also determines your wound points.
Supernatural endurance is an indication that your body is an MDC structure. You gain damage reduction equal to (Con score)/(Con modifier, minimum 0). You are also able to keep going longer than normal humans. You are effectively immune to normal fatigue, are able to hold your breath for a number of minutes equal to your Con score, and can go a number of days without sleep (without penalty) equal to your Con modifier (minimum 0).
Intelligence is a measure of your ability to learn and retain information, and to solve problems. It adds to your skill points and education checks. It also determines your starting languages.
Wisdom is a combination of several mental traits, including acuity and willpower. It adds to your Will saves and intuition checks. It is also important for determining how perceptive your character is.
Charisma is a measure of your strength of personality. It adds to your budget and favor checks. It is also very important for most social skills.
Favor checks represent your ability to get miscellaneous aid from the people around you. This can range from information on the local warlord, to borrowing a truck, to bailing you out of jail.
In order to make a favor check, you must spend one GP and choose a person or organization you want to provide the favor. You then make a roll, adding your character level and your Charisma bonus. If you succeed, then your contact will fill your request. If you fail, then you may not make the same request of that contact for the remainder of the session (however, you may make the request of another contact, and another member of your party may ask the same contact).
The difficulty of a favor check is determined both by how difficult/ expensive/ risky/ etc. filling the request will be for the contact (as determined by the GC), and by what kind of relationship you have with the contact. Contacts have qualities of Stranger (-6), Poor (-2), Mediocre (+0), Good (+2), and True Friend (+6). The quality of a contact can be improved with the use of Bureaucracy (for organizations) or Diplomacy (for individuals), or through acts which benefit the contact. Likewise, the quality of a contact may be worsened through acts which harm the contact.
Intuition checks are a tool to get a hint from the GC as to what to do next. They represent a sudden flash of insight, or a feeling that you’re on the wrong track.
Making an intuition check requires you to spend 1 GP. You add your character level and Wisdom modifier to the roll.
You cannot actually fail at an intuition check. Simply by making the check, you will get some level of insight. The result of the check simply determines the quality and relevancy of that insight.
Education checks represent the general education and world experience that the character has picked up. This can be anything from recognizing a famous person, to knowing where Ishpeming is, to telling the difference between a legitimate cyber-doc and a body chop shop.
Education checks are free, and can be made whenever a character wishes. You simply roll, and add your character level and Intelligence modifier. If the result is high enough, you know the piece of information you are looking for. If not, you don’t. If you fail an education check, you may not make additional checks on that topic this session. You may take 10 on an education check, but you may not take 20.
Education checks are not a replacement for Knowledge skills. For one thing, information that would be trivial for a character with a relevant Knowledge skill may be difficult with an Education check (meaning, it would have a much higher DC). There are also some things that can only be accomplished with the relevant Knowledge skill. For instance, there is a popular juicer movie hero named Julian Amici. It would be a fairly easy education check to know who he is (DC 15). It would be a difficult education check (DC 25), but a fairly easy Knowledge (Juicers) check (DC 10) to name his favorite weapon. No education check would allow you to name all the actors who have portrayed him, but it would be a difficult Knowledge (Juicers) or Knowledge (Movies) check, or an easy Knowledge (Julian Amici) check.
Education checks regarding people, places, and things not on your home plane have a DC increased by 10.
There are a large number of languages in the world. Pretty much every traveller ends up learning a few of them.
You will start with fluency and literacy in your native language. If you wish, you can give up literacy in your native language in return for an additional language pick, but you cannot be literate in any other language if you are not literate in your native language. You also start with a number of language picks equal to your Intelligence modifier. You then gain one additional language pick for each rank you have in the Languages skill.
With each language pick, you can choose to gain one of four things. You can become competent in a language you do not already know. This allows you to hold any normal conversation, but you have a distinct accent and occasionally have trouble with idioms or jokes. You can become fluent in a language you are already competent in. This means you speak like a native in all ways. You can become literate in a language you are competent in. This allows you to read and write in that language. (If the language is a “dead” language, you can choose to become literate instead of becoming competent with your first pick.) Finally, you can choose to master a particular lingo. This is generally associated with a particular profession, such as military or technical, and includes the jargon particular to the profession, as well as common phrases and references used by members. Another type of lingo is the dialect of a particular location or population. In either case, learning the lingo allows you to pass yourself off as a member or native of that group.
If you do not possess competency with a language, you can still attempt to make yourself understood with that language, using a few words and frequent gestures. This requires both you and the person you are talking to to make a Languages check, with a DC based on the closest common language. If both people fail, then communication cannot be held. If both people succeed, then most concepts can be communicated. If one person succeeds and the other fails, then only simple concepts can be communicated.
Some common languages on Rifts Earth are: Coalition English (the most common language in North America), Spanish (common in southern North America and Central America), Quebecois (unique to the Coalition State of Free Quebec), Faery, Draconic (also frequently used for magical writings), Gobbledy (a rough language common among a surprising number of less civilized dimensions), and Leet (a much more advanced version of today’s 1337-speak, used by computer and electronics gurus. This is a text-only language, and hence you only need to pick literacy with it). Some less common ones include Atlantean/Splugorth, German, Native American (an amalgamation of Apache, Navajo, and other tongues, that varies widely from group to group), Enochian, Avestan, and Takelma (these three are common among divine and infernal beings and their servants).