Aptitude

Aptitude is how an entity is keyed to perceive and experience the weaves of The Pattern. Characters have to make choices on what type of powers they will wield. Aptitudes grant specific capabilities that provide a natural tendency of perspective and direction for character development. Each aptitude anchors the subject in ways that promote the powers and experiences that reflect the nature of the aptitude. Aptitude can have its effects altered through Saturation that enhance or suppress them in an location. There are 4 pillar aptitudes of The Pattern, measured by a Talent Level of 0 to 4. Each represents an affinity for powers and knowledge of a specific type and rely on Essence. Though an entity may possess multiple maximum aptitude ratings, they can only possess 1 Natural Talent at the time of Character Inception. Being a natural talent can open normally limited potential and powers. There are other aptitudes, but the pillars are universally available to Lower Order Beings.


The Divine: Bonds of greater purpose though spirit and insight into mystic connectedness.
The Occult: Command of arcane powers & entities through understanding of The Pattern.
The Kinesthetic: Mind-over-body through the rigors of health, concentration, and discipline.
The Psychogenic: Reality as a representation/reflection of Will Power and inner vision.

Aptitude Mechanics

D20 Aptitude Details

Aptitude is an advanced concept, not part of the D20 Essentials for Incarna.

Affinity > The Simple Alternative: Specific affinity towards aptitude (Divine, Kinetic, etc.) functions as represented by permanent offered Essence towards an aptitude thread in The Pattern. See d20 Aptitude – Affinity.

Aptitude empowers character significantly and upgrades their challenge rating early in their character development. It offsets some of the changes to the time scales of Short and Long rests by adding capability and survivability while maintaining the Gritty Realism. Aptitude adds a much more complex element to gaming. Some of what it accomplishes, can be accomplished by use of Elan. Aptitude definitely introduces the biggest part of Incarna Character Emphasis.

Aptitude also enables other aspects of character development – it is the gateway to traits and aspects outside the core D20 experience and acquiring powers across classes without sacrificing levels. Many Abilities have one of the pillars of The Pattern associated with it. Divine (Wisdom); Kinetic (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution); Occult (Intelligence), and Psychic (Charisma). Sanity does not have a specific pillar and is generally not something that characters have affinity with.

  1. Aptitude must be chosen to be used when the character is initially created.
  2. Primary Class: This is their first character class and it must always be a level higher than any other class (or the aptitude is considered half for determining what powers are gained).
  3. The cost is 5 essence for the 1st measure; 4 for the 2nd, 3 for the 3rd, and 2 for the 4th. Add 1 Essence to the cost at each measure if Aptitude is taken after Character Creation.
  4. Level Trace: Unless noted, the benefits of aptitude do not kick in until the character level is equal to the aptitude. Natural Talents (those who begin play with the maximum of 4 rating in an aptitude) gain an automatic success on any Ability check they are proficient with, having a DC 15 or less; If the DC is higher, they gain Advantage on the check.
  5. Reality Pillar: Natural Talents provide a deep anchor point in The Pattern.
    1. If a character takes their first Feat (at 4th level) and it is directly related to their Natural Talent aptitude (for the Primary Class only), they may take it at 3rd level instead.
    2. The character’s level is increased by 1 for determining which Aptitude powers they have access to.
    3. Each additional class after the primary takes 1 Essence, and the multiclassing requirements go up by 2. All other multiclassing mechanics stay the same.

Incarna Core Aptitude Details

Normal PC’s start play with 5 measures of aptitude divided between material and the three mystical aptitudes, however they want. Most PC races have access to only the mystical and material because they are a Lower Order Being.

These are key to unlocking capability & powers: Meditation, Features acquired (using CP) through Skills and Traits, & Foundational Aptitudes.

A Closer Look: Aptitude will absolutely determine the limits of many Incarna powers; A low measure indicates less potential in working with associated capability. It may exclude the acquisition or effective use as such require special understanding or insight which only a higher level of aptitude grants. Aptitudes allow characters to sacrifice versatility (ex: d20 multiclassing requirements become more difficult) for flavor (increasing the uniqueness of each) and early survivability (individualized powers and traits requiring aptitude). It requires a great deal of attention to ensure the player knows all the powers available to them. Aptitude adds a lot of minute dimensions and adjustments that can be hard to track. The experience of using aptitudes may have some impact on the perception of advancement. Overall, it will emphasize story and flavor over strict level based challenge ratings. Characters will begin more powerful and the arc of advancement is shallower as foes and challenges stay within a more narrow band until much higher levels. Chasing Aptitude power focuses a character on themselves. It leaves significantly less Essence for bonds with groups, entities (ex: deity or Patron), and items. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the player to monitor and maintain these various complex aspects.

  • NPCs and Aptitude: If the players use aptitude, then the GM should be allowed to as well. NPCs do not have the same level of character depth. It is not necessary for GMs to add this character attribute to NPCs to make or persist a challenge rating with PCs using it. GM’s may make inferences about natural talents and general powers for NPCs with significant roles in an adventure but revisiting them all prior to using in an encounter is not necessary.
  • Altering Encounter Challenges: Give NPCs some canned builds for aptitude powers and keep it in quick reference format.
If you are having trouble thinking how this might play out after reading this, check out the Players Roleplaying Guidance content (or ask the Game Master how it is best expressed in the setting).