This is a general score that actually encompasses three different aspects, which together describe the character mentally. The first is the character’s presence of mind, how much attention he customarily pays to or his general attunement to the flow of events going on around him, a valuable asset in one who would stand guard duty either for an employer or as a member of an adventuring party in the wilderness or infiltrating hostile territory (as described in the Sentry skill). By extension this aspect includes the speed of his mental reflexes, how quickly he recognizes and responds to various stimuli, his ability to associate and perceive through experience, particularly in situations involving Surprise, but also governing such things as his Initiative in tactical contests and especially in armed combat where life and limb are at risk.
The most common aspect of AWA that affects play is as a measure of the sharpness of the character’s senses when he is paying attention, used for sighting and recognition checks at distance, tests of the sense of hearing, smell and/or taste, how sensitive of touch and how sensitive to being touched (as described in the Searcher skill), but also in basic interpersonal perceptiveness, catching behavioral clues (as described in the Savvy skill).
AWA also measures the speed of the character’s mental processes or aptitude for cerebral activities, the degree to which he is inclined to scholastic, philosophical or technical interests and pursuits, reading, writing (composition), mathematics, and perhaps even personal introspection, even meditative activities which soothe the agitated mind, but that is where AWA bleeds over into Spirituality.
A “1” in this score is equivalent to one who wanders about the house, tearing the place apart, looking for the purse he is already wearing at his belt, or has difficulty following the thread of a conversation, much less putting a few words of his own together, barely able to get from 1 to 10 using his fingers, the ultimate in short attention span. To such a character the finest meal tastes the same as gruel, the sweetest rose smells the same as any common weed, satin or haircloth make no difference against his skin, a shriek or the flute-like note of a coloratura soprano sound the same to his tin ear, and reading by candlelight nearly impossible (IF were he so inclined).
A character with a “25” however, would notice a hairline crack in a panel of a worthless painting of some anonymous ancestor when walking casually past the doorway of the chamber it hung in, at a distance of up to 30 feet, and could amuse himself with algebraic equations in exercises of geometry to pass the time (given that level of education). The fine senses of such a character would have the capacity to discern the subtle nuances of gourmet cuisine, note the exquisite differences in the many notes juggled by a professional nose in making perfumes, discern at a touch the hairline seam of the secret door made by a master carpenter, hear a footfall on soft earth, and see clearly the plume of road dust marking an enemy’s approach on the horizon or beyond.
At the GM’s option, the AWA score can be refined into the three discreet aspects discussed: Awareness (presence of mind), Sensory Acuity, and Mental Aptitude, allowing the player to manipulate AWA to allow the character a separate and different score each. In this way the player can further individualize his character from others who have the same AWA score.
In effect, the basic AWA score is determined according to the rules presented in this step of character creation, normally. Afterwards, the base AWA score becomes the base score for each of the three aspects named. The player is then free to swap the scores around between the three aspects on a point-for-point basis, i.e. one score must be lowered by one (1) point in order for another aspect to be raised a point. The player may continue to juggle the scores in the three aspects around until he has achieved a balance he likes better. Those making Custom Method characters and those allowed to use the point-buy system for determining attribute scores might be allowed to spend points on each independently (GM’s discretion). These are considered final once the character has been brought into active game play, however, in the same manner as any of the other attributes or aspects of the character.
If in the course of play the character’s general, base AWA score is altered, whether increased or decreased, the scores in the three aspects must be adjusted commensurately. Whether this is to be done by the GM or the player depend upon the circumstances and nature of the reason for the change (GM’s discretion).