Traits help define a character by describing the tasks they're uniquely good at or struggle with. Traits are similar to the skill systems in many other roleplaying games, but instead of picking from a set list, they're left open to your ideas; you can define your character's strengths and weaknesses in your own terms.
Each character has four Traits, as defined below. How the Traits impact gameplay is defined in the Rolling Against Traits section.
Competence represents the areas a character is most skilled in. This may be a career, favorite hobby, or something they're just uncannily good at. When rolling an action that falls under the characters competence roll 3d6 and drop the lowest die roll.
Incompetence represents areas that a character is particularly bad at. This could be something they can't comprehend, are naturally unskilled at, or the result of something that occurred in the characters past. When rolling an action falls under the characters incompetence roll 3d6 and drop the highest die roll.
Reliability is something that the character can typically be expected to do well. They are comfortable with this and cannot critically fail. When rolling to do something that falls under a characters reliability roll 2d6 as normal but re-roll any ones.
Struggle is something that the character just cannot seem to do well in most cases. They can succeed but cannot critically succeed. When rolling to do something that falls under a characters struggle roll 2d6 as normal but re-roll any sixes.
If you're having difficulty coming up with your Traits, here are some ideas you can use for inspiration.
In order to keep the game fair, there needs to be balance between the Traits. For example, a character whose Competence is “all academic pursuits” shouldn't select the Incompetence of “hiding Easter eggs.” There's no parity between the two, since the Incompetence doesn't realistically offset the benefits of such a generous Competence.
Before your Traits are finalized, the Game Master should have an opportunity to accept or reject the Traits you've selected based on the following guidelines.
First, do the Traits have a similar scope? It doesn't matter if the Traits are very broad or very narrow, so long as they're both that way. If someone specializes in nothing more than a particular card game, then it's fair to struggle with something equally small. But if they specialize in every intellectual pursuit, then they should struggle with something equally inclusive, such as every physical pursuit.
Second, they should be equally relevant to the game. A strong knowledge of farming is equal in scope to being a bumbling idiot about space travel. But if the entire game is obviously intended to occur in the farmlands of the Midwest, then space travel has no relevance to the game.
Third, keep in mind that Competence / Incompetence and Reliability / Struggle are meant to be opposing pairs. It's OK if Competence doesn't line up with the scope or relevance of Struggle, because they aren't paired up. Competence only needs to be balanced with Incompetence, and Reliability only needs to be balanced with Struggle.