In some games you have hit points, but in Aisling, you have Thresholds. These are numbers associated with each color of the spectrum, which give you detail about how much damage you can take before you're taken out. Higher numbers mean the character is stronger in that color: a high number in red means they're buffed athletes, and a high green score indicates a very perceptive person. The stoic cowboys of some westerns would have very high magenta THs, while the clumsy teens would likely be at the lower end in amber.

In Conflict

Keep in mind that everything in the world has at least one Threshold. Whatever it is, it may not have any Traits or Aspects, or much in that Threshold, but it is still the baseline for any kind of existence. Every time you draw, you're in conflict, whether that is with yourself, someone else, or the world at large. Success in a conflict is measured by the difficulties you overcome, and those difficulties are represented by the Thresholds you're working against.

Thresholds are thus very important. They affect everything you do.


Thresholds are also the basis of your caern. Imagine the Thresholds as the unique combination of characteristics that make you up. The caern is the metaphysical DNA that contains all of those traits. A character will be strong in some colors, average or weak in others. Two characters may have the same TH for green, but since one has high red and the other is weak there, their probabilities for drawing motes of any given color will be very different. Details of how to build your caern from your thresholds can be found here.

In the Draw

Lastly, Thresholds are the core of a draw, indicating your basic, average ability in any of the colors. Athletic characters will likely have high red THs, for example, whichmeans can take more damage in red. This is also why they'll succeed at red tasks more often than other characters - they'll draw more motes from their caern because of their red TH, and are more likely to draw more red motes as well.

What else the Colors Mean

Each color describes skills as normal for the spectrum, but they also cover a broader range of characteristics.

Red: In addition to covering athletic skills, Red defines physical strength and durability. A Red TH can define how strong a door is, or how much damage a wall can take. In other words, it's a definition of raw physical power, endurance and stamina, constitution, and resistance to fatigue, disease, pain, and damage.

Amber: Since this color covers dexterity and reflexes, it can also describe anything related to maneuverability, freedom, or restriction. A high Amber TH might describe exactly how difficult a prison is to escape, or how well a sports car maneuvers.

Green: The color of the senses, Green covers all aspects of perception, from skills which depend on the senses and creativity, to things which aid or hinder the same. A telescope would have a high Green TH, while a low, or even nonexistent, TH would indicate something with no sensory input whatsoever.

Cyan: Beyond pure factual knowledge, Cyan defines the amount of, quality of, and access to knowledge that a character or object possesses. It can represent the memory banks of a computer, or the depth of detail an informant can provide.

Blue: Since Blue governs all social skills, it also extends to all relationships and their strength. Communication, the social graces, and ties between people are all covered by Cyan. A high TH in this color could describe a charismatic person just as well as it would describe a ghost's connection to a place or the beauty of a famous painting.

Magenta: Representing willpower and personality, the Magenta TH measures the strength of a person's self. It can describe the self-awareness and sentience of other creatures and being, as well as the ability to resist change. A high Magenta TH would be appropriate for someone entirely sure of, or even full of, themselves. In an object, Magenta would indicate an innate intelligence, perhaps describing the computing power of a computer, or the quality of an artificial on non-human intelligence. It would define the strength and persistence of a ghost as well.

Clear: Finally, there is the color that governs all things otherworldly and the ability to understand. High THs in this color indicate wisdom and a keen intuition, as well as a powerful ability to cause change in the world. A low TH would therefore indicate someone unable to understand the world very well, or who was susceptible to change. It defines the amount of magic an object might hold, as well as the strength of the magic it could create.

And What the Numbers Mean

The average person has a Threshold of 3, with a normal range of one mote on either side. A Threshold of 1 would indicate the most fragile or weak individual in the particular color, and 0 would of course show a non-existent ability. Past the norm, the height of human skill is normally 6, and anything past that is plainly superhuman. The table below should give you some idea of the range and meaning.

Hand Red Cyan
0 intangible, non-physical no consciousness
1 cellophane, glass facts that everyone knows, that the sky is blue
2-4 average human the average person knows, that red means stop
5-6 Olympic athlete realm of the academic, particle physics
7-9 heroes, cars large hard drives
10-12 demigods, tanks main-frames
13-15 planes, vaults who killed JFK, life on other planets
16+ immense, from aircraft carriers on up intelligent life on other planets
And so on…

How a Threshold is Different from a Trait

You may be tempted to think of Thresholds in ways that should be defined as Traits, and to assign THs based on that idea. For instance, you may assign a 0 Green TH to a sensory deprivation tank, since it eliminates all sensory data (in theory, anyway). That's both right and wrong - the tank itself doesn't have senses, so 0 is correct, but that doesn't explain the tank's effect on people in it. A negative Trait would be required, that would apply to anyone inside it, perhaps a G-3 (Green, - 3 motes) Trait.

Thresholds do not describe how a character or object affects others, or the world around them - that's the job of a Trait. Thresholds only describe the innate capabilities of the person or object itself.

Choosing Thresholds

With all that information, you should be able to make good decisions about your Thresholds. Since the average is 3 motes in a color, the average person on the street will likely have 21 motes total, ranging from 18 to 24.