Characters belong to one of eighteen named races; this determines some future development options. Characters in Red Ash World Engine have numerous "variables". The first set are ten Abilities with numeric Scores. Additionally, characters have Size, Weight, Encumbrance, Status, Effects, Traits, and Skills. Magic is handled as a Skill. Characters enter into a Class with a predefined level progression. Levels run from 1 to 100; training is required to increase Level (to "level up") from Levels 2 to 50, thereafter characters are considered masters of the Class. The system presents sixteen classes, half of which are restricted to specific races.
Combat is complex and supports numerous routine and special actions and circumstances, as well as terrain features and facing. Actions during combat are controlled by impulse point allocation--when an actor is out of points they cannot further act in the round. Armor does not offer protection from being hit, but does absorb damage from any hits.