The characteristics represent general abilities that all characters have to some degree or other.
There are six characteristics:
Every character has a score in every characteristic, representing his/her ability in that area.
The normal range of characteristic scores is from -5 (exceptionally low) to +5 (exceptionally high). A average human adult female would have a score of zero in each of these characteristics.
A characteristic score may be part-way between two values (e.g. + 1 1/2 is part-way between a value of +1 and a value of +2). These half-scores should be retained.
The value of a characteristic score in character points is equal to twice the characteristic score. So a characteristic score of +1 would have a value of 2 cps, a characteristic score of -1/2 would have a value of -1 cp, etc.
A character's characteristic scores will tend to stay fairly constant during later play, though significant events (e.g. ageing) may cause them to change.