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6.  Characteristics

These are further characteristics of the character that influence his actions or his appearance. Some are advantageous, like alertness, but they demand a toll on the character. You need to spend experience points to acquire such a characteristic – so these EP cannot be used for other purposes anymore.

Some are rather disadvantageous, such as a character who is addicted to something – which is easy to understand that this is a disadvantage. A character who accepts such a disadvantage receives a bonus – more experience points that can be used for a variety of purposes (among them, of course, buying an advantageous characteristic!).

The characteristics are part and parcel of the character! They must not be forgotten at a whim, they need to stay in play constantly. If a player purchases a disadvantage, it must be  a hindrance during gameplay – and the GM must punish the player when she disregards any characteristic of her PC.

(By the same token, bonus experience points may be handed out to a player who is highly consistent in the use of the characteristics. Talk about an incentive for characteristics!)

Remember: The player chose the characteristics, so it is her job to keep them in the game.

 

GM Tips

You should definitely enforce a disadvantage of a character. If the player has taken laziness for instance, her character must strive to do as little as possible. Should the player just have her character storm ahead of everyone else, that clearly goes against the character.

After all, she bought herself a bonus with making her character lazy, so she’d better play the character like that.

Remind her of this.

Should she not adapt the character, punish her by reversing the bonus she has received.

To both the game master and the players: Remember that these abilities add to the flavor of the game. They flesh out the characters more, turn them into more of real people – and thus make them more interesting, with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. It’s worth it, just give it a try!

 

Advantages

Cost

 

Disadvantages

Add / Bonus

Alertness

5,000 EP

 

Addiction

3,000 EP

Allure

8,000 EP

 

Allergies

1,000 EP

Ambidexterity

9,500 EP

 

Bad Personal Habits

2,000 EP

Animal Empathy

5,000 EP

 

Bad Sight / Hearing

5,000 EP

Artistic Ability

6,000 EP

 

Colorblind

3,500 EP

Empathy

3,500 EP

 

Compulsive Honesty

8,000 EP

Fast Healer

6,000 EP

 

Cowardice / Combat Paralysis

7,500 EP

Fine Balance

8,000 EP

 

Deep Sleeper

4,000 EP

High Pain Threshold

9,000 EP

 

Greed

3,000 EP

Impersonation

7,500 EP

 

Illness

7,500 EP

Inherent Immunity: Cold

3,000 EP

 

Kleptomania

6,000 EP

Inherent Immunity: Disease

3,000 EP

 

Laziness

4,000 EP

Inherent Immunity: Poison

3,000 EP

 

Low Pain Threshold

8,000 EP

Inherent Immunity: Heat

3,000 EP

 

Phobia: Beast or Monster (specific)

6,000 EP

Keen sense: eyesight

5,000 EP

 

Phobia: Crowds

6,000 EP

Keen sense: hearing

5,000 EP

 

Phobia: Darkness

6,000 EP

Keen sense: Smell

5,000 EP

 

Phobia: Enclosed Spaces

6,000 EP

Keen sense: Taste

5,000 EP

 

Phobia: Heights

6,000 EP

Keen sense: Touch

5,000 EP

 

Phobia: Magic

8,000 EP

Language Talent

6,500 EP

 

Phobia: Snakes

6,000 EP

Light sleeper

4,000 EP

 

Phobia: Spiders

6,000 EP

Longevity

9,000 EP

 

Phobia: Undead

7,000 EP

Magical Resistance

10,000 EP

 

Phobia: Water

6,000 EP

Music: Instrument

2,500 EP

 

Sadism

3,500 EP

Music: Singing

4,000 EP

 

Shyness: Gender-Specific

3,000 EP

Precise memory

8,000 EP

 

Shyness: All

5,000 EP

Quickness

6,000 EP

 

Split Personality

7,500 EP

Steady Hand

5,000 EP

 

 

 

Weather Sense

5,000 EP

 

 

 

Table 13: Characteristics

Addiction:

The character is dependant on a specific substance (which has to be defined before beginning of the campaign), e.g. alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sweets, etc. He requires a daily dose of this substance, otherwise all his dice rolls receive a modifier of –10 until he has satisfied his craving.

 

Alertness:

The character is more alert than his companions. He has a 20% chance to notice something the others have missed.

The GM has to decide when to apply this advantage. Then he has to roll a check in secret to see whether he needs to inform the player about his character’s discovery.

 

Allergies:

The character is allergic to a certain substance (which has to be defined before beginning of the campaign), e.g. a certain type of food, pollen or animal hair. Whenever the character is exposed to this substance, his roles receive a modifier of –10.

In the case of a wizard or priest, the player has to check against the PC’s willpower to see whether the character can cast a spell or blessing.

 

Allure:

The character is particularly smashing and has a natural attractiveness to the opposite sex.

 

Ambidexterity:

The character can use both hands equally well. For instance he is able to write both with his right and left hand, and can use his main weapon in either of his hands.

 

Animal Empathy:

The character is experienced with animals and can recognize the animal’s mood, whether it is calm or excited, whether it is about to attack, etc. That allows the character (and thus the party) to judge the behavior of an animal and avoid possible conflict.

 

Artistic Ability:

The character is very good in the arts and therefore receives a modifier of +20 on all skills related to the arts (such as Musical Instrument, Painting, Poetry or Sculpting).

This characteristic also applies when artistic ability is brought to another skill – e.g. adding ornaments to armor or embroidery to a shirt. Take note that not the entire skill is enhanced, only the part that comes to adding ornaments. You could also say that whatever this character puts together will be very aesthetically pleasing.

 

Bad Personal Habits:

The character has developed a habit that is not commonly accepted in society. The player should consider the position of the character in the gameworld and think of a properly improper habit (pardon the pun). Check with the GM beforehand, please!

Some examples are: chewing tobacco, talking with oneself, spitting, constant curses, etc.

 

Bad Sight / Hearing:

The character’s senses are unusually low, so the PC receives a deduction of –25 on any throws related to this disadvantage.

The GM is free to decide whether the character missed something.

 

Colorblind:

The character is unable to identify and distinguish colors. His world is as black-and-white as the old b&w tv sets.

 

Compulsive Honesty:

The character has been taught never to lie, in a very efficient way so that his conscience punishes him any time he lies. The same applies, by the way, when he hears someone else tell a lie – knowing that the other person is in fact lying rather than badly informed.

If the character tries to tell a lie, the player has to roll a check against willpower to see whether he succeeds. If the roll fails, the character must tell the truth.

If someone else tells a lie, the player also must roll a check against willpower, with a modifier of +10. If the roll succeeds, the character quietly accepts the lie; if the roll fails, the character immediately corrects the lie and tells the truth.

 

Cowardice / Combat Paralysis:

The character has to roll a check against willpower before any combat. If the roll fails, the character cannot join the fight but must try to hide or will freeze in place, unable to move (combat paralysis) until someone attacks him directly. In that case the character will run like hell, in a wild panic – so badly that he might get lost (e.g. in a forest).

If the roll succeeds, the character won’t attack the strongest opponent but stick close to an able fighter and try his best to survive the fight with no damage whatsoever.

 

Deep Sleeper:

The character is very difficult to wake up once he has fallen asleep. Only the loudest of noise or vehement shaking can get him out of sleep.

 

Empathy:

The character is very sensitive and can identify another person’s mood pretty well. Mostly this ability is targeted at members of his own race, the extent to which it applies to other races varies.

The character is also able to tell if familiar people lie to her.

 

Fast Healer:

The character can recover from wounds twice as fast as ordinary.

Normally a character can recover as many hit points per day as his Constitution (CON) Bonus. For example, if the character’s CON value equals 46, his Constitution Bonus is 4. That means, 4 hit points are restored per day.

For more information, see the chapter on “Wounds and Healing” in the Game Master Guide.

 

Fine Balance:

The character has an especially well developed sense of balance and receives a modifier of +15 on all checks regarding this ability.

 

High Pain Threshold:

The character can take a lot of physical pain and receives a modifier of +15 on a willpower check regarding this. (For instance if the character is tortured, the modifier applies; also if the character needs to dive through a very long tunnel and has to keep going.)

 

Greed:

The character would do anything to get more – of everything, especially money. As such, his greed may often get the better of him in a given situation.

Please specify before the game in which areas the character is greedy. Is it money, food, women or something else?

 

Illness:

The character suffers from a chronic disease that must hinder him in some way or is at the very least readily obvious, e.g. stiff fingers or a chronic cough. The corresponding deductions and modifiers have to be discussed and decided with the GM before the start of the campaign.

 

Impersonation:

The character is able to impersonate other people, imitating facial behavior and gestures. He has to have seen and heard these people at least two or three times to note conspicuous features.

Since this is a non-magical ability, it is clearly impossible to assume the appearance of another person.

 

Inherent Immunity:

The character is either used to a certain environment/circumstance or has a good immune system. This doesn’t mean that the character won’t ever fall sick or cannot feel any cold, but only that his resistance against those influences is higher than usual.

 

Keen Senses:

The character’s senses are extraordinarily sharp. By comparison to others he can see a little further and better or analyze the constituents of a substance/gas through taste or smell.

 

Kleptomania:

The character has the (nearly) irrepressible urge to steal something. Whether he needs it or not, whether there is a severe punishment or only a light sentence. This urge is difficult to control – if at all: He needs to roll a check against willpower to see whether he can restrain himself. (It is not important whether the item in question is valuable or not; the urge applies to every available item.)

The character receives the ability Pick Pocket at a base value of 25% (modified by the agility bonus). This value cannot be enhanced unless the character is or becomes a thief.

 

Language Talent:

The character finds learning new languages very easy, and she succeeds quickly. The cost of acquiring a new language is reduced to half, as well as the time the learning process takes.

 

Laziness:

The character is – without any ado – lazy. Getting out of bed in the morning is just such an incredible task – the character can’t help but wonder why her companions have such an easy time at it! Wherever possible, the character will pick the easiest and least stressful way.

 

Light Sleeper:

The character sleeps, one might say, with one ear and eye open. The tiniest noises jerk him out of sleep, ready to discover what disturbed his sleep.

 

Longevity:

This advantage has no direct influence on the game. The character comes from a family who generally grow very old (within the ordinary ranges of the races). A human, for instance, might have great-grandparents of over a hundred years of age – and very well expect to reach that age herself.

 

GM Tips

If one of the characters in your party has this advantage, you might try to use it to the campaign’s advantage.

(1)   The character should have a different outlook on life than her fellows. Try to coax the player into adjusting her viewpoints to a person who fully expects a long and rich life, full of experiences. On the one hand, the character might have developed a sense that such a long life is owed her – wherefore she disregards danger, thinking it cannot hurt her. (Of course this applies to young people in general, but it might be interesting to see someone of thirty or forty years behave in this fashion.) On the other hand, expecting such a long life, the character may take the long view and prepare in advance. If the player chooses to run the character like this, she ought to take most opportunities to gather new knowledge, especially languages.

(2)   The family is old, by its nature, which means that many of the character’s relatives are still alive. Think up ways to involve them in an adventure – they might provide the hook: Early in the story, have the party come upon a gruesome murder. The killer, hooded, is still there, sees the party and flees. The party gives chase, but the killer escapes. Escapes, yes, but right before vanishing the hood falls from his face – and the character with longevity recognizes her uncle (or any other relative)! Now it is her who will drive the adventure, trying to find out what brought her uncle to commit murder…

(3)   Another hook: If the family is old, they are more likely to harbor long-standing feuds. After all, the people who were involved in the incident that started the feud are still alive! And our character was raised with the hatred towards the targets of a feud. Let’s just imagine she meets upon the member of that target group (usually family). And let’s say this person is important to the party!

An example: The party has been hired by a local lordling to rescue his wife-to-be. The adventurers succeed, but when they come to the bride, our character realizes she is part of the family she loathes. Now this is sure to raise some heckles, isn’t it?

  

Low Pain Threshold:

The character is highly sensitive to pain and cannot bear much of it.

In case of torture, the character has to use a modifier of –15 in the willpower check. Of course the character will try his best to avoid torture in the first place – already tortured by the thought of pain alone.

 

Magical Resistance:

The character has a certain level of immunity against charm spells. The value of this advantage is 10% plus the willpower bonus.

If the character is exposed to a charm, his magical resistance has to be checked. Should the check succeed, the charm has no effect on the character. If it fails, the character still has the ordinary chances to escape the effect of the charm.

 

Music:

The character is musically talented. She can sing particularly well or play musical instruments. If a check should be needed regarding music, her bonus is +15.

 

Phobia (various):

The character is deathly afraid of a certain creature or situation. You have to distinguish two basic situations:

First the trigger of the phobia suddenly appears. For instance, a character afraid of snakes suddenly sees one on the road ahead. That very instant he has to roll a check against willpower. If it fails, the character will run away in panic. Otherwise he is able to continue on his path.

Secondly, the character has to expose himself willingly to the trigger of his phobia. For example, a character afraid of water has to step into a tiny, shaky boat. In this case the willpower check has to be rolled before entering the boat. If the check fails, the character cannot bring himself to execute the action, i.e. step into the boat.

 

Precise Memory:

The character has excellent recall abilities and can remember anything she ever read or heard. She can remember tiny details of a situation or perfectly quote a text.

 

Quickness:

The character is very fast with his hands. He is able to draw a weapon and use it within the same round, even though the weapon was still in its sheath at the beginning of the turn. He can also use them to fool people with very quick movements, like magician’s or street con-men tricks.

 

Sadism:

The character enjoys torturing other people and is amused by other persons’ pain. He derives deep personal satisfaction from this.

The GM should seriously consider whether to allow this disadvantage to the players since it could cause serious problems within the party if the player overdoes this characteristic.

 

Shyness (All):

Practically every person this character encounters intimidates him, and he finds it difficult to speak up. Especially persons of authority inspire great trepidation in the character.

In the game it’s of import that this character will be very slow to warm up to the other player characters as well. They rarely speak, meekly go along – just to avoid being noticed. (And to contact the other PCs in the first place, that’s a pretty difficult task as well.)

As you can imagine, a character like this is hardly suitable as leader or speaker of a party.

 

Shyness (Gender-Specific):

The character is extremely shy towards the opposite sex. The bare presence of a woman or man causes him to break out in cold sweat; the character has the greatest of troubles just speaking to the other person.

 

Split Personality:

The character has several personalities within himself; the personalities can surface suddenly and unexpectedly.

Since this is very liable to add (unwanted) confusion to a role-playing game, the player should discuss with the GM how to handle this disadvantage.

 

GM Tips

“Split Personality” needs not be an absolute disadvantage. Depending on how far you wish to carry this characteristic, you might require the player to create two different characters, by the ordinary rules for character generation. Since they share one body, the attributes of strength and agility must be the same – but the others could be wildly divergent, especially intelligence and willpower.

Therefore the player might be running two characters, one of whom is a weak coward, the other a bold hero. Pretty soon the companions will find out that they have a potentially valuable comrade in this character, and they’ll do their very best to have the bold hero with them most of the time. But none of the two characters really know of each other, and once they understand the situation, neither is willing to succumb his existence to the other.

Or another idea: There might be a magical spell on the character which switches him from one personality to the other, say the ringing of a bell. (In fact this has been used successfully in a classic movie from the 1940’s. If I’m not entirely mistaken, the film was titled “The King’s Jester” and starred Danny Kaye.)

 

Steady Hand:

As indicated the character’s hands don’t tremble easily and are very steady. This adds a bonus of +10 to all checks relevant to this, such as Pick Pocket or Archery.

 

Weather Sense:

The character understands about the changes of the weather and has a good chance of predicting the weather for the current day.

The character has a 75% chance of correctly predicting the weather. The GM has to roll a check in secret. Afterwards the GM informs the player of what his character predicts – but he needs not tell the player whether the roll – and therefore the prediction – succeeded.

 

Player Tips

Should you choose this characteristic for your PC, you might think of a certain way the weather sense manifests itself. How exactly does the PC sense what the weather will be? Is that old wound from the battle against the orcs ten years ago acting up again? Does his head hurt, like always when there’s a storm brewing? Is there a taste in the air, one that just feels like snow?

Try to flesh out this ability, make it a fact of the character’s existence. 

 

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