Descriptive Traits

As a follow-up to my previous post, here’s another option for character customization…

As an alternative to SPECIAL Abilities, the referee may consider using more general “Traits” in his campaign. A Trait is a free-form descriptor of something notable about the character. PCs can have two Traits, and players are encouraged to write a short narrative (30 words or less) incorporating these Traits into their character description.

Traits can be inherent capabilities (SPECIAL Abilities, for example), crafts/skills (either self-taught or trained), specialized knowledge (history, science, and/or the occult), etc. Traits should not replicate specific class abilities, and referees must take care to ensure that Traits are realistic and that this narrative system is not abused.

Like SPECIAL Abilities, Traits can provide an advantage to Adventuring Feats. The player must describe how the Trait applies before rolling the dice.

Here is an example of a character stat block with descriptive Traits:

Stassen the Blunt. Human Enforcer 1, 12 hp, AC 3 (scrap metal plate), MV 6″, SV +6, metal I-beam (hvy melee Atk +1, 1d10). (XP 0, +10%.)

Stassen is simple, both in thought and action. A dedicated bodybuilder of exceptional STRENGTH, he also possesses unexpected WILLPOWER.

The referee might choose to grant this character advantage to deeds of raw power and on will-related saving throws.

Descriptive Traits are definitely more of a “new-school” system than most of the Tempora Mutantur ruleset. (See, for example, the Aspects approach in FATE RPG.) However, the referee is recommended to check out Blood of Pangea by Olde House Rules for a narrative implementation consistent with OSR principles.

One Response to “Descriptive Traits”

  1. Upon reflection, I note that there is no requirement that a Trait be a positive thing. Maybe your character is WEAK (disadvantage on Feats of Might) or UNLUCKY (disadvantage on Saves vs. death or disfigurement).

    There would be no in-game advantage to negative Trait, just the roleplaying thrill of beating the game in “hard” mode.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: