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Tysonium

Talents and Traits

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In my Dragonstar D6 thread i mentioned that I was not planning on using the Advantages and Disadvantages from D6. There is tendency among players to choose the "most useful" Advantages and then try to justify them as being crucial to their characters, and to pick non-hindering "roleplaying" Disadvantages that either disrupt the campaign or effectively grant free skill dice.

 

Talents are an attempt to define the character's most notable features, be it special training or natural ability. It is essentially one free Rank of Skill Bonus that all player characters receive. It's my version of the tag skill from Torg. Talents cannot be purchased in play, though I may set aside a character point cost to increase the +1 bonus to a +2 for each individual skill the Talent applies to.

 

Talents: Player characters are a cut above the average citizen. Choose one area your character excels in or received special training in, and select three skills related to that area. When using your Talent, you gain a +1 bonus to all skill checks where that Talent would apply. Examples:

 

Athletic: You gain a +1 bonus to climbing, jumping, and running checks.

Charismatic: You gain a +1 bonus to command, con, and persuasion checks.

S.W.A.T. Training: You gain a +1 bonus to demolitions, firearms, and tactics checks.

Well-connected: You gain a +1 bonus to bureaucracy, business, and streetwise checks.

 

Traits are a replacement for Disadvantages, mostly psychological or social in nature, though I would certainly allow a "bad leg" or "nearsighted" Trait. Rather than granting skill dice during character creation, a Trait awards character points for roleplaying the Trait. This must be in a fashion that legitimately hinders the character in some way in order to earn the point. The player can either handicap his character through his actions, or deliberately take a -1D penalty to all affected actions for the duration of the scene.

 

Traits: As much as they’d like to deny it, everyone has a couple of quirks that can cause trouble from time to time. Choose three traits that personify your character. Exceptional roleplaying of these traits can earn your character additional character points. If the scene involves skill checks, you may take a -1D penalty on your rolls to help simulate your trait. Sample traits are:

 

Arrogant: Your character’s pride or overconfidence typically gets him in over his head.

Coward: You have difficulty being brave, and tend to run and hide at the first sign of trouble.

Forgetful:/B] You tend to forget small details, either through poor memory or lack of focus.

Nearsighted: You have difficulty making out details that are far away from you, and have a tendency to lose your glasses/contacts.

Phobic: You have a powerfully irrational fear of something others are not bothered by.

Shy: You have difficulty speaking up or relating to others in person.

 

My species packages list several common Talents and/or Traits that species stereotypically possesses. I plan on having an extended list of options, and encourage players to create their own.

 

Feel free to add to either list, or offer any comments/criticism.

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Here are a few examples of how the Trait system works in my campaign:

 

Trait Example #1:

Kendric the Elven Scout has the "Stutterer" trait (which he just made up). He weaves it into his background as part of the reason he chose a career that keeps him away from people for long periods of time. During the session, he finds out some information that the other characters need to get from him in a hurry. If the player doesn't want to deal with it, he can just pass it along as normal. Instead, he decides to play out the "Cathcart Towers" interrogation scene from "A Fish Called Wanda". This makes me laugh hard enough that Dr. Pepper sprays everywhere, so I throw him a character point and make him go get me a towel. Later that session, he decides to try to seduce a merchant's secretary to gain access to the inner offices. He voluntarily takes a -1D penalty on all interaction rolls with her to represent his inability to speak clearly and general nervousness. Another character point comes flying his way.

 

Trait Example #2:

Lynna is an investigative reporter desperate for a story. On her first assignment she was trapped in a walk-in freezer by a snarling guardian hellhound. While she was eventually rescued, she now has "Claustrophobia" written in big bold letters on her character sheet. While pursuing a reluctant lead down an alley, he climbs down an open manhole into the sewers. Though it means losing her story, she decides she just can't do it. She gets a character point for playing out a logical but inconvenient response to her fear, and now has to find an alternate means of tracking down the information she needed. Later that night, she finds herself in an elevator with media sensation Krulla Navarre. She'd love to get a couple of good quotes regarding his most recent scandal, but it's hard to concentrate on a penetrating interview when the walls are closing in. Taking a deep breath (and a -1D penalty for the scene), she begins...

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I like this idea.

 

I never really cared for the advantages/disadvantages as they were written. Others have talked about revamping disadvantages so that you weren't granted the bonus during character creation and only got the "bonus" if you actually utilized and roleplayed the effect of the disadvantages (in your case, the "Trait").

 

So I'm a fan of the idea of not allowing people to pump up their characters in the beginning with disadvantages that they have no urge to play out and no incentive to ever use. The system you propose does away with that problem. No bonus during character creation, incentive for the player to utilize the "trait", and generally doesn't strike me as an artificial inflation of the character's stats.

 

So thumb's up from me!

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