The Secret Lives of Heroes
Traits Flaws and Disadvantages
Traits are aspects of a character’s personality, background, or physique that make him better at some activities and worse at others. Traits serve as an interesting starting point for roleplaying, reminding players of their character’s most prominent strengths and weakness.
Each trait in this section includes a benefit, a drawback, any special limitations regarding its selection by a character, and roleplaying ideas for how to incorporate it into your character’s personality. A player may select up to three traits during character creation. After this, a character cannot take on additional traits unless the GM specifically allows it. All listed bonuses are Trait Bonuses; their effects do not stack.
You are difficult and demanding in conversation, which tends to oppress those around you.
You gain a + 2 bonus on Intimidate checks and + 1 on Bargaining checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Persuasion, Socialize and Subterfuge checks.
Characters with this trait might be loud and abrupt or quiet and sinister, but either way, most find them disconcerting or irritating.
You are fascinated by knowledge and learning and are capable of pursuing complex trains of thought quite quickly. However, your preoccupation with such thoughts makes you a little less aware of your surroundings.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Academics checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Perception checks.
Characters with this trait might flit from idea to idea, trailing off in mid-sentence or mumbling their way through complex ideas. Conversely, characters with this trait might be extremely articulate but still allow their thoughts to move faster than the pace of a conversation.
You are quick to initiate combat, and you tend to press the attack once battle is joined. Your enthusiasm makes you a dangerous foe, but you sometimes leave yourself open to blows that a more cautious warrior would avoid.
You gain a + 2 bonus on Initiative checks.
: You take a -1 penalty to Reflex checks.
Characters with this trait are often hotheaded and quick to anger, or simply think that the best defense is a quick offense.
You are cautious in combat, even a bit cowardly, and you take more care to defend yourself than others. However, this caution renders you susceptible to fear effects.
You gain an additional + 1 dodge bonus to Defense.
: You take a -1 penalty on Willpower checks.
Characters with this trait might consistently urge talking rather than fighting, or they might do little to encourage that their companions avoid combat and simply remain as far away from foes as possible, using ranged weapons or spells.
You maintain a distance from events that keeps you grounded but limits your reaction speed.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Willpower checks
: You take a -1 penalty on Reflex checks.
Characters with this trait are likely to be quiet and restrained, but they might be vocal when others falter in their beliefs.
You are naturally deceitful and insincere with others. You have a talent for lying, but have difficulty convincing others when you do speak truthfully.
You gain a + 2 bonus on Subterfuge checks.
: You take a -2 penalty on Persuasion checks.
Characters with this trait might be portrayed as crafty liars, or lying might simply be second nature to them, making actually telling the truth a difficult chore.
You are naturally friendly. Others feel comfortable around you, but this trait also makes it more difficult for you to be pushy or suspicious.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Socialize, Persuasion and Therapy checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Bargaining, Intimidate and Intuition checks.
Characters with this trait might be more easily manipulated in interactions with NPCs, or they might simply prefer not to argue and instead use their natural talent to learn more about the world around them.
You can keep your attention on a task despite many distractions; however, events in the background pass you by.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Focus checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Perception checks.
Characters with this trait often seem single-minded or even obsessive in their focus on a specific task.
You are made of tougher stuff than the average person, but you’re not quite as quick to react to dangerous effects.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Fortitude checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Reflex checks.
Characters with this trait might see their physical prowess as normal and look down on less hardy individuals, or they might see it as their duty to play the role of protector and help those less able to endure physical hardship.
You are naturally straightforward and sincere. This quality helps you persuade people to your viewpoint, but you have difficulty telling lies and seeing deception in others.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Socialize and Persuasion checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Subterfuge and Intuition checks.
Characters with this trait might be naive and too unsophisticated to lie, or they might be aware of worldly matters and simply choose to take a higher ground.
You cannot read, but you have devoted yourself to learning other skills.
You gain a + 2 bonus on checks using one selected skill, provided you can explain how you learned to be good at it without being able to read.
: You are illiterate.
Characters with this trait might be sensitive about not being able to read, or they might not value “book learnin’.”
You are good at almost everything that requires strength, but less adept than most at tasks that require coordination.
You gain a + 1 bonus on all Strength-based skill checks and ability checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on all Dexterity-based skill checks and attribute checks.
Characters with this trait are likely to solve problems with physical strength rather than through trickery or finesse.
Your eyes are particularly well suited to using darkvision, but they are less well adapted to what others consider normal light.
Add 10 feet to the range of your darkvision, or gain Darkvision 10 feet.
: You take a -1 penalty on Perception checks when in areas of bright light.
Special: You must have darkvision as a racial ability to have this trait.
This trait might not affect a character’s personality at all, but it might make the character prefer going on underground or nighttime adventures.
You are made of tougher stuff than the average person, but you are highly suggestible.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Fortitude checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Willpower checks.
Characters with this trait might be gruff and place extreme value on overcoming physical obstacles, or conversely, their weakness against magical enchantments might leave them fascinated and fearful of such things.
You have a strength of will not reflected in your limited physical gifts.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Willpower checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Fortitude checks.
Characters with this trait might be annoyingly positive-minded, or they might only show their mental resilience in times of dire need.
You are courteous and well spoken.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Persuasion and Socialize checks.
: You take a -3 penalty on Intimidate checks.
Characters with this trait might be honestly polite and kind, or they might simply be adept at mimicking social conventions to get what they want.
You naturally sacrifice accuracy to put more power behind your blows.
You gain a + 2 bonus on damage rolls after successful melee attack with a weapon.
: You take a -1 penalty on Melee Weapon checks.
Characters with this trait might be loudly passionate about entering combat and overcoming foes through strength of arms, or they might be quiet and so desperate to avoid confrontation that they put extra effort into every blow in an attempt to end the encounter more quickly.
You don’t know the meaning of the word “tired.” You go all out until you simply can’t continue.
You gain a + 2 bonus on Fortitude checks made to continue tiring activities (see the Endurance feat for all the checks and saves to which this benefit applies).
: Any effect or condition that would normally cause you to become fatigued instead causes you to become exhausted.
Characters with this trait may see others as soft or weak, especially anyone who complains about being tired or fatigued. They might openly scoff at others’ weaknesses or might quietly encourage them to “tough it out.”
You are naturally suspicious of everyone and everything. While this trait makes you hard to fool, it makes others slightly less likely to agree with you or find you threatening.
You gain a + 2 bonus on Intuition checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Persuasion checks, Socialize checks, Bargaining Checks, and Intimidate checks.
This trait might express itself as comic levels of paranoia, or it might make the character quietly cautious about others.
You are sluggish and slow to react to danger, but also resistant to others’ commands.
You gain a + 1 bonus on Willpower checks.
: You take a -2 penalty on Initiative checks.
Torpid characters may be seen as lazy, or as methodical and measured in their actions.
You relate better to animals than you do to people.
You gain a + 3 bonus on Animal Ken checks.
: You take a -1 penalty on Subterfuge, Persuasion, and Socialize checks.
Characters with this trait are likely to feel awkward in many social situations; that might be expressed as shyness and quiet behavior, or it might be expressed through an overly exuberant need to participate in conversations.
Flaws are like the flip side of feats. Whereas a feat enables a character to be better than normal at performing a task (or even to do something that normal characters can’t), a flaw restricts a character’s capabilities or imposes a penalty of some sort.
A player may select up to two flaws during character creation. After this, a character cannot take on additional flaws unless the game master specifically allows it. Each flaw a player selects entitles his character to a bonus feat at character creation. Unlike traits, flaws are entirely negative in their impact on a character’s capabilities. However, if you role-play your character’s flaw at least once a session, you gain a Fate point. Flaws can be removed by sacrificing a feat latter; players who circumvent a flaw may find that the GM will ask them (read: require them) to spend a feat to do so.
Each of the flaws described here has a specific game effect. Some flaws can only be taken by a character who meets a special requirement.
Your sense of self and inner light is brought down by your inner demons.
Your Bliss score is permanently reduced by 3 points.
You are uncoordinated and not athletic.
You take a -2 penalty on Strength and Dexterity-based attribute checks and skill checks.
You are thin and weak of frame.
Subtract 3 from the number of hit points you gain at character creation. This flaw cannot reduce the number of hit points you have below 3.
You are particularly unaware of your surroundings.
You take a -4 penalty on Perception checks.
You are sickly and weak of stomach.
You take a -3 penalty on Fortitude checks.
Constructs, Deathless, Living Constructs and Undead instead take a -3 to their permanent Bliss score. If they do not have a Bliss score, they are not eligible for this feat.
You are relatively inept at melee combat.
You take a -2 penalty on all melee attack rolls.
You often zig when perhaps you should have zagged.
You take a -3 penalty on all Reflex checks.
You are relatively poor at ranged combat.
You take a -2 penalty on all ranged attack rolls.
You move exceptionally slowly.
Your Movement score is halved
You are slow to react to danger.
You take a -4 penalty on initiative checks.
You are not good at defending yourself.
You take a -1 penalty to your Defense.
You are highly suggestible and easily duped.
You take a -3 penalty on Willpower checks.
Characters immune to Charm and Compulsion effects are ineligible to take this feat. Characters you later become ineligible must pay a future feat slot.
Characters are not just a collection of abilities for attack and defense. Their flaws add to their appeal just as much (if not more) than their heroic deeds. A character with a newspaper editor hounding him, a sickly aunt, no love life, and the worst luck imaginable is possibly the most recognized character in the history of literature. Why? Because while we can’t identify with being able to stick to walls or having super-strength, we can identify with sick relatives, late bills, and no date on Saturday night. The more we identify with the hero of a tale, the more engaging that tale becomes. A character cannot have more than 3 disadvantages; the total of each of these disadvantages’ DSRs (Disadvantage Rating) cannot be more than 10.
If a disadvantage appears during an adventure and disadvantages your character, then you gain a number of Action Points equal to the DSR.
Following are some possible disadvantage options.
You have an extremely vulnerable spot that causes you great harm when you are attacked there. Select a called shot location. If subjected to a critical hit against this area, it is considered a debilitating blow and drops you down one on the Damage Threshold chart. Use the following Chart to determine the DSR for the Achilles Heel.
You suffer damage from a substance that is not especially harmful to normal people (such as a certain food or an insect sting). You could even be allergic to a substance that is beneficial to most, such as a type of medicine. If you are exposed to the source of your allergy during an adventure you must make a Fortitude check (DC 15 + DSR) or suffer one point of temporary constitution damage equal to the DSR.
If you are allergic to a medicine all Medicine made on your behalf are penalized by the DSR. This represents the inability of the physician to use all the means at his disposal to aid you. If you are incorrectly given the medicine to which you are allergic you must make a save or suffer temporary Constitution damage as described above.
You have a conviction about something so strong; you have trouble violating it even under dire circumstances. Any code must have a corresponding Allegiance. So if your character has a Code “will not lie”, then he should have an allegiance to truth. If your character has a code “will not kill”, then he should have an allegiance to defending life, or perhaps to the law. The DSR of this disadvantage is determined by how hard the code is to violate when your character needs to. To violate your code, you must make a Willpower check (DC 10+[5 x DSR] of the disadvantage).
You have a loved one, a wife, a child, or even a sickly old aunt, that you must care and protect for. When a session starts, you must make a Level check with a DC of 1+DSR. On a failed check or roll of one, the dependent becomes involved in the adventure, or otherwise demands you take time away from the current adventure to provide some care to the dependent. Characters investigating you can also learn of your dependent (DC 10 – DSR + your reputation score).
You have a physical ailment that gets in the way of your adventuring. You may take the full disability value listed below, even if you have a means of compensating for the loss of movement or the loss of a sense, since your compensation means your disability will appear in the game less often. When it does, however, you will likely be entitled to the full award.
•DSR 1 (Mild Disability): -10 ft. to movement or -1 penalty to skills based on one attribute. For example, a character with a very mild limp could move slower, but his Dexterity based skills would work just fine.
•DSR 2 (Pronounced Disability): -20 ft to movement and -2 penalty to skills based on one attribute.
•DSR 3(Serious Disability): -30 ft. to movement, or –2 to one attribute score, or –4 to skills based on one ability. This level of disability represents a character that is crippled, or has a loss of limb, serious myopia, or serious hearing loss.
•DSR 4 (Severe Disability): -4 to one attribute score, or –8 to skills based on one attribute. A multiple amputee, a character who is almost completely blind or deaf, would all fall under this level of disability.
•DSR 5 (Crippling Disability): -8 to one attribute score, or -15 to skills based on one attribute. A seriously disabled person, including someone who is completely blind or deaf.
Someone is out to get you. Sometimes your enemy will show up out of the blue (maybe you two run into one another on the street) looking for a little payback. Sometimes your enemy will ally himself with the main adversary of the adventure to make your life especially wonderful. When a session starts, you must make a Level check with a DC of 1+DSR. On a failed check or a roll of 1, the enemy becomes involved in the adventure. Your enemy always begins play at your level, and receives the Enemy feat (for you) as a bonus feat.
You are ugly, perhaps even terrifyingly so. You receive a penalty to all Social Maneuver checks equal to the DSR if the target can see you. You receive double the DSR as a penalty to attempts to disguise yourself. However, it’s not all bad for you: use the DSR of this disadvantage as a bonus to the Intimidate skill.
You are afflicted with a chronic illness that occasionally makes your life as an adventurer difficult. Every day a character with this disadvantage must make a Fortitude check (DC 15+DSR) or suffer the effects listed below. It is possible for the character to gain medication to give themselves a bonus to this roll.
•DSR 1: Frequent colds and minor allergies. When you fail your check against this illness you are treated as fatigued for 1d4 days. If a second check is failed during the course of this illness (since you must still make a check every day) your condition worsens and you are treated as exhausted for 1d4 days.
•DSR 3: You suffer from a serious chronic condition such as arthritis. This condition inflicts one point of temporary attribute damage on you when the check against the illness is failed. If the check against this disease is failed on consecutive days then the character does not heal attribute damage from the previous day. So if a character with Arthritis failed two checks in a row he would be down two points of Dexterity and would not begin healing until he successfully made another Fortitude check. The attribute score affected should be worked out by you and the game master when this disadvantage is selected.
•DSR 5: You have a terminal illness that will eventually claim your life. Each session that you fail the check against this illness you suffer a point of permanent attribute damage. This damage is spread equally between all three physical abilities, all three mental abilities or all six abilities depending on the nature of the illness. When any attribute score reaches 0 the character succumbs to his illness and descends into a coma. At this point he loses 1 point from a random attribute score each day until he passes away.
Since miracle cures are a common staple of fiction, it is recommended that the character be able to remove this disease during the campaign if he so desires. The attribute slowly recovers at a rate of 1 per month.
Like Enemy, only worse. Your nemesis has an intimate understanding of your skills and abilities, and receives the Antithesis and Enemy feats as bonus feats, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. When a session starts, you must make a Level check with a DC of 1+DSR. On a failed check or roll of 1, the nemesis becomes involved in the adventure. Your nemesis always begins play at your level. You receive an extra two Action Points when this disadvantage appears during an adventure above and beyond the DSR, to account for the added difficulty of facing a nemesis instead of a regular old enemy.
You have a deep, irrational fear of something, usually caused by a painful event in your past. How badly this fear will affect you is determined by the DSR of the disadvantage. Make sure you select a fear that will actually appear during adventures, or you will never get an Action Point award for the disadvantage.
•Mild Phobia (DSR 1): When confronted by your fear you must make a Willpower check (DC 15) or be Shaken for 10 rounds (1 minute). The character may make a new check every 10 rounds.
•Strong Phobia (DSR 3): When confronted by your fear you must make a Willpower check (DC 20) or become Frightened.
•Severe Phobia (DSR 5): When confronted by your fear you must make a Willpower check (DC 25) or become Panicked.
Someone is out to get you in a non-violent way. They will use all non-violent means at their disposal to make your life difficult usually involving the use of skills. When a session starts, you must make a Level check with a DC of 1+DSR. On a failed check or roll of 1, the rival becomes involved in the adventure and uses skills, wealth and reputation to make your life difficult.
You lead a double life, hiding a secret that could embarrass or destroy you. The DSR of this disadvantage depends on the consequences of your secret being known to the general public. When a session starts, you must make a Level check with a DC of 1+DSR. On a failed check or roll of 1, your secret is threatened. This will not involve a revelation of the secret but rather the idea that you are hiding something will become known to one or more individuals. Finding out your actual secret requires a skill check of 20+the DSR of the disadvantage. Action Points are awarded each time it is threatened whether the character successfully defends his secret or not. If the secret becomes public then the character may either trade it for a new one or simply live with the revelation. In the latter case the character can either give the disadvantage up (by changing his name or otherwise taking drastic steps to start fresh) or carry on, receiving an Action Point award each time the disadvantage hinders his adventures.
•DSR 1: Embarrassing Secret. This secret would cause one of the following to happen: for one of the character’s contacts to sever ties or for the character’s Wealth to be reduced by –2.
•DSR 3: Dangerous Secret. This secret would cause two of the following to happen: for all of the character’s contacts to sever ties, for the character’s reputation to be permanently reduced by -3 or for the character’s Wealth to be reduced by –6.
•DSR 5: Explosive Secret. The kind of secret a man or woman would kill to protect. If this secret is discovered the character’s Reputation is reduced by –6 and his wealth is reduced by –12, and the character gains an Enemy at DSR 5.
You have some skeletons in your closet. You suffer a –4 penalty on all Social Maneuver based checks when dealing with a single Allegiance. This will make it much harder for you to get cooperation from the authorities. A villain with this disadvantage has something in his past linking him to the good guys, which frequently causes villains to shun him, thinking him a plant or a mole.