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Selectable Traits in P:E

character creation traits customization

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#1
Lephys

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We have several sort of brainstorming threads in here now, for various things (wondrous items, creatures, factions, etc.), and I just thought it might be fun/interesting to brainstorm some traits. Since we don't know exactly what all mechanics will exist to be affected by traits, or exactly how they will work and be affected by things, the general idea of how a trait will work is what I'm going for. An idea that can be adapted to mechanics, even if it has to be less vague until we know more specifics. They can be more like backgrounds (as in Arcanum), or simply character qualities (like in Fallout). I personally love the Shadowrun PnP style of having both positive and negative traits (Edges and Flaws), separately, that one must balance out in a given character.

So, here are a couple from my mind (Keep in mind that I'm separating them into positive/negative effects, a la Shadowrun; If you have 5 points worth of positive traits, you have to balance that with -5 points of negative ones, in that system, just for example. Many of these could be paired into a single trait, like in Fallout):

Clumsy (detriment): You tend to fall more often than stumble. You generate more noise than the average person, while sneaking, and you suffer a penalty to disarm and knockdown checks. Your attack rolls below 5 result in the fumbling of your weapon, costing you one attack's worth of delay in order to retrieve it.

Keen Aim (benefit): You are particularly steady-handed and sharp-eyed when it comes to combat. Your base range with all ranged weaponry is 15% greater than other people's.

Arachnophobia (detriment): Arachnids instill a terror into your very marrow. Whenever you are within 30ft of an arachnid, your panic results in penalties to both attack and defense (does not stack with multiple arachnids). Whenever an arachnid enters your melee engagement radius, you will automatically target that arachnid, and cannot offensively target anything else until that arachnid is either dead or once again outside of melee engagement (you can still move/flee and target allies/yourself with abilities). NOTE: Obviously, this one would only be possible if arachnid enemies were at least fairly common throughout the game.

Silken Voice (benefit): The very sound of your voice is soothing. Those who converse with you tend to be calmer from the start, and slower to anger or agitation whenever emotions are sparked.
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#2
JFSOCC

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I've always found characters to be either too tight lipped, or overly trusting.
I'd like a trait which implies a more trusting individual. It wouldn't be good or bad, per sé, but it gives you different roleplaying options.

If you're being followed and you enter an inn, saying "I think I'm being followed, could you give me a seat near an exit with eyes on the door"
is an option which involves some trust on your behalf: you have to trust the innkeeper, after all.
But it may not always pay off, you could trust the wrong stranger.

This is how I envision traits, not inherently bad or good, just different.
A person who picks this trait gets access to conversation options which implies a measure of trust. players themselves need to figure out whether they take their chances or pick traits to offset the risk, like a trait which encourages more sympathetic responses from strangers (kind and gentle language) or a trait which allows you to better gauge others. (psychology, body-language reading) some of these other traits may also offset for other traits. (a gambler may also have use for body language reading, for instance, when playing poker)

Might be too much.

But I like traits which are a little ambiguous in their use. Skills and feats, imo, are the things where you don't have ambiguity, traits help you define your character and your role-playing experience.
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#3
Lephys

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Well, take my little Silken Voice draft, for example. Even though I was intending to only list purely beneficial and purely detrimental things, separately, Silken Voice could already work as both. Perhaps you, at some point in the game, have the option of riling someone up to get them to leave a door unguarded, or to go do something for you, etc, and you have difficulty doing so because of your voice's natural calming effect.

Traits are tricky, because, as you pointed out so well, you want to make sure they remain distinct from talents (feats). But, I think as long as they represent some quality of your character's being that remains unchanged for the entire game (even if it's just a modifier, sometimes, in the abstraction of the mechanics), they work quite well.

I like ones that can affect more than just a single factor (or can at least affect a single factor that affects several different things in different situations). And I like it when they affect things that go otherwise unaffected throughout the game. For example, how Keen Aim (above) affects your weapon range zones, rather than just saying "You start with +10 skill with ranged weapons" or "You're 10% more accurate with ranged weapons). Also, it only affects aiming ranged weapons, so you don't simply gain Perception points or Dexterity points for all things. Ranged weapons are a second nature to you, so you do something better with them, not because you're inherently more dexterous and sharp-eyed than other people are, but because you simply have an affinity that they do not.

I like traits to be like that, instead of just extra little tweaks to already-allocatable number values on the character creation page. Not that traits that alter stats are completely out of the question, but I don't think relying on that (as a lot of games do -- just sort of shifting stats around) is the best idea. I think that's rather limiting, and doesn't produce as quality of a trait system.

Traits should definitely bring something unique to the character and the playthrough, even if it's minor, or similar to other modifications/alterations.

The other tricky thing is that, ideally, they apply to all class choices.
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#4
forgottenlor

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Traits are very tricky, and hard to do well. They usually need to influence things that feats don't touch. I personally like ones that add something to the background of the character. I also I must admit like those that add an immediate benefit/penatly at the onset of the game but are less significant later like:

 

Street Kid- You spent your childhood on the streets. You start with half as much money as a normal character but get a (x%) more starting hit points.

 

Father's favourite- Exactly the opposite of above ;)

 

Biggest Kind on the Block- You've always solved problems with your fists. Get +1 to hit with melee weapons and unarmed combat, but start with 4 less skill points.


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#5
Nonek

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Modron Mind - You are extremely logical and possess a fine memory and reasoning abilities, puzzles and riddles are meat and drink for your mind. However your emotions and empathy are somewhat stunted, and in truth you think of those who rely on such falsities as dullards and weaklings. Thus your interactions with people on a personal level are hampered, but your argumentative skills are extremely potent.

 

Squeer - You rely on what you want to believe, emotions and passing fads are what rule your world. The illogical and false are as real to you as well reasoned arguments and factual presentations. You are thus extremely flighty, easy to decieve and lacking in solid reasoning ability. You are however stubborn and will cling to your beliefs whatever truth is used to utterly refute them, if faced with a definitive argument you simply change your standing or ignore that in favour of what you wish to believe. You will be able to play on peoples emotions initially, however in the long run most npcs judge you to be annoying whiny and far too needy.

 

Fashionable - You are a dedicated follower of fashion, and thus somewhat of a chameleon as you fit naturally into what is acceptable by the masses of society. This extends to your beliefs and morals, so that you'll always champion what is currently in vogue and treat those who do not as monsters you simply cannot understand. Thus your character is fairly likeable to the common man, and well able to infiltrate any social gathering. However in terms of willpower and individual personality you are sorely lacking, and in truth you have no real convictions to stand up for, prompting dislike from those who come to know you well.

 

Pariah - You've abandoned society and interaction in general, you are quiet, deep thinking, ugly and unwashed. It has been a year since you last spoke to anybody, and you've really enjoyed it, because you hold nothing but contempt for the vast herds of your fellow man. Weak minded, easily manipulated and judgemental they disgust you and you've abandoned them entirely. Free of the pressures of civilisation you have grown wise, and strong minded, focusing on your immortal soul and what is important rather than the transient flesh. You are socially inept however, poorly attired and blunt to the point of insult, alienating the vast majority of people you meet and enjoying it. The few that do manage to befriend you find a companion of unstinting loyalty and unflinching character however, and will defend you with similar loyalty.


Edited by Nonek, 31 August 2013 - 05:27 AM.

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#6
forgottenlor

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Modron Mind - You are extremely logical and possess a fine memory and reasoning abilities, puzzles and riddles are meat and drink for your mind. However your emotions and empathy are somewhat stunted, and in truth you think of those who rely on such falsities as dullards and weaklings. Thus your interactions with people on a personal level are hampered, but your argumentative skills are extremely potent.

 

Squeer - You rely on what you want to believe, emotions and passing fads are what rule your world. The illogical and false are as real to you as well reasoned arguments and factual presentations. You are thus extremely flighty, easy to decieve and lacking in solid reasoning ability. You are however stubborn and will cling to your beliefs whatever truth is used to utterly refute them, if faced with a definitive argument you simply change your standing or ignore that in favour of what you wish to believe. You will be able to play on peoples emotions initially, however in the long run most npcs judge you to be annoying whiny and far too needy.

 

Fashionable - You are a dedicated follower of fashion, and thus somewhat of a chameleon as you fit naturally into what is acceptable by the masses of society. This extends to your beliefs and morals, so that you'll always champion what is currently in vogue and treat those who do not as monsters you simply cannot understand. Thus your character is fairly likeable to the common man, and well able to infiltrate any social gathering. However in terms of willpower and individual personality you are sorely lacking, and in truth you have no real convictions to stand up for, prompting dislike from those who come to know you well.

 

Pariah - You've abandoned society and interaction in general, you are quiet, deep thinking, ugly and unwashed. It has been a year since you last spoke to anybody, and you've really enjoyed it, because you hold nothing but contempt for the vast herds of your fellow man. Weak minded, easily manipulated and judgemental they disgust you and you've abandoned them entirely. Free of the pressures of civilisation you have grown wise, and strong minded, focusing on your immortal soul and what is important rather than the transient flesh. You are socially inept however, poorly attired and blunt to the point of insult, alienating the vast majority of people you meet and enjoying it. The few that do manage to befriend you find a companion of unstinting loyalty and unflinching character however, and will defend you with similar loyalty.

 

Those are great ideas, though I think it would take a good deal of work to implement them well.



#7
JFSOCC

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Squeer - You rely on what you want to believe, emotions and passing fads are what rule your world. The illogical and false are as real to you as well reasoned arguments and factual presentations. You are thus extremely flighty, easy to decieve and lacking in solid reasoning ability. You are however stubborn and will cling to your beliefs whatever truth is used to utterly refute them, if faced with a definitive argument you simply change your standing or ignore that in favour of what you wish to believe. You will be able to play on peoples emotions initially, however in the long run most npcs judge you to be annoying whiny and far too needy.

I can see the anger in the description, lol

#8
Nonek

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Not particularly, it's the fashionable entry that usually serves to goose my gander.

 

To implement the given traits could be a simple matter of skill adjustments, unique dialogue reponses, statistic penalties/bonuses and perhaps increased or decreased influence with certain factions. One wonders if certain races or cultures are burdened with a reputation for certain attitudes and traits?



#9
Fearabbit

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I'm not good at coming up with descriptions for traits, so I'll keep them short. But I would like to see something like:

 

Pure of Heart - You are simply a good person who wishes nobody ill and thinks ill of nobody. Because of your friendly and genuine behavior, people love you and want to help you as much as they can. This means that you get discounts in stores and persuasion checks are easier for you than for others. However, it makes you very gullible as well - people find it easy to manipulate you and bend you to their will. You also can't find it in your heart to hurt even your biggest enemies, so that you always have to try diplomatic solutions for quests first (the "let's just kill them" options are not available to you if there are multiple options available).

 

Detriment: Honor the Dead - Your honor forbids you from looting dead bodies.

 

Detriment: Party Class Restriction - Because of your beliefs, you will not allow companions of a certain group of classes in your party. The more classes you restrict yourself from, the more "trait points" you get. (This makes it possible to play for example a pure party of rogues while giving you points that you can spend on beneficial traits.)

 

Benefit: Family Heirloom - You can choose an item that has been in your family for generations. You will start with this item and it will always level with you so that it will always be a viable piece of equipment.

 

Benefit: Animal Friend - For some reason, wild animals (that don't count as monsters) will not attack you if you don't attack them first.


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#10
JFSOCC

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Ethical

You consider yourself to be an Ethical person, and feel the need to justify your actions to yourself or others.
On the one hand your constant doubt inhibits action, on the other hand you are considered to be an honourable person by most who have met you.

#11
Silent Winter

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I don't like the idea of purely detrimental traits - otherwise why would anyone but a masochist choose them?  There should be some encouragement/balance to them.  Maybe picking one benefit causes a corresponding detriment to be chosen.

 

OCD - you receive a -1 penalty to attack and concentration checks if your pack isn't systematically organised or if you left any unclaimed treasure lying on the dungeon floor.  On the other hand, if you keep a well-organised pack, you receive a +1 bonus to spot and concentration checks.

 

Tinkerer - you get a bonus to any checks when dealing with complex machines / experimental apparatus. However, you are likely to trigger any traps just by looking at them (LOL)



#12
Caerdon

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OCD - you receive a -1 penalty to attack and concentration checks if your pack isn't systematically organised or if you left any unclaimed treasure lying on the dungeon floor.  On the other hand, if you keep a well-organised pack, you receive a +1 bonus to spot and concentration checks.

 

It'd be fun if one of the potential party members was an OCD character that'd automatically keep his own inventory perfectly organized, no matter how much you move his stuff around... :)


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#13
Fearabbit

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I don't like the idea of purely detrimental traits - otherwise why would anyone but a masochist choose them?  There should be some encouragement/balance to them.  Maybe picking one benefit causes a corresponding detriment to be chosen.

 

You probably don't know the systems from Shadowrun or GURPS, which work this way: You get a certain number of points that you can spend on traits. Beneficial traits cost you points, while detrimental traits give points back.

 

The number of points traits cost or give you depends on how good/bad they are. Just as an example, let's take Lephys' proposed traits: Let's say Silken Voice can be bought for 5 points, Keen Aim for 10 points; Clumsy gives you 10 points back and Arachnophobia gives you 5 points back.

At character generation, you get 5 points that you can spend on traits. You really want Keen Aim, but that costs 10 points, so you have to take a detrimental trait. You could take Keen Aim and Arachnophobia (5 - 10 + 5 = 0), or you could take Keen Aim, Silken Voice and Clumsy (5 - 10 - 5 + 10 = 0).

 

The choice is yours, your detriments are not tied to your benefits, but you have to find a way to balance things out. (And in this example, the game is even generous and gives you 5 points from the start; it could also simply say that you start with 0 points.)

 

So no, this is definitely not something that only masochists will do. :) It's just a different approach, and in my opinion both can work in the same game. A balanced trait like your OCD would simply cost 0 points. But for some traits, it's just better if you don't force them to have a positive or negative side as well - a positive side effect of having Arachnophobia? That would seem very contrived.


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#14
JFSOCC

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Tinkerer - you get a bonus to any checks when dealing with complex machines / experimental apparatus. However, you are likely to trigger any traps just by looking at them (LOL)


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#15
Silent Winter

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I don't like the idea of purely detrimental traits - otherwise why would anyone but a masochist choose them?  There should be some encouragement/balance to them.  Maybe picking one benefit causes a corresponding detriment to be chosen.

 

You probably don't know the systems from Shadowrun or GURPS, which work this way: You get a certain number of points that you can spend on traits. Beneficial traits cost you points, while detrimental traits give points back.

I wasn't familiar with it - cheers for the explanation :)

It makes good sense and provides incentive to choose (and try to balance) your own positive and negative traits.

(and as you say, it means the designers don't have to try to contrive a balance for a certain trait).



#16
curryinahurry

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While I like the idea of background traits related to upbringing, social status, prior occupations, etc.; I am not a fan of personality traits and would be opposed to their inclusion in the game.  Primarily, I think that personality (and physical traits like clumsy) work against the idea of defining your character in game by creating a type.  Then you have a choice; play as type or against type.  It seems to lead to the sort of binary choices in game play that many (myself included) don't like.  

 

I think that using background traits limited to environmental and experiential parameters can hint to personality and physicality (and can even provide + and -'s along those lines) without being overly prescriptive.


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#17
Lephys

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Traits are very tricky, and hard to do well. They usually need to influence things that feats don't touch. I personally like ones that add something to the background of the character. I also I must admit like those that add an immediate benefit/penatly at the onset of the game but are less significant later like:
 
Street Kid- You spent your childhood on the streets. You start with half as much money as a normal character but get a (x%) more starting hit points.
 
Father's favourite- Exactly the opposite of above ;)
 
Biggest Kind on the Block- You've always solved problems with your fists. Get +1 to hit with melee weapons and unarmed combat, but start with 4 less skill points.


The only thing I disagree with here is the idea of their effect quickly fading into meaninglessness after the start of the game. I think a trait (or, at least, some form of character creation option that I'd like to see in the game, whatever you call it, and whatever else exists) should support something that makes your character inherently and permanently different.

The more hitpoints thing isn't too bad of an idea, because that actually sets you apart for the entire game, to some degree. And the Biggest Kid on the Block bonus of +1 to hit is permanently supplemental, I would think.

However, I'm not at all against backgrounds. I just think that maybe traits and backgrounds should be separated. Or, at least, that traits intertwined with backgrounds (personality/social traits being the most prominent there) should be a bit more extensive.

Really, their potency is not an issue with me (as long as they're not insignificant, entirely). My only major insistence is their permanence. Things like "you start with 100 less gold" and such are things I'm not fond of in "traits." For that to be an inherent trait, it would have to be something like "You were raised by monks, and are adamant about always donating 10% of your wealth to charity," so that it affects your relationship with money throughout the game, instead of just at the very beginning.

Granted, all of your examples DO bear permanent effects, so I'm not really saying they're bad. Just emphasizing the idea of inherent/persistent effects of traits on gameplay.


While I like the idea of background traits related to upbringing, social status, prior occupations, etc.; I am not a fan of personality traits and would be opposed to their inclusion in the game.  Primarily, I think that personality (and physical traits like clumsy) work against the idea of defining your character in game by creating a type.  Then you have a choice; play as type or against type.  It seems to lead to the sort of binary choices in game play that many (myself included) don't like.  
 
I think that using background traits limited to environmental and experiential parameters can hint to personality and physicality (and can even provide + and -'s along those lines) without being overly prescriptive.


I agree, in a sense. Though, I think maybe you're only referring to overly restrictive implementations. You know, like "You picked 'Good Guy,' so you can never threaten or attack anyone who isn't pure evil in conversation/scripted events." Something like that, I agree with.

Something like Nonek's examples of (to put it quite simply) quite-logical versus quite-emotional works just fine, I think. If you're very logical, you could still play that character as one who struggles to emotionally connect to those around them. It doesn't prevent you from choosing to let your character care about things. It simply makes you less inherently-"talented" at it.

In that sense, it's no different from any other fully-customizable factor in the game: If you have 50 Bow skill instead of 100, you aren't prevented from effectively using a Bow, but you're not going to make as skilled of shots as if you had 100 Bow skill. The only difference being that it's an inherent/permanent (after you've chosen it) shortcoming, rather than a mere lack of potentially-allocated-throughout-the-game's-progression points.

Restriction? Do not want.

Shortcoming? Sure! 8D
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#18
curryinahurry

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I agree, in a sense. Though, I think maybe you're only referring to overly restrictive implementations. You know, like "You picked 'Good Guy,' so you can never threaten or attack anyone who isn't pure evil in conversation/scripted events." Something like that, I agree with.

Something like Nonek's examples of (to put it quite simply) quite-logical versus quite-emotional works just fine, I think. If you're very logical, you could still play that character as one who struggles to emotionally connect to those around them. It doesn't prevent you from choosing to let your character care about things. It simply makes you less inherently-"talented" at it.

In that sense, it's no different from any other fully-customizable factor in the game: If you have 50 Bow skill instead of 100, you aren't prevented from effectively using a Bow, but you're not going to make as skilled of shots as if you had 100 Bow skill. The only difference being that it's an inherent/permanent (after you've chosen it) shortcoming, rather than a mere lack of potentially-allocated-throughout-the-game's-progression points.

Restriction? Do not want.

Shortcoming? Sure! 8D

 

 

Sorry, not buying it.  For these traits to have any meaning, there has to be an omission of certain possibilities from the beginning of the game, otherwise it's just window dressing.  It becomes too much like the alignment system, which is just awful.  I don't mind the game tracking my choices and there being some consequences down the line for the choices made, but not before I've started actually playing the game.  

 

Also, based on your bow example, if there are speaking and other interpersonal skills that can model certain personality types that we can invest points in, I would be fine with that as well.  



#19
Lephys

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Sorry, not buying it.  For these traits to have any meaning, there has to be an omission of certain possibilities from the beginning of the game, otherwise it's just window dressing.


The key word there being "certain."

My point is that possibilities can be omitted without their being over-arching things like goodness and evilness.

And no, it doesn't have to be like an alignment system, because there can be multiple factors involved.

How a choice that brings with it limitations any different from a class choice? Oh, you chose a Fighter? Then you won't be flinging about magic missiles to handle situations. If you wanted those abilities, then you would've picked a Wizard. So, you want to roleplay a kind and loving character? Then don't pick "Menacing Sociopath" as a trait, if that's even available. How is the completely voluntary option of this trait somehow restricting your ability to play the character that you want to play?

Or, more specifically with regard to dialogue, how does any significant effect on dialogue not provide the omission of "certain" possibilities? You picked 4 Intelligence? You're not going to get some options, in dialogue, that other people are. You have 3 Strength? You're probably not going to be doing any physical intimidation any time soon.

You can have beauty reactions, manners, intelligence (cleverness), lore/knowledge, a flat-out skill check, and many others, all affecting your dialogue options and their potential effects throughout the game. You can have a change to beauty affect things without making you flat-out "better." Sometimes you'll get unwanted attention, or people won't take you seriously, or they'll be jealous, or they'll be so distractedthat they'll provide information they didn't even mean to.

Don't buy it, if you don't want to, but what you're arguing against is at a certain height on the bar of what I'm pointing out, not the whole bar, itself. And, as with all things, I don't think trait restrictions should be so extreme.

Traits should affect your abilities, not your judgement. You can have the scariest voice ever, and try to calm someone down, and even succeed. Just means that if a certain person is really really scared already, you're going to have to take extra care to try to calm them, rather than simply saying "Don't worry, you're okay." Maybe you can't calm a specific person, because you have "Scary Gruff Voice" as a trait. Not the end of the world. There could be other ways to handle the situation, beyond just "calm them down or fail to calm them down." Not to mention, because of your voice, you GET the option to the-opposite-of-calm people where other characters with normal voices do not get such options.

So, a possibility for a possibility. *shrug*

#20
Greydragon

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Any number of perks/backgrounds from Fallout/Arcanum would work as a guide. Such as the technophobe/magic allergy backgrounds (assuming they are viable).

 

For something new here are a few suggestions; 

Positive: Childhood Dreams; you have read and heard countless tales about heroic battles against famous monsters. Bonus to attack and fear rolls against iconic beasts because you know their lesser known weaknesses.

 

Negative: Shadow Terror; you used to fear the shadows. Now you know that somewhere out there they are alive enough to kill you. Prone to panic at surprise attacks. If you ever encounter a living shadow or an invisible opponent you are reduced to wildly waving your weapon at them in fear, which causes a decrease in accuracy and an increase in damage potential.

 

Positive: The Dead; it seems that due to a quirk of fate you have a predisposition to necromancy and have the potential to become an undead monster without any magical interference. This is a wonderful thing as a living being as it means that you actually will not become incapacitated until you reach negative 10% of your stamina (You just can't stay down) however it does bring a hazard into the mix; if you do get incapacitated there is a 5% chance you will turn into a zombie and randomly attack until incapacitated again. The temporary transformation is a boon as it replenishes your wounds; so if the zombie is struck down you wake up again at 15% health. People do react badly to this and sensitive people may dislike your 'unnatural' aura.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: character creation, traits, customization

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