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Character Traits Edit

Traits are aspects of a character's personality, background, or physique that make him better at some activities and worse at others. In many ways, traits resemble feats: A character can have only a limited number of traits, and each trait provides some benefit. Unlike feats, however, traits always carry a corresponding drawback. In addition to their game effects, traits suggest characteristics about the character's personality that might lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities. Together with a character's class and feat selection, traits offer a way for game mechanics to encourage deeper character backgrounds and consistent roleplaying.

Traits serve as an interesting starting point for roleplaying, reminding players of their characters' most prominent strengths and weaknesses. However, roleplaying a certain aspect of a character's personality does not require possessing the trait. For example, a paladin can be honest and forthright without the Honest trait. The player should roleplay the character consistently even though the character's honesty has no effect on his skill checks.

A character can begin play with up to two traits, chosen by the player at the time of character creation. Alternatively, the DM can require players to roll on Table: Character Traits to determine the traits possessed by their characters.

As characters advance in level and ability, they might want to get rid of the traits that they chose at the beginning of play. Although characters cannot rid themselves of a trait directly, specific feats, skill ranks, or magic items can compensate for the penalties imposed by a trait. For example, an abrasive character can work on becoming more personable by spending skill points to gain a rank in Bluff and a rank in Diplomacy, thereby offsetting the drawback from the Abrasive trait.

If the DM allows it, players may add traits to their characters after 1st level. The DM might allow a player to assign a trait to her character after she has roleplayed the character in a manner consistent with the trait in question, or after a traumatic or life changing experience (after dying, a character might develop the Cautious trait or the Aggressive trait). If the DM includes this option, a character should gain a new trait no more frequently than once every five levels.

Behind the Curtain: Designing Traits

Although this section provides a large number of character traits, a player who wants to create a character with a distinctive personality may ask the DM to design a new trait. If that happens, the DM should keep in mind that the traits variant is only effective if the benefits and the drawbacks of the traits are related. If the drawback and benefit of a trait apply to disparate or unrelated aspects of the game, it becomes too easy for a player to choose a trait for her character that provides a bonus on a commonly attempted ability check or skill check while the corresponding penalty applies to a rarely used or never used aspect of play. For example, a trait that gave a bonus to Armor Class and a penalty on attack rolls would be poor design because spellcasters make very few attack rolls (making the penalty far less severe) yet continuously gain the benefit-of the increased Armor Class.

As long as the DM and player talk about a new trait ahead of time and view it in light of what skills and abilities the character uses most often, this potential pitfall is easy to avoid.

Roleplaying Of Traits Edit

If a player creates a character with one or more of the traits described here, she has three basic choices for how that trait affects the character's personality.

First, the character might view the trait as a weakness. A character with this view might try to hide the trait or make excuses for his behavior. On the other hand, he might seek out others with the trait to feel better about his own idiosyncrasy.

Second, the character might view the trait as a strength. A character might call attention to the trait, encourage others to act in ways that mimic the trait, or simply assume that those without the trait are less worthy than those who possess it.

Finally, the character might not acknowledge the trait at all. A character might adopt this attitude toward a trait for several reasons, each suggesting something different about the character's background and personality.

  • The character might not be aware of the trait; for example, a nearsighted character might not realize that others see better at a distance because his impairment is mild and the onset was so gradual that he never noticed the change.
  • The character might be aware of the trait but not want to admit that he possesses it. For example, an abrasive character might realize that his mannerisms affect others, yet find more solace in putting the blame on those whom he offends rather than on himself.
  • The character might know but simply not care.

Traits Edit

Abrasive Edit

You are difficult and demanding in conversation, which tends to oppress those around you.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Intimidate checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Diplomacy checks and Bluff checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be loud and abrupt or quiet and sinister, but either way, most find them disconcerting or irritating.

Absent Minded Edit

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.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Knowledge checks (although this does not let you use a Knowledge skill untrained).

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Spot checks and Listen checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Aggressive Edit

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.

Benefit

You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty to Armor Class.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait are often hotheaded and quick to anger, or simply think that the best defense is a quick offense.

Brawler Edit

You naturally move close to your opponents when fighting, instinctively grabbing and punching rather than striking with weapons.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on unarmed attack rolls and grapple checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on all other attack rolls.

Special

The bonus from this trait doesn't apply to natural weapons. A character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat can't select this trait (if a character with this trait later gains that feat, he loses the trait).

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait often disdain the use of weapons entirely, and some eventually learn more refined martial arts based on their instinctive fighting techniques. Many brawlers might not even be consciously aware that they fight differently from other characters; they simply know that the best way to take someone out of a fight is to grab him or punch him in the face.

Cautious Edit

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.

Benefit

You gain an additional +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class whenever you fight defensively or take the total defense action.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on saving throws made to resist fear effects.

Special

You cannot select this trait if you have immunity to fear or fear effects. If you later gain immunity to fear, you lose the benefit of this trait.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Detached Edit

You maintain a distance from events that keeps you grounded but limits your reaction speed.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on will saves

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Reflex saves.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait are likely to be quiet and restrained, but they might be vocal when others falter in their beliefs.

Dishonest Edit

You are naturally deceitful and insincere with others. You have a talent for lying, but have difficulty convincing others when you do speak truthfully.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Bluff checks.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on Diplomacy checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Distinctive Edit

You have some distinctive physical feature such as a scar, a prominent nose, a limp, or some similar characteristic that is hard to disguise or conceal.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Reputation checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Disguise checks.

Special

This trait is available only if your campaign includes the Reputation variant.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be sensitive about it, or they might play up its presence to gather attention, sympathy, or notoriety.

Easygoing Edit

You are naturally friendly. Others feel comfortable around you, but this trait also makes it more difficult for you to be pushy or suspicious.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Gather Information checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Intimidate checks and Sense Motive checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Farsighted Edit

You have difficulty focusing on nearby objects, but your distance vision is more keen than normal.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Spot checks.

Drawback

You have a -2 penalty on Search checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be sensitive about it, or they might simply be oblivious to its presence, having never known any different way of experiencing the world.

Focused Edit

You can keep your attention on a task despite many distractions; however, events in the background pass you by.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Concentration checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Spot checks and Listen checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait often seem single-minded or even obsessive in their focus on a specific task.

Hard of Hearing Edit

You have a slight hearing impairment, and to compensate, you have become more in tune with your other senses.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Spot checks.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on Listen checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be sensitive about it, or they might simply be oblivious to its presence, having never known any different way of experiencing the world.

Hardy Edit

You are made of tougher stuff than the average person, but you're not quite as quick to react to dangerous effects.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Fortitude saves.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Reflex saves.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Honest Edit

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.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Diplomacy checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Bluff checks and Sense Motive checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Illiterate Edit

You cannot read, but you have devoted yourself to learning other skills.

Benefit

Choose any one skill except Decipher Script or Forgery. You gain a +1 bonus on checks using that skill.

Drawback

You are illiterate.

Special

You can eliminate the negative effect of this trait by spending 2 skill points to become literate. Unlike with the barbarian, you cannot become literate by taking a level in any class other than barbarian.

You can't select this trait if your character is already illiterate because of race, class, or any other reason.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be sensitive about not being able to read, or they might not value "book learnin'."

Inattentive Edit

You are skilled at finishing simple tasks quickly, but you have a difficult time dealing with longer, more complex tasks.

Benefit

Choose a skill that allows complex skill checks. You gain a +1 bonus on simple skill checks made using the chosen skill.

Drawback

You take a -4 penalty on any complex skill checks made with the chosen skill.

Special

You can take this trait more than once. Its effects do not stack. Instead, choose a new eligible skill each time you select this trait.

This trait is available only if your campaign includes the complex skill checks variant.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might flit from subject to subject in conversation, or they might seem typical in most situations but leave most of their long-term projects perpetually unfinished.

Musclebound Edit

You are good at almost everything that requires strength, but less adept than most at tasks that require coordination.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Strength-based skill checks and ability checks.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on Dexterity-based skill checks and ability checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait are likely to solve problems with physical strength rather than through trickery or finesse.

Nearsighted Edit

You have difficulty focusing on distant objects, but your eye for detail is more keen than normal.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Search checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Spot checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be sensitive about it, or they might simply be oblivious to its presence, having never known any different way of experiencing the world.

Nightsighted Edit

Your eyes are particularly well suited to using darkvision, but they are less well adapted to what others consider normal light.

Benefit

Add 10 feet to the range of your darkvision.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Spot checks when in areas of bright light.

Special

You must have darkvision as a racial ability to have this trait.

Roleplaying Ideas

This trait might not affect a character's personality at all, but it might make the character prefer going on underground or nighttime adventures.

Passionate Edit

You are made of tougher stuff than the average person, but you are highly suggestible.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Fortitude saves.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Will saves.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Plucky Edit

You have a strength of will not reflected in your limited physical gifts.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Will saves.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Fortitude saves.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be annoyingly positive-minded, or they might only show their mental resilience in times of dire need.

Polite Edit

You are courteous and well spoken.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Diplomacy checks.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on Intimidate checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

Quick Edit

You are fast, but less sturdy than average members of your race.

Benefit

Your base land speed increases by 10 feet (if you don't have a land speed, apply the benefit to whichever of your speeds is highest).

Drawback

Subtract 1 from your hit points gained at each level, including 1st (a result of 0 is possible).

Special

You must have a Constitution of 4 or higher to select this trait.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait typically try to stay away from physical combat, but a rare few might relish it, striving to see if their superior speed is enough to best hardier warriors.

Reckless Edit

You naturally sacrifice accuracy to put more power behind your blows.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on damage rolls after successful melee attacks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on melee attack rolls.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.

RelentlessEdit

You don't know the meaning of the word "tired." You go all out until you simply can't continue.

Benefit

You gain a +2 bonus on Constitution checks and similar checks made to continue tiring activities (see the Endurance feat for all the checks and saves to which this benefit applies).

Drawback

Any effect or condition that would normally cause you to become fatigued instead causes you to become exhausted.

Roleplaying Ideas

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."

SaddlebornEdit

You are a natural in the saddle, but you have little patience for handling animals when not riding them.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Ride checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Handle Animal checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait rarely bother to consider animals as good for anything other than mounts, but they are extremely confident about their riding abilities.

SkinnyEdit

You are very slender for your race.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Escape Artist checks.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on Strength checks to avoid being bull rushed or overrun.

Roleplaying Ideas

Skinny characters tend to be pushed around by tougher types, so those with this trait might be shy, or they might be very defensive when faced with such situations.

SlipperyEdit

You are less adept at grappling and wrestling than others of your size and strength, but you are adept at slipping out of another's hold.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Escape Artist checks to escape a grapple and on grapple checks to escape a grapple or avoid being grappled.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on all other grapple checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might fear close combat, knowing they are less adept grapplers than most opponents. On the other hand, good escape artists with this trait might enjoy baiting larger foes into grappling them, knowing they can easily slip out of the grasp of most foes.

SlowEdit

You are slow, but sturdier than average members of your race.

Benefit

Add +1 to your hit points gained at each level.

Drawback

Your base land speed is halved (round down to the nearest 5-foot interval).

Special

You must have a base land speed of at least 20 feet to select this trait.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait tend to be relatively immobile in combat. They typically prefer to wear strong armor (or other protective devices), since it's hard for them to flee a fight.

SpecializedEdit

You have a knack for one kind of work or study, but other tasks are harder for you to accomplish.

Benefit

Choose one specific Craft, Knowledge, or Profession skill. You gain a +1 bonus on checks using the specified skill.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on all other checks using the same skill (Craft, Knowledge, or Profession, based on the skill chosen).

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait often see themselves as elite artists or experts rather than mere professionals, and they might regard their chosen vocation or study as more useful or interesting than other tasks.

SpellgiftedEdit

You have a gift for casting spells from a certain school. Although your spells from this school are more potent than those of other casters, you are not as effective at casting spells from other schools.

Benefit

Choose a school of magic. Add 1 to your caster level when casting spells from that school.

Drawback

Reduce your caster level by 1 whenever you cast a spell that is not from your chosen school.

Roleplaying Ideas

Characters with this trait might be loudly vocal about the merits of the school of magic that they understand most readily, or they might feel awkward and out of place around "normal" spellcasters as a result of their unusual aptitude.

StoutEdit

You are heavy for your race.

Benefit

You gain a +2 bonus on Strength checks to avoid being bull rushed or overrun.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Escape Artist checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Overweight characters are often bullied, so those with this trait might be shy, or they might be very defensive when faced with such situations. Some turn to humor to defuse such situations, while others become bitter.

SuspiciousEdit

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.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Sense Motive checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Diplomacy checks and intimidate checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

This trait might express itself as comic levels of paranoia, or it might make the character quietly cautious about others.

TorpidEdit

You are sluggish and slow to react to danger, but also resistant to others' commands.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on saves against enchantment (compulsion) effects.

Drawback

You take a -2 penalty on initiative checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

Torpid characters may be seen as lazy, or as methodical and measured in their actions.

UncivilizedEdit

You relate better to animals than you do to people.

Benefit

You gain a +1 bonus on Handle Animal checks and wild empathy checks.

Drawback

You take a -1 penalty on Bluff checks, Diplomacy checks, and Gather information checks.

Roleplaying Ideas

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.



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