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I Have Come to Absolutely Despise Traits


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Bearded Ben wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:

I make up my own traits, so...

As they are in the APG I find them unusable.

How so?

I guess I should have specified as a whole they aren't usable. Some of them are really good others aren't.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
Bearded Ben wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:

I make up my own traits, so...

As they are in the APG I find them unusable.

How so?
I guess I should have specified as a whole they aren't usable. Some of them are really good others aren't.

Could you provide some examples?


princeimrahil wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
Bearded Ben wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:

I make up my own traits, so...

As they are in the APG I find them unusable.

How so?
I guess I should have specified as a whole they aren't usable. Some of them are really good others aren't.
Could you provide some examples?

Of good or bad traits?


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
I guess I should have specified as a whole they aren't usable. Some of them are really good others aren't.

Well, a trait is worth half a feat, and some feats are really good and others aren't. So they're right on track. :-)


hogarth wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
I guess I should have specified as a whole they aren't usable. Some of them are really good others aren't.
Well, a trait is worth half a feat, and some feats are really good and others aren't. So they're right on track. :-)

This is true. Though I still dislike the fact that some of them are auto-choose for some characters.


I like traits, and have even reworded them to create my characters background. Razule Yrrum has been played a few times, and each time I've reworded the flavor-text of traits to flesh him out a bit more than usual.


Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:


Also, randomly rolling for traits seems to sort of defeat the purpose. Traits let you customize a character and get mechanical effects for important aspects of their background. A random ability would have to be shoehorned into a character's backstory, and may not fit. While there is nothing wrong with games that let you roll for background elements (many fun RPGs do), limiting it to one tiny, tiny area seems a bit pointless.

Well, fair enough.

How about a list of "good traits" and "bad traits", and tell the PC's they can pick one good trait and two bad traits, or something like that. There are so many traits that add almost nothing but flavor, but the favor is really cool and I would like players to be able to use it.


I kind of like the restrictions on traits since it makes it tougher to combine all of the various traits in whatever way you want to gain the maximum mechanical benefit. This makes it fun to find a good combo.

The restrictions can also help to create interesting and original background stories such as when I had to explain how my Varisian bard for a Kingmaker game came to be "Adopted" by gnomes to gain the "Animal Friend" trait and get Handle Animal as a class skill. His poor mother cried, "Kobolds Stole My Baby!", but her caravan had moved on before local gnomes conquered the kobold warrens and rescued the baby from imminent consumption by the hungry kobold king.

If we had ignored the restrictions then my PC might be less interesting.


Yosarian wrote:


How about a list of "good traits" and "bad traits", and tell the PC's they can pick one good trait and two bad traits, or something like that. There are so many traits that add almost nothing but flavor, but the favor is really cool and I would like players to be able to use it.

Excellent idea...

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I run APs, I tell my players they must choose 1 campaign trait and they can select the other from either the APG, regional traits from the region the campaign occurs in or racial traits as appropriate to the character.

"But some traits are rubbish!"

Over the course of a career a trait doesn't really accomplish a heck of a lot. So calm your farm, suck it up and enjoy the the free perk that nobody has to give you. You could run a character with 1 or 0 traits and still be viable. The traits exist to help you write a background to fit into the campaign. The perk is secondary.


@Dudemeister: I agree. The problem I have with them is simply the fact that some of them are redundant. Making it less of a trade off when picking traits.

Shadow Lodge

I don' like most of the situational traits. It can get too subjective over whether or not the situation applies.


One that always bugged me was Why you needed the Prehensile Whip trait to use the whip as a Grappling hook. If anything I would make it a grapple check. After all that is one of the easiest tricks to do with a whip.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Actually, I have zero problems in granting a player access to a trait (or the mechanical effects of the trait, reflavoring the trait fluff) if the whole thing fits the character concept and/or story.

Example: Gave our Changeling a whipped-up trait Eerie Presence (Supernatural), which grants her +1 Intimidate and treats it as a class skill.
Yes, she could have taken Bully (Social) for the same effect... but this way, it fits her just so much better.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Midnight_Angel wrote:

Actually, I have zero problems in granting a player access to a trait (or the mechanical effects of the trait, reflavoring the trait fluff) if the whole thing fits the character concept and/or story.

Example: Gave our Changeling a whipped-up trait Eerie Presence (Supernatural), which grants her +1 Intimidate and treats it as a class skill.
Yes, she could have taken Bully (Social) for the same effect... but this way, it fits her just so much better.

This brings up something that I consider one of the most important features of traits: many do the exact same thing mechanically.

For example: In the APG the Bully (Social) and the Brute (Half-orc Racial) traits are mechanically exactly the same. But the fluff connected to each is different.

Its the fluff and not the crunch that's important in traits. As a result you can change the fluff, keep the mechanic, and produce a brand new trait that does the same thing and fits the background you like.

Traits are all about background and character building. If you don't like a requirement, change it.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Midnight_Angel wrote:

Actually, I have zero problems in granting a player access to a trait (or the mechanical effects of the trait, reflavoring the trait fluff) if the whole thing fits the character concept and/or story.

Example: Gave our Changeling a whipped-up trait Eerie Presence (Supernatural), which grants her +1 Intimidate and treats it as a class skill.
Yes, she could have taken Bully (Social) for the same effect... but this way, it fits her just so much better.

Bully could still have worked...

Spoiler:
In one of the X-men annuals, there's a (flatscan) boy who's doing the 'evil mutant menace' thing on a bunch of girls at a teen hangout. He then proceeds to bully Dough, who told him to stop. He pushes Doug down, then Illyana steps in to defend him. The kid starts the bravado, then stops, then is reduced to "I'm sorry. It's ok. It was a joke. I'll stop. Please?"

My favourite Blonde Russian doesn't do anything, just stares him down. No Darkchild, no Soulsword, no Limbo. It's not that she's physically tough or intimidating, it's that even this kid could feel she's 'wrong'.

Best bit, Doug asks how they're going to explain this to Magneto. Illyana shrugs and says "Tell him I cast a spell on him?" (Her magic doesn't work outside Limbo at this point.)


Matthew Morris wrote:
Midnight_Angel wrote:

Actually, I have zero problems in granting a player access to a trait (or the mechanical effects of the trait, reflavoring the trait fluff) if the whole thing fits the character concept and/or story.

Example: Gave our Changeling a whipped-up trait Eerie Presence (Supernatural), which grants her +1 Intimidate and treats it as a class skill.
Yes, she could have taken Bully (Social) for the same effect... but this way, it fits her just so much better.

Bully could still have worked...

** spoiler omitted **
Unless of course, your concept doesn't match
bully wrote:
You grew up in an environment where the meek were ignored and you often had to resort to threats or violence to be heard.

Which doesn't match the Illyana anecdote either. She didn't resort to threats or violence. In fact, she used her Eerie Presence to intimidate the bully.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Heh, Well to be technical, she did grow up in an environment where the meek were ignored (if they were lucky) and she had to resort to violence. :-)


Matthew Morris wrote:
Heh, Well to be technical, she did grow up in an environment where the meek were ignored (if they were lucky) and she had to resort to violence. :-)

True, but she rarely got the opportunity to be the bully in that environment, which is what the trait implies.


Hmm, so should one write a background using traits as the foundation or find/create/reflavor traits to fit the background written without looking at the traits?


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
Hmm, so should one write a background using traits as the foundation or find/create/reflavor traits to fit the background written without looking at the traits?

The fundamental question of character design/optimization. Do you try to match mechanics to the rp concept or come up with an rp concept to match the mechanics.

Both are valid approaches and I suspect most people mix the styles. I also suspect the farther you are on the "start with background then look for traits" end the more frustrating you find them.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

@ thejeff, we'll agree to disagree. After she got the soulsword she got to bully a lot. :-)

@Azaelas Fayth, it depends.

I was looking at a half elf Lore Warden/Rouge character for PFS, when looking for another trait than elven reflexes, I looked at the elf trait that gives you damage to demons. Then I got thinking about him being a half elf from Kyonin and not Taldor and it started shaping a new origin for him.

Then I looked at a couple of the Dragon Empires traits, and got the ides of a half elf from Amanandar who traveled to and serves 'the mother country'... I'm still not decided, but the traits help flavor the basic concept (dex based skirmisher)

On the other end of the scale, Dexios' traits draw from the idea and background that I already had in mind (tiefling heretic lawyer from hell).


Matthew Morris wrote:
@ thejeff, we'll agree to disagree. After she got the soulsword she got to bully a lot. :-)

After she got the soulsword, she fought Belasco and returned to Earth. Her origin was over. She used intimidation a lot later, but that was "in game" if you will.

Unless they've retconned her origin since I last looked. :)


I think they just need to widen restrictions, not do away with them altogether.

Restrict them by class, race, and alignment (combinations allowed).

Because unrestricting traits for some of them seems like a bad idea. Since I don't feel like slogging through them, I'll offer an example:

Baby Torturer - A lifetime of training has made you very good at torturing babies. +1 to "Intimidate" checks made to extract information from babies.

Obviously not available to Good aligned people.


Child of the Irons: you were raised in a village where everyone learned to fight together as if chained together.

Whenever you gain a bonus from Flanking or a Teamwork feat increase the bonus by +1.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:

Child of the Irons: you were raised in a village where everyone learned to fight together as if chained together.

Whenever you gain a bonus from Flanking or a Teamwork feat increase the bonus by +1.

Alignment: Lawful or Chaotic (depending on whether you rebelled against the "chains" or embraced them)


Instead of picking traits to fit our character concepts, we grab traits to start a character background and then build off that trait.

So if we are making a inquisitor for example, we start by looking at the religious traits, if nothing jumps out we'll go the combat or racial group, if we are playing an AP we all take a second one from that AP, if we cant find one that fits really or we are all taking the same one (usually we will then end up being family members or something) then we usually end up taking something like reactionary or armor expert or one of the "fall backs".

One time, when making characters for Serpents Skull, the traits that were available and the way we all picked them, caused us to get the idea that the entire party were ALL dwarves from the same clan traveling together on the ship.

We would never have thought of it, before browsing traits.


Rynjin wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:

Child of the Irons: you were raised in a village where everyone learned to fight together as if chained together.

Whenever you gain a bonus from Flanking or a Teamwork feat increase the bonus by +1.

Alignment: Lawful or Chaotic (depending on whether you rebelled against the "chains" or embraced them)

I would think Lawful. As it is more of a City Militia being trained to fight together. Think how a Phalanx fought. Your shield protected your left side and the person to your lefts right side.

My group has a fondness for Rich parents on at least one PC...

Shadow Lodge

Cheapy wrote:
I was thinking this was a complaint about how many reactionary people there are.

I prefer to be called "proactionary"!


With my past 2 PF characters, I didn't even bother with traits. I'm not against using them, they're just generally more work thumbing through indices than they're worth IMO.

I find they can be useful if you just happen to stumble upon one that fits what you're going for, but I've seen so many crap ones with lopsided requirements that I generally don't bother taking a trait unless someone happens to point one out I didn't notice.

Taldor

So.... where do these traits come from? Were they invented by PAIZO?
The answer is no. GMs have long since given what would now be the equivalent of a half-feat or less in instances where game mechanics can actually boost or solidify believability in a characters background, backstory, personality, belief-system, or other unique story elements.

The benefits of packaging this great notion into "Character Traits" was invented by PAIZO and with good reason--they amplify one's character's identity. It gives an added uniqueness amidst all the rules that are typically and generally for everyone.

As a GM who runs homebrew Pathfinder Games weekly (and I have since the Alpha Playtest), I sometimes use traits, sometimes I do not.

But what is the point? When used, how can they be used optimally to enhance character background and uniqueness? They key to this is not to be rigid in the adjectives provided by the materials, but to apply them to your own setting. Conversely, if you're playing PFS, then as an international gaming community participating in organized play, you could celebrate individual traits, giving them a modicum of respect during your roleplay (if the trait is known or suspected). For example, "My, my, my, ... I've worked with bards before but there's something quite special about your performances. I'm honored to be in the company of a Taldorian minstrel as fine as you."

And, in the final wash, its an optional sub-system. If its not for you, don't use them. But at least consider the contextual flavor these cruncy and fluffy bits of game design CAN add to your game table.

-Pax


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I know I will get slammed for this, but I do not have issues with some traits being showing up more than others do. Why? Because that is how life works. Think of NBA players: Most have the trait of "above average hight" for example. The trait was part of what pushed them into a particular role.

So if Killer shows up in fighters and streetwise shows up in rogues this just seems natural to me.

I think sometimes people overthing some of these things.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You all know traits are suppose to be a minor bump in your character and are there to add flavor right? They do not have to be good, the idea is not to be getting every last bonus to your roll the idea is to make an interesting character with a decent background.

KenderKin wrote:
The flavor and restrictions in the traits makes it difficult to make sense of ever taking the extra traits feat!

My Lorewarden took it at first level. He can cast Detect Magic once a day and has a +9 to Spellcraft. He really can not do much with either of those two things, but it fits his background a good amount and I think it added a little flavor.


My problem is more of why is it there are some traits that let you do something anyone can learn by accident (Prehensile Whip).

Or a trait that offers a +1 to a skill while in the same category there is one that grants a +1 to that same skill and another related skill and adds one of them as a Class Skill (can't find the names right now).

On an unrelated note I prefer using the Occupations from the Tome of Secrets alongside a Campaign/Regional Traits.


I guess I didn't get my points across very well. I don't just want mechanical benefits, ignoring all flavor. Not at all. The idea behind general traits is that if the players want them, they have to provide the flavor that justifies it.

Feros wrote:

This brings up something that I consider one of the most important features of traits: many do the exact same thing mechanically.

For example: In the APG the Bully (Social) and the Brute (Half-orc Racial) traits are mechanically exactly the same. But the fluff connected to each is different.

See, I consider this to be the worst feature of traits. There are 101 ways for someone to have a background that would justify giving them a +1 to intimidate and making it a class skill, agreed? However, I don't think any of us want paizo to be printing 101 traits for intimidate and then 101 more for every other skill.

Instead, if we follow my generalized trait idea, players can say that they are intimidating because their father was a lawman who taught them some interrogation techniques. Or maybe they horribly scarred their face in some accident/battle and now have a very fearsome appearance. Or they can provide one of dozens of other reasons, and then I can probe deeper or offer suggestions to make it better if I so desire. The point is that players are using the fluff they want with a benefit that makes sense.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

The other benefit to consolidating traits is that since there is no need to reprint mechanically identical traits, energy could be spent on developing some specific traits with specific requirements and unique benefits. Ideally, these specific traits would be more than some generic bonus, but instead offer a benefit that could occasionally shine through and visibly show the character's background.

For example, the Acadamae in Korvosa is a famed wizarding college that specializes in summoning. A trait saying you attended this specific school shouldn't give you generic +1 to Kn Arcana or whatever. That's boring. There's thousands of ways to get better at Kn Arcana. But maybe the prominent Acadamae has some unique tricks that deal with summoning that is difficult to pick up elsewhere. Instead, granting a specific summoning bonus would be more fitting, like say allowing all summons to stay out an additional 1 or 2 rounds. Or for something more interesting, how about 1/day letting a former student of the Acadamae roll twice when determining the number of creatures being summoned and take the better result. Now that's a flavorful bonus, and players around the table can see that you have some unique skills at summoning because you are an Acadamae student.

Flavor is important. But I like flavor and mechanics to make sense and both still be interesting. Make all the traits that offer generic bonuses generic themselves, and then focus on making traits that have special flavor and special mechanics.


I have decided to make a list of benefits and give them based on the background.

Though I always help my players with their background...


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Merkatz wrote:
I guess I didn't get my points across very well. I don't just want mechanical benefits, ignoring all flavor. Not at all. The idea behind general traits is that if the players want them, they have to provide the flavor that justifies it.

I guess I just do not see why I, as a player, need to offer additional explain of the back story when it is in the trait.

I select Bully because I was a bully or I select Birthmark because I have a birthmark. I think the whole justification for your selection seems obvious to me.

Guess I am missing something you are seeing.

Taldor

hahahahahahahahah "Why I as the player need to offer additional explain of the back story when it is in the trait."

You are missing the whole point. Get off your butt and roleplay!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

@Merkatz

I disagree, like I said elsewhere, it's not a bug, it's a feature.

Take Bullied vs Reactionary. They have the same basic background but different results and personalities. Bullied implies you learned to fight back, reactionary that you saw trouble coming and ran. both help flesh out the personality, with different benefits.

Likewise, Bully and Brute are both mechanically the same, but both have different fluff. If you want a history as a dark and troubled past, Brute is more your speed than Bully.

Heck taking cross-purpose traits can make a background. MAybe your forlorn elven paladin was at one time a Calistran Prostitute. Integrating that aspect of a character's past into the current character can be good RP fodder "I wasn't always a shepherd, Mal."


And Mr. Morris wins the thread with a Firefly/Serenity quote.

But traits offer a lot to give you a general thought for a background, But having so many identical traits that have the same Benefit But slightly different fluff can get annoying. I prefer setting up a list of potential backgrounds for the traits.

Like Bully & Brute have them under the same entry.

If I wasn't on my phone I could post up my Reactionary Trait.

My players usually read the traits list of mine just for the laughs. Such as the Reactionary Trait having Farmer as a potential background point. Anyone used to working on a farm knows what I mean.


I like the idea of the categories as a whole, but made one change. Instead of having the skill traits scattered, I made one single generic skill trait that fell into it's own general category, which doesn't have the limit of only 1 per category. I did the same with the saving throw traits, and the knowledge skill traits. This leaves all the traits that legitimately fall under the other categories, with their limit of 1/category, untouched while resolving the biggest difficulty with the system. Players are expected to make up their own fluff for the generic traits, but there are still plenty of traits that come with their own fluff for those that don't want to have to come up with it.


There are many options that can make the system more user friendly...

Cheliax

Merkatz wrote:


The biggest problem with traits are the artificial requirements and restrictions put on them.

Only Humans can be Aspiring Bards.
Only people from the River Kingdom could have been Bandits.
Only worshipers of Cayden can be Good Natured.

It's completely asinine. Seriously, it's like one department comes up with a good trait, and then another department randomly picks 1-3 requirements from out of a hat. And it really frustrates me that like 10 new traits are added every month, but I never even consider using 9 of those. So when I slog through a few hundred traits, trying to find anything that fits my concept and actually does something remotely useful, I usually end up disappointed. So I wind up falling back on the handful of most useful and most open traits (eg Resilient and Reactionary) once again, and wonder why I bothered.

Why cant you and your DM sit down and handwave some of the requirements that are silly? I mean I dont see why you cant have bandits and get rid of river kingdoms requirements. Bnadits are everywhere. Same with good natured.


Pax Veritas wrote:

hahahahahahahahah "Why I as the player need to offer additional explain of the back story when it is in the trait."

You are missing the whole point. Get off your butt and roleplay!

Problem comes in when a certain Trait just cannot be justified within the background you have planned. Which is why I think they need to be more open.

Back to the Fist of the Society example. There was no way for my character to be a part of the Pathfinder Society, not if he was going to join up with the group I'm in.

So I found some other way to justify it, namely starting with "Why in the hell does reading these texts give you an extra Ki point" and I worked a wealthy merchant family (roots in Tian Xia) and a healthy interest in History and Religion mixed in with his Monastic training, making it conceivable that some other ancient text survived with ancient Xianese secrets of extra Ki or whatever were in the library.

What's the point of this? The point IS it shouldn't need to be a house rule that I can justify it that way. It should not be exclusively limited to PS members.

If it can be fairly simply justified it should be allowed. Basically instead of

Honored Fist of the Society wrote:
You have studied dozens of ancient texts on martial arts that only the Society possesses, and are more learned in these arts than most.

it should read something along the lines of

Honored Fist of Knowledge wrote:
You have studied dozens of ancient texts on martial arts that few possess, and are more learned in these arts than most.

Make sense?


Then it wouldn't be Fist of Society...

Personally I agree they should be slightly more open.


Azaelas Fayth wrote:

Then it wouldn't be Fist of Society...

Personally I agree they should be slightly more open.

Well that's why I renamed it. ;)


What is the new name?


Azaelas Fayth wrote:
What is the new name?

Its up there in the quote. "Honored Fist of Knowledge".

I could come up with something better given time but it was the best I had on short notice.


Rynjin wrote:
Azaelas Fayth wrote:
What is the new name?

Its up there in the quote. "Honored Fist of Knowledge".

I could come up with something better given time but it was the best I had on short notice.

On my Phone I couldn't read the small print. I like the name. Though maybe drop the "Honored" part.

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