Am I alone in not liking Traits?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Nineteen73 wrote:
So this particular thread is mostly for those who dislike traits. It's funny how many ppl whine so much about a game they love to play. It's part of the system, it works for those who use them. Work for Paizo if you want to hold players hostage to your limited points of view.

This is pretty unhelpful all around, but it does make me reflect on one thing. I do NOT love the Pathfinder game. I suffer through it because it is the preferred game of my group (as was 3.5 before), and I greatly enjoy gaming with them. If I could get the group as a whole to drop Pathfinder for another game, I would do so.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Well HappyDaze, you're obviously not alone. :)


Mogart wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Mogart wrote:

A player in a campaign that I am in decided to min max and used traits in combination with the familiar and improved init. to get around a +13 to his initiative roll as a level 1.

+2 dex mod
+4 Imp. Init.
+2 Init trait Combat
+2 Init trait Ratial
+3 Familiar
+13 Total

A monk in the group took an initiative trait and the bullied trait which grants him +1 damage on all unarmed strikes/natural attacks.

I am not a fan of traits.

Erm... So the character gets to go first? That effects one round of combat.

The horror?

The horror is this, he doesn't make the best of decisions, at all. His level 1 character has a 20 int casting stat and a 14 dex, so his init. is high and the DCs for his spells are high as well.

The last time he got to go first, he ended up casting sleep in the center of a 4 person grapple and 2 of us got a coup de grace as he ran away because the bad guys were "too strong." He did this right after the surprise round, and right before the players had a chance to take their first action of the combat. They were helpless and because he min-maxed the save was very high.

You know that sleep has casting time of 1 round right? How could he cast it before anyone taking an action?

Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.


HappyDaze wrote:
After two campaigns in which Traits were used, I'm about to start a third and I don't think I'm going to use them. I've seen too many backstories warped to allow for a Trait that a player wants for mechanical reasons, and I've likewise seen other (more interesting) parts of background stories edited because the player doesn't want to take a mechanically inferior Trait that matches. I guess I see Traits as limiting creativity rather than enhancing it while they are used to gain a mechanical benefit.

They were supposed to connect you to campaign by involving a backstory. As with any aspect if you have optimizers*cough*munchkins in your campaign they will try to gain every slight edge they can. I'm not really anti-power gaming as much as I am anti-incoherent-character-because-it-gives-me-bonus gaming.

One suggestion you may want to try is have the players write their backstories, but you pick the traits that go with it. If they write a really convoluted backstory to try to get a mechanical advantage, you make a really convoluted feat to go with it. If they write a really good backstory reward them with a really good trait to match. Also don't just limit yourself to existing traits.


leo1925 wrote:


Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.

What, are you blind? It's clearly the trait's fault.


Mogart wrote:


The last time he got to go first, he ended up casting sleep in the center of a 4 person grapple and 2 of us got a coup de grace as he ran away because the bad guys were "too strong." He did this right after the surprise round, and right before the players had a chance to take their first action of the combat. They were helpless and because he min-maxed the save was very high.

Is it even possible to cast sleep in a surprise round? Only get a standard or move action, sleep takes a full-round action I believe.

I think a lot of problems come from not following the rules correctly. trait bonuses don't stack, bullied trait only adds to AoO, etc. If something seems overpowered, usually helps to go back and read things over very carefully -i find that chances are something isn't being applied correctly.


Some call me Tim wrote:


One suggestion you may want to try is have the players write their backstories, but you pick the traits that go with it. If they write a really convoluted backstory to try to get a mechanical advantage, you make a really convoluted feat to go with it. If they write a really good backstory reward them with a really good trait to match. Also don't just limit yourself to existing traits.

This is what I do in my games. Luckily my players aren't that concerned with being uber powerful, but I like to have some input onto characters as the GM. So, i consider traits as bonuses to backstory.


Why build a background to work in a trait when you can just re-flavor the trait to work with the characters background.

Example a very popular trait in my games, rich parents. Instead of having a starting wealth of 900 gold because your family is rich why not because you found a treasure when you were a kid, or you belong to an organization that equipped you well, maybe you stole the money, ect...

Let the players have the mechanical advantages they want and the back story they want too.

But yeah I will say that having a standard list of effects that traits give is the best route then having hundreds of different traits.


What i like about traits

Some of them are a very nice way to add customization to my characters (like my dwarven druid who really should have knowledge dungeoneering as a class skill)

Some of them are very cool abilities that i would like to do, but are too minor to blow a feat on, ie, being able to use a whip as a grappling hook (dun da dun da, dun dun dun...)

What i don't like about traits:

They can be pretty easy to min max with. Every spellcaster i conceive of optimizing has reactionary for +2 initiative and +2 on concentration checks.

It hurts the rogue class. Their primary ability is access to a heaping pile of skills, and since traits can get you pretty much any skill you want as a class skill everyone can be a rogue.

Some of the traits are very circumstantial and hard to remember (making unarmed attacks of opportunity under a blue moon while listening to bardic music...)

I don't mind the suggested background that comes with them, but i don't like being locked into it. For example our group has a cleric of Calistra with disable device as a class skill. I don't think she's spent a lot of time on the streets, we just figure she reaaaaly needed to make sure she had a backup plan if someone lost the key to the fur lined manacles.

Shadow Lodge

Chris Mortika wrote:
Nineteen73 wrote:
So this particular thread is mostly for those who dislike traits. It's funny how many ppl whine so much about a game they love to play. It's part of the system, it works for those who use them. Work for Paizo if you want to hold players hostage to your limited points of view.

It's as much a part of the system as achievement feats, words of power, or called shots. Or non-core base classes, for that matter. They're all non-core material, options that some GMs choose to include, but not others.

You can call it "whining" if you want, Nineteen73. But I don't think the only way to play the game is to abandon all sense of discernment.

To be fair, Traits have have significantly larger presence than those other systems, and have received much attention throughout various lines of books by Paizo. Furthermore, they are accepted in Society play, which makes their stature as almost-core-default assumed in many places.

Grand Lodge

I like traits, although I think some changes are needed. If you are going to allow two traits, then one should be a campaign trait. These tend to add needed color to PCs. For PFS, this would be a faction trait. The other could be selected from all available traits.

I agree that there are too many - I've never seen anyone choose the extra traits feat. Paizo needs to review the traits and eliminate duplications and bring them closer in terms in value. Some traits give you +1 to a specific skill and make it a class skill. Others give +1 to three specific skills and allow you to choose 1 as a class skill. The benefits shouldn't be that disparate.

Personally, I tend to select the traits which add class skills. I have had more than one sorcerer make Diplomacy a class skill through this route. I have a bunch of oracles with Dangerously Curious (+1 to UMD and makes UMD a class skill).

Shadow Lodge

I haven't used traits yet because I simply do not trust them. They smell like splat to me, and I have yet to see one with any drawbacks. Maybe I was twisted as a youth by GURPS, but I fail to see the appeal of a system that offers only bonuses at zero cost. Then every character who takes them is simply 'better' than those who do not. Not more interesting or more unique, just better.

E.g. Bullied could carry a compulsion to put bullies in their place. Would it not be logical for a character as powerful as a PC to do so? Nothing about it in the text. Or Killer might mean you're bloodthirsty. Caretaker means you wouldn't abandon the wounded, etc, etc, etc.

Now in situations where they're not free, but are merely 'half feats' then this problem goes away. But as written, PF characters basically get a free feat when this option is in use.

I like to pretend that balance is attainable... :)

Scarab Sages

I can appreciate those who exercise their discernment over personal issues they may have the with mechanics of any game they play. But to generalize that people abuse the system or negate aspects of roleplaying to simply be overly motivated to take advantage of the mechanical bonuses of lets say, "Reactionary" for every single character they create, to gain +2 initiative is a bad logic. Would you fault the same person who played certain classes just because the DEX bonuses were to hard to pass up. Then should we discuss that certain abilities give one player an advantage over another because they can stack +4/5 from DEX. Then they abuse the power more by taking "Reactionary" Where's the freedom in one building there toon they want.

If Paizo included traits for those individuals to further tailor their characters to a build suited for them, so be it.

On the note of roleplaying and traits just being a mechanic and killing RPGing. In my experiences, whether or not I'm aware of othe players traits. I see a lack of RPGing in a whole, So we can't create a false dichotomy and blame traits for iot.


I like to pretend that balance is attainable... :)

Well, either everyone in your campaign has them or no one does. That should be pretty balanced.

Quote:
Some traits give you +1 to a specific skill and make it a class skill. Others give +1 to three specific skills and allow you to choose 1 as a class skill. The benefits shouldn't be that disparate.

Not all skills are created equal. Something giving knowledge nobility and royalty as a class skill doesn't stack up well against gaining perception , acrobatics or stealth as a class skill.


I suspect many of the "must have" traits that haven't been errata'd down are stealth fixes for real problems.

Magical Knack appears on most multiclassed caster builds and makes their magic function at a more level appropriate strength. It probably also appears on Rangers and Paladins so they can have useful durations at level 4 when they get their spells.

Dangerously Curious looks to be a fix for the healing problem. I get the impression from things said on this forum that it's practically mandatory for classes lacking UMD as a class skill in PFS unless they have a class with CLW on the spell list.


Regardless, eliminating Traits doesn't really hurt game balance in any way I can see so long as no one has them.


Pixel Cube wrote:

I think that they are a fine way to introduce a mechanical significance to a background element. People who like to come up with character concept first like these, and minmaxer are gonna minmaxing anyway, it's not like a low +1 skill or ST is going to throw the game off balance. If your players come up with contrived reasons to justify why they have that trait just because they like the bonus, it's usually a sign that they will do that for feats, spells and whathaveyou, regardless of the fact that traits are available or not.

Besides, they are optional, so I don't really see the issue.

Removing the mechanical bonuses? Well that's just "describe your character picking from this limited list of features", which is actually worse than not having traits in the first place.

This.


Nineteen73 wrote:
So this particular thread is mostly for those who dislike traits. It's funny how many ppl whine so much about a game they love to play. It's part of the system, it works for those who use them. Work for Paizo if you want to hold players hostage to your limited points of view.

No, that is what the internet and forums are for. Go around to almost any forum on the net about a subject and you will find rabid fans that are b$$$&ing about the thing they are there to discuss. Welcome to the Web.

I, personally, love Pathfinder. 3.5 was my favorite edition, and Pathfinder makes it so much better that it has replaced 3.5 as the best system for me. However, traits are something I have not liked since the first time I encountered something like them in a 2nd edition game. They don't bring about as much fun as once thinks, get abused more than used, and generally create game breaking RP as the characters don't understand that a trait does not have to be right up front and in everyones face (all from my experience with them.)

Let your character have a trait when it comes to the RP of the character, but don't let that trait have a game advantage. There are enough things in the game that do that already.

The Exchange

I actually go the opposite route of the OP and eliminate the flavor side of traits, keeping only the mechanical aspects.

The reason why I do this is because I like the functionality - that little extra bit of customization that allows you to have a Rogue who knows how to ride a horse, or a wizard who's fairly perceptive.

I do not like tying these mechanical bonuses directly to back story. At all. Simply put, not all traits are equally useful for all classes. So it stands to reason that some back stories would then become better for some classes.

Most of my players are both eager optimizers and dedicated role-players. So I don't like the idea of forcing them to choose between back story and optimization (as, despite frequent opinion to the contrary, we have no problem balancing the two). Thus I just make the traits generic stat bonuses and leave my players the freedom to tell the story they wanted to tell.

For this same reason I dislike domains being tied to specific gods. I don't want players to feel they are being forced away from choosing a god that makes sense for their story, merely because "it's not as good."

(I do, however, maintain the stipulation that you may only take one per category, but only for balance reasons.)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I have recommended traits as a balance between characters when players roll dice for attributes rather than use point-buy systems.

Let's say one PC ends up with
5d6 ⇒ (1, 2, 5, 2, 3) = 13; best 3 is 10
5d6 ⇒ (5, 4, 6, 2, 5) = 22; best 3 is 16
5d6 ⇒ (6, 1, 6, 6, 4) = 23; best 3 is 18
5d6 ⇒ (4, 2, 1, 6, 6) = 19; best 3 is 16
5d6 ⇒ (4, 5, 2, 4, 1) = 16; best 3 is 13
5d6 ⇒ (2, 1, 6, 6, 3) = 18; best 3 is 15
(an attribute total of 88)

While her chums roll
5d6 ⇒ (4, 1, 1, 4, 3) = 13; best 3 is 11
5d6 ⇒ (3, 3, 5, 2, 6) = 19; best 3 is 14
5d6 ⇒ (2, 5, 5, 6, 5) = 23; best 3 is 17
5d6 ⇒ (3, 6, 2, 4, 5) = 20; best 3 is 15
5d6 ⇒ (5, 6, 3, 6, 6) = 26; best 3 is 18
5d6 ⇒ (6, 2, 3, 1, 6) = 18; best 3 is 15
(an attribute total of 90)

5d6 ⇒ (5, 1, 4, 2, 1) = 13; best 3 is 10
5d6 ⇒ (4, 6, 4, 3, 5) = 22; best 3 is 15
5d6 ⇒ (3, 2, 1, 3, 1) = 10; best 3 is 8
5d6 ⇒ (5, 1, 1, 4, 5) = 16; best 3 is 14
5d6 ⇒ (4, 2, 4, 2, 1) = 13; best 3 is 10
5d6 ⇒ (3, 1, 6, 2, 1) = 13; best 3 is 11
(an attribute total of 68).

My suggestion is to award the attribute total leader no traits, and the other characters receive one trait per 3 full points their attribute is less than the leader's.

So the leader here has an attribute total of 90. The third player is (90 - 68 = 22) points behind, so would receive 7 traits in compensation.


One small problem I have with traits is religion traits do not make sense for an oracle even though they are a divine caster as they believe in multiple gods. And the religion traits for different dieties in the APG vary in power for each god. The starchild trait for desna finding true north can be solved with one point in survival. and then just taking as a class skill. While Abbadars trait ears and eyes of the city give you perception which is huge.

Liberty's Edge

HappyDaze wrote:
Twigs wrote:

Otherwise we're scrounging up amazing boosts to our initiative or shoring up our saves with little regard to our backstory because there's little incentive to do otherwise...

Yep. Those are the main ones chosen over and over. The initiative boosters, concentration booster, and save boosters. Again and again and again...

Seriously? I *always* end up selecting at least one skill booster to get a class skill. I don't think I've ever taken the initiative or concentration boosters.

Usually it's either 1 save booster and 1 skill trait, or 2 skill traits. Maybe I'm just a natural skill monkey?


I'm pretty sure everyone in golarion BELIEVES that multiple gods exist, and probably pray to multiple deities depending on their endeavor, ie Calistra if you're going to revenge or Calden caiden if you're really hung over. (should he be known as the porcelain god? )


leo1925 wrote:

You know that sleep has casting time of 1 round right? How could he cast it before anyone taking an action?
Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.

Because the rules let you start any action (if unable to finish).

So he starts 1 rd casting by giving up standard (all his gets in surprise rd) then on his turn gives up Standard action (total = 1 rd casting). Sleep hits area.
Then he still has his move/5ft action: so he shouldn't have been able to cast sleep twice but he should have been able to once.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat#TOC-Start-Complete-Full-Round- Action
Start/Complete Full-Round Action

The "start full-round action" standard action lets you start undertaking a full-round action, which you can complete in the following round by using another standard action. You can't use this action to start or complete a full attack, charge, run, or withdraw.


You are not alone.
But I like them.

Shadow Lodge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Well, either everyone in your campaign has them or no one does. That should be pretty balanced.

Okay, please allow me to rephrase:

Rephrased mcbobbo wrote:
I like to pretend that balance between different gaming tables is attainable... :)

Or, better put, I want characters from my game to be legit at yours and vice-versa. Since, hopefully, we're playing the same game, or at least a similar one.


Starbuck_II wrote:
leo1925 wrote:

You know that sleep has casting time of 1 round right? How could he cast it before anyone taking an action?
Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.

Because the rules let you start any action (if unable to finish).

So he starts 1 rd casting by giving up standard (all his gets in surprise rd) then on his turn gives up Standard action (total = 1 rd casting). Sleep hits area.
Then he still has his move/5ft action: so he shouldn't have been able to cast sleep twice but he should have been able to once.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat#TOC-Start-Complete-Full-Round- Action
Start/Complete Full-Round Action

The "start full-round action" standard action lets you start undertaking a full-round action, which you can complete in the following round by using another standard action. You can't use this action to start or complete a full attack, charge, run, or withdraw.

But a full round action isn't the same as 1 round, a sorcerer using a metamagic feat casts the spell as a full round action but casting sleep requires 1 round casting time (meaning you start casting at round 1 and finish casting at round 2), i don't think that you can use the start-complete full round action to cast a spell with casting time of 1 round.

But even if i am wrong this doesn't change the fact that the player used the spell incorrectly, he could have positioned the spell better in order to not affect his allies, remember that in PF characters eganged in grapple don't share the same space.


ryric wrote:
This. I read the trait descriptions, and try to ignore the bonuses until after I've picked them. I sometimes end up with substandard choices, but they always fit the character that I see in my head.

I do the opposite. I look at what I want my character to be able to do (say, survival for my fey sorcerer), and then look for a trait which gives it to me. I think having a character whose actual abilities match their description is preferable to a character whose description matches some title in the book but doesn't play out in real life. In the same way, if my vision for an inquisitor is better served by using the mechanics of a monk, I'll make a monk and call it an inquisitor rather than making an inquisitor with mechanical abilities that don't match the character. Judging from this thread, I'm not completely alone in that.

doctor_wu wrote:
One small problem I have with traits is religion traits do not make sense for an oracle even though they are a divine caster as they believe in multiple gods.

I agree with BigNorseWolf that it seems reasonable to assume most people believe in all the gods, including clerics. Most people in societies with polytheistic religions will show due respect to all gods, even if they focus mainly on one or two of them. It was also common in ancient time to worship the local gods of whatever country you were currently in, even if they weren't your native gods. So there's really nothing in the way of an oracle being the chosen, or just an especially devout follower, of one god, while still believing in all of them.

Liberty's Edge

leo1925 wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
leo1925 wrote:

You know that sleep has casting time of 1 round right? How could he cast it before anyone taking an action?
Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.

Because the rules let you start any action (if unable to finish).

So he starts 1 rd casting by giving up standard (all his gets in surprise rd) then on his turn gives up Standard action (total = 1 rd casting). Sleep hits area.
Then he still has his move/5ft action: so he shouldn't have been able to cast sleep twice but he should have been able to once.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat#TOC-Start-Complete-Full-Round- Action
Start/Complete Full-Round Action

The "start full-round action" standard action lets you start undertaking a full-round action, which you can complete in the following round by using another standard action. You can't use this action to start or complete a full attack, charge, run, or withdraw.

But a full round action isn't the same as 1 round, a sorcerer using a metamagic feat casts the spell as a full round action but casting sleep requires 1 round casting time (meaning you start casting at round 1 and finish casting at round 2), i don't think that you can use the start-complete full round action to cast a spell with casting time of 1 round.

But even if i am wrong this doesn't change the fact that the player used the spell incorrectly, he could have positioned the spell better in order to not affect his allies, remember that in PF characters eganged in grapple don't share the same space.

Nope. 1 round is a full-round action whose effects do not trigger until the beginning of the next round.

Relevant FAQ.


I mechanically break down traits as follows:

Combat:

+1 to CMD
+1 to AC when flanked
+1 to crit confirmation rolls
-1 to ACP
+1 to Initiative rolls
+1 to damage done to flatfooted targets
Drink potion in hand as move action
Whip as grappling hook and similar "rule of cool" maneuvers that do not affect another creature in combat.

Skills:

+1 to two related skills, one of which becomes a class skill
+1 to three related skills, none of which becomes a class skill

Spellcasting:

+1 caster level to two spells chosen when the trait is acquired
1 cantrip or orison becomes a spell like ability usable CHA mod times/day, no spell failure chance for armor.
+1 to one saving throw, constant bonus
+2 to one saving throw, usable 3x per day
+2 to one saving throw, usable once per day, but only on someone else.

Background:

Define one NPC who is favorably inclined to your character and will assist them in areas your character is weak in. The NPC will be an Expert NPC class, will not go adventuring with your character, will not make magic items for you, etc. But will roll Knowledge (local) or Linguistics, or any of those boring skills that cock-block adventures because nobody took them...and will buy old gear from you at 60% of MSRP rather than 50%.
Gain +150 GP starting gold.
Political Favor: Once per level, your family background and ties will get you off "scot free" from some public idiocy you've committed. This will usually involve you getting ass chewed in private, but...

I think have each player define three or four-life changing events that happened to their characters. I write them down on index cards without any player or character identifiers on them, and pass them around to other players. Who then read the life-changing events and pick the two traits from the above lists to tie into those events...

I then hand the cards back to the players who own those life changing events. It's all the fun parts of rolling randomly for your stats to see what character you're playing, without the "Oh, man, I got stuck with the asthmatic halfling barbarian AGAIN?"


StabbittyDoom wrote:


Nope. 1 round is a full-round action whose effects do not trigger until the beginning of the next round.

Relevant FAQ.

I know this FAQ but nothing in there says that 1 round is a full round action whose effects do not trigger until the beginning of the next round.

Anyway as i said that isn't he point here, the point is that it's the player's fault for not using the spell correctly not the trait's fault for helping the player go first.


Sean FitzSimon wrote:

I honestly don't understand why you'd even keep traits if you're going to eliminate the mechanical aspect of them. Then they're just... descriptions?

I don't disagree with traits being used in a min-max sorta way, but I really only see that with the unique traits. You could simply boil it all down into the following and let people choose one/two:

  • One skill becomes a class skill for all classes.
  • Gain +1 to two separate skills or +2 to a single skill.
  • Gain +1 to one saving throw of your choice or +2 to a specific form of save (compulsion, language dependent, disease, fear, trap, etc.)
  • Gain +1 attack to attacks of opportunity.
  • Gain +1 to CMD against specific combat maneuver.

After that you're only left with options that shore up a character's weakness without really leaving room for exploitation.

Just my opinion, though.

I like this but it needs a few that effect spell-casting.

I took the militia veteran trait for ride for my Mystic Theurge even though he had never served in a milita by just saying he lived most of his life in the saddle, my GM approved it without problems.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love traits primarily for the point that was brought up before - customising a class to have skills unique to the character. Finally we can have Fighters who know how to bluff convincingly, Acrobatic druids, Rangers who studied Knowledge: Engineering, Mountain witches that are adept at climbing and strangely good at diplomacy. It boosts the variety of your characters and stops the game from saying "No" to character concepts.

I'm sure there's tables out there that focus on combat heavy traits, but in games where a variety skill checks are frequent, the skill choice traits seem much more useful.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns Subscriber

I love the aspect of traits and what they bring to the game. I would like to see more traits released as well, including campaign traits!!!


leo1925 wrote:
Mogart wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Mogart wrote:


The last time he got to go first, he ended up casting sleep in the center of a 4 person grapple and 2 of us got a coup de grace as he ran away because the bad guys were "too strong." He did this right after the surprise round, and right before the players had a chance to take their first action of the combat. They were helpless and because he min-maxed the save was very high.

You know that sleep has casting time of 1 round right? How could he cast it before anyone taking an action?

Also it's the player's fault for not positioning the sleep spell correctly, if he did he would very well saved you.

And not only that- if it was before the other players had taken their first action, how were they in a grapple? Also- the PC's all failed their saves and the monsters made theirs?

I love traits, meself.


DrDeth wrote:


And not only that- if it was before the other players had taken their first action, how were they in a grapple? Also- the PC's all failed their saves and the monsters made theirs?

I love traits, meself.

And on top of that everyone must have been 1 HD for it to hit all of them and for them to make their saves. Otherwise it aims for lowest HD first-- again, 1HD. If they were 2HD, it would've gone for lowest or "closest" to the center, randomly determined. So that's some serious bad luck and some bad choices.

BUT ON THE TOPIC OF TRAITS--

I love traits. I personally find and pick traits that work with my character, though a lot of the players in my group do choose traits and then build a story around it.


I dont like traits, they just add another layer of complexity to an already complex character generation. I've only used them used them once for Jade Regent AP just so the PCs have a nice way to link themselves to one of the major NPCs.


I have now played one game in which traits were utilized. My experience with traits specifically was positive. Looking at traits actually helped me when I was stuck trying to think of backstory details. I doubt if I will ever use the mechanical benefits; so one could argue that I should have just looked through the Hero Builder's Guidebook (or similar) and picked backstory details there. But the mechanical bonus was enough of an incentive to get me to at least look at the traits. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the group puts pressure on me to optimize, so they're shoving the traits section under my nose. Not that I begrudge their helpfulness, but... okay, I begrudge their helpfulness. Sue me.


HappyDaze wrote:

Traits seem to pop up in almost every product. When I saw them in the back of the APG, I was almost certain that they were an optional rule, but most optional rules don't permeate the line as much as Traits have.

After two campaigns in which Traits were used, I'm about to start a third and I don't think I'm going to use them. I've seen too many backstories warped to allow for a Trait that a player wants for mechanical reasons, and I've likewise seen other (more interesting) parts of background stories edited because the player doesn't want to take a mechanically inferior Trait that matches. I guess I see Traits as limiting creativity rather than enhancing it while they are used to gain a mechanical benefit.

I suppose I could allow the flavor of Traits with no mechanical benefits gained. Now people might take a few catchy ones for flavor since the mechanical boosts mean nothing. Those that go into greater detail on their backstories can dispense with this step - it'll really be just for those that don't put effort into their backstories.

Is there anything I'm missing by dropping the mechanical side of Traits from my game? Sure, it means that the min-max players of the group have a slight downgrade, but is there anything else i should consider?

I wonder if the people who dislike traits are more RP focused and the people who like traits are more... 'Mechanically' focused in their gameplay...

From a fluff / background point of view, they can provide a couple of starting points or ideas to get your brain started on who your char is, what they have done before... that feeds into where they want to be. For people interested in the RP aspect of it, those factors are important, especially when you have a newbie at the table who hasn't played much before. Having a start to be able to grow a char concept from beyond "I have a sword and hit things hard cause I have power attack." For those reasons, I think they are awesome.

...
However (everyone saw that from 5 miles out didn't they)
...

I don't think that fluff and mechanics should ever mix. Tying a mechanical bonus to a background encourages people to pigeonhole their backgrounds and ends up DISCOURAGING diversity instead of encouraging it. EG. Init bonuses and will save bonuses for fighters are wonderful... a Knowledge arcana bonus, not so much. No matter how much you like the background on a knowledge arcana one, your deliberately making yourself less effective for the sake of a cool story. Either the GM will take pity on you and let you take the bonus you want, OR the rest of the party will have to carry your... gods, I don't even know the word. UN-optimized implies that you just didn't bother. This is deliberately choosing to make yourself worse than you could. DE-optimized?

So, what do I do?

The written 'Fluff' or 'Background' with a trait is a "Here's how you could justify this", not a hard and fast piece of background. Look at the bonus, decide off that which one you want. I'll probably ask you to justify it if it's out there. A fighter with +1 will save can be just that he's been mind scrambled so many times he's built up a resistance, or that he ran away in the past and cost the life of someone dear to him, so he has that extra little reserve to draw on. A barbarian who has Knowledge Engineering as a class skill may though be a little more interesting to justify.

However... you don't get any traits for free. If you want to have any traits, then you have to take the feat from APG that gives you 2.


Two half feats do not a character break, ever. If the traits are overpowering your campaign just wait until it hits third level and they get a whole extra feat! They might get a game shattering +4 initiative!

The problem with this is DMs want players who are going to almost purely interact on stories, but the problem is that the story just isn't that good, otherwise you'd be writing adventures called Star Wars and your name would be Lucas. The reality is that the numbers game is fun (this explains wallstreet) and players see the greatest challenge in the game as the ones surrounding the roll of the dice+modifiers. You won't stop min/maxing, you need to live with it.

Add a rule to the campaign that trait bonuses will be awarded by the DM for the background story submissions the player makes. If they don't turn in a good background then give them penalties to a couple of stats. If you like what they turn in then award the background traits you want.

Of course they want a bonus they can use, and you want to assign them a +1 to Craft: Basket Weaving, and as long as that disparity exists only either you or the players will be happy with things.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

What i like about traits

Some of them are a very nice way to add customization to my characters (like my dwarven druid who really should have knowledge dungeoneering as a class skill)

Some of them are very cool abilities that i would like to do, but are too minor to blow a feat on, ie, being able to use a whip as a grappling hook (dun da dun da, dun dun dun...)

What i don't like about traits:

They can be pretty easy to min max with. Every spellcaster i conceive of optimizing has reactionary for +2 initiative and +2 on concentration checks.

It hurts the rogue class. Their primary ability is access to a heaping pile of skills, and since traits can get you pretty much any skill you want as a class skill everyone can be a rogue.

Some of the traits are very circumstantial and hard to remember (making unarmed attacks of opportunity under a blue moon while listening to bardic music...)

I don't mind the suggested background that comes with them, but i don't like being locked into it. For example our group has a cleric of Calistra with disable device as a class skill. I don't think she's spent a lot of time on the streets, we just figure she reaaaaly needed to make sure she had a backup plan if someone lost the key to the fur lined manacles.

BigNorseWolf wrote:

I like to pretend that balance is attainable... :)

Well, either everyone in your campaign has them or no one does. That should be pretty balanced.

Quote:
Some traits give you +1 to a specific skill and make it a class skill. Others give +1 to three specific skills and allow you to choose 1 as a class skill. The benefits shouldn't be that disparate.
Not all skills are created equal. Something giving knowledge nobility and royalty as a class skill doesn't stack up well against gaining perception , acrobatics or stealth as a class skill.

I agree with both of BigNirseWolf's points & quoted both posts because they tie into what I wanted to say

Comparatively, many of the traits are either over or underpowered for the exact reason he said, some of the "lame" ones like treating a choice of two less than awesome knowledge skill as a class skill could grant another skill point or three per level and give both while still be fine yet suddenly start to look like they are potentially as enticing as +2 initiative or something

Rather than things like +2 initiative or a bonus to hit/damage/crit/etc I decided to use my rogue's traits to shore up a party weakness (knowledge religion was the only knowledge skill!...). In doing so, his backstory went from:

Spoiler:
Quote:


"Attached is a simple character sheet for my rogue/fighter :). For backstory I was basically thinking along the lines of a thug for hire who, can be subtle when need be. toss in a sprinkling of past employment through a thieves guild type organization . I figured that sort of thing could fit in just about anywhere without relying on stuff that potentially just doesn't fit into the world or preclude being wherever it's convenient to meet up with the group or have reason to join up with them."

with these traits
Spoiler:
Quote:


Mathematical Prodigy: Mathematics has always come easily for you, and you have always been able to “see the math” in the physical and magical world. You gain a +1 bonus on Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (engineering)checks, and one of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you

Scholar of the Great Beyond: Your great interests as a child did not lie with current events or the mundane—you have always felt out of place, as if you were born in the wrong era. You take to philosophical discussions of the Great Beyond and of historical events with ease. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (planes) checks, and one of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you.

to this story after asking the GM about the possibility and him finding it to be a cool idea
Spoiler:
Quote:

"The Nifty Story: Hobbes' Momma-Elf was a druid that needed power in order to correct some "important problem" causing chaos in nature (important to a ~L0 druid, which could be & probably was something completely unimportant of course). Hobbes' Daddy-Imp (As far as he knows) was the 1 in 1000 with telepathy & Beast shape (bestiary page 78). & demanded a child in exchange for his help in fixing whatever the "important" thing was.Along came Hobbes... I'm not looking to use the devil lineage for any sort of power or anything, Hell I wouldn't have taken knowledge skill granting traits over +2 initiative and such if I were :). Also not looking to shoehorn NPC's into the campaign, just thought it was cool. Rather than the beast shaped imp, it could have been the imp's "powerful devil" Master for all it matters (He probably wouldn't care either way).

Given his rather odd Lineage and single hippie/druid parent left to raise him, Hobbes was a bit of an outsider from his peers& family, he took to the rogueish ways easily without the hindrances of things like morality to chain him thanks to his LE nature. His reliable ability to solve "problems" quietly without backlash at his employer made him dip his toes in the more martial aspects (the fighter splash with the rogue). He values the concepts of "Law" in the same ends justify the means way that Asmodeus & his subordinate devils do (pretty much Devils were Lawful [?] creatures that fought against the CE demons & looked into the abyss enough for the abyss to look back to make them LE;) cncerned heavily with things like order/contracts/etc. He Walked the Walk well enough for his druid mother to not worry too much about his potentially Devilish blood & figured the magic of wildshape+beastshape resulted in a full elf given his normal elven looks and decent enough behavior as he matured."

I just wish the "sucky" traits were improved a bit to come up to being as potentially useful as the awesome ones, they could easily grant both skills and/or an extra skillpoint or two per level and still remain balanced while allowing low skillpoint characters to even consider them. The only reason the ones I picked would work out was because I had a reasonaably intelligent rogue with some extra skillpoints to spare so he could catch up after occasional fighter dips (thinking rogue18ish fighter2-3ish type thinking probably in the end).


AdAstraGames wrote:

I mechanically break down traits as follows:

...
more stuff

Wow, that's the second thing you've said on the forums in the last few days that may wind up in all of my future games. (The other was the full BAB D10hp Monk).

I was really excited about introducing traits to my games. Then I did and it sucked. Instead of picking something that made richer characters, my casters all felt obligated to pump up their concentration and initiative. Some of them even really wanted the fluffy traits but just couldn't justify the chance to patch up some of their character's only weakness. My super high AC fighter scrounged up some weird trait I'd never heard of which is just like dodge, except it doesn't go away when you lose your dex, and he has to be wearing the only kind of armor he'd ever be wearing (half a feat.. srsly?). My multiclass caster took the one that kept his caster-level going up as he dip-classed. And then the guy in the group who isn't a minmaxer chose some virtually useless thing and fell even further behind the party.

I stepped in and cleaned the situation up, by houseruling some of the traits to work differently, but felt like bad guy while I did it, because I just gave the group new toys and then took them away. I suppose that's what I get for thinking 'Paizo are professional game designers.... if they introduce a new mechanic to the game, I should just go ahead and use it, without spending a few hours reading through all of the possible choices and reflecting on how they will unbalance my game." So instead of creating any fun, it just left me with more paperwork and a slightly less balanced game. Yippee!


edross wrote:
AdAstraGames wrote:

I mechanically break down traits as follows:

...
more stuff
Wow, that's the second thing you've said on the forums in the last few days that may wind up in all of my future games. (The other was the full BAB D10hp Monk).

Thanks for the kind words!

I'm also one of the professional game designers. You see one of my RPG designs with Minimus, most of which can be used as an overlayer on Pathfinder. (Full Disclosure: Minimus is donation-ware; if you find it useful, the donation will help keep me designing games.)

The schedule games get published on means that a LOT of game design is "Yeah, um, that doesn't look horribly broken. We've got to fix something else that's more important."

The trick is to start the traits with approximately equal mechanical bonuses, and to make sure that the mechanical bonuses aren't impossible to remember.

Then, let people define their backgrounds.

Then let the people who have to PLAY with them (their fellow players) assign the mechanical bonuses (which are all roughly equal anyway) to match the background. It uses the social contract to hinder munchkinism.

Oh - I did forget one in the "Skills" area

+2 additional languages known.


AdAstraGames wrote:
edross wrote:
AdAstraGames wrote:

I mechanically break down traits as follows:

...
more stuff
Wow, that's the second thing you've said on the forums in the last few days that may wind up in all of my future games. (The other was the full BAB D10hp Monk).

Thanks for the kind words!

I'm also one of the professional game designers. You see one of my RPG designs with Minimus, most of which can be used as an overlayer on Pathfinder. (Full Disclosure: Minimus is donation-ware; if you find it useful, the donation will help keep me designing games.)

The schedule games get published on means that a LOT of game design is "Yeah, um, that doesn't look horribly broken. We've got to fix something else that's more important."

The trick is to start the traits with approximately equal mechanical bonuses, and to make sure that the mechanical bonuses aren't impossible to remember.

Then, let people define their backgrounds.

Then let the people who have to PLAY with them (their fellow players) assign the mechanical bonuses (which are all roughly equal anyway) to match the background. It uses the social contract to hinder munchkinism.

Oh - I did forget one in the "Skills" area

+2 additional languages known.

Yeah, my thing with the traits is that my players wanted to be good, but can't help but be bad when they are amply incentivized. This would remove that.

Question though: Do you really think:
+1 to two related skills, one of which becomes a class skill
is equal to
+1 to three related skills, none of which becomes a class skill

My knee-jerk reaction is that the extra class skill sounds a little better than the extra +1 to a skill, but I haven't thought it through much. I mean, assuming that the character wasn't going to ever multiclass, isn't it just a question of +1/+1/+1 vs. +1/+4

Shadow Lodge

I like the concept of traits, but I'm a little disapointed with some of them. I love that they allow much more personalization of the class, but dislike that they really don't seem to be very balanced against each other and many do nearly the exact same thing. Most religious traits give a benefit that religious style calsses already have (know religion as a class skill ???).

Honestly all the ones that are mainly offering a class skill should be put into one trait that simply lets you pick any one class skill you want and either give a +2 to it, or a +1 to two seperate skills and save space.

I also don't really like the very circumstantial bonuses for the fact it's one more thing that needs to be remembered.

On the other hand, I really like the ones that either allow something completely new or something you can't do otherwise, (being your own holy symbol, using a 0 level spell 1/day, etc. . .) both as adding mechanical flavor and just because it's cool to be a little bit unique.


edross wrote:


Question though: Do you really think:
+1 to two related skills, one of which becomes a class skill
is equal to
+1 to three related skills, none of which becomes a class skill

My knee-jerk reaction is that the extra class skill sounds a little better than the extra +1 to a skill, but I haven't thought it through much. I mean, assuming that the character wasn't going to ever multiclass, isn't it just a question of +1/+1/+1 vs. +1/+4

Ah, sorry - that was supposed to be "Pick a skill as a class skill" versus "+1/+1/+1" or "Pick two languages"

My bad. Ran it from memory without notes.


HappyDaze wrote:

Traits seem to pop up in almost every product. When I saw them in the back of the APG, I was almost certain that they were an optional rule, but most optional rules don't permeate the line as much as Traits have.

After two campaigns in which Traits were used, I'm about to start a third and I don't think I'm going to use them. I've seen too many backstories warped to allow for a Trait that a player wants for mechanical reasons, and I've likewise seen other (more interesting) parts of background stories edited because the player doesn't want to take a mechanically inferior Trait that matches. I guess I see Traits as limiting creativity rather than enhancing it while they are used to gain a mechanical benefit.

I suppose I could allow the flavor of Traits with no mechanical benefits gained. Now people might take a few catchy ones for flavor since the mechanical boosts mean nothing. Those that go into greater detail on their backstories can dispense with this step - it'll really be just for those that don't put effort into their backstories.

Is there anything I'm missing by dropping the mechanical side of Traits from my game? Sure, it means that the min-max players of the group have a slight downgrade, but is there anything else i should consider?

I like traits, they're a fun addition to the game that really doesn't unbalance it. Our DM feels the same way, therefore, my half-orc rogue will have Bully and Resilient as traits.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
I allow my players access to Traits, but one of the traits they take MUST be a Campaign specific trait, in order to tie their character into the plot of the campaign better.

This is what we do too.

Personally, I LIKE the traits... but I would like to see MORE of them. The ones we HAVE are only a couple of good ones... and I HATE taking things for more than one character.

The campaign traits are nice, as they give you a leg up in the pre-story... Tell you a little bit about how you got to chapter one.

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