Friday, November 20, 2009

Traits for Non-character Use

One of the things I am doing is extending the Traits mechanic I have used for some time to use in describing other things. Traits in the SC system work sort of like Tags in Fate, except that you don't need to use a token to invoke it - it's a resource pool which refreshes per session - and there is no formal mechanism for a GM to compel it - though informally I use stuff like "Wait a minute! George has Hot-Headed 3 as a Trait! Do you really thing he's going to take that insult so calmly?" all the time, and it works. Traits are free-form, though I supply a list of suggestions to prod folks who are having a tough time on their own.

So with these new generators I'm creating for clusters, ships, vehicles, and aliens, I am adding Traits. You have seven points to distribute among at least 3 Traits, with no more than three points per Trait. So a culture which is Xenophobic 3, Pious 2, and Mercantile 2 would be very different from one which is Cosmopolitan 2, Refined 2, Snobbish 1, Back-stabbing 1, and Educated 1. A person from that culture would have these as personality Traits by default, though they can always vary as much as they like.

A ship might have Reliable 3, Comfortable 2, and Maneuverable 2. A vehicle could be Cramped 3, Up-Armored 2, All-Terrain 1, and Hard-to-Hit 1. An alien could be Intimidating 2, Fast 2, Huge 1, Revolting Diet 1, and Excitable 1. It all works slickly. Individual vehicles and ships could be customized - perhaps changing one point a year with successful applications of the proper skills. Even if they are only used as descriptors and never invoked, the system is simple, flexible, and shows how relatively important a Trait is.



  1. Interesting. I used a similar setup for Bizarre Tales and in the new Object Mechnic system I am working on. In BT it was much as you describe, a variable descriptive stats only it was a fixed number of stats so, take 5 stats to describe you character. For OM, I am still monkeying with the idea of random generation married with this sort of apprach to player defined characteristics.

    Neat stuff clash!

  2. Thanks, Bill!

    One of the things I like about the traits system is, unlike Fate's Tags, Traits give you an immediate ranking of what is most important to the character/vehicle/ship/alien/whatever, just like Fate's skill pyramid does for skills.