Tales from the Wilderlands
- TRAITS -
“(Elrond) … was as noble and as fair in face
as an Elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise
as a wizard, as venerable as a king of Dwarves
and as kind as summer.”
The three Attributes – Body, Heart and Wits – give a good impression of the general
make-up of a character, but they fall short in defining what exactly sets one individual
apart from another. Traits are characteristics that add detail and nuance to a character
reflecting their preferences, interests and personality. At various points during character
creation (page 30), players are asked to select Descriptive Features and Traits to add to
their character sheets. These features help players to picture their characters, and encourage
good roleplaying by offering useful hooks to help players ‘get in character.’
HOW TRAITS WORK
Traits describe aspects of an adventurer’s build, temper and capabilities that under certain circumstances can give them an advantage. There are different uses for Traits, but all are governed by the same principle: The description of the Trait is essential. In other words, it must be reasonably plausible for someone with the features or qualities described by the
Trait to fare better under the circumstances than an individual without them. Traits are unranked, and cannot be improved.
Players can invoke a Trait when they think it
applies to the situation at hand (sometimes, the
Loremaster himself may invoke one of a hero’s
Traits). To do so, they briefly explain why they
think the Trait should give their character an
advantage. If nobody at the table objects, then
the player resolves his chosen course of action. If
anyone finds the argument for invoking the Trait
questionable, the Loremaster adjudicates.
The advantages conferred by Traits aren’t
powerful enough to unbalance the game, so
players and Loremasters are advised to avoid
discussing the validity of a Trait at length. A
well-detailed or entertaining explanation adds
to the enjoyment of the game, and should earn
the player the benefit of the doubt. In all cases,
the Loremaster’s word is final.
USES OF TRAITS
There are three main reasons to invoke the use of a Trait: to trigger an Automatic action, to propose an Unforeseen action, or to gain an Advancement point.
When a player is using one of his Common skills to make a roll, he may invoke a Trait
possessed by his hero to ensure a successful performance. If the Trait considered for
the action is agreed to be relevant, the Loremaster may allow the acting player to
score an automatic success without even rolling the dice. When a player invokes a Trait
to get an Automatic success he is considered to have unspectacularly achieved his
goal: an ordinary success.
A group of adventurers has just overwhelmed a goblin tower near Mount Gram.
The dreary place now seems deserted, but the players want to use their Search
skill to find any hidden ambushers. Janet points out that Rose, her Hobbit heroine
is ‘keen-eyed.’ The Loremaster agrees, and lets Rose automatically spot grimy
tracks leading to a dark corner of an underground chamber.
The Loremaster may agree with a Trait invocation to
speed up play, especially if failing at the roll would
not lead to dramatically relevant consequences, or if
the action wasn’t difficult. In some occasions, the
Loremaster may ask his players whether they possess
a pertinent Trait, in order to move the story on.
The company has gained possession of a wooden casket found in a barrow, and the heroes
are looking for a way to open it. The Loremaster announces that a simple Craft roll will do
and to speed up play asks whether any hero possesses an applicable Trait. Fíli the Dwarf is
a woodwright: the Loremaster is content, and lets Fíli open the casket without further ado.
Sometimes the Loremaster may decide that a situation doesn’t allow a skill roll at all, due
to events or factors out of the players’ control. A player may invoke one of his Traits if he believes it should allow him a chance to intervene.
If the invocation is judged favourably, the Loremaster interrupts the narration to allow a standard action attempt.
After a short but fierce battle outside the gates
of Mount Gram, Katherine, the Loremaster,
is telling her players how a sneaky Goblin is
escaping the battlefield after being left for dead
and ignored. She rules that the Goblin is too far
away for the players to intervene. Hugo, whose
Dwarf is ‘cautious,’ says that Fíli was certainly
keeping an eye on the wounded, exactly to
avoid this problem. The group agrees, and the
Loremaster lets Hugo test Fili’s Awareness skill
to see if he observed the Goblin in time.
During the game, players earn Advancement points that will later be used to improve their characters’ Common skill ratings (see page 120 for details); invoking a pertinent Trait improves the chances of a hero earning an Advancement point. When a hero succeeds in an action that strongly reflects one of his Traits, he may invoke the Trait to ask for an Advancement point.
If the Trait is agreed to be relevant, the player earns an
Advancement point and checks the appropriate box.
In the dead of night, Beran, a Beorning Warden
is dozing by the fire when he spies a Wild
Wolf about to pounce on one of his sleeping
companions. Not even pausing to grab his sword
from beside him, he throws himself in harm’s
way with an Athletics roll and then successfully
defends against the wolf’s attack unarmed, giving
his companions time to wake and dispatch the
beast. The player, David, invokes Beran’s ‘Bold’
Trait, and Loremaster agrees and awards Beran
an Advancement point.