Designed to provide some actual game mechanics to aid players to round out their characters, this product actually offers 3 options: traits, flaws and disadvantages.
'Traits' grant a character both positive and negative features. For example, a character may have the Focused trait, and while he is able to ignore distraction to such a level that he gains a bonus to Concentration checks, he ignores everything else to the extent that he has negative modifiers to Listen and Spot checks - he just won't notice what is going on around him while he is concentrating on something.
'Flaws' are purely adverse in nature. If a character has a Criminal Record, say, this will automatically cause law enforcement officers to have a negative reaction (provided of course they know about it or check up on him). However, it's not all bad: for each Flaw you take, you are allowed a bonus Feat.
'Disadvantages' again are pretty negative, but while Traits and Flaws are going to have minor influences on your role-playing, Disadvantages may have plot implications. Things like having a particular Enemy, who won't miss a chance to have a go at the character, or Dependents who can be used against him. Again, while the character may not feel that way, there are game advantages - if the character successfully copes with his Disadvantage during the course of an adventure, extra XP may be awarded.
Each type of quirk is available in mundane forms - useful whatever style of game you are running - as well as conspiracy, supernatural and psionic options which will only be of use if the appropriate elements occur in your game. You can choose - within certain limits - or the GM may do so on your behalf... and of course, if the GM chooses, he may not tell you all the details until it's too late!
As well as the game mechanics associated with each option, there are also notes on role-playing that particular quirk. The whole system is designed to add flavour and make characters more memorable, more individual - more real; and ought to aid those who are weaker at characterisation as well as providing tangible benefits to everyone who wants to treat their character as more than a sheet of numbers to roll dice against.
Overall, it's a very well thought out system that should add depth to any character. I'd recommend GMs of other D20 game systems giving it a look: many of the traits, flaws and disadvantages are readily transferable whatever particular system you are running and may spawn ideas of how you could create similar quirks particularly suited to the genre and style of the game of your choice.
Return to Traits & Flaws page.
Reviewed: 10 September 2005