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Species Traits

What a Species Trait Is

A species trait is something a character can do automatically under normal circumstances, simply because of what they are. For example, a character with wings can fly without needing to make a roll to do so. However, having a species trait does not grant related skills. This means that having wings only means that the character is capable of flying, it does not make the character skilled at flying under challenging circumstances. In addition, any time the circumstances are challenging, the characters will need to roll an appropriate skill in order to effectively use their species traits.

 

Options for Species Traits

All characters start out with one of the following species traits:

  • Extra Skill: Choose an additional skill from the skills list.
  • Skill Aptitude: Choose one skill. You have a special aptitude for that skill which grants a special bonus when you are using that skill. Choose what that bonus is. It can be an additional benefit you receive on successful rolls (including partial successes), being able to use that skill in unusual circumstances (decide what those are), or doing that skill unusually quickly. For example, a character with an aptitude for stealth could move quickly while still being silent.
  • Skill focus: Choose one skill. When growing up you had the opportunity to focus on developing a specific skill. Three times a day, your character is prepared when they use that skill.
  • Heightened Senses: Your character has extremely keen senses. When using your senses for awareness skills, your character gains additional information on successful rolls (including partial successes).
  • Additional Sense: Your character has a sense that most species do not have. This sense gives you information that others without that sense do not have. For example, you could sense electric currents or have an internal compass. Decide what this sense is. Next work with the game master to figure out what kind of information this sense gives you and what limitations it has. Within those limitations, you can use your additional sense to sense-specific information from awareness skills. For example, a character with darkvision can use Perception to see nearby things in total darkness.
  • Telepathy: Your character can communicate directly with the minds of nearby people. This allows you to send information to others and receiving their replies. Telepathy works best if you both speak the same language, otherwise communication is vague.
  • Elemental Affinity: Your character has a magical affinity for an element, such as earth, air, fire, or water. As a result, you are resistant to harm from this element. For example, a person with a fire affinity could handle small fires and hot objects without harm (such as holding a small coal in the palm of their hand), and would take less damage than an ordinary person from direct contact with lava.
  • Poison Resistance: Your character is resistant to poison. When poisoned, they experience milder effects than others would. Note that alcohol and many medicines are also poisons.
  • Amphibious: Your character can either hold their breath for a long time or they can breathe in both air and water (choose one). In addition, you can easily transition between being on land and in water. All of your gear is waterproof and is designed to function in both air and water (use appropriate substitutions if needed).
  • Doesn’t Need to Breathe: Certain species, such as certain types of undead, robots, and magical constructs, don’t need to breathe. This means that they can’t drown or suffocate. They can still be affected by airborne chemicals, but the effect may be different than it would on a breathing creature. For example, a robot will not be poisoned by a noxious gas, but the gas could corrode the metal in its joints.
  • Alternate Sustenance: Every species, even undead, robots, and magical constructs, needs to consuming something in order to sustain themselves. Instead of eating food, your character exists on an alternate energy source that is more plentiful or accessible. For example, a dryad could sustain themselves with sunlight. Note that this is different than a character simply having an unusual diet (such as a vampire feeding on blood). This ability is for those cases when the alternate energy source is significantly easier to access.
  • Regeneration: Your character may heal injuries unusually quickly by taking time to eat and rest.
  • Limited Shapeshifiting: Your character can shapeshift into a single form.
  • Natural Armor: Your character has armor built into their body. You still need defensive training in order to use your armor to its best advantage, but it is always on you and does not interfere with sleep.
  • Wings: Your character can fly. Note that the ability to fly is separate from being skilled at flying; only those with the Flying skill are good at flying in challenging circumstances.
  • Additional Limbs: Your character has more than four limbs.
    • If your character has additional arms or other limbs that are capable of grasping (such as elephant trunks, prehensile tails, and tentacles), then you can hold and manipulate additional objects with those limbs. For example, a character with four arms could hold a shield and shoot a bow at the same time.
    • If the limbs are additional legs, then you can move more quickly (including walking, running, and climbing). In addition, you are better at keeping your footing and are harder to trip than characters with fewer legs (if you fail to defend yourself against a trip attempt, the consequences will be milder).
  • Built-in Tool: Your character can use part of their body as tool for one or more skills (see the “Skills List”). Choose one of these three options for the benefit your built-in tool grants:
    • Option #1: Your tool can be used for two skills that require tools to use. Choose those two skills. You never need to carry tools for those skills because your built-in tools are always with you. For example, retractable claws are tools that can be used for Melee Combat and for Climbing. Another example is camouflaging skin which can be used for Stealth and Performance.
    • Option #2: Your tool can be used for one skill that requires tools to use and it grants a special bonus. Possibilities for this bonus include granting an additional benefit on successful rolls (including partial successes), being able to use your tool in unusual circumstances (decide what those are), or allowing you to work unusually quickly. For example, a gecko lizard-person has climbing tools built into their hands and feet that allow them to climb on smooth surfaces that aren’t normally climbable.
    • Option #3: Your tool can be used to grant a special bonus to two skills that don’t require tools to use. Choose those two skills. Possibilities for the bonuses include granting an additional benefit on successful rolls (including partial successes), being able to use your tool in unusual circumstances (decide what those are), or allowing you to work unusually quickly. Bonuses can be different for each skill. For example, frog legs would allow a character to use Athletics to jump extra far and to swim more quickly.
    • Possible built-in tools: claws, horns, thorns, stinger, octopus skin, ink sacks, silk glands with spinnerets (produce spider webs), gecko hands and feet, frog legs, webbed hands, and a muscular tail.
  • Create your own: Work with your game master to create a unique species trait for your character. Note that species traits should be roughly half as powerful as class abilities.

 

Additional Species Traits

What if you have a concept for your character’s species that involves having more than one species trait? In many cases, there are class abilities that a character can take, such as shapeshifting, that can grant capabilities similar to species traits. For those cases where multiple species traits are important, skills or abilities can be traded for species traits. Many species traits do not require a dice roll to use, and this makes them very potent. In order to keep things balanced (ensuring that all of the characters are equally capable), for each additional species trait that a character takes, the character must give up either two skills or one class ability.

What if the trait you have in mind comes with a major drawback? At the game master’s discretion, an additional species trait can be traded for a significant drawback that it is not easy to work around. For example, a vampire could gain the ability to regenerate, but struggle to remain conscious during the day. The drawback should be as challenging to the character as the species trait is useful. Note that this is a difficult balance to get right and adjustments might need to be made as this plays out in the game.

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