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Vulnerabilities

How Vulnerabilities Work

A vulnerability is a specific disadvantage that the character has in certain situations, such as having a Poison Sensitivity, Periodic Brain Fog, or a Sunlight Reactive Body. Many vulnerabilities come from the character’s species or ancestry, but some, like Intermittent Chronic Pain, are unique to the character. In addition, certain vulnerabilities are negative traits, like a Character Flaw, or positive traits, like a Vow of Honesty, but most are simply facts of the character’s life, like a Weak Body Part. The thing that all vulnerabilities have in common is that they make life more challenging for the character. In order to balance this challenge out, each vulnerability also comes with an extra species trait.

Because vulnerabilities can be hard to keep track of, some of them involve the Injury System laid out in “The Details,” and they also require more involvement from the game master, they are optional. If you want to give your character a vulnerability, it is best to have a conversation with your game master. Both the setting and game style have a big effect on how often certain vulnerabilities will come up in gameplay, so be sure to talk about this. For example, a character with a Cold Sensitivity will face many challenges in a snow and ice adventure, while a character with a Heat Sensitivity could face none. Similarly, a game style that goes from one action scene to the next without pause will have a big effect on a character with an Easily Fatigued Body, while a game style with pauses between every action scene might have no effect on them. Ideally the character’s vulnerability will affect them sometimes, without becoming overwhelming.

Many characters with vulnerabilities can take preventative measures to protect themselves. For example, a slime-person with a Water Absorbent Body, can use an umbrella, waterproof coat, and galoshes to prevent themselves from absorbing rain. This same slime-person can wear a drysuit in order to travel under water. Similarly, a character with a Cold Sensitivity can wear thick, insulated clothing to keep themselves warm. All characters with vulnerabilities start out with any non-magical protection and recovery gear that is helpful for their vulnerability.

Another reason that game masters need to be comfortable with vulnerabilities is that some vulnerabilities only come up on failed rolls. This is because many vulnerabilities, like a Sunlight Reactive Body, can be effectively addressed by the character using proper protective gear. While the use of protective gear is great, if the vulnerability never comes up in gameplay, then it won’t feel real. This is where failures come in, because protective gear can get knocked off or damaged as a consequence of a failed roll, creating new challenges for the characters. If involving vulnerabilities in failed rolls is hard for the game master, players can help by suggesting outcomes for failed rolls that include their character’s vulnerabilities.

When a character’s vulnerability comes into play, the character won’t be able to start recovering until the situation that brought up their vulnerability is resolved. For example, if a character with a Cold Sensitivity falls into an icy lake, they can’t start recovering until they are somewhere warm and out of their wet clothing. Recovery takes time, but it is possible to speed recovery up with effective gear or the clever application of skills and abilities. For example, a character with an Easily Fatigued Body can always carry a fabric pad and blanket so that they can speed up their recovery by having a comfortable place to rest after intense physical exertion. Similarly, a character that has a Heat Sensitivity can carry extra water so that they can wrap a wet cloth around their neck and cool down faster.

Some vulnerabilities are long-term, like Intermittent Chronic Pain, while others can be grown out of, like a Character Flaw. Long-term vulnerabilities can be used to represent specific experiences of disability. Please be aware that there are many ways to represent disability, and vulnerabilities are just one option. You can find a more complete set of options in the “Custom Mechanics” section.

Which vulnerabilities a character can grow out of is left to the player and game master to decide. However, be aware that it is considered disrespectful to have a character grow out of a long-term disability. When players choose to have their character grow out of a vulnerability, steps must be taken to keep things balanced. Upon removing one vulnerability, the character must give up one ability, two skills, or one species trait. For games where the characters advance their capabilities after major plot events, a vulnerability can be given up instead of the character gaining a new ability or species trait.

 

Vulnerabilities Summary List

For easy reference, this summary lists all vulnerabilities with a one sentence summary of each.

  • Vow of Assistance: You have vowed to always help those in need.
  • Vow of Honesty: You have vowed to never lie.
  • Vow of Poverty: You have renounced excess and luxury.
  • Vow of Restitution: You have vowed to take action to make up for a past wrong you did.
  • Big Secret: There is a big secret that you are actively hiding.
  • Character Flaw: You have a flaw that makes problems for you.
  • Aversion: You have a strong dislike or fear of something that makes it hard to think when you are near it.
  • Permanent Glow: You are constantly glowing, permanently limiting your stealth.
  • Moist Skin: Your skin needs to stay moist and it dries out easily.
  • Water Absorbent Body: Any part of your body that comes into contact with water rapidly absorbs it.
  • Cold Sensitivity: Cold has a bigger effect on you than it does on most people.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Heat has a bigger effect on you than it does on most people.
  • Poison Sensitivity: The side effects of poison, such as pain, dizziness, and nausea, are more intense for you.
  • Specific Damage Vulnerability: There is a type of harm, like fire, cold, or poison, that affects you more severely than most people.
  • Dietary Restriction: Even in ordinary circumstances, getting food you can eat is a challenge.
  • Severe Allergy: You have an allergy that can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening, reaction.
  • Poisonous Skin: Your skin, scales, fur, or feathers contain a poison that can harm people you touch.
  • Location Bond: You have a magical bond to a specific location that you can only leave for short periods of time before the separation causes you harm.
  • Limited Body Part: You have a body part that lacks the strength or dexterity needed to perform physically demanding tasks.
  • Easily Fatigued Body: Immediately after engaging in intense physical activity you become fatigued.
  • Intermittent Chronic Pain: You have chronic pain that periodically flares up.
  • Periodic Brain Fog: You sometimes have brain fog, which is an experience of not being able to think clearly.
  • Intense Sleepiness: In specific circumstances you become so sleepy that it interferes with your ability to function.
  • Sensory Sensitivity: You are easily overwhelmed by sensory input.
  • Light Sensitive Eyes: Bright light hurts your eyes and makes it hard for you to see.
  • Sunlight Reactive Body: Sunlight causes serious harm any time it shines directly on you.
This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.

This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.

 

 

The Vulnerabilities

Here are the details of each of the vulnerabilities. For each vulnerability that your character takes, give them an extra species trait.

 

Vow of Assistance: You have vowed to always help those in need. Any time a person in need asks your character for help, your character must provide assistance. However, as long as the need is effectively addressed, the way your character helps is up to you. Someone is in need if there is an urgent threat to their well-being, or the well-being of someone they love. This threat doesn’t have to be violent. For example, starvation and lack of shelter are urgent threats to well-being. In addition, a threat can be mysterious or abstract, as long as it is specific and immediate enough that there is a clear action that can be taken to address it. For example, oppression isn’t a specific enough threat to require assistance, but a violent group planning a hate crime is.

 

Vow of Honesty: You have vowed to never lie. The details of this vow are up to you, but it is important that it is a personal vow—there should be nothing external forcing your character to keep it. This means that others have no guarantee that your character is living up to their vow, so belief in their word is a matter of trust.

A Vow of Honesty does not mean that your character has to say everything that they think, though it can if you want it to. Generally, it is possible for characters with a Vow of Honesty to keep a secret as long as they aren’t deceptive when they do so. For example, if a character with a Vow of Honesty participated in a jewel heist yesterday, then it is fine for them to keep that fact to themselves, as long as no one brings it up. So, if someone asks that character what they did yesterday, it is okay for them to say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” However, saying, “I didn’t do anything important yesterday,” is a lie that would break their vow. Similarly, mischaracterizing yesterday as, “spending time bonding with their friends,” would be bending their vow.

Any time that your characters bends or breaks their vow, it makes them obviously uncomfortable, severely limiting any form of deception they engage in. As a result, the outcomes of any rolls made with the Deception skill are always limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

 

Vow of Poverty: You have renounced excess and luxury. The details of this vow are up to you. Decide what it is and how it impacts your character’s life. For example, your character could vow to share everything they have, limit themselves to bare essentials, or give everything they can to people in need. A Vow of Poverty doesn’t mean that your character has to live uncomfortably or neglect their basic needs, but it can if you want it to. The goal is for this vow to affect the way the character lives their life and cause some limitations, without becoming overwhelming.

 

Vow of Restitution: You have vowed to take action to make up for a past wrong you did. Decide what this past wrong is and who was harmed by it. Next, work with the game master to figure out how your character is making restitution for this past wrong. Your character’s acts of restitution should affect the way they live their life and cause challenges for them. For example, restitution could include doing a series of side quests for the people they wronged. Keep in mind that restitution must center the needs and wishes of the people who were harmed.

 

Big Secret: There is a big secret that you are actively hiding. Decide what this secret is and what negative consequences will happen if it is revealed. These consequences need to be significant enough that there is a strong reason for the character to keep their secret, but also flexible enough that a small number of people learning the secret will make things more complicated, rather than ruining everything for the character.

Periodically, things will happen that risk giving the secret away to those who are observing the character. When a player character observes something that risks giving the secret away, the player rolls whichever knowledge skill is most appropriate to the secret. The result determines how much the player character can deduce from their observation. Similarly, each time a non-player character observes something that risks giving the secret away, roll a six-sided die. If the result is a five or a six, that non-player character figures something out.

There also needs to be a reason for this secret to come up in the game so there is a risk it will be revealed. The best way to do this depends on what the secret is, so there are three options: weave the secret into the plot, create a connected trait for the character to hide, or connect the secret to something the character is good at.

Weave the Secret into the Plot: The game master can do this by connecting the secret to an important part of the adventure plot. The goal here is for some plot events to create a risk that the secret will be revealed. This creates situations where character needs to actively do things to keep their secret hidden.

A good way to do this is to involve non-player characters connected to the player character’s secret in the main plot. For example, if a player character was secretly a pirate in the past, their former pirate shipmates could now be important villains. As a result, the player character will have to work hard to keep these villains from recognizing them. Similarly, if a player character owes a secret debt to a powerful fae being, that being’s interests could be woven into the main plot so that they demand several small, inconvenient favors from the player character.

Create a Connected Trait for the Character to Hide: Here, in order for the character to keep their secret, they need to hide something else about themselves. This connected trait could be directly linked to their secret, or just something distinctive that makes it easier for others to identify them. Either way, there needs to be some challenge involved in keeping this trait hidden. In addition, any time that the character fails a roll, one of the possible consequences is that their connected trait is briefly revealed, causing suspicion.

For example, a character that is secretly in love with an important person could have behaviors that risk giving them away, such as blushing whenever that important person says something insightful. A failed social roll while the love-struck character is with that important person could mean that someone else has noticed the character’s hidden feelings. Likewise, if the player character is a famous person who has gone into hiding for their safety, there could be a distinguishing mark on their right cheek that they need to keep hidden. In this case, a failed roll could mean that the makeup which normally hides this mark has gotten rubbed off, revealing it to an onlooker.

Connect the Secret to Something the Character Is Good At: The character’s secret can be connected to one of their abilities, one of their species traits, or two of their trained skills. Any time that the character uses this ability, this species trait, or these two skills in front of someone who doesn’t know their secret, there is a chance that the secret will be revealed.

For example, a character’s secret identity as a spy could be connected to a distinctive ability, like Specialized Weapon. Then, every time that the character uses their Specialized Weapon in front of others, they risk their identity being discovered. Similarly, the sinister magical entity that secretly grants the character magic could also grant them the species trait Incorporeal Form. The catch is that the form they take when incorporeal is distinctive and looks a lot like the sinister magical entity. Consequently, anyone that sees the character transform into their Incorporeal Form or back has an opportunity to learn about this connection. Likewise, a character that is secretly the mysterious cat burglar that the guards are looking for can’t use their Climbing or Stealth skills in front of others without risking suspicion.

 

Character Flaw: You have a flaw that makes problems for you. Choose a flaw and then check that all participants are comfortable with it. Please be sensitive to the fact that certain flaws might bring up bad memories for people. In situations where a flaw might interfere with someone’s ability to participate or enjoy the game, it is important to choose a different flaw.

Next decide how the character’s flaw creates problems for them. Then, based on this, decide which skill is most impacted by the flaw. Any time you roll the impacted skill and get a failure or partial success, your character’s flaw creates additional challenges for them. This could mean that the scale of the challenge that arises out of this roll is bigger than it otherwise would have been. It could also mean that something additional has happened that creates a second challenge for the character. This bigger or second challenge involves their flaw in some way.

For example, if an arrogant character is trying to make a deal with a merchant and fails their Diplomacy roll, not only does the deal fall through, but the character’s arrogance creates the second challenge that the merchant is offended and refuses to talk to them again. If needed, players can collaborate with the game master to determine how their characters’ flaws are involved in the outcome.

The following list has examples of character flaws, with several options for specific skills that each flaw could impact. If you use one of the flaws from this list, choose one skill that it most impacts. Note that other flaws are possible and, depending on the character, a flaw could impact other skills that aren’t on this list.

  • Arrogant: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, or Insight.
  • Awkward: Impacts Diplomacy, Deception, Intimidation, or Performance.
  • Blunt: Impacts Diplomacy, Deception, or Performance.
  • Careless: Impacts Arcana, Culture, Technology, Communicating with Animals, Deception, Performance, or Survival.
  • Distracted: Impacts Intimidation, Performance, Insight, Perception, or Survival.
  • Dour: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, or Performance.
  • Impatient: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, Insight, Perception, or Survival.
  • Indecisive: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Intimidation, Deception, or Performance.
  • Inexperienced: Impacts Knowledge Skills (Arcana, Culture, Nature, and Technology) or Awareness Skills (Insight, Perception, and Survival).
  • Meek: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Intimidation, Performance, or any Body Skill that you find daunting.
  • Nosy: Impacts Diplomacy, Deception, or Performance.
  • Naïve: Impacts Deception, Intimidation, or Insight.
  • Oblivious: Impacts Insight, Perception, or Survival.
  • Overconfident: Impacts Knowledge Skills (Arcana, Culture, Nature, and Technology), Survival, or any Body Skill that you are overconfident in.
  • Reckless: Impacts Communicating with Animals or any Body Skill that you regularly take risks with.
  • Rigid: Impacts Knowledge Skills (Arcana, Culture, Nature, and Technology) or Awareness Skills (Insight, Perception, and Survival).
  • Self-absorbed (constantly thinking and talking about yourself): Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, Insight, and Perception.
  • Selfish (focusing on getting what you want without concern for others): Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, or Insight.
  • Spiteful: Impacts Communicating with Animals, Diplomacy, Performance, or Insight.
  • Zealous: Impacts Diplomacy, Deception, Insight, or Perception.

 

Aversion: You have a strong dislike or fear of something that makes it hard to think when you are near it. Decide what object, animal, or behavior your character has aversion to. This should be something that will come up in the game, without constantly happening. Next, decide what reaction that aversion evokes in your character. For example, they could be afraid of fire, disturbed by precariously balanced objects, overwhelmed by dogs, disgusted by slurping noises, or alarmed by people who don’t cover their coughs. Your character’s aversion is so strong that while they are near that thing, they take a one die penalty to all mental rolls.

 

Permanent Glow: You are constantly glowing, permanently limiting your stealth. The aesthetics of this glow are up to you. Regardless of how the glow looks, it makes hiding and sneaking nearly impossible. As a result, the outcomes of any rolls made with the Stealth skill are always limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

 

Moist Skin: Your skin needs to stay moist and it dries out easily. Anything that dries out your character’s skin injures them. For example, if they stay close to a hot fire for a scene, their skin will dry out and they will become injured. This is based on the Injury System laid out in “The Details.” The Survival skill can be used to apply first aid to injuries. Non-magical healing takes time, but is reliable. In contrast, magical healing is fast, but unpredictable.

  • If your skin dries out for a few seconds, you are at Stage 1 and have a Moderate Injury. Until you are healed, you take a one die penalty to Dexterity Skills.
  • If your skin is dried out for a few minutes, you are at Stage 2 with a Serious Injury. Until you are healed, you take a one die penalty to all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use your body number.
  • If your skin is dried out for a few hours, you are at Stage 3 with a Critical Injury. Until healed, you take one die penalty to all of your rolls.
  • If your skin is dried out for a day or longer, you are at Stage 4 and are Unconscious. Until you receive medical treatment, you stay unconscious and are unable to take actions.

 

Water Absorbent Body: Any part of your body that comes into contact with water rapidly absorbs it. Wet body parts weigh much more than dry ones, slowing your character down and reducing their strength. Any part of their body that absorbs a large quantity of water moves at half speed. In addition, all Strength Skill rolls that significantly involve a wet body part take a one die penalty.

 

Cold Sensitivity: Cold has a bigger effect on you than it does on most people.

  • When you are in a moderately cold environment without protection, you take a one die penalty to all Dexterity Skills.
  • When you are in an extremely cold environment with partial protection, you take a one die penalty to all Dexterity Skills.
  • When you are in an extremely cold environment without protection, you take a one die penalty to all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use your body number.

 

Heat Sensitivity: Heat has a bigger effect on you than it does on most people.

  • When you are in a moderately hot environment without protection, you take a one die penalty to all Strength Skills.
  • When you are in an extremely hot environment with partial protection, you take a one die penalty to all Strength Skills.
  • When you are in an extremely hot environment without protection, you take a one die penalty to all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use your body number.

 

Poison Sensitivity: The side effects of poison, such as pain, dizziness, and nausea, are more intense for you. Each time your character is poisoned, choose which set of skills is most affected by the current poison. The six options are Knowledge Skills, Social Skills, Awareness Skills, Combat Skills, Strength Skills, and Dexterity Skills. There is a one die penalty to all of the skills in this set while your character remains poisoned.

 

Specific Damage Vulnerability: There is a type of harm, like fire, cold, or poison, that affects you more severely than most people. This vulnerability is based on the Injury System laid out in “The Details.” Choose the type of harm that your character is vulnerable to. This needs to be something that will come up in the game. Any time your character is injured by this type of harm, the result is twice as bad as it would be for someone else. This means that your character goes up two stages in the Injury System, rather than one stage. For example, if an uninjured character that is not vulnerable to fire gets burned, they go to Stage 1 of the Injury System and have a Moderate Injury. However, if an uninjured character that is vulnerable to fire gets burned, they go to Stage 2 of the Injury System and get a Serious Injury.

 

Dietary Restriction: Even in ordinary circumstances, getting food you can eat is a challenge. This could be due to a cultural avoidance of certain types of food, a physical intolerance to a popular ingredient, or a need for a specific food that is hard to get. Regardless of the cause, it takes more time and effort to for your character to get food than it does for the average person. This means that challenges involving getting or making food will periodically come up in the game.

 

Severe Allergy: You have an allergy that can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening, reaction. Decide what this allergy is and what type of contact triggers it. For example, it could be an allergy to a specific food, like tree nuts, that is triggered by ingesting a trace amount of that food. Or it could be an allergy to stinging insects, like bees, that is triggered by being stung. Another example is an allergy to a material, like silver, that is triggered by physical contact. It is important for this allergy to be something that will come up in the game so that the character periodically needs to take actions to avoid or treat it.

If the character’s allergy is triggered, they will quickly progress through the Injury System laid out in “The Details.” The character has time to take one action before they progress to each stage. For example, the character can take one action before they are at Stage 1 with a Moderate Injury. Then the character has time for a second action before they are at Stage 2 with a Serious Injury, and so on.

However, just as people in the real-world can use an epinephrine autoinjector to stop the progression of allergic response and reverse the symptoms, characters in Magic Goes Awry can use a Jolt Root to stop and reverse serious allergic reactions. Jolt Roots are the woody roots of a magical plant that has been bred to induce a strong adrenaline surge in the body of anyone who holds them. This makes them a life-saving medical treatment, but also makes them dangerous to touch under normal circumstances. So Jolt Roots are stored in sealed, magically insulated tubes that can be quickly opened in an emergency.

Every character with a Severe Allergy has a Jolt Root that they carry with them. To use a Jolt Root, all the character has to do is open the tube and hold the root until their symptoms are gone, then put the root back in the tube. No roll is needed. Jolt Roots can be used multiple times, so if the symptoms return, the root can be used again.

 

Poisonous Skin: Your skin, scales, fur, or feathers contain a poison that can harm people you touch. This has benefits, but it also causes problems. Decide what the standard effect of this poison is. The effect should in some way limit the capabilities of any person or animal affected by it, without being completely incapacitating. For example, the effect could be chemical burns, swelling, muscle spasms, paralysis of the contacted body part, debilitating nausea, intense pain, or sedation.

Next, decide what happens when the poison is mild enough to not significantly reduce the capabilities of any person or animal affected by it. Usually, this is a milder version of the standard effect. For example, if the standard effect is paralysis of the contacted body part, the mild effect could be tingling or numbness.

Now decide whether there are signs that indicate to others that the character’s skin is poisonous, such as colorful markings or a distinctive smell. If so, most people and animals will do their best to avoid physical contact. This will reduce accidents, but it may also limit some of the benefits that come with having Poisonous Skin.

Any time the character’s skin touches a person or animal, whether intentionally or not, roll a six-sided die to determine how the poison affects them.

  • 6: The poison has an unexpected or unusually severe effect. This effect will seriously limit the capabilities of the poisoned being, possibly incapacitating them.
  • 4-5: The poison has its standard effect, which in some way limits the capabilities of the poisoned being without incapacitating them.
  • 2-3: The poison has its mild effect. It is uncomfortable for the poisoned being, but their capabilities are not significantly affected.
  • 1: The poison has no effect.

Poisonous Skin is a useful defense—if a hostile person or animal touches the character’s skin, they risk becoming poisoned. This poison can also be used offensively with the Unarmed Fighting skill, or covertly with the Stealth skill. However, having Poisonous Skin also causes problems. Accidents are possible, especially in crowded areas, and they can lead to serious social consequences. While wearing covering clothing prevents accidents, clothing can slip or be torn as the result of a failed roll or partial success. In addition, covering up Poisonous Skin makes its benefits harder to access.

To represent this complexity, Poisonous Skin is listed as both a Species Trait and Vulnerability. Characters that will primarily receive the benefits of Poisonous Skin, without many of the limitations, should take it only as a Species Trait. Characters that will primarily experience it as a limitation should take Poisonous Skin only as a Vulnerability. Meanwhile, those characters that will equally experience the benefits and limitations of Poisonous Skin, should take it as both a Species Trait and a Vulnerability.

 

Location Bond: You have a magical bond to a specific location that you can only leave for short periods of time before the separation causes you harm. With the game master’s help, decide how long your character can be away before they need to return to their bonded location (their limit), and how long they need to be in their bonded location before they can leave again. The goal is for this Location Bond to affect the character and the choices they make, without being a constant problem. For example, in an adventure where the characters take two-week trips, a bond that requires the character to return every two weeks would add urgency to end of each trip without disrupting the majority of the trip.

Any time the character is away from their bonded location longer than their limit, they experience magical harm, progressing through the Injury System laid out in “The Details.” For the first week past their limit, the character is in Stage 1 of the Injury System with a Moderate Injury. The second week, they are in Stage 2 with a Serious Injury, and so on. If needed, adjust the time frame of this progression to be faster or slower, so that it is a better match for the game. When the character returns to the bonded location, this harm goes away.

Here are some additional options to consider.

  • The character can use a special object from their bonded location to double the length of time they can be away, but this object must be protected.
  • Magical treatment or clever use of other abilities can be used temporarily reduce the harm caused by being away from the character’s bonded location.
  • The character can use a ritual to move their Location Bond to a new location, but this isn’t easy. In addition, the character must have a significant connection to the new location before this change can happen. Work with the game master to figure out the details of this ritual and its requirements.

 

Limited Body Part: You have a body part that lacks the strength or dexterity needed to perform physically demanding tasks. Choose what body part this is. Alternatively, choose a physical capacity, like balance or coordination. Next decide how this limitation impacts your character’s daily life and what skill it most affects. The outcomes of dice rolls with this skill are limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

 

Easily Fatigued Body: Immediately after engaging in intense physical activity you become fatigued. Until the character has a chance to rest, the outcomes of all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use their body number are limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

 

Intermittent Chronic Pain: You have chronic pain that periodically flares up. Decide what the source of the chronic pain is and what triggers it. For example, the source could be a past injury that didn’t heal properly, the toll of years of physical labor, a traumatic injury, an unusual curvature of the spine, nerve damage, arthritis, migraines, a food intolerance, or another medical condition. Examples of triggers are major changes in the weather, intense physical activity, overexertion if a specific body part, acute stress, and specific foods. After this trigger happens, the character’s chronic pain flares up and the outcomes of all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use their body number are limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes. Make sure this trigger is clear, so that you know when your character has a pain flare up.

 

Periodic Brain Fog: You sometimes have brain fog, which is an experience of not being able to think clearly. Choose a trigger, such as sleep deprivation, acute stress, eating a specific food, dehydration, or a medication. Be sure to clearly define this trigger, so that you know when your character has brain fog. Any time this trigger happens, the character has brain fog and the outcomes of all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use their mind number are limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

Next, decide how long the brain fog usually lasts. To keep things balanced, the more frequently your character has brain fog, the shorter it should last. This goal is for the character’s brain fog to come up in the game and be significant, without overwhelming the character’s ability to function.

 

Intense Sleepiness: In specific circumstances you become so sleepy that it interferes with your ability to function. Choose the cause of your character’s sleepiness. This cause should be something that will come up in the game, without being a constant problem. For example, your character could be nocturnal, strongly diurnal, have a medication that makes them sleepy right after they take it, or struggle to function any time they are woken from sleep.

Based on this cause, decide when your character gets moderately sleepy and when they get seriously sleepy. For example, a nocturnal character may become moderately sleepy if they are awake two hours after dawn and become seriously sleepy if they are awake in the middle of the day.

Tranquilizing magic, sedating substances, and magic that has gone awry can cause a character that is moderately sleepy to progress to being seriously sleepy, and a character that is seriously sleepy to progress to being extremely sleepy. Your character won’t become extremely sleepy under normal circumstances.

  • Moderately Sleepy: You are tired enough that it makes some things hard to do. Choose whether Knowledge Skills, Social Skills, Awareness Skills, Combat Skills, Strength Skills, or Dexterity Skills are most affected by being moderately sleepy. The outcomes of all rolls with this set of skills are limited to a partial success. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.
  • Seriously Sleepy: You are so sleepy that it is hard to do a lot of things. Decide whether this sleepiness most affects your character’s body or mind. The outcomes of all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use that capacity are limited to a partial success.
  • Extremely Sleepy: You are struggling to remain conscious. This unusual state is due to magic, powerful drugs, extreme sleep deprivation, or a combination of things that are simultaneously affecting you. The outcomes of all rolls are limited to a partial success.

 

Sensory Sensitivity: You are easily overwhelmed by sensory input. Decide on two different situations that are especially difficult sensory experiences. For example, these could be situations where the character is in an unpredictable and chaotic environment, like a marketplace, and situations where the character experiences one or more particularly intense sensory stimuli, like glaring lights or loud noises. Any time that the character is in one of these two difficult situations for an extended period of time, they become overwhelmed. When both difficult situations happen simultaneously, the character immediately becomes overwhelmed. While overwhelmed, the character has a one die penalty to all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use their mind number.

It is possible for a character with a Sensory Sensitivity to over time become accustomed to a specific, familiar environment that would otherwise be a difficult sensory situation. When this happens, the character no longer gets overwhelmed by that specific environment, even though it still affects them in some ways. For example, a character that is used to their noisy, chaotic home won’t become overwhelmed by it, but might need to cultivate a calm personal space within that environment.

 

Light Sensitive Eyes: Bright light hurts your eyes and makes it hard for you to see. Whenever your character is in bright light, the results of Insight, Perception, and Survival rolls for visual tasks is limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

The light of the midday sun is bright light. Also, reflective surfaces, like the ocean or snow, increase overall brightness, lengthening the bright part of the day. In addition, large fires or magic can also create bright light.

 

Sunlight Reactive Body: Sunlight causes serious harm any time it shines directly on you. The pain this causes limits your character’s mental capabilities. Any time your character’s bare skin is in direct sunlight, the outcomes of all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use their mind number are limited to partial successes. This means that you roll the usual number of dice, but full successes and outstanding successes are treated like partial successes.

Shade or a layer of fabric is enough to protect your character from sunlight. Once your character is protected, the mental penalty caused by the pain goes away and they are left with an injury. This is based on the Injury System laid out in “The Details.” The Survival Skill can be used to apply first aid to injuries. Non-magical healing takes time, but is reliable. In contrast, magical healing is fast, but unpredictable.

  • If you were only exposed to sunlight for a few seconds before your skin was protected again, you are not injured. Instead, you have a superficial burn that hurts, but does not significantly affect you.
  • If you were exposed to sunlight for a few minutes, you are at Stage 1 and have a Moderate Injury. Until you are healed, you take a one die penalty to all Dexterity Skills.
  • If you were in direct sunlight for an hour, you are at Stage 2 with a Serious Injury. Until you are healed, you take a one die penalty to all skill, ability, and defense rolls that use your body number.
  • If you were in direct sunlight for longer than an hour, but less than a day, you are at Stage 3 with a Critical Injury. Until healed, you take one die penalty to all of your rolls.
  • If you were in direct sunlight for a day or longer, you are at Stage 4 and are Unconscious. Until you receive medical treatment, you stay unconscious and are unable to take actions.

 

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