Saturday, April 29, 2017

Can't Get Enough Traits in Pathfinder? Try Taking a Drawback!

One of the unique features of Pathfinder as an RPG is the idea of background traits. While every player is supposed to create a unique character with a unique story, background traits offer you some tasty bonuses to help bridge the gap between your story and mechanics. Say, for example, your character was a child soldier, and is always poised on the verge of a fight. Giving them the Reactionary background trait grants them a +2 trait bonus to their initiative. If your character was raised in part by a magical creature, who helped nurture their magical skills, then Magical Knack gives them a +2 bonus on their caster level for a single class, up to their character level (an ideal choice for multiclass spell casters).

Choose wisely. Bonuses you don't use are bonuses you may as well not have.
There are hundreds of these traits to choose from, and there are only a few rules guiding your choice. First and foremost, unless expressly stated, you cannot stack trait bonuses. So you can't take Outcast and Reactionary in order to get a +4 initiative bonus... it's one or the other, and be happy with your +2. Additionally, you cannot have more than one trait of a single type. Which means that even if you're torn about which two Magic traits to give your new wizard, you have to make up your mind because you only get one. Ditto your barbarian when it comes to Combat traits. Lastly, if you're playing an adventure path, it's typically required for your character to take one of the traits specifically geared for that campaign, which are called Campaign traits.

That sometimes sucks. Especially if none of the story tie-ins or bonuses those Campaign traits offer fit with your character concept. But rules are rules, as I so often say.

That's why I thought I'd let folks know there is a way to get three background traits. If you're willing to take on a drawback, that is.

Trait Drawbacks Might Give You An Advantage

Drawbacks, many of which come from the book Quests and Campaigns, are essentially traits in reverse. they lay out something negative about your character, and give you a drawback in a certain situation. Do you have powerful family members who might call on you to perform onerous duties while you're trying to adventure? Are you wanted by the law, and thus your very face warrants negatives on Diplomacy checks with folks who recognize you? Does your sense of pride make it impossible for you to deal socially with those who have wronged or insulted you?

All of those things fall under drawbacks. Check out the handy list!

There are even drawbacks for being an insufferable prick!
Of course, for every drawback, there has to be an advantage. Only the mad will purposefully hamstring their character in one situation without getting something for it. So what do you get in exchange for a drawback? Well, you get to pick a third background trait.

This third trait, though, has to follow all the rules that come with traits. So you can't double dip in the same category, and you can't stack bonuses. But if you find yourself in a situation where you had two traits you really wanted, but now you have to take a campaign trait for this adventure path, well, you have the option of having all three. In exchange for a minor negative, that is.

That's all for this week's Crunch installment. Short and sweet, but it's relevant to a character I'm putting together at present, so I figured I'd share in case some folks hadn't heard of these rules. If you want to make sure you don't miss out on any of my posts, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you want to help support me so I can keep this blog going, please head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. All it takes is a pledge of $1 a month to earn yourself some sweet swag, and my everlasting gratitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment