True Chracter Flaws

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Jynnx
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True Chracter Flaws

Postby Jynnx » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:57 am

I was always a big fan of the character flaw subsystem that was introduced back in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, from Unearthed Arcana. While I've seen more than one attempt by third party publishers to include them in with the rules for Pathfinder, I've never really been completely satisfied with those attempts. Either they basically copy/pasted the old rules, which as much as I loved them I admit could be easily min/maxed, or they started twisting around the restrictions or nerfing the benefits to the point where they weren't really worth what it was costing you.

So, of course, I decided to fix that. Below are my rules for character flaws, which are pretty much campaign neutral - they can be applied to any Pathfinder campaign, ponies or not.

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No one is perfect. Even the great and heroic are bound by this truth; great Achilles was lain low by the weaknesses of his heel, and for a time even Hercules had but a mortal body. Sometimes, the tragedy and vulnerability of a flaw can even lead to an entirely new dimension o a character's personality.

A flaw represents some exceptional weakness or shortcoming on part of a character. It's like the negative reflection of a feat. Each flaw imposes some sort of penalty upon the character, from impeding his statistics to limiting her actions in an encounter, to imposing a new limitation or vulnerability to a class feature. Yet just as a man blinded might find that his hearing grows uncannily acute, so too does a flawed character become stronger in some other fashion for her weakness.

Each flaw has three levels of severity - minor, intermediate, and major - and when a flaw is first selected for a character, it must be expressed in one of these three levels. A minor flaw grants the character one additional skill point at 1st level, plus an additional skill point every two levels thereafter; an intermediate flaw grants the character one additional hit point at 1st level, plus an additional hit point every two levels thereafter; a major flaw grants the character a bonus feat - which can be any feat he or she qualifies for. Unlike the penalties of a flaw, you do not gain the combined benefits of severity. For example, a character with intermediate blindness does not gain additional hit points and skill points, that character only gains additional hit points for having an intermediate flaw.

Generally speaking, a character can select flaws only at 1st level. Technically speaking, there is no actual limit to the number of flaws a character might possess. It is not recommended that any character have more than two or three, however, as too many flaws easily outweigh their benefits and leave a character unable to function in most situations. At the GM's discretion, events of a campaign may leave a character eligible for a new flaw. A character blinded by way of torture may very well be allowed to take on the appropriate flaw. GM's should note that flaws are always optional, even if you decided to include this mechanic in your campaign, and under no circumstance should a character ever be forced to adopt a flaw without the player's consent.

During the course of a campaign, characters may take the time to apply their experiences to overcome these challenges. Effectively, the character pays a cost in experience points, and eliminates a flaw. A minor flaw can be eliminated at the cost of 25,000 XP, intermediate flaws at a cost of 50,000 XP, and major flaws at a cost of 100,000 XP. These costs should be doubled in a campaign using the Medium XP track (see Character Advancement, in the Core Rulebook), or multiplied by five in a campaign using the Slow track. A player may allocate XP in this way at any point, and doesn't need to pay all of the cost at once - he or she may pay portions of the cost over time, but the character remains fully affected by a flaw until the entire cost has been paid. This process takes no additional time on part of a character, and is instead assumed to be something that the character is regularly pursuing during his or her "down time." A flaw that has been "paid for" no longer afflicts a character, but the character retains any bonus that flaw provided.

DEAFENED
The character has trouble hearing.
Minor: The character suffers a -4 penalty on Sense Motive and Perception checks based on sound. Due to this minor deafness, the character suffers a 5% arcane spell failure chance, which stacks with an arcane spell failure chance from other sources. This same chance to fail also applies if attempting to use a bardic performance with an audible component.
Intermediate: As minor, except that the character must also roll twice when making Sense Motive and Perception checks based on sound and always takes the worst result. Due to this intermediate deafness, the character's chance to fail when casting a spell or using a bardic performance increases to 10%.
Major: The character is fully deaf, as described under the deaf condition in the Core Rulebook. Since this deafness results from a flaw, it cannot be "overcome with time," except by paying the requisite XP cost to eliminate the flaw. A fully deaf character increases the chance to fail when casting a spell or using a bardic performance to 20%.

FRAIL
The character's body is weak and bruises, bleeds, and fails easily.
Minor: The character always takes maximum damage from environmental hazards. See Environmental Rules, in chapter 13 of the Core Rulebook for more details on environmental hazards and the damage they inflict.
Intermediate: As minor. Additionally, the character takes extra damage when attacked. If dealt nonlethal damage, this extra damage is equal to the character's total level or HD; if dealt lethal damage, it is equal only to half the character's total level or HD. This additional damage is applied after all other damage has been calculated and is never multiplied or increased by any other means, including critical hits. It applies only when the character takes hit point damage.
Major: As intermediate, but the character suffers a -10 penalty on saving throws made to resist the effects of death effects. If the optional massive damage rules are in effect, this penalty also applies on saving throws to resist death from massive damage.

BLINDED
The character's vision is sub-par.
Minor: The suffers a -4 penalty on Appraise and Perception checks based on sight. Due to this minor blindness, the character suffers a 5% chance when attempting to use a bardic performance with a visual component.
Intermediate: As minor, but the character must also roll twice when making Appraise and Perception checks based on sight and always takes the worst result. Additionally, the character treats enemies benefiting from either concealment or cover as though they had total cover or total concealment. Due to this intermediate blindness, the character's chance to fail with bardic performance increases to 10%.
Major: The character is fully blind, as described under the blind condition in the Core Rulebook. Since this blindness results from a flaw, it cannot be "overcome with time," except by paying the requisite XP cost to eliminate the flaw. A fully blind character increases the chance to fail when using bardic performance to 20%.

NON-VIOLENT
For whatever reason, the character lacks martial skill.
Minor: The character suffers a -1 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks.
Intermediate: As minor, but the character's penalty to attack rolls and CMB checks increases to -3. In addition, when the character suffers a critical failure on an attack roll, the minimum possible damage that attack could inflict is instead dealt to him- or herself.
Major: As intermediate, but the character's penalty to attack rolls and CMB checks increases to -5. In addition, the critical threat range of any weapon the character wields is reduced by one point; apply this to the base critical threat range of the weapon, before any other bonuses or penalties, such as the effects of the keen property or the Improved Critical feat. If this would reduce the threat range of a weapon to "less than 20," then the character cannot score critical hits with that weapon even when other bonuses to threat range or effects that allow for automatic critical hits would normally apply.

PATHETIC
The character is pitiful and weak, noticeably deficient in some way.
Minor: Choose one ability score, and reduce it by two points.
Intermediate: As minor, but the character loses two points from a second ability score as well. In addition, the character heals ability damage at a reduced rate. Two days worth of rest restore one point of ability damage from each affected score; one night of complete bed rest (8 hours) restores one point from each affected score.
Major: As intermediate, but the character loses another two points from on of the ability scores chosen, damage to the character's ability scores always has the risk of becoming permanent. Whenever the character is subject to an effect or attack that deals ability damage, the character has a percentage chance that one point of this damage instead becomes permanent ability drain. If more than one ability score is targeted by a single effect or attack, check separately for each score. The chance of this loss is equal to the CR of the attacking creature or trap; in all other circumstances, the chance is a flat 10%.

SICKLY
The character lacks the reflexes, willpower, or bodily fortitude of others.
Minor: The character suffers a -2 penalty on one saving throw of the player's choice, Fortitude, Reflex, or Will, chosen when this flaw is accepted.
Intermediate: As minor, but the penalty to the character's saving throw increases to -4. Additionally, the character does not automatically succeed on a saving throw when he or she rolls a natural 20; the character still fails on automatic 1's.
Major: As intermediate, but the penalty to the character's saving throw increases to -6. Additionally, the character must roll twice whenever making that type of saving throw, and always uses the worst result.
Special: A character may possess the Sickly flaw up to three separate times, selecting a different type of saving throw each time.

SLOW
The character is slow to react and lumbers along at minimum speeds.
Minor: The character suffers a -4 penalty to all initiative checks.
Intermediate: As minor, but the character's base speed is also reduced by 10 feet. Apply this penalty directly to the character's speed due to race, before applying any other bonuses or penalties, such as those from the Fast Movement feature or for wearing heavier armors.
Major: As intermediate, bu the character additionally cannot take two move actions on one turn, and can only use a single swift or immediate action every two rounds instead of per round.

VULNERABLE
The character is easily harried by foes.
Minor: The character suffers a -1 penalty to both Armor Class and to Combat Maneuver Defense.
Intermediate: As minor, but the penalty to AC and CMD increases to -3. In addition, the character is considered to be flanked whenever threatened by more than one enemy, regardless of the actual position of those enemies; as a result, each enemy gains the full benefits of flanking.
Major: As intermediate, but the penalty to AC and CMD increases to -5. Additionally, whenever an enemy declares an attack against the character, that enemy may choose to accept a -5 penalty on their attack roll. If this attack results in a confirm critical hit, the attack deals maximum damage. This choice must be made before the enemy makes an attack roll, however.
Last edited by Jynnx on Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
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Canada714
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Re: True Chracter Flaws

Postby Canada714 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:52 am

I love it and I do miss the flaw system but why would a flaw give you Hit Points? Skill points and feats make more sense and I can't say why but getting hit points is an odd bonus
...and I said "OATMEAL? ARE YOU CRAZY?!"...oh, sorry
"I also enjoy long walks on the beach beneath the pale blue light of elder gods." -Selerik

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Jynnx
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Re: True Chracter Flaws

Postby Jynnx » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:59 am

Canada714 wrote:I love it and I do miss the flaw system but why would a flaw give you Hit Points? Skill points and feats make more sense and I can't say why but getting hit points is an odd bonus


I can't say it is any different than getting skill ranks or a feat. you become deficient, so you get a bonus, just like with minor or major flaws. I personally believe that anything else is putting it under a false dichotomy that doesn't actually exist in the game; there are class features, general rules, and even feats all of which already make gaining hit points a precedent. Hit points are more useful than skill ranks, but less useful than a feat, so they get to be the middle bonus.
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
And grant me innocent dreams.
Rouse me during the first summer rain,
When all the world's at peace, it seems.

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Verequus
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Re: True Chracter Flaws

Postby Verequus » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:28 am

I don't think that the flat XP costs are a good idea. For once, the benefits scale with level. So at some point (admittedly at high levels) the costs are inconsequential, yet the benefits are big. Secondly, it is basically impossible to remove a flaw at low level. A 1st level character would have to wait until his party has achieved 7th level without him advancing at all. It doesn't fit to be forced to wait until 9th or 10th level before you can actually start removing flaws.

On the other hoof, I wouldn't know what is a fair cost. Eclipse: The Codex Persona supports also flaws, but those provide only a flat benefit. And it is easier to buy off the flaws, as you have to pay them in CP. Both the cost as well the CPs you receive for every level remain the same. But maybe it helps to see, what are considered fair prices for HPs and SPs. :)

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Jynnx
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Re: True Chracter Flaws

Postby Jynnx » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:51 pm

Verequus wrote:I don't think that the flat XP costs are a good idea. For once, the benefits scale with level. So at some point (admittedly at high levels) the costs are inconsequential, yet the benefits are big. Secondly, it is basically impossible to remove a flaw at low level. A 1st level character would have to wait until his party has achieved 7th level without him advancing at all. It doesn't fit to be forced to wait until 9th or 10th level before you can actually start removing flaws.

On the other hoof, I wouldn't know what is a fair cost. Eclipse: The Codex Persona supports also flaws, but those provide only a flat benefit. And it is easier to buy off the flaws, as you have to pay them in CP. Both the cost as well the CPs you receive for every level remain the same. But maybe it helps to see, what are considered fair prices for HPs and SPs. :)


Removing flaws at all is kind of a less-than-optimal choice for the system. The only reason rules for doing so are included is to prevent a, "Oh, crap, this is gimping my character far more than I thought it would, but I can't do anything about it so we'll need to heavy-hand waive it away" situation from occurring. Basically only as a means to an end - and the end is uninterrupted narrative.

In my eyes, taking a flaw is no different than choosing an alignment for your character - you, the player, are declaring not only to your GM but to the group at large that "This is the kind of character I intend to play, and this is how I aim to do it." That's a large commitment to your group and to your own character. If you keep that in mind, your flaw isn't a "I'll take a hit here to gain a bonus here." That's min-maxing mentality, which is fine if that's how your *group* plays as a whole, but has little room at a table of players who don't also come to the game the same way. Instead, your character's flaw is something that partly defines who he or she is. Achilles in a very real sense *was* the weakness in his heel - the existence of that weakness was the driving force behind the climax of his myth.

As far as how much it actually COSTS to remove a flaw, leaving it at a flat rate was an intentional design choice based on my personal tastes for the game. It wouldn't introduce any instability to the flaw system to increase it if a GM feels that the cost should scale. Easiest fix would be to just multiply the cost by character level - or by CR, in the case of NPC's and monsters.

:halo:
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
And grant me innocent dreams.
Rouse me during the first summer rain,
When all the world's at peace, it seems.

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