Of Waves and Dragons
Traits are the dualistic personality factors presented in opposed pairs within every person. Traits define a person’s feelings and tendencies.
There are thirteen pairs of personality traits which are important. Other traits may exist but the following list outlines the traits that are critical to the game of Pendragon.
The total value of each trait pair must always equal 20 when the game begins and in most cases this will never change. When one trait increases the opposite decreases by the same amount. Normally, no trait may ever be higher than 19 or lower than 1. See Character Creation for the guidelines on setting characters starting Traits.
When a moral situation arises Traits are used to help guide a characters action. These are guidelines for the characters to follow and not strict rules. Characters with a high Honest Trait can still be misleading.
When the GM calls for a Trait check for a character the player must roll against their Trait score with the following results.
Critical Success: An Experience Check is normally gained, and the character acts strongly in accordance with the trait.
Success: The character acts in accordance with the trait. The player may decide precisely what action ensues within that limitation. An Experience Check should be gained only if the action is somehow significant to the story of the character.
Failure: Roll again, this time against the opposed trait. Success on the second roll means the character acts in accordance with that second trait. Failure indicates the player may choose freely how the character will act. No Experience Check is given.
Fumble: Roll again, this time against the opposed trait. Success on the second roll means the character acts in accordance with that second trait. Failure indicates the player may choose freely how the character will act. No Experience Check is given.
Chaste / Lustful:
To be Chaste is to be monogamous, or otherwise faithful to one’s sexual mores. It does not always require virginity, so a man being faithful to his wife is exhibiting the Chaste trait. A chaste person is modest and decorous in the terms of sexual of flirtations behavior. (Note that relatively chaste characters can still make Flirting checks, but probably do so in a rather demure or “innocent” manner.) A fanatically or famous chaste person is celibate and most likely virginal.
Lustful describes sexual desire, and also implies sexual activity, often without personal commitment between the person involved. The pagan virtue of Lustful recognizes the value of this sensual art to appreciate the immanence of the Goddess. Excessive promiscuity may be called lechery, wantonness. or bawdiness.
Energetic / Lazy:
A vigorous person is Energetic. the trait includes the natural inclination to get up early, work hard, and apply oneself fully to the task at hand. energetic persons might be called vigorous, robust, or industrious.
Laziness includes all slothful activity, such as loafing and general sedentary behavior. At the furthest end of the spectrum lies complete indolence.
Forgiving / Vengeful:
To be forgiving is to be willing to take insult without injury. A forgiving character is unlikely to seek revenge for injuries intended of done to him. Extremely forgiving people are called “meek”.
Vengeful indicates a character’s propensity to seek revenge, perhaps only in petty ways, but possibly seeping and grandiose for wrongs done or imagined. this trait also includes spitefulness.
Generous / Selfish:
Generous determines the impulse or desire to share with other. It includes the largesse of the Saxon and Cymric chieftains, and also the famed Christian virtue of Charity. Extremely generous persons are called unselfish, magnanimous, and big-hearted.
Selfish is the desire to possess, keep, and further accumulate things for oneself. Greed is usually a component of selfishness. this possessiveness usually regards material property and wealth, with the character being known as a miser or hoarder, but it might apply to Glory, so that the character always wishes to keep the most glorious tasks and duties for himself. Very selfish persons are labeled both stingy and self-serving.
NOTE: In some cases, jealousy is included under the Selfish trait. Thus when someone acts jealous, he may get a check for Selfish.
Honest / Deceitful:
To be honest is to deal truthfully with others, both in matters of import or triviality, no matter what the consequences. Persons of extreme honesty are said to have integrity and to be trustworthy, scrupulous, and reliable.
A deceitful person is generally likely to distort truths, or to fabricate untruth, for his own ends (or perhaps on behalf of others) or in some cases, simply for the sake of doing so. Chronically deceitful people are called liars, frauds, and false-hearted.
Modest / Proud:
To be modest is to be quiet and reserved about one’s gifts and accomplishments, not seeking excessive attention in the recitations of on’s own deeds. A modest character is glad simply to preform deeds, rather then bask in the repeated Glory of hearing about them. Vary modest people are called humble and reserved, or perhaps even shy.
The Proud trait indicates the degree to which one gets pleasure from hearing and/or boasting of his deeds. Both Germanic and Pagan ways value Pride in a character. Excessive pride implies arrogance, and likely a boastful nature.
Just / Arbitrary:
A Just character is capable of telling what is right and wrong (within the mores of his upbringing and his personal beliefs), and is desirous of passing due judgment based on that information. A very just person is called fair and impartial.
Arbitrary means that the character has no concern for what is right or wrong, and uses other information and bases for his decision making. Very arbitrary people are labeled unjust, unfair, wrongful, and probably biased and partial.
Merciful / Cruel:
Mercy indicates a tendency to extend sympathy, pity, and aid to others. This includes sparing an enemy, giving money to the poor, helping the weak, and any other act that is not expected of one’s rank and station. A very merciful person is called compassionate.
Cruel indicates a disregard for the feelings and needs of others, or a lack of sympathy. high values of Cruel indicates that the character actually enjoys the discomforts and troubles of others.
Pious / Worldly:
A Pious character often dwells on spiritual matters, and is aware of them and their implications in the material world. (This is not the same as worship, which is an action rather then a belief.) A pious person is a spiritual person. An extremely pious person is devout or zealous, perhaps even saintly.
Wordily indicates a disregard or disbelief in the spiritual side of life. Extreme values might indicate blasphemy and sacrilege. Alternatively, it might just indicate profligacy, taking great pleasure in temporal things such as fine clothes, comfortable furnishing, good music and poetry, and the best company.
NOTE: Don’t confuse Worldly with Indulgent; the two often go hand-in-hand, but they are not the same.
Prudent / Reckless:
The Prudent character gives thought to what he does before he acts. Such a character is called cautious, and excessively prudent people are called shrewd, circumspect, or decreeing as they are sometimes slow to act.
The Reckless character acts before he thinks things through, without concern for anything but the immediate consequences. Almost any time someone gets a check for acting according to a Passion, they will have acted rashly. An extreme reckless character is called careless, or a hothead.
Temperate / Indulgent:
Temperate means that a character takes only what he needs of food, drink, and other temporal needs. he is frugal and abstains from excess. Extreme temperance indicates asceticism, perhaps even self-mortification.
An Indulgent character is gourmand, he takes pleasure in food and drink, both in quality and quantity. Extremes of this indicates gluttony and drunkenness.
Trusting / Suspicious:
One who is trusting tends to believe information without any inclination to suspect its falsity. An excessively trusting person is gullible and credulous, perhaps even a dupe.
Suspicious indicates that a person is unlikely to believe what he hears unless proof is offered. an extremely suspicious person is called a skeptic or a doubter. A naturally suspicious person might still be extremely pious.
NOTE: In some cases, jealousy is included under the Suspicious trait. Thus when someone acts jealous, he might get a check for Suspicious.
Valorous / Cowardly:
To be valorous means to be brave and courageous, willing to place oneself in danger for the sake of victory, friends, or the simple love of battle. Normal knights are valorous, and thus might be referred to as doughty, stalwart, or valiant. Extremely heroic individuals are often called fearless or intrepid. Valor may be exhibited no only in combat, but whenever risk to one’s health or wellbeing are involved.
Cowardly means to be fearful or pain and of harm to one’s self. Someone who is extremely faint-hearted is labeled as a poltroon, dastard, craven, caitiff, or recreant.