Pros and Cons

This is a rough work-in-progress rather than a finished article. I've been thinking for a while about a flaws and merits scheme for my group to add a bit of zest to the characters. Anyone should feel free to pitch in or contribute to the discussion - or even add to the lists. The hope is that this can be a collaborative effort for all to use. If it turns into a flop or a flame war, then I've learned my lesson too...

If you want to change an entry that someone else has made please have the courtesy to do this via the discussion below or a message to the author.

General Guidelines:

At character generation, each player can select up to +3 and -3 pros and cons, provided that they equal out at 0. They should reflect the life of the character up to the point where they become PCs, either in terms of natural abilities or learned skills.

The pros and cons should be balanced, realistic or plausible and shouldn't be game-breakers. Some of the bonuses and penalties are significant (affecting rolls by up to 50%) in an attempt to reflect the true natural abilities that individuals in real life and literature appear to have. The idea is to provide genuine advantages and disadvantages that contribute to the narrative of the game.

The GM should ultimately decide whether a character can legitimately choose any of the listed effects. Characters playing in the Nomad Wastes shouldn't be allowed to take Seasickness as a con for example, as it will probably almost never affect the player.

Some Pros and Cons may only available in some areas, to some classes and/or with certain attribute limitations. A case in point is the longbow skill, which I have designated as requiring Strength 12 and background: brought up in Ellesland, non-noble background.


+1 Pros

Linguist PC starts with two languages. Learning further languages is 50% easier. Mike Page
Traveller PC grew up on the road (e.g. with fair people or a travelling market) and has a good knowledge of both the geography and key personalities in the area. Mike Page
Latent Sorcerer The PC started to train as a sorcerer but discovered that they had no personal store of MP. The PC is able to use sorcerous items (scrolls, wands etc.). Mike Page
Sharp-Sighted The PC has the eyes of an eagle and can make out details from a distance. +1 Perception Mike Page
Acute Hearing The PC has very acute hearing and can identify threats nearby. +1 Perception Mike Page
Strong Willed
Add 1 to Magical Defence for mind-affecting spells Mike Page
Nature Knowledge
PC has basic herbology knowledge and can identify useful wild herbs from their temporate zone. Can use for minor healing of wounds and diseases. Mike Page
PC is hardened to winter climates and does not suffer the usual penalties under normally cold conditions. Mike Page
Sea Salt PC is a seasoned sailor and is familiar with water craft from their region Mike Page
PC has artistic ability in an appropriate field Mike Page
PC is musically skilled, either in voice or a regional instrument. Sufficiently skilled to earn money in taverns or entertain at court. Mike Page
Unshockable PC is less susceptible to fright attacks than others. Make all fright rolls at +1. Mike Page
Sense Holiness/Evil The PC has a natural sensitivity to holiness and evil. Particularly powerful auras may overwhelm the character. Mike Page
Impersonator The PC can imitate accents and styles after some study, fooling some regarding where they're from and who they are. Similar to the Assassin's Disguise ability. Mike Page
Bluffer The PC is good at bluffing - a natural con artist Mike Page

+2 Pros

Longbowman PC trained since childhood with the longbow (d8,4 - RANGE). Minimum strength 12, only available for characters born in Ellesland of non-noble birth. Mike Page

Adroit Whenever a Reflexes roll is needed, the PC roll twice and takes the lower (most advantageous) number. Mike Page
Giant's Blood The PC has the blood of giants running in his/her veins. Not available to magic users. PC is between 6'6" and 7'6" tall, has +1d6 strength compared to normal PC and +2 HP but suffers a -2 Defence penalty. Such tall characters are likely to be the focus of attention in combat and are quite likely to be called out in single combat too. Mike Page
Iron Willed
Add 3 to Magical Defence for mind-affecting spells Mike Page
PC is naturally ambidextrous
Mike Page
Lucky PC is naturally lucky. Once per session they may choose to re-roll a single dice roll affecting them directly. Mike Page


-1 Cons

Sickly PC is particularly susceptible to diseases: Add 5 to any disease resistance roll. Mike Page
Seasick Incapacitated on water, requires 1 h per day of travel to recover once on terra firma. Includes river boats and lake craft. Mike Page
Wanted The PC is wanted for a crime they committed at some time in the past or for an outstanding debt. Can also be a -2 Con if the PC is wanted for murder, has abandoned an influential spouse or similar. Mike Page
Superstitious PC is superstitious and won't walk under ladders, undertake adventures on Friday 13th etc. PC also expends 10% of income on trinklets, charms and readings etc. Mike Page
Devout PC is a devout believer and insists on regular times of prayer. PC donates 10% of income to the church. Mike Page
Truth Geas PC must always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth Mike Page
Phobia Possible phobias: Dark, claustrophobia, dogs, wolves, undead, spiders, fire, open water... Mike Page
Cold-/Heat- Sensitive Suffers double standard penalties for the chosen extreme and standard penalty for 'normal' weather. Mike Page
Proud The PC is unusually proud, will never decline a challenge and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from any combat. Mike Page
Hard of Hearing The PC has impaired hearing. Perception -1. Mike Page
The PC is unable to read or write and is generally poorly educated and unlikely to change. Mike Page
Evil Aura Can only be taken by magic wielders. Domestic animals can sense that there is something strange about you and fear you. Wild animals are naturally antagonistic towards you. Even horses aren't comfortable in your presence unless they are used to you. Mike Page
Young PC is younger than average (12-14 years old) with corresponding lower Strength Mike Page

-2 Cons

Clumsy Whenever a Reflexes roll is needed, the PC rolls twice and takes the higher (least advantageous) number. Mike Page
Weak-Hearted Make all Fright rolls at -5 Mike Page
Weak-Sighted The PC has impaired sight. Perception, Attack and Defence are all -1. Mike Page
The PC is recognisably an criminal through some branding or similar. NPCs will react to them accordingly. Mike Page
Aged PC is older than normal (50+ years old) with corresponding decreasing abilities. Mike Page

Sources: There's no point denying that I haven't read Ars Magica (4th Ed.) - I have. I've also read "Flaws and Merits" from Alea Publishing Group. These have been used as inspiration rather than a basis for the above, together with any number of books, films and everday life.

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