Traits and Passions - Pendragon rulesy bits

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Sun 29 Jun 1997 - 16:12:28 EEST

Alex writes, inter much alia, and with a supporting chorus of voices:

> [Pendragon's] Traits and Passions are themselves a somewhat blunt
> instrument, and the rules don't really have _very_ clear guidance as
> to what's an "appropriate" use. And they're _scarily_ easy to misuse;
> any time the ref. asks for an opposed trait roll, and strictly applies
> the results, then you have _at most_ a 25% chance of a "free choice"
> result, and then only if you have 10/10 traits. Perhaps a better
> system would be one where you always had a free choice at the "point
> of indifference", and only "extreme" values would ever "force" you to
> go in a given direction.

Hang on: are we talking about the same game system, here? Pendragon makes=

it clear that *only* when a Trait is above 15 does the player lose *any*
control over his character's actions. Look at 4th edn Character Generatio=


: A value of 16 or more indicates great interest and activity in that
: Trait or Passion, perhaps bordering on the fanatical. The behaviour
: is very obvious to everyone, and thus significant in game terms...
: For example, a character with an Honest trait of 16 will tell the
: truth in most situations, even those where honesty might be inadvisable=

And the Ideals and Passions rules return to this, on P4 p.193:

: Only famous [16+] traits or passions are noted by society, or gain
: Glory, and such traits or passions *must* be tested with a die roll
: when character behaviour is challenged in a crisis. Basically, if you
: get Glory for a trait or passion, rolls based on the value must be
: made when required by the gamemaster.
: This does *not* mean that trait rolls must be used whenever the
: character makes any decision in the game. And even characters with
: famous characteristics are allowed free choice of behaviour except when=

: the plot demands otherwise. The gamemaster should request trait rolls
: only when a trait is tested in an important situation. In general,
: trait rolls simulate situations in which a crisis forces the character
: to act unconsciously.
: Ordinary Traits and Passions: Traits and passions which are between
: 5-15 do not have to be rolled against if the player wishes to use his
: personal will to determine an action...
: The traits and passions system is not to be used to turn the player
: knights into puppets. Most of the time characters just do whatever the
: player wishes them to, collecting checks along the way. However, if
: your character has a reputation, it's only fair that he maintain it,
: or lose it. The system ensures that this will occur.

And the basic trait roll rules on P4 p.196 hammer it in one more time:

: Success in a trait roll indicates that the knight felt, and was moved
: by, the feelings expressed in the trait. Thus if he made a Merciful

: roll he feels that he should grant mercy in this instance. However,
: the player may choose to have the character act in the opposite manner.=

: The penalty for disobeying one's character's feelings is a check in
: the opposite trait.

This suggests to me that players or gamemasters who treat the Pendragon
Trait rules as some kind of will-denying autopilot which deprives their
characters of any freedom of action haven't been reading the rules all
that closely. (Some scenario authors may also be guilty of this, but I
won't open that particular can of worms).

Yes, these rules are "easy to misuse" - but their intent is quite clear.



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