TRAITS & PASSIONS SYSTEM IN D&D (Part 1)

My absolute favorite aspect of the Pendragon rules is its use of traits and passions to flesh out characters, define their motivations, and, at times, compel them to take actions that are in keeping with those traits and passion.

With WotC’s Unearthed Arcana with variant alignment system in mind, I thought I’d see if I could effectively shoehorn my favorite bit from Pendragon into my new favorite RPG.

 

INITIAL TRAITS

Roll 3d6 to determine each of the 13 traits listed in the left-hand column below.  These traits are also called virtues.

Add any cultural and racial modifiers to the relevant traits, to a maximum of 20 and minimum of 1. No starting trait may exceed 20, even after initial modifiers.  If no virtues are notable (14 or higher), you may raise one virtue of your choice to 14.

  • Values of 8-13 indicate no strong leanings with regards to that trait.
  • Values of 7 or lower show that you exhibit the vice listed in the column to the immediate right of the listed trait.
  • Values of 14 or higher show that you are virtuous, and strongly exhibit the virtue listed in the far right column.
Traits 7 or lower 14 or higher
Chastity Lustful Chaste
Constancy Arbitrary Just
Diligence Slothful Energetic
Generosity Selfish Generous
Honesty Deceitful Honest
Magnanimity Vengeful Forgiving
Mercy Cruel Merciful
Modesty Proud Modest
Piety Worldly Pious
Prudence Reckless Prudent
Temperance Indulgent Temperate
Trust Suspicious Trusting
Valor Cowardly Valorous

TRAIT MODIFIERS BY RACE

These should be left to individual DMs and be heavily dependent on the campaign world and tone that they are aiming for.  I’ve provided some quick examples that I’d use in my classic Greyhawk campaign.

Dwarf, Mountain or Hill:  +2 to Constancy, Diligence, and Valor/-2 to Generosity, Magnanimity, and Trust

Elf, High, Grey, or Valley: +2 to Diligence, Mercy, and Temperance/-2 to Constancy, Modesty, and Trust

Elf, Wood or Wild:  +2 to Diligence, Mercy, and Valor/-2 to Constancy, Magnanimity, and Trust*

* Wild elves suffer a -4 penalty to Trust

Gnomes, Deep:  +2 to Constancy, Diligence, and Prudence/-2 to Generosity,  Magnanimity, and Trust

Gnomes, Surface:  +2 to Mercy and Prudence/-2 to Magnanimity and Temperance

Halflings, All:  +2 to Generosity, Magnanimity, and Mercy/-2 to Diligence, Temperance, and Valor

Half-Orc:  +2 to Diligence and Valor/-2 to Magnanimity, Mercy, and Trust

Humans: While cultural modifiers could be used, I’d simply allow humans to add 2 to up to three traits and subtract 3 from an equal number of traits.

 

TRAIT SCORE MODIFIERS

When making a trait  test (which will be explained in an upcoming post) to resist giving into a particular trait’s, the trait score assigns a modifier which works just like ability score modifiers.

Score             Modifier

1                       -5

2-3                    -4

4-5                    -3

6-7                   -2

8-9                   -1

10-11                +0

12-13                 +1

14-15                 +2

16-17                +3

18-19                +4

20-21                +5

22-23                +6

24-25                +7

26-27                +8

28-29                +9

30                    +10

TRAITS & ALIGNMENT

Law/Chaos Axis

Honesty
Constancy
Prudence
Piety

Lawful:  Trait modifiers for these traits total +8 or more.

Neutral:  Trait modifiers for these traits total -7 through +7.

Chaotic:  Traits modifiers total -8 or less.

Good/Evil Axis

Chastity
Diligence
Magnanimity
Generosity
Mercy
Modesty
Temperance
Trust
Valor

Good:  Trait modifiers for these traits total +18 or more.

Neutral: Trait modifiers for these traits total -17 through +17.

Evil:  Traits modifiers total -18 or less.

dragon with hoard

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4 thoughts on “TRAITS & PASSIONS SYSTEM IN D&D (Part 1)

  1. Thanks for these 2 posts. This would be very neat to use. The wheels are spinning in my brain thinking about this. My first thought is maybe a given god or religion would espouse certain traits…followers would usually have high (or low) levels in certain traits and perhaps at a certain level this would grant a bonus (a la Pendragon).

    1. I agree 100%. St. Cuthbert worshipers, for example, would have a +2 modifier to Prudence, Diligence, and Temperance, but would have a -2 penalty to their Generosity, Magnanimity, and Trust.

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