Character Traits

Traits are aspects of a character’s personality, background, or physique that make him better at some activities and worse at others. In many ways, traits resemble feats: A character can have only a limited number of traits, and each trait provides some benefit. Unlike feats, however, traits always carry a corresponding drawback. In addition to their game effects, traits suggest characteristics about the character’s personality that might lead to interesting roleplaying opportunities. Together with a character’s class and feat selection, traits offer a way for game mechanics to encourage deeper character backgrounds and consistent roleplaying.

Traits serve as an interesting starting point for roleplaying, reminding players of their characters’ most prominent strengths and weaknesses. However, roleplaying a certain aspect of a character’s personality does not require possessing the trait. For example, a paladin can be honest and forthright without the Honest trait. The player should roleplay the character consistently even though the character’s honesty has no effect on his skill checks.

As characters advance in level and ability, they might want to get rid of the traits that they chose at the beginning of play. Although characters cannot rid themselves of a trait directly, specific feats, skill ranks, or magic items can compensate for the penalties imposed by a trait. For example, an abrasive character can work on becoming more personable by spending skill points to gain a rank in Bluff and a rank in Diplomacy, thereby offsetting the drawback from the Abrasive trait.

Roleplaying of Traits

If a player creates a character with one or more of the traits described here, she has three basic choices for how that trait affects the character’s personality.

First, the character might view the trait as a weakness. A character with this view might try to hide the trait or make excuses for his behavior. On the other hand, he might seek out others with the trait to feel better about his own idiosyncrasy.

Second, the character might view the trait as a strength. A character might call attention to the trait, encourage others to act in ways that mimic the trait, or simply assume that those without the trait are less worthy than those who possess it.

Finally, the character might not acknowledge the trait at all. A character might adopt this attitude toward a trait for several reasons, each suggesting something different about the character’s background and personality.

  • The character might not be aware of the trait; for example, a nearsighted character might not realize that others see better at a distance because his impairment is mild and the onset was so gradual that he never noticed the change.
  • The character might be aware of the trait but not want to admit that he possesses it. For example, an abrasive character might realize that his mannerisms affect others, yet fid more solace in putting the blame on those whom he offends rather than on himself.
  • The character might know but simply not care.

Trait Descriptions

Each trait in this section includes a benefit, a drawback, any special limitations regarding its selection by a character, and roleplaying ideas for how to incorporate it into your character’s personality.

A character can begin play with up to TWO traits from Unearthed Arcana, or up to ONE trait from either list chosen by the player at the time of character creation.

Unearthed Arcana Traits

Shackled City Traits


Character Traits

The Shackled City zero