Personality Flaws and Ability Maximums

The corebook suggests maximum ability levels for starting characters based on their age. These maximums are raised by +2 by Affinity with and/or by Puissant . A simple (house?) rule we have adopted in our troupe is that an appropriate Personality Flaw can do the same. Driven is the most obvious candidate, but Ambitious, Hatred, Vow etc. can all work in the right circumstances. Of course, this does not give the character any extra experience; it just raises the maximum experience that can be spent on an Ability.

What do you think?

You are wrong: with affinitie you are not limited at all, and with Puissant you still, but since is a bonus to totals and rolls and not one extra or free levels you effectively still with the same score.

He meant the age limitation on Ability score. Young ones are still limited to 5 but with Puissant/Affinity end up with 7. I find it interesting, but I don't want the end to justify the mean: "Yeah, sure your glassblower is Driven and none of your craftsmen are married for similar reasons." It still has potential if used properly.

Ok sorry, i missunderstood. I see the point, that Personality Flaw should have any complications of the Major Version, but could be Minor in the sense that give you one advantage.

Mmm so if you have Puissant, Affinity and a suitable Flaw the limit would be raised by 6?

Sounds well enough. Might consider reducing the point value of the Flaw by 1 for this but i dont think it´s a must.
I think it could be an interesting way to personalise some characters.

Yes. Of course, you need to muster enough xps. A 20-year old grog whose three Virtue slots are Custos, Affinity with Single Weapon, Puissant Single Weapon, and who has the Personality Flaw Ambitious [be the best swordsman in the world] can spend 150xp (two thirds of his post-childhood ones) to have an effective Single Weapon score of 11 (12 with swords). He wouldn't be a great grog (because his other skills would necessarily be pretty low, and because it would probably be difficult to keep his combat scores within 5 points of the other grogs in group combat), but he would be a fun, if one-dimensional, character.

Note that there is no age limit to the level of an ability if you advance it in play, or through the "very detailed character creation". The ability maximums are meant to impose some realism and some "well-roundedness" to the characters. I think that if a character is sufficiently obsessed about becoming the best swordsman in the realm that it's a Personality Flaw, well, it makes sense that he would spend on his Single Weapon Ability more experience than the average grog. After all, if he was advanced in play, and was played faithfully to his Personality Flaw, he would pour most of his xps into it...

It is, of course, your game... I think the character concept you describe is best established mechanically as having the Personlity Flaw Ambitious (to be the best swordsman) balanced by Affinity with Single Weapon or Puissaint Single Weapon. The flaw represents his personal drive to be the best (and more importantly the trouble he gets himself into along the way) while the virtue represents his level of accomplishment toward that goal.

Also, while this grog (or rather his player) might wish to spend all his xps on Single Weapon he does still have other responsiblities which have claim on his time... his Exposure seasons are unlikely to be in Single Weapon and while his free seasons might be, that presupposes he has the ability to dedicate all his free time to practice and training in Single Weapon which is a big assumption. I frankly would be unlikely to allow it.

... but again, it's your game.

I disagree, because the grog's obsession would have two consequences: being a great swordsman, but being pretty bad at everything else. The way you propose, the grog would just be talented swordsman, but not particularly worse at everything else than the average grog.

If you go through the actual numbers, you'll see the example I gave is actually very plausible. Yes, such a character would spend every single instant of his free time practicing his swordsmanship. But it's his personality, and his free time, after all.

Well, yes and no. Yes, it is his free time, but practice alone wouldn't give him that much xp, he would need to find a trainer, and a very high level one at that given how high his ability gets. Of course this is abstracted by the character creation rule, unless you use the extremely complex character generation option, but this is at least partly why the ability per age limit exists (and is discarded in the extremely complex option): advancing abilities becomes harder when the ability rises, which the standard character generation rules would otherwise not reflect.

Indeed, in your grog's case, you should ask yourself two questions:

  • who is teaching him ? Or who does he practice against ? surely the average covenant guard is not a worthy practice partner ?
  • why, given his ability, is he not a master in his own right, either a King's weapons master or the head of a fencing school ?

I agree that lifting the limit when a character concept (Flaw) suggests it is appropriate, and I don't mind it. Halancar does raise a good point in that high scores are often unrealistic - although this can apply to the 5 the character's age allows just as much as for the 11 the Devoted sword-devotee obtains.


Since several people seem to discount the plausibility of the aforementioned grog, let me give you an example.
I'll first calculate the grog's xps with the detailed character creation, and then run the grog through a year-by-year very detailed creation that should be both realistic and yield the same totals.

Let's call her Buttercup. Her (final) Virtues and Flaws are: Custos, Affinity with Single Weapon, Puissant Single Weapon, Ambitious (become best swordsman in the world), Transvestite, Small frame.

At age 20, she has Speak Own Language 5, 45xp for her first 5 years, and then 15xp each of the following 15 years, for a total of 225xp. Because becoming the greatest swordmaster ever is her burning ambition, our house rule allows her to push her Single Weapon score up to 5+2+2+2=11 (including the Puissant Bonus). That requires "spending" 150xp, which her Affinity multiplies by 1.5 to 225xp (i.e. a score of 9), on top of which she gets the +2 Puissant bonus. So, in the end, she'll have:
Speak Language 5
225xp (including the affinity bonus) in Single Weapon
45xp + 75xp =120 xp in other Abilities.
Note that since she's custos, she can take both martial Abilities and Speak Latin.

Let's run through her story in greater detail and see if we can come up with those numbers in a realistic way.
Buttercup is covenant-raised -- either a foundling or the daughter of some covenfolk (some say she is the the daughter of a passing knight). In her covenant, like in most of Europe, warrior-roles are held by men while women are cooks, weavers etc. But Buttercup, since she was a child, has always been fascinated by weapons (in particular swords) and fighting, and has always dreamt of being Custos, fighting giants, demons and dragons side-by-side with the mages.

Let's look at her experience. A reasonable assumption would be that such a grog gets 2 seasons of exposure and 2 seasons of practice in that grog's free time, for a total of 12xp per year. That's a bit less than the "standard" 15xp per year, so let's assume that the Covenant gives its grogs and covenfolk a 7 years apprenticeship (starting on their 7th year), during which one season of practice is substituted by a season of training by someone with the relevant skill at level 6. Let's say those 7 seasons are 4 in the character's primary occupation (Single Weapon for Custos), and 1 each in 3 secondary skills of importance: for a Custos, I'd say Awareness, Chirurgy (for emergencies), and Speak Latin (to communicate with the magi). This would yield a total (for those 15 years) of (2+2+4+4)*8 + (2+2+4+9)*7 = 215 xp.

Still 10xp short. We'll deal with those, assuming that a few of the trainers are slightly better; or that the custos can usually coax another season of training from some senior covenfolk; or that the custos took part in a story (substituting story experience to exposure for one season). Of course, Affinity in play tends to yield slightly more than a 50% bonus because of the rounding, so that will play a part too. Let's look at the years in greater detail.

1-5Buttercup's first 5 years yield a Speak Language 5, and 45 xp in a number of basic skills -- let's say:
5xp in Area Lore [local covenant]
5xp in Athletics
5xp in Awareness
10xp in Brawl (she is a real bully to other children!)
5xp in Charm
5xp in Guile
5xp in Stealth
5xp in Survival

6. On her sixth year Buttercup starts "working", being bossed around by the covenfolk's women who try and figure out where her talents lie. The covenant's cook is seriously thinking about making her an apprentice. Buttercup gets 2 seasons of exposure, for 4 xp. Let's say:
1xp Cooking
1xp Stealth (avoiding chores...)
1xp Survival (she gets sent to pick herbs around the covenant)
1xp Charm (another way to avoid chores)
However, Buttercup does not want to become a cook. She wants to become Custos! An older grog has given her a toy wooden sword, with which she practices on her own, obsessively, every single spare minute (well, she also practices beating up other children, including ones several years older). She gets 2 seasons of practice in Single Weapon, for a total of 8xp, which her Affinity increases to 12xp. Including her Puissant bonus, she now has an impressive Single Weapon score of 1+2.

7. Buttercup sneaks out of the covenant, following a 10 year old apprentice who snuck out for some reason of no interest to us. The apprentice gets attacked by a wolf (or some similar minor threat) and Buttercup ferociously drives the threat away with her wooden sword. She is Custos after all! Word spreads at the covenant and, seeing Buttercup's dedication and considerable natural talent, the Turb's captain agrees she'll be treated as a boy and apprenticed as a grog (this accounts for her Transvestite Flaw). This year Buttercup gets:
2xp of exposure: 1xp in Cooking, 1xp in Awareness
5xps for the Story: 3xp in Single Weapon (which Affinity raises to 5xp), 1xp in Awareness, 1xp in Stealth
9xps for Training in Single Weapon (which Affinity raises to 14xp)
4xps for practice in Single Weapon (which Affinity raises to 6xp)
Buttercup now has 37xp in Single Weapon and 53xp in other abilities not including Speak Own Language.

8-10. Three fairly uneventful years, in which Buttercup continues to single-mindedly study the sword. Buttercup in each gets:
4xp of exposure: 2xp in Awareness from guard duty, 1xp in Area Lore [covenant and surroundings], 1xp in Speak Latin from a smattering of phrases heard here and there.
9xp of training in Single Weapon (which her affinity raises to 14xp)
4xp of practice in Single Weapon (which her affinity raises to 6xp)
At the end of this period Buttercup has a fearsome 97xp in Single Weapon (for an effective score of 5+2 including the Puissant bonus) and 65xp in other abilities not including Speak Own Language.

11-12. Two more relatively uneventful years.
Buttercup in each gets:
4xp of exposure: 2xp in Awareness from guard duty, 1xp in Area Lore [covenant and surroundings], 1xp in Speak Latin from a smattering of phrases heard here and there.
9xp of training -- one year Chirurgy (by the Covenant's physician) and one year in Awareness (by the Covenant's chief of Scouts).
4xp of practice in Single Weapon (which her affinity raises to 6xp). Yes, Buttercup still spends every free moment practicing the sword. It's her obsession!
At the end of this period Buttercup has 109xp in Single Weapon (for an effective score of 6+2 including the Puissant bonus) and 91xp in other Abilities not including Speak Own Language. The covenant's weaponmaster acknowledges that Buttercup is now a master his equal, and that she has very little to learn from him.

13 The old weaponmaster dies; with his dying breath he recommends Buttercup as his successor, causing quite a stir among the turb. But Buttercup defeats every challenger in combat, and she becomes the new weaponmaster -- the youngest ever in the covenant's history. Buttercup this year gets:
4xp of exposure: 1xp in Single Weapon (raised to 2xp by her Affinity), 1xp in Awareness, 1xp in Leadership, 1xp in Chirurgy
11xp in Speak Latin -- the Covenant's Scribe teaches her and another would-be custos.
4xp of practice in Single Weapon (which her Affinity raises to 6xp).
At the end of this period Buttercup has 117xp in Single Weapon and 105xp in other Abilities not including Speak Own Language.

14-20 Buttercup is now the new weaponmaster of the covenant. These are seven relatively uneventful years -- until the last season, when Buttercup gets to accompany an old magus and the apprentice she saved many years ago to the Tribunal. The apprentice is sworn to the code, and now a magus, declares Buttercup will be his Custos!
In each of her 14 free seasons Buttercup keeps obsessively practicing her sword, for a total of 56xp (which her affinity raises to 84xp).
7 of her "work" seasons are spent training other grogs, gaining 14xp of exposure in Single Weapon (which her affinity raises to 21xp)
6 more seasons are spent on guard duty, each season yields 2xp in non-martial Abilities.
1 more "work" season spent accompanying the magi to Tribunal. This yields 5 story xps. Since Buttercup gets involved in some friendly duels with other grogs at the tribunal, she spends 2xp in her Single Weapon Ability (which her Affinity raises to 3) and other 3xp in non-martial abilities.

At the age of 20, Buttercup has then 225xp in Single Weapon, and 120xp in other abilities. Quod erat demonstrandum.


Very well done. It seems a little stretched, but plausible enough. I rescind my objection :slight_smile:


A weapons master with only one martial skill and no training abilities seems a poor choice; not that this would invalidate the example.
If a player wishes to over specialise a character the it's probably more work to argue with them. Instead give them stories where other skills are required. They will hopefully see their character is lacking.

This is really two objections: focus on a single martial skill, and lack of the Teaching skill.

The first objection may be valid or not, depending on the covenant's organization. For a covenant whose only martial grogs are shield grogs focusing on Single Weapon may be a pretty solid choice.

The second objection is probably not valid. You need no Teaching skill to train others in a skill you know at level 2+: you can train up to your pupils, each of which benefits from a Source Quality equal to your + 3. A trainer with an ability at 11 provides a pretty nifty Source Quality of 14, to up to 11 people at the same time!

As I said in my first post, we all agree an overspecialized character is unlikely to be "munchkinistically optimal". But the goal is to have fun, and an overspecialized grog can be a lot of fun especially when the areas he's lacking in come into play.

I wasn't objecting at all, more observing that the story & character reasons are far stronger than the mechanics. I stat'd up an npc weapons-master recently and wasn't comfortable unless the npc had a range of skills, and some background in teaching.

I think you are mixing Training (one on one) and Teaching (multiple students - pg 164) in that example.

  • Training - There is no minimum Teaching skill needed, but you can only teach one person at a time.
  • Teaching - the skill of the teacher is a huge factor in the Quality, and it limited to teaching x5 pupils at once.

A Weapon Master with a +1 Communication, a 4 Weapon skill, and 3 teaching will grant 7 XP per season to 15 students. That is far better for the turb than one student gaining quality 14. And if the same teacher elects to train one student only the +6 bonus to training Quality raises the Quality to 13 XP for the season. That is on par with the over specialized character.

Although both are capped by their Ability score.

I would say Self-Confident fits better than Affinity for that character. It's a nice story still.

Ops! I checked, and you are right! I just realized that allowing up to trainees is just a house rule, though one that's so ingrained in our games I'd completely forgotten it was not in the RAW.

Anyway, I think that the main point I wanted to make still stands. If you assume a character earns the "standard" amount of xps, it takes obsessive focus to break the age limits in a skill; but if the character has a Personality Flaw justifying that obsessive focus, it is not unrealistic to assume they may be exceeded by 2 levels.

Hmm, do you allow grogs to take Self-Confident?
We assume that, since grogs do not have Confidence, they cannot take any Virtues or Flaws relating to it.

With Ferocity, yes. You could take Ferocity and Self-confident (or simply Strong Willed).

Do you allow human characters to take Ferocity? I thought Ferocity was reserved to animals.