Rules Contradiction for Essential Traits

In RoP: Magic, the description of Essential Virtue (pg. 43) says that Essential Traits either a) add to Characteristic rolls in certain situations or b) a Personality Trait that can't be affected by magic.

However, check out the "Essential Traits" section on pg. 54: essential traits that modify Characteristics don't add directly to Characteristics, but rather you use the greater of the two if they're both positive, the lesser if they're both negative/detrimental, or otherwise the sum of the two. Note that that directly contradicts the description of Essential Virtue on pg. 43. Does anyone have any idea what the intended final rule was?

On a more general note, I haven't seen the last book or two from Atlas, but I hope the editing has gotten more careful. In addition to this contradiction, there parts of rules for the same thing in two different sections, Essential Traits are missing from a lot of characters, and, in the section on cat powers, all the powers listed with a Might cost for a Lesser Power and an Init. for a Greater Power. Those are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head. The book as a whole is great, but it can be difficult to use at times, and I'm always having to double-check examples.


There is no contradiction. They add to "Characteristic rolls," not to "Characteristics." It should also be noted that if the Essential Trait isn't the one being used, a useless virtue or flaw has been selected and probably should not have been.


On an extremely literal and legalistic interpretation, you're right. However, most people would interpret "adds to Characteristic rolls" to mean that the stated bonus is added to the normal roll, which includes the Characteristic itself--especially if there's no hint in the text of the Virtue itself that there's a more complex procedure. It's pretty clear, to me at least, that two different versions of the rule were intended, and both ended up sneaking into the final draft, and I'm curious which one was supposed to be the final version.

I'm afraid I don't follow what you're talking about here.


Let's say you have a Communication of -4 and you take the minor Essential Flaw as terrible negotiator or something like that. When you compare -3 (Essential Trait) and -4 (Essential Flaw) you end up using the -4. Thus the Essential Trait is not adding to the Characteristic roll, and there would be a contradiction. But that also means that you've managed to take a flaw that really doesn't function as a flaw, so you really shouldn't have taken it. If we avoid such rules abuse, then the presence of the contradiction is gone; the contradiction only exists with such abuse.


I couldn't understand the Essential Traits bits from RoP:M either. To be honest, I couldn't follow any of the rules for creation of magic beings in that book. As some other poster here said long ago, they appear to be written in Atlantean.

As a magic bestiary the book is pretty nice though.

Hi Scott,

Well, the actual text (which I assume is the same in my copy as for everyone else) says this:

So it doesn't say it adds to Characteristic rolls, it just says that it "positively affects" those rolls. My intention as the author was that you would look to the section on Essential Traits (page 54) for clarification of how these sorts of Traits work, the Virtue description is just there to remind the player what they do when picking Virtues for your characters. :slight_smile:

I'd encourage you to attempt a worked example. I also, intitally, found them to be difficult to grasp from simple rewading. but when you try to actually use them they are suprisiingly straightforward.

I have to disagree. I've made two characters now, and I keep discovering things that I missed. Part of the problem is that the rules are divided between the main characters chapter and the ones for magic animals, magic humans, etc., and you have to keep flipping back and forth between them. Part of this, I'm sure, is unavoidable, but I have trouble keeping track of what stuff is in which chapter.

In addition, things aren't always clear: for example, the rules for Essential Traits are somewhere different from the Essential Virtue listing (indeed, the term "Character Trait" only appears in the latter), with no reference from one to the other, and for that matter it's only in the Essential Trait section that you find out that Personality Flaws produce essential traits, even though it's after the character generation part of the chapter. Another example is the organization of the Magic Animals chapter, which has clear rules for producing Beasts of Virtue and Transformed Animals, but no discussion whatsoever of how animals that don't fall into either of those categories should be developed (it does have three examples, with birds, cats, and dragons), and certain rules, like the note in the Beasts of Virtue section under "Finishing Touches" that animals receive bonuses for the mundane Qualities of their species, that would seem to apply to non-virtuous beasts as well. In fact, that chapter is so confusing that until recently I thought all magical versions of mundane species were either Beasts of Virtue or Transformed Animals, not realizing there was a third category (of which cats are the one example provided in the book).

On top of all that, the examples provided are often wrong (such as the use of Lesser Power Might cost and Greater Power Init. in the cats powers), and many have things missing (Essential Traits in some cases, and an explicit listing of Essential Virtues in the case of the ones that grant Personality Traits rather than Character Traits), such that it's often very difficult to figure out how the examples were produced.

The book has a lot of great stuff, and I'm using it constantly, but the organization leaves something to be desired.


I can't do anything to address your other complaints, but this one I might be able to help with. Beasts of Virtue are a special type of Magic Animal, but you can just make a Magic animal using the standard rules on pages 30-36. The sample Magic character Aeolus is another example of this.

The magic book has excellent ideas and content - but it is crying out to be re-formatted in a meta-document style so I can rearrange the parts depending on what I am wanting to do. Eg be able to list all the example powers in one place instead of trying to remember which sample creature had which power and then trying to find the right page, followed by looking for the next example, all the while remembering what I actually wanted a power to do.

Every magic character I have made has taken ages just because almost every chapter has something that needed to be looked at. For npc's I can ignore bits, but pc's are harder.

Do personality flaws count as Essential Traits generally? If so, this could change how spells should affect people since Hermetic Magic has that Limit.


Yes. It's the next-to-last sentence on pg. 54.


Hmmm... I thought it was "no." Magical beings typically (necessarily?) have one Essential Trait as a Personality Trait, such as Mare*+3 for my familiar. So even if my familiar shape changes, she still nickers and the like. But their other personality traits are not essential. Did I misunderstand this?


Edit: I found the answer. It is technically "no." Go to the last sentence on page 54. Personality Traits are not Essential Traits; there are Essential Traits associated with each Personality Trait. However, I would personally lean towards Scott's interpretation in the case of Personality Flaws leading to Personality Traits because I like Gilgarius's idea of how this interacts with Hermetic Magic.

I assumed Gilarius was talking about Magic Characters: for them, yes, Personality Flaws necessarily include Essential Traits. For non-magical characters, no--they don't have Essential Traits unless they take Essential Virtue or Essential Flaw (and it seems kind of inappropriate for them to do so).


  1. Atlanteans, as part of Greek myth, prolly speak Greek. I don't know Greek that well, but my Grandmother does. I'll forward your questions to her :smiley:
  2. It actually is pretty easy. Depends on how you approach it I suppose. I have made scores of magical characters, and though I will admit the rules have a few awkward bits (such as having to flip back and forth), it usually is pretty easy and straightforward.

No, its an Egyptian myth. A greek popularised it.

And even if it originated in Greece, I wouldnt rely on that to tell me anything at all about language used. It would only mean someone managed to communicate, and as this someone was probably a sailor with experience in long distance trade, that means just about any language in their trade area might have been used. Sailors on long routes would sometimes speek over a half dozen languages to some extent.

In my personal experience, everyone I've seen create a magical character, including both you and me, has made mistakes in interpreting rules, or simply left things out.


Greek characters that Plato wrote about claimed to source the details from translated Egytian histories. It's a rather long shot to claim that they are therefore authentic Egyptian myth.

Anyway, even as Greek myths Atlanteans probably speak Atlantean. The Greeks (and Egyptians for that matter) were perfectly familiar with the fact that people of different cultures speak different languages.

OK, found another inconsistency in RoP: Magic. On pg. 47, there's a new Supernatural Virtue, Transformed (Being), that gives a Might of 0 and allows the being in question to take Magical Qualities and Inferiorities. In the Magic Animal chapter, however, there are no such Transformed Animals; instead, we have only Warped Animals (which are also, confusingly, called Transformed Animals, despite not having the Transformed [Being] Virtue), which use different rules entirely (the ones from the main rulebook, pg. 168), and which receive mostly Flaws and only one Minor Virtues at Warping 5, have no Might, and can't acquire Qualities or Inferiorities. Given the Warping rules, it's not really clear how Transformed Animals (the "good" kind) would actually happen.


I don't see really the problem with that... There are an example, the Transformed Humans, but the Warping in some extent can become animals in magical, but that it's made premeditadely difficult and strange to occur, just in the way that a Human can have the flaw of the warpings animals. In the same way the Living Cloack in "Objects" is made of the same manner. I can't see the problem. You should think that the Might and similar ways is very subjetcted to the Troupe and story and no carved in the rules.
The "sub" types of Magical beings (Elementals, the Giants, etc) of the 4 types of Magical beings are narrowly and not really extensive: The options are limited by the Saga and the Legends that you use.

The problem is not the rules themselves, but that the presentation of the rules is confusing.