Things I am seeing in my PbP...


Since I talk so much about game rules, design and effects, I figure it would be worthwhile to talk about some of the things I've been seeing in the PbP I've started here:

  1. Botches suck. The Warping Point from a single botch is unpleasant, but having your magic turn against you at he worst possible moment is even worse. Virtues that reduce and especially eliminate botch dice are great. Virtues that encourage you to roll extra stress dice might not be so great. Flaws that grant extra botch dice are bad, unless you find a way never to make the associated stress rolls.

  2. Random effects are bad. Chaotic Magic can be managed so that it bites a lot less often than one might think--but when it does bite, your magic has turned against you. See above.

  3. Specialization is good. Generalization is versatile, and allows a magus to struggle feebly and cleverly where a specialist is more likely to waltz through with some well-chosen tools.

  4. Good strategy beats good tactics. A magus who plans things out way in advance doesn't seem as clever as the magus who claws his way through in the heat of the moment, but is smarter. Having a not-quite-right but versatile formulaic spell or enchanted item goes a long, long way. Sponting the perfect but necessary spell and risking a botch is exciting.

  5. Blatant Gift and other social flaws are real and dangerous if actually played. They shape a magus' destiny at least as much as something trivial like Deficient Technique.

  6. Removing the 10vf limit breaks nothing but expands possible character concepts.

  7. Allowing Mystery Virtues from the start enhances rather than trivializes their cachet, because they actually get played and make characters more distinct.



All seem true, but

The way I see it the problem is that having too many flaws is a problem because
(a) Flaws will begin to be repetitive, recurring in many characters.
(b) Flaws will be forgotten. It's hard enough to keep track and properly play out all your flaws, personality traits, and so on.

How has this worked out for you? And what are your rules on this?

Another interesting idea. Do you allow the first ones at character creation as per the TMRE rules, or more? If more, do you start with elder magi or invent a story on why this particular magus was so well-initiated or what?

To a degree, this happens regardless. Some flaws are more interesting and others are less damaging, and those kinds tend to be a lot more common.

No more so than with fewer. Its always a matter of how good SGs are at getting them into the story, if they´re good the flaws gets played regardless how many, if not they wont appear much either way.

Letting flaws appear a lot "on the sidelines" rather than as occasional main stories usually works better to keep them "working" but without taking over.

Lecherous, Ambitious, Meddler or Proud for example can be much fun to include and Greedy needs a very good player to make good of it(and then it usually still is just more of a "personal quirk") wihle for example Continence and Humble tends to be simply ignored because their affect on play is very rarely any at all(even when played out thoroughly and well they are usually near completely without effect on the saga or characters overall).

When I've played games other than AM which allow lost of flaws the characters often seem to end up overly flawed to the point of uselessness or at least silliness. Flaws in AM seem intended to be pretty serious, not just quirks about the character. I have trouble seeing that adding more flaw points would make for more interesting characters.

If you want the characters to be more gifted, why not just give all the PCs, say, 3 free points of virtues and forget the corresponding flaws?

Already done that. But many people here seems to hate the idea of breaking the restrictions on V&F.
Still though, i have played a character with a HUGE amount of Flaws(and with much less Virtues), and as long as you dont pick all the nasty flaws, this also works quite ok. Even a character with 30+ Flaws can be quite playable and useful even by RAW.

Also, due to how the descriptions for flaws makes some extremely damaging and some barely an inconvenience, i´ve changed the "level" on a bunch of the bad ones, from Minor to Major, from Major to Greater(5pts) and added a less horrible version for the original level. Reclusive and Incomprehensible for example became Major and Age Quickly and No Hands very deservedly became Greater. While several, for example Ambitious and Enemies now exists at all 3 levels of Flaws.

I am not exactly sure of your intent with this declaration, but I for one LOVE botches. I think they are exciting, and add LOTS of flavor to the game. While they do indeed "suck" for your character, I love botches both as a player and SG.

The most extreme example would be a simple botch while casting an invisibility spell in a divine aura near a Man of the Cloth, which ended up getting my character captured and tortured by crusaders near Riga. Which led to a fantastic rescue adventure by the other characters. Which led to a ruling at tribunal to put my character's voice in a bag for 15 years. Which has led to some really enjoyable "mute" role-playing, curious character development that I wouldn't have done otherwise, and thrilling stories related to re-gaining a good reputation in the Tribunal. So many stories, or at least flavor, all from one little botch.

Botches rule.
BECAUSE they suck.


Repetitive flaws, rather than a problem, can be seen as an asset! If every magus shares a single flaw, the saga suddenly gains a theme that has not been imposed by the GM.

Flaws can be forgotten, especially too many personality and story flaws. This is especially problematic in most sagas, in which the stories have nothing whatsoever to do the PCs. (Any reader who suspects that I'm talking about their saga is probably correct.) That is, in most games, the GM comes up with a story, and the PCs run with it. They may have IC reasons to participate in the story, but the story is not really about them, not driven or initiated by their actions and motivations.

I'm trying very hard not to run that kind of game. Stories are initiated by the players, and I just populate them. So an excess of story and personality flaws, under my rules, simply means that a player has to initiate more stories about his character--and I can refer to the character sheet when I need inspiration to figure out how the world reacts to what they are doing. This probably wouldn't work as well in a tabletop game, where there simply is no time to give every Story and Personality Flaw its due.

The rule I'm using is that Hermetic Flaws do not count against the limit of 10, that any magus with at least one Major Hermetic Flaw is permitted to take as many Major Hermetic Virtues as the player likes, and that, with a very few exceptions, any magus can start with any Mystery or other Virtue permitted ine saga, regardless of which chapter it is in. I do not remove the rule that all virtues must be balanced by flaws.

You're welcome to check out the "Matters of the Heart" subforum to see the rules and background in detail, and see how they have been playing out.




Indeed, and many people are a great fan of botches for precisely the reasons you raise: They add a spark of life to a drab or dead game.

My formulation, just above, is harsh and overstated, yet illustrates the point I wish to make: A game that is already working well gets thrown out of whack by a sudden botch. Most game manuals advise GM's to ignore botches, fumbles and unwanted dice rolls for this very reason. The converse is not talked about as much, that botches, fumbles and die rolls work in most games in proportion to the extent that they are not already working well.

This isn't me getting up on a soapbox, pounding my chest and proclaiming "Me better!" smile I'm using dice in the game I'm running. I don't always roll the dice, but I use the roll if I do, and implement all botches. In some cases, I think to myself, "thank you for coming up zero, because that's what should happen here," or "wow, this totally changes the tone of the story, but that works too," yet also sometimes, "grr, things were going so well."

(From the perspective of creating an effective character, botches are worth avoiding.)



I know you mean me :smiley:
I dislike the categorization of Personality and Story Flaws for this very reason. I myslf believe that Personality and Story Flaws should be "character flavor", and it should be incumbant upon the playertoo act them out (rather than requiring the SG to memorize every detail on everyone's sheet). In my opinion, you should be able to load up on personality flaws as long as you can act them all out. Personality flaws should not be the motive for stories. Rather, they should indicate how a specific character reacts to story events. And some so-called Story Flaws should be more background material rather rhan the focus for a story. For example, you have a Mentor, he should be a reoccuring background character. If the mentor initiates a story, does that mean the mentor goes away? And Mentor, specifically, used to be a Virtue. The wording hasn't changed, just the category. How is it that, with the exact same wording, it changed from a Virtue to Flaw?


lol Not specifically, but certainly within the general category.

BTW, I don't think that style of game is bad or wrong or inferior. Indeed, it is usually the right choice.

Because it limits the character's choice of action. When your 100year past Gauntlet Mentor comes to you and tells you, "Bring me the ankh of Rasta-Khan," refusing is a Bad Idea. But telling your GM to come up with a better name than Rasta-Khan is fair game.




Following up about Mentor: It's sort of like Favors, a Major Flaw, combined with a benefit, that reduces it to a minor.



Flaws don't go away just because they came up.

I think story flaws are a great idea. It's a way to reward the player for saying "My character will always follow this story hook", which is a great aid to the game. I really like them.

Personality Flaws... not so much. The limitation on two can be rather restrictive, and they're really part of normal roleplaying.

That's IMO the crux of the problem.

As far as I understand it, the point of flaws in Ars5 is to be FLAWS or to force your character to act out stories. If it's just character flavor, it shouldn't be a flaw.

Like, every magus as a mentor. But not every magus will have the Mentor flaw.
It seems to me that, to a lot of players, wanting their magus to, say, have the "he's a christian/pagan" flavor either requires or implies them to have the pious/pagan flaw. Not so much. I specifically hate the Pagan flaw, since I often see it used as "my character is a pagan, everyone is cool about it, and I have 3 free points"
The important thing is that: As long as it is pure flavor, you can have as many flaws as you like. They just don't contribute towards any virtues. Only the ones that you can't ignore should count as flaws. Just as, IRL, we all have our little egos, but, save for politicians, not everyone is flawed with hubris.

Exactly :smiley:

See the above. Not having a personnality flaws doesn't mean your character can't act that way. Just that it ain't a FLAW.
I see that tendancy of "If I haven't a personnality flaw, I can't act that way" as unnescessary restrictive, and the "If I act that way, I should have the flaw" as a little too close to munchkinism.

Why limit the number of personnality flaws? To force players to take other flaws. And to stop them from becoming caricatures, in the few games where the GM enforce the flaws

My current Pagan character recently trashed God in front of a baron, which nearly cost us the whole adventure... But yeah, Pagan needs to be enforced if it is to count as a Major Flaw.

But it's excessive. A character can be, at the same time and even if the player is tempted to act otherwise, both Ambitious, Continent, have Covenant Upbringing, and Envious - without sinking into a caricature.

And while it's true that a Personality Flaw isn't something you walk away from - you don't really walk away from the personality traits you've chosen, either, usually. I'm not sure how great an idea personality flaws are. They help give players better motivation to have some defining character traits, which can be good with some players.

As you can have personality traits at up to +-3, i added that personality flaws always adds traits according to level, Minor +-4, Major +-5(or 6, undecided which is better) and Greater +-6(or 8 as with Major).
And then the SG use these as the other traits when suitable. It gives the SG a number to work with which tends to make it easier to include.

Except that characters can have MANY more personality flaws without becoming "caricatures". They can also have 2 and be utterly ridiculous.

Also, RAW does not impose a limit anyway. It only says "should not take more than...", and "should" is very different from "can" or "must".

Well, you understand the idea anyway :wink:

Yes the world does not collapse if you add another virtue and flaw to a character.

But it is ugly.

It is like adding a 15th line to a sonnet.

There is beauty in creating without changing the rules.

JeanMichelle it's EXACTLY what i think!

I like your words, i will remember it!

I prefer to have beautiful rules that adapt to my beautifully created game. if the 2 do not match, the ones that are wrong are the rules 100% of the time. The 10 V&F limit is totally ad hoc. IO tend to have more pronlems with people having too many V&F than the opposite.


We have had this debate before. I think that characters shouldn’t act out Flaws they don’t have, flavor or no. ArM4 and earlier, Flaws were Flaws. In ArM5, as I have stated my belief, some Flaws are actually Virtues, they are rated as Flaws only because they require the character to behave in such-and-such a way.
For example, “Reckless” and “Carefree” were both Virtues in previous editions. They are now Flaws, though the wording hasn’t changed by even a single letter. They are Flaws only because they mandate that you play the character in a specific way, not because they hamper or disadvantage you.

I disagree. Not every magus has a mentor. Every magus has a Parens, who may or may not care about his filius (or he may not even still be alive). IMO, only characters with “Mentor” have a mentor.

Another thing that annoys me are Pagan characters without the Pagan Flaw. Unless you specifically take that Flaw, you should not be a Pagan. It dilutes and waters down the impact of that Flaw. What annoys me about Pagan is that the other players. The ones that should be reacting to the negative connotations of being Pagan, rarely ever do.

Again, I disagree. It really gets under my skin when players act out flaws their characters do not have.

Ad again, my opinion is that, if your character doesn’t have that Flaw, then he shouldn’t act that way. ArM5 Flaws, unlike previous editions, do not necessarily equal detriments. Specifically, Personality Flaws are constraints on behavior. If a character acts out personality traits for which he does not have a flaw, it devalues the impact of that flaw upon the characters that do have it.

This very sentence indicates that we have diametrically opposed philosophies. But that’s okay :smiley:. Through Conflict there is Growth.