In the same manner as “attributes” are used in various guises and forms across the gamut in TRPG’s to describe the physical and spiritual faculties, capacities, and abilities of the character, there are aspects of the personality that are conspicuous in the absence almost universally across the board. Because it is a roleplaying game, those aspects of the personality that might be described by scores are often ignored in the belief that the players are perfectly capable of seeing to them and playing whatever their character concept is in regards to personality with great depth and dispatch and perfect consistency. This is sometimes true, but perhaps not so much the rest of the time. Many characters come off as nothing but opportunists with very little in the way of moral compass or compunctions towards maintaining any sort of personal code of conduct. The shopworn concepts of Law, Chaos and Neutrality in combination with Good and Evil that are so common as measuring sticks of morality in RPG’s are used more as a means of codifying this often amoral behavior.
We need some means of describing the actual spirit and qualities of personality of the character, on which the characters’ behavior in play has a direct effect.
These tired old axes of Good and Evil, Law and Chaos, just are not sufficient to address the need for having some sort of moral compass to show where the PC’s actions are taking him spiritually, and say very little about the character’s habits of behavior and personality. They certainly have absolutely NOTHING in common with the morality or moral compass of the people of the period of the game. This is sad and more than a bit mystifying, considering that the people of the medieval period have provided us with the perfect tools for this task.
In 410 ad. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius wrote the epic poem “Psychomachia” (“Contest of the Soul“), which involved the battle of good “Virtues” against evil “Vices”. The intense popularity of this work in the period seized the imaginations of the people. It gave them a map by which good religion could be followed in everyday life and helped to spread the concept of the holy Virtues extolled by the Church throughout all of Europe. The Virtues and Vices became the measuring sticks, aspects or traits of character that were more important than any other to the people of the time. Both principles, Virtue and Vice, each have seven aspects, perfectly balanced, one against the other as follows.
These are the points on which each character’s behavior are noted, these are the qualities that define his personality, qualities of integrity and honor (or lack thereof), to his fellow denizens of the gameworld. Virtue and Vice were fixtures in the teachings of the Church and the awareness of the people of the era. In the theology of the medieval period, Virtue and Vice are the centerpieces of character. Virtue refers to excellence, an active habit essentially of expressing goodness, with Vice as its foil. Vice denotes the absence of that excellence of character, an active habit essentially of expressing the darker characteristics, by way of contrast. There was hardly a wealthy hall or castle without its series of tapestries imported from the peerless artisans of the Low Countries depicting the Virtues and Vices.
Virtue and Vice are pivotal to RoM roleplaying.
Of the Virtues listed above, the most highly touted and valued by genteel pious followers of the Church in the period of the game are the four cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude, on which hinge a righteous life. The Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity are the “theological” Virtues, chosen because even when practiced in the extreme, they do not contribute to Vice. To these were commonly added Patience and Humility in the period. The GM may include or ignore these two as he sees fit.
To mold one’s self in the images of the Virtues makes a character more pleasing to the Light, protecting him from the temptations of the world, and can over the course of time affect a character’s reputation in society in a very positive way.
The most reprehensible traits in the eyes of theologians of the Church in the period of the game are the Vices, the Seven Deadly Sins. These are Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. While they are opposite to the Seven Heavenly Virtues in principle, they are not the direct opposites of the Virtues in fact, although there is a countering Virtue for each Vice.
Chastity is the balancing force and Virtue to the Vice of Lust. It is purity, knowledge, honesty and wisdom. It requires one to abstain from sexual conduct according to one’s state in life. In this regard, its practice promotes courtly love and the ideal of romantic friendship, cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and is maintained by refraining from intoxicants (no matter their form or nature). Intoxication is an abandonment of Virtue and general and most likely Chastity in particular. To be honest with oneself, one’s family, one’s friends, and to all of humanity, the avoidance of all that is unclean, is to be chaste. It embraces moral wholesomeness and the achievement of purity of thought through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption is embodied in Chastity.
Temperance is the corresponding Virtue to counter the Vice of Gluttony. It is the ability to show caution and self restraint when engaging in any activity in which one might indulge or over-indulge, such as drink, sweets or food in general, swings of mood, heights of passion, spending money in luxury, and so on. Moderation should be shown in all things, self-restraint in all potential indulgences. This applies to display and acquisitiveness of wealth, consumption of food and/or alcohol, feelings and expressions of emotion (high AND low), and so on. Awareness, a constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings and practicing the deferment of gratification are both aspects of Temperance. Proper moderation between self-interest and public-interest, against the rights and needs of others all require Temperance. It is also prudence, or the ability to constantly look ahead to weigh the probable results of one’s actions, to judge between actions with regard to what is appropriate at a given time. As such, justice is an aspect of Temperance. To be Just one must act with a sense of honor, fairness, and good reason. To do justice to another, as in a proper depiction or appreciation without reservation or embellishment.
This virtue is marked by the ability to keep confidences, show discretion, husband resources, and exercise economy of action. It is shown in wariness out of consideration for the social and moral consequences of one’s actions. It is expressed in circumspection, caution, and rather a docile nature. Insofar as justice is involved, it is marked by due reward returned in regards to treatment rendered by others, a sense of equity and moral rightness – that the punishment should be tailored to the crime.
Charity is the corresponding Virtue to counter the Vice of Avarice or Greed. It is generosity and embodies a concern with the provision of help or relief for the needy, such as alms for the poor, orphans, widows, victims of disaster, and the like. These charitable acts are merely outward expressions, however, of feelings of benevolence, goodwill, or affection for one’s’ fellow beings. It encompasses a certain lenience, an indulgence, or simply forbearance in judging others, a definite inclination towards mercy, a feeling of brotherly love, a suffusing benevolence in general. Charity is Love, the greatest of the three theological Virtues, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others. It is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it both glorifies and reflects the very nature of deity. Such love can be self-sacrificial. The love embodied in Charity, “caritas“, is distinguished by its origin – being divinely infused into the soul – and by it’s residing in the will rather than dwelling among the emotions, although it may stir up any number of emotions. As long as one has Charity, he cannot be lost.
Diligence is the balancing force and Virtue to the Vice of Sloth. It is a decisive work ethic, the ability to be zealous but careful by nature in one’s actions and work, the capability of NOT giving up. Budgeting one’s time and monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness are tools for maintaining Diligence. Dedication and steadfastness in belief are aspects of it, but there is more to it – not only the will to sustain and maintain one’s effort but to uphold one’s convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching. It is persistence, resolve and integrity, consistently high ethics, rectitude and fortitude, as well. This aspect marks, in a word, a character’s guts, his strength of will and HRT, his ability to face and withstand trials, privation, and suffering with courage, to show endurance in pain and suffering or under trials and adversity. Courage is the prime expression of fortitude – courage in the face of danger or hardship to act or make the hard decisions, strength of will to suffer trials or privation without complaint, resistance to despair, fear, uncertainty, and intimidation and an ability to confront them – in a word, “heart”. Diligence is the basis of the knightly virtue of ardimen.
Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be shows courage in Diligence.
Patience is the corresponding Virtue to counter the Vice of Wrath or Anger. It provides the character with the capacity for calm endurance in suffering or the forbearance of something, some one, or a given trial of emotional endurance over time, generally without complaint. Having Patience indicates a capacity for tolerance and understanding when dealing with others and their foibles or Vices. It is exercising the will to try again and again to reach those who seem not to or unable to hear one’s message and a gentle moderation of any impulse to antagonism and especially to hostility. A will to do no harm is required to truly exercise Patience, an avoidance of all violence to any sentient being or life form. It is the will to create and /or preserve a sense of peaceful stability and community, the ability to forgive and to show mercy to others, to resolve any and all conflicts and injustice peacefully.
Those whose Patience scores grow quite high should give some thought to the violence done lower animals orders, and moderate their consumption of meat accordingly. Whether a failure to do so will affect the Patience score are up to the GM’s discretion, but such a failure (or “excess”) will likely put a cap on the Patience score a character may reach.
Kindness is the balancing force and Virtue to the Vice of Envy. It can be, in part, an expression of Charity, and/or consist of compassion giving rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering, and friendship for its own sake, without any compensatory advantage. Kindness is expressed in empathy and in trusting without prejudice or resentment. Kindness is an unconditional love, voluntary and without a hint of bias or spite. Having a positive outlook and cheerful demeanor are marks of kindness that often inspire kindness in others. Like a smile, Kindness can be contagious.
Humility is the corresponding Virtue to counter the Vice of Pride. Humility lies in modesty, in meekness, in lack of pride – although not to the detriment of one’s own essential sense of self-worth. The humble are retiring, reserved listeners first, self-abasing or -effacing, and they lack pretense or brash assertiveness. They are selfless and think of others long before themselves. Those who possess this Virtue are generally aware of their shortcomings and freely acknowledge their imperfections. When they look in the mirror they see every wart and wrinkle, and they know that in looking overlong or overmuch lies the path to Vanity. A predisposition to self-examination and a tendency of charity toward people with whom one disagrees are both marks of humility. The courage of the heart in Diligence necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious and especially those which are necessary but unglamorous or base in nature, and to accept any sacrifices involved with grace shows Humility. Reverence for those who have wisdom, not glorifying one’s own self vainly, especially at the expense of others, but giving credit where it is due rather than glorifying one’s self all show Humility, as do showing respect to those who selflessly teach in love and for all fellow living beings in general.
Lust or Lechery describes excessive love of others, passions or desires to gratify any want, need or sense, being obsessive in thoughts or desires. By its unrestrained excess the Lust renders love and devotion to the Light as secondary. Chastity and purity or contentment are the means by which Lust is defeated. Lust is typified by an overwhelming desire or craving; excessive unrestrained desire, esp. but by no means limited to sexual; inordinate and/or obsessive or immoderate pleasure, delight, or relish in anything. Any overwhelming desire or craving may be an avenue down which one may lust. While usually referred to in a sexual vein, Lust can be any excessive unrestrained desire. Any pleasure, desire, delight, or relish when taken to an obsessive level may be a Lust. Giving in to Lust can lead to sociological compulsions and/or transgressions including addictions, in the sexual vein to which Lust is usually relegated, it can manifest as adultery, bestiality, rape, and incest.
Gluttony is the countering Vice for the Virtue of Temperance, and may also be defeated through abstinence. It is a sin of excess, generally viewed as concerning food, but encompassing any inordinate capacity for indulging in the consumption of anything or stimulation of any sense (“glutton for punishment”). It is typified by over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste, especially insofar as by taking more than is needed, one thus withholds it from the needy.
The difference between Lust and Gluttony is that one is the inordinate desire for gratification, desire or passion, and the other is the inordinate capacity to indulge in something once obtained.
Greed or Avarice, also known as Covetousness, is the countering Vice for the Virtue of Charity or generosity. It is a sin of excess, a craving, to wish for something excessively and culpably, Greedy and acquisitive regardless of any detriment to others or any overriding need on their part, acquisitive to an extreme degree, even to the point of “More is better” regardless of consequence.
Greed is more of a blanket term however. It can describe many types of behavior motivated by Greed, including disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason, especially when committed for personal gain, in return for a bribe, for example. Scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects are acts of Greed, and Greed can inspire theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority, including simony, (profiting from soliciting goods on holy ground, within the actual confines of a church).
Those afflicted with Covetousness have a great craving to acquire things, “more is better.” It is a wish to have and to possess to the point of excess and overriding blame.
Sloth is the corresponding Vice to counter the Virtue of Diligence, a complete lack of zeal, and the failure to make good use of even one’s own native talents and gifts, the gifts of the Light. Indeed, diligence is the means whereby Sloth is defeated. It is also called the sin of sadness, of discouragement or despair, manifesting in the affliction known as “Accidia” – that is, melancholy, apathy, depression, and joylessness or world-weariness. Joylessness is a refusal to enjoy the goodness of the Light, weariness of the world a rejection of the world created by the Light. Sadness is described as a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent that causes unhappiness with one’s situation – thus, an impulse to break the Chain of Being.
The theologians describe sloth as the failure to love the Light with all one’s heart, all one’s mind and all one’s soul, also described as the “middle sin”, the only error characterized by an absence or insufficiency of love.
Wrath, Anger or Rage is the countering Vice for the Virtue of Patience. It is typified as a persistent and unrelenting rage, inordinate and uncontrolled wrath or ire, an extreme and lasting displeasure or hostility, angst, grief, or worry over any creature or being, situation, or thing. It is marked by an unwillingness to let such feelings go and move past them, even to the point of its impacting upon themselves destructively, wishing to do evil or harm to others, even to the point of violence – assault and/or murder. It can be expressed by impatience, revenge, or vigilantism. Also any punitive desires beyond justice, as in spite and the will to pursue vengeance even to violence beyond that allowed by law. Indeed, suicide is deemed as the ultimate tragic expression of wrath directed inwardly, a final rejection of the Light.
Envy is the countering Vice for the Virtue of Kindness. It lies in casting one’s eye upon another with malice, malevolence, resentment and discontent aroused by their desirable qualities, accomplishments or possessions, Envy is an insatiable desire or drive, like Greed, but applies more generally than Greed. Those possessed of Envy resent that some one else has something they want or perceive themselves to be lacking or needing, and wish the other person to be deprived of it, even should they themselves subsequently attain it.
Pride is the countering Vice for the Virtue of Humility. It is the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source from which the others arise. It embodies an excessive love of self, an over-weaning sense of self-worth, an over-inflated sense of one’s own importance, intrinsic value, or the magnitude of one’s dignity. Vanity is the darling Vice of Pride. Pride lies in taking over-abundant pleasure and satisfaction in one’s own work, possessions, station, and especially one’s achievements. Commonly manifests as conceit or arrogance, narcissism or physical vanity, and vainglory – being boastful through unwarranted pride in one’s accomplishments or qualities.
Within the majority of the Virtues’ and Vices’ descriptions are a number of aspects from which a certain mode of character behavior can be drawn. These are marked as “Foibles”. These are character quirks that can confine the expression of some or all of a particular Virtue or Vice’s expression to a much narrower field. A Foible can define the manner and mode of behavior in which the character most frequently expresses the influence of the Virtue or Vice from which it is derived, according to its description.
At the player’s option, the character can be given a score in a Foible under a Virtue or Vice for which he also has a score.
The score allotted to the Foible can be equal to or less than the score in the Virtue or Vice under which it is taken.
The character may have no more than one (1) Foible for any given Virtue or Vice.
Not all of the score a character has for a given Virtue or Vice must be allotted to its Foible, although doing so limits the character’s exposure to the influence of the Virtue or Vice from which it is derived during game play.
When a Virtue or Vice is increased, its Foible (as applicable) MAY be increased by the same amount at the player’s option,
BUT when a Virtue or Vice is increased due to a Foible’s direct influence, the Foible score MUST be increased also, at the same time.
No Foible score is ever higher than the score in the Virtue or Vice from which it is derived.
In the event that the character does something shady and loses a point of Virtue, or does something beneficent and loses a point in a Vice, any Foibles scores that were equal must also be reduced. If the Virtue or Vice score should go up again, the Foible score can likewise be increased.
IF the score of the Foible is less than that in the Virtue or Vice, the difference between those scores defines the amount of that Virtue or Vice the character must deal with in general circumstances. This can be an advantage in some ways, giving the effect of the Virtue or Vice in general less impact, but also a hindrance, as the Foible defines the character’s behavior more narrowly.
Conservative The character always hedges his bets in making sure that he has something left for later. He always has a couple extra pence tucked away, a little bit food, and an extra blanket, a spare set of clothing, etc. He just calls it being prepared, everyone else will probably just think him a packrat.
Just embodies a sense of the rightness of things, a sense of equity and ingrained fairness in all his dealings. As this character is dealt with by others, so he deals with them in return.
Law-Abiding indicates that the character follows the law to the letter and will not stray a single toe over the line even when the chips are down, unless the player makes a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible.
Pristine Honor is a sense of high honor most noblemen aspire to but rarely approach, much less actually achieve. Every challenge or foe faced casts a reflection on not only the character’s own but the entire family’s honor. Every threat to life, liberty, wealth, and/or property but most especially to name and reputation, must be met and faced down, or the family loses face.
This trait can be a great burden to the player.
Resist Not Evil is a Foible that doesn’t obscure or warp the character’s vision but rather drives him, once he observes a person exhibiting overriding qualities of low character, to begins the process of disassociating himself from having anything to do with that person further. They will no longer exist within his world. He will turn away from them without hearing them, accept no gifts from them, and will require a check vs. the level taken in this Foible even to respond to violence offered so he may defend himself. He does not lend the Darkness his strength by dignifying it with battle or opposition, but goes about doing good works and seeking out those who do the same so as to strengthen the Light.
Magnanimous Provides the character with a particular nobility of spirit, making him forgiving, generous of mind towards others, will not think ill of people until they prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are bent on unabashedly working ill on others without regret.
Open-handed Makes the character especially generous. The character will need to make a check to be able to keep from giving charity to those who appeal in need, even harder when charity is actually requested of him. This quality is expressed in largesse especially among the noble. The character will have to resist the impulse to make a gift of anything he owns that has been openly admired by another. He will literally give away the cloak or shirt on his back, the shoes off his feet, etc. to the less fortunate who have naught.
Merciful Imbues the character with a particular tenderness of heart that requires a successful check be made versus the level taken in this Foible before he may resist granting forgiveness or mercy for wrongs done them when their opponents or enemies ask it of them.
Confidante Indicates that the character holds the confidences of others especially dear and cannot reveal them to anyone else, regardless of how well trusted, without first making a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible, regardless of the circumstances.
Ironclad Word indicates the character sees his word as his bond. He would sooner die than break his sworn word. The player will have to make a check versus the level taken to be able to violate his oath, whether given under duress or not.
This trait can be a great burden to the player and so is worth a DP refund equal to the level taken.
This trait is not available to those with below average HRT, and is NOT available to practitioners of magick, due to the fact that it is redundant to the magickal constraints to this effect under which they live already, as a feature of their training in the Ars Magicka.
Lion Heart The character is courageous in the face of all challenges and hardships and will add the level taken in this Foible to his A V for all checks versus privation or pain. A separate and successful check versus this Foible are required before the character will allow a single sign of discomfort or complaint to escape him. When faced with an opponent he believes it is possible for him to best, he must make a successful check against this Foible as well in order to back down when challenged.
Private Counsel The character keeps his thoughts to himself. If he has a confidante, it is probably a priest, and he avails himself of the man’s services under the seal of the confessional for his own protection.
Dedication embodies the character resolve in life, his standards of excellence and his uncompromising nature when it comes to pursuing the causes he takes to heart. It affects the degree to which he will fuss over the works of his craft to ensure the best quality of which he is capable. When things don’t seem to add up he will track down clues to discover why because he must, he is driven. When it comes to pet theories the character are like a dog with a bone until he makes a successful check versus the level he has in this Foible. Dedication can be applied to every area of the character’s life, it can certainly affect other Foibles he may have. In situations where Dedication overlaps another Foible, their levels should be added, should the character try to act contrary to the course they would dictate.
Modest the character will not toot his own horn regarding his own talents and abilities or accomplishments without first making a check versus the level taken to overcome this foible, and then will only do so upon being asked point blank. In response he will then reply only to the specific inquiry made, without embellishment or speaking of related items. The nature of such a character precludes it except in direct answer to direct questions. The bearer of this foible will abhor any high reputation that might become attached to his name by his deeds, and Fame are the last thing he will seek, especially at high level.
Gentility makes the character of a mind and spirit incapable of expressing bitter or harsh remarks about or towards others, or recriminating them for their poor treatment of others, without first making a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible. The character must accept with equanimity any treatment, however harsh or unkind, with grace and forbearance, all the while treating everyone with honor and dignity, regardless of social class or station. This is a TRUE gentility of spirit.
Lascivious is a very sensuous person with an erotic preoccupation. They cannot resist (without a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible) making sexual innuendos or even outright coarse comments when the opportunity presents itself to them. They lust after everyone who attracts their eye and will make no secret of the fact, indeed will do everything in their power to see their physical desires fulfilled.
Addictive Taste When faced with the offer or opportunity to indulge in the particular taste to which the character is addicted, a successful check must be made versus the level taken in this Foible in order to resist indulging. This addictive taste may take the form of wine, sweets as in hard candy or sweets as in pastry or cakes, or fruit, blood meats cooked rare, a recreational drug, but it can also take the form of a tactile addiction such as an inordinate fondness for the feel of velvet, or of silk. At half the normal DP refund, the player can narrow the addiction down so that it is only the character’s particular favorite to which this weakness extends, rich dry red wines in the French style (cabernet blends), semidry whites in the German style (Rieslings), lemon drops, éclairs of the finest quality, trifles of the freshest fruit and finest brandy, roasted young lamb spiced with cloves and garlic and cinnamon served rare, hashish or opium, the plushest velvet produced by the city most famous for it but only when etched (cut) in delicate patterns and of the deepest garnet color, silken cloth of the softest satin texture and sheen but only in the richest color of golden topaz.
The difference between Lust and Gluttony lies in the fact that Lust can be satisfied. Only the exhausting of personal resources to afford an addiction or the local resources for satisfying it will stop the Glutton, who is understandably disappointed as a result.
Tightwad requires the character to make a successful check versus the level take] in this Foible before he may spend any of his hard-won monies on anything not considered bare subsistence. He aregrudge the secondhand clothes seller his price, and even the poor rag picker, will eat porridge and gruel, the meanest foods and clothing for the least amount of money, and shelter where he may so he doesn’t have to pay if he doesn’t own his own place. He will have to win a contest against his Foible before he can make anyone a gift of any of his hard-won possessions, even for his own true love, before he may leave a tip or even use gifts or money to grease the wheels of bureaucracy to achieve his aims. The character will have no shame about this, and short of bullying and threats (which will only provide a bonus the his AV to overcoming the Foible at that instance) will not be impressed by anything anyone has to say about this character flaw.
Conniver/Hustler is a character who always has a scheme or plan to get rich quick, to succeed in business, marry well, find a treasure, rescue a princess or the kingdom, and thereby set themselves up for life due to the rewards or the gratitude of others. He always has his eye on what the other guy has and how to get it for himself. A character with this Foible must make a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible in order to be motivated to do anything for which he doesn’t have an angle by which to benefit in some way by either monetary gain or material comforts.
Suspicious expresses the character’s lack of faith or trust in his fellow man, his basic belief that just because he values the things his acquisitive nature has driven him to collect, others must want them as well. Every person approaching him is treated to the same “bottom line” treatment : what do they want from him? Everybody wants something, most likely something he has worked hard to acquire. It will take a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible to suppress this suspicion and operate on some other basis.
Conscienceless reflects the fact that the character has no remorse, no guilt or conscience, no concern for what is right or wrong. He simply cannot rouse himself to care for the consequences of his acts so he does what he wants, to whomever he wants, whenever he wants. When anyone stands in the way of such a character doing just as he pleases he will calmly try to find a way around it, and failing that he will do his best to remove the impediment, and failing that he will very likely react like a child, with explosive, unreasoning anger. At the player’s option, especially at higher levels, the character may even be incapable of understanding how anything he wants or does is wrong and when he is punished by anyone for it insists on his right to have done just as he did. Punishment, again. brings out only his anger.
Accidia (or Acedia), also called “worldly sadness” this is a fault condemned by the Light. All should rejoice in the blessings and mercies of the Light, not linger in sadness and woe for the tragedies about them that they have no power to change. As Hamlet’s long mourning for his father’s passing and insistence on wearing funeral black, long after the event showed “a will most retrograde to Heaven,” so those bearing accidia wallow in sorrow over the wickedness and grief of the world about them, ignoring the glory of the Light, to the peril of their soul.
High Choler indicates that when the character’s ire is provoked, anytime frustrations mount, he is refused or denied what he seeks, a successful check are required versus the level taken in this Foible or the character will strike out at the object of his rage with the nearest weapon, or leap to pound with fists or grapple (as appropriate to the character) for (HRT + Foible level) pulses, or until restrained or diverted (GM’s discretion).
Short Fuse Whenever any criticism or slight or insult is offered the character, a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible must be made to avoid falling into an anger response.
Vindictive whenever the character’s ire is up, for so long as he remains provoked, the character will have to make a successful d100 check vs. the level of the foible or take a moment to avail himself of any opportunity to do his fellow man (or woman) an evil turn, a slight, an injury, in word or deed that presents itself.
User indicates that the only or overriding interest the character will have in others is in so far as they can be of use to him, what they represent to him in the way 01 resources to be tapped. One of the most common tactics for a character with this Foible is to find someone he doesn’t have to pay to take care of the menial drudgery of everyday life, cooking, cleaning, washing, mending, etc. This sort 01 character feels the world owes him a living and feels little, if any, connection with others, and thus has no guilt over treating people this way, even those who may love him or be in love with him. It is very easy for observers to note how such a character operates, to see them swing from cold to warm in social relations once it comes to light that someone once dismissed may have some valuable knowledge or assets, after all.
For such a character to respond with true feeling of the heart in any situation requires a successful check versus the level taken with this Foible.
Calling Card/Trademark is a mark the character carries and distributes to make sure that everyone knows not only who he is but where he has been. He cannot stand to be taken for granted or glossed over. Such characters have a particular style, a way they do things or approach things. It may be the wearing of a particular style of gloves, or shoes, scarves, or liripipes on their hats, sashes, the wearing of feathers of a certain type (peacock? ostrich?) or a fondness for a particular color (winter white accented with blazing rubies), or a certain style of dress, such as hose and short cote hardie, or houpelandes with wide angel wing sleeves, or the like. It may be that the character always has a pipe in hand or mouth, but never lit, or wears a particularly fine sword but has never been known to have drawn it, always has a cup of wine in hand (sweet red, the latest vintage). Whatever the calling card is, it identifies the character, and could give the character away should he be trying to travel incognito, and especially if he is in disguise.
Flashy/Garish/Ostentatious characters have no sense of taste or style in the conventional sense. They prefer bright clashing colors and warring patterns, overdone accents, all glitter and flash. Such characters have a great tendency to be insecure the higher the Foible’s level. Their very clothing shouts “Look at me!! Look at me!!”
At higher levels the meaning goes a little deeper, and this Foible indicates that they are people of no depth and no substance. The character becomes all about display and appearances, putting one’s self on display, and how one’s actions appear, who the “right people” to associate with are, how one’s words might be received, always “on stage” difficult at best to determine what is the real substance and heart of such a character.
Self Righteous is a character who can do no ·wrong. He typically pulls others down to lift himself up. If his methods achieve his ends, he has no moral qualms as to whether they were justified. “Kill them all and God will know His own” was a phrase uttered by just such a character. If the bath water is inimical to his goals, he couldn’t care less for the baby sitting in it when he pitches it out. And bringing such a character’s flaws or mistakes to his attention, or trying to drag morality into the issue (when it obviously has no place) will only earn his disdain, ire, or enmity, depending on the persistence with which it is pursued, and the character’s ability to successfully overcome this Foible.
Vain Glory is the Foible of the glory hound, constantly seeking ways to build his reputation and social prestige, to win glory in fabulous conquests as a benefactor especially to those who can do him the most good, but also with the specific goal of being able to crow about his achievements and trade on this reputation. This is the Foible of the character with too great a sense 0″f his own honor and worth. He is certainly not above taking credit for others’ ideas after they prove successful. Failing to overcome the level he has in this Foible, every threat to name and reputation must be met and overcome, or he loses face.
Arrogant/High-Handed makes the character prone to make unilateral decisions for everyone in his company, and act on them generally without consulting anyone else, regardless of the fact that his decisions affect all in the party. This character knows all too well that the sun rises and sets over him. This is not an aspect of his life that requires discussion, it simply IS, and he accepts it. Pride is the cornerstone of the character of such a person.
Blustering Windbag is a character who always has something to say, who never, hesitates to bellow to see the man in charge when he doesn’t get everything he wants or thinks he is entitled to. He has an overblown sense of his own importance, thinks everyone should just KNOW who he is and how important, has a great penchant for creating scenes in public and for being very loud to embarrass others into cooperating with him.
Busy Body is a Foible that can easily get on people’s nerves, but can be great fur to play. Such characters are always lurking about trying to find ways to insert themselves into everyone else’s conversations, usually by asking for more information on a point in a conversation in which they were not included to begin with. They have a bad habit of button-holing people and playing twenty questions with them, trying to wheedle every little bit of not only useful information but also background from people. The character will require a successful check versus the level taken in this Foible in order to avoid inserting themselves in conversations or asking impertinent questions. They have an insatiable curiosity, not necessarily with the highest of aims, and absolutely no clue that their attentions are usually most unwelcomed. The character’s Pride would never allow them to admit that their attentions are unwonted, and they will generally take great exception to others shutting them down and turning away from them, which i1 usually the only effective means of diverting a Busy Body. The usual reaction if these cases is the obligatory “Well, I never … ” and stalking off in a huff (their favorite mode of transportation).
Virtue & Vice in Play
When do the Virtues actually affect roleplay and the flow of the game? That is essentially up to the GM to decide, BUT he must keep the nature of each in mind, especially when he is writing adventures. He can plan encounters that intentionally bring one or the other set of qualities directly into play, and make a note of it to remind himself when planning the evening’s play.
The uses of Virtue and Vice in roleplaying the characters are the greatest challenge for the GM during play. It means he must keep on his toes, ever watchful for moral crises and opportunities to bring Virtue and Vice into play. This is a very important piece of the medieval flavor of the game, however, and so much more rewarding to make the extra effort to utilize it. The fact that moral situations are sometimes completely subjective makes this a little difficult to referee from time to time, BUT it can also be very rewarding in the end, making the players more aware of their own characters’ personalities and the medieval-ness of the gameworld around them. The GM must keep an open mind and be willing to listen to the players. Very few situations are so black and white, although many of the situations that bring the Virtues and Vices into play are VERY obvious, and can be planned for by the GM.
If the players favor the channeling of the Virtue and Vice scores into the Foibles, that actually makes the GM’s job a bit easier, and is in fact a tactic he should choose to use with his NPC’s as well, when he has the chance. These narrow the focus and make hitting the character’s psychological buttons and testing his resolve and mettle easier mechanically while reducing the specific incidences where it comes into play directly.
The Virtue and Vice scores should rise and fall according to nature of the character’s actions during play (GM’s discretion).
Actions which truly illustrate the spirit of a Vice increase the corresponding Vice score, putting the character’s feet on that path and making that influence a little harder to resist the next time Temptation appears to test him again. In the same vein, acts which truly embody the spirit of a Virtue raise the corresponding Virtue score, making resisting the corresponding Vice easier (as applicable, not all Virtues have an opposing Vice) and doing the “right thing” harder to walk away from.
A score in a Virtue can be increased through inordinate or exemplary behavior proving the character’s worthiness (GM’s discretion), but they can be lost as well, and scores in Vice accumulated due to indulgence. As a spiritually-based practice, the uses to which magick is put have a direct and immediate effect on the character’s scores in Virtue and Vice. In addition, there are a number of different sources of “mortal mana” that are available for the casting of magicks. The use of a number of these (Death Mana, Blood Mana, Carnal Mana, etc.) have a direct impact on either Virtue or Vice every time they are tapped.
The higher the score in a Virtue or Vice, the stronger the Virtue or Vice is and the harder it is to take action in violation of it, as that Virtue or Vice over time grows to show a habit of action that can grow over time until it is considered a cornerstone of the character’s psychological make-up, ingrained in his spirit. The actual rating relative to the character’s willpower determines how strong that influence is within the character.
IF the character is ever tempted in roleplay by a situation on which a Virtue has direct bearing, or finds himself in a crisis of conscience tempted by Vice, and the d100 check against the influence is failed (Virtue) or made (Vice), the character loses one point from that Virtue score (the score can never fall below zero) or, in more serious circumstances, the player required to add one point to the appropriate Vice score AND reduce the opposing Virtue, whichever deemed most appropriate (GM’s discretion).
To give the GM a baseline, anytime a PC goes out of his way to either perform an act showing his concentration on and attention to a particular Virtue (the GM must make a judgment call which, as a few of them overlap and some actions and situations may involve more than one) the GM makes a check on d100 vs. the PC’s willpower, plus (current score in applicable Virtue).
The character’s own ego is an obstacle here.
IF the check is successful, the GM should raise the score in the applicable Virtue by one (1). If not, it remains as it was. This is all about intent. If the GM feels that the act was sincere at heart and not made for mechanical reasons by the player so as to raise a Virtue score, the roll might be skipped and the score simply raised, or the roll might be fudged to the same effect.
When a character pursues and/or indulges Vice, the situation is resolved in the same manner, but the d100 check is a HRT att. mod. check vs. the PC’s own conscience + (current score in applicable Vice).
The PC’s own conscience is an obstacle here.
When a PC is faced with the temptation towards a Vice and folds without a second thought and indulges himself, without even asking to make a willpower check because he is not sure if the PC would resist it, the GM should make a note of it. This requires a judgment call on the GM’s part, determined by the magnitude of the temptation and the current score in the Vice (if any), whether the score should be increased by one (1). The higher the score, the greater the temptation must be and the greater the number of occasions for Vice already faced before the GM should increase the score.
One thing to make note of is the great importance of INaction on a character’s part when confronted with a great need he is equipped and able to redress but averts his gaze and walks on by, or in the face of an act of great cruelty or monstrous neglect to, once again, look away and walk on by. These refusals to act should have an equal effect on the characters’ Vice scores.
The quality of a Virtue is increased in the same manner, by committing acts that are consonant with one of the Virtues, BUT those common acts that are executed in the simplest possible manner, especially in giving alms should count for little. Money is the cheapest way to pay. Devotion of time and personal energy and skills to the welfare of others is a much better yardstick for the GM to use. To give away something that means little is worth little, to give away something precious means a great deal. True acts of Virtue are performed in passing, casually and without a second thought for the loss incurred in giving, and without having been asked, and for those from whom the PC stands to gain nothing in return, not patronage or service or any other advantage and to those who need it most.
True acts of Vice are committed in passing, done coolly and casually and without a second thought, in spite of cries of protest of any who suffer from the act, and from whom the PC stands in no danger of reprisal, even indirectly, from which act the PC stands to gain no reward or advantage, against those who are as close to innocent as they may be and least deserving of such treatment.
Committing an act of cold blooded murder against a defenseless foe, innocent or not so, should automatically raise one of the Vice scores. Mass murder, especially against defenseless innocents should raise Vice by anywhere from 2 to 6 points – or more depending on the total! It was not uncommon in war for every soul in a conquered town to be put to the sword, or every man and male child, thousands at once. Those wielding the swords should suffer an increase in Vice for their deeds, BUT the one giving the order should be marked out as having the greatest cruelty, the least compassion.
The Virtues and Vices establish general modes of behavior, but there are situations in the game that can occur which are highly charged emotionally and the characters’ reactions to them should have a direct effect on Vice and Virtue – what a PC does to an arch-enemy when he finally has him alone and at his mercy may well show his qualities of either Vice or Virtue.
A score should similarly be reduced when a situation requires a Vice or Virtue check and the PC makes the check successfully to resist the impulse. In the same manner in which the scores are built, they should not be so easily knocked down again, however. The GM should use the same method by which they were built in reverse.
In this way the scores fluctuate over time. A character can slide into Shadow and even Darkness, but ALWAYS has the ability to redeem himself through choosing to mend his ways and doing his best to resist Vice and commit himself to a Virtuous life.
Roleplaying the Virtue and Vice scores can pose a bit of a challenge. Having a rating in a Virtue or Vice places certain constraints on the player to portray his character in a certain way under certain circumstances where a given Virtue or Vice in which he has built a score comes into play. These constraints are the result of the manner in which the player has already played the character, however, so it really is only becomes a means of making sure that the player remains true to character as the player has already established his personality in play.
Making multiple Virtues a focus of the character is encouraged, as it weakens the constraints placed on the player in his roleplaying of the character, but the player stands warned that Virtue and Vice scores may require successful Contested HRT Rolls be made against them if the player does not play them true (GM’s discretion). This may result in the need for the player to modify his character’s actions to coincide with what those scores indicate as far as the quality of the character’s personality/spirit. This is always subject to debate between the character and the GM, but both parties are advised to keep in mind that this is a tool for aiding in the portrayal of a character consistent with his established patterns of behavior, BUT it is NOT a club with which to beat the player, either. The degree to which a failed or successful roll affects the behavior of a character is ALWAYS up to interpretation.
While tracking the individual Virtues and Vices is useful as a reflection of the manner in which the PC’s are being played and bring some additional consistency into their portrayal in roleplay, a general score in Light and Darkness is also very helpful for Mystic characters and their sensitivities to these spiritual vibrations, and also in dealing with Spirits and spirit-creatures of Light and Darkness. These two general scores are equal to the sum of the scores accumulated in the Virtues and Vices, respectively.
When the over-all Virtue score is 2x the character’s Vice score or greater AND the over-all Vice score is 7 (+1 per 10 years of age) or less (to a maximum of 13), the character is said to Walk in the Light.
When the over-all Vice score is 2x the character’s Virtue score or greater AND the over-all Virtue score is 7 (+1 per 10 years of age) or less (to a maximum of 13), the character is said to Walk in the Darkness.
Everyone else in between is said to Walk in Shadow, some being more Dark than others and some more Light, but all have the capacity to either find the Light or get lost in Shadow and then Darkness. Even from the deathbed in Darkness one might still find redemption, BUT no one with a Vice score greater than 13 can ever be truly said to fully Walk in the Light, just as no one who has a Virtue score greater than 13 can ever be said to be wholly lost to the outermost Darkness.
Where the GM is running a game where the PC’s have some sort of score for Honor or some other form of Reputation, the overall Vice and Virtue scores should have a direct effect – insofar as the actions that resulted in the characters achieving those scores have become a matter of public record and note. High scores in Virtue or Vice give the character a certain “vibe”, so to speak, that can affect the way in which strangers react when first meeting him (Encounter Reactions, or the analogue in the GM’s game), either positively (Virtue) or negatively (Vice). If the character has the skills for concealing his true nature and intent, he can certainly maintain a pleasant public face and reputation, even rise to great prominence, especially if the character was possessed of a measure of physical attractiveness and native charm. Such skills might allow the PC to counteract the effects a high Vice score would otherwise bring Encounter Reactions (or the like) down into less favorable territory.
Once the acts that reveal a darker nature become known, it is all downhill, as was the case for the Marquise de Merteuil when her perfidy and scandalous manipulations became a matter of public knowledge with the release of her letters to the Vicomte de Valmont, who had been her accomplice, after she engineered the Vicomte’s death, in the film “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988). The final scene shows the utter destruction of her reputation and humiliation as she is shouted and cat-called by the entire audience at the opera house into fleeing.