Two Descriptors?

Hey everyone,

I'd been looking at the descriptors in the Character Options book and I was bothered by the species/regional descriptors. I know that the regional descriptor is not meant to say that everyone from that region behaves as the descriptor says, but it felt that way, just like it felt like every non-human character would be the same. If your species is your descriptor, you could never be a Clumsy diruk or a Cruel mlox or a Learned lattimor.

So I thought it might be interesting to give players two descriptors: one is their adjective and the next is their race/region. In this way you could be a Naive golthiar Glaive who Needs No Weapon, or a Clever Thaemic Nano who Crafts Illusions, or a Guarded mutant Jack who Masters Insects. Each of the descriptors is pretty well balanced in and of itself, so it seems like allowing two descriptors would give double the benefits but also double the drawbacks, so it wouldn't be overpowered. It also allows a lot more flexibility in character creation. While this might not be something recommended for first time players, it could be pretty cool for more experienced players. Thoughts?

Comments

  • Yeah, this issue has come up a few times (Lex has mentioned it with some regularity on the GM Intrusions podcast). For what it's worth, I agree that the 'everyone from this region/of this species is the same' vibe feels a bit off.

    For the regional descriptors, I think you could just re-skin them with different names if you want them to be more generic (e.g. Ephrem ----> Arboreal; Naven ----> Mercantile, etc). This works pretty well for almost all the regions.

    As for compounding descriptors, I think it should work without too many difficulties (it's a pretty flexible system, after all). So long as the combinations are in keeping with the character, rather than an attempt to negate the shortcomings of a particular descriptor, I'd go with it (e.g. a diruk is supposed to be slow, ponderous, and difficult for humans to relate to). If you interpret the inabilities as essentially preventing characters from becoming specialised, I can't see there being much of an issue. E.g. a 'swift' diruk who gains training and then specialises in running will in effect only treat running tasks as neutral, as this specialisation compounds with his/her/its two inabilities in speed tasks and in running; even a notably speedy diruk is by human standards rather slow.

    Alternatively, you could use the character customisation options in the corebook to tweak a cruel lattimor, or whatever the player wants? By taking a few story complications and/or XP advances, you could quite easily add a few mechanical attributes to assist in roleplaying a character of this type - especially as the complications could be explicitly tied to the character's traits. The rulebook does discourage excessive modifications of descriptors, but seemingly on the grounds that a descriptor should say 'one thing' about a character - thus less of an issue for this case (as you still want to say 'one thing', just about a non-human character)
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