A list of Qualities & Drawbacks for Cinematic Unisystem games. Most qualities and drawbacks can be used or adapted for different roleplaying games. Qualities and drawbacks that were designed for a specific game have been marked.
|Quality/Drawback||Point Value||Quality/Drawback||Point Value|
|Acute/Impaired Senses||2-point Quality or Drawback||Addiction||Variable Drawback|
|Adversary||Variable Drawback||Age||2-points/level Quality|
|Artist||2-point Quality||Attractiveness||1-point/level Quality or Drawback|
|Clown||1-point Drawback||Contacts||Variable Quality|
|Covetous||1- to 3-point Drawback||Dependent||2- or 3-point Drawback|
|Emotional Problems||Variable Drawback||Empathy||2-point Quality|
|Fast Reaction Time||2-point Quality||Good/Bad Luck||1-point/level Quality or Drawback|
|Hard to Kill||1- to 5-point Quality||Honorable||1- to 3-point Drawback|
|Humorless||1-point Drawback||Initiative Commando (BtVS)||4-point Quality|
|Jock||3-point Quality||Love||2- or 4-point Drawback|
|Mental Problems||1- to 3-point Drawback||Minority||1-point Drawback|
|Misfit||2-point Drawback||Natural Toughness||2-point Quality|
|Nerd||3-point Quality||Nerves of Steel||3-point Quality|
|Obligation||Variable Drawback||Occult Library||Variable Quality|
|Photographic Memory||2-point Quality||Physical Disability||Variable Drawback|
|Psychic Visions||1-point Quality||Rank||1-point/level Quality or Drawback|
|Recurring Nightmares||1-point Drawback||Resistance||1-point per level Quality|
|Resources||2-points/level Quality or Drawback||Robot||5-point Quality|
|Secret||Variable Drawback||Situational Awareness||2-point Quality|
|Slayer (BtVS)||16-point Quality||Sorcery||5-point/level Quality|
|Talentless||2-point Drawback||Teenager||2-point Drawback|
|Telepathy||5-point Quality||The Sight||3-point Quality|
|Vampire||12- or 15-point Quality||Watcher (BtVS)||5-point Quality|
|Werewolf||3-point Drawback or 6- or 12-point Quality|
Acute/Impaired Senses Edit
2-Point Quality or Drawback
Normally, the senses are represented by the Perception Attribute. Acute or Impaired Senses indicate one or more are higher or lower than normal for a person with that Perception Attribute. When choosing this Quality, pick Vision, Hearing, Smell/Taste, or Touch.
When bought as a Quality, an Acute Sense provides a +3 bonus to any Perception-related roll that relies on that particular sense. If acquired as a Drawback, Impaired Sense give a similar -3 penalty to Perception-related rolls. Some Impaired Senses (hearing and sight in particular) can be easily corrected by glasses, hearing aids, and similar devices. If the impairment is eliminated by the use of such devices, the Director should reduce the value of the Drawback to one character point. As long as your character’s glasses or hearing aid or whatever is on, she is fine. If, say, a vampire knocks the glasses off, she won’t be able to see very well. It is possible to have more than one type of Acute or Impaired Sense, or, for example, to have Acute Hearing and Impaired Eyesight, or a similar combination of senses. For obvious reasons, you cannot select both the Impaired and Acute versions of the same sense.
For all addictions, the value of this Drawback is determined by the severity of the addiction and the relative effects of the drug or substance. Directors should adjudicate the game effects of a “high” on a character. This can range from a small penalty for being slightly “buzzed,” to the complete stupor of a heroin trip. A rough guide would be a penalty equal to the Addiction Point Value of the Drawback (heavy use of marijuana imposes a -3 penalty to all rolls). A drug addict character is often unable to control herself.
|Addiction Point Value Table|
|Habitual drinking or smoking: 1 point.|
|Heavy drinking or smoking; light use of marijuana or LSD: 2 points|
|Heavy use of marijuana or LSD: 3 points|
|Alcoholism; habitual use of barbiturates or cocaine: 4 points|
|Habitual use of heroin; heavy use of barbiturates or cocaine: 5 points|
|Heavy use of heroin: 6 points|
When an addicted character hasn’t gotten her usual “fix,” she suffers from debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Most mental actions are at a penalty equal to the value of the Drawback (so, a character with a 2-point Addiction suffers a -2 penalty to most mental actions) until the addict can get what she needs. The most severe drugs (like heroin) also produce strong physical effects; such addicts have a withdrawal penalty of -3 to all physical actions in addition to the penalty on mental actions.
Unlike some Drawbacks, this problem cannot be overcome easily. Generally, the best a character can hope to do is to deny her craving “one day at a time.” Getting rid of this Drawback should never be a matter of saving up enough points to “buy it off.” Resisting the craving requires a series of daily Willpower (doubled) rolls. The first few rolls suffer no penalty. After a number of days equal to the character’s Willpower have passed, add a penalty equal to the value of the Drawback. If the character blows any of the rolls, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her fix. If no fix is available, she goes through the withdrawal penalties. And so on. Once ten straight days of successful Willpower rolls have passed, the character may lower the Addiction Point Value by one. And it starts all over again. Not a fun situation to be in, but if the struggle to overcome the addiction is roleplayed well, it should earn the character some Drama Points.
Your character has pissed someone off. And not pissed off in a “I’m not speaking to you” way—more like a “I’m going to kill you bad” or “I’m going to make your life a living hell” kind of way. Word's gotten out, and someone is not going to take it lying down.
The more powerful the Adversary is, the higher the value of this Drawback. Directors should determine if an Adversary is appropriate to the game in question. If the Adversary is unlikely to appear frequently, the Director can reduce the point value or disallow it altogether. Individuals are valued at one to three points as Adversaries, depending on their resources and abilities. An organization may be worth three to five or more points, depending on its power.
You should have a good reason why your character has earned the enmity of the Adversary. Your Director can then weave this enemy into the Season in any way she sees fit. Alternatively, you can select the Drawback and leave it to your Director to decide who the Adversary is.
Killing the Adversary is not usually enough to eliminate the Drawback—your Director will see to it that another Adversary of similar value rears its ugly head shortly afterward. That’s the way it works in the show, after all.
Some beings have been around for several life spans; they could be demons, ancient undead, or otherworldy game show hosts. Ancient characters are very powerful, having refined their abilities with centuries of practice. This Quality assumes that the character has some feature, like vampirism, that has allowed her to survive this long (such powers must be purchased separately).
Each level of Age adds one century to your character’s life span. Truly ancient supernaturals (a millennium old or older) have ten or so levels of Age, and are extremely powerful. As such, they are not appropriate as Cast Members in most games.
The Age Quality only refers to periods during which the character was active. Many supernatural beings have long periods of “down time” when they were in stasis.
If you want to create a character from a truly ancient period, be our guest; add as many levels of Age as you can afford, and consider the rest of the time to be “down time” for whatever reason. The bonuses your character gets are restricted to those levels of Age purchased though.
Age gives your character more points to put into skills. Each level of Age grants one point per level of Intelligence to put into skills, to a maximum of four per level. Age is not without its downside though. Over time, enemies and secrets are accumulated, and these always seem to outlast friendships and renown. For each level of Age, the character must take one level of either Adversary or Secret and gains no character points for that disadvantage.
Your character’s an artist, someone unusually talented and creative. Artists end up forming bands that don’t suck, painting masterpieces, writing Great American Novels, and doing other cool stuff like that.
Artists get a +1 to any two mental Attributes (Intelligence, Perception, or Willpower); the bonuses cannot be stacked onto one Attribute, and the limit remains six for humans. They also get a +1 to (what else?) the Art skill. Artists tend to be a bit sensitive and emotional, though; they have a -1 penalty to Willpower rolls to resist fear or losing their temper, or otherwise letting their emotions rule.
1-Point/Level Quality or Drawback
This Quality or Drawback determines the character’s looks (or lack thereof). The average person has an Attractiveness of zero. Attractiveness typically ranges from -5 to +5 in humans. A +1 or +2 make the person stand out in a crowd. At +3 or +4, we are talking model-good looks. At +5, the pulchritude borders on the heart-stopping. On the flip side, at -1 or -2, the person has homely features, unsightly blemishes, or scars. At -3 or -4, the character is downright repulsive. At -5, break out the paper bag—looking at the character is almost painful.
A positive Attractiveness helps when dealing with people of the right sex or sexual persuasion. If you’re “looking good” enough, a few come-hither glances may help you get backstage at a rock concert, avoid traffic tickets, get your flat tire changed, and so on. Add your character’s Attractiveness bonus to any activity (usually Influence skill rolls) where persuading people is a factor. Negative Attractiveness works the opposite way, except when the purpose is to intimidate someone; people are more scared of an ugly mug than a pretty face.
Attractiveness costs one point per level if bought as a Quality, or adds one point per level if acquired as a Drawback. After character creation, Attractiveness can change only by events that modify the character’s entire appearance, either through scarring or plastic surgery, or growing up in the right places.
The Clown refuses to take things seriously and is always coming up with jokes and wisecracks, even at the most inappropriate moments. Perhaps your character is deeply insecure and tries to gain other people’s acceptance through humor, or she simply delights in keeping folks off-balance with her comments. The biggest problem these characters have is that they cannot keep their mouths shut even when they know a joke will only work against them.
Clowns are generally accepted and liked during situations where their quirky humor is not out of place (parties and other social gatherings, or among friends). Their sense of humor gets them in trouble during tense and dangerous situations. Another problem the Clown faces is people often do not take her seriously even when they should.
Make a phone call to the right people and you get information, special supplies, some cash, or even the proper make-over regimen. This Quality gives your character those phone numbers. The more helpful the contact is, the higher the Quality’s point value. For any and all Contacts, the Director determines whether or not the Contact is available at any given time. Generally, the more time your character has to reach or get word to her Contact, the more likely the Contact will come through.
A Contact that only provides hints, rumors, or gossip costs one point. If the Contact usually provides reliable information and helps the character out in small ways (offering a ride, letting the character spend the night over, or getting a background check on somebody), this Quality sets you back two points. Actual allies who help the character in any way they can run three to five points, depending on the Contact’s resources.
1- to 3-Point Drawback
Everybody wants stuff. A Covetous character wants stuff really badly, and will do almost anything to get it. She may be motivated by love of money, lust for sensual satisfaction, hunger for power, or the search for glory. Whatever she desires, she will do almost anything to get it, limited only by any sense of caution or morality she may have—and in some cases, not even by that. A Covetous character usually refrains from breaking her own moral code or the laws of the land in the pursuit ofher goals, but if a golden opportunity presents itself, the temptation may just be too great.
There are four types of covetousness: Greed (money and wealth), Lechery (sexual relations), Ambition (power and influence), and Conspicuousness (fame and renown). It is possible to covet two or more of those things, but each additional source of desire adds but a single point to the value of this Drawback.
The Covetous Drawback has three levels of severity, worth one, two and three points respectively.
Mild: The first level is relatively mild. Your character knows what she wants and she spends a great deal of time and effort to attain her goals, but she won’t break her own rules or those of society to do so. This is a 1- point Drawback.
Serious: The second level is stronger—presented with enough temptation, your character may act even if it goes against her better judgment or morality. She may resist if the action she contemplates is truly wrong and reprehensible—stealing credit for a heroic deed performed by a friend, for example—but resisting requires a Willpower (doubled) roll, at a penalty of -1 to -3 if the temptation and possible rewards are great. This is a 2- point Drawback.
Desperate: The third level is the strongest—a desire so strong that it often overwhelms any scruples your character may have. When presented with temptation, she can only avoid acting by making a Willpower roll, with penalties ranging from -1 to -5 depending on the size of the prize. For a high enough reward, your character will turn on friends or loved ones, and even betray her principles. This is a 3-point Drawback.
2- or 3-Point Drawback
Your character has a relative or someone who is close to her—perfect for the villains to terrorize, hold hostage or otherwise use and abuse.
Emotional Problems Edit
1- or 2-Point Drawback
Those with Emotional Problems react in unreasonable ways to certain situations and problems. The reaction can be anger, pain or anguish, typically more extreme than normal.
Emotional Problems can be overcome during play, but this should always be roleplayed. If you are able to convey the inner struggle of your character over the course of several Episodes, the Director might allow her to eliminate the Drawback without having to “pay” any experience points to do so. And there’s probably a Drama Point or two in it for you as well.
Depression: Your character’s emotional problems make the very act of living a chore. Common symptoms include sleep problems (either oversleeping or insomnia), severe procrastination (to the point that the sufferer may lose her job or get kicked out of school), and a lack of interest in anything. A character with Depression suffers a -1 to most Tasks, and tends to avoid becoming involved. This is a 2-point Drawback. A severe shock may snap someone out of this state for a while (a life-threatening crisis could do it), but the character will sink back into inactivity afterward. Certain drugs and psychiatric treatment can reduce the effect of this problem (which also reduces its value to one point).
Emotional Dependency: These clingy types are overly dependent on others. Once they make a friend, they want to hang around her all the time. When involved in a relationship, they are excessively needy. This behavior tends to freak friends and relations. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Fear of Commitment: Whenever your character starts feeling too close to somebody, she becomes afraid and pulls back. Maybe she is afraid that if she lets somebody get too close, they will hurt her, and it’s just not worth the pain. Or perhaps she fears that if she reveals too much about herself, the other person will see the “real her” and be appalled or disgusted. This makes it very difficult to have a healthy relationship with either friends or lovers. This problem is a 1-point Drawback.
Fear of Rejection: When this person experiences rejection (or thinks she has been rejected), she feels hurt and angry. People with this problem may be afraid to make friends or approach those they are attracted to, and if their fears come true, they harbor a great deal of resentment and anger. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Insecurity: Your character is shy or not one to take charge. It’s that kind of insecurity that can paralyze a person and cause them to mumble. An insecure person might hesitate before acting (-2 to Fear Tests) or suffer penalties when interacting with others. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Loner:This character has little need for friends or companions . . . or others in general. Whether motivated by fear of getting hurt or sheer disgust with those around her, she is highly unpleasant to be around and will not accept aid of any kind. This is a 1-point Drawback.
People are generally pretty poor at hiding their anger, grief, or smug confidence, but your character has a real talent for reading folks. With a Perception and Notice roll, she can tell what someone nearby is feeling. The better the roll, the more your character learns about exactly how a person is feeling. Most of the time, the empath can only read the strongest emotions, but with enough Success Levels, the probe can go deeper. This ability only works on humans (and werewolves in human form). Vampires, demons, ghosts, and other supernatural beings are just too inhuman for a good reading.
Fast Reaction Time Edit
Most people freeze when something bad is about to happen. Not someone with this Quality—the lucky one rolls away and punches. In combat, contact sports or other physical confrontations, characters with this Quality gain a bonus for Initiative purposes (+5 if using dice), modified by common sense (Fast Reaction Time cannot help the target of a sniper half a mile away, for example).
Because they are fairly immune to the “freeze” factor so common in dangerous situations, Fast Reaction folks also gain a bonus of +1 on Willpower Tests to resist fear.
Good/Bad Luck Edit
1-point/level Quality or Drawback
If your character enjoys Good Luck, Fortune smiles on her far more often than on most people. Whenever she needs a break, there is a good chance that circumstances will conspire to give her one. If your character suffers from Bad Luck, on the other hand, Murphy’s Law (“if anything can go wrong, it will”) always applies to everything she does. Good Luck points are like low-key Drama Points, but have the advantages of being re-usable and you can use them whenever you want.
Each level of Luck counts as a +1 bonus (or -1 penalty) that can be applied to any roll, after the die is rolled, once per game session. Multiple levels can be added together for a big bonus on one roll, or spread around several different actions. For example, if your character has three levels of Good Luck, she can get a +3 bonus on one action, a +1 bonus to three actions, or a +2 bonus for one and a +1 bonus for another.
With Good Luck, you decide when it comes into play. Bad Luck, however, is in the hands of the Director, who chooses when it affects a given roll. Directors should exercise caution and good judgment when applying Bad Luck. If they use Bad Luck for meaningless rolls, the Drawback becomes little more than a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, applying Bad Luck to Survival Tests or other critical rolls is a good way to alienate folks. Make the Bad Luck count, but don’t abuse anyone. We’re trying to get you all to have fun here, not create angst (well, not out-of-game angst).
Hard to Kill Edit
1- to 5-point Quality
Characters with this Quality are extremely tough, and can withstand an amazing amount of damage before going down. Even after they are severely wounded, medical attention has a good chance of reviving them, scarred but alive. This Quality is bought in levels. Level five is the highest possible for human beings; Slayers and some supernatural beings can have more levels. Each level of Hard to Kill adds three Life Points to your character’s Pool. Additionally, each level provides a +1 bonus to Survival Tests. Probably every character in an RPG Series should have a couple of levels of this Quality. If you have any Quality points left over, you should invest them here. Your character will thank you.
1- to 3-point Drawback
Your character follows a code of behavior, and will not break it lightly, if at all. The more restrictive and rigid the code is, the higher its value. Honor Girl should almost never break the code’s rules, no matter what the cause. In a life-or-death situation where honor must be ignored, your character might do so, but even then a Willpower (not doubled) Test is necessary to overcome the psychological barriers reinforcing the code of honor.
Minimal: Your character does not lie or betray friends or loved ones, or people she respects. Anybody else, especially people from groups they dislike or are prejudiced against, is fair game. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Serious: This code of honor is more complex, and applies to everyone, friend or foe. Your character always keeps her word and does her best to fulfill any promises she makes. She will not betray the trust of others once she has accepted it. She may be reluctant to give her word except in a good cause (at least a good cause as she sees it), because once it has been given she will abide by it. This is a 2-point Drawback.
Rigid: Your character lives by a strict set of rules that controls most of her actions towards others. In addition to all the other restrictions above, she will refuse to participate in acts of betrayal such as ambushes, striking a helpless or unsuspecting foe, or cheating in any way. Lying is anathema, and she will only do so in cases of extreme need. Even then, she will feel guilty and will not do a very good job at deceiving; any tasks requiring lying will have a -2 to -6 penalty, determined by the Director. This is a 3-point Drawback.
She finds little amusing, lacks the ability to laugh at life, and takes everything with the utmost seriousness. Other people’s attempts at humor leave her cold or annoy her. Most people find this facet of her personality to be unattractive or bothersome. Clowns and practical jokers most likely select the Humorless as their favorite target.
Initiative Commando Edit
4-point Quality (BtVS)
The Initiative is (was?) a secretive government organization dedicated to fighting and studying (of late, mostly fighting) HSTs, or Hostile Sub-Terrestrials—bureaucrat- speak for monsters. The front-line soldiers of the Initiative are recruited from the military, given special training and all kinds of cool toys, and sent out into the night to fight the good fight.
Without additional charge or value, Initiative Commandos gain +1 to any two physical Attributes, to a maximum level of six (the bonuses cannot be stacked on a single Attribute); Fast Reaction Time or Situational Awareness (pick one); three levels of Hard to Kill (an additional two levels can be acquired by spending points during character creation); and a 3-point Obligation (or, if they quit, a 3-point Adversary or 3-point Secret).
The character is a sports fan, but not the type that does sports sitting in front of the TV while downing chips and beer (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Jocks spend much of their free time practicing and working out, often to the detriment of their schoolwork. They can be your typical loud and obnoxious football players, or quiet, intense types with Olympic ambitions.
Without additional charge or value, Jocks gain +1 to any two physical Attributes, to a maximum level of six (the bonuses cannot be stacked on one Attribute); two levels of the Sports skill (and at least one more level must be purchased on top of that); and a -1 penalty to all rolls involving intellectual abilities (anything using the Intelligence Attribute), except where the Sports skill is involved.
2- or 4-point Drawback
The character’s love life is the stuff songs are made of— whether it’s the pop of Britney Spears or the thrash of Marilyn Manson is up to the storyline, of course. A Cast Member with this Drawback starts the game with a relationship or develops one shortly after the Season begins (usually during the first or second Episode). This love may or may not be reciprocated; your character might be in love with someone who barely knows she exists. Whenever the character has to choose between following her heart or her head, she must make a Willpower (not doubled) roll at a -3 penalty. This Drawback is worth two points.
Tragic Love: As above, but any romantic relationship the character develops ends badly. This can happen in two possible ways: something bad happens to the character’s beloved, or the character has an unfortunate tendency to fall for the wrong people. Tragic Love can be a good source of Drama Points and is a 4-point Drawback.
Mental Problems Edit
1- to 3-point Drawback
Your character has some major malfunction. Maybe her parents abused her, or she is in dire need of some Prozac. The short circuit could be quirky or downright insane, depending on how severe the problem is. Some common Mental Problems follow.
Cowardice: Your character is more afraid of danger and confrontation than normal people. She may shun danger altogether, or only risk it when she’s sure she has the upper hand. Use the value of this Drawback as a penalty to rolls to resist fear.
Cruelty: This is a person who actually likes to inflict pain and suffering. At the lower level, she reserves this for people who have angered or attacked her, but at the highest level she is a sadist with no feelings of remorse (this is probably not appropriate for most Cast Members, but is typical among vampires and demons).
Delusions: Your character believes something that just isn’t true—she might be a confirmed racist, or convinced that spirits whisper words of wisdom only she can hear.
Obsession: A particular person or task dominates your character’s life, to the exclusion of most other things. To pursue her Obsession, she will go to almost any length (as limited by her morality). She may neglect other duties, both personal and professional, to pursue that which fascinates her. The “obsessee” may be a person (who may or may not be aware of your character’s feelings, but who almost certainly would be upset about their intensity) or a task (like getting revenge on somebody, or performing some important or notorious feat).
Paranoia: “They” are out to get you. Trust no one. Everything is a conspiracy and everyone is keeping secrets. Your character never knows when somebody is going to turn against her, but she knows they all will, sooner or later. A paranoid character expects treachery at every turn, and rarely trusts even her friends and relatives. A character with this Drawback is seriously bent. This makes her testimony less likely to be believed, even when she is speaking the truth. Paranoid characters often suffer from Emotional Problems (point value determined separately).
Phobia: Something gives your character the wiggins— snakes, heights, enclosed spaces, public appearances, etc. The harder it is to overcome the fear, the more this Drawback is worth. Whenever the character faces the subject of her phobia, she must make a Fear Test with a penalty equal to the value of the Drawback. If the situation is normally frightening, add the Phobia value to the regular Fear Test penalty.
Recklessness: This character is supremely overconfident and impulsive, willing to take incredible risks, often without thinking of the consequences. Most of the time, she never looks before she leaps—and gets into all kinds of trouble as a result. A Reckless character prefers to act first and think about it later. She says what’s on her mind with no consideration for diplomacy or courtesy, rushes into dangerous situations, and rarely wastes time on second thoughts. Reckless does not necessarily mean suicidal, however. Acting on impulse no doubt puts the character in jeopardy, but doing something that is clearly lethal is not roleplaying, it’s just stupid.
Zealot: A zealot is a person whose beliefs (political, religious or personal) are so strong that they dominate her life and behavior. She is willing to sacrifice anything, including her life (or the lives of others) in service to the ideals she holds dear. This character is a danger to herself and others, and shows a total disregard for the law whenever it conflicts with her beliefs. Mad cultists, wild-eyed crusader types and other mixed nuts qualify for this Drawback. This differs from Obsession in scope (Zealot behavioral dictates are more comprehensive) and severity. This Drawback is rare outside of the Deranged level. Your Director will determine if lower severity levels are even possible.
The higher the value of the Mental Problems, the more debilitating it is. Generally, Cast Members should not have Mental Problems worth over two points, although playing the lunatic can be fun every once in a while.
Mild: The hang-up is controllable and your character seldom allows the problem to control her during times of crisis, especially when friends and loved ones are involved. People may not even know something is wrong with the character. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Severe: The problem is severe, and affects your character’s daily life. Anybody who knows the character realizes or strongly suspects that something is wrong with her. This is a 2-point Drawback.
Deranged: The character is clearly deranged, with no regard for such considerations as the law, the safety of others, or the integrity of her immortal soul (you know, little things like that). That does not mean she is completely berserk. She may control herself out of fear of being stopped or discovered by the law or other major threat, but when no such fear exists, watch out.
A Minority is considered a second-class citizen because of race, ethnic group, religion or sexual preference. She is disliked by the establishment types. People of the dominant group tend to act negatively towards her; many are automatically suspicious, fearful or annoyed at her for no reason other than what she is. This Drawback has a 1-point value to reflect the relatively enlightened 21st-century America, where people cannot be denied service in a restaurant because of the color of their skin (in most places, at least). In other settings, where prejudice has the full weight of the law and tradition behind it, this Drawback might be worth two to three points.
Dorks, squibs, freaks, and geeks—all names for the misfits of society. In school or out, they are the losers who seem to have a permanent “Kick Me” sign tattooed on their foreheads. They are to bullies what fire hydrants are to dogs. Misfits don’t interact well socially; they have a -2 penalty to Influence Tasks. They also attract the attention of any cruel or abusive character.
Natural Toughness Edit
Your character is tougher than normal, able to take a punch without flinching. She has four points of Armor Value against blunt attacks, such as fists, baseball bats, dropping pianos, and the like. Bullets and slashing attacks are unaffected by this armor, however. This Quality is common among professional boxers, bouncers, and Jackie Chan types.
Your character is one of the smart, maybe brilliant types, more comfortable with a book or a computer than with other people. Nerds don’t have many friends (except maybe online), but hey, in a few years they will make their first million bucks and will be able to buy new friends.
Nerds gain +1 to any two mental Attributes, to a maximum level of six (bonuses cannot be stacked on one Attribute); +2 skill levels to be added to any one of the following: Computers, Knowledge, or Science; -1 penalty in any roll involving social situations (due to either prejudice against them, or their own social ineptitude).
Nerves of Steel Edit
A character is almost impossible to scare. Whether too dumb or too tough is open to question, but she remains unruffled even in the face of unspeakable horrors. This is key in keeping dry cleaning bills down. She is immune to fear except when confronting the strangest supernatural manifestations, and gains a +4 bonus to rolls even then.
Some rights are accompanied by duties. An Obligation must be followed to various degrees, and grants a number of points depending on the strictness of its dictates. Members of secret societies or special agencies often have an Obligation to their group. Failure to fulfill one’s duty can lead to trouble— demotion, loss of job and health benefits, harsh words . . . sometimes it can even be downright dangerous to say “no” to one’s secret puppetmasters.
Minimal: Obeying the basic precepts of the organization or creed and not betraying its members are the major points here. This is worth no points. Members of the Watchers who do not have a specific assignment have this level of Obligation. Rear-echelon Initiative personnel (scientists far from the front lines) also get no points for this level of Obligation.
Important: Your character is expected to routinely risk herself for the organization, and go above the basic precepts of the membership. Watchers expected to hunt the occasional vampire (typically for research purposes) would have this level of Obligation. An Important Obligation is worth one point.
Major: The welfare of the organization is placed above that of your character. She is always on call, and does not have time to pursue a normal job (unless it’s a cover for the real assignment) or much of a personal life. The penalties for disobedience or selfishness are severe, and may include death. This is worth two points. Watchers assigned to a Slayer would have this level of Obligation.
Total: Your character is expected to die for the organization, if need be. Missions are extremely hazardous, and she is constantly in danger of imprisonment, torture, or execution. This is worth three points. Initiative Commandos and Slayers have this level of Obligation (which is already included in their Quality value, so you can’t take it again . . . but “A” for effort).
Occult Library Edit
In magic, it’s not who you know that matters, it’s what tomes you have access to. Characters who want to practice the mystic arts should have at least a book or two on the subject—this is not the kind of thing that you can make up as you go along, not if you want to live long (or in a form other than a newt). The larger the library is, the more this Quality costs. Keep in mind that if one Cast Member (or Guest Star) has a big Occult Library, the other characters may benefit from it, but the owner has some control over it (i.e., they are her books, and she may not want to share whenever the other characters want). Sometimes it’s good to have one’s own “stash” of arcane lore.
Minimal: Your character has one, count it, one book of magic, and maybe a few scribbled notes her Aunt Agatha left behind. The book has some 11-20 spells (the Director secretly rolls a D10 and adds 10 to the result); each time your character researches a spell successfully, mark it off. Eventually, she knows all the spells in the book, and there are no more. One book is not enough to help her much with research into the identity of monsters or demons, so research rolls are at a -3 penalty. This level costs one point.
Good: The character has a modest occult library, with several books on assorted esoteric subjects, maybe even the Time-Life series. This library gives no bonus or penalty to research rolls, and holds as many as 31-40 (D10 + 30) spells all told. Cost is two points.
Impressive: A good collection, including some very rare tomes of hidden lore. Rolls to identify monsters are at a +1 bonus, and as many as 60 (D10 + 50) spells can be researched. Cost is three points.
Amazing: Monster research rolls are at +2, and pretty much any number of spells can be contained there. A character with such a library should have a minimum Occultism skill 3, unless she just doesn’t read and just likes to collect books for the pretty pictures in them. This costs five points.
Photographic Memory Edit
A photographic memory grants your character an uncanny ability to remember things. After reading a book, she can quote passages without missing a word, and she almost never forgets anything. The Director will provide information that your character would remember whenever it is necessary. Also, your Cast Member receives a +1 bonus to any skill roll where memorizing facts is useful, such as Knowledge and Science. Finally, any rolls where memory plays a role gain a +1 to +3 bonus, at the Director’s discretion. Oh, and gambling against these card counters extraordinaire is probably a bad idea.
Physical Disability Edit
Your character is the victim of one of life’s hideous twists—crippled by accident, disease, or birth defect. She may suffer from limb loss, spinal column damage, or any number of tragic impairments.
Missing or Crippled Arm/Hand: The hand in question cannot be used to grab or hold objects. Any task requiring two hands is at a disadvantage (-3 or worse) or simply impossible. This is a 2-point Drawback. A character with a prosthetic hand can overcome some of these problems, reducing the Drawback to one point in value.
Missing or Crippled Leg/Foot: Your character is unable to walk or run normally. With the help of crutches or a cane, she can move at up to one-third normal speed. Hand-to-hand combat rolls are at a -2 penalty. This is a 3-point Drawback. Modern prosthetics can reduce the penalties, increasing speed to up to half-normal, and reducing combat penalties to -1. This reduces the Drawback value to two points.
Missing or Crippled Arms: Both arms are missing or crippled. Your character cannot use any tools normally. Some people with this handicap have learned to use their feet with great skill to compensate for their loss, but it still sucks—big time. This is a 4-point Drawback.
Missing or Crippled Legs: Your character is unable to walk. Without the help of a wheelchair, the best she can do is crawl or roll on the ground. This is a 4-point Drawback.
Quadriplegic: Paralyzed from the neck down, almost all physical activities are impossible. A special wheelchair, operated with the neck or mouth, can help your character move around (if the unfortunate has access to such instruments). Someone needs to take care of her basic needs, from feeding to changing. This highly debilitating trait is an 8-point Drawback.
Psychic Visions Edit
She who can see the future in visions or dreams. Most of the time, the visions are not very clear, nor do they happen very often, and they cannot be activated on purpose— they just happen. No rolls are needed. Directors should make the visions or dreams ambiguous and use images and situations from your character’s life. The visions should reflect her current problems and worries. Friends and enemies may pop up in the visions, offering advice, vague threats, or deep philosophical comments. The Director can use the visions to drop hints about upcoming events—the rise of some great evil, the possible arrival of an Apocalypse, a surprise visit by Crazy Uncle Morty, and other fun stuff.
1-point/level Quality or Drawback
Your character is is part of some other seriously hierarchical organization. High rank has privileges; subordinates obey your character’s orders. On the other hand, low-ranking cogs are at a disadvantage; they get ordered around, and disobeying is not a good career option. The value of the Rank feature ranges from -1 to +9, and costs one point per level (or grants one point at the lowest level). Keep in mind that high Rank also entails numerous duties that may restrict your character’s actions even more than very low Rank. The Ranks Table shows some law enforcement, government agency, and U.S. Army ranks. Ranks titles in other organizations vary.
|-1||Rookie cop, Private|
|0||Beat cop, Corporal|
|2||Detective, Sergeant First Class|
|3||Agent in Charge, Lieutenant|
|4||Bureau Chief, Captain|
Recurring Nightmares Edit
Your character is plagued by terrifying dreams that relive some traumatic experience, or are just frightening and disturbing. Every night, the Director may check to see if your character suffers from nightmares. They may be imposed at the Director’s discretion, or may be rolled randomly (a roll of 1 on a D10 means the character experiences a nightmare that night). On any night when the character is afflicted by the nightmare, she suffers -1 to all rolls the following day as a result of exhaustion.
1-point per level Quality
Some people are just innately better at ignoring the bad things life throws at them. This ability allows your character to fend off the effects of a particular type of harm. Each different type of Resistance Quality must be purchased separately. We’ve given some examples, but feel free to devise others.
Poison: Your character has a cast-iron stomach; add the level of this Resistance to any Constitution rolls to resist the effects of poison.
Demonic Powers: For some reason, your character is able to resist the supernatural abilities of some types of demons. She adds her Resistance level to any rolls against being controlled or dominated through supernatural means. This includes the hypnotic powers some demons and vampires have.
Pain: Each level of this Quality reduces the penalties associated with severe wounds, and adds to Willpower and Constitution rolls to stay conscious when severely injured.
2-points/level Quality or Drawback
Having a big bank account helps with a lot of life’s troubles, though not so much with fighting the supernatural. A character’s Resources determines how much material wealth she has access to. In the case of those dependent on parents or guardians, the Resource level applies to that older type. Whether your character has access to these assets at any given time is a matter for the Director and the plotline.
- Destitute (-10): Has the clothes on her back, ten dollars’
worth of stuff and maybe a shopping cart. Lucky to scrounge a few dollars a month.
- Miserable (-8): Personal wealth of about $100 in
property (including the clothes on her back). May be homeless. Might earn $100 a month.
- Poor (-6): $500 in property and a place in lowincome
housing. Has an income of $500 a month or what she gets from welfare.
- Hurting (-4): Personal wealth of about $1,000 in
property, and lives in a small apartment. Income of $1,000 a month before taxes.
- Below Average (-2): $5,000 in property
(including an old vehicle, perhaps), an apartment, and pre-tax income of $1,500 a month.
- Okay (0): $15,000 in property and income
of $2,500 a month before taxes.
- Middle Class (+2): Personal wealth of
$50,000 in property (a mortgaged house and a new or slightly used car). Has an income of $5,000 a month before taxes.
- Well-Off (+4): $300,000 in property and
an income of $10,000 a month before taxes.
- Wealthy (+6): Personal wealth of $700,000
in property. Has an income of $40,000 a month.
- Rich (+8): Personal wealth of $2,000,000 in property.
Income of $50,000 a month.
- Multimillionaire (+10): $5 million in property and
an income of $200,000 a month.
Each additional level adds an additional $5 million in property and $200,000 to monthly income.
Your character is a robot, endowed with artificial intelligence by its creator. Robots in the Buffyverse are intelligent, but typically don’t have a will of their own, being restricted by their programming. Some robots eventually become independent operators, often with tragic results. Also, a disembodied demon has managed to inhabit a robot body in the past; a human being might find her mind or soul trapped in a robotic frame as well. This Quality assumes the character is an independent robot.
Robots get +4 to Strength, +1 to Dexterity and +2 to Constitution (these scores can exceed normal human levels). Figure Life Points normally, but the robot cannot heal damage normally and must be repaired. Anybody with Science skill 3 or higher can fix a robot. Each Success Level in a Science and Intelligence Task restores one Life Point per Constitution level of the robot; each repair attempt takes one hour. When a robot falls “unconscious,” she has been deactivated. She may recover consciousness (like any other unconscious character) on his own, or require the help of someone with the Science or Mr. Fix-It skills (or Occultism for things like golems), at the Director's discretion.
The Robot Quality may also be used to cover things like arcane clockworks, golems made from the river mud, homunculi, or any other type of artificial being. When used for cyborgs, the Quality assumes that the being is mostly mechanical and that its life support is dependent on its artificial parts.
There exists a dangerous and hidden fact about your character. This could be a secret identity or a shady past. The more damaging the secret if it became known, the higher the value of the Drawback. For example, damage to your Cast Member’s reputation and livelihood would be worth one point; a threat to her well-being (she might be arrested or deported if the truth were known) two points; life, limb, and lymph nodes three points.
Situational Awareness Edit
The observant almost always knows what is going on around them, and can react with uncanny quickness to the unexpected. These characters gain a +2 bonus to any Perception-based roll to sense trouble or danger in the immediate surroundings. It is very hard to be stealthy around them; the same bonus applies when they resist any Crime or Acrobatics rolls made to sneak up on them.
16-point Quality (BtVS)
She is the Chosen One: fights vampires and demons, spends nights in cemeteries, sewers, and other not-so-popular spots, and so on. Slayers are stronger, faster, and more resilient. They recover from severe injuries very quickly too—keeping a Slayer down is not easy. They are not immortal, though. Slayers generally lead short, violent lives. But nobody chooses to be a Slayer; it’s something that just happens. Slayers get the following goodies.
- +3 to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution; +2 to
Willpower. These bonuses can raise the Slayer’s Attributes above the human maximum of six. Also, none of the Slayer’s physical Attributes can be below four after bonuses are applied.
- Fast Reaction Time, Nerves of Steel, and five levels
of Hard to Kill (an additional five levels can be purchased on top of that). On the down side, they get an automatic Adversary (Demons and Vampires) worth five points. The duties of the Slayer count as a 3-point Obligation Drawback.
- +1 free level of the Getting Medieval and Kung Fu
skills (they must also spend at least one point apiece on those skills, for a minimum beginning level of two in each).
- Damage is regenerated at a rate of one Life Point
per Constitution level, every hour. Slayers recover from injuries unnaturally fast.
- The ability to sense the presence of vampires nearby
(within 100 feet) by concentrating for five seconds (one combat Turn) and making a Perception (not doubled) roll.
Slayers cannot add the Jock or Initiative Commando Qualities; their Attribute bonuses already reflect intensive physical training. They cannot have the Watcher Quality, either, for rather obvious reasons.
Some people have the spark of magic. They can use the dark arts more easily than normal students of the occult. Your character’s Sorcery level is added to spellcasting rolls up to level five (after that, additional levels only help with repeat casting penalties). It is also used for other witchcraft powers, like telekinesis and sensing the presence of magic. Characters with Sorcery can cast some spells faster than normal, allowing them to actually use magic in the middle of a fight—your basic witch-fu. Don’t get cocky though; Sorcery is no magic bullet against the unpredictability and dangers of magic use. Reach for the spells too often and something potentially very nasty is going to come your way. You’ve been warned.
The Talentless individual is totally lacking in creativity and artistic talent. Maybe she is too stolid and practical, or maybe she just doesn’t have the imagination to do anything artistic. This Drawback does not just affect her ability in the arts, but also in many social skills where flair and creativity are necessary.
Your character has a -3 penalty when trying to do anything artistic. This penalty does not affect Tasks where other people’s art is judged; many expert critics are Talentless. When she does try to create something, however, the best she can hope for is a mediocre result. In addition to the penalty, the character can never get more than one Success Level in artistic pursuits, regardless of how high her skill levels or rolls are. People with this Drawback also make poor liars, charmers, or social butterflies. The same penalty applies to such skills as Influence—a lack of creativity affects the ability to lie convincingly, for example.
Life sucks when you’re a teenager. You feel like an adult, and you want plenty of adult things, but you don’t have the legal rights of an adult. Characters under the age of 18 get this Drawback (sure, you still can’t drink until you’re 21, but life is hard—suck it up). Most of the problems teenagers face are social. Most adults instinctively distrust and look down on them, they have a lot of legal restrictions, and they have parents or guardians bossing them around. And then there’s all that angst and heartbreak of their so-called lives.
Your character can speak to the minds of others . . . literally. While doing this, she can also hear any thoughts directed to her in response. A telepath can mentally communicate with a number of people equal to her Willpower all at the same time. The duration in minutes and range in ten-foot increments depends on the Success Levels of a Willpower (doubled) roll. Duration and distance exceptions may exist for those the telepath knows very well (as long as your Director buys into that).
If the telepath touches someone or looks into her eyes, she can listen in on what the being is thinking. In this case, the subject and telepath conduct a resisted action using Willpower (doubled) rolls. Success by the telepath gains information as the Success Levels of her Attribute roll and the Director dictate (one or two Success Levels would sense only emotions; four or higher gets whatever info the subject has). Using eye contact for mind probing only works in the target is less than five feet away. No long distance mind straining.
Successive attempts to communicate telepathically or read someone’s mind before resting at least three hours suffer a cumulative -2 penalty. Thus, on the fifth attempt, the penalty amounts to -8.
The Sight Edit
Your character can see magic and traces of supernatural power. She can also tell if someone is preparing to cast a spell and see at a glance if an item is magical. She can even see a faintly glowing residue that indicates magic has been used in an area during the last few hours. If your character spends a minute or so looking closely at someone and gains two Success Levels on a Perception and Notice roll, she can tell if that person is a normal human. Three or more Success Levels reveal a Witch or other supernatural being.
The character cannot actually see ghosts, but if some invisible supernatural being shows up, she can notice a faint glow of power. She can see through illusions and tell if someone is possessed. In that case, she needs a number of Success Levels in a Perception and Notice roll greater than the Power Level of the illusion or possession spell, or the Willpower of the being using the power.
12- or 15-point Quality
For the most part, vampires are irredeemable monsters, unable to control their lust for blood and death. Normal vampires have high levels of the Mental Problems (Cruelty) Drawback, and for the most part are not fit for human company. There is nothing very sexy or appealing about a demon in human drag who considers people little more than meals-on-legs. However, there are exceptions. Even they are one short step away from devolving into their monstrous selves. Playing a vampire as a Cast Member would be very difficult. You and the Director must agree on how or why the vampire can control her inner demon. Whatever the explanation, the cost to play a “humane” vampire is 15 points. Normal vampire characters would cost 12 points, but unless your Director wants to have a murderous monster in the Cast, that’s not much of an option.
Vampires gain +3 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, and two levels of Hard to Kill (they can have as many as 10 levels in total); +2 bonuses to hearing- and smell/taste-based Perception rolls (+4 when involving blood); take only one-fifth damage from bullets (other weapons hurt normally); recover from injuries at the rate of one Life Point per Constitution level every hour (fire damage regenerates at the rate of one Life Point per Constitution level per day); and are immortal. Vampires are vulnerable to sunlight, holy symbols, stakes through the heart, and beheading.
5-point Quality (BtVS)
The Watchers are members of a secretive society that oversees and trains Slayers and future Slayers. Members are trained in the basics of vampire hunting, although they are not supposed to fight the undead directly. Instead, the Slayers do the dirty work. Exceptions do occur, however.
Watchers get +1 level to any one physical Attribute (the Attribute levels still cannot exceed six, however) and two levels of the Getting Medieval skill as a result of their training in the arts of Slaying. They also have access to vast amounts of memorized occult lore, which gives them a +2 to any roll related to learning more about a given demon, vampire, or other supernatural creature.
3-point Drawback or 6- or 12-point Quality
Your character is afflicted with the curse of the werewolf. Some werewolves retain some control over their inner beasts, but for the most part this is a curse, not a boon. In their animal form, werewolves have +4 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution (adjust Life Point totals normally), and can bite and claw victims, inflicting (2 x Strength) points of base damage (Slash/stab). Werewolves are also tough creatures in their bestial form, gaining the Natural Toughness Quality and Armor Value 1. Wolfies have very sharp noses, enjoying the Acute Senses (Smell/Taste) Quality whether wolfed-out or not; if the character already has that quality, the bonuses stack together.
A victim bitten by a werewolf has to pass a Willpower (doubled) roll, or become cursed as well. Seeing an enraged werewolf usually calls for a Fear Test with a -4 modifier (experienced monster hunters avoid this modifier once they have encountered enough lycanthropes).
If the Director is in control of your character's werewolf form, this is a 3-point Drawback. Otherwise, this is a 6-point Quality. Some lycanthropes can transform themselves at will and are not limited to the full month, cost of this ability is 12 points.
On the negative side, silver is a big problem for werewolves. Silver weapons inflict double normal damage (slashing and bullet weapons inflict triple damage). They are less effective than normal metal weapons, however; subtract three points from the base damage (before the multiplying effect), to a minimum of one.