Characters' traits

I’m having a bit of trouble understanding what exactly characters’ traits represent, and when they should come into play. In particular, I’m curious about the “professional” traits, like “warrior” or “Suk doctor”.

When I initially read about these traits, I assumed that a lot of them were describing what you profess to be rather than what you are apt at. For example, if someone said: “I’m a warrior, so I should reduce all combat related difficulties by 1”, I’d probably say “No, how good you are at combat is defined by your skills and focuses, but being a ‘warrior’ might affect how people interact with you (for better or worse), so it’s more for social tasks.”

However, looking in the Talents in Power and Pawns, I see that under Suk Doctor there is

Bedside Manner When attempting to gain the trust of someone or ingratiate yourself with them, you may reduce the Difficulty of the test by 1.

That sounds like you’re having to buy a talent to get an effect that I would have thought having the trait “Suk Doctor” would give you.

So what situations are the “professional” traits supposed to affect? Are they supposed to represent aptitude? In which case should people with the “warrior” trait reduce all combat roll difficulties by 1?

My take on this is that the trait allows you to purchase talents that would otherwise be prohibited to you, much like how traits work in other aspects of the game.

So by having the ‘Suk Doctor’ trait you can purchase the Bedside Manner talent.

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Yup, you’re both right really.
Traits apply as the GM allows, If the GM is fine with the interpretation, then it stands.
But I’d offer that being a Doctor doesn’t always make you a people person!

If the GM is ok with Doctor granting a certain amount of charm as part of the trait, then taking Bedside Manner might conceivably stack to offer two Diff reductions.

But remember traits also let you do something you can’t normally do.
So a player might not be allowed to make a test to fix a cybernetic arm unless they had the Suk Doctor trait for instance.


Thanks for the comments!

I found this comment from Nathan, relating to Achtung Cthulhu, helpful, where he’s responding to whether characters with military traits could reduce the difficulty on attacks:

Broadly, no. While not a hard and fast rule, you as GM are probably better off if you rule that a particular truth might affect an unusual attack or an attack in difficult circumstances (like allowing an Expert Marksman to attempt a Ranged attack at an extreme distance). A ‘Seasoned Commando’ might reduce the difficulty of attacks from ambush (because commandos are typically trained for and used more in raids, ambushes, shock assaults, etc.), but not all attacks. Encourage creativity rather than letting such Truths always apply. In similar terms, maybe let certain characters ignore a penalty or just have a bit of relevant info based on their Truths every now and again: often enough that the players feel like their character choices make a difference, not so often that they expect such benefits without some creativity themselves.

Same for the main personal Truths you get from character creation; make them apply when it gives a character permission to try something others can’t, or when it gives them an edge in narrow, specific circumstances.

And remember, NPCs have personal Truths too. If players insist on reducing an attack’s difficulty because they’re soldiers, point out that the Black Sun Trooper firing at them has the Fanatical Infantry truth, and that can apply too. Assuming that such Truths cancel each other out without mention helps streamline things but allows for unusual situations where one side or the other might have an edge.

So character traits are a bit like spice (pardon the pun), and should be used sparingly for dramatic effect, rather than spammed during combat and tests.

As with everything it really depends on your group.
Actung uses the same system but also have a different style, and in general Dune has a heavier reliance of narrative choices than Actung.
So in general its up to the GM to allow what suits their style. :slight_smile: