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Lionheart SPECIAL System, Installment 4: Traits


Lionheart is a computer role playing game that is being developed by Reflexive Entertainment in conjunction with Black Isle Studios. The game is an original title which uses an updated version of the SPECIAL character development system (from Fallouts 1 and 2) in a quasi-historical medieval Europe. Lionheart diverges from traditional high fantasy by placing the player on Earth in the 16th century in which history has taken a different path and magic has been released upon the world. Using a mix of historical and fictional locations and characters, the player progresses through a deep story while advancing through the classless character system.

In this series of articles, designers of the game will discuss various changes that have been made to the SPECIAL rules system from how it appeared in the Fallout series.

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Traits in the SPECIAL system and Lionheart

In the last few installments I've discussed Attributes, Race, Skills, and Perks. The only remaining things which define your character are Traits. Traits are similar to Perks in that they make your character more unique, but you don't gain Traits as you go up levels and Traits always have both a positive and negative aspect. So while Perks give you abilities and make your character more powerful, Traits just help define who your character is.

When SPECIAL was used for the various Fallout titles there were only Traits and any character selected from the same list when making a character. But in Lionheart there are four different races from which you can choose, each of which is viewed differently by the general population in the game. Because of this, we've created a new branch of traits called Racial Traits which are specific to the race you select for your character. So in Lionheart there are both the original Traits and the new Racial Traits for you to select at character creation. I'll cover Racial Traits in the second half of this installment after describing the generic Traits that any character can select.


Traits must be chosen during character creation, but a character isn't required to take any Traits if they don't want to. A Pureblood character can have as many as three Traits while all other characters can have as many as two. All characters select Traits from the same list. In some cases the character's race can bar them from selecting a Trait and sometimes selecting one Trait can bar the selection of other Traits.

Just like Perks, Traits come in a variety of flavors from fairly normal to very peculiar indeed. Here are four Traits from Lionheart - all of these have been adapted from Traits that were available in previous SPECIAL games:

    Your attacks show a lot of finesse - you don't hit all that hard, but you hit where it counts. So you don't do as much damage but you cause more critical hits. All of your non-magical attacks do -20% damage. Your critical chance is +10%.
    Good Natured.
    Your natural charm allowed you to get along with nearly everyone while growing up; you rarely got into fights and were able to take good care of yourself instead. Your combat skills start at a lower level, but Speech, Barter and healing rates are substantially improved. Speech gets a +10% bonus, Barter gets a +25% bonus, and your healing rate increases by 1. You also get a -6% modifier to starting melee combat skills (One-Handed, Two-handed and Unarmed). You cannot have both Nasty Disposition and Good Natured Traits. Feralkin and Demokin cannot take this trait.
    Nasty Disposition.
    It always seemed a lot easier to win an argument if your opponent was knocked unconscious so you never learned the fine art of diplomacy. Your Charisma suffers a -2 when speaking to others and your Barter skill suffers a -20% penalty. Your Unarmed, One-Handed and Two-Handed melee skills all get a +7 bonus. You cannot have both the Nasty Disposition and Good Natured traits.
    Renaissance Man
    You've admired the arts, discussed politics and philosophy, and explored new ways of thinking, but all your enlightened ways don't mean much in a fight. You gain a +1 to Intelligence but a -10% One-Handed and Two-Handed Melee and a -3 Armor Class. Feralkin may not take this trait.

Racial Traits

Racial Traits function just like the other Traits. But a character must take a certain number of Racial Traits depending on their race and each race has their own list to select from. For example, Feralkin charactersdescend from a bestial spirit. For this reason they tend to display prominent features that identify them as having the taint of magic. These features are described on the character as Racial Traits, and Feralkin must take two but can select a third if they like. Some examples of Racial Traits the feral character can select are:

    Wolf Hide
    You have a thick coat of fur covering your entire body making you noticeably tainted. You gain +7 to Armor Class and +5 resistance to both Piercing and Slashing damage. That fur has it's drawbacks though: your lupine features are very noticeable and lower your Charisma by -1, you're flammable so you have a -7 resistance to Fire damage, and problems with fleas and ticks cause a -7 resistance to Disease.
    Tiger Claws
    You have huge bestial claws that make you noticeably tainted. You gain + 5 to Unarmed Skill,and +6 Unarmed damage. However, manipulating those meat hooks can be difficult for you. You suffer a -10 to all ranged weapons, and -10 to your Lockpick skill.
    Rabid Fervor
    In combat you rely on your bestial instincts. You gain +15 skill points in One-handed, Two-Handed and Unarmed combat skills and +5% to your critical chance. Unfortunately you rely on your bestial nature a little too much and suffer a -1 to Intelligence and -1 to Perception.

As you can see, each of these Racial Traits have a positive aspect and a negative aspect. For the Feralkin, physical manifestation of their magical taint is one of the drawbacks to almost all Racial Traits they can select. In fact, It's not possible to make a Feralkin that doesn't have at least one Racial Trait that could identify them as non-Pureblood.

The Demokin and Sylvant races both manifest less physical features of their magical nature. Demokins need to select two Racial Traits and Sylvants need to select only one. In addition, the Demokin Racial Trait lists contain Traits that won't openly disclose the character's spiritual taint. The following is a Demokin Racial Trait that won't get you busted by the Inquisition:

    Forked Tongue
    The impish blood in your family has given you a barely noticeable bifurcation on your tongue. Your forked tongue allows you to charm your way through difficult encounters, +10 to your speech skill. Unfortunately your reliance on diplomacy caused you to neglect your combat training, so you have a -10 to your critical chance, but you can pass as Pureblood unless other traits mark you as tainted.

Each of the non-Pureblood races has approximately 10 different Racial Traits they can choose from. Pureblood humans don't have any Racial Traits at all, which is why they are allowed to choose an additional (generic) Trait if they so choose.

Many of the non-player characters in the game react to a character's race, but in reality what they react to is the outward manifestations of magic due to Racial Traits. If you make a character and select all Racial Traits that don't disclose your character's magical nature, you can pass through the world viewed as a Pureblood.

All in all, Traits and Racial Traits can make the game completely different two characters that are otherwise identical. Careful selection of these at the beginning of the game will play an important role in determining what happens to you character in Lionheart.

Author's Note: I'd just like to point out that all of these Traits are still being worked on and will most likely be modified in the future as we continue to balance the game.

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A new artwork: Feralkin Woman

Previous installments

  • 2002-07-29: Installment 1: Races & Attributes
  • 2002-08-12: Installment 2: Skills
  • 2002-08-26: Installment 3: Perks

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