Selecting Traits Part One: Traits Are Good
In Dream Factory, it all comes down to the Outcome Check, or as we call them, the OC – win it, and you get decide how things turn out. Lose it, and you give the GM a chance to get creative. Which would you prefer? (grin)
The standard way to win an OC – apart from being lucky, of course – is by leveraging (that is to say, invoking or risking) your character’s Traits to get extra dice, so obviously choosing the right Traits when building your character is critical.
However, all too often we are tempted to hurry through the process of Trait selection to get right to playing the game – and this is not the kind of game where you really have to spend oodles of time in character creation – but that is not to say that you shouldn’t make careful and well thought out choices. Your character’s Traits are where that should begin.
Each character has four Traits, and those Traits can be anything you think makes sense (that you can get your GM to approve, of course.) For example, if you are creating a superhero Blasterman you might take the following:
- Committed to Justice and Fairness
- Doesn’t Miss Much (details, not hand-eye coordination, grin)
- Born Leader
- Always Keeps his Wits About Him
(Note: Most people would have one of the four Traits be the Superpower – something like “Energy Manipulation Powers” – and that’s fine, but you can also create a superhero type character with no power Traits at all. He still has powers, and uses them – but in order to get more dice to win Outcome Checks he will have invoke one of the above four Traits. For example, the player wants to have Blasterman swoop in and rescue the hostage – and in this case the GM permits him to invoke “Committed to Justice and Fairness” as well as “Always Keeps his Wits About Him” – so that nets the player two extra dice. If the player wins the OC he can narrate his preferred outcome of swooping in, blasting the bad guys back, grabbing the hostage and flying away – all without needing a specific Trait for his powers to do it.)
The key in selecting Traits is to pick ones that represent what we as the audience want to see the character do time and time again. A gumshoe’s deductions. A cat burglar’s stealth. A hero’s rectitude. A rogue’s bad attitude. The Traits you pick are not only the way you will win Outcome Checks, but since they are the main way you can win OCs you will be regularly bringing those Traits into play in the story itself, so it is vital that what you choose for your character’s Traits are the aspects of the character that we all want to revel in.
Part Two of this series will focus on zeroing in on the right breadth of Traits, and avoiding one’s that are too narrow or too broad.