Drawbacks are weaknesses for characters to overcome. They’re the flip side of a character’s skills, feats, and FX. Drawbacks serve two main purposes. First, they provide characters with additional depth and a degree of vulnerability, which can be important for character able to move mountains or catch bullets. Second, drawbacks give you additional character points during character creation to spend on improving your character’s traits. The maximum number of points you can get from drawbacks is generally equal to the campaign’s power level, as set by the GM.
A drawback’s character point value is based on two things: its frequency (how often the drawback affects your character) and its intensity (how seriously the drawback affects your character). The more frequent and intense the drawback, the more points it’s worth. Drawbacks generally range in value from 1 character point for something that comes up rarely and has little effect to 5 character points for a drawback that comes up all the time and seriously weakens the character.
- Frequency: Drawbacks have three levels of frequency: uncommon, common, and very common. Uncommon drawbacks show up about a quarter of the time, every four adventures or so. Common drawbacks show up about half the time, and very common drawbacks show up three-quarters of the time or more. Each level has a frequency check associated with it, which is a simple d20 roll with no modifiers against a DC (15, 10, or 5). A GM who wants to randomly check a drawback makes a frequency check to see if it shows up in the adventure. Otherwise, the GM can simply choose to bring a drawback into play based on its frequency. Note that frequency represents how often the drawback comes up during the game, not necessarily how common it is in the campaign setting. Even if holy relics are extraordinarily rare in the setting, if they show up every other adventure, they’re still common in frequency.
- Intensity: The intensity of a drawback measures how much impact it has on the character. There are three levels of intensity: minor, moderate, and major. Minor drawbacks have a slight impact or are not difficult to overcome. Moderate drawbacks impose some limits, but can be overcome about half of the time. Major drawbacks impose serious limits and are quite difficult to overcome.
|Value||Frequency: How Often Does The Drawback Come Up?|
|+0||Uncommon (every few adventures. DC 15)|
|+1||Common (every other adventure, DC 10)|
|+2||Very Common (once per adventure, DC 5)|
|Value||Intensity: How Seriously Does The Drawback Affect You?|
|+1||Minor: DC 5 to overcome, less capable than the character, or slight limitation.|
|+2||Moderate: DC 10 to overcome, as capable as character, or modest limitation|
|+3||Major: DC 15 to overcome, more capable than the character, or major limitation|
Some drawbacks are FX Drawbacks, meaning they apply to a particular FX rather than necessarily to the character. You can think of FX drawbacks as the reverse of FX Feats: minor limits on the FX. An FX can have a total value in drawbacks equal to 1 point less than its total cost (so the FX must cost at least 1 character point, regardless of how many drawbacks it has).
Fitting Drawbacks to the CampaignEdit
Although suggested values are given for various drawbacks in the following sections, the value of any drawback is based largely on its effect. So drawback values can vary from one campaign to another. For example a common Vulnerability in one setting may be uncommon in another and non-existent in a third (making it worthless as a drawback). The Gamemaster must judge the frequency and intensity—and therefore value—of each drawback based on the context of the character and the campaign as a whole.
One important guideline for Gamemasters is to ensure that drawbacks actually limit or hinder characters in some way. A drawback that doesn't do so isn't really a drawback at all and isn't worth any points. Beware of players trying to create such drawbacks to give their characters the most points for the least actual limitation. If need be, you can disallow certain drawbacks entirely, if they are unsuited to the campaign.
Players can remove a drawback from a character by paying earned character points equal to the drawback’s value. The GM should also arrange for suitable events in the story to eliminate the drawback. So a disabled character might be healed in some way, a novice learns to better control her abilities (eliminating the Full Power drawback), a special treatment eliminates the character's Weakness, and so forth.