Another questionable thing by Robert Aronson, vespinfeebler at gmail dot com

Chapter 2
Step 9: Features

Heroes might have additional traits, whether they be advantages or disadvantages, that lie outside of constant expression through other traits. These are called Features, and they can be Positive or Negative. Positive Features provide an advantage, and Negative Features provide a disadvantage.

Each Feature has one of three degrees: Minor, Moderate, or Major. Degrees measures how much a Feature would affect gameplay if it commonly came into play. Each degree is associated with a number: 1, 2, or 3 (Minor to Major).

Keep in mind that some things might be a huge advantage in real life, but not so much in the game. For example, a Positive Feature such as "Unaging" or "Forever Young" would be a great boon in real life, but unless a chronicle of adventures is going to take place over a long period of time, it wouldn't really be anything but a minor advantage... if even enough to be considered worth recording as a Feature.

If desired, a Feature might temporarily, or even constantly, provide a bonus or penalty to a Core Ability or Skill.

A Feature can have one or more effects. All that really matters is that the rank applied to a Feature is a generally accurate sum measurement of all its effects. You might find that some Features with the same rank aren't precisely balanced, given that there are only three possible ranks, but this is acceptable. The purpose of the ranks isn't to create perfect balance, but simply to make sure each character is in the same general realm of "point worth". Honestly, it's impossible to create perfect balance in any RPG, and it just becomes a headache to try and make it so.

The GM will need to decide how broad a Feature can be. Some GMs may prefer Features that are very narrow, while others may prefer that Features be broad or somewhere in the middle. It may also depend on the game. But however broad or narrow a Feature can be, it should (if possible) be applied to every Feature rather than just some. For example, if Features are narrow, then it might be appropriate to have a Feature rated at "1" degree and another rated at "3". But if Features are broad, then it might be appropriate to simply assume the effect of the "1"-degree Feature is part of the "3"-degree Feature.

Before adding a Feature, players should be sure that it's needed at all. Players should be certain that the desired effect can't simply be coming from the normal traits of the character.

Furthermore, remember that in ORBA wealth should not affect gameplay, so it shouldn't be reflected as a Feature.

Note, a single Feature can have both positive and negative ranks!

By default, heroes have no Features unless their race requires them.

Pets and followers should be reflected as Features.

If any Features are added, even from race, all characters should be balanced, having the same degree sums in Positive and Negative Features.

Features that can be used in combat need to have combat-specific rules for how to activate them and what they do within the framework of ORBA battle rules. They're activated using the "Use a Feature" turn option during combat. Note, a Feature may not affect more than one target a turn during battle, and may only affect combatants in the same Zone as the user or in the Aggression Zone.

Strong or Weak Against...

Certain characters in battle may simply be strong or weak to magic or elements on account of their nature. Or, enchanted weapons can carry extra magical punch, or might have an element attached to them (such as fire, ice, lightning, etc.). Likewise, enchanted armor might make someone stronger against magic or certain elements.

Such strengths and weaknesses in a character should be reflected as Features, and will affect their Defense rolls in combat when appropriate. Strengths are a bonus, and weaknesses are a penalty.

(See chapter 3, "Weapons and Armor", for more information on enchanted gear.)

If you're using the optional Status Effect rules, then any bonuses and penalties from Features stack with those from Effects.


© Copyright by Robert Aronson, all rights reserved