Virtues

Heroes are often passionate people - living, laughing, and loving in ways that often seem larger than life. For some heroes, their passions manifest as Virtues, a sign of their determination and ability to affect the world.

Virtues are rated on a scale of 1-5, with the average person being a 2. For example, a person with 2 Compassion will occasionally help others in need, but they won't go far out of their way to provide a small amount of help. On the other hand, a person with 5 Compassion will take things to an unhealthy extreme as they constantly look for people in need of aid. People with 1 in a Virtue display more of a vice, or at least a general lack of the Virtue.

As Virtues are a reflection of personality, high scores do not cancel each other out and there is no "purchase" limit. Instead, players should simply pick the Virtues that they feel best represent their character. For example, if you are determined to accomplish a specific goal and don't really care how you do it, you may have high Determination, low Compassion, and normal Daring and Control.

High Virtues are generally a positive thing, but it is possible to go too far. Any character with a maximum rank in a Virtue is somewhat irrational about it, taking things to potentially dangerous extremes. GMs should carefully discuss any such choice with a player before allowing them to take it.

Each description of virtues briefly describes the levels of each virtue, what a character with a high Virtue score is likely to do, and what they might find difficult to do. The limits are not universally applicable, and characters may have exemptions based on their history (though there should always be something they struggle to do - extreme versions of this can become Flaws). The would/wouldn't descriptions are mainly applicable to characters with high scores; someone with 2 Compassion will find it much easier to not help someone than a different character with 5 Compassion.

Virtues are descriptive and never force a character to behave in certain ways (unless you are using the optional Flaws rule). If characters don't act in accordance with their Virtues, then their Virtues should be changed (rather than changing the character's behavior). Like alignment, Virtues are a general description of how a character thinks and feels about things, and one or two "non-Virtue" actions are rarely enough to change their score. Instead, characters should be rated based on their overall long-term behavior.

Despite the name, Virtues do not necessarily symbolize goodness. An evil character can be extremely Determined - or even Compassionate. Some characters have their Virtues limited to particular groups and it only shows up when that group is involved. For example, you may be Compassionate towards the poor or Determined to eradicate every orc in the land, but not particularly extreme in your beliefs otherwise.

Optional Rule: Hero Points
If you are using Hero Points, a player can earn one hero point per session by acting in line with their Virtues (including, potentially, any associated Flaws). This limit is to help discourage players from acting unreasonably in an effort to eke out more rewards from their roleplaying, but the potential of occasional rewards offers a way to nudge them in the right direction.

Optional Rule: Flaws
Few people are perfect, and some people have flaws in their virtues that can compel them to act in bold, sometimes reckless ways. Any character with a score of 4 or higher between their Virtues should have at least one Flaw among their high-scoring Virtues (though they do not need to have a flaw for every Virtue with a high score, and it is extremely rare to have more than one Flaw in a given Virtue). Characters with a 1 in a Virtue never have a Flaw for it. Each Flaw has a triggering situation - when that situation occurs, a character must make a Will Save against DC 10 + 1/2 their Hit Dice + their Highest Ability Modifier. If they fail this save, they must act in accordance with their Flaw until the situation is resolved. If a player does not wish to control their character acting in accordance with the Flaw, the GM controls the character until the situation is resolved. Flaws for a given Virtue often have similar Triggers.

As a general rule, characters with a score of 4 in a Virtue have a higher threshold for what they're willing to tolerate than a character with 5. For example, a character with 4 Compassion would need to see more suffering before there's a chance to trigger the Curse Of The Mother flaw. A character with 5 Compassion, on the other hand, might trigger it from a much milder event.

Most Flaws last either until the end of combat (if you are in Initiative), until a problem is resolved, or for one day. Some Flaws have shorter durations. The GM determines which duration is most appropriate based on the current situation and the past behavior of the character. As a general rule, characters with high Control tend to return to normal faster than anyone else for their other Virtues, but are not faster about resolving a Control Flaw.

Flaws generally have a risk of triggering only if a character cannot effectively change the situation. For example, even if an innocent is harmed, a character with high Compassion isn't at risk of their Flaw triggering if they manage to save and heal that innocent. In other words, characters should be allowed a chance to overcome the problem before they risk the potentially-debilitating effects of a Flaw (even if they have a 5 in that particular Virtue). Some Flaws may trigger sooner, based on their individual effects.

Several sample Flaws are included, but GMs are encouraged to make up additional Flaws if they would suit your game better.


Compassion

Compassion is a reflection of how much you care for others - and, to an extent, how affected you are by seeing suffering and injustice among others. High Compassion can be difficult in a world where oppression is the norm. However, it can also inspire you to protect others and make the world a better place. Compassionate characters may have high Daring or Determination, but tend to have average Control at best.

  • Level 1: You are not compassionate. You will happily keep things that are yours even when you see other people suffering and in need.
  • Level 2: You have normal compassion. You occasionally go out of your way to do small favors or donate to charities, but it is not a significant part of your life.
  • Level 3: You are compassionate. You frequently help others when they are in need, regardless of whether or not they can pay you.
  • Level 4: You are very compassionate. You frequently look for people in need of help, and get restless when an area is too peaceful for too long.
  • Level 5: You probably shouldn't be an adventurer. You always spare the lives of enemies, and you will go very far out of your way to help others, even if they're your enemies. If you are at this level for a long time, people may start to believe you're some kind of saint. You may obsessively instigate problems just so you can then go help people.

Compassionate Characters: Protect and help those who are innocent, oppressed, or sick. They tend to fight for justice and what they believe is right, support those in need more than those in power, and have strong feelings about love.

Compassionate Characters Rarely: Slay a helpless foe, ignore those in need, ignore abuses of power, publicly humiliate others.

Flaw: Compassion Of The Martyr

You are overcome with the desire to help others, and will throw yourself into scenes in the most dramatic and direct way you can. You may quite literally jump in front of a blade to save others. However, you won't resort to violence as a solution unless attacked or already in combat. You may try to talk the source of the problem into changing their behavior. Regardless of the method of resolving the problem, you try to have the attention of everyone in the area so they know how compassionate you are.

  • Trigger: You see an innocent person harmed or suffering through no fault of their own. This must be notable harm or suffering - just seeing someone sad about being poor will not trigger this flaw.

Flaw: Curse Of The Mother

You are overwhelmed by the desire to take care of those around you as if they are babies who cannot take care of themselves. You hover around them and try to feed, clothe, and bathe them - or just ensure they rest quietly. You ignore the refusals of those you are trying to aid, treating them like the confused cries of children who don't know what's best. If anyone tries to harm someone else within your presence, you first scold them, then engage in non-lethal violence if necessary.

  • Trigger: You see an innocent person harmed or suffering through no fault of their own. This must be notable harm or suffering - just seeing someone sad about being poor will not trigger this flaw.

Flaw: Rage Of Compassion

Seeing other people in trouble fills you with rage. You attack the most obvious cause of the problem without regard to your safety or the situation. This rage burns so bright that you have difficulty performing even simple tasks not related to fixing things. If there is no obvious target, you will spend 1d12 minutes moving erratically and destroying things with no consideration for their value. Anyone who interferes with you may become a target.

  • Trigger: You seen an innocent suffering or hurt and cannot effectively intervene to protect them.

Flaw: Tears Of Grief

You are overcome with grief when you see suffering and find it hard to do anything other than weep when someone is in trouble and can't be helped. You have difficulty taking any action except fleeing from the scene, and may seek to numb yourself with alcohol or drugs afterwards.

  • Trigger: You see an innocent person harmed or suffering, and you cannot do anything to soothe their troubles.

Flaw: Whipped Like A Dog

You are overcome with indecision. You give up when faced with adversity and do not resist any authority figure. You refuse to take any leadership role, and instead follow the suggestions of those around you without thought. You may defend yourself, but you try to flee combat as soon as possible.

  • Trigger: You see an innocent person harmed or suffering, and you cannot do anything to soothe their troubles.

Control

Control is a measure of your ability to control yourself and your feelings. High Control allows you to put reason before emotion, even when put under high-pressure situations. A character with high Control may also have high Conviction, but rarely has high Compassion or Daring.

  • Level 1: You are hot-headed and have a difficult time controlling yourself. You lash out at insults, even when you know it's foolish.
  • Level 2: You have normal self-control. You are able to keep your wits about you most of the time, but you sometimes become a little too passionate when stressed.
  • Level 3: You have good self-control. You're able to keep your cool during a tense argument and you're not swayed by generous bribes.
  • Level 4: You have impressive self-control. While you may still have strong emotions, you do not allow them to control you. Other people tend to recognize you as a reliable source of reason and sense.
  • Level 5: Your enemies suspect there is something very wrong with your head. You are practically a saint of self-denial, calm and rational even when beaten down or offered all the wealth and power you could want. You may deliberately expose yourself to temptations just so you can turn your nose up and ignore it.

Controlled Characters: Are good at resisting temptations, don't lash out at others without cause, and limit their consumption of mind-altering substances.

Controlled Characters Rarely: Act in bad faith, show bias on important matters, indulge themselves to excess, or break their word.

Flaw: Ascetism

After outbursts of strong emotion - such as another Flaw being triggered - you have a powerful drive towards tranquility and purification. You turn your back on worldly matters - even if they are pressing and important - and withdraw to solitude. You may still defend yourself if threatened. While purifying yourself, you dress in sackcloth or rags, or display another sign of repentance. You may give away valuables and try to help a group you wanted to protect when a previous Flaw was triggered. You do not respond to others if disturbed, and may become violent towards anyone who persists in bothering you.

  • Trigger: You are confronted by your inadequacies or weaknesses, including any other Flaws.

Flaw: Contempt For The Wicked

You lose acceptance of the faults of others and try to show them a better way. You feel disdain for anyone you've seen indulging too much or acting dishonorably. While this Flaw is in effect, you attempt to intervene when you see anything even slightly dishonorable or overly indulgent - with violence if need be. You loudly urge others around you to change and may lecture them. You will expend limited resources in pursuit of this goal.

  • Trigger: You are hindered by the self-indulgence or intemperate behavior of others.

Flaw: Drunkenness

You become impulsive and ignorant. You are a slave to your desires, unable to control yourself enough to resist temptations. You don't think about the consequences of your actions and will indulge any appetite without restraint - but your mood is mercurial, and you will drop any indulgence the moment a new temptation arises.

  • Trigger: You are confronted by your inadequacies or weaknesses, including any other Flaws.

Flaw: Overindulging

Your self-control fails and you dive completely into excess. Various sins and vices are fair game for you (even if they would violate a Code of Conduct), and you will neither listen to reason nor postpone your new entertainments. You indulge hard in whatever vices are offered, regardless of cost - you may even borrow or steal to keep indulging. You may need to make a Fortitude Save (difficulty determined by the GM) to avoid long-term consequences from this, especially for addictions to drugs.

  • Trigger: You refrain from something you love while in pursuit of a goal, especially when you are also required to act in a moral fashion.

Flaw: Slothfulness

You stop caring about everything except the bare essentials. Your interests are limited to eating and sleeping. You do not care about your friends or the rest of the world, for the necessities of life take priority. You avoid taking risks and chances except to avoid threats to your life. You do not study or work, and you will not fight except in self-defense.

  • Trigger: You are confronted by your inadequacies or weaknesses, including any other Flaws.

Daring

Daring represents a character's courage, valor, and resolve. Characters with high Daring are willing to face foes stronger than themselves and press onwards even in dangerous situations. A character with high Daring may also have high Determination (and occasionally Compassion), but tends to have normal Control because they're more willing to take risks.

  • Level 1: You are a coward. You tend to run from any situation where you seem to be at a disadvantage, and even some where you aren't.
  • Level 2: You have normal daring. While you have goals, you tend to take a practical approach to things and don't hesitate to retreat when concerned. Most likely, you'd rather live to fight another day.
  • Level 3: You are daring. You will confront opponents who are more powerful than you, and mere shows of force don't intimidate you very easily.
  • Level 4: You are quite daring. You will face foes that you probably shouldn't, and you rarely turn to run even when things look bad.
  • Level 5: Some people wonder if you're suicidal and your friends may be planning an intervention. You will face any threat, regardless of power, even when no rational person would. You tend to put yourself in the most dangerous part of any area.

Daring Characters: Act in heroic ways, confront supernatural terrors, take risks (justified or otherwise), and boldly proclaim their cause.

Daring Characters Rarely: Turn down duels, run away, passively accept insults, ignore dares and challenges.

Flaw: Animal Aggression

You become like an aggressive fighting animal. You are incredibly quick-tempered and will fight anyone for any reason, especially if it inconveniences or startles you. You are unable to back down from any challenge to your dominance. You don't talk much, and prefer to let your fists answer things.

  • Trigger: You are insulted, belittled, or deliberately frustrated by someone.

Flaw: Berserk

You go out of control and attack anything that moves. If something flees, you will pursue. You start with the nearest hostile target and continue to attack until all hostiles are dead. Then you move on to other targets, smashing any object in the vicinity. However, you will not attack friends unless they physically try to stop you.

  • Trigger: You are insulted, belittled, or deliberately frustrated by someone.

Flaw: Foolish

You know no fear. You put yourself at the front of battles, challenge any foe to single combat, volunteer for dangerous missions, and refuse to retreat no matter how dangerous things get.

  • Trigger: You fight against losing odds, are challenged by a foe to single combat, or are given a notable opportunity to prove your bravery.

Flaw: Loner

You don't need anyone else. You don't fear others, and you don't respect them. You do not wait for help, expect it, or thank others for it. You generally feel contempt for others and will do things in your own time, without waiting for others to catch up.

  • Trigger: You are insulted, belittled, or deliberately frustrated by someone.

Determination

Determination represents your ability to withstand various forms of hardship - or, in some cases, your willingness to inflict hardship on others in pursuit of your goals. With high Determination, you tend to be so focused on achieving your goals that you'll do things others might consider morally questionable. This does not necessarily mean that high-Determination characters are sadists or behave in evil ways, but they do tend to feel that the ends justify the means. Determined characters tend to have high Control (and sometimes high Daring), but are less likely to have high Compassion.

  • Level 1: You have no determination. You try to run from adversity and may feel sick when asked to make a hard choice.
  • Level 2: You have normal determination. You pick goals and try to fulfill them, but you're willing to set your goals aside if it doesn't seem practical to keep trying to fulfill them.
  • Level 3: You are determined. You'll keep your mouth shut during torture and you're willing to use drastic measures when you feel there's no other choice.
  • Level 4: You are very determined. You rarely give up on your goals once you decide on them, and you're willing to do just about anything not morally repugnant to get the job done. You're faster to jump to extreme solutions than most people, though your main focus is on getting the job done and you don't necessarily regard extreme solutions as the best option in every case.
  • Level 5: You probably underwent extreme brainwashing at some point. Your determination is unshakable, and can withstand years of horrible torture without losing your grip on things. You're also willing to do the same to others, even if you don't need to.

Determined Characters: Withstand hardships without complaint, take blows when necessary, make decisions when there are no good choices, and definitely believe the ends justify the means.

Determined Characters Rarely: Abandon things they've decided to do, give up when things are hard, sacrifice their friends.

Flaw: Curse Of Heartlessness

You become completely selfish. You ignore the needs, emotions, and even survival of those around you except to the extent they can help you (for example, you're not likely to let your only guide through the wilderness starve). You have no mercy and will kill anyone who impedes you, and will not expend any effort or take risks to help others unless it's directly relevant to your own well-being. You may run if threatened, and if you do, you will do nothing to help anyone you leave behind.

  • Trigger: You are severely stressed or cornered in a situation where extreme reactions could help.

Flaw: Deliberately Cruel

You embrace cruelty as a way of solving problems. Whether you are evil or just practical, you think terror and suffering are acceptable methods, and you have a strong distaste for weakness. When given the opportunity, you will try to inspire as much fear and pain as possible in anything standing in your way.

  • Trigger: You are severely stressed or cornered in a situation where extreme reactions could help.

Flaw: Flinty Heart

You harden your heart to emotions. You feel very little of anything - you aren't robotic, but you lack empathy and compassion. Your primary focus is on efficiency, and you will do whatever seems most effective for both your short-term and long-term situation. You will still try to avoid things you have a strong emotional aversion to, but even those options are on the table if they're more practical than other methods.

  • Trigger: You are frustrated by the aggressive, intemperate, rude, or childish nature of something around you.

Flaw: Living For The Now

You are overwhelmed by the importance of the moment. You cannot ignore your vision of how a situation should be, regardless of any consequences. You will fight over a portion of breakfast as aggressively as you'd fight to protect your life. You will do whatever you think is right, even if it means dying in the process.

  • Trigger: You are frustrated by the aggressive, intemperate, rude, or childish nature of something around you.
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