Acquiring the Outlaw Trait

Hi there!

I’m hoping to get some advice or insight into how some of you GMs out there might handle a situation like the one my group has found themselves in.

For some background, one of the characters, Farid, has gone rogue and has been attempting to start a semi-illegal mining business apart from the rest of the party. He has made liberal use of the trait Mesmerizing Gaze to effectively circumvent failed haggling, persuasion, and intimidation rolls. His most recent stunt involved torturing a shady merchant he had connections to into signing over most of his assets.

As you might imagine, this has caused quite a great deal of friction in both the fiction and the table. During our first trait vote of the game, the other players unanimously voted to award Farid the Outlaw trait.

Now this seems like a perfectly reasonable consequence for the blatant way Farid has leveraged his otherworldly power. However, this trait is normally taken during character burning and I’m a little unsure on how to proceed with implementing this trait going forward in game. I don’t want this trait to be seen as a punitive measure, but I still want there to be in-game drawbacks to being a marked criminal.

How would you implement the Outlaw trait mid-game? Would you substitute it for something else or perhaps tweak the function of the trait to make more sense within the fiction?

Whatever advice you have is welcomed, thank you!

Hi @AecersOwen .

We’ve previously just assigned such Traits as the result of a Trait Vote (BWG p59 “… Character, Call-on and Die Traits can be awarded.”).

We have then bent the fiction to match.

So, if this was my table, I’d frame it as something like “Farid keeps getting away with this, and whilst Mesmerizing Gaze can make you freeze up, or do something that Farid demands, people remember. People petition the courts, the Shady Merchant (or the Shady Merchant’s powerful patron) bribe the right/wrong people, and have Farid declared Outlaw by the judges.”

Alternatively, some figure(s) of authority could do something similar directly, given the chaos and fear Farid is causing for those around them. Maybe they post wanted notices, maybe the local religious leader declares Farid to be “a blasphemous ne’er-do-well”.

Or maybe the city passes a local law that Farid is no longer protected by the law, and any can harm them without fear of consequence.

Perhaps this might get ramped up later, when a bounty is place on Farid’s head (whether still attached to their body or not)?


I assume you’re thinking about the Resources part of Outlaw when thinking about this.

I don’t know if there’s a proper way to do it, but I would probably pick one of three things:

  1. Based on Mark’s post - roleplay it, tell the player that their lands and property are taken from them, and then let that shake out in play. This is probably the best with the right group.

  2. Split the player’s resources as they exist. Figure out what mines are controlled because of Noble or Merchant status, and then take them away (including access to Cash or Funds) and then take those away. Being formal about it is nice if there’s bad feelings about this kind of thing in the group.

  3. Don’t do it. Resources don’t get taken away, the rest of Outlaw applies, and so it’s unlikely anyone is going to keep their resources in tact. This is the more cutthroat version of #1, and the way I want to run things in most groups.

I would definitely prefer to run #3, just start causing problems and let it shake out, but I suspect that in many of my groups, #2 is going to be easiest, formalizing things is important, just need to be good at defining what “resources” are and do so in a way that feels fair.

I dunno, it’s a mess of a post.

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Were it me, I would apply the consequences of the trait in roleplay. His resources aren’t just split, somebody comes and forcibly takes them away. What’s he going to do, complain to the Sherriff? Petition the courts? Risk death by complaining?

No, his only options are to embrace the trait and fight back, or backpedal and try to reenter society, where he can regain his rights and petition for redress.

Of course, then his enemies can argue that they were justified in their theft, that their actions were simply reparations for the harm Farid caused. So maybe he decides he’d rather be an outlaw, known as someone who will manipulate, assault or kill those who stand in his way.

This is an interesting roleplay moment, and I hope your player embraces it.

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Very cool situation. And great suggestions from Mark and Silverwizard.

I love the Outlaw trait. It’s a wonderful anachronism. And you’re right to point out that the trait emphasizes its application in character burniing, but it can be applied in play.

In principle, it represents a change in legal status of the character—essentially, they have no protection under the law. Certain activities become legal in their regard and others become illegal. Once they’re an outlaw, it’s legal for others to harm them and to confiscate their property and belongings. And, in practice, it’s illegal for others do business with them—contracts, sales, exchanges, labor, etc.

I would reflect the latter as severe penalties to Resouces and Circles (unless using infamy, which would help in this case)! You could basically apply the Enmity penalty to all interactions with folks who obey the law of the land.

We’ve had similar circumstances arise in our campaigns over the years. What the other players have done is essentially turn Farid into a villain. I wholeheartedly encourage you and the group to play out the consequences and enjoy them. Your game is now about the consequences of Farid’s actions. Will he reform? Will he be brought to justice? Will he create an outlaw kingdom? And, of course, how will the others play into his story? Will they join him? Side against him?

Find out in play and let us know how it goes.


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