Call on traits and the meaning of "or"


This might be an old horse, but I can’t really remember if there was a ruling on this.

Many call on traits use “and/or” for which skills/stats they can be used on. I have usually taken the “or” statement to mean you have to choose one skill in character burning or when you acquire the trait, but are they really intended to be that broad?

Take, for example, Booming Voice. 2 pts call-on trait.

The text states:
The character’s voice cuts through the walls and overpowers other speakers.
This is a call-on for Conspicious, Oratory or Command.

My instincts say that a trait that can be used for all three skills in a session should be priced at 3 pts. Am I being stingy?

I’m pretty sure you can just use it once per session but you can use it for any of those skills. What made you think call-ons were once per session per skill?

Those traits which require you to pick at character burning (or in some cases later) say so in the trait description. If the trait just says “Soothing Platitudes or Black Metal Artifice” you can use it for one this session and the other next session.

Perhaps i was unclear, a call on straits can only be used once, no matter how many skills it applies to. It’s the flexibility that’s powerful.
The street smart trait is a good example, it can only be used once, but it explicitly costs more because it can be used for circles, a wise and a skill.
It’s the flexibility that I think should raise the cost.

I always understood that you were forced to choose one skill, and stick to it. When the text states “and” then you can use it with one this session and with the other the next session if you want, because it applies to both.

Do you have a page reference for that? I would think the book would have to say that somewhere if that were the case.

Thinking it over a bit, it might be the intent that some Call-On traits are simply more flexible than others. If you want to have a call on for a weapon skill or sorcery, you have to take nimble or driven… which only apply to one skill. Call-on traits for less potent skills supposed to have that extra flexibility. I dunno, at a glance it just seemed odd that traits that can apply to one, two or three skills are all priced the same. Driven vs Booming voice for example. For two trait points you get a call on for one skill (only when directly going for a belief) or for three different skills (command, conspicious and oratory).

I think that difference is intentional. Each session you can choose whether to call-on for any of the three skills with Booming Voice. That’s very neat. If you get Driven for your Sorcery or Nimble for your Axe skill, you only get one skill to use it on, but that skill is potent. Call-on for an Axe skill usually means that someone dies.

I am agreeing with Jim and Devin.

Maybe I’m wrong, but if the trait description says or and not and, you have to choose one option during character burning or during the trait vote session. I think you can not change it every session.

Dramatic (BWG page 322) can be used with Acting and Theatrices. (So you can use it with Acting or Theatrices every session.)
Nimble (BWG page 337) can be used with Agility or one Skill with Agility in its root. (I presume you can’t choose both.)
Wise Aphorism (BWG page 354) can be used with Persuation, Oratory, Interrogation or Seduction. (So I presume you have to choose one Skill when you adquire the trait and stick with it.)

Alejandro, re-read the Nimble write-up. Notice the last sentence, where it says you must choose the skill during character burning. Wise Aphorism lacks that restriction, and can (I think) be used with whatever skill is appropriate to the aphorism you’ve just uttered.

My reading is that the “must choose during character burning” rule applies to those traits which specifically state that rule, and not otherwise (regardless of the use of “and” versus “or” in the writeup.)

Maybe it’s just a textual error, but when I read “or” I interpret it literally.

In the character sheet you can read: “Describe trait and the skill it affects”.

But I can’t be sure.

I’m with the camp that says if the choice is permanent, it says so in the description. Street Smart is expensive because Circles is really important.

It seems very odd that the “or” should be interpreted as a choice during character generation - I fail to see the reason why, when these traits are generally more expensive.

Both for game balance and because it just makes sense, I think the option “use once per session, for any one of the abilities listed” works best. Also, the wording “may be used as a call-on for”, to me, says that you have the trait - and choose which skill upon USE, not when you select the trait.

Then, why the Trait description does not say “and”? Maybe there is no difference between “or” and “and”. I just want to clarify this issue.

This is of course pure semantics, but if it said “and”, that would turn it more into the meaning “once for each skill per session” - which was not intended, as far as I interpret it.

It’s just a game rule though, and in your game I think you should interpret it the way that suits you and your players.

I think we’ve more or less come to an agreement on what the text says and how ambigious it is, so lets leave it at that. An argument in favor the interpretation that the traits using “or” can be used on different skills each session, but still only on skill per session, could be this:

If you buy a call on trait like Nimble or Driven, then you can freely choose any kind of skill to have it apply to. You can choose Sorcery, a weapon skill, an Elven Spell Song or a Dwarven Art. These can be very potent choices.

The traits like Booming Voice, Charismatic and so on are more flexible, yeah, but you cannot freely choose the skill. You get a package of 2-3 skills that you can call on for, and the flexibility is nice, but you do not as much freedom in what skill it should apply to. Driven can only be used on one skill, but that can be ANY skill. Booming Voice can be used on three thematically linked skills (Oratory, Conspicious and Command) but it can ONLY be used on those three skills.

Honestly, I think “Driven” should become a 3 pt trait if used on Sorcery or the like. That is definitely a place to apply the “more powerful” or “pain in the ass” penalty from the Monster Burner, that’s another discussion.