Character traits


Is it just me, i feel like my player come up trying to steer me into the things i didn’t clearly get in the BWG rulebook.

Anyway, i got a hard time understanding how to reward some character traits.

My player pick those that seem appropriated for his concept:


We mostly play Insightfull by letting him had particularly eloquent passage to his character intervention that border on “out of character information”, but so far it didn’t generate any Artha reward.

Inscrutable and Humility are bit of a problem. Inscrutable is mostly a reaction he get’s from other NPC but then again that didn’t generate any artha so far. Humility is mostly how he present himself…

All in all i feel dice trait and call-on look simpler to generate some artha rewards. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

Any recommandations?


He has to use his character traits to guide his roleplay in a way that changes the direction of the story. That’s how he gets rewarded for his character traits. As a GM, you don’t have to do much as far as character traits go. The responsibility is on the player’s shoulders to play them.

In general, you shouldn’t award artha for use of call-on and die traits. That’s double-dipping.

Character traits don’t come up every session, but when they inform the player’s roleplay and the story takes a significant turn due to that roleplay, a reward is earned.

Character traits are not simply about roleplay! You’re expected to roleplay. If you do a good job, you earn a persona point for embodiment. Character traits are about using your character’s personality to push in a new direction.

So when your player is asked a question, and he gives a suitably obtuse answer that confuses his interlocutor (and sends the story off), give him a point for Inscrutable.

Arrogant is my favorite character trait for precisely that reason. “Seriously, are you going to let a mere duke address you like that?” Hilarity and/or massive brawl ensues.

I guess it depends on what the trait does for you. Missing Limb is a die-trait after all, I’m sure it can be invoked to send the story down another path beyond it’s mechanical description.

Good point!

I still wouldn’t award Artha for a Dt or C-O that has beneficial effects. The Dts that are harmful or just like Char traits but worse. They should be scrupulously mined for even more Artha!

Inscrutable and Humility are bit of a problem. Inscrutable is mostly a reaction he get’s from other NPC but then again that didn’t generate any artha so far. Humility is mostly how he present himself…

So, the player has two tasks here. First, to figure out how to present his character using these. Second, to think of what kinds of situations he could get into or create where this produces entertaining problems.

Inscrutable is easy for this, since it mostly revolves around saying and doing ambiguous things. Imagine if someone asks him who’s side he’ll take in a blood feud and he turns and walks out without an explaination. Later he comes back with his sword drawn, everyone freaks out and it turns out he drops to his knee and hands his sword to the person to indicate he’s chosen his side.

Obviously, for the player, he’s going to have to figure out the angle for this kind of character so he doesn’t become, “The guy who does weird shit all the time”.

Humility is pretty easy, especially if he has to deal with social situations. “Wait, this is the famed so-and-so? Why is he riding to the court on a donkey?” “The herald doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t wear a family crest? Um…” The other side of it, that fits well with Inscrutable, would be to do things to make sure his deeds AREN’T attributed to him. Wearing disguises, or pinning the source of heroism to others, etc.


Inscrutable doesn’t have to be just keeping his mouth shut or doing odd things. It’s very easily mined for Artha: every time someone asks him to explain anything—what something is, what he’s doing, what he wants—he just has to fail to help them. He can be terse to the point of conveying no information, he can babble irrelevantly, he can spew jargon over the heads of everyone else, or he can explain cogently, complete with reasons that seem mystifying to his interlocutor.

Remember, it’s up to the player to decide whether to play to the trait for fun, play it up for Artha, play against it (possibly for Artha), or ignore it (and maybe lose it in a vote.) You don’t have to decide what the traits mean, he does.

I just want to thank you all, really this is helpful.

I think the back of the BWG stand true “If you’re not careful, Burning Wheel will change the way you play roleplaying games.”