Level 3 vs. Level 2 Traits

So we just had a winter phase in our game and my Thoughtful trait was raised from level 2 to level 3. I was at first quite excited; however, with a few sessions under my belt with the new trait, I find myself using it a lot less than before. With a level 2 trait I could use it on almost every test if I wanted to, assuming it was applicable, which it often was since it’s quite easy to Thoughtfully be a Scholar, Alchemist, Loremaster, Arcanist, Cartographer, or Pathfinder. Now that’s it’s level 3, I’ve yet to use it. Since most of the tests I make are independent and have a set Ob, getting +1s on a success counts for nothing. The only time level 3 traits are helpful is for versus tests, which don’t seem to come up very often.

So, is this a wrinkle unique to our game, or is a discussion of the relative value of level 2 and level 3 traits in order?

I don’t have the book handy. You sure you have that rule exactly right?

EDIT: yup. checked and that’s the rule. I was having Mouse Guard bleed.

Yeah, I also think that the lvl 3 trait benefits are kinda lame, but I guess it’s just one of those instance where one’s experience and the game philosophy just aren’t compatible (it happens the same for me with Burning Wheel and the Call-on-traits).

Stay cool :cool:

Depends, if your trait or it’s interpretation is conflict oriented or not.
“Defender” or “Heart of Battle” with +1s is better that +1D IMHO.

Would it break things to allow level 3 Traits to be used either for +1D or +1s? That would make them strictly better than level 2 Traits, which to me makes sense. But would they become too powerful then?

+1s sometime is better than +1D all the time.

Level 2: +1D every roll
Level 3: +1D every roll, +1s once per session (stacking with the +1D for that roll)


Are you involved in any conflicts?
What kind of versus tests are you involved in?

We’ve been involved in a few conflicts, and hopefully that will pick up going forward. We had our first Convince conflict the other night, but I didn’t get a change to use it (had an epic night of crappy rolls culminating in totally borking my lifestyle Resources test - the one everyone else helped me on). Outside of conflicts there haven’t been too many versus tests. Nearly all our tests have been independent for some reason. That’s probably atypical, and why I didn’t want to assume this was an issue

To me, Level 3 traits are great for providing an edge in non-physical conflicts where it’s difficult to get weapons. This becomes especially important at higher levels of play where more and more is at stake in a kill conflict, and more delicate means are required.

Social skills are good candidates for versus tests. And we hope having a +1s is a definitive advantage, since Might isn’t a factor and weapons are hard to come by.

I think what really tripped me up was that at level 2 my trait was very helpful with my Magicianing skills when scribing scrolls, spellbooks, etc., but now it doesn’t help with those tasks. I still haven’t decided if the advantages it now grants in other situations balances that. I don’t know if that’s a problem with the way level 3 traits work, or more of another tough decision point for players. Do I really push to get this trait to level 3, or am I good with it at level 2? This wasn’t something I realized since it’s my first level 3 trait.

Edit: One thing that seems counterintuitive is that presumably by reaching level 3 Thoughtful, I’m that much more thoughtful than before, but now my thoughtfulness no longer aids me in situations where it did before.

I think your game master was being too lenient on your application of this trait previously.

I thought the same exact thing when I first saw level 3 traits. For reference: http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?13572-3rd-Level-Traits-and-Pass-Fail-Tests

I agree that giving the player the choice of appling +1D or +1s is a good house rule. Depending on your play-style and your role in the party you just might not be making that many versus tests that apply to your traits.

Might I be correct in supposing that it’s very deliberate that advancing your traits requires you to use them in conflict situations?

Your GM was definitely being too gracious in allowing you to invoke the trait so often. I’m curious how often you used it to earn a check. That, in my opinion, is what traits should be used for the most.

You may be correct that our GM is a little lenient in allowing us to use our traits. I was able to use it to earn a check as often as I was to get +1D. It was really up to how I wanted to characterize it. Our GM is pretty laid back when it comes to justifying trait applicability (and wises and helping I’d say), which may have given me an expectation that the game does not intend.

That, however, does not change the fact that a level 2 trait is going to be useable more often than a level 3 trait. Whether +1s vs. +1D balances that, I’m not sure. Putting aside independent tests, there are even situations with versus tests where I’d rather have the +1D since the +1s only applies on a successful test.

I think if you were earning checks as often as you were getting a bonus that’s about the right balance. However, if it’s getting invoked every roll I would expect some good roleplay or at least new description.

Also, you get the +1s in successful test as well as tied tests, which makes it a little more useful.

FWiW, this is something we’re interested in. We’re playtesting solutions right now. I’m confident no one will like the change we’ll likely implement!


“You’ll have to spend a check to gain trait benefits.”

Stay cool :cool: