Arrete and Flaws

Excellences and Quirks if you will, or Virtues and Vices if you won't *

*There are lots of role-playing games out there with the purpose of becoming all-powerful or pwning your enemies or amassing a trove of treasure that would finance an entire continent (and yet still conveniently fits in the six bags you are carrying).  In contrast, Alatha is driven by story.  If you remember fourth grade, story has three mains elements: setting, characters, and plot.  Setting is what this website sets out for you, with enough openness to flush out many areas.  Plot is what the game master creates, driven along by the actions of the characters.  So the characters need to be interesting.  Everyone balks at the main characters in so many action movies.  You know the ones, the two dimensional, better than everyone, lacking of personality except for a few catch phrases, Steven Seagal type.  This is part of the drive behind Alatha's character system and one of the reasons I enjoy role-playing.  You are not limited to one of five character classes.  You can say whatever you want, pick up more items in a room than whatever is in the ubiquitous chest.  One of the best ways to create a memorable, enjoyable, and distinct character is to come up with a list of flaws he or she possesses and some of the areas he or she most excels in.  Arrete is the Greek word for excellence and should denote one or two areas the character is incredible in.  Even more important are the flaws which make characters realistic, stoppable, and interesting.  Flaws help in pushing plot, creating tension, and adding humor.  Examples of each are listed to the left.

The following list is taken from Five Point Fudge and is by no means exhaustive, exclusive, binding, or my own invention.  I blatantly cut and pasted.  Also the stats listed are for the FUDGE system and should be adapted when used.


  • Absent-Minded: your attention tends to wander if bored.
  • Annoying Voice: you sound terrible.
  • Appearance: your appearance is off-putting in some way, whether ugly or unkempt.
  • Bad Back: you are limited in what you can lift.
  • Bad Eyesight: you don't see very well - pick one: poor distance or up-close vision.
  • Blunt and Tactless: you have no social skills in dealing with sensitive people.
  • Code of Honor: your actions are constrained by your personal behavior code.
  • Color Blindness: you confuse lots of colors.
  • Combat Paralysis: you need a Good or better Health roll in order to act in a dangerous situation.
  • Compulsive Carousing: you are at -3 Willpower to resist a good time.
  • Compulsive Gambling: your are at -3 Willpower to resist a gambling game.
  • Compulsive Generosity: you are at -3 Willpower to resist giving things away to those perceived to be needier than you.
  • Compulsive Lying: you are at -3 Willpower to avoid lying just for fun.
  • Coward: you take very good care of yourself.
  • Curious: you are at -3 Willpower to resist exploring something new or unusual.
  • Delusions: the world doesn't work the way you think it does, in some important way.
  • Dependent: you're responsible for someone unable to care for themselves adequately.
  • Duty: you must perform active duty a certain amount of time.
  • Dwarfism: you are very short for your race.
  • Easily Distractible: did you say something?.
  • Easy to Read: you give away your thoughts and feelings to any who care to observe you.
  • Enemy: there is someone who wants to kill, imprison, or otherwise trouble you.
  • Fanatic Patriot: your country, right or wrong.
  • Frightens Animals: you have an aura that animals find terrifying.
  • Garrulous: you won't shut up.
  • Getting old: and all that implies.
  • Glutton: you're hungry.
  • Goes Berserk if Wounded: you're a danger to your friends, even.
  • Greedy: you want more.
  • Grouchy: you're usually irritated and try to spread the mood.
  • Gullible: -3 to Reasoning to believe an unknown "fact."
  • Hard of Hearing: what?
  • Honesty: you hate to break a law. See Truthfulness for not liking to lie.
  • Humanitarian: you help the needy for no pay.
  • Idealist: you're not grounded in reality.
  • Impulsive: you act before thinking.
  • Intolerant: you hate a certain type of person.
  • Jealous of Anyone Getting More Attention: you have to be the star.
  • Lame: you limp, which can affect speed and agility.
  • Lazy: you work hard at avoiding work.
  • Lechery: you're overly fond of the appropriate sex.
  • Loyal to Companions: you won't abandon, cheat, hide treasure from, etc., the party members. This one may be mandatory.
  • Magic Susceptibility: you are at -3 Willpower to oppose hostile magic.
  • Melancholy: life is so sad.
  • Miserliness: you hate to let it go.
  • Mute: you can't speak.
  • Night Blindness: you see poorly in dim light.
  • Nosy: your neighbor's business is yours.
  • Obese: you waddle.
  • Obsession: you must do it, or have it, or whatever.
  • Offensive Habits: too many to list. Some of the other Faults listed actually fall under this category, such as Nosy, Grouchy, Garrulous, etc.
  • Offensive Odor: you stink.
  • One Eye: you lack depth vision and can be blindsided, literally.
  • One Hand: it works overtime.
  • Outlaw: you're wanted by the law.
  • Overconfident: you know you can't fail.
  • Owe favors: you owe someone favors, and they'll ask you for them sometime.
  • Pain Intolerant: you're at -1 if Scratched, -2 if Hurt, and -3 if Very Hurt.
  • Phobias: lots of these - you're at -3 Willpower to avoid acting out of control in certain situations: snakes, darkness, heights, cats, falling, crowds, spiders, open or closed spaces, magic, loud noises, etc.
  • Poor: you start with less equipment and cash, and if you don't buy off this Fault, will always lose any you gain.
  • Practical Joker: you can't resist. Somebody's gonna hurt you someday.
  • Primitive: you're from a pre-metal-working society.
  • Proud: many things are beneath your dignity.
  • Quick to take offense: you're thin-skinned.
  • Quick-Tempered: you blow up when crossed.
  • Quixotic: you vigorously champion lost causes.
  • Reckless Bravery: you take no thought for your safety in dangerous situations.
  • Reputation: you're well known as some sort of louse.
  • Secret: if it's revealed, you'll be embarrassed, arrested, or worse - maybe that warrant out for your arrest, or your second spouse?
  • Self-defense Pacifist: you'll fight, but you'll never start a fight - no preemptive strikes.
  • Shyness: you never want to talk to strangers.
  • Social Stigma: you're obviously from some low-caste group.
  • Stubborn: you don't easily admit you're wrong. Has nothing to do with Willpower.
  • Susceptibility to Poison: you're at -3 to Health in Opposed rolls for poison.
  • Trickster: you regularly have to take a risk to thwart some villain, even if just a petty one.
  • Truthfulness: you can't tell a believable lie.
  • Unlucky: if something bad happens to someone in the party, it's you.
  • Vain: you're the best-looking and/or finest person in the world. Aren't your companions lucky?
  • Vow: you're committed to some action.
  • Worry Wart: you wring your hands a lot.
  • Xenophobia: you dislike and fear people different from the folks you grew up with.
  • Youth: you're so young no one takes you seriously. Also, lose one level each from three skills - you just haven't had time to develop everything that well yet.



  • Ambidexterity: you can use either hand equally well. Great for those times when you're wounded in an arm ...
  • Attractive: you're good looking - either handsome, beautiful, pretty, or whatever level you wish. (Warning: the more attractive you are, the more power you have over susceptible people, true, but the more likely you are to be abducted, etc.)
  • Beautiful speaking voice: +1 to NPC reactions. Also works for a singing voice if you take a Musical skill.
  • Charisma: people tend to like you, believe you, and are willing to follow your lead.
  • Common Sense: when you are about to do something incredibly stupid that will harm yourself or the party, the GM will warn you.
  • Contacts *: you know some influential or knowledgeable people who can supply you with information.
  • Danger Sense: the GM will make a Situational roll - on a Good or better result, you'll be warned of some imminent danger.
  • Divine Favor: the ability to cast Clerical Magic - see Magic. [Costs two Gifts]
  • Empathy with Animals: animals trust you and domesticated ones tend to obey you. Cruelty to animals nullifies this Gift.
  • Empathy with Sentient Beings: see Innate Magical Ability: Second Sight.
  • Familiar: only available to characters with Magical Power or Magical Talent. You have a magical familiar, which may talk, aid you in spell-casting and other tasks. This is an NPC played by the GM.
  • Favors due *: some people owe you favors, which you may collect. Each favor you collect must be approved by the GM.
  • Focused: you are at +1 to any lengthy task, but don't notice things outside this task, such as that brigand about to skewer you ...
  • Good Memory: you have an unusually good memory. The player may take notes during the game and act as if the character remembered them.
  • Good Reputation *: you're well known as a hero, healer, leader, fighter for justice, etc.
  • High Status: you are of the gentry or religious class - or nobility if you take this Gift twice.
  • Innate Magic: you have an inborn talent for a specific magical ability. See Magic for details.
  • Intuition: you have a feeling about what option to take when confronted with a choice. The GM will make a Situational roll in secret.
  • Lucky: once per hour (real time), you may reroll a bad dice roll, and choose the better of the two rolls.
  • Magic Resistance: you are resistant to direct magic: +3 to Willpower in any Opposed rolls versus magic.
  • Magical Power: the ability to perform magical feats through the study of Scholarly Magic. You may take multiple levels Magical Power. See Magic for details.
  • Magical Talent: the ability to perform magical feats through Hedge Magic. You may take multiple levels of Magical Talent. See Magic for details.
  • Never forgets a ____: fill in the blank with name, face, or whatever the GM will allow.
  • Never Gets Lost: you always know which way is North, and can retrace your route with a little effort.
  • Night Vision: you see well in dim light, but not in absolute darkness, of course.
  • Pain Tolerance: ignore wound penalties at Hurt, and you are only at -1 at Very Hurt.
  • Patron *: someone in power likes you. This can be simply a letter of recommendation, or it can be a favor granted.
  • Perfect Timing: if someone says to open the gate in five minutes, you'll do it within two seconds of that time. Also valuable in performing.
  • Peripheral Vision: you can see further to the sides than most people - less easily attacked from the side-rear.
  • Quick Reflexes: not easily surprised by any physical attack, and you adjust quickly to shifting footing.
  • Rank *: you have the right to command others in an organized body of soldiers or police.
  • Rapid Healing: you heal twice as fast from wounds - but not magically fast.
  • Resistant to Poison: poison has only half effect on you.
  • Tough Hide: subtract 1 from each amount of damage you take.
  • Veteran: you're experienced - add one level to each of three skills that are currently at Fair or Mediocre.
  • Wealthy: you start with more money than the average starting character. This can be in cash and/or equipment.



The following list of gifts is taken from the brilliant webpages for the world of Agyris at   also see their reasoning behind applying faults to characters at

 Again these are written for that system and are simply meant as examples.

  1. Attractive - There is just something about the character
    that the opposite sex (and sometimes even of different race) find attractive.
    People constantly
    make passes and flirt with the character, even when inappropriate. Those
    constantly around him/her cannot see anything especially remarkable about
    the character.

  2. Omniscient - the character has many visions that could
    help/hinder him during the course of the game. (Make the visions ahead of
    time, and difficult
    to define... arbitrary.) The knowledge should come in a consistent
    way through dreams/visions/speaking swords.

  3. Lucky - the character seems to stay clean/safe/untouched
    when bad things happen to everyone else. This will not save their life much
    of the time, but
    it sure does make life convenient. roll twice on any fumbles and always apply
    the kindest result.

  4. Itchy toes - The character will have itchy toes/palms/? whenever in a dangerous
    situation. Varies from omniscient in that it is much more “useful”
    in the here and now.

  5. Fast sprinter - The character can run like the wind, as fast as an ahnkri,
    for short distances. Perhaps make a skill chart so that they can run farther
    as skill increases. (sprint fair = 1/2 a mile • sprint of good = 3/4
    mile) Useful for races, outrunning foes, etc. think about the Irvan games.

  6. Sharp sighted - The character can see great distances, as far as a spy
    glass, given that they have enough time to focus. It does take time for them
    to focus back to “normal” sight.

  7. Very quick - The character is very quick in combat, able to strike faster
    than their weapon ought to. Always attacks first in combat.

  8. Acrobatic - The character has a talent for amazing spectacles of acrobatics,
    and is always described in the most acrobatic way. May wardodge any attack
    directed at the character.

  9. Great Liar - the character has an amazing ability to
    make ridiculous claims, requests, & boasts, and have most simple folk
    believe him. Very intelligent folk would certainly question outrageous claims,
    but probably not small white
    lies. This would be very fun to role play, as well.

  10. Counter - At a glance, the character can count hundreds of objects, very
    accurately. (”There’s about 684 troops in that column, and 1288
    troops in that one over there...”)

  11. Numbers - the character can multiply, divide, subtract, great sums of numbers
    in his or her head, in just a matter of moments. These tabulations are almost
    always correct.

  12. Reader - the character can read books in amazing time
    - 600 pages (or small scrolls) per hour, enabling them to learn very quickly
    or find relevant information fast.

  13. Quick Learner - with a little training, the character can learn new skills
    up to “mediocre” very quickly. The beginning information is absorbed
    with very little effort, however, after “mediocre” the character
    learns at normal rates.

  14. Natural Linguist - The character has the ability to “get along”
    at very basic levels in just about any language. There will certainly be plenty
    of misunderstandings, but the character has the ability to get simple ideas
    and concepts across.

  15. Animal Friend - Animals, (not monsters) are attracted and trust this character,
    making training, catching much easier. If the character is a hunter, some
    would say that this skill is evil.

  16. Average Face - The character will almost always be overlooked, ignored,
    or set free, because he/she “looks innocent.” this is especially
    useful to thieves, as they will be set free so very often. Bullies, guards,
    evil will often overlook the character.

  17. Loose Joints - The character can release any joint in their body, rendering
    them very difficult to keep tied up.

  18. Less Sleep - The character can get along fine with about half as much sleep
    as anyone else. Four hours per night is just fine with them.

  19. Musical Ability - The character is able to make pleasant
    music with almost any type of object. Musical instruments seem natural in
    their hands, making
    music in no time.

  20. Iron Jaw - This character can take a punch and has an
    extra checkbox in the "scratch" and "hurt" categories.

  21. Deep Lungs - This character, through health or training,
    is able to hold their breath for as long as 15 minutes, in a meditative state.

  22. Artistic - The character excells in the visual arts, able
    to draw, sculpt and paint with ease. This comes in handy when trying to make
    some plink, impress the locals, or trying to document someone's likeness.

  23. Nerves of Steel - This character doesn't sweat even the roughest of situations. Never penalized for "stressful" situations, combats, even when other characters are. +1 once per session to any activity deemed "difficult".

This is a list of motivations, also courtesy of Fudge.  Motivation is everything in determining how a character will play and thus what role you will play.  Its always complicated, never as simple as an alignment system, so be complex, not one-sided.

  • Altruism [aka Compassion, Charity]: The character is moved to help those who can't help themselves. The essential heroic motivation. Practically mandatory in some genres.
  • Ambition [aka Power, Glory]: The character is driven to elevate herself in the world, to seek power and authority. A very traditional tragic flaw.
  • Anger: The character seeks to vent his rage, either verbally or physically, and doesn't much care who the target is. This can cause all manner of Grief.
  • Authority [aka Law-abiding, Law]: The character respects the will of authority figures, even if she personally disagrees. Like a good samurai, she will loyally serve a dishonorable master. (See Fidelity.)
  • Bond (with who?): There is a person who the character feels very strongly about. (See also Family, Fidelity, Idol, & Love)
  • Cause (what cause?): The character is part of a social or political movement, and seeks to advance its goals, discredit its enemies, and proselytize others into the cause.
  • Code [aka Vow] (what code?): There is code of behavior that the character follows, from the code of chivalry to the code of piracy.
  • Discovery [aka Curiosity]: The character seeks out new information, either in a scientific sense or simply snooping into the private lives of his friends.
  • Fame: The character wants to be famous. Whether his reputation is good or bad doesn't matter as much as simply being known.
  • Faith (what faith?): The character is devoutly religious. Faith can show itself in many forms, from acts of charity, to slaying infidels.
  • Family: The character is loyal to his family, who pop up pretty frequently in the character's life.
  • Fidelity [aka Duty] (to who?): The character has a master, lord, or boss, who he has sworn to serve.
  • Friendship: The character deeply values his friends, and is wiling to make sacrifices for them. Conveniently, this works to hold the PCs together in a game. Like Altruism, this motivation is very common in heroic genera.
  • Greed: The character seeks money and material things.
  • Hatred (who?): The character hates a certain person, ideology, or class of people. This seems like the least heroic motivation, but many classic heroes have very personal grudges against their enemies. (eg: Hates criminals, Hates Nazis, Hates Dr. Evil, etc.)
  • Idol (who?): The character idolizes a certain person, and struggles to be like his hero. Your idol might not appreciate your devotion, and might not live up to your idea of her.
  • Justice: The character is driven to protect the innocent, and punish the guilty. This can get you caught up in all sorts of Grief.
  • Love (who?): The character is in love. He seeks to be with and protect his love. The object of his affections may or may not return his affections. If not, the love-stricken PC will try to change this attitude.
  • Lust: It's like love, but a lot less picky. The Grief potential is infinite. As is the potential amusement value to the other players.
  • Nemesis (who?): Someone has a grudge against the character. The PC can try to avoid or confront the foe, but either way there will be Grief.
  • Peace: The character values peace and seeks to avoid violence and conflict.
  • Pleasure: The character is a total hedonist, seeking personal pleasure. The degree of Grief this can bring depends on the character's favorite indulgence.
  • Pride: Like they say, it goes before a fall. The character seeks to prove himself, accepting challenges to prove his superiority.
  • Quest (what goal?): There is a specific, tangible goal that the character is driven to achieve.
  • Rebellion: The opposite of Authority. The character is instinctively suspicious of authority figures. Often he dislikes being in any team or organization that has a leader, unless he personally trusts the leader.
  • Rival (who?): The character is in competition with someone else, either professionally or romantically.
  • Secret (what and why?): The character has a secret to keep. There has to be a big reason why the character has the secret.
  • Stigmatized (why?): The character is part of some minority group which is feared or distrusted greater society. Naturally, this is very much dependent on the campaign. Individual groups will have to decide who would be considered stigmatized in a given setting.
  • Truth: The character's word is bond. The character will make every effort to keep his promises.
  • Trust: The character believes in trust, and is quick to trust strangers. This can be simple naivety, or a willingness to make a leap of faith.