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D&D 3E
PC Taboos 
1st-Oct-2006 12:29 am
I'm looking at the Wu Jen class in Oriental Adventures, and at 1st level, and every level divisible by 3, the character has to adopt a taboo. Help me think of some fun ones?

* May not wear shoes
* Must never go unarmed, even when bathing or sleeping (this adds an extra disadvantage to being held captive)
* Must never use a physical weapon
* Vow of silence (or, may not speak the campaign equivalent of Common)
* No [certain type of person] may see them eat
* Must never kill (though rendering a creature 'dying' (-1 to -9HP) is alright)
* Must wear a mask or veil at all times
* Must not lie
* May never tell a complete truth or pass on the entirety of their knowledge of a topic
* May not consume garlic
* Must fast one day per week
* Must inscribe explosive runes (or a similar reading-activated spell) on their hand, and replace the spell within one day of its activation.
* May not acknowledge the existance of [certain person/group/type] (This'd be fun if one selected the class of another party member.)
* May not accept surrender or otherwise take prisoners
* Must keep a Significant Tree (i.e. a particular bonsai) within 30' at all times, and care for it regularly. [Edit: A bit like this, but smaller and lighter.]
* Must drop everything and make a religious offering when it rains

[Edit: I didn't explain the concept of the taboo clearly enough first time 'round. The Wu Jen character selects each taboo (no dice involved), and in exchange gains a a metamagic version of a spell, which doesn't take up a higher-level spell slot. If the character breaks the taboo, willingly or otherwise, they can't cast spells for the remainder of that day.

It seems like the function of the taboo is to make the character odd - one of the example taboos given in the sourcebook is 'may not bathe', which isn't exactly calculated to make others respond favourably. (In some circumstances, it's worth a cha penalty in its own right!)]
1st-Oct-2006 08:50 am (UTC)
I'd pick up a GURPS supplement or two and read through the disadvantages/quirks sections.
1st-Oct-2006 10:39 am (UTC)
I'm looking at some, and it seems like GURPS disadvantages are mainly things that a character can't help (incapacitating dyslexia, asthma, pregnancy, etc). It's not quite the same as the 'taboo' idea, which a character is supposed to knowingly attend to. (Among the examples the Oriental Adventures book gives are 'may not bathe', 'may not eat meat', 'must make a daily offering of X to one or many spirit powers'; things like that.)
1st-Oct-2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
How "strong" is the taboo supposed to be? Is it supposed to just be a fun little roleplaying thing, or is it supposed to be a serious disadvantage? I know the Binder's Influences (from Tome of Magic) are designed to be roleplaying effects but have no mechanical effect whatsoever. There are things like "if you come to a podium you must make a speech" or "if you meet a dwarf you must give him a coin." Not "you may not use a physical weapon," which is a pretty significant drawback.

The "harmless" taboos you mentioned were
"May not wear shoes"
"Must never go unarmed, even when bathing or sleeping" (maybe, but this isn't a far deviation many PC's 'normal' behavior)
"No [certain type of person] may see them eat"
"Must wear a mask or veil at all times"
"May not consume garlic"
"Must fast one day per week" (maybe, depending on how your game deals with starvation effects or rations)
"Must keep a Significant Tree (i.e. a particular bonsai) within 30' at all times, and care for it regularly." (probably, but could depend on what constitutes 'care for it regularly."
"Must drop everything and make a religious offering when it rains" (if you define make an offering as maybe a full-round action)

Some of your elements are definately NOT harmless. Consider that Vow of Silence is a FEAT in BoED (not that it's worth a lot, but still). Being forced to use explosive runes oncer per day means that you get one less 1st level spell per day, which can be pretty significant. Also the "may not acknowledge the existence" of the PCs may seem amusing for the first few sessions, but it'll get old really really fast. "I refuse to listen or accept anything you say or do" is not the way to make friends in any medium.

1st-Oct-2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Some of the drawbacks seem to harsh or make the player unplayable.

And every 3 levels? By 9 you would already be a trainwreck if you rolled the wrong disadvantage.

Perhaps stretching out the flaws to every 4-5. Or make them less impacting. Quirks instead of mental disabilities.
1st-Oct-2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
I see I didn't explain clearly enough in the original post, since I'm having to add stuff when commenting to everyone. I'm going to go back and fix that.

See other comments, and note that taboos are chosen, not rolled. Almost entirely an IC thing.
1st-Oct-2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
Choosing a defect doesnt make much sense. Characters will simply choose the disadvantages that benefit them most/disadvantage them the least.

I choose "ignore a specific race" and I pick Invisible People. Yeah.. those ones, I just ignore altogether.

A disadvantage like this requires some random qualities. Otherwise you would want to keep those detrimental ones off the list completely as NO ONE would want to choose something that makes it hard to play anyways.
1st-Oct-2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
It seems like they're supposed to be 'mostly harmless', in that they make the character "weird", but if the taboo is broken (willingly or not) the character can't cast spells for the rest of that day. (In exchange for accepting the taboo, one of the characters' spells is permanently affected by a metamagic feat, without using a higher spell-slot.)

I was just pulling ideas out of my ear; brainstorming is like that. :)
1st-Oct-2006 06:41 pm (UTC) - Oh, and...
.."I refuse to listen or accept anything you say or do" is not the way to make friends in any medium.

It'd fit right in with the gaming group I'm part of. It's one where the players enjoy themselves, but our characters often neither trust nor like eachother. (They stay together because they're bound by common responsibilities, etc.) It sometimes resembles a version of Paranoia ('striaght' style, not shoot-em-up) as much as D&D. ;)
1st-Oct-2006 07:00 pm (UTC) - Re: Oh, and...
Well, to each his own.
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