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A Handicap is one of the defining features of a Character’s Personality Annex. The Handicap is almost like an Umbral of the Personality Annex. The Handicap Facet defines the broad strokes of the Handicap, telling us the sort of Handicap it is.
Number of Handicaps by Character Type
The number of Character Handicaps is detirmined by type and how experienced the Character is as follows:
|Type of Character
|Max Number / Max Scale
|Goblin (Lesser Demon)
|Demon / Lesser Dæmon
|Demonlord / Dæmon
|Increated / Dæmon Prince
Each Handicap has a Boon (normally written as a xNN after the Handicap). The Boon Reduced gives the number of Bane Points that the Handicap has. We call the Bane Points Reduced ‘Ruins’, which is important later.
It is usual to note a Handicap as: “Arachnophobia” x13/4/1 . Noting Boon, Bane points and Ruins for convenience. Next in importance is the Handicap Tier.
Handicaps are divided into three Tiers based on their Boon compared to the Character’s Facet Boon. So all Fear Handicaps would be compared to a Character’s Awe Facet.
- Nuisance: Handicap Boon is less than Half the Facet Boon (or less than 10 if you have no Facet Boons recorded), this is a Nuisance (or Tier 1 Handicap).
- Flaw: The Handicap Boon is larger than Half the Facet Boon, but still less than the Facet Boon. This is a Flaw (or Tier 2 Handicap).
- Woe: The Handicap Boon is greater than the Facet Boon (or Boon 26). This is a Woe, a Dæmonic Handicap. Dæmonic Handicaps are limited to a systemic maximum of Boon 40 for most Characters and an even Refs can go no further than Boon 82.
It is normal to note the Tier as (I,II, III) on the Handicap.
Handicaps have differing types that cover the effects the Handicap may have. Additionally all Handicaps have Universal effects. Descendants have a slightly different Handicap type list that you can find here.
|Nuisance (I) Effect
|Flaw (II) Effect
|Woe (III) Effect
|When a Handicap is injurious (like an allergy) use this type.
|Draw and apply 1 Ordeal Card per Ruin when Triggered
|Draw and apply 1 Unsoakable Wound Card per Ruin when triggered
|Draw and apply 1 Unsoakable Wound per Bane point adding one Wound Level per Ruin to each card
|When a Handicap is meant to complicate a Hero’s life use this type.
|1 Proficiency Slot filled by the Handicap per Ruin
|As Nuisance plus -1 Proficiency Die per Ruin
|As Flaw plus Cannot Draw Ordeal cards while Triggered
|When a Handicap is created by a curse or you want unusual effects use this type.
|All actions affected by an Umbral of Boon equal to Bane points
|All actions affected by an Umbral of Boon equal to Handicap Boon.
|As Nuisance plus, all actions against the Character are affected by a Nimbed of Boon equal to the Handicap Boon
|When a Handicap is imposed by the story use this type
|Automatically Cross (or Uncross) Wyrd Tarot card in play when Triggered
|Cannot Draw Wyrd Tarot or Yarn Cards while Triggered
|Cannot Draw or Play Wyrd Tarot or Yarn Cards while Triggered
|When a Handicap has a profound psychological cause use this type
|Character affected by 1 card (Fear) Psychology Test
|Character affected by 2 card (Terror) Psychology Test
|Character affected by 3 card (Horror) Psychology Test
|The sorts of Handicaps that only occur in social settings.
|Roll/Draw twice keep lowest while Triggered
|As Nuisance plus Opponent may draw additional Wyrd Tarot/Yarn card per Ruin.
|As Flaw plus Infectious*
*Infectious Handicaps try to spread to others. This occurs when the Handicap Triggers. The Handicap will act like a Psychology test, trying to infect others by drawing a Mortal wound or higher. Normally only a single card is used (Facet test), but multiple Social Handicaps stack their infections.
Regardless of type all Handicaps have these effects :
- Add Handicap Boon to difficulty or discard Ordeal cards with Pips equal to the Bane points
- Triggering a Handicap counts as an action. Flaws give all actions an additional RT equal to the Bane Points. All Woes have an immediate GRT effect equal to the Ruins, stopping the character from acting at all.
- The Character will gain Chi, Yarn or Twists from the Handicap
Character Type Handicap Type Gain Grunt / Goblin Normal Handicap Boon Doubled Reduced (Ruins) Chi Grunt / Goblin Dæmonic 1 Twist Mercari / Demon Normal Handicap Boon Reduced (Bane points) Chi Mercari / Demon Dæmonic Handicap Boon Double Reduced (Ruins) Twists Solo / Increated Normal Handicap Boon Chi or Handicap Boon Reduced (Bane points)Yarn Solo / Increated Dæmonic Handicap Boon Reduced (Bane points) Twists
Triggers decide when a Handicap does its thing. They aren’t generally noted down, there is no mechanism for deciding how specific they are. All that is usually down to the Player and the Ref to decide, but there are some general pointers that might help.
For Psychological Handicaps such as Fear tests it is usually quite obvious what the Trigger is.
Spiders trigger Arachnophobia, but is it important how big the spider is, what species, how close, or what senses sense the spider? Well, in general, no. Some phobics are able to look at pictures, videos, or even models, without any fear, but will go catatonic in the presence of the real thing. Others will shriek at the real thing, or a toy equally. Which is the worse phobia? Well, the first is a Flaw (or maybe even Woe), the second is probably a Nuisance, based on the reactions.
Not all Psychology Handicaps directly affect the Character, if a Character has a “Causes Fear” Handicap (or perhaps a Curse to make them stunningly beautiful) then that will trigger when the Character tries to make friends, or enters a crowded room. It might cause fights, or quarrels to break out around the character.
In these cases the Character is getting free Psychological attacks on those nearby, but a Handicap should never be helpful to the Character. The Ref will decide who the targets are, choosing that NPC you’d least like to annoy. That said, a nice Ref may allow this Handicap to intimidate opponents in combat, since it is part of the Character. Just to be clear, Causing Fear is a Handicap for a “Beast” (usually found moping after a “Beauty”) character, but is more likely to be an Annex for a “Eldritch Horror” type of character.
Physical Handicaps such as “Missing arm” should normally be obvious when to Trigger. If you are missing an arm doing things that need two become impossible, and things like climbing and juggling, while possible are a lot harder.
An “Extra Arm” Handicap is harder to understand. Does it get in the way? Is it socially embarrassing? Or is it just a lot harder to find clothes? Think about the sorts of things that might Trigger the Handicap ahead of time, maybe even engineer situations in the game to make them happen. Going and buying a new suit of three-armed armour will Trigger the Handicap (and put up the price).
Vulnerabilities and other Harmful type Handicaps usually have obvious Triggers. If a character is vulnerable to Silver weapons, then they should be triggered when hit with a Silver weapon. If it’s a Flaw or Woe then just by being close to their “Kryptonite” would Trigger them. A nice Ref might pay Range difficulties.
A lot of Handicaps are social, it’s hard to offend someone else when alone. Same goes for some dependencies and more than a few devotions. These kinds of Handicaps can’t be Triggered unless the Character has company. That’s fine, but when the Character is in social situations the Player and Referee should both remember to Trigger it. Other players can also remember to Trigger them, once they know what they are, especially to be annoying.
Players can use Handicaps as roleplaying guides. Remembering to play them does reward them with Sway after all.
If your Character has an “Accent” Handicap and you speak with an accent during play, then the Trigger happens when people misunderstand, or ask you to repeat it slower. If you act through the whole session, but didn’t get Triggered once during play. At the end of the session, ask if you can have a Trigger. If the Ref agrees that you tried your best to portray the Handicap then you Triggered it. The same is true of many Mental Handicaps, such as Madnesses, Paranoias, and so on. There too the Player may act out the delusions, ticks and twitches in play.
Which brings us to some attempt to balance this all out, so that every character is getting roughly the same number of Triggers a session.
Firstly, the Ref will try to balance the Characters off during creation. If one Character has an easily triggered Nuisance, they should encourage the other players to do the same.
A good Ref will try to trigger at least one Flaw or Woe per story for each Character, and at least one Nuisance or Flaw each Act. A great Ref will increase those numbers, Triggering at least one Handicap in most scenes, all worked into the plot in a coherent way. It is okay to focus on a single Character for a Story, Act or Scene, to catch them up to the others, if they are falling behind. It is also perfectly acceptable to rotate focus rather than trying to directly balance.
A good player will make at least one of his Nuisances something common. Common enough that it will trigger at least once a session. Don’t forget you’ll get a steady stream of Sway/Chi from an easy to Trigger Nuisance Handicap. A great player will go out of their way to Trigger their Flaws and Woes, right when it could hurt them most, but make the story most exciting for everyone else. Most importantly they should try to use every Handicap.
If you want to make your biggest Flaw something specific, so that the Ref can’t trigger it all the time. That’s fine, but know that the Ref will eventually build a story specifically to Trigger that Handicap, and when a Plot Dæmon finally gets a hold of it, it’s going to shake it for everything it’s worth.
During play, Handicaps resolve either because of something the Player does (spending Chi), or something the Character does (like getting therapy or confronting their fears head on). Sometimes a plot will resolve a Handicap for a Character, as part of a Gain event.
A Resolved Handicap stops being a Handicap. The Resolved Handicap should instead act as a Core or Personality from the same Facet (of the same Boon as the Handicap) still adding the same amount to the Personality Annex of the Character.
So when Kevin the Berserker gets CBT treatment for his Arachnophobia. He gets to convert that Fear Handicap into an Idol Personality (with additional ways to gain Chi) or an Enhancer Core.