CD10 Core: Traits
Most role-playing games will have a set collection of base attributes such as strength, dexterity, charisma or physique. These traits will then affect things like hit points, damage bonuses, resistance to disease or such.
For those of you who have played role-playing games before, stop looking: CD10 does not have any base attributes. It relies on a system that acts like something in-between base attributes and an advantage/disadvantage system. People familiar with GURPS will feel a bit more at home here.
In CD10, a character is average at creation and has a value of 0 in every single trait. You do not write down every trait on the character sheet; that would take up a lot of useless space. If a trait is not written on the sheet, you assume that the value for that trait is 0. Does your character not possess the trait Strong? Then they are of average strength. Do they not have the trait Big? Then they are of average size. When you create your character, you pick and choose the traits that best fit the character's physicality, circumstances and personality.
What are traits?
The traits in CD10 define your character in much more detail than a set of base attribute scores can do. Traits are a lot more than just physical or mental traits. They can describe things as Animal Speaker which means that your character has an unusually good interaction with animals. In Love is a trait that describes how in love a character is and how that affects them. Coward is a trait that speaks of your character's bravery, or lack thereof. Most traits can be used in skill checks. There are some exceptions that we'll get to later. Traits are scaled from -4 to +4 where -4 is extraordinarily bad and +4 is exceptional.
- Above/below average, nothing noteworthy
- A noticeable difference from the norm.
- Rare. Something that really stands out.
- One of a kind. The stuff of legends. This is highly remarkable!
How to use traits
It is not always clear cut whether a trait would apply to a check or not, so the Keeper is encouraged to not only be creative with trait usage but also reward player ingenuity in choosing a trait for a check. If a player can make a compelling argument to use a particular trait that fits the narrative and the moment, the Keeper should allow it.
Most checks will not have an applicable trait and the same check performed in a different context might not fit a trait that had been used previously. Making a check without a trait is something you will be doing for the vast amount of time. Traits are situational and should not be treated as something that is a permanent bonus to checks. They are meant to flesh out your character's personality, history, physicality and situation and give these things a real tie-in to mechanics.
Traits should not be a point of contention between the Keeper and the players. You should not spend a lot of time discussing whether or not a trait applies to a particular check. That would not only slow the game down, but pull the players out of the experience by arguing over game mechanics. Traits are supposed to be a fun and engaging element to certain checks where they are relevant. Be respectful of one another and in case of disagreements the Keeper's word is final.
Whether or not a trait is positive or negative can vary depending on context. In a sociable context your Status +2 is highly useful as it allows you to socialize and exert political pressure, but among a band of ruffians trying to hold you up, it would likely be a drawback if they knew about your status. It's up to the Keeper to decide when a trait can or should be reversed, but the player may also ask to reverse a trait if the situation calls for it.
The Keeper may also force the use of a trait for a specific check. Any trait could technically be used for any check, but it has to make sense in context and if a player wants to use a specific trait and it's not immediately obvious that the trait applies to the situation, the player must explain and argue for his usage. The Keeper has final say on the matter.
Only ever one trait
Only one trait may be used for a check. You cannot add Strong +4, In Love +4, Magnanimous +4 and Brave +4 together for a whooping +16 on a check just because you are protecting your beloved from an innumerable horde of ruffians. Abusing the system in this way goes against the core concept of CD10.
You have to pick one of the traits to use and if there are situations where multiple traits would apply, the player has to make a choice of only one. If the player cannot make his mind up, the Keeper may decide for him which trait to use or even decide to not use any traits at all.
In rare cases both a positive and a negative trait may apply and the Keeper may then rule that the player gets to use the result between the two. If the positive trait is +3 and the negative is -1, the result is +2.
Traits are divided into three major categories. They are Situational Traits, Value Traits and Uncheckable Traits. They are shortened to s, v and u. These categories only exist to help the player choose a trait for a given check. First, you should choose a situational trait, then a value trait. The uncheckable traits are generally not used in checks because they very rarely apply. In special cases the can be used for a check, but normally they are not used at all and instead provide other benefits.
Regardless of if a trait is used all the time or not, you should strive to incorporate the traits into the personality and life of your character. They are a huge part of your character's physical and mental shape and you should treat them as such. Try to find situations in each session to express a trait. Think of your traits when interacting with NPCs and other players. Make them a part of your character! Make them more than just a number. Make them a core component of your character's personality, history and physicality.
Creating your own traits
Since traits are so flexible, the list below is only an inspirational source of traits. They're there to provide you with something to get your creativity flowing to come up with unique and fun traits for your character to have. To create new traits is one of the strengths of CD10's system and you are encouraged to come up with your own.
There are however a few things you should keep in mind when doing so. Take a look at the boxes on the right and try to stick to these guidelines when creating traits.
CD10 has modules that will contain additional traits for you to use. Take a look at for additional skils and traits.
Traits should be easy to understand
A trait should not need pages upon pages of explanation if you can avoid it. Ideally they should self-explanatory through their title alone, such as Agile or Charismatic. If your custom trait needs more than a few sentences of explanation, you may want to rethink the trait and make it smaller and more focused. At most, a trait should have a sentence or two of explanation and perhaps a sentence per level, but that's it.
Traits should be balanced
This goes without saying. Traits are not there to make your character broken or overpowered beyond measure. Traits should not be too good, too broad, too bad or too narrow in scope. They shall be just right. "World's Best Gunner" is good in scope (firearms) but its descriptive title isn't good and indicates that you're always better than everyone else. "Fantastic Gnome Whittler" is not good as its scope is too narrow. Try to find a good middle road and use the traits list as guidance.
Traits should not be skill-enhancers
Traits should first and foremost be a narrative choice to flesh out your character, not a power-gaming min-max boost to a particular skill. Having "Great Handgunner +3" just to boost your shooting is dull and misses the point of traits. "Talent for gunnery" is better and it would then reduce the cost of increasing gun related skill by 1 experience point, instead of giving a flat boost to the skill itself.
As much as possible, avoid picking a trait that is just a flat bonus to a skill, and instead try to diversify and make more creative traits. If you have a trait that affects a skill, for instance like Darkvision, try to make it situational and specific, rather than a blanket bonus.
List of core traits
The list below is not a complete list of all traits in CD10. You may create your own traits list to fit your setting, or peruse the public traits block list for CD10 here on Worldanvil.
- Animal Speaker
- Combat Experience
- Common Sense
- Eidetic Memory
- In Love
- Iron Physique
- Medicinal Efficiency
- Musical Synesthesia
- Piercing Gaze
- Quick Study
- Supernatural Trait
- Untapped Strength
- Conspiracy Theorist
- Debt of Honor
- Easily Starved
- Extreme Extrovert
- Eye Defect
- Insomnia (rework needed)
- Low Self-esteem
- Outlawed (fantasy)
- Outlawed (modern)
- Social Taboo
- Socially Inept
- Speech Impediment
You are a big fellow compared to others. For every step on this trait you are half a foot taller than average of those of your kin. This trait increases your encumbrance limit by 1kg per step of the trait. If you have +2, your encumbrance limit is 14 kg instead of 12 kg. A character who has Small cannot take this trait without first getting rid of the negative trait.
At +3 and above, your Reach in melee increases by one full step. So Long becomes Very Long, Normal becomes Long etc. This does not make Grappling count as Close, however. Grappling rules still apply.
You have been trained and have experienced a lot of combat in your life. You have honed your senses to the chaos of combat and thanks to that, you are comfortable making decisions in almost any situation.
Due to your situational awareness, you add this trait to your combat check when you are fighting multiple opponents, negating some, or all, of the penalty.
In addition, when comparing action order, you get to add this trait to your combat skill for comparison, and at +4 you always act first in combat.
You rarely forget anything and you have an ability to remember things vividly and almost relive the moments as they were originally experienced. Every time you as a player has forgotten something, you may perform a check with this trait and if you pass, the Keeper, or any other player, must remind you of what you have forgotten.
+2: you have the ability to strongly recall a general sense of anything you concentrate to remember. You still lack the ability to call up exact details.
+4: you have true photographic memory and have the ability to perfectly recall any situation you have been in.
You are overly social and in need of social connections to people, to the point of it being a handicap for you. You suffer greatly when unable to spend time socializing with others. If you're feeling starved for social interaction, this can also make you just a tad forced in your social interactions, like if you are holding on to a last thread keeping you alive. This can come off as somewhat offputting to the people who interact with you.
You have an abnormally low pain tolerance. This means that whenever you receive shock due to injury, you increase the gained shock by the value of this trait, reversed. Whenever you are exposed to pain (such as through torture), you must use this trait.
You are awkward in social situations. You can't quite figure out how to behave, what jokes to laugh at, what opinions to agree on or when to be painfully blunt and honest. This whole social thing isn't really your thing.
Everytime you perform a check that relates to a social situation, you must use this trait.
This trait is special in the way it doesn't do anything on it's own, but the value of this trait can be added on to one or more other traits. For example, if you have +3 in this trait, you can add that +3 on to your Strong +4 for a total of +7. You may instead divide the +3 onto three different traits, turning them all into +5.
You may never change which traits you have chosen to be supernatural. You only write this trait down to show how many supernatural points you have to place, then you simply increase the other +4 traits to their chosen supernatural level.
Not only physical or mental traits can be supernatural, but you should limit it to sensible traits. You must confer with your Keeper and have them grant you the supernatural traits, as they are truly supernatural and not something that are easily gained. You should have a good backstory and explanation for your supernatural traits.