Distinctive Features

A character with this Disadvantage has some easily recognizable feature(s) that are difficult to conceal.

Distinctive Features could be such things as bright red hair, a facial scar, unusual height (large or small), a peculiar walk, a strange voice, an unusual odor, extra arms, green skin, belonging to an unusual race (in a mostly uniracial society; this may be a Social Limitation as well), and the like. It could also be some distinctive personal habit the character displays, even when inappropriate (always uses off-colour language, always chews tobacco, always tells puns, always displays a unique scorpion symbol and leaves it at the scene of all of his crimes [an “ego signature”]). Clothing may constitute a Distinctive Feature (a military uniform is a good example), but the character should dress that way even in inappropriate situations.

The GM has to decide how frequently other people perceive a character as distinctive, and whether this is enough to merit a Disadvantage. If the GM decides a feature qualifies as a Distinctive Feature, he should determine how others react to the character (the reaction has to be one that inconveniences the character).

For example, being extremely beautiful is not ordinarily disadvantageous, but a female character could take Gorgeous as a Distinctive Feature if her beauty caused unabiding desire in all who saw her. Her beauty might help her occasionally, but usually it just causes trouble (men vie for her attention and bother her with lewd come-ons, women dislike her, master villains kidnap her and try to force her to marry them, and so on).

If a character has two Distinctive Features that aren’t connected, or that are only perceivable by different Senses or groups of people, the GM might allow him to take this Disadvantage more than once. For example, a character who was a mutant and an incorrigible punster might have two Distinctive Features. The punning is easily noticed, and is therefore worth more than being a mutant (a status others can only detect with special senses or equipment).

The value of Distinctive Features depends on (a) how easily concealed the Distinctive Feature is (the harder it is to conceal, the more points it is worth); (b) how other characters react to the Distinctive Feature; and (c) what Senses and/or groups of people can perceive it.

Distinctive Features that are only noticeable by an uncommonly used Sense Group or small group of characters are worth less than ones noticeable by any character. For example, maybe all vampires have the Distinctive Feature Vampire, but only other vampires can sense they’re bloodsucking undead fiends unless they deliberately reveal their true nature. This is worth less than, say, Centaur, which all characters can easily perceive.

In the accompanying table, a “Small” group has only a few members (typically no more than a hundred) or is so widely scattered that encountering a member is unlikely. A “Large” group is anything larger than 100 members but smaller than society as a whole, or a group whose members tend to be concentrated in the same location as the character.

A Distinctive Feature that’s only distinctive in some cultures or societies is worth -5 points. For example, in some Fantasy worlds elves are rare, except in their homeland. Therefore Elf might be a valid Distinctive Feature — but since it’s not distinctive to be an Elf in part of the world (Elfland), the Disadvantage is worth -5 points. The GM should determine whether this modifier applies to a particular Distinctive Feature; if the feature is nondistinct in only a tiny part of the campaign setting, the modifier may not be necessary.

Value Concealability
5 Easily Concealed
10 Concealable (with Disguise Skill or major effort)
15 Not Concealable
Value Reaction
+ 0 Feature is Noticed and Recognizable
+ 5 Feature is Always Noticed and Causes Major Reaction or Prejudice
+ 10 Feature Causes Extreme Reaction (abject fear, unabiding lust, utter disgust)
Value Sensing
- 0 Feature Detectable By Commonly-Used Senses (Sight, Hearing) and/or By Virtually Everyone
- 5 Feature Detectable By Uncommonly-Used Senses (Smell, Touch, Taste) and/or By Large Group and/or By Simple Tests
- 10 Feature Detectable Only By Unusual Senses (Detects) and/or Only By A Small Group and/or Only By Technology Or Major Effort
- 5 Distinctive Feature Is Not Distinctive In Some Cultures Or Societies

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Distinctive Features

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