A Distinction is a feature of your character that sets your hero or villain apart from the masses. Each character starts with two or three Distinctions, but may gain additional Distinctions during play. Under extraordinary circumstances, a character can also lose Distinctions.
Each Distinction is a word or short phrase that describes your character. There are really no limits to the effect, scope, or potency of each Distinction. However, here are some thoughts on what makes a good Distinction:
- Narrow Scope: As a player, you get to choose when your Distinctions really shine, resulting in a mechanical effect on the game. Regardless of how wide the spread of your Distinction’s text, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain its use continuously. For example, you might think that a Distinction of “Cool Under Pressure” would come into play every time your character finds himself in danger. But, in most campaigns, your character is likely to be in danger a lot of the time. It would not be feasible for “Cool Under Pressure” to influence every dangerous action, or even every dangerous situation. Rather, you would need to pick and choose when that Distinction comes into play, likely only in the worst of situations.
- Helpful and Harmful: Some Distinctions are obviously helpful, such as “Quick”; others are obviously harmful, such as “Dim-Witted”. While you could have a character with either Distinction, you should make sure that your Distinctions be mix of beneficial and penalizing. This could mean that your character has both “Quick” and “Dim-Witted”. But an even better approach would be qualify each Distinction, so that each Distinction could provide a benefit or a penalty, depending on the situation. For example, instead of “Quick” and “Dim-Witted”, you could have “Speed Demon” and “Musical Savant”, both of which provide the opportunity to be both helpful and harmful.
- Interesting: A Distinction should go beyond just a simple description of your character’s advantages and flaws. Rather, it should tie into your character’s history and personality, and into the world around them. Remember, your Distinctions should really set your character apart from the everyday – plenty of people are “Smart”, but how many are “Blessed by Boccob”? By making the Distinction more interesting, you provide unexpected opportunities to use it, new avenues for your character to grow, and out-of-the ordinary ways of interacting with the world.
You are encouraged to play up your Distinctions as much as you would like. The game sets no limits on how you decide to role-play your character; as long as your role-playing does not interfere with the other players’ fun, go ahead. The GM may award Luck to you for playing your Distinctions, especially if you bring them up in a way that complicates your character’s life.
Sometimes you may feel that a Distinction should effect a specific task that your character is performing. If this task requires a roll, you can declare that you are using a Distinction on the roll. State the Distinction and explain why you feel it should apply to the task you are performing. If the Distinction would improve your chances of the task, the spend 1 Luck and add 2 Steps to the roll. If the Distinction would detract from the task, then gain 1 Luck and remove 2 Steps from the roll.
Gaining and Losing Distinctions
Your character may gain, lose, or alter Distinctions over the course of play. Generally any changes to Distinctions would occur between sessions, but the GM may allow a change mid-session in unusual circumstances.
A character should always have at least two Distinctions.