A trait is a property that a character (or other entity) possesses that make actions easier. In the StoryHammer role-playing game system, the default traits used are Lobe(s).


A lobe is a part of the brain which governs how well a character performs certain actions. There are 4 lobes typical of humans in StoryHammer:

Correl Lobe (Coordination and Context)

The correl lobe is responsible for actions that require coordination of mind and body – often needing focus over both. These actions can range from charming a soldier through discussion to pick pocketing a passerby. In addition, the correl lobe governs actions where discerning context is important, such as searching for clues or interpreting intentions.

Focal Lobe (Focus and Precision)

The focal lobe is responsible for actions that require mental concentration regardless of what the body is doing.  These actions can range from eavesdropping on a conversation happening in the next room to a prisoner memorizing the escape plan from a makeshift map. In addition, the focal lobe governs physical actions where focus is imperative such as performing gymnastics or holding up a falling beam as allies flee a collapsing structure.

Marvel Lobe (Conception and Crafting)

The marvel lobe is responsible for actions that require an exercise of physical coordination though with little-to-no mental focus.  These actions include most tool usage from molding a statue out of clay to crafting intricate devices. In addition, the marvel lobe is responsible for actions that require innovation, conception, or freeform thinking. These types of actions range from telling a riveting story, determining a hiding spot, or improvising a weapon from random parts.

Natural Lobe (Performance and Instincts)

The natural lobe is responsible for actions that are primarily driven by instincts – with no thinking and little-to-no-inhibition. These actions can range from performing musically to identifying a scent to scampering with haste. The natural lobe also controls basic physical actions such as pushing heavy objects or running.

These lobes tend to reflect the quality for which one performs actions. For instance, an artist may have a high score in Marvel whereas an athlete may possess a higher score in the Natural and Focal lobes. These traits are scored 0 – 3 and are used to reduce the target difficulty of actions. The “Generic Human” would be scored as 0 in any of these lobes. (A zero does not mean that a character is deficient in that lobe, she just isn’t exceptional.)

Custom Traits

Custom sets of traits can be created following three simple rules:

  1. Each character sheet within a species has the same list of traits.
  2. Those traits can each have a possible score of 0 – 3.
  3. Each character has a maximum number of Trait points = (“number of traits” + 1) to distribute.

Note that since each action is assigned to one trait, trait systems can be considered a philosophies for sorting actions.

Example 1: Mermaids
In a world of Mermaids, perhaps the trait system would sort actions based on the hybrid: Fish actions, Human actions, Supernatural actions. These traits might look like the following:

Traits                 Actions
[Aquatic       ⦾⦾⦾]  Swim, Fool Fish
[Human         ⦿⦾⦾]  Use Tools, Fool Sailors
[Super         ⦿⦿⦿]  Song Lure, Transform

Example 2: Elemental Spirits
Maybe your group is playing as Elemental Spirits who are periodically summoned by Warlocks. A system like that might sort actions by origins and targets: Warlock against Enemy, Warlock against Neutral, Warlock against Friend, Self against Warlock, Self Against Others.

[Warlock Commands Against Enemy   ⦿⦿⦾] 
[Warlock Commands Against Neutral ⦿⦾⦾] 
[Warlock Commands Against Friend  ⦾⦾⦾] 
[My Actions Against Others        ⦿⦿⦾] 
[My Actions Against Warlock       ⦿⦾⦾] 

Traits do not necessarily need to be for humanoid characters. The following objects’ traits follow the same rules.

Example 3: Melee Weapons

Traits          Actions                        
[Blade  ⦾⦾⦾]  Slash, Sever
[Blunt  ⦿⦾⦾]  Bludgeon, Knock Down
[Spike  ⦿⦿⦿]  Stab, Pin

Example 3: Go Karts

Traits                   Actions
[Max Speed      ⦿⦿⦿]   Straightaway Gain, Coast
[Handling       ⦾⦾⦾]   Weave, Corner
[Brake          ⦿⦿⦾]   Stop, Slow to safe speed
[Acceleration   ⦾⦾⦾]   Recover, Boost