There are four grades of bane. Each is gained as the vassal achieves greater favor with the patron, and is a consequence of that favor. However, the mechanical effects of a character’s greatest bane are suppressed (mechanical effects don’t apply) if the character has expended favor below the threshold for the matching gift.
Cosmetic banes cause a vassal to take on a distinctive and perceivable sensory element. Unusually-colored hair or eyes, strange birthmarks or tattoos, uncommon vocal tones or mode of speaking, or unexpected odors all could apply.
Cosmetic banes have no mechanical effect on the vassal, but might have social implications when discovered and recognized. Some cosmetic banes are easily hidden but immediately recognizable for what they are (“witches’ marks” are easily covered by clothing). Others can be hidden with specific effort (such as dyeing hair or hiding eyes) and require a skill check to discover (Detection or Insight) or recognize (appropriate Lore). Some are not even always evident, but circumstances can bring them out and make them obvious.
Some sample cosmetic banes:
- Minor madness.
- Eyes are an unnatural color.
- Teeth grow unusually large and pointy.
- Breath smells of flowers.
- Tongue is long and forked.
- Fingernails become a cat’s claws.
- Hair grows unnaturally fast and needs to be cut daily to avoid notice.
- Certain Dark and Dangerous Magic results (Heartless and Breathless could probably be easily hidden but recognized when discovered; Devil Eyes are difficult to hide but require a check to notice or recognize; Foul Beard and Mucus could be circumstantial).
Once a relationship is formed with a patron, the vassal gains a cosmetic bane specific to the patron.
Frustrating banes are more consequential, actually having mechanical effect. These effects might be present at all times or triggered by circumstance. These banes are often associated with an amplification of a cosmetic bane, or might add a new one. For instance, a vassal of Nyeesheshtua (the winged serpent) might have a forked tongue as a cosmetic bane, but as he gains favor his body becomes covered in scales or his eyes might become slitted, as a snakes.
Some frustrating banes:
- Moderate madness.
- Disadvantage to certain skills or classes of skills (colorblindness can give disadvantage on vision-based checks such as Detection and some Lore checks; a rasping voice might give disadvantage on certain Charisma-based skill checks).
- Checks need to be made where a normal person would not need to.
A vassal who achieves 2 favor gains a frustrating bane specific to the patron. A vassal who has achieved no more than 5 favor and has expended favor below 2 will find the effects of the frustrating bane suppressed. A vassal that has achieved 6 or more favor will always experience their frustrating bane.
Troublesome banes are more than inconvenient, they start to affect the vassal’s lifestyle. Mechanical effects can include disadvantage on broad groups of checks, certain actions no longer being possible, or compulsion to specific unnatural acts.
Some troublesome banes:
- Serious madness.
- Morbid obesity (disadvantage on Constitution checks and certain Dexterity checks).
- Gnarled or limp hands (disadvantage on certain Dexterity checks and attack rolls).
A vassal who achieves 6 favor gains a troublesome bane specific to the patron. A vassal who has achieved no more than 9 favor and has expended favor below 6 will find the effects of the troublesome bane suppressed. A vassal that has achieved 10 or more favor will always experience their troublesome bane.
Dangerous banes can be almost crippling in their effect. Where a troublesome bane can affect aspects of the vassal’s lifestyle, a dangerous bane can affect almost all of a vassal’s lifestyle.
Some dangerous banes:
- Pervasive madness.
- Blindness or other physical infirmity (such as the ‘limp hands’ becoming completely useless).
A vassal who achieves 10 favor gains a dangerous bane specific to the patron. A vassal who has expended favor below 10 will find the effects of the dangerous bane suppressed.
I’m going to need to go back and revise the patrons. In many cases the banes as currently written are much milder than these ones… and so are some of the boons. I’ll need to touch those up as well.
Just as well I draft things in the blog… they’ll be tightened up and polished for the book.