Hindrances

Hindrances are character flaws and physical handicaps that occasionally make life a little tougher for your hero. Some hindrances are subjective (such as Overconfident). They’re there to help you roleplay your character, and might even net you more bennies.

A character may take one Major Hindrance and up to two Minor Hindrances. You’re free to take more if you think they fit your character description, but you don’t get additional points for them.

Below is a list of all Hindrances available to you from Pirates of the Spanish Main. Should you find a Hindrance that you would like to use from another source, please contact the GM for approval. If the Hindrance fits the campaign, it will be added to the list.

Allergy (Minor or Major)
Your character suffers an aversion to a common condition or substance, such as cheese, pollen, dust, etc. Exposure to that substance (generally within 1" of it) inflicts a -2 penalty to all your hero’s Trait rolls for the Minor version, and -4 for the Major version.

When taking this Hindrance you must tell the GM the nature of this allergy. It must also be something that could come into play, otherwise, it is not a Hindrance at all.

All Thumbs (Minor)
Some people just aren’t good with intricate devices. Characters with this drawback suffer a -2 penalty to the Repair skill at all times. In addition, when a hero uses a mechanical device (including pistols), a roll of 1 on his skill die (regardless of his Wild Die) means the device is broken. The damage usually requires a Repair roll at -2 and 1d6 hours to fix.

Anemic (Minor)
Your hero is particularly susceptible to sickness, disease, environmental effects, and fatigue. He suffers a -2 to all Vigor rolls made to resist Fatigue checks, poison, disease, and the like.

Arrogant (Major)
Your hero doesn’t think he’s the best—he knows he is. Whatever it is—sailing, fighting, running—there is no one who can touch his skills and he flaunts it every chance he gets.

Winning just isn’t enough for your hero. He must completely dominate his opponent. Anytime there is even a shadow of a doubt as to who is the better, he must humiliate his opponent and prove he can snatch victory any time he wishes. He is the kind of man who disarms an opponent in a duel just so he can pick the sword up and hand it back with a smirk.

Arrogant heroes always look for the “master” in a battle, attacking lesser minions only if they get in the way.

Bad Eyes (Minor)
Your hero’s eyes just aren’t what they used to be. With glasses, there’s no penalty. Should he lose his glasses (generally a 50% chance when he’s wounded), he suffers a -2 penalty to any Trait roll made to shoot or Notice something more that 5" (10 yards) distance.

Bad Luck (Major)
Your hero is a little less lucky than most. He gets one less benny per game session than normal. A character cannot have both Bad Luck and Good Luck.

Big Mouth (Minor)
Loose lips sink ships, the saying goes. Your hero’s could drown an armada.

Your character can’t keep a secret very well. He reveals plans and gives away things best kept among friends, usually at the worst possible times.

Blind (Major)
Your hero is completely without sight. He suffers a -6 to all physical tasks that require vision; which is almost everything, and -2 to most social tasks as he can’t “read” those he’s interacting with as well as others.

On the plus side, Blind characters gain their choice of a free Edge to compensate for this particularly deadly Hindrance.

Branded (Major)
The character was caught committing acts of piracy at some point in the past. He escaped the noose but received a brand on his face labeling him a pirate.

His Fame is modified by -5. Any vessel he is on that is boarded by privateers or naval troops is thoroughly searched and the cargo manifest scrutinized. If the character is caught committing an act of piracy he is summarily executed.

Cautious (Minor)
Some folks gather too much intelligence. This character personifies over-cautiousness. He never makes rash decisions and likes to plot things out in detail long before any action is taken.

Clueless (Major)
Your hero isn’t as aware of his world as most others. He suffers -2 to Common Knowledge rolls, and is frequently an embarrassment to his companions.

Cocky (Minor)
Some heroes, and villains, just don’t know when to brag and when to act. Your character suffers from this affliction.

The hero’s first round in any combat must be spent announcing how great he is, or pronouncing the doom of those who oppose him. If for some reason your hero must act instead, it costs him a benny.

A villain with this Hindrance never delivers a finishing blow to a foe. Instead, he leaves them to die, or orders his minions to finish them while he stalks off well out of earshot. Inevitably, those foes survive their wounds, escape the minions, and so on.

Code of Honor (Major)
Honor is very important to your character. He keeps his word, won’t abuse or kill his prisoners, and generally tries to operate within his society’s particular notion of proper gentlemanly or ladylike behavior.

Curious (Major)
It killed the cat, and it might kill your hero as well. Curious characters are easily dragged into any adventure. They have to check out everything and always want to know what’s behind a potential mystery.

Death Wish (Minor)
Having a death wish doesn’t mean your hero is suicidal—but he does want to die after completing some important goal. Maybe he wants revenge for the murder of his family, or maybe he’s dying from disease and wants to go out in a blaze of glory.

He won’t throw his life away for no reason, but when there’s a chance to complete his goal, he’ll do anything – and take any risk – to achieve it.

This Hindrance is usually Minor unless the goal is relatively easily fulfilled (very rare).

Delusional (Minor or Major)
Your hero believes something that is considered quite strange by everyone else. Minor Delusions are mostly harmless or the hero generally keeps it to himself (he thinks animals can talk, the character is irresistible to the opposite sex, and so on).

With a Major Delusion, the hero frequently expresses his view on the situation and it can occasionally lead to danger (he believes that the English government is run by Spaniards, that he can breathe underwater, and such like).

Dependent (Major)
Your hero has some person to whom he is completely devoted, and will do anything to protect. This may be his wife or younger brother, one of his children, or even a pet or follower.

The hero’s dependent is a Novice Rank character, and while plucky and brave, just isn’t up to par with English Redcoats, or any other soldiers. For whatever reason, this doesn’t stop the dependent getting involved. He or she constantly requires saving, reveals secrets, or otherwise causes your hero no end of trouble.

If the Dependent ever dies, your hero is heartbroken and grief-stricken for the rest of the campaign. He receives only one benny at the beginning of each game session (but Luck and other bonuses apply normally). Relief comes only after ultimate revenge. He cannot simply slay the minion who murdered his girl, he must kill the minion’s boss as well and then only after making them pay. Only after this is the benny restriction lifted and the Hindrance is “bought off.”

Elderly (Major)
Your hero is getting on in years, but he’s not quite ready to hang up his eye patch. His Pace is reduced by 1, and his Strength and Vigor drop a die type to a minimum of d4, and cannot be raised thereafter.

On the plus side, the wisdom of his years grants the hero 5 extra skill points that may be used for any skills linked to Smarts.

Enemy (Minor or Major)
Someone out there hates your hero and wants him dead. The value of the Hindrance depends on how powerful the enemy is and how often he might show up. A Minor Enemy might be a lone English captain out for vengeance. A Major Enemy might be Almirante Del Nero (or someone of equal power) with a special loathing for your hero.

Garrulous (Minor)
Your hero is particularly loose with his plunder, sometimes spending the equivalent of a year’s pay in a single week of drunken debauchery. The cost for carousing is doubled!

Glass Jaw (Minor)
Your hero has a glass jaw and can’t take a solid hit. He suffers a -2 penalty to Soak rolls.

Greedy (Minor)
Your miserly hero measures his worth in treasure. He argues bitterly over any loot acquired during play.

Habit (Minor)
Your character has an annoying and constant habit of some sort. Maybe insists on keeping a filthy parrot on his shoulder, says “Arr!” in every sentence, or keeps tobacco dry behind his eye patch. A Habit irritates those around but isn’t dangerous. Your character suffers a -1 Charisma.

When taking this Hindrance you must tell the GM the nature of this habit. It must also be something that could comes into play regularly, otherwise, it is not a Hindrance at all.

Hard of Hearing (Minor or Major)
Characters who have lost some or all of their hearing have this disadvantage. As a Minor Hindrance, it subtracts 2 from all Notice rolls made to hear, including waking up due to loud noises. A Major Hindrance means the character is deaf. She cannot hear and automatically fails all Notice rolls that depend on hearing.

Heroic (Major)
Your hero never says no to a person in need. She doesn’t have to be happy about it, but she always comes to the rescue of these she feels can’t help themselves. She’s the first one to run into a burning building, usually agrees to hunt pirates for little or no pay, and is generally a pushover for a sob story.

The heroic character has a +2 Fame.

Illiterate (Minor)
For one reason or another, your hero cannot read or write. Once he reaches Seasoned Rank, the hero may buy off the Hindrance by spending a leveling opportunity.

Jingoistic (Minor or Major)
The character dislikes people from other cultures and believes his own culture to be far superior—a jingoistic Englishman, for example, dislikes Frenchmen and Spaniards as much as he does the Welsh, Scottish, or Irish. He cannot help belittling other cultures at every opportunity. A character taking the Minor version has –2 Charisma among other cultures. The penalty increases to –4 for the Major Hindrance.

In both cases, the character may not use Command Edges with “foreigners” unless he has worked with them for at least one week.

Lame _ (Major)_
A past wound has nearly crippled your hero. His basic Pace is reduced by 2 and he rolls only a d4 for running rolls. A character’s Pace may never be reduced below 1.

Landlubber (Minor)
Not everyone in the Spanish Main is a sailor. For some, the workings of a ship are incomprehensible. The character cannot buy Boating with his starting skill points. Although he can learn it through advancements, the character never quite grasps the basics and always receives a –2 penalty to all Boating rolls.

Loyal (Minor)
Your character may not be heroic, but he’d give his life for his friends. This character can never leave a man behind if there’s any chance at all he could help.

Mean (Minor)
The hero is ill-tempered and disagreeable. No one really likes him, and he has trouble doing anything kind for anyone else. He must be paid for his troubles and doesn’t even accept awards graciously. Your hero suffers –2 to his Charisma.

Obese (Minor)
Particularly large people often have great difficulty in dangerous physical situations. Those who carry their weight well have the Brawny Edge. Those who don’t handle it very well are Obese. A character cannot be both Brawny and Obese. An Obese hero adds 1 to his Toughness, but his Pace is decreased by 1 and his Running die is a d4.

Obese characters may also have difficulty finding armor or clothing that fits, fitting into tight spaces, or even exploring the cramped holds of ships.

One Arm _ (Major)_
Whether by birth or battle, your hero has lost an arm. Fortunately, his other arm is (now) his “good” one, so he doesn’t suffer any off-hand penalty. Tasks that require two hands, such as climbing or rowing, suffer a –4 modifier.

One Eye (Major)
Your hero has had an eye gouged out by some nefarious villain in his past. If he doesn’t wear a patch or buy a glass replacement (typically at least $500), he suffers –1 to his Charisma for the grotesque wound.

He suffers –2 to any Trait rolls that require depth perception, such as Shooting or Throwing, Jumping from one mast to another, and so on.

One Leg (Major)
With a peg or crutch, One Leg acts exactly like the Lame Hindrance, reducing Pace by 2 and Running rolls are now a d4. Without a peg or other support, the character’s Pace is 2 and he can never run. He also suffers –2 to Traits that require mobility, such as Climbing and Fighting.

A character with one leg also suffers a –2 penalty to his Swimming skill (and Pace).

Outsider (Minor)
In a society made up of only a few types of people, your hero isn’t one of them. A Frenchman on an English warship and a native of Mexico living among Europeans are both outsiders. People are also likely to raise prices on the Outsider, ignore pleas for help, and generally treat him as if he’s of a lower class than the rest of their society.

In addition to the roleplaying effects above, your hero’s Charisma suffers a –2 modifier and his Fame is halved (round down) among all but his own people.

Overconfident (Major)
There’s nothing out there your hero can’t defeat. At least that’s what he thinks. He believes he can do most anything and never wants to retreat from a challenge. He’s not suicidal, but he certainly takes on more than common sense dictates.

Phobia (Minor or Major)
Phobias are overwhelming and irrational fears that stay with a hero for the rest of his life. Whenever a character is in the presence of his phobia, he subtracts 2 from all his Trait tests as a Minor Hindrance, and 4 if the fear is a Major Phobia.

Phobias shouldn’t be too obvious—most everyone should be afraid of bloodthirsty pirates, for example, so it’s not a phobia—it’s common sense. Instead, the phobia usually centers on some random element the mind focused on during whatever encounter caused such a fright. Remember, phobias are irrational fears.

When taking this Hindrance you must tell the GM the nature of this phobia. It must also be something that could come into play, otherwise, it is not a Hindrance at all.

Poverty (Minor)
It’s said a fool and his money are soon parted. Your hero is that fool. He starts with half the usual money and just can’t seem to hang onto funds acquired during play. In general, the character should halve his total funds every week or so.

Quirk (Minor)
Your hero has some minor foible that is usually humorous, but can occasionally cause him trouble. A noble may start reciting his ancestral line to anyone who asks who he is, a missionary may refuse to deal with people who carry weapons, or a duelist may try to carve his initials in his foe’s clothing.

Seasick (Major)
Suffering from seasickness is a serious problem in the Pirates RPG. The character must make a Vigor check each time he boards a ship. On a success, the character manages to control his sickness. With a failure he suffers a –2 penalty to all Trait rolls until he spends an hour on dry land.

Woe betide the character when caught in a storm! He must make a Vigor roll at the start of each round until the storm abates or his sickness kicks in. He still rolls if he’s already suffering seasickness—a second failed Vigor roll increases the penalty to –4.

Small (Major)
Your character is either very skinny, very short, or both. Subtract 1 from your hero’s Toughness for his reduced stature.

Stubborn (Minor)
Your hero always wants his way and never admits he’s wrong. Even when it’s painfully obvious he’s made a mistake, he still tries to justify it with half-truths and convoluted rationalizations.

Trouble Magnet (Minor or Major)
Things never run smoothly for this hero, no matter how hard he tries. At least once per session, the GM should have trouble wander across the hero’s path. This might be someone who recognizes him while he’s trying to infiltrate an English fort, some enemy reinforcements joining a battle, or a terrible storm heading straight for his ship.

The intensity of the trouble depends on whether the character has the Minor or Major version. Be warned though, having multiple heroes with this Hindrance does result in multiple troublesome effects.

Ugly (Minor)
Your hero hit more than a few ugly sticks on his way down the tree of life. His Charisma is lowered by 2, and he is generally shunned by members of the opposite sex.

Vengeful (Minor or Major)
Your character always attempts to right a wrong he feels was done to him. If this is a Minor Hindrance, he usually seeks vengeance legally. If this is a Major Hindrance, he’ll stop at nothing to see it done.

Vow (Minor or Major)
The character has a vow of some sort. Whether it’s Major or Minor depends on the Vow itself. Some may have Vows to particular groups or causes, to serve the Crown, to rid the Spanish Main of the French, and so on. The danger in fulfilling the Vow and how often it might come into play determines the level of the Hindrance.

If choosing this Hindrance, please describe the vow to the GM. Whatever the Vow, it’s only a Hindrance if it actually comes into play from time to time and causes the character some discomfort.

Wanted (Minor or Major)
Your hero has committed a crime in his past and will be arrested if discovered by the authorities.

The level of the Hindrance depends on how serious the crime was. A sailor wanted for not paying his gambling debts has a Minor Hindrance, as does someone wanted for more serious crimes well away from the main campaign area (where the risk of capture is greatly diminished). Being accused of murder on the other hand, or being branded a traitor is a Major Hindrance.

A hero with the Minor version has –5 Fame and a bounty on his head of 1d4 x $100. Those with the Major version have –10 Fame and a bounty of 1d6 x $1,000.

Yellow (Major)
Not everyone can be a steely-eyed swash-buckler with ice water in his veins. Your hero is squeamish at the sight of blood and gore and terrified of coming to harm. He suffers a –2 to all of his Guts checks.

Young (Major)
Children are sometimes forced to go on dangerous adventures through unfortunate circumstances. Think carefully before choosing this Hindrance, for your character starts at a significant disadvantage.

Young heroes are generally just 8-10 years old. They have only 3 points to adjust their attributes and 10 skill points. On the plus side, youths like these have a fair amount of luck. They draw one extra benny at the beginning of each game session.

If the character should live long enough to mature, the Hindrance doesn’t have to be bought off, he’s already paid the price for the Hindrance by starting at a disadvantage. He stops getting the extra benny when he reaches 16 years of age however.

Hindrances

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