Merits and Flaws

Merits and Flaws are optional Traits used to further define characters in Aberrant. Merits are special advantages, while Flaws are limitations and disadvantages. They are not rated with dots like most Traits, although some Merits and Flaws do have multiple levels. Merits and Flaws can only be taken during character creation. Merits are bought with bonus points and Flaws give you bonus points to spend. A character can have as many Merits as the player wishes to purchase, but it is recommended that no character have more than 10 total points in Flaws. Otherwise, the character risks becoming a caricature, and allowing unlimited Flaws can introduce some unwanted wrinkles into the character creation system.

In general, Storytellers should be aware of Flaws that are easily countered using certain nova powers, which may make the Flaw less of a hindrance. The Storyteller should joyfully veto any combination of powers and Flaws that seems abusive. Specific cases are addressed in individual Flaw descriptions.

Merits and Enhancements

A few Merits, such a Lightning Calculator and Photographic Memory, duplicate the effects of certain Mega-Attribute enhancements. These Merits are only available to characters that do not have the appropriate Mega-Attribute(s). They do not “stack” with existing enhancements. If a nova takes one of these Merits and later acquires the Mega-Attribute with the similar enhancement, convert the Merit into the enhancement at no cost. For example, Andy’s character has Photographic Memory. He later uses experience to give his character Mega-Intelligence 1. He loses the Merit and gets the Eidetic Memory enhancement for free (in addition to the usual free enhancement).

Flaws and Dormancy

A nova with Four or five dots in the Dormancy background (Aberrant, p. 141) has the option of having separate “nova” and “baseline” forms. A Flaw that applies to only one of the nova’s forms, such as the baseline form being Lame or Blind, has only half its normal value (rounded up to the nearest point), since the nova has the option of switching forms and not dealing with the Flaw. Merits retain their normal cost whether they are usable by one form or both, although only the nova form can make use of Quantum Merits.

Flaws and Aberrations


Acute Sense [l point Merit] One of your senses is unusually sharp, giving you an extra die for Perception rolls involving that sense. Note this extra die does not affect other Perception rolls (particularly power rolls). This Merit is compatible with Mega-Perception.

Ambidextrous [l point Merit] You’re equally able to use either hand. You suffer no off-hand penalty and no penalty for using two weapons at once. In fact, you roll an extra die when attacking with two weapons. This Merit does not affect your ability to perform multiple actions. You must have a minimum Dexterity and Wits of 3 (or either of Mega-Dexterity or Mega-Wits) to have this Merit.

Huge Size [4 point Merit] You’re a big one, over two meters tall with a build to match. You have one extra Bruised health level and +1 Stamina for soaking bashing damage. The drawback is your size may make it difficult for you to fit into enclosed places and to use some equipment designed for normal-sized people. You must have a minimum Strength and Stamina of 3 (or 1 dot in either Mega-Strength or Mega-Stamina) to take this Merit

Short [l point Flaw] You’re noticeably smaller than average, less than 1.5 meters. Your running speed is half normal, and you may encounter problems using certain equipment designed for people with average builds, as well as jokes and prejudice regarding your smaller stature.

Speech Impediment [l point Flaw] You are unable to speak clearly, especially under stress. You may stutter, stammer or lisp. Listeners must make a Perception + Willpower roll to understand what you’re saying under stressful circumstances. You can spend a Willpower point to overcome this Flaw and speak clearly for one scene.

Weak Sense [l point Flaw] One of your senses is poor or compromised in some way (perhaps related to your powers or taint), imposing +2 difficulty penalty to all Perception rolls involving that sense. When affecting vision or hearing, this Flaw can be corrected by wearing a suitable prosthesis, such as glasses or a hearing aid. Novas with extrasensory abilities can apply this Flaw to them as well.

Dependence [ 1-7 point Flaw] You require a particular substance in order to live. If you go without, you begin to suffer damage. The value of this Flaw depends on the rarity of the substance and how quickly you suffer from being deprived of it. A fairly common substance (like water) is worth 1 point. An uncommon substance (like chlorophyll or silver) is worth 2 points. A rare or illegal substance (like plutonium or soma) is worth 3 points. You suffer one level of bashing damage for every 24 hours your go without a “dose” of whatever you need. If you suffer damage every 8 hours, increase the Flaw’s rating by one. If you suffer damage every 4 hours, increase by two. If you suffer damage every hour, increase by 3. If you suffer lethal rather than bashing damage, increase by 1. This Flaw can simulate characters dependant on a particular environment (such as amphibians) as well as characters dependant on certain medications to keep them alive.

Mute [2 point Flaw] You cannot speak, either due to damage to your vocal cords or some psychological or neurological trauma. You automatically fail rolls dependent on speaking and cannot use powers based on it (such as many Mega-Social enhancements).

One Eye [2 point Flaw] You have only one functional eye, giving you no depth perception. You suffer 1 difficulty to all ranged attack and dodge rolls, and 2 difficulty to Perception rolls. You can have the Acute Sense Merit, meaning your remaining eye is exceptionally sharp, but the penalties here still apply.

Addiction/Compulsion [2-4 point Flaw]  You are driven to use some substance (addiction) or engage in some action (compulsion). for each 24 hours after the first 24 where you fail to satisfy your craving, you suffer 1 to all of your difficulties. This continues until you satisfy your addiction (so going “cold turkey” for four days imposes a 3 difficulty penalty). This Flaw is worth 2 points if the addiction is something legal, like cigarettes, alcohol, sex or the like. It’s worth 4 points if the character is addicted to something illegal or hard to get, like Amp Wells, soma or murder. Note that novas are generally immune to most addictive drugs used by baselines, like cocaine and heroin. Soma is one of the few substances a nova can get high on. Nova characters can also be addicted to using their powers. This is a legal addiction for most powers, the nova is simply addicted to the “high” of being able to fly, shapeshift or whatever, though this makes the nova poorly suited for covert missions. Illegal power addictions include abilities that affect other people, like Domination, Hypnosis, Quantum Leech and Telepathy.

Lame [2-4 point Flaw] Your legs and lower body don’t function as well as they should. for two points, your movement rate is one-quarter normal and you suffer a 2 difficulty penalty for all actions involving lower body movement (including dodging). You walk with a noticeable limp. for four points, you require a cane, crutches or braces to move more than a short distance on your own. Your movement rate is one quarter normal, and you suffer a 4 difficulty penalty for actions involving lower body movement. Dodging may not even be an option for you under some circumstances.

Deaf [3 point Flaw] You cannot hear and automatically fail rolls requiring hearing. You cannot have the Hyperenhanced Hearing enhancement of Mega-Perception or any power that requires hearing. On the upside, you’re immune to the effects of powers based on hearing, like many uses of Mega-Social Attributes. You can use powers like Telepathy normally. You can use one dot in Linguistics to learn to read lips with a Perception + Linguistics roll and one dot to learn sign language.

Disability [3 point Flaw] Some part of your body is defective in a way that inhibits your abilities, causing you to suffer a 2 difficulty penalty for certain actions involving a single Attribute, for example, severe arthritis, imposing a 2 difficulty on all Dexterity rolls. The disability may be the result of a birth defect, an illness or an injury.

Disfigured [3 point Flaw] Your Appearance is 0 and cannot be raised (either during character creation or later using experience). This may be due to a birth defect, injury, disease or another cause you and your Storyteller agree on. You automatically fail Appearance rolls and any Social rolls based on Appearance (except Intimidation).

Blind [6 point Flaw] You are unable to see at all and automatically fail rolls requiring sight. You cannot have the Electromagnetic Vision, High-End Electromagnetic Scan and Ultraperipheral Perception enhancements of Mega-Perception, although you can have any of the others. You can use sensory powers like Mega-Perception and ESP to partially compensate for your blindness. Make a roll for the sensory power, then perform the task normally at 5 difficulty. For every success over the sensory power’s required difficulty, subtract one from the 5 penalty.

Paraplegic [6 point Flaw] You are permanently paralyzed from the waist down. You require a wheelchair (or some similar conveyance) to move any real distance on your own. You cannot perform actions involving lower body movements (including dodging) and opponents get +2 dice to hit you in combat, since you are basically a nonmoving target. Some powers, notably Flight, can compensate for this flaw, but it still limits ground movement and retains its full value.


Concentration [l point Merit] Your powers of concentration are greater than normal, allowing you to ignore difficulty penalties for distractions other than wounds and giving you an extra die for Meditation rolls. 1f you’re involved with an extended task, the Storyteller may require a Perception roll for you to even notice certain distractions.

Internal Compass [l point Merit] You have an excellent sense of direction. You can always find north (even indoors or underground) by making an Awareness or Navigation roll. You can retrace your steps with an Awareness or Navigation roll at +l difficulty. This Merit is very useful for novas with movement powers such as Flight or Teleportation.

Time Sense [l point Merit] Your internal clock is extremely accurate. You can estimate what time it is down to a minute or two. If you were sleeping or knocked out, you know roughly how long you’ve been out. You can also execute very accurate countdowns. This Merit is similar to the Temporal Manipulation technique lnternal Clock (although not quite as accurate). Characters with Temporal Manipulation cannot take (and do not need) this Merit.

Devotion [2 point Merit] You have a particular devotion to a cause, ideal, code of honor, organization or even an individual. Attempts to sway you from the object of your devotion are at +3 difficulty. However, you must remain true to your devotion in order to retain this benefit. If you deliberately and knowingly betray the object of your devotion, you lose the inner strength it gives you until you make amends (in the Storyteller’s opinion).

Lightning Calculator [2 point Merit] You have a remarkable ability for doing complex mathematics in your head. You can keep a calculator with you during the game and use it any time you want. When performing a task involving any type of mathematics, make an Intelligence roll. Each success adds one die to the Ability roll. This Merit is essentially the same as the Mathematical Savant enhancement of Mega-lntelligence. Characters cannot have both.

Speed Reading [2 point Merit] You can read text at four times the normal rate with no loss of comprehension. While reading, make an Intelligence roll. Each success increases the speed multiplier by one, so two successes allow you to read at six times the normal rate. This Merit is the same as the Speed Reading enhancement of Mega-lntelligence, and characters cannot have both.

High Pain Tolerance [3 point Merit] You’re able to shrug off the effects of injury more easily. Reduce all of your wound penalties by 1, so you function as if you were unhurt when Hurt or lnjured and lnjured when you’re Wounded and so forth. You still suffer damage like anyone else and still drop when you’re Incapacitated.

Photographic Memory [3 point Merit] You can perfectly recall anything you’ve experienced. This Merit is the same as the Eidetic Memory enhancement of Mega-lntelligence, and characters cannot have both.

Iron Will [6 point Merit] You have an iron core of determination and willpower. You can spend a Willpower point to shake off any attempt to control you through the use of Social Abilities or powers such as Domination or Hypnosis.

Costume Fetish [l point Flaw] You have a penchant (some might say obsession) for wearing a certain type of clothing. It can be skintight eufiber, leather and spikes, liquid latex, a mask or full Renaissance Faire garb. The important point is that it’s odd, and you tend to wear it even under the most inappropriate circumstances. This can impose a +1 or greater difficulty on your Social rolls and may be a serious faux pas in some situations. It also makes you stand out in a crowd and makes you a less than ideal candidate for subtle and covert activities. You can spend a Willpower point to dress “normally” for a scene, but you don’t like it (as you’re likely to tell just about everyone).

Intolerance [l point Flaw] You’re extremely narrow minded, and there are just some people you don’t like based solely on their race, sex, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality or some other quality. You suffer a +2 difficulty on all Social rolls involving this class of people and prefer not to associate with them unless absolutely necessary (and you’re not likely to be too popular with them, either). You can spend a Willpower point to overcome your prejudice for one scene.

Lusty [l point Flaw] You have an insatiable libido coupled with a regrettable inability to control your desires. Any attempt to seduce you gains three extra dice, provided the advances come from someone you consider even vaguely attractive, and you are at +1 difficulty to resist such attempts. You can spend a Willpower point to ignore the effects of this Flaw for one scene, alternatively a very cold shower will have the same effect.

Overconfidence [l point Flaw] You tend to overestimate your abilities (a common failing among novas). In any situation where an assessment of your abilities is a factor, the Storyteller will tend to exaggerate them (“He doesn’t look so tough to you,” or “You’ve seen this kind of security system before, and they’re easy,” for example). You must also make a Willpower roll at +1 difficulty to back down from a direct challenge to your abilities. You can spend a Willpower point to ignore this Flaw for one scene.

Trademark [l point Flaw] You have a particular “signature” and feel compelled to use it to “sign” your work. It may be leaving a particular poem or a rose at the feet of a defeated opponent, carving your logo or initials into the nearest wall (or enemy …) or leaving your vanquished foes without clothes. The key is that the trademark clearly shows you were there and requires some small risk on your part, both the distraction of leaving the trademark and the possibility of it being traced back to you. Storytellers may permit higher values for especially involved or nasty trademarks. You can spend a Willpower point to avoid leaving your trademark when you absolutely have to.

Pacifist [l or 4 point Flaw] You are against violence and prefer to avoid it whenever possible. You must spend a Willpower point in order to initiate combat, although you can fight to defend yourself and others. You must also spend a Willpower point in order to use a lethal attack, although you can use bashing attacks freely. For four points, you must spend a Willpower point to be able fight at all, and you cannot use lethal attacks.

Obsession [2 point Flaw] You are fascinated with a particular person, place or behavior and do everything you can to satisfy your interest. If you’re obsessed with a person, you spend all your available time with them and learn all you can about them (you’re basically a stalker, whether or not you mean any harm). If you’re obsessed with a place, you spend all your time there, and you’re very reluctant to leave. Characters may also be obsessed with a particular behavior, such as lying, curiosity, crime-fighting and so forth. You have to make a Willpower roll to resist the lure of your obsession whenever it beckons, even if now isn’t the best time for you to indulge yourself. The Storyteller may adjust the difficulty if the circumstances are particularly tempting, such as an obsessive crime-fighter confronted with a mugging in progress or an obsessively curious character confronted with a file marked ‘TOP SECRET: EYES ONLY.” You may spend a [{Willpower]] point to overcome your obsession for me scene.

Overwhelmed [2 point Flaw] You don’t deal well with chaotic or confusing situations. They tend to overwhelm you. You suffer a difficulty modifier of 1 to 3 in such conditions, determined by the Storyteller. This is the opposite of the Concentration Merit, and you cannot have both. This Flaw is most common among novas with Mega-Perception, whose enhanced senses are more easily overloaded by chaotic conditions.

Phobia [2 point Flaw] There is something you are morbidly and irrationally afraid of, from darkness, to spiders, to circus clowns. Whenever you are confronted with the object of your fear, you must make a Willpower roll at +1 difficulty to avoid retreating from it as quickly as you can. If you botch the roll, you collapse from fear and become virtually catatonic for the scene or until the object of your terror is removed, whichever comes first. Some phobias can be particularly troublesome for novas, such as acrophobia (a fear of heights) for a nova gifted with Flight. Novas may also suffer from phobias baselines do not, such as a nova teleporter with a fear of teleporting blind.

Vengeful [2 point Flaw] You don’t forgive or forget. In fact, you tend to get mad and then get even – in the nastiest way possible. You have to make a Willpower roll at +1 difficulty to avoid repaying any slight, insult or offense against you in equal, if not greater, measure. This can range from getting in the last jibe to killing someone who tried to kill you (or have you killed). You can spend a Willpower point to ignore a particular offense (although you’re still likely to carry a grudge about it).

Combat Paralysis [3 point Flaw] You tend to “freeze up” in combat situations, either due to inexperience, previous trauma or simple Fear. Roll two dice for Initiative and take the lowest result. Enhancements to your Initiative still apply.

Flashbacks [3 point Flaw] You have some traumatic experience in your past that you sometimes recall with terrifying clarity. Whenever you are in a situation similar to that experience, you must make a Willpower roll at +1 difficulty to avoid being overwhelmed by memories of it. You tend to mistake people, places and things for similar things in your memory and may act on those erroneous conclusions. If you botch the Willpower roll, you become almost catatonic, entirely lost in your recollections. You can spend a point of Willpower to ignore the effects of this Flaw for one scene.

Low Pain Threshold [3 ~ point Flaw] ~ You have very little tolerance for pain. You suffer wound penalties as if your injuries were one level more severe than they really are, so you are at -2 when Hurt or Injured and so forth. You are at -5 when Crippled and knocked unconscious at Incapacitated. You are also at +1 difficulty to resist pain, such as torture or the symptoms of a painful disease.

Amnesia [34 point Flaw] You’ve lost some or all of your memory, either due to some sort of trauma, or from deliberate brainwashing using drugs, hypnosis or nova powers like Telepathy. For three points, you don’t recall anything about your past, including your own name. You begin the game as a blank slate. The Storyteller gets to decide who your character really is (with input from you). This makes for an excellent story hook, particularly in series dealing with nova cults. For five points, you not only don’t know who you are, you don’t even know what you can do. The Storyteller keeps your character sheet secret, and you don’t know the levels of your various Traits or even what Traits you have. The Storyteller comes up with your Traits (possibly based on input from you). This requires some effort on the Storyteller’s part and considerable trust on yours.

Uneducated [5 point Flaw] Although Project Utopia has improved the level of education worldwide, there are still people in many nations lacking even a basic education. You are one of them. It costs you two Ability dots or three bonus points to gain one dot in any Intelligence-based Ability at character creation, and you may not raise those abilities higher than two dots. Once the game starts, you must pay six experience points for a new Intelligence-based Ability and [current level x 5 to raise one. Linguistics is the exception to this rule; you pay normal prices for it.


Natural Leader [l point Merit] You have a way of getting people to do what you tell them. You gain an additional die for Leadership rolls and two if you are leading by example in some way that puts you at risk or otherwise makes people empathize with you

Sexy [l point Merit] There’s just something about you that attracts people. Maybe you have pretty eyes, or maybe it’s just pheromones, but in any case, you get two extra dice for seduction rolls or to otherwise influence people using your sexuality. However, some people may be jealous of you and consider you a rival.

Debt [ 1-3 point Merit or Flaw] Sometimes, it’s not who you know, it’s who you owe. If you take this as a Merit, somebody owes you, but as a Flaw, you owe someone a favor. For one point, the debt is a socially or emotionally significant one (you offered some friendly advice or a shoulder to cry on). For two points, it’s financially significant (you loaned out money or provided some professional help free of charge). For three points, the debt is a matter of life or death (you saved someone’s life or one of her loved ones). You can call in a debt any time, at which point you lose this Merit. Likewise, the Storyteller can decide to call in a debt you owe, getting rid of your Flaw. Refusing to honor a debt may have serious consequences, not the least of which may be ruining your reputation and turning a friend into an enemy.

Minority [l point Flaw] You belong to a group outside of “mainstream” society. You have to deal with prejudice, stereotyping and incorrect assumptions about you. You may suffer increases on the difficulty of Social rolls, at the Storyteller’s discretion, when dealing with people who are not accepting of your kind. This may range from 1 difficulty for someone who’s merely uncomfortable or doesn’t quite know how to deal with you to 3 or more when dealing with true bigots. On the upside, you get to roll an extra die when making Social rolls dealing with your own kind (a sort of free Etiquette specialty). Storytellers should note that this Flaw is very subjective; nearly everyone is a “minority” somewhere! Whether or not a particular minority status is legitimate as a Flaw is up to the standards of the series and the types of stories (and people) the characters are likely to be involved with. Also note that, despite being one of the smallest groups in the world, novas are not considered a “minority” for the purposes of this Flaw.

Secret [ 1/3/5 point Flaw] You’re hiding something that, if known, would compromise you in the eyes of others. For one point, your secret would seriously change your life if it got out. This might be your true identity (as opposed to your masked nova identity), past political affiliations, your sexual orientation, elements of your background and so forth. For three points, your secret would result in your arrest and imprisonment if it were revealed, such as a crime you committed. For five points, your secret is so dreadful it would result in your death if it were revealed, such as being an undercover agent infiltrating Project Proteus. Generally, the Storyteller should threaten your secret at least every other story, and it should come up in almost every story. If you don’t take adequate precautions to protect it, the Storyteller should feel free to expose your secret and let you deal with the consequences.

Bad Vibe [ 1-3 point Flaw] There’s just something not right about you. It may be a lack of personal hygiene, a personality quirk or just a “strange vibe,” but something about you makes people uncomfortable. You suffer a +1 difficulty on all Social rolls for every point in this Flaw, and people are increasingly uncomfortable around you.

Enemy [ 1-7 point Flaw] There’s somebody out there who dislikes you. A lot. The value of this Flaw is based on two things: how much that person hates you and what he is capable of doing about it. The default is an unfriendly rivalry. For one point, your enemy would like to see you seriously humiliated, professionally ruined or perhaps imprisoned. For two points, he’d like to see you dead. For one point, the enemy is less powerful than you are. For two points, he is roughly as powerful. For three points, he is more powerful. For four points, your enemy is roughly twice as powerful as you are, and for five points, he is truly godlike (one of the most powerful novas in the world). Needless to say, characters with more than four points in this Flaw are walking targets, just waiting for their powerful adversary to kill them off. Players should take high levels in this Flaw with caution.

Dependant [4 point Flaw] You have someone – a family member or loved one – who depends on you for support. Your dependant relies completely on you and often requires your attention and sometimes your protection. Unlike an ally or contact, a dependant has nothing to offer you but love and moral support. Otherwise, they are hooks for the Storyteller to use.


Quantum Merits and Flaws are available only to nova characters; neither baselines nor psiads can purchase them

Eufiber Attuned [ 1-3 point Merit] You are especially in-tune with eufiber materials (Aberrant, p. 141). They adapt easily and well to your quantum signature. Each point in this Merit allows you to store an additional quantum point in a eufiber colony attuned to you. You may subtract your rating in this merit from the difficulty of Weave rolls, and you also get an extra die per point in this merit for Style rolls involving eufiber clothing. You must have at least one dot in the Eufiber Background to take this Merit.

Quantum Recovery [ 1-3 point Merit] You recover expended quantum energy more quickly than most novas. Each point in this Merit increases the amount of quantum points you recover by one per hour. So a nova with three points in this Merit recovers 5 quantum points per hour (7 if she’s sleeping or meditating).

Taint Resistant [5 point Merit] Your body channels quantum energy particularly efficiently, and you are therefore unusually resistant to the effects of taint. When you botch a roll while maxing a quantum power, you gain temporary Taint only if you roll two or more 1s. Rolling a single 1 on a power roll without getting any successes still counts as a botch, but it does not give the character Taint. When rolling for the rapid recovery of quantum, a simple failure accrues no Taint and even a botch accrues only a single point of temporary Taint.

Eufiber Rejection [2 point Flaw] ~ For some reason, you cannot attune to eufiber, in fact, your quantum signature “kills” eufiber that remains in contact with you for more than an hour. You cannot have the Eufiber background, and you gain no benefit from eufiber clothing. One of the more troublesome aspects of this Flaw is that you have to wear ordinary clothes, which may be destroyed regularly by your quantum powers. Without the Attunement Background, novas with powers like ImmolateShapeshift and Sizemorph will have a particularly tough time with this Flaw.

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