Today, we’re moving on to Part 2 of our Character Creation guide for Malifaux: Through the Breach! Two weeks ago, we went over the first steps of flipping your character cards, skills, and pursuits. If you’re following from that post, you’ll recall that I mentioned a few other additions. With our character sheets in hand, let’s delve back into Malifaux and talk about Through the Breach Triggers and Talents!
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Finger on the Trigger
So you’ve got yourself a brand new Fated, but something seems to be missing. There’s a couple empty spots on the character sheet, and all we’ve done is flipped some cards. Through the Breach Triggers are bonus effects “triggered” by a specific suit played during a duel (or action).
Let’s take another look at page one of the character sheet for Tessa–the Fated I created at the beginning of this character creation process.
Tessa readies her shortbow, purchased from a family friend Earthside, at a lurching zombie. The arrow flies true, striking the clumsy opponent in the upper thigh and dislodging the bone from the hip. The zombie staggers momentarily and seems distracted by the wooden shaft sticking out of its body. It swings a rotting fist at Tessa’s head – one she easily dodges as the zombie’s focus is split between her and it’s injured leg. Tessa quickly ducks away and knocks another arrow.
A dark Malifaux alley, waiting to be filled with zombies.
(Want a gridded version of this map? It’s available for download for our Patrons!)
Tessa’s player flipped a 5 of Masks when firing at the zombie. Combined with her acting value (AV) of +6 for a total of 11, she was easily able to overcome the zombie’s defense of 6. Following that, she could activate her trigger and cause the following effect:
Awkward Shot (from page 206)
After damaging, the target gains the following Condition: “Awkward Arrow: This character has a minus flip to all attacks. This character may take a (1) Action to remove the arrow and end this Condition.”
And that’s just one trigger for a combat action! Each skill in Through the Breach has four associated suits and four corresponding triggers listed on page 190 of the Core Rule book. Anytime your character is tasked with a skill duel and you have a trigger, it activates as long as you meet the trigger’s suit and other requirements! Flip a Ram suit while playing a violin during combat, and you allow friendly characters to move quicker. Flip a Crow and fail to Bewitch a guard, you get to attempt an Intimidate duel with a plus flip. The best part is, if none of the listed Triggers suit your fancy, you can work with your Fate Master to create your own triggers!
Quick Draw Triggers
At this point you might be asking: how does one get these awesome Triggers? During character creation you may select one trigger for every skill that is rank 3. Tessa only had two rank 3s to apply to skills, so she was able to select Triggers for Archery and Enchanting. Triggers can be purchased for one experience point once a skill reaches rank 3 and again at rank 5 after character creation.
I’ve found that sometimes newer players tend to forget about the triggers they have, especially during combat. One rule I’ve experimented with was to limit the amount of triggers a player could pick at creation to one. Once my players get used to using their triggers, I allow them to add one trigger for their remaining skills plus any future triggers at no cost each time they complete a step on their pursuit track.
We have the tools; we have the Talents!
Another way to customize your Fated is with Talents! Talents are potent enhancements that can benefit Fated both in and out of combat. Jumping back to Tessa, we can see that I picked the talent “Tricky Shot” in conjunction with her Archery.
Another arrow flies down the narrow alleyway into the teeming throng of undead. One zombie drops to the cobblestones as the horde passes over, unceasing. Tessa has a full quiver at her hip, but not nearly enough to take down every approaching zombie. Thinking quickly, Tessa spies a kerosene lamp protected by a metal cage above the heads of the undead. The lamp is similarly sized to the game she used to hunt on her family’s property, and it’s the last chance she’ll have before the zombies consume her. Tessa aims, exhales slowly as she lets go, and watches the arrow bullseye the glass covering the fuel container. The sputtering gas quickly ignites and engulfs the horde of zombies in a consuming blaze.
Rather than shoot at the zombies, Tessa’s player decided to shoot at a smaller target for a bigger benefit. That attack would normally have a minus flip imposed by the game master due to the size, but thanks to Tessa’s talent Tricky Shot, she could hit the target with greater ease.
Tricky Shot (from page 223)
Requirement: Chosen Skill Rank 2 or higher.
This character is highly adept at pulling off tricky shots in a variety of conditions. Choose a Ranged Combat Skill. While making an attack with the chosen Skill, this character may choose to ignore one minus flip.
Talents come in two varieties: Pursuit and General Talents. Pursuit talents are gained each time you reach the epilogue in a game session and correspond to your character’s current Pursuit. General talents are often rewarded alternatively within a pursuit track and once during character creation. As an example, Tessa is currently following the Wastrel Pursuit path.
- At step one she gains the talent “Cards Up a Sleeve,” which allows her to essentially share a Twist card with other players.
- At step two, Tessa’s player may pick a general talent.
- Step three is another Wastrel specific pursuit talent.
- Step four grants another general talent.
Once Fated characters progress far enough, their Talent sections get incredibly interesting and can make for some fascinating play styles.
Another fascinating aspect to Talents is that some have very specific requirements, sometimes involving aspects with negative values. It’s one of the ways that you can weave a particular character flaw into an advantage! A particular favorite of mine has a requirement of -1 Speed, but confers a plus flip to initiative draws because the Fated has learned how to compensate for their lack of speed by knowing when to strike first!
That’s about it for our Through the Breach chat this week. Triggers and talents are a great way to truly customize your character. There are more character creation topics such as magic, equipment, and backstory, but we’ll get to those in later posts.
Remember to stay safe out there, and never forget Malifaux’s mantra: