Merit or Advantage
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Basic Information

A Merit or Advantage is a type of Special Ability or Character Background that are available in many RPGs.

A Merit or Advantage is differentiated from a Feat or Edge in that, except for exceptional circumstances, you can only take a Merit at the time of Character Creation. A Feat, on the other hand, can be picked up later in the campaign.

The diametric opposite of one of these is a Drawback or Flaw.


Games that use a Merit or Advantage System:
1. 7th Sea RPG - Has "Arcana" that can give each PCs one special power, "Advantages" that give additional options, and "Backgrounds" that are an attempt to make every Flaw or Hindrance beneficial.
2. Savage Worlds - while Savage Worlds mostly uses a Feat or Edge system, it also has a smaller subset of "Background Edges" which can only be taken when you make the character.
3. World of Darkness. The Players Guide to the first edition of Vampire - The Masquerade was this Arcanists first encounter with Merits.

Game and Story Use

  • Game Systems that use Merits or Advantages allow you to be more than just your Character Class. Two Paladins, for example, can be different from each other despite having the same class and similar Attribute Scores.
  • These differences between characters are Front-Loaded in such a game. The extent to which two PCs are mechanically different is established before the first scene of the game.
    • This is particularly good for one-shots and short-shots, as you don't have as much time to establish characterization in such scenarios.
    • Since you can't get more down the road, some game systems make the merits very potent.
  • In a long campaign, the GM may have to consider systems for adding or removing merits as the character grows or suffers setbacks. An experience point-to-Merit conversion rate may be in order.
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