Expressive Ears

by mshrm

Here’s a little racial mini-Power-Up that I’ve been promising for at least a couple of months.  I mentioned it, in passing, while introducing FuBar for the first time. When we were working up his character sheet, the player asked if he could have the big, floppy ears that you see on a lot of Muppets. So, here’s my take on it.

“Expressive Ears”:  Acute Hearing 1 [2] + Easy To Read, Only to discern point of attention (-80%) [-2]; Net cost: 0

The idea is that the character gets +1 to hearing rolls, for having such big, sensitive ears. However, those ears aren’t entirely under conscious control. They tend to swivel around to catch faint noises, making it obvious where the character’s attention is focused. Anyone using Empathy, Body Language, or similar abilities to determine the character’s intentions gets the usual +4 for Easy To Read, but there are no further effects from the Disadvantage. There is no effect on the character’s ability to lie or bluff, unless they’re trying to conceal where their attention is directed.

Such mobile ears also allow a hands-free Gestures roll to communicate “Hey, what’s that over there?”  This isn’t even worth a point as a Perk, so it’s just a 0-point feature. There’s no bonus to the roll, like you might expect: sure, the ears make it obvious when the character’s attention is caught, but they also react to everything that catches the character’s attention, even for an instant, which means the character’s associates will quickly start to ignore the dozens of “false positives”.  In short… SQUIRREL!

Such ears can have an impact on appearance, but like an eye-patch or a decorative scar, it can go either way. If the character is ugly, they’re likely to come across as creepy and overly-mobile. If the character is cute, they’ll just add to the cuteness. They probably preclude any tremendous level of beauty, but, hey, it takes all kinds…

This trait is required for sewer trolls, and available as an option to cat-folk, dog-folk, elves who really crave a merciless mocking, and anything else y’all can convince me needs to have big, goofy ears.