Give Your D&D Characters Flaws
Are you a player or Dungeon Master and despite your best efforts you just can not get your dungeons and dragons character to stand out above the others in terms of background or personality? Darth Mexican is here to help! I have been a Dungeon Master since 2008 and constantly am writing up adventures for friends to enjoy. In my time as a DM, I have found that the characters you create have such an impact on the story line and the players, for better or for worse. Whether it is a situation where a side character, who I personally didn’t care for at all, becomes beloved by the party or the main hero NPC becomes so hated that they seek to undermine him despite him being the main adventure hook. For players, the same can also be true, I have created throw away characters that I wanted to just run into fights, sleep with as many women as possible, and then be rude to everyone suddenly becomes loved by the group and the main story shifts to revolve around me.
One of the main aspects that I apply to my characters that adds so much personality are flaws. Here is why you should consider loading up your character with them as well!
Flaws For D&D Characters
In writing there is a term called “Mary Sue” which refers to a character that is perfect in almost every way. He/she looks beautiful, always has the best intentions at heart, does the right thing, everyone loves them, and they can turn a situation around no matter the odds. The most well known “Mary Sues” are Superman, Drizzt Dourden, and Goku. As kids we might revere these characters and their perfection but as we grow older we learn that the world does not operate in a way that would ever support such perfect characters.
People are flawed in both major and in minor ways, that is a huge part of what makes us appreciate them. They have their demons and despite their own issues they still overcome. When ever I create a character I try and give them two flaws for every one positive aspect. If man is more handsome than most, he would also be in the process of going blind and/or financially unstable. If woman comes from a wealthy family then she also has issues with depression/rage to the point of considering heavily to take her own life on top of being forced to witness a terrible discord in her family that she feels powerless to stop yet never admits to these feelings to she continues to suffer in silence.
These flaws help bring motivation to the player and makes it so much easier to know how they would react to a situation. The man would more than likely want to escape from his home town despite all obstacles because he is going to lose his sight and, without financial support, he’d have to use his charm to travel while the woman may drown herself in whatever vice quiets her mind as she focuses on how best to save her land.
The harder these flaws are to deal with, the sweeter each and every victory will be due to the challenge. I will also recommend that if you choose to reward these characters with a gift, you should never fully restore the wound or issue. The main draw of the character is their suffering, if you alleviate it entirely then the draw for the dungeons and dragons character dissipates. An example of this is the character Rocky Balboa from the Rocky franchise. In the first film, we sympathize with the main character due to how poor he is, how little respect others show him and despite everything, he is facing incredible challenges. It is a spark of hope for us flawed viewers and even when he loses at the end, it means so much to us because he at least gave it his all, had the match of his life and earned the respect of his peers. It feels more realistic than if he simply won and was the best there ever was.
Fast forward to the later films and we see Rocky is rich from his victories and hardly anyone can touch him, it feels far less relatable and we tend lose interest. Don’t get me wrong, watching him fight Mr. T, a giant Russian and training others is great but not as captivating as that first film. The same will happen for you as a player or DM, a way to resolve this is by presenting them with more unexpected hardships, for ever inch gained, put them back by a mile. An example is that the man might meet the woman of his dreams who loves and accepts him for who he is but his conditions worsens considerably. For the woman she could finally get to release all of her pent up rage and depression and begin to heal but it comes at the cost of doing something that she can never forgive herself for. Feel free to add in house rule game mechanics to make it feel more real!
This might seem harsh but consider life in it’s natural state. There are so few times that we can truly say that everything is going perfect. When we are younger we have our youth and time to do so many things but not the power or finances to make any real change on certain issues that bother us. When we get older we gain the power and finances but lose our time, we also unfortunately have to witness those that came before us pass away naturally or unnaturally. Nothing lasts forever and this should also apply to your dungeons and dragons character and their family and friends to add motivation and drama. Having to choose between attending a meeting with the king to negotiate the coming war or racing to help your niece and nephew who have been stricken ill and need a cure that can only be found in a cave filled with orcs is difficult and will provide proper pros and cons that will cause the player to pause for consideration.
I hope this helped you consider giving your characters flaws to make them more realistic and easier to role play overall! Do you have any other advice for improving characters? Feel free to leave a comment below with your advice!
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First photo by https://www.artstation.com/artist/romankupriyanov
Second photo by https://www.artstation.com/artist/piotr-chrzanowski-art