View Full Version : Characters and flaws

2013-05-09, 10:37 AM
It's not gimmicks that make character interesting - after a while, everyone stops paying attention to them, they even can become extremely annoying if overused. It's not uniqueness - kobold paladin is the center of attention only at first. It's not power - do I even need to remind you why Batman is more interesting and relatable then Superman?
It's flaws and character's struggle to overcome them. What flaws did your character have?

2013-05-09, 10:47 AM
I had a Ranger who, unknown to the party for half of the campaign was only with them to redeem himself because his hubris caused the death of his wife and two of his daughters, also getting him exiled from his village.
Oh, and he got turned into a Lycanthrope (Sea Wolf) partway through the campaign.
Yeah, he had some problems.

I also played a Halfling Cavalier in a one-shot of Clockwork Mage. Not a terribly memorable campaign because the Module contained a lot of NPCs who tended to say no more than "I know nothing at all." But I will always remember chasing a badguy through the house on my riding dog, lance at the ready.

2013-05-10, 01:42 PM
I played a 1E Magic user who couldn't stop lying, and a 4E Avenger of Avandra who was taken in as an orphan by the local cult of Asmodeus.

2013-05-10, 02:11 PM
Oddly, what I would say is in fact that Flaws are simply a form of gimmick, often seeking to make the character unique, that a Kobold Paladin is in fact the paladin archetype with a specific set of 'flaws'. In fact in many systems, flaws are indeed also a way of increasing your character's power. (Incidentally, I also find Superman much more interesting as a character than Batman)

Personally, I would refine your assertion very slightly by saying that it isn't their flaws and their struggles to overcome them, but their motivations and their struggles to achieve those motivations, and flaws can sometimes become interesting complications in the way of those motivations.

But the thread is obviously not "What motivations have your characters had?", so I'll actually be slightly more on-topic now.

My most common character flaw, almost to the point of being a character archetype I return to again and again, is that many of my characters have a slavish loyalty to often self-destructive relationships or to social groups. A ranger I had once was in love with a noble who he could never be with because of their mismatched station in life, and yet when she was kidnapped and brainwashed into essentially being the antichrist, destined to end the world, he fought the rest of his party out of a refusal to kill her out of pragmatism, even though she didn't love him back. My current character is a homosexual samurai, whose loyalty to his clan and family structure has made him decide to bury his desires deep enough that he'll never risk dishonoring them by pursuing what he really wants in his love life.

2013-05-11, 01:38 PM
Posted this in an Interesting Characters thread, thought it would be interesting here as well

I had Henry. Unlike the other Point Buy PC's, I decided to go old school, Iron man D&D. 3d6. No rerolls but I would be able to push stats where I wanted.

I got the most boring results possible. 10, 11, 12, 14,11,12

What on earth do you do with that? It didn't even give me a weakness to play off of.

And that's when I realized what this character had to be. He has to be average, so average that it hurt. And he had to have big dreams...dreams he could never possibly hope to fulfill.

He wanted to be a Paladin of Pelor. I got a really strange look from my DM. He asked me if I wanted to put my 14 in charisma. I said "Nope. His class is fighter. He aspires to be a paladin"

That's when he just started shaking his head and let me do my thing.

Henry was an average, boring, Lawful Good Fighter who never received the call of Pelor, even though he wanted it more than anything. You see, Henry had a Charisma of 10. He didn't drive people away. He didn't inspire them. There was no inner core of strength to Henry. He would easily waffle to what his friends wanted to do and then feel guilty later and spend hours mumbling half remembered prayers and wallowing in guilt.

I pushed the envelop even further, having Henry believing that he wasn't giving enough. He gave away his money, convinced others to tithe, didn't keep magical items (inspired by 2nd edition) and bought a white horse.

I had a great time playing Henry, but the other characters let me know it was getting...sad. They actually really wanted the DM to intercede, for Pelor to grant Henry his wish and make him a Paladin so they could see my self sacrificing character happy.

Henry died as a 5th level fighter, holding off an Ogre on the bridge as the party escaped.

It was fascinating to play him and see other people want him to succeed so badly. I had to think about how to sabotage this character to make it look unintentional so he never really was paladin material.

2013-05-11, 03:13 PM
One of my favorite characters to RP was a LN Dread Necromancer who worshiped Wee Jas. He didn't really do anything Evil, unless you count occasionally raising the dead, but he wasn't committed to saving lives either; he just wanted to preserve peace and beauty wherever he found it. Sometimes that meant stopping villains who wanted to cause havoc, others saving the spellbooks of wizards they defeated though he couldn't use them, and even extended to just keeping a rare flower preserved with an unguent of timelessness or making sure to bleach the bones of a horse before raising it as a skeletal steed.

His big flaw was that, shocking for a necromancer I know, he didn't care that much about living people; if anything, he prefered the dead and their quiet dignity. This devotion to the idea of death came from the death of his daughter; he sort of envied her for not having to grieve or suffer anymore after his attempts to prolong her life... backfired. The character arc I had planned for him (before he got hurled into a steampunk future Samurai Jack style :smallsigh:) was that he would slowly turn Evil as he saw more and more suffering in the world and eventually become an NPC Big Bad I could use in a later game with the same group once my turn to DM came up.

That said, he might have been a little too flawed; PCs turning into villains over the course of campaigns is not the best thing for party cohesion.

Mark Hall
2013-05-11, 04:15 PM
It's not gimmicks that make character interesting - after a while, everyone stops paying attention to them, they even can become extremely annoying if overused. It's not uniqueness - kobold paladin is the center of attention only at first. It's not power - do I even need to remind you why Batman is more interesting and relatable then Superman?

I disagree whole-heartedly on your final assertion.

2013-05-11, 09:18 PM
Currently the character I play in my group's main traits are nigh suicidal recklessness (jumping into the jaw of a giant monster to get a good strike) and willingness to self sacrifice for others. It's both positive and negative.
Though, it's not something I intend on overcoming, more emphasizing until death.
As far as strictly negative traits he's somewhat seriousness (getting drunk before a big exam), a bit manipulative (think Patrick Jane from the Mentalist here) and greedy. But nothing really to angst over, no huge flaw that is impeding him other than the main positive trait.

2013-05-11, 10:28 PM
Ooh boy, here we go... I'm gonna go from best to worst written of my characters. (If you don't feel like reading all of them, skip to the end.)

Sesma was a Kobold sorcerer well and truly dedicated to Kobold well-being, at the expense of everything else - he was particularly willing to sacrifice the well-being of mammals (Or "Skin Bags") as he called them.

This is not to imply that Sesma was kittens and cuddles to Kobolds, either; he was well aware that they were a fractious and undisciplined lot, and believed that cruelty was often the only way to control them. Additionally, despite his commitment to the Kobold race, he viewed individual Kobold lives as rather cheap, and was willing to sacrifice them for the greater good.

The result was an ambitious and driven character, capable of being either underhanded or brutal, depending on the situation. A case could very easily be made that Sesma was Lawful Evil - his one redeeming quality was that, as cruel as his methods sometimes were, he was truly and selflessly dedicated to improving the position of his face (who were basically vermin in that universe, often subject to mass extermination as a matter of principle.)

Henry Augustus
Henry Augustus is a wickedly powerful young man living in (and fighting against) the shadow of his domineering and patriarchal Wizard father - the same father who killed not one but two of his brothers when he pushed them too hard in training sessions.

Henry may be a good person at heart, but his experiences and upbringing have left him hard-edged and brutal, not to mention very, very ambitious. He has a potentially terminal distrust of other people - not so much in the sense of believing they'll betray him, but believing they're not competent enough to be anything but a liability.

Despite being a wizard, Henry is dyslexic, a trait which arguably was the only thing that saved his life as a child - his father, frustrated with the slow rate at which Henry learned, turned his attention fully upon his two brothers, both of whom died as a result. After their father was finally imprisoned, Henry worked hard to overcome his difficulty with letters, and eventually became a skilled wizard in his own right. Despite this, he holds something like scorn for "Traditional" arcane power, as it reminds him too much of his father. Henry is determined to find other fonts of mystical power, even if they're far more dangerous than honest magic.

August Augustus (No Relation, I suck at coming up with names.)
Born into a rich family, from a young age August Augustus was the muscle-bound antipathy of self-awareness. Between his imposing physique and his family's station, August wielded undisputed power over his peers from the time he was a toddler, and injured almost every one of his playmates at one time or another.

As August grew older, his temper began to get worse, especially when he was denied anything, or felt slighted in any way. Incapable of viewing himself in an objective light, August could see only the ways others wronged him - and how easy it was for him to balance the scales by force.

August was only fourteen when he committed his first murder, though he would never see it as such - to him, it was just another person who'd unfairly slighted him and paid the price. While his family was able to cover up that incident, it was far from the last, and as August grew, so did the number of corpses he left in his wake - friends, women, strangers, all the same to him. Bit by bit, his family exhausted their standing and the strength of their name defending him, and were on the verge of destitution when they finally ordered him from their house.

Ladysmith was a complex character, but if I absolutely had to pick a defining flaw... I'd have to say it was how he was an insane, manipulative clown whose only goal in life was to trick, persuade or otherwise corrupt good people into unspeakably evil acts.

Ladysmith had a rather interesting and very warped outlook on life (you know, beyond the fact that he was unapologetically evil.) See, Ladysmith hated to see good people die (though he'd tolerate it if they were poor or otherwise unimportant) - if good people died, they never had a chance to become evil, and that was just a waste. People who were already evil, meanwhile, were simply boring - they could die or not, Ladysmith didn't really care.

But, when he found someone truly virtuous - a noble lord, a pious cleric or... (Gods, please, yes) ... a paladin, then he'd get really excited. Ladysmith would swear himself into their service, act as their faithful companion and fool, do everything in his power to preserve their life... all the while looking for the chance to tempt them, to trick them into an evil act, to somehow bring them to their fall.

...mind, his political machinations were somewhat sabotaged by his habit of wearing rotting rags, cackling madly and carrying around dead cats all the time.