View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Balancing Flaws

2015-07-02, 02:40 PM
I've been thinking about adding an optional Flaw system to my 5E game. I personally am near-sighted and have somewhat poor hearing, so I thought it would be interesting to have a character with "Poor Senses" have permanent Disadvantage to Perception checks. That's a really big flaw, so what could be an equitable reward to give a player who chooses it? An extra Feat?

Prince Zahn
2015-07-02, 04:01 PM
Given the nature of 5E, and from what I learned from it, is that customizable options and features don't like to balance snuggly inside a universal template. You'd be wise to rule such flaws and their benefits to your common sense. To use your example of poor senses, you may rule that the character has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks, or even go out on a limb and say you can not gain Proficiency in these skills, and you lose any such proficiencies when picking the Flaw. And in return... Umm... I'd imagine doubling your Proficiency Bonus to one of your other skills?

With things like damage and AC that don't involve the good old Proficiency Bonus, as well as initiative, I think you can pull off numeric Bonuses or penalties, albeit really small ones.

2015-07-04, 08:51 AM
Yeah just make it up and have fun with it. From my White Wolf games I can say roleplaying flaws can be loads of fun. Yeah they make you into a little bit of a stereotype but when you play every 1-4 weeks a little reminder of your personality can be helpful.

The other thing to remember with flaws is to always expect the player to minimize the drawbacks of the flaw and maximize the benefit of the boon. It seems a little like minmax powergaming, but really it's no different than a fighter with high strength who dumps int or a wizard who does the reverse. So if you have a flaw that hurts melee attacks, consider how bad will it really be to someone who doesn't melee. That's how bad the flaw really is, which is not the tiniest bit related to its effects in the hands of a melee character. So flaws should be broad so that they hurt nearly everyone, and even then you need to consider who will be hurt the least by the flaw when deciding how much it is worth, because that is the person who will take the flaw. Even with basic common sense, not power gaming. So expect it to be the norm.

Now if they pull some 3 part combo trick to totally erase all drawbacks of the flaw then that may be power gaming and you may want to say no.

"Poor senses" is an ok idea since it hurts almost everyone and disadvantage is a pretty big drawback. Even then the character can rely on the perception of his allies and won't be much worse off than someone who doesn't have the skill. So failing at perception only goes so far when it's just the one player. I'd give a pretty minor benefit. A feat is probably too much, unless every player takes exactly the same number of flaws to make up for the fact that the boons are stronger than the flaws.

Some other example flaws:
- Lower hp. That hurts nearly everyone. Still consider it in the hands of a back liner when determining strength.
- Tactless. Compulsively offends important NPCs or enemy monsters by pointing out what should not be brought up.
- Feeble. -2 to all 3 physical ability scores. Likewise expect non-physical characters to take this, but it still hurts them a little defensively and so forth. Depending on how good the benefit is you might make this a -4.

No one can totally negate the drawback, and even those who can partly negate it are still hurt enough for it to be worth a feat or whatever you give it. Get the idea?

2015-07-04, 04:49 PM
Well this concept partly came from playing Darkest Dungeon, which doles out Flaws and Virtues as a core game mechanic. I'll try to compile a list of 5E friendly versions of those and post it here.

2015-07-04, 05:34 PM
I am intrigued. One thing, Zenbear, you should add the 5E tag to the thread, just to clear it up a little.

2015-07-04, 08:08 PM
I am intrigued. One thing, Zenbear, you should add the 5E tag to the thread, just to clear it up a little.

I will once I'm home. Mobile doesn't have that option.