A lot of time and attention is spent on what makes your tabletop RPG character special, smart, strong, capable etc. But well-rounded characters most oftentimes aren’t perfect. Like us, they have flaws, they struggle, and they make mistakes.
So today’s Newbie Tuesday post is all about your tabletop RPG character’s flaws…and how to add them to your character to increase your enjoyment in the story!
Being imperfect is often what makes your character feel real, three-dimensional, and relatable. When you’re creating your character, new tabletop role-playing game players should understand that flaws aren’t the intrinsic disadvantage that they appear to be on the surface. Instead, they’re opportunities for your character to grow and evolve throughout the story.
When a character who seeks revenge all their life – their flaw – realizes and outgrows the hollowness that comes with such a goal, it’s a big deal. When a character who finally finds love after a life of being jaded, it’s a big deal. And when a character realizes they’ve been poisoning their relationships because of their own insecurities allows themselves to be vulnerable, that’s a big deal.
Without those flaws, that growth is impossible. Take away the flaws, and the story’s potential for your character is neutered as a result. So even as new players, when you’re building your character perhaps for the first time, try and think about ways their flaw(s) might be springboards to their journey within the story.
Your Character’s Journey
It might be hard to envision as a new player, but your character – and certainly the party as well! – will go through quite a bit throughout the course of the story. And while the DM/GM facilitates the story for sure, you actually have quite a bit of agency/control over your character’s path.
Your choices on behalf of your character have a massive impact on what happens to them. A character whose flaw is a lust for revenge, for example, would have their story develop quite differently if they “pulled the trigger” vs. choosing forgiveness. And likewise a character whose flaw is insecurities which lead to trust issues, finding the faith to trust your friends vs. succumbing to your demons is a big branching off point in your character’s potential journey.
While these flaw(s) may come with statistical or other disadvantage(s) for your character on paper, keep the perspective that they’re ultimately far more valuable to your character as avenue(s) for growth. So when you’re designing your character, keep in mind what journeys those flaws might take you on!
So new players: if you’re playing a TTRPG system that asks you to list your character’s flaw(s), don’t recoil. Think of that step as setting the stage for your character’s growth and evolution. It’s a wonderful process!