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Ten D&D Character Flaws that Won’t Bog Down Your Game

D&D Fluff and Mechanics Make the RPG Go 'Round
Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #13 - "Here, Kitty Kitty"

What’s up, nerds? You know how sometimes D&D characters come off as too perfect? There’s hardly anything as annoying as a character who can do absolutely no wrong, the one the player steps in the way and has to backpedal and retcon endlessly because, “Oh, that was a mistake and my precious character wouldn’t have made one.” That character. Well, except for badly played character flaws. You know what I mean. The character flaws they have to interrupt the game for every five minutes to act out. The one that gets in the way. The cleric who didn’t take prestidigitation and hates getting dirty to the point they melt down every time it happens. The ill-tempered guy who sees an insult in everything and has to start a fight even when you’re just trying to buy road rations and suddenly you’re fighting a shopkeeper and have to hide yet another body. The character with a split personality who you’re pretty sure your friend didn’t do any research about but who you don’t want to call them out on because it would just start a fight at the table even though every time they launch into their stuff you side eye them so hard.

Character flaws in D&D

We’re not going to talk about that, though. Today we’re going to talk about ten easy character flaws that won’t take over your entire D&D game.

1 – A smoking habit

Character flaws are the same as real life people – we all have our vices. [Image by Jeff Wall]

Not to be judgmental, plenty of people do this and I don’t actually think there’s anything morally wrong with it. But as a fairly minor addiction it does come with a lot of drawbacks including getting winded more easily and possibly a persistent cough. There will even be the odd moment or two where your character can look cool doing it, but there are enough drawbacks that it counts.

Use this character flaw if you want your D&D character to have an addictive personality, or if you want to give them something they can get kind of grouchy about at some point in the plotline.

2 – Arrogance

Within reason, of course. Anything can be disruptive if you’re super extra about it, but being just a little bit arrogant can make for a compelling flaw in an otherwise sterling personality. There are a lot of things a person can get arrogant about. Their looks, their morality, even their fighting skills if you want to get really anime about it. Let them brag. The NPCs and the rest of the party will probably find it annoying sometimes but as long as the other players know you’re doing a bit they will probably really enjoy it.

Use this character flaw if you want your D&D character to have a social drawback without making them too docile. Also, if you want them to eat crow a few times and think that would be entertaining to play, because if they brag I can guarantee they aren’t always going to come out on top.

3 – A gambling problem

“Gamblers Quarreling” by Jan Steen, circa 1665 [Image courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts]

This one is a gem of a character flaw. Nobody likes being broke all the time, of course, even in a game. But if your character has gambling issues that’s something the DM can absolutely use to generate conflict and that is a good time for everyone involved.

Use this flaw if you want your character to have a cast iron reason to want to want to make money and if you’re okay with the DM having people come after you because you owe them and never paid up.

4 – Superstition

You can absolutely comment on things being a bad omen on the quasi regular without it becoming a huge problem in the middle of the D&D game. It’s going to make them look less logical, yes, but that fits some characters and it’s as easy as saying “we can’t give that as a gift, it’s bad luck.” As long as you the player are willing to be talked down from it when it’s important, it’s all in good fun.

Use this flaw if you want your character to feel folksy or a little bit batty.

5 – Bad table manners

Yep. It’s gross. It can also be sort of endearing, though, to the right people, and it comes up often enough that people will remember it but not so often it’s going to bog down combat. Mention your D&D character slurping their stew or eating with their fingers at the table, especially at a fancy dinner, and let the chuckles fly.

Use this flaw if your character is kind of woodsy or just generally blind to their own behavior. This is a good one for barbarians and fighters, people who like to let their weapons do the talking.

6 – Stinky

Another gross one but it’s also great because guess what? The other players can’t actually smell it. But if you mention when you’re playing about how your character’s breath smells like rancid fish or they reek of sweat and road dirt, it’s going to leave an impression. A necromancer could smell like death. A wizard could smell like chemicals. Anyone could smell like BO or have bad breath.

Use this flaw if you don’t mind NPCs being off put by your character when they get too close or if you’re looking for a less graceful flaw.

7 – Gullible

The DM will have a field day with this. The rest of the party will probably also have a field day with this. It’s great for a low Wisdom character, and you can even play it off so it’s okay if they figure out they’ve been duped but only after they believe it for a few minutes. It can be hilarious and isn’t likely to ruin anybody’s fun.

Use this character flaw if you want to play an innocent cinnamon roll type of character, or if you want to illustrate that maybe they are not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

8 – Promiscuous

Again, within reason. Do not be that player who gets into graphic descriptions of their conquests at the table but if you’re playing a character who is always hitting on the barmaid or the bartender or the guard at the front gate, it gets the point across.

Use this flaw if you’re playing a charismatic character and if your table is comfortable with those kinds of shenanigans.

9 – Lazy

Maybe your character just doesn’t like having to get off their butt and do stuff. Of course they will do it anyway but they are going to complain about it the whole way to the adventure. The trick here is just to do a little complaining at table and leave the rest up to the imaginations of the other players.

Use this flaw if you want something safe that other people won’t be able to take too personally. Also if you find whining fun.

10 – Nosey

You’re not sure what those people are doing over that fence but you totally want in there to find out what it is. Everything is your business. Your DM will love you for it – it won’t take much to get you involved in the adventure because you’re always butting in. And even if the other characters don’t like it, as long as you make sure the players are cool with it, they’ll probably be happy with the opportunity to divulge more about their characters than the characters would be comfortable with on their own.

Use this flaw if you are good at paying attention to what’s going on at the table and you want to do your DM a solid by taking the bait whenever it comes up.

What ever you decide to do, do it for the enhancement of your game and don’t forget to have fun in the process.

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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