In the world of D&D character flaws can help spice up your adventures! Everyone loves a hero, but much of the enjoyment of seeing good triumph comes from the obstacles they must navigate. What’s the only thing better than external conflict? That’s right: internal conflict! Think of other heroes and their journeys that were made better by their flaws. Tony Stark/Iron Man is immensely full of himself, Achilles’ heel is a very literal flaw, and Samwise Gamgee is the only truly flawless hero! Just kidding – he’s overprotective of Frodo, but that’s not too bad, is it? These 13 character flaw options will help deepen your character and make them a dynamic hero of the realm!
Charisma can be a good dump stat if you’re playing a martial character or a non-charisma caster. Being a bad liar can manifest as a result of a low charisma score! You can play this up by having an obvious tell. Maybe the party thinks you’re an alright liar, and then they pick up on your tell and suddenly you’re always under Zone of Truth if they see you tapping your foot or failing to make eye contact. You also don’t need to be self-aware; your character can think they’re a suave social savant. A bad liar will obviously be difficult to play intrigue-style campaigns with, but that’s part of the fun!
You don’t need low dexterity to be a klutz. Your minotaur can be the bull in the proverbial China shop, their wide stature constantly bumping into shelves in stores, or constant, “Oop, sorry! Excuse me!” as they walk down crowded streets. Perhaps your rogue isn’t at the top of their game unless they’re humming their favorite song. Just make sure you aren’t the one entrusted with the safekeeping of the MacGuffin, or fight tooth and nail to get it in your hands only to fumble it down into a river. There are loads of options when it comes to being clumsy.
Playing a character who is averse to the idea of combat can be a fine line to walk. Your character can be generally scared, of course, but when push comes to shove, you should be doing something to help your party in combat. Casters are good choices if you want to play a coward. A bard can still be useful providing inspiration from afar, but a barbarian who doesn’t want to get in the thick of it and rage can’t do much! A good option for a coward can be to pick a specific phobia or trigger for fears. Your character can be scared of snakes and snake-like things (oh no, tentacles!), or terrified of heights (cliffside combat? No thank you!).
You are distrustful of others and always suspect the worst of them. You tend to see conspiracies everywhere, and you are always on the lookout for signs that people are out to get you. This can make you appear suspicious and untrustworthy to others, and they may have trouble getting close to you. This makes it all the better when you do end up learning to trust the party! Your fellow adventurers will feel like their relationship with your character is built on a solid foundation of trust.
You are often unaware of what is going on around you. You might be lost in your own thoughts, or you might just not be paying attention. Either way, this can lead to you missing important clues or failing to notice when someone is trying to communicate with you. This pairs well with a low wisdom score, as perception is based on wisdom. This could come out in combat with your character always going after the biggest baddie, since they’re easiest to see and most obviously a threat.
You believe that life is ultimately meaningless and that there is no point in struggling against fate. You may see the world as a dark and cruel place, and you may find it hard to muster up the hope or motivation to fight for what’s right. This can make you seem apathetic and uninterested in the lives of those you are saving. All of this is a big bummer! You still need a good reason to be adventuring in spite of your dreary worldview. Maybe you’re looking for the good in the world, and your story arc can be you finding it and sloughing off the sad nihilistic view.
You have a tendency to say whatever is on your mind without thinking about how it might affect others. You speak your mind without a filter, and this can often lead to you saying things that are hurtful or offensive. You may not mean any harm by it, but your words can still sting. Others may have trouble getting close to you because of this. What fuels the brutal honesty of your character? Were they lied to in the past? Or is it just how they always were? As with all D&D, make sure your table is okay with this, sometimes being too blunt can be hurtful, so just check in with your pals!
You are haughty and look down on those you deem inferior to you. You may come across as arrogant and entitled, and people may have trouble getting to know you. You may also alienate potential allies with your attitude. However, this flaw can also make for some interesting plotlines. Perhaps your character will have to confront their own prejudice at some point, or maybe they’ll learn that not everyone is as bad as they seem. This flaw can come from a sheltered lifestyle at the top – a noble who hasn’t been out to see the world or maybe a scholar spending their whole life absorbed in books.
You always try to see the best in people, even when they don’t deserve it. This can often lead you to be disappointed, especially when people let you down. However, your idealism also inspires others and gives them hope. People are drawn to you because of your optimistic outlook on life. Your idealism may sometimes put you at odds with the party, especially if they have more cynical members. However, your positive attitude can be a much-needed balm in dark times. This is a fun one to put on at the table, always looking on the bright side of life!
You are obsessed with a particular subject or hobby, to the point where it interferes with your everyday life. Your obsession may be anything from dragon lore to collecting rare coins. Whatever it is, you find it hard to focus on anything else when you’re thinking about your passion. This can make you seem aloof or uninterested in the people and events around you. Your fellow adventurers may find your single-mindedness frustrating at times, but they will also come to appreciate your knowledge and expertise on your chosen subject.
You are always thinking about yourself and what you want. You can be selfish and manipulative, and you may have a hard time seeing things from other people’s perspectives. This can make you seem arrogant and insensitive, and people may have trouble relating to you. However, this flaw can also make your character more interesting, as they navigate the world with their own goals in mind. Other characters may need to work hard to get your attention, but when they do, they know that they have your undivided attention. This is another one you’ll have to work with your table to really have shine, and incorporate into your character arc!
You are deeply committed to experiencing and appreciating beauty in all forms. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, the perfect composition of a painting, or simply the way a blade catches the light, you strive to find and appreciate beauty in everything. This can make you seem aloof or uninterested in more practical matters. Your aesthete tendencies can be used to great effect in social situations. Use your eye for detail to read people and situations, and you may be able to find ways to diffuse tense situations or understand others better.
You are too trusting and believe everything that you hear. You tend to take people at their word, even when it’s clear that they’re not being truthful. This can lead you into all sorts of trouble, as you may unwittingly help your enemies or fall prey to their schemes. Your fellow adventurers will need to keep an eye on you, as you may not be aware of the danger you’re in until it’s too late. But your innocence can also be refreshing and endearing, especially in a world full of betrayal and deceit.
Bonus Character Flaws
In a game full of magic and mayhem, it could be an interesting dynamic to have a character who is anti-magic! Your fighter or barbarian could abhor magic and its users – making a tense relationship between them and the party’s casters. This is another flaw that you would want to run by your table first to ensure everyone is okay with the dynamic.
I’ve had a cleric in one of my games constantly misquote their holy book, citing it for every little situation that arose. This could work even if your character isn’t of the cloth. Have them keep getting quotes not quite right – from idioms to names! A little absent-mindedness can be quite endearing.
Having a character very interested in something kind of mundane also gives the DM a chance to flesh out the world. Is your character a bit of a foodie? Then ask your DM to whip up a couple of dishes unique to the world. Maybe you like whittling, and want to know what types of wood can be worked with in this world. Taking a hobby just a little too far isn’t technically a flaw, but can add a lot of depth and fun to your character.
Here are some questions related to character flaws.
Do Characters Need Flaws?
Short answer: no! Long answer: not necessarily, but a lot goes into a good character! Take, for example, some of the most memorable heroes: The Fellowship of the Ring. Many of them have flaws that don’t bring them down, but characterize them. Merry and Pippin are goofy guys, and Pippin in particular is absolutely clumsy (A fool of a Took!). Legolas and Gimli are proud of their ancestry and begin the journey at odds because of this. In time, they come to care deeply for each other and the rest of the Fellowship. Frodo is wracked with uncertainty as to whether or not he’s up for the journey, and The Ring preys on this.
All of that to say that while flaws are not required for a character, they make the character’s story and dynamic within a party much more interesting.
Are There Homebrew Flaws?
There are tables in the Player’s Handbook that can generate flaws for your characters based on what background you selected. These are all pretty fun things. A scholar can roll a flaw that says they use bloated and flowery language to make themselves seem smarter than they are!
Homebrew flaws end up making things a little more dynamic! With homebrewed flaws, your flaws aren’t dependent on what background you have, so your character can be whatever you want them to be regardless of chosen background.
Bonds vs. Character Flaws?
Where flaws show the internal conflict and issues of your character, a bond is their driving force. This could be a devotion to a certain person or a strongly held ideal! Back to the Lord of the Rings parallel – Samwise’s bond is Frodo and his loyalty to ensuring they finish their quest. If Sauron was an evil player character, his bond would likely be to The Ring itself and reclaiming it.
Both bonds and flaws can inform how a character plays. Bonds end up being why they do what they do, where flaws are why they don’t do the things they don’t!
Wrapping Things Up
As with nearly everything that goes on in D&D: chat with your DM and/or players about what would be most fun! Leaning into flaws can make some dynamic characters, but certain flaws and role playing can be off-putting for some. Maybe for one player, D&D is an escape from a home life plagued by narcissism – having a character whose flaw is narcissism may not be the best idea at the table. The best part is that all this can be changed on the fly. If you present a flaw that others take issue with, it’s easily replaced with a different flaw that the table will have more fun with! Whatever the outcome, be sure to remember that community and fun for everyone are at the core of D&D.