How to Use D&D Character Flaws For Your Next Game Session?

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best d&d character flaws and how to use them
best d&d character flaws and how to use them

When it comes to character creation, many players often forget about flaws. These players focus on ideas, ability scores, and all the mechanical aspects of their characters. While there’s nothing wrong with that, utilizing D&D character flaws can lead to exciting game sessions, interesting roleplay, and memorable scenarios.

In this article, you will know how to use the most popular D&D character flaws and traits. Additionally, you will also learn about some wacky combinations of flaws for D&D character classes.

The Best D&D Character Flaws and How to Use Them

Sneaky Hands or Kleptomania

Kleptomania is one of the most common and workable character flaws in D&D. There’s even a supporting class for such a flaw: the Rogue. If you want to play a character with sneaky hands, then you need to make the flaw as unique as possible.

Your character shouldn’t just steal coins and valuable things. Rather, you can focus on unique things like unfinished paintings, candelabras, hidden journals, or even strange relics. Make sure that the flaw is deeply rooted in your character’s past.

Playing a kleptomaniac character can lead to funny moments, and your character might gain the opportunity to make money along the side. The Kleptomania flaw might also compel you to make a couple of loot checks under the DM’s discretion.

A character with sneaky hands can also bring trouble to the entire party. Once your character is caught stealing something, he or she might face jail time or execution. Other party members won’t let this happen, so they might deviate from the main quest in order to rescue your character. While a rescue mission can yield additional XP and loot, it can also make the situation dangerous for all characters involved.

A Real Coward

Cowardice is a classic flaw that can be tricky to manage. If your character is a real coward, you must avoid all sources of danger, especially combat encounters, traps, or even a short skirmish in the woods. Cowardice will definitely slow down a party, so you have to be careful about using the flaw.

One way to lessen the impact of the cowardice flaw is to determine the strengths of your character. Utilize these strengths as much as possible. Perhaps your character can handle the rigors of diplomacy easily or he/she can craft helpful elixirs during downtime periods. Always coordinate with your party members regarding the balance of your character’s strengths and weaknesses.

Bloodthirsty

The bloodthirsty character can be likened to the infamous player profile: the murderhobo. With a bloodthirsty flaw, your character must commit to violent and visceral methods to achieve his/her goals. Such methods include inhumane torture, a no-prisoner policy, blade justice, and even the usage of bombs to take care of witnesses.

Before using a bloodthirsty flaw, talk to the DM and other players. The violent methods are probably red flags for other players. By figuring out these red flags, everyone on the table will feel more comfortable around a bloodthirsty D&D character.

Addictive Personality

Every D&D character has the chance to be addicted to something. The source of addiction could be a hallucinogenic herb, a wizardly concoction, strange creatures, or even the act of stealing something from NPCs. Playing a character with an addictive personality is fun but challenging.

First, you have to determine why your character is addicted to a specific substance. Is your character coping with repressed trauma? How does your character intend to fund the addiction? What are the quirks of your character while under the substance’s effect? By answering these basic questions, you will know how to enact your character’s addiction during roleplay moments.

You must also discuss the nature of the addiction thoroughly. Some players might feel uncomfortable with the concept of addiction. The DM must lay some ground rules if others players don’t like to deal with addictive personalities and the related consequences.

Unpredictability

An unpredictable character is like a stick of dynamite waiting to explode. Everyone is almost clueless regarding how a character will act – let alone someone with the unpredictable flaw. The core of an unpredictable D&D character is nothing but the element of surprise.

Social encounters are great opportunities for an unpredictable character. Through social encounters and situations, your unpredictable character can make strange dialogues or responses. The reactions from NPCs and players can be a great source of humor.

Out for Vengeance

Revenge is a common concept in D&D. In a D&D game, you will encounter NPCs with the goal of avenging a loved one or a failed ideal. As a D&D flaw, vengeance can turn your character into a sparkplug full of drama, twists, and edgy monologues.

You can make the revenge flaw more powerful by crafting a strong cause. Sometimes, using the BBEG might feel overused or bland. Instead of clinging to the BBEG’s twisted rationale, you can just write about a different enemy. Your DM will accept this write-up easily because he or she will have an additional plot thread to work with.

Vengeance as a character flaw is combat-focused. This flaw also requires tremendous plot buildup driven by your actions and priorities. You must also find the right timing to enact your vengeance. The wrong timing can lead to unnecessary deaths, damage, and even massive loss of resources. A poorly implemented vengeance plan can set back a party’s goal by 50% or even more.

Distrustful

Being overly distrustful is a challenging flaw to use. If your character is distrustful, you must take extra actions to confirm a hunch or any change in a situation. You must also make additional checks while spelunking or observing a rather safe environment.

The major downside of the distrustful flaw is the additional time needed to finish anything. Some delays will make other players annoyed, especially if everyone has tight schedules. Distrustful characters are also eager to accomplish their goals solo, and they might not be

If you want to maximize the distrustful flaw, you should only pick special moments to show the character’s distrust. You don’t need to run an insight check on everything! Additionally, you don’t have to check every nook and cranny for traps if the environment isn’t too dangerous. At any rate, you can just make a perception check and wait for the DM’s announcement of the result.

Suggested Flaws for D&D Character Classes

Sometimes, building a flaw from scratch can be time-consuming. If you want to save time, you can check out the flaws that we’ve compiled according to character classes.

The Barbarian

Best Flaws: Drunkard, Coward, Nerdy

Since the Barbarian is a strong martial class, it will be fun to have a couple of contrasting or physique-diminishing flaws. Also, the Barbarian is a roleplay-flexible class that can accommodate multiple flaws and strengths.

A drunken Barbarian is often the life of the tavern. He or she will chug down barrels of mead, prompting a couple of CON saves. Whether the Barbarian fails or succeeds, he/she can make nearly everyone in the tavern happy.

The cowardice flaw is also a funny trait for any Barbarian. Try to imagine a Barbarian who’s afraid of the sight of blood or sharp weaponry. While the cowardice flaw is fun in most instances, it can hinder the mechanical effectiveness of the Barbarian frontliner.

Nerdy Barbarians are rare. Aside from still being effective in combat, a nerdy Barbarian can become a curator of weird valuable things. The nerdy Barbarian might also pay extra attention to details leading to longer encounters and funny situations. Just don’t overdo the antics of the Barbarian nerd or other players might feel tired or annoyed.

The Fighter

Best Flaws: Pacifist, Blabbermouth, Deceitful

Most fighters are naturally violent or at least capable of handling intense combat situations. Just like the Barbarian, the Fighter is highly flexible and can take numerous positive or negative traits.

The pacifist Fighter is a classic example. A Fighter who doesn’t adhere to any form of violence will hold back any party. After all, D&D requires a healthy amount of combat encounters. Don’t get carried away if you intend to play a pacifist Fighter. Whenever the party is in grave danger, try to keep the pacifist ideal on the backside.

Being a blabbermouth Fighter is also a fun negative trait. As a blabbermouth, your Fighter character can face awkward social situations. This Fighter also talks a lot and might possibly reveal the party’s plans to suspicious fellows.

Deceit is a general flaw meant for all character classes. However, when the flaw is applied to the classic Fighter, it can lead to the creation of a dynamic character with a variable range of emotions. You might even be compelled to choose between the Fighter’s honor and his/her tendencies to deceive people.

The Bard

Best Flaws: Bad Performer, Magic-Averse, Violent

Bards exist to help people deal with pain by maximizing pleasure. Whenever there’s a chance for entertainment, the Bard will definitely step in. But if the Bard can’t perform properly due to a flaw, he/she may need to compensate by doing other things.

Untalented Bards are rare because their class framework is all about beautiful performance. If a Bard can’t play the Banjo effectively, then he or she will always be the butt of many jokes. Just imagine a Bard with an ear-grating voice serenading a princess. The Bad Performer flaw is also not limited to instruments. Some negative qualities related to the flaw are ugly dancing, miscalculated juggling, poor social skills, and wallet-busting gambling losses.

A magic-averse Bard is almost ineffective because the class relies on a limited range of helpful spells. With an aversion to magic, your Bard character can’t help the party in combat encounters. To minimize the impact of the magic aversion flaw, don’t use it during intense moments. Limit the flaw’s manifestation to social events, downtimes, and casual periods. You can also purposefully modify your Bard’s spellbook by selecting less-than-optimal spells that favor roleplay.

Another interesting flaw for the Bard is violence. You can play your Bard character as a temperamental performer. Whenever the NPCs react negatively to the Bard’s performance, try to start a scene by using musical instruments like the Banjo. The scene will be funny and memorable for the entire party. A violent Bard might also become effective if you can find a strong weapon or a reliable combat feat.

The Rogue

Best Flaws: Clumsy, Overly Muscular, Attention-Seeker

The classic Rogue loves to blend with the shadows or deal with cold, backstabbing deception. Countering the Rogue’s natural traits is a fun thing to do with some noticeable flaws.

The clumsy flaw will possibly affect your Rogue’s stealth checks and tool usage. Regular failures can lead to funny moments, but you should tone down the flaw whenever the party’s safety is at stake. It’s fun to be clumsy sometimes, but not all the time!

Rogues are naturally slender but there’s always room for being outrageously muscular. Now, the muscular flaw requires a bit of support through stats adjustment. This simply means that you must be ready to commit to the muscular Rogue build. Muscular Rogues are fun to play because they can amaze ladies while moderately succeeding on stealth checks every now and then. In a way, Muscular Rogues are like Barbarians trying to be sneaky!

Attention is one of the last things Rogues need unless they want to distract a specific group of people. Well, you can make things more interesting by adding the attention-seeker flaw to your Rogue character. The attention-seeking Rogue will always resort to noise and crazy antics to get what he or she needs. It’s possible to seek attention during diplomatic scenarios or casual evening dinners, possibly making other characters shirk in embarrassment.

The Wizard

Best Flaws: Wrestler, Book Hater, Potion Addict

The Wizard is the epitome of phenomenal and extradimensional magic. Through years of relentless studying, the Wizard can deal with almost any threats coming from the material plane. Now, adding some flaws to the classic Wizard character will create fantastic social moments for everyone to cherish.

The wrestler flaw is a funny trait for your Wizard character. Imagine a Wizard who doesn’t rely too much on spells. Instead of spells, your Wizard prefers overly dramatic takedowns and combat entrances. The flaw is even funnier if the Wizard makes decent Athletics checks despite having a low STR score.

Book hater is another flaw that can add flavor to your Wizard character. The book-hating Wizard can learn spells through strange ways like reading stone tablets, tearing off pages, and listening to someone else reciting a spell. The strange habit might cause some players to face-palm themselves, and they have no other choice but to deal with your character’s flaw.

If you’re looking for a realistic character flaw for your Wizard, try the potion addiction. Under the potion addiction flaw, your Wizard must grab every opportunity to drink a potion – regardless of the effects. The potion can be dangerous or trivial, creating great excitement during the session. Just be careful with this flaw because your Wizard might catch an irreversible malady that would require a long and expensive treatment.

The Warlock

Best Flaws: Hyperactive, Hated by Patron, Dress-Conscious

The Warlock is considered as a privileged Wizard because of its affinity to a powerful, extradimensional Patron. Through the Patron, the Warlock will gain the opportunity to cast strong spells over time. Playing out some interesting flaws will make your Warlock character more spontaneous and dynamic.

A hyperactive Warlock will do anything to cause a scene. In a social scenario, the hyperactive Warlock might blabber some incoherent words due to the Patron’s magic. Combat is even more fun because the hyperactive Warlock might sling Eldritch Blasts anywhere.

Now, a Warlock that’s hated by a Patron is a rather strange character. In most occasions, this Warlock may need to struggle casting his/her spells because of the Patron’s limitations. You can do this through detailed roleplaying or a separate homebrew rule negotiated with the DM. Also, the DM might allow some sort of Patron intervention during social encounters. The intervention can lead to funny results such as botched checks, eerie voices and apparitions, and harmless (yet silly) body possession.

The dress-conscious Warlock can be a fashionista and a powerful spellcaster at the same time. Simply imagine a Warlock who intends to shop for the hottest clothes in town even if the party budget is limited. There are numerous ways to roleplay a fashionista Warlock. The first way is to use fashion as a motivator for casting the most beneficial Warlock spells. The second way is to launch adult tantrums whenever the Warlock failed to secure fancy clothes.

The Cleric

Best Flaws: Party Lover, Forgetful, Self-Worshipping

Clerics are the beacons of life and healing in most adventures. These Clerics usually rely on the power and guidance of their deities, and they also have access to the best D&D spells. Integrating some flaws into a Cleric can create some wonderful and humorous character builds.

The party lover flaw is an excellent counter-point to the Cleric’s devotion. This flaw might cause some problems with the party because of the conflicting interests. It’s also possible to find some custom domains related to parties, booze, and pleasures.

While the party lover flaw is mostly activated through roleplay, the forgetful flaw has mechanical roots. A forgetful Cleric might have a difficult time casting spells, affecting the general survivability of the party. Unless your party members are okay with the mechanical change, you must be wary of the forgetful flaw. Limit the flaw’s activation to roleplay scenarios to avoid some disastrous combat problems.

Have you heard about the Cleric who worships himself? If not, then you can build a similar character with the help of the self-worshipping flaw. The foundation of the self-worshipping flaw is simple: Cleric must worship himself and not a deity. Depending on your DM, this flaw can be impossible or manageable. The self-worshipping Cleric can receive spells based on his personal devotion or strength of character. Keep in mind that the flaw might only work with a few domains.

The Paladin

Best Flaws: Vindictive, Armor Hater, Extremely Zealous

If Clerics are the beacons of life, Paladins are the hammers of order. Paladins are determined to achieve their goals in different ways possible, and they’re also committed to the concept of the greater good. Despite the near-perfect devotion of Paladins, they are still prone to a variety of comical and debilitating flaws.

The vindictive flaw is great for any Paladin. This flaw will support the Paladin’s goal and add a measure of justification for controversial actions. The vindictive Paladin will repay every slight with something worst and the action might cause him to fall away from his oath. Vindictive Paladins are also dangerous to communities, towns, and villages.

To lighten the mood, you can play a Paladin character with grating hate for armor. The Paladin probably hates armor due to past trauma, so he might engage enemies wearing almost nothing. Mechanically, having no armor means that most attacks will hit the Paladin during combat encounters. You should prepare for this by having spare potions and a healing spell!

Another flaw that can match a Paladin’s nature is extreme zeal. As an extreme zealot, the Paladin might commit to harsh actions such as self-harm, torturing foes, and even long hours of prayer at the cost of rest. There is almost no rest for the extremely zealous Paladin and his unwary friends.

The Artificer

Best Flaws: Unconfident, Quirky, Obsessive

Adding a couple of flaws to the Artificer seems like a natural process because the class is already strange, to begin with. However, picking the right combination of flaws will make your Artificer character more unique.

Unconfident is one of the simplest Artificer flaws that you can use. An unconfident Artificer will take a longer time crafting items and infusions. The DM might even include additional checks to reflect the difficulty of the flaw. With 5E’s lenient simulation aspects, the limitations of the unconfident flaw won’t affect your party too much.

The quirky trait is a complex flaw that will benefit from your creativity. How quirky do you want the Artificer to be? What are the sub-traits related to your Artificer’s quirkiness? Does your character’s backstory support the quirky trait? Answering these questions will help you make a quirky and unpredictable Artificer.

Obsession is the perfect flaw that matches the Artificer’s attention to detail. An obsessive Artificer will also take a long time making things because every ounce of detail must fall in place. If a piece of detail is wrong, the obsessive Artificer might want to redo the process or try another approach. Another way to play the obsessive Artificer is to seek a nearly impossible goal that would require tremendous sacrifice.

The Druid

Best Flaws: Hated by Animals, Hates Outdoors, Tech Junkie

The Druid is a helper class that fulfills some of the roles of a Wizard and a Cleric. Trying out some cool flaws will turn the Druid into a lightning rod of laughter, jokes, and roleplay quips.

Spice out your Druid gameplay by adding the Animal-Hated flaw. If your Druid is hated by animals, he/she can’t summon critters without facing some consequences. Maybe a bunch of squirrels will jump up on the hated Druid, totally annoyed that they were summoned. The Druid hated by animals will also find it difficult to use Wild Shape due to the flaw’s condition. To limit the effects of this flaw, you can simply emphasize the type of animal that hates the Druid. Your Druid doesn’t need to be hated by all animals!

The tech junkie flaw is all about the pursuit of progressive technology. If your Druid has the tech junkie flaw, he/she might want to collect firearms, weird contraptions, and strange otherworldly devices. At first glance, the tech junkie flaw is probably harmless because it is just related to collecting and curating stuff. But as time goes on, your Druid might accrue debt to support his expensive flaw or hobby.

The Ranger

Best Flaws: Imprecise, Sluggish, Degenerate Gambler

Rangers are the masters of the wild and deadly ranged combat. By having a nice combination of class feats and equipment, a Ranger can deliver death from afar. If you’re feeling lucky, you can also utilize some flaws to make your Ranger more realistic.

An imprecise Ranger will miss his shots most of the time. You may need to coordinate with your DM to maximize the flaw because the Ranger’s attack rolls (especially at high levels) will almost always hit enemies. Imprecision is not limited to melee and ranged attack rolls. The imprecise Ranger will also find it difficult to use many tools except those that he is proficient with.

Just like the imprecise flaw, the sluggish flaw can affect the Ranger’s effectiveness in the long run. Depending on your priorities and the DM’s judgment, you can limit the sluggish flaw to plain roleplay or combat situations. The sluggish flaw might have penalties related to speed, attack precision, initiative, and physical performance.

Rangers love to take chances, so it’s possible to turn them into degenerate gamblers. Through the degenerate gambler flaw, your Ranger can always aim for the jackpot at the cost of having debts and earning the party’s ire.

The Monk

Best Flaws: Undisciplined, Crazy, Hubris

The Monk represents the pillars of discipline, focus, training, and relentlessness. Despite having positive class factors, Monks are not perfect. The Monk’s imperfections are best represented by individual traits and flaws.

Being undisciplined is a big problem for a Monk. If the Monk is undisciplined, he will seek worldly pleasures and might develop an addiction. The lack of discipline will affect the Monk’s general effectiveness.

Next to the undisciplined flaw is craziness. Monks are solitary people trained in controlling their thoughts and emotions. The craziness flaw will turn the Monk into a buffoon with a desire to cause chaos at any time.

Lastly, hubris is a natural flaw for a Monk. Due to the Monk’s solitary existence, he may become hubristic over time. Basically, hubris means that the Monk thinks that he is better than everyone else. The hubris flaw may cause the Monk to avoid long-term friendships. The hubristic Monk might also sneer at other characters, leading to some friction or annoyance.

FAQ About D&D Character Flaws

What is the benefit of playing a character with multiple flaws?

Answer: A character with multiple flaws can connect to the big campaign world in terms of drama and roleplay. The player must also do everything to counter such flaws. Thus, a character with multiple flaws will often have a better resolution in combat, social encounters, and situations that require creativity.

Is it wise to get a combat-related character flaw?

Answer: If you are focused on roleplaying, then having a combat-related flaw is acceptable. Before you get this flaw, however, you must coordinate with your DM and friends. The DM might hesitate to add a mechanical aspect to your suggested combat flaw, and other players will also consider your character’s effectiveness.

Can I make a custom flaw for my character?

Answer: Yes. Making a custom character flaw is a great way to exercise your creativity. Just remember that all custom flaws require DM approval. Try to make a handful of interesting flaws so that you can have more options to play with.

Can the DM use a flaw against my character?

Answer: Yes, but the DM must be fair regarding the process of using a flaw against a character. The DM should weigh the risks of impeding a character’s growth if a flaw has some deliberate effects such as damage reduction or tactical mishaps.

What are the best character flaws for a beginner?

Answer: Character flaws with strong roleplay aspects are the best for beginners. Since roleplay flaws don’t have mechanical adjustments required, they won’t affect a character build too much.

Are character flaws needed for effective roleplaying?

Answer: Not all the time. You must consider character flaws as narrative options that can support your character’s backstory. Perhaps the flaws are the results of your character’s past life choices and accidents.

Final Notes

Even though D&D character flaws are overlooked by many players, they are excellent plot devices that can also support the campaign narrative. You just need to pick flaws that won’t hinder your character’s growth too much. Or better yet, try to counter those flaws by being proactive in roleplay and working towards your character ideals.

What are some cool D&D character flaws that you’ve used before? Share your story in the comments section – we will definitely read it!

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