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Character Flaws

All people have flaws; it is a fact of life. When it comes to writing having a character with viable flaws makes them believable and real. Yet many often have trouble finding the right way to present their characters when creating/writing for them. That's why we decided to write this, to help encourage writers, and role-players, to dig deeper into character flaws.

Yet, what exactly is a character flaw? "A character flaw is a limitation, imperfection, problem, phobia, or deficiency present in a character that may be otherwise very functional. The flaw can be a problem that directly affects the character's actions and abilities, such as a violent temper. Alternatively, it can be a simple foible or personality defect, which affects the character's motives and social interactions." (Wikipedia, Character Flaws) Let's explore flaws a little.

As an example, look at the image above. The characters shown are two of our lead characters in the Dark World RPG; Xeno and Tindle. Both characters have distinct flaws, even sharing a few in common. However, this does not make their flaws the same, nor do these words describe fully the depth and reasoning behind these flaws. Why?

Well, for starters, their writers had to look at their flaws and determine why they have them in the first place. Do these one word descriptions completely convey the depth of their personalities? No. Just because Xeno and Tindle are both stubborn does not mean their level of stubbornness or reasoning for it is the same. It can mean different things for different people, which is why we ask prospective players to elaborate on these flaws in their personality descriptions. So as you can see, listing a flaw is the easy part; describing it and giving it purpose is an entirely different story.

Using the list below can help you find flaws to build your character - but your work is not done yet. Now that you have ideas for flaws you will have to explain them. Start by asking questions. What is the flaw's purpose? Is it an obstacle for the character to overcome? Is it an inherent part of them that cannot be changed? Why? When did this flaw develop if they hadn't initially been this way? What is the degree and depth of this flaw, and how does it affect the character in daily life? How does it affect how they interact with others? What role will this flaw play in their personality? Explain it, explore it, and find purpose.

A common misconception in character building is that players feel they have to use the 'exact' flaw listed, or that the flaws are just 'black and white' no shades of gray. There are infinite depths character flaws and ways to make such flaws unique for your character. Explore the possibilities.

Note: This list was made and intended for those writing in Role-Playing or PBeM games. We are certain many people can think of flaws on their own, but time and time again we see character applications with the same weak flaws on a consistent basis. This list is here to help encourage further thought into character development. As far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong with wanting to help role-players write better.

This list has taken time to compile and present, so please don't take credit for it. Give a reference to our website and a return link. We would also appreciate an email note telling us where we were linked at.


References

Dictionary.com, at http://dictionary.reference.com/.

Wikipedia, Character Flaw, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_flaw.

Merriam-Webster Online, at http://www.merriam-webster.com/.


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