Give Me Character Flaws

Sometimes I think I’m a little odd. When I play games I don’t want to be the ‘best’ (except for in Street Fighter IV in which case I will destroy you like Godzilla took down Japan) and MMORPGs aren’t any exception. I don’t want to be on top of the DPS meter or the guy in the room with the glowiest sword or one who has the baby rhinos for shoulder pads. I do, however, want to be unique.

I believe that the things that truly make us individual and define us as people our are flaws. No one is perfect and it’s our failings and foibles that make us interesting. So why does my damn avatar always have to be Mr Perfect?

We’ve seen character traits, abilities, advancements and even deities in our MMORPGs but we’ve never seen flaws before. The only game that I can think of that even close to offering them was Medieval: Total War, and that wasn’t even a RPG. Yes, my friends thought I was a little strange but I found it exhilarating leading my army of inbred German Princes into battle. They weren’t perfect (in fact some were deformed) but that just made them all the more special.

I’d like to see a MMORPG force (as would be the only way) some character flaws on us. Arrogance, vanity, chauvinism, pride, hedonism, idiocy, gluttony, the list goes on. Of course they couldn’t just be negative, maybe more like a double edged sword offering some benefit along with their drawback. Cowardice, for instance, might make you more vulnerable to fear effects yet give you a bonus to running speed. It would certainly make character creation a lot more involved and thoughtful, making us actually think about who we going to play along with what we are going to play.

Honestly, who would you rather have in your group? The boring himbo Warrior or the Mage with proctophobia that always has to stay in front of the group? The latter might not be as easy but it would be a hell of a lot more fun.

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23 Comments

  1. Stompalina says:

    Interesting idea. In the world of RPGs there are benefits in consequences in every decision we make. However, nowadays in WoW (and other games) the devs are letting us “undo” many decisions because people scream about the consequences.

    I think that flawed character traits would be an interesting spin on your individual story, especially for role players. A mage tank that leveled swords and pwns with increased threat and short ranged DPS… A hunter that melee’s right beside his pet and feins in AOE… Albeit funny, it wouldn’t get you invited to many groups. lol

    • Gordon says:

      My big issue is that a lot of modern MMORPGs don’t really give you much choice at all. WoW is a tremendous game but it’s terrible for choice. You can’t even decide where your stats go when you level up! Unfortunately it all means that you just end up as 1 of 3 versions of the intitial class you pick.

      I’d like to see MMORPGs that let you make your own decision, for good or for bad, and forge the character you want to play. A Mage should be able to wear plate armor if they want… it just won’t be very good for them :)

  2. Longasc says:

    In the case of Medieval you could also make something useful out of character flaws. Sure, the soldiers did not like a lunatic who sometimes hears “voices” and is a pervert, but it raised the dread rating a lot, which was about as good as loyality when it came to making those peasants bow and obey.

    IIRC the first two Fallouts also had negative traits, this got removed in Fallout 3 in favor of only positive perks.

  3. Occam says:

    I like the idea, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. What Stompalina said about WoW, though, is the same in EQ2 at least. Not many decisions actually have many consequences at all. Every faction is repairable, you can buy race change potions, you can re-do your appearance, etc.

    For the most recent Game Update, various factions took over each of the four main districts of Freeport during the chaos after Lucan’s citadel crashed to the ground. If you weren’t particularly friendly with a faction, the guards would “kick” you as you ran by. It just knocked you on your ass for a few minutes, then you could pass. I thought it was cool and added some interesting flavor, but the outrage of some was intense. I got the feeling that much of the indignation was based on being treated badly rather than the knockback itself.

    I think lots of people just have the opposite view you (and for the record, I) do; they want to be Master of the Universe. I think that sounds spectacularly boring. The first time it happened to me, I pictured my character just scrambling out of the way, trying not to get too much attention. It was a pretty immersive moment…I prefer that to having everyone cheering at me and practically worshiping me every time I pass by.

    Anyway…I think too many people want to chase this Real Ultimate Power dream, and if it were forced, then they’d just not play. I think this could happen in single player RPGs for sure though…and in some ways it already is. I just started playing both Fable II and Dragon Age: Origins, and on both I’m trying to make sure my character has real issues.

  4. Tesh says:

    It’s a long established notion that imperfections are interesting. It’s as true in the visual arts as in social situations. I maintain that there is a place for perfection, and flaws need not be crippling (morally or literally), but yes, it’s the quirks and foibles that make life interesting.

  5. Um, what in the world is proctophobia?

  6. Your idea quite reminds me about my LARP (Live Action Role Playing) who is a might fighter but speaks very strange so no one understands him, has bad manners, aqua phobia (means he is afraid of water) and falls into a berserker rage when he is in battle so he cant see the difference between friend and enemy!! Plus: He is always drunken and hates magic (Magic is an unholy curse he things and needs to be destroyed -> Rage). And he doesnt were any leather or plate…what isnt too handy for a fighter…
    You see, so far there were no good aspects about my character but still I love to play him since he has “personality”! And that is what I miss in MMORPGs as well. No one, and I mean really, no one is playing a “role” in those games! People are just to lazy to think about some ways the character could be played to get actually a “character”…but well, games dont really support that way of playing – what is, in my opinion, very sad! Because such aspects would be a hell of fun like you mentioned it with the “cowardliness”! Funny idea!
    But still most people just want to have the longest and shiniest sword…we wont see a game with bad aspects too soon (if ever) I guess.
    I will stick to my (freaky indeed) LARP games and play my berserker! :D

    • Gordon says:

      I’ve never really done non-computer game roleplay but from what I’ve been told, the players are a lot more into their character and the experiences they have rather than ‘winning’. I guess because it’s a heck of a lot more fun to roleplay a drunken, lecherous dwarf than it is to just rush through an adventure to get the exp and loot at the end.

  7. Sithinious says:

    The only MMO’s I know of right now that allow for uniqueness are City of Heroes and now Champions Online. Although, their uniqueness lies only in the visual look of your character. Still, it’s a very nice change from WoW where everyone basically looks the same.

  8. Elleseven says:

    @Victor
    Procto= arsehole Phobia= fear
    Fear of getting it from behind. :)

  9. Ripaz says:

    I like idea and I would like to see it in game, but to be honest, many of the player’s would rebel to this idea. But if they put it only on roleplaying servers many of player would be delighted. Choosing two or three flaws from hundred of them and creating your character, making it more unique.

    For idiocy I would put less intellect but more immunity to disease (you know, idiots never get sick =D).

    Anyway to cut my talk, this idea reminds me of Sims 3 where every aspect of your character has pros and cons, making him better in some situations than others. Hope this get’s true so it get’s more interesting on RP server. What should confusion flaw get or lost?

  10. Fremskritt says:

    To be honest I never really thought about this issue, but now that it’s brought up I do think it would spice up the game for me, at least a bit. I remember before they changed the orc racial Blood Fury so that it no longer gave the healing debuff, it made me actually think about when to use it. If I knew there was damage incoming I knew I had better not use it. Nowadays that choice is gone, I just macro it into my other DPS cooldowns. It’s more effective for sure, but it removed the flavour of it. Now it just feels like another cooldown.

    I don’t think having flaws will ever work in a game that’s about improving your character statswise.

    • Gordon says:

      If the game is about truly playing a character then it would work… but yeah, currently too many people are obsessed with being the best and unfortunately RPGs have gone from being “roleplaying games” to “stat acquisition games”.

  11. Zach Sebag says:

    I’d definitely really enjoy this in MMO’s. I think it would help to add depth and specialize characters. Diversity is key in MMO’s and I really think this would just be another level of it.

    I want trade offs! :)

  12. [...] By Adam Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized We Fly Spitfires had an interesting post yesterday about letting players choose character flaws for their toon. Now, I like this idea [...]

  13. stnylan says:

    Tropica used to make you pick two flaws iirc. They could be really fun :)

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