Thereâ€™s nothing quite like character creation to keep your creative muscles in shape when it comes to having fun playing Dungeons and Dragons. There are so many fun and exciting ways to customize characters using things you find in the player’s handbook; things like race, class, backgrounds, and equipment can all give you ways to create characters that are more customized to your favorite style of play. However, we often overlook one of the most valuable embellishments in every Dungeons and Dragons loverâ€™s toolkit. I’m talking (of course) about imperfections.
So, what do you mean by imperfections?
Imperfections are types of “weaknesses” that we can give our characters for a more significant challenge. They’re a way to make things more complicated, but they often behave more as enrichments than imperfections.
Ranging from physical imperfections to mental imperfections to personality imperfections, they can be a great way of giving your characters a unique worldview. They also give you a richer opportunity for delving into extra dimensions of that character that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access.
Now hold up – I don’t understand; why would anyone want to be imperfect? Wouldn’t it be better to try to have a perfect character?
Well, I hope I’m not the one breaking this to any of you, but in the real world, people aren’t perfect (and I like it that way, damn it!). Like real people, beautifully creative characters come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s worth checking out. Can you imagine how boring life would be without challenges? How dull and meaningless would it be to be leagues ahead of everyone else around your level? I know the very real temptation exists to try and create overpowered characters, but honestly, I find the opposite strategy to be much more fun.
As much as it is anything else, Dungeons and Dragons is a game against yourself. Winning a fixed fight might sound glorious, but it never feels as satisfying as testing yourself and passing with flying colors! Imperfections are (strangely) the perfect way to turn your challenge level up to eleven.
What are some examples of imperfections that are fun to play?
Here are a few of my all-time favorite characters with imperfections. Please note how every imperfection enriches the basic character archetype for each example.
A character I have greatly enjoyed playing with in the past happens to be missing an eye. I will admit, I know nothing about how this may or may not affect his depth perception (that’s between him and his god – uh- I mean Dungeon Master). Still, I will say that I always enjoy approaching him on his left side and having him curse me out for “unintentionally” sneaking up on him. It’s that sort of flavor that really brings a character to life and anchors you to the created world you’re sharing in.
One of my favorite characters that I have played is a barbarian/druid with a heart of gold and a dump stat of 7 intelligence. He obviously isn’t very smart, but somewhere between levels 1 and 8, he has really developed an emotional intelligence I have come to admire. Whether he’s constructing entire dollhouse towns for a race of tiny people or entertaining local children by dancing his heart out, playing him without the ability to rely on those all-important Intelligence rolls is as challenging as it is oddly rewarding.
My last example of an imperfection that I always love to see is whenever a character struggles with cowardice. I’ve played with several cowards over the years, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t deeply appreciate the moxie it takes to wet your pantaloons and head for the hills. This one can be tricky to play, depending on the others in your Dungeons and Dragons group – like the real world, some people really hate it when they feel like others aren’t pulling their weight – but if you’re ever at my table, go right ahead. I’m here for great cooperative storytelling, and characters with cowardice always make for fascinating adventures.
These are obviously not the only options for possible imperfections; in fact, there are a bunch of great ones I haven’t even touched on yet. Here’s a table of imperfections that you can use in the “Flaws” section of your personality traits:
- Being smell or taste blind – great for dungeon crawls through sewers and not offending people trying to feed you their lousy cooking.
- Missing limbs – maybe replace them with something traditional like a peg leg or an artificial limb or just go ahead and get weird with it. Go for a crossbow for an arm like a medieval Evil Dead character! Just remember to clear it with your Dungeon Master first.
- Vestigial Arms – sure, they may be too little and weak to win arm-wrestling matches or carry your groceries but imagine the role-play possibilities!
- Being mute – you don’t need speech to be sassy. Be the strong and silent type, and let your great sword do the talking.
- Prosopagnosia – also known as face blindness, is the inability to recognize people by their faces. Tired of being bad at names? Mix it up a bit and be bad with faces instead!
- Allergies – what you now lack in stealth you more than make up for in the ability to cry and turn splotchy and swollen on demand
- Halitosis – you might not make friends easily, but your casual torture game is on point!
- Being A Picky Eater – yes, itâ€™s always a pain in the ass to be the one guy turning his nose up at Marr the Mercilessâ€™ mushroom surprise. It wonâ€™t seem so bad when the rest of the party wakes up with food poisoning, though.
So what do you think? Care to take my challenge and give imperfections a shot? If so, let me know in the comments what imperfection you’re going with! And donâ€™t forget to subscribe to our mailing list if you haven’t already for a lot of great free content!