Crawling through the reeds on your bellies, your party carefully avoids the notice of the kobold sentries… Until the night air is split with an ear-piercing shriek. “AAAAAAARGH! Getitoffmeeeeee!” Alas, the Fighter’s arachnophobia flaw mucks up your plans again.
Let’s get into what DnD flaws are, how to pick or homebrew flaws in 5e, some flaws ideas and even how to enjoy them. Really!
What are Flaws in D&D?
DnD flaws represent the weaker aspects of your character. They are more than just a negative personality trait or bad habit. Flaws can be what makes your character angry, what they are scared of, what makes them ignore all rational thought and just go for it regardless of the consequences.
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Flaws are great for creating chaos. But that’s not all: choosing an appropriate flaw for your character can make opportunities for character growth, storytelling, and silliness with friends.
This excerpt from the Player’s Handbook explains flaws:
Your character’s flaw represents some vice, compulsion, fear or weakness – in particular, anything that someone else could exploit to bring ruin to or cause you to act against your best interests.Page 124, Dungeon & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition
Your character’s flaw may answer questions like:
- How does your character make decisions under stress?
- What could cause your character to fly into a blind rage?
- What scares your character more than anything else?
- What is a temptation your character just can’t resist, or doesn’t want to?
How Do Flaws Work in D&D 5e?
The main uses of your character flaw are for roleplay and storytelling – AKA, the fun parts! You can think of a flaw like it’s one piece of the “frame” of your character, around which you improvise their personality.
When you choose a character background you’ll find a set of tables for character traits. One of those is for flaws, but you can also make up your own!
How Many Character Flaws Can I Have in D&D 5e?
Start with one character flaw when building a new D&D character.
Though you’re allowed to pick as many as you want, don’t let a funny idea run away with you. One phobia can be played on for dramatic and comedic effect (“I hate snakes, Jock! I hate ’em!”), but five phobias is crippling (i.e. Tony Shalhoub’s Monk).
So be sparing with your flaw choices, because fun and functional characters are the foundation of a good D&D game!
What Are Some Good DnD Flaws?
It may sound like an oxymoron, but let’s talk about what makes a flaw “good.”
Dungeons and Dragons is, at its heart, a cooperative game. That means the best character flaws allow for more interaction and teamwork. Is your Barbarian secretly terrified of scaly monsters? Maybe the Ranger notices her buddy shuddering with fear over a lizard and offers to teach him about reptiles.
Flaws that provide opportunity for overcoming and creating character depth are great too. A spoiled brat that suddenly has to take action to save his friends may start to learn some humility and responsibility!
Consider how a flaw may affect the group dynamic. Would your friends find an unreliable lush silly, or distressing? Everyone has their sensitive subjects, so use your best judgement.
Avoid flaws that incentivize selfish or individualistic decision making. Constantly doing things that benefit your character at the expense of the party can get very annoying. (Looking at you, “If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.”)
Good Flaws from the 5e Player’s Handbook
Here are some of our favorite DnD character flaws from the Player’s Handbook and some fun ways to consider or implement them:
- I have a “tell” that reveals when I’m Iying. (Criminal) A physical tell, like compulsive nose itching or a twitchy eye, can be played up for your friends!
- I’m convinced that no one could ever fool me the way I fool others. (Charlatan) The easiest mark is the one who thinks they’re in complete control; this leaves all kinds of openings for the DM to exploit.
- I am slow to trust members of other races, tribes, and societies. (Outlander) Sounds bad at first, but when characters and players have to learn to trust each other those relationships are often deeper/stronger than when they get along right away.
- I’m convinced of the significance of my destiny, and blind to my shortcomings and the risk of failure. (Folk Hero) This kind of decisiveness can help keep the game moving if your party mates are cautious or prone to over-planing. Sure, you may walk into some traps too… but c’est la vie!
- Most people scream and run when they see a demon. I stop and take notes on its anatomy. (Sage) Some say curiosity finished the cat Wizard… And while uncontrollable curiosity can get you into serious trouble, in D&D that means you get to figure out how to get out of it too. Brilliant!
- I’m a sucker for a pretty face. (Entertainer) Your character could be flirty at all the wrong times, or totally distractable, or just a good ol’ fashioned libertine. Get creative – maybe a half-orc finds scars super hot, or your Cleric is attracted to folks with similarities to their deity. Bonus: this flaw is something the DM can always leverage to incite a bit of chaos!
The flaws listed under character backgrounds are just suggestions, so feel free to pick one that you’re drawn to or fits your character.
Homebrewed flaws can be just as good, or even better than the PHB selection. We’ll get into homebrew flaws a bit further down the page.
DnD 5e Flaws List From the Player’s Handbook
The idea is that you can randomize your character’s personality if desired with just a d6. Roll and assign the corresponding flaw. We’ve listed all the flaw tables here for your convenience!
Acolytes are members of a specific temple, monastery, or religious order. Your character could have been raised there or dedicated their life to service later. Monks, Clerics, Warlocks, Druids, or Paladins would easily fit this background.
|1||I judge others harshly, and myself even more severely.|
|2||I put too much trust in those who wield power within my temple’s hierarchy.|
|3||My piety sometimes leads me to blindly trust those who profess faith in my god.|
|4||I am inflexible in my thinking.|
|5||I am suspicious of strangers and expect the worst of them.|
|6||Once I pick a goal, I become obsessed with it to the detriment of everything else in my life.|
Whether a fast-talking grifter, or a chaos-loving trickster – manipulation and figuring out how folks tick is what Charlatans are all about. A good choice for Rogues and Bards.
|1||I can’t resist a pretty face.|
|2||I’m always in debt. I spend my ill-gotten gains on decadent luxuries faster than I bring them in.|
|3||I’m convinced that no one could ever fool me the way I fool others.|
|4||I’m too greedy for my own good. I can’t resist taking a risk if there’s money involved.|
|5||I can’t resist swindling people who are more powerful than me.|
|6||I hate to admit it and will hate myself for it, but I’ll run and preserve my own hide if the going gets tough.|
The Criminal background is just as it sounds: a character who either has been, or still is, involved in crime as a profession. Rogues are the obvious, but a retired enforcer Fighter or Barbarian could be just as appropriate. Could your Paladin have a seedy past that they’ve now reformed?
|1||When I see something valuable, I can’t think about anything but how to steal it.|
|2||When faced with a choice between money and my friends, I usually choose the money.|
|3||If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.|
|4||I have a “tell” that reveals when I’m Iying.|
|5||I turn tail and run when things look bad.|
|6||An innocent person is in prison for a crime that I committed. I’m okay with that.|
Entertainers don’t just make art, they embody and live it! Dancer, musician, acrobat, clown – it’s not what they do, it’s what they are. Perfect for Bards and Sorcerers, but could be a fun option for Rogues and Wizards as well.
|1||I’ll do anything to win fame and renown.|
|2||I’m a sucker for a pretty face.|
|3||A scandal prevents me from ever going home again. That kind of trouble seems to follow me around.|
|4||I once satirized a noble who still wants my head. It was a mistake that I will likely repeat.|
|5||I have trouble keeping my true feelings hidden. My sharp tongue lands me in trouble.|
|6||Despite my best efforts, I am unreliable to my friends.|
Folk Hero Flaws
The classic everyman who is called to a heroic destiny. Like Clark Kent, they have humble roots. And like Superman, they have the power and the integrity to use it. Folk Hero could be a great choice for nearly any class, but especially Paladins, Fighters, and Barbarians.
|1||The tyrant who rules my land will stop at nothing to see me killed.|
|2||I’m convinced of the significance of my destiny, and blind to my shortcomings and the risk of failure.|
|3||The people who knew me when I was young know my shameful secret, so I can never go home again.|
|4||I have a weakness for the vices of the city, especially hard drink.|
|5||Secretly, I believe that things would be better if I were a tyrant lording over the land.|
|6||I have trouble trusting in my allies.|
Guild Artisan Flaws
Guild Artisans are skilled craftspeople and makers. They may own a shop, be part of guild duties, or be traveling masters. Appropriate for Wizards, and maybe Bards, Clerics, or even Rogues.
|1||I’ll do anything to get my hands on something rare or priceless.|
|2||I’m quick to assume that someone is trying to cheat me.|
|3||No one must ever learn that I once stole money from guild coffers.|
|4||I’m never satisfied with what I have – I always want more.|
|5||I would kill to acquire a noble title.|
|6||I’m horribly jealous of anyone who can outshine my handiwork. Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by rivals.|
Hermits choose a life of solitude over the bustle of city life. It could mean returning to nature, holing up in a secluded workshop, or living in a monastery. Great fit for Druids, Clerics, Wizards, Monks, and Rangers. Or, perhaps your Barbarian previously sought a life of quiet to gain control of their rage?
|1||Now that I’ve returned to the world, I enjoy its delights a little too much.|
|2||I harbor dark, bloodthirsty thoughts that my isolation and meditation failed to quell.|
|3||I am dogmatic in my thoughts and philosophy.|
|4||I let my need to win arguments overshadow friendships and harmony.|
|5||I’d risk too much to uncover a lost bit of knowledge.|
|6||I like keeping secrets and won’t share them with anyone.|
Nobles can be born into, or work their way up to positions of power and privileged in society. This background can work for any class: a Wizard who comes from a respected family, a Rogue who gambled away their entire fortune, or even a Druid who turned away from their inheritance.
|1||I secretly believe that everyone is beneath me.|
|2||I hide a truly scandalous secret that would ruin my family forever.|
|3||I too often hear veiled insults and threats in every word addressed to me, and I’m quick to anger.|
|4||I have an insatiable desire for carnal pleasures.|
|5||In fact, the world does revolve around me.|
|6||By my words and actions, I often bring shame to my family.|
Born and raised in the wilds, Outlanders are usually part of a tribe or clan. Whether your character was a nomad, wanderer, or part of a band of thieves they are most at home in the outdoors. A great pick for Rangers, Druids, Barbarians, or even Monks and Rogues.
|1||I am too enamored of ale, wine, and other intoxicants.|
|2||There’s no room for caution in a life lived to the fullest.|
|3||I remember every insult I’ve received and nurse a silent resentment toward anyone who’s ever wronged me.|
|4||I am slow to trust members of other races, tribes, and societies.|
|5||Violence is my answer to almost any challenge.|
|6||Don’t expect me to save those who can’t save themselves. It is nature’s way that the strong thrive and the weak perish.|
A passion for learning, understanding, and lore are at the core of the Sage background. They may be obsessed with one study to the exclusion of others, or curious about the workings of the entire multiverse. Wizards, Druids, Rangers, and Warlocks make great Sages.
|1||I am easily distracted by the promise of information.|
|2||Most people scream and run when they see a demon. I stop and take notes on its anatomy.|
|3||Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization.|
|4||I overlook obvious solutions in favor of complicated ones.|
|5||I speak without really thinking through my words, invariably insulting others.|
|6||I can’t keep a secret to save my life, or anyone else’s.|
Pirates, and skippers, and privateers – oh my! Regardless of the specifics, all Sailors have a life at sea in common. Many classes fit this background, but particularly Fighters, Rogues, Bards, and Barbarians.
|1||I follow orders, even if I think they’re wrong.|
|2||I’ll say anything to avoid having to do extra work.|
|3||Once someone questions my courage, I never back down no matter how dangerous the situation.|
|4||Once I start drinking, it’s hard for me to stop.|
|5||I can’t help but pocket loose coins and other trinkets I come across.|
|6||My pride will probably lead to my destruction.|
Soldiers come from organized, martial origins. That could mean army, mercenary, or law enforcement. While the more physical classes fit well (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Barbarian), your character also could have been your corp’s battle Wizard or war Bard.
|1||The monstrous enemy we faced in battle still leaves me quivering with fear|
|2||I have little respect for anyone who is not a proven warrior.|
|3||I made a terrible mistake in battle that cost many lives – and I would do anything to keep that mistake secret.|
|4||My hatred of my enemies is blind and unreasoning.|
|5||I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.|
|6||I’d rather eat my armor than admit when I’m wrong.|
Urchins are people who have had to fend for themselves in the world. They have endured hardships like exposure, abandonment, and poverty.
How did they survive? That’s up to you. And any class works – the classic street kid turned Rogue, a Druid who trusts animals more than people, or orphan who awakens to Sorcerer powers.
|1||If I’m outnumbered, I will run away from a fight.|
|2||Gold seems like a lot of money to me, and I’ll do just about anything for more of it.|
|3||I will never fully trust anyone other than myself.|
|4||I’d rather kill someone in their sleep than fight fair.|
|5||It’s not stealing if I need it more than someone else.|
|6||People who can’t take care of themselves get what they deserve.|
Homebrew D&D flaws
If the PHB flaws don’t float your boat, how do you create flaws in D&D yourself? This whole section is about just that: ideas, inspiration, gameplay mechanics, and storytelling fun!
First off, think back to our discussion on good DnD flaws. The most enjoyable flaws to play are those that support teamwork, character development, and are sensitive to your fellow players.
Furthermore, always check in with your Dungeon Master before including a homebrewed flaw. DMs can brainstorm with you, say when a flaw is too much, see what place it could have in gameplay, and more.
Check out our homebrewed flaws below, as well as examples of how to use your flaws in roleplay.
- Physically Impaired
This could be a hunched back, obvious birthmark, missing appendage, or more. Some things will be physically harder, and other characters may be frightened or uncomfortable at first. These can be interesting for roleplay too – an eyepatch could help you get into character!
While being old isn’t a flaw by itself, adventuring sure ain’t easy on the body. Maybe your character has joints that ache in the rain, cold, or when fighting undead. Poor rolls could be blamed on not being able to make perception rolls- er, hear like you used to!
What are they allergic to, and how deadly is it to encounter? For a comedic take on this, go for a monster trait like animal dander (Gnolls), spores (Brown Mold), or Death magic (undead). They may barely be able to act for all the sneezing, but it could be an early warning too!
A phobia is an extreme, irrational fear of or aversion to something. It could be anything: critters, social situations (embarassment, physical intimacy), environments (heights, caves, lakes, etc). A mimic phobia is a hilarious way to explain why a perpetually paranoid character is so alert.
Obsessive qualities are when someone is unable to control emotions around, let go of, or move on from something. An elf could be unable to walk past garbage on the ground without cleaning it up. Or maybe the Ranger’s favored enemy is more of a revenge quest bordering on psychosis.
- Low IQ
Things need to be explained very simply and clearly to those lacking in the wits department, which can provide an interesting challenge for players and Game Master! This is an especially fitting flaw for characters with low Intelligence scores.
Your character could be tactless, and see no reason to ever use a Persuade skill check. Or perhaps they value efficiency, honesty, or clarity over social niceties. Note that blunt is not simply “mean.”
Your PC could have preconceived notions or biases about certain kinds of people, places, or magics. Many prejudices come from fear, which makes an excellent story hook for your character to eventually overcome or change their mindset!
- Big Brother/Sister
Maybe your character was the eldest of a big brood of kids. What flavor of annoying older sibling fits yours? There’s the classic overprotective bully (“I’m the only one who can pick on them!”), the self-absorbed know it all, or the leader who takes the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Perhaps your character angered a god or powerful Warlock and was cursed for their indiscretion. Curses can be anything from supernaturally bad luck, to BO that can’t be washed off, or even being monster magnets!
- Magic Blind or Blind But for Magic
Just like it sounds, the inability to see visual magic. The flip side is a physically blind character who uses magic to “see” (kinda like Daredevil). Definitely workshop this one with your DM so your character isn’t completely inept.
- Magically Marked
Your character could be marked by an Arcane experiment gone wrong or the work of a powerful being. The brand could interact with magical alarms & traps, or act as a beacon making stealth especially challenging.
Few things are sillier, or more dangerous, than an adventurer that could fall asleep anytime they’re startled. Your character could be a chronically sleepy Barbarian that uses rage to stay awake, or an over caffeinated gnome who’s alert all the time to avoid inconvenient cataplexy.
- Dragon Denier
Fervently denies that dragons exist and can’t be convinced otherwise. “Yeah, but have you ever seen one? All I’m sayin’ is that those same effects can be produced by an incredibly powerful set of illusion and damage spells.”
Zombies? So. Gross. Slime? Not touching that. Blood? Grab the smelling salts. Good luck getting through a dungeon – if the smell doesn’t kill you, your party might.
Other Ways to Homebrew Flaws
When you homebrew your character flaws you can even build it into the gameplay for an extra dose of chaos. Talk with your DM about how to do this!
For example, your DM could:
- Give a -1 to certain skill checks. A nearsighted character with -1 to Perception checks at a distance. Is that a nice doggy, or a gnoll?
- Roll each time the party encounters the embodiment of a character’s phobia, disgust, etc to see if they freak or pass out.
- Give disadvantage to certain skill checks. Maybe your hunchback half-orc Druid is really sweet, but she gets disadvantage on Persuasion checks with strangers.
- Give a -1 to saves associated with the flaw. If your character was sickly as a child and still fragile, they may have a -1 to fortitude saves.
D&D Flaws Generator
Need some nasty character quirks quick and easy? Check out a couple random D&D flaw generators for some bad inspiration.
The folks over at SpringHole.net created an in-browser application that randomly generates one flaw or weakness at a time. They also link to some other helpful resources like a character development questionnaire, and a quirk generator.
And TraitorousFiend over on GM Binder has a list of 100 flaws that you can randomly choose from with your handy percentile dice. Some winners include:
- I am annoyingly sarcastic.
- I exaggerate everything, especially pain.
- I involve myself in everything.
- We speak in the third person, which can be confusing.
Conclusion: DnD Flaws in 5e
Flaws are your character’s weaknesses which can lead to fun storytelling in D&D!
We hope these ideas and explanations help you turn character flaws into flawless roleplay!
And if you want to make up for your flaws to the rest of your party, how about getting them a D&D gift they’ll love?
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