So you’ve got this great idea for an Artificer elf with big hair who flies around on a homemade hovercraft, cackling… but what might she do when she sees a nobleman kick a beggar in the street? This is the kind of question that choosing ideals, bonds, and flaws in Dungeons and Dragons can answer!
Read on for an overview of DnD ideals, bonds and flaws: the unique motivations, habits, and idiosyncrasies that make your Dungeons and Dragons characters come to life!
What are Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws?
Ideals, bonds, and flaws are characteristics you choose for your character during the background stage of character creation. They work along with your character’s personality traits to encourage you to think more about your character (as opposed to their stats) and flesh out a character with depth!
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Ideals are how your character aspires to be and act – their standard of perfection, ethics, or morals. What standard do they hold themselves to?
For a closer look at ideals with examples and inspiration, see our DnD Ideals Guide!
Bonds are a character’s connections to people, places, or items. Perhaps a fighter treasures a family blade. Or a Sorcerer feels protective of the mystical glade in which they discovered their powers. What things bind your character, for good or ill?
For an adventurer’s pack full of bond ideas, see our DnD Bonds Guide!
And flaws are a character’s imperfect reality – their vices, and weaknesses. Maybe the Bard sings of bravery, but runs from a fight! Flaws aren’t just bad either – playing your character gives you infinite chances to overcome and turn it into a strength!
Choose a character flaw that fits flawlessly into your D&D game from our DnD Flaws Guide!
For inspiration for your character’s personality traits, see our DnD Personality Traits Guide!
How Many Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws Should a Character Have?
The Player’s Handbook has the right idea here: keep it simple and pick one ideal, one bond, and one flaw.
You can technically choose as many as you want. But remember the wise words of Dr. Ian Malcolm: players were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should!
One of each trait can become the solid, focused basis you build a character of incredible depth around, or make roleplay easier and more fun without constant pressure to improv.
Where to Find Your Ideals, Bonds and Flaws
Whip out your Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition and turn to chapter 4: Personality and Background. This section gives you a long list of archetypal backgrounds to inspire you like: sailor, hermit, urchin, and folk hero.
Each background has a table for ideals, bonds, and flaws as well as little in-game bonuses like languages and tool proficiencies. Find the full list on pages 125-141.
Once you pick, write them here on your character sheet:
Also, these supplementary DnD 5e books support character building with more ideas for character backgrounds and some additional ideals, bonds, and flaws. Take a peek at these awesome extras over on Amazon.
How to Choose the Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws for Your Character
Players Handbook Backgrounds
The PHB tables make randomizing your character’s personality easy peasy. Each background includes a table with six options for each characteristic – all you need is a six-sided die! And you can always pick and choose yourself, rather than leaving it to fate.
Homebrewing Your Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws
Feeling a bit more creative, or seeking a more specific personality build? Brainstorm your own ideals, bonds, and flaws with the help and approval of your DM!
Things to keep in mind when homebrewing your own character traits:
- Prioritize traits that support teamwork & social interaction
(ex: a flaw like “gullible” lets the DM use you as their straight man and make fun trouble!)
- Avoid traits that may cause issues with other players or ruin the fun
(ex: traits that prioritize individual needs or insensitive, anti-social ones)
- Borrow from fiction, TV Tropes, etc.
(ex: “compassion” is a good ideal for a character based on St Francis of Assisi)
How to Roleplay Your Character’s Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws
Like a painter immobilized by the potential of a blank canvas, creating something from nothing can be intimidating.
Choosing a few characteristics ahead is almost like having a sketch or outline to fill in. And when not constantly faced with creating something we can let loose in our games a little and experiment.
And don’t worry if you color outside the lines! These ideals, bonds, and flaws are helpful guidelines – not just more rules to follow. The point is to give players something to springboard off of into free-flowing playacting and fun!
Psychology Traits & Tests for DnD Roleplay
Want to really get into your character skin? Try investigating some of the personality types, theories, and tests used in pop psychology. Look over different personality types, or take tests in character for inspiration on things like motivations, fears, and reactions to conflict.
A few to get you started:
- The “big 5” personality traits:
1. Openness to experience – curiosity vs. cautiousness
2. Conscientious – organized vs. careless
3. Extroversion – outgoing vs. withdrawn
4. Agreeableness – cooperative vs. antagonistic
5. Neuroticism – nervous vs. confident
- Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire
- Enneagram of Personality
- Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator
DnD Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws Generators
Player overwhelmed by all the options who just wants some character ideas already?! DM who needs NPCs lightning fast? Check out D&D character generators and randomized trait troves below.
A personal favorite: Levi Blodgett created a full on, random character generator on their website. If you’re feeling zesty you can go completely random. Or, hone in on ideas you already have for your character by filling in any/all of the following specifics: race, background, class, and alignment.
Other random character generators may not be as thorough as Blodgett’s, but a good smattering of characteristics, mannerisms, and secrets can give you all kinds of ideas. These pared-down character generators will give you plenty to work with.
- Tetra Cube’s site generates a random D&D personality including: bonds, flaws, suggested low ability score, mentor backgrounds, and “I became a ____ because…” ideas
- Chartopia has collected all the core rulebook talents, mannerisms, interactions, ideals, bonds, flaws, and secrets in this handy NPC generator – it’s easy to do one at a time or a whole batch!
- On Tumblr, Lucalicatteart has gathered a wealth of random traits, skills, quirks, hobbies, and main personal struggles
Conclusion: DnD Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws
Want to make a fun character to roleplay, but not sure where to start? Ideals, bonds, and flaws are the building blocks for a fun and functional character. And we hope this overview is the mortar to help you start putting it all together.
Remember to check out our guides packed full of examples and inspiration for your character’s ideals, bonds and flaws! We even have a guide to choosing your character’s personality traits with the 5e handbook list and homebrew options!
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