The Ugly Disadvantages

No, I'm not talking about the disadvantage of being Ugly [-2 on all reaction rolls, -8 points], but the disadvantages that never, or very rarely, get selected during character creation. They're in there, on the list with the Overconfidences and the Codes of Honor, but you typically only see them in NPCs. Not because they're nasty - I think I've seen more PCs with Bloodlust than I've seen NPCs - but because the consequences are seen as just too limiting.

First, there are the physical disabilities. I've not seen a Lame character... well... ever. One Eye and One Arm make an occasional appearance, but things like Blind are limited to seers and other oracles in a very cliched way. And just like real life, Skinny makes far more appearances than Fat, let alone Very Fat, and the drawbacks there are pretty minor. I'm about to take up the reins of an elderly dwarf in +Christian Blouin's Khazad-dûm campaign, and I suspect he just might be Lame. At 200 years old, I think one might just be allowed!

The combat-focused disadvantages always get the shortest shrift. I have yet to see, but look forward to the opportunity to play, a character with Low Pain Threshold. I intend to armor him from crown to bunions in heavy plate, with a large, heavy shield and half a dozen techniques trained up to improve his defenses, and play him as remarkably skilled, just a bit of a wuss when it comes to being injured.

I've always wanted to play an oleaginous wizard, who speaks well, but whose Cowardice kicks in pretty much always, and his first three actions are to cast the most powerful defensive spell he has - on himself - then Invisibility - on himself - and then hide in a corner, and finally start actually doing something to help the others. Effective in combat? No, not right away by any means. But memorable, I'm sure.

Social Disease, Total Klutz, Combat Paralysis, Night Blindness, fifteen points worth of Odious Personal Habits - surely these disadvantages have some place in your game, in your characters? Won't you find room in your hearts for one of these foul (perhaps literally, if you choose Bad Smell or the right Odious Personal Habit) complications for your next character?

All of a sudden it's a telethon for unwanted disadvantages...Surely you have your own stories of these fantastic role-playing opportunities in action?


  1. Lunacy, don't forget lunacy!

    In the Palantir campaign, I threw one at each of my players: nearshighted, Asmathic, lazy, curious, it makes the roleplay all the more fun when the best fighter starts to wheeze, or the dwarf almost loses his spectacles.

    The trick is to pick something that increases the challenge, and is fun to roleplay. I'd shy away from some because they can be so cumbersome that everyone may start to forget about them after a while. Quadriplegic?

    I look forward to a Lame elderly warrior in Reclaiming Khazad-dum. Keep in mind that 200 for a dorf is about 60 y.o. If you work out a bit, you can still be a tough-looking silver-hair badass.

    1. Oh, I figured to have some solid combat skills as well, just not be quite as agile as I once was.

  2. There was a wizard PC with Low Pain Threshold in my first online game. It didn't come up much due to smart play, but it made a nice contrast to all the knights and barbarians that were invulnerable to pain.


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