Skip to main content

Forums » RP Discussion » Flaws/Strengths: Two sides of the same coin?

So this is just something I wanted to whip up real fast because I feel like this could be useful to new rpers as well as maybe give a new opinion on the topic that experienced rpers haven't considered? Idk I just wanted to slap my opinions here and see what others thought about this.

So, character flaws and character strengths, they're the main thing that make up our characters aside from their backstory, they make our characters what they are and dictate how they behave in social situations. Their strengths dictate the good aspects about their personality and the flaws in them dictate the bad that other characters will have to put up with (or hate them for, whatever the case). However, picking out these traits can be fairly difficult and most newer rpers don't know where to start. A while ago I had a realization that could really help roleplayers develop their characters better and maybe take the difficulty away from choosing traits for characters...

Character flaws and Character strengths are not separate things, they're two sides of the same coin.

This is a little difficult to explain but I'm going to try my best.
If you have a set of character strengths then chances are you've already got a decent set of flaws on the table to work with (same works with vice versa, character flaws provide equal strengths.). Character strengths can come from their flaws and character flaws can come from their strengths, they're not so much as separate but they rather coexist as one whole. This is how I make my characters, I don't classify their traits as separate but rather things that bounce off of each other to form their entire personality.

One character that I’ll use to explain this concept is a character of mine named Gigabyte (Check him out if you want-). The major attributes of his personality are that he’s smug, he’s logical, and he’s very direct in how he speaks. All of these attributes of his personality have an affect on how people see him, whether it’s positive or negative. These attributes can also have their downsides.

Some people may find Gigabytes smug personality as funny or sarcastic, which can make him seem humorous at times, which can also be enhanced by his direct way of speaking. His direct way of speaking can come of as fairly honest and straightforward, even when he’s really not being honest. Lastly, his logical trait can make him seem intelligent and coherent, he doesn't let emotions cloud his decisions which can come off as transparent when it comes to decision making.

On the contrary, Gigabytes smug attitude can make him come off as cocky and rude to others, he can also seem insensitive as he’s unable to change his tone of voice based on his mood in certain situation. His direct way of speaking can also be perceived as rude as he may tell someone something that they may not want to hear or tell someone something at the wrong time. Lastly, his logical trait has a flaw meaning that he’s unable to process emotions or take them into consideration at times.

Sorry if this doesn’t make much sense lol, I was trying to simplify it in the best way that I could. I guess all I’m really trying to say is that character flaws are moreso the downsides of character strengths, vice versa applies to character flaws as well. Go ahead and tell me what y’all think or suggest your own ways of making character flaws/character strengths if you want. This is just a concept that I’ve been using and I wanted to see if anyone will think the same.
Have you played the FATE RPG, by chance, TinyPuddleGhost? That game has a mechanic that I think exemplifies what you're saying very well:

Character Aspects.

A short phrase that describes some aspect of the character. These aren't always strengths or always flaws since that depends upon the situation. In fact, players are encouraged to give characters aspects that can be applied positively or negatively. Like you said: two sides of the same coin.


Examples:
  • Fashionable Supermodel
  • High Opinion of Myself
  • Loaded For Bear
  • Tomboy
  • I Picked This Up Earlier. I Thought It Might Come In Handy
  • First, Do No Harm

I sometimes struggle to come up with these (and snagged the ones above off some example lists other places on the 'net), but find a few good ones can make for compelling characters.
Juls wrote:
Have you played the FATE RPG, by chance, TinyPuddleGhost? That game has a mechanic that I think exemplifies what you're saying very well:

Character Aspects.

A short phrase that describes some aspect of the character. These aren't always strengths or always flaws since that depends upon the situation. In fact, players are encouraged to give characters aspects that can be applied positively or negatively. Like you said: two sides of the same coin.

I actually haven't played the FATE RPG, I might wanna check it out sometime it sounds interesting :0

but yeah, I just tend to find that personalities aren't really made up of simply flaws and simply strengths. It's more of a few overall traits that have consequences based on context, situation, and perception of other characters.

Juls wrote:
I sometimes struggle to come up with these (and snagged the ones above off some example lists other places on the 'net), but find a few good ones can make for compelling characters.

Yeah, that I can agree with. Especially when it comes to making villain characters who are heavily in the moral wrong which often requires somebody to do the reverse (finding the good from the bad aspects of a character). What I usually do is ask myself "How can this trait of my character be seen by other characters who hate them/love them"
I actually wrote recently about this. There are some traits that indeed oppose each other.

For example; a literal genius of extraordinary IQ is a very desirable trait. However genius' tend to lack in social, caring for themselves, come off egotistical or cocky.

I dont think a lot of people give this balance a lot of thought to be honest. Like realistically you cannot be an overly kind and nice character and yet also be sarcastic or rude.

Just a quick thought to add to this ^^
Mipps wrote:
I actually wrote recently about this. There are some traits that indeed oppose each other.

For example; a literal genius of extraordinary IQ is a very desirable trait. However genius' tend to lack in social, caring for themselves, come off egotistical or cocky.

I dont think a lot of people give this balance a lot of thought to be honest. Like realistically you cannot be an overly kind and nice character and yet also be sarcastic or rude.

Yeah I can definitely see your point, that's a mistake that I see writers making a lot of the time. When it comes to some characters I notice a lot of "can be really nice but also really mean" for character traits (I don't like to make this kind of generalization but I kinda see it with younger and/or inexperienced rpers)

I don't think this fault comes from people overlooking this balance but not understanding how to word it properly/in a way that is understandable to others. They understand how their characters work in their head but when it comes to actually writing it down it's more difficult.
TinyPuddleGhost wrote:
Mipps wrote:
I actually wrote recently about this. There are some traits that indeed oppose each other.

For example; a literal genius of extraordinary IQ is a very desirable trait. However genius' tend to lack in social, caring for themselves, come off egotistical or cocky.

I dont think a lot of people give this balance a lot of thought to be honest. Like realistically you cannot be an overly kind and nice character and yet also be sarcastic or rude.

Yeah I can definitely see your point, that's a mistake that I see writers making a lot of the time. When it comes to some characters I notice a lot of "can be really nice but also really mean" for character traits (I don't like to make this kind of generalization but I kinda see it with younger and/or inexperienced rpers)

I don't think this fault comes from people overlooking this balance but not understanding how to word it properly/in a way that is understandable to others. They understand how their characters work in their head but when it comes to actually writing it down it's more difficult.

I mean realistically a character, like a person, can be both nice and mean depending on the situation. I think the "situation" part is key. For instance you can have a character who is super nice all the time untill they are wronged or backed into a corner. I think this would be considered a conditional personality trait?

On the flip side you can have a rather mean or evil character who is very loving and kind to say.... the people super close to them like family, children or a lover. I would say this is also conditional.

All in all this can make for a rather intriguing character with layers of depth depending on how other characters interact, approach or what they mean to each other. In execution, however, it can be difficult to master for inexperienced roleplayers - not just in how they word it. I think this stems more from the fact that they want an outlier sort of character with the dark and mysterious vibes or even a villain type character; but these dont come without being hated.
As a player of mostly villains, my general motto is if a character or player hates mine, then I am playing them right.

Of course, the concept of 'conflict' is something players have a very hard time getting into in my experience. This is mostly because players want to be liked, and they want their characters to be liked. Its really hard for most to deal with 'enemy' connections which happens if you are playing the mean, lone wolf, rude outlier or villain sort of character. So they try to balance it out with "but they are really nice too" so the balance just becomes messy.

I think this can be true for a lot of traits and abilities. a player often dosnt think about the pros AND the cons to each trait because they have no personal experience in it, or they engaged in so much media that they have a fantasized or romanticized concept about it. For instance, in most animes you have transformations and big BOOMs of abilities that people try to translate into RP, and of course I commonly see that their age is so low they would not realistically have the time to master such abilities without having their entire life devoted to it and nothing else. Shows, movies, games and even books have the capacity to do this because they are 'closed' loops such that the story is written from beginning to end that you dont have to worry about the 'wild' element of the unknown of RP'ing with a partner. So there are many things that look appealing that cant truly be balanced in RP without getting into the OP zone.

On that coin, there is nothing wrong with being OP if your partner is also OP because in a sense you balance each other out.

I am pretty sure I went on a tangent LOL but that just goes to show this is a pretty big point of conversation because there are so many elements to it. from basic mundane, to low fantasy and to high fantasy... from era to era ect.

You are on: Forums » RP Discussion » Flaws/Strengths: Two sides of the same coin?

Moderators: MadRatBird, Keke, Libertine, Auberon, Copper_Dragon, Sanne, Dragonfire, Heimdall, Ben, Darth_Angelus