I've been watching the new CW show Arrow lately. It's fun, and I'm a sucker for super heroes - particularly of the non-powered vigilante variety - so it is right up my alley. One of the things in particular that I like about the show is that it shows how a family, and wealth, can be a flaw for a character. Of particular note is how something that could be an advantage is actually shown to be a flaw. Namely, the main character's bodyguard. Today, I want to talk about that.
To Protect and Serve
A bodyguard's job is to, namely, protect the body of their charge. To do this job they are often trained, skilled, and armed. They are capable fighters, decent at noticing things, and - best of all for some - more or less willing to put themselves between a source of danger and the PC to take the hit. Sounds fairly advantageous, doesn't it?
On the downside though, a bodyguard can be a real crimp in one's plans. Especially if those plans involve secrets. Bodyguards aren't prone to letting their charges run off without them. They're not prone to letting their charges run into firefights. They're not prone to really letting their charges do a lot of the things that players want to do, and that RPGs expect them to do, on quite a regular basis.
The problem then comes in that you have someone who is there to protect you, but in doing so they are also preventing you from doing your own thing. They don't want you going off alone. They don't want you going into that firefight. They definitely don't want you donning a mask and becoming another vigilante that prowls the city at night. Even worse, not only do you have to shake the body guard, but even when you do they're going to look for you. It is their job after all. More to the point, they are likely even good at it.
How The Flaw Works
So how would it work? Well, narratively, the body guard would have to be put there by someone or something else. A bodyguard required for a position or hired by a wealthy family member that isn't under the player's control. The reason for this? Well, if it is your bodyguard you can just dismiss them - or fire them - if they are getting in your way. If the bodyguard has been hired by mother dearest though, well now you can't fire them. Also, they answer to mother not to you and so you can't really order them around either. Now you have a flaw.
Friendly or Mean
Whether thebodyguard is friendly or not would depend on the situation. Personally, I like the idea of a friendly bodyguard. Someone who the PC may like, and could like the PC under other circumstances. Someone with a reason to care for. Someone who, when they get in trouble because the PC keeps ditching them, actually leaves some emotional resonance with the player. Why? Because that is how you constrain the PC with the flaw. Not with the simple mechanics, but with the fact that they are hurting someone who specifically has been hired to help keep them safe.
Maybe I'm crazy with this, but I think it has potential. How about you?