Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Discussion: Your Favorite Disadvantage?

Full disclosure: I messed up. I got caught up working on a personal project yesterday and went to bed without having done a post for today. To solve that problem, I'm moving Friday's post to today, and will have another post for Friday.

Disadvantages are a key part in many systems. They help define your character by building in mechanical weaknesses. Sometimes they give you points at character creation. Sometimes they give you points during play. Either way, they're a way of telling the GM what kind of problems you want to face and how you want your character to be hurt.

But what is your favorite disadvantage that you've seen? In which system did it come from, and why did it work that way? What makes it stand out for you?

For me, my favorite disadvantage is "Driven" from the Legend of Five Rings RPG. Driven simply states that your character has a goal - it could be anything - that they will sacrifice anything to achieve. You get no roll to resist it. You just do it.

In action this means that if your character gets an opportunity to kill the Kakita Daimyo, and you have "Driven: Kill the Kakita Daimyo" your character will take action to kill that person then and there, the social consequences - or physical/lethal consequences - be damned. Whatever the goal is, your character will do it.

With one character I had the Driven: Prove You Are The Strongest. The character never turned down a challenge or perceived challenge for a fight. So much that when invited to a tournament to become Fu Leng's champion the answer was "yes" as soon as the person making the invite implied that the opponents would be stronger than the character. Said character then won the tournament and became a villain for a later story.

Another character, in a black ops type game, had Driven: Follow Orders/Protect the Scorpion. The Driven almost got the character killed on two separate occasions (not counting the end game adventure) and almost forced me to start intra party violence on three other occasions as people took moves that would either disobey orders or put the Scorpion clan at risk.

I love Driven because of the drama it brings into the game. Depending on the edition it gives you 2 or 3 points in character creation, but it is 2 or 3 points that will end with your character dead more often than not.

What about you? What is your favorite disadvantage, and why?


  1. Hmmm, Driven is my favorite as well for similar reasons. It's also the disadvantage that most often kills my characters.

    Other than driven I think my favorite is probably Can't Lie or Contrary for similar reasons. The inability to lie can cause a lot of difficulties, and the impulse to express all of your opinions is a lot of fun in tense role play situations.

  2. Agreed, Driven is a good choice for a character defining disad. I like Fascination as well, it is similar, as it will get you into trouble and has lots of good roleplaying hooks, but it does not form the core of your character concept.