RPGs can be about escaping. Often people will use RPGs as a fantasy, power escape where they can do things they just can't get away with in the real world. They take up the mantles of arcane spell casters, daring mech pilots, muscle-bound warriors, svelte assassins, and only the most charismatic of politicians and bards. Power fantasy is all well and good, but have you considered trying to play the coward? I'm doing it in a friend's Star Wars game, and it's everything I didn't know I wanted. Today I want to talk about that.
The Freedom...to just Run
Often times games are about obstacles and overcoming those obstacles. The most common obstacle? Combat. Because of this - or to avoid this - some people make non-combat characters and try to find ways around combat. The coward though? The coward runs, and it is a lot of fun. There is something refreshing in ducking down behind a friend's PC, screaming about needing to get out of there, and just going for it. You wouldn't think so at first, but it presents an interesting challenge, and when you run - and the bad guys chase - you can end up with really dynamic scenes that are so chaotic they can't help but be fun.
It's Not My Fault!
In the Star Wars game I'm playing a low willpower high intelligence Mechanic. This means I get to use one of Star Wars most famous lines over and over again. Namely, the Han Solo special of: it's not my fault. Even if it is my fault. Part of being a coward is that it can't be your fault. So be sure to find a way to blame it on someone else!
Lack of Party Conflict
Oh, all that fault throwing? Yeah, you think it'd cause a party fight right. Except, how can it when you're a coward? You go off about how it's all the Paladin's fault. The Paladin lets out an angry, "WHAT?" and suddenly you're hiding behind the rogue, apologizing and saying you must be mistaken. It's just silly enough to be worth a chuckle around the table, and that backing down stops the fight from happening.
That said, much like Benny in the Mummy, you need to be useful. You need to be useful to the group your with, and you need to be useful to whomever can kill you right now because otherwise they will kill you right now.
Keep it Fun, Not Annoying
And now the caveat. You need to be careful to not get annoying. This is a matter of measuring your outbursts to the group. Use your cowardice to add seasoning to the scene, a little bit of zest. Too much zest and the meal is ruined. Too little and no one notices. Just enough? Well, that's a flavor folks will remember.
Give it a shot. Act it out. Have fun. Run away from EVERYTHING. Just make sure your GM/group is ok with it first if you're playing a traditionally combat focused game.