NOTE: This post has been deprecated. To see the most current rules (and how they've changed), check out the 4E + OSR + Story page.
If you take a character flaw, you'll get some extra XP, your character will change, and your character will experience comedy or tragedy. If you don't want that possibility, don't take one.
There are three things necessary to make this work:
(1) A goal the PC strives for militantly. This should already be baked into the setting. In Against the Pagans, it's the conversion of England. You can have an additional one personally if you want.
(2) Someone you care about. Ideally, this is someone else. But it may be yourself, a community, your goal, or an ideal.
(3) The flaw itself. This is either (a) your goal, if your goal is problematic, harmful, or if you are conflicted about it, or (b) something else that could lead to your severance from the thing(s) you care most about.
This can be freeform, or, for the sake of ease, you can roll a d8 on this table (of the 7 Deadly Sins plus one):
- Lust (sexual, or for power)
- Gluttony (intemperance / addiction)
- Sloth (depression / guilt)
- Error (in doctrine or apprehension of another's character)
Here's the thing, then. These are generally player-facing. They usually only come into play when you want them to. But, every time they do, you get XP = the XP value of a standard creature of your level (about 10% of what you need to level).
Here's what I mean when I say "come into play." I mean I'll say, hey, show me how this is making everything terrible for you, or you can let me give you some ideas; I'll also tell you if something is weaksauce. Then you say it and get the XP. And it has to get worse each time; it has to escalate.
Additionally, since this thing is the thing that's killing you, each time you get XP from it, you must also make a death saving throw as if you were dying from a physical wound. If you accumulate three failures before recovering, you "die" of your flaw: the DM will say how it destroys you, although you're probably still alive.
In order to overcome your flaw, here's what you need to do.
- You need a source of healing. The combat analog is a healing surge. You get this by acknowledging/considering the advice of another character regarding your issue. I'll bring NPCs in to give you this advice; whether you consider it is up to you. Your fellow PCs can perform the same function. Without this, it's impossible to overcome your flaw.
- Roll a 20+ on a death saving throw before accumulating three failures (results of <10) and have a source of healing available. This may seem steep, but you gain +1 (cumulative) to flaw death saving throws each time you reject the counsel of another character, whether PC or NPC. If you play this correctly, you've got a good shot.
If you do roll a 20+ before getting three failures, then you may choose to have a comedic outcome, where you overcome (or, if you're not tired of your issue yet, at least take a major step toward overcoming) your issue, and you get an XP bonus = 2x the XP value of a creature of your level. If you choose a tragic outcome, or if you fail, you get an XP bonus = 3x the XP value of a creature of your level.
You can deal with your issue in these mechanically significant ways once per "day," i.e., between extended rests. The GM can force dealing with an issue in this manner according to the same schedule.
So, to min-max your character, make a ton of really bad stuff happen and then tell me to make stuff even worse, as bad as possible.