Unearthed Arcana


Flaws are like the flip side of feats. Whereas a feat enables a character to be better than normal at performing a task (or even to do something that normal characters can't), a flaw restricts a character's capabilities or imposes a penalty of some sort.

A player may select up to two flaws when creating a character. After 1st level, a character cannot take on additional flaws unless the game master specifically allows it (for examples of times when doing this might be appropriate, see Character Traits). Each flaw a player selects entitles his character to a bonus feat. In other words, when you create a character, if you select two flaws, you can also take two bonus feats beyond those your character would be normally entitled to.

Unlike traits, flaws are entirely negative in their impact on a character's capabilities.

You can create new flaws, but be careful: Flaws can unbalance your game. When creating flaws, keep a few issues in mind:
  • A flaw must have a numeric effect on a character's specific capabilities. Flaws with primarily roleplaying or story effects have unpredictable effects on game balance.

  • Flaws are generally bigger in magnitude than feats. That's because players always choose flaws that have the least impact on their characters, while taking feats that have the most. For example, while a feat affecting skills grants a +2 bonus on two skills, its counterpart flaw might impose a -4 penalty on two skills.

  • A flaw must have a meaningful effect regardless of character class or role. That way, a player can't reduce the flaw's importance through multiclassing. For instance, a flaw that only affects spellcasters might seem reasonable - but for nonspellcaster characters, the flaw likely proves meaningless. Even if you restrict the selection of such feats to characters of specific classes, a player can easily select a spellcasting class at 1st level, choose two flaws that apply to spellcasters, gain the bonus feats, multiclass into a nonspellcasting class at 2nd level and thereafter proceed as a primarily nonspellcasting character. The player has sacrificed a level to gain two bonus feats, a tradeoff that appeals to some players.

  • Similarly, a flaw that penalizes a character's Charisma based skill checks only has a significant impact on the party spokesperson - the quiet fighter or barbarian likely won't feel any impact from the penalties.

Each of the flaws described here has a specific game effect. Some flaws can only be taken by a character who meets a special requirement.
You are unathletic and uncoordinated.

Effect: You take a -2 penalty on Strength-, Dexterity-, and Constitution-based ability checks and skill checks.

You are thin and weak of frame.

Effect: Subtract 1 from the number of hit points you gain at each level. This flaw can reduce the number of hit points you gain to 0 (but not below).

Special: You must have a Constitution of 4 or higher to take this flaw.

You are particularly unaware of your surroundings.

Effect: You take a -4 penalty on Listen checks and Spot checks.

Meager Fortitude
You are sickly and weak of stomach.

Effect: You take a -3 penalty on Fortitude saves.

Your vision is obscured.

Effect: In combat, every time you attack an opponent that has concealment, roll your miss chance twice. If either or both results indicate that you miss, your attack fails.

You are relatively inept at melee combat.

Effect: You take a -2 penalty on all melee attack rolls.

You are weaker in an attribute than you should be.

Effect: Reduce one of your ability scores by 2.

Special: You cannot take this flaw if the total of your ability modifiers is 8 or higher.

Poor Reflexes
You often zig when you should have zagged.

Effect: You take a -3 penalty on Reflex saves.

You are relatively poor at ranged combat.

Effect: You take a -2 penalty on all ranged attack rolls.

You move exceptionally slowly.

Effect: Your base land speed is halved (round down to the nearest 5-foot interval).

Special: You must have a base land speed of at least 20 feet to take this flaw.

You are slow to react to danger.

Effect: You take a -6 penalty on initiative checks.

You are not good at defending yourself.

Effect: You take a -1 penalty to Armor Class.

Weak Will
You are highly suggestible and easily duped.

Effect: You take a -3 penalty on Will saves.