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Player's Options: Flaws (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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The heroes of fantasy gaming are perfect in every way. Except when they aren’t.

Player’s Options: Flaws introduces the concept of intentional imperfection for your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game character. From quirks like constantly stretching the truth when telling a story, to minor disabilities such as poor hearing, these optional flaws and the difficulties they cause add depth to your character’s personality and the roleplaying experience.

Just as those of us who have flaws of our own (which would be all of us!) are naturally stronger in other areas to compensate for our weaknesses, a character who takes a flaw gets an extra feat or three extra skill points. But the flaw itself bestows penalties – some minor, some quite significant. Is it a worthwhile price to pay for the bonuses? Only you can decide.

Each of the 49 flaws presented here is fully described with the penalties your character takes for having the flaw, as well as information on how they can eventually overcome their flaw. That is, if you want to get rid of the flaw at all. The challenge of roleplaying a rogue who needs spectacles to pick locks might just be too fun to resist!

This content is now part of Paths of Power II.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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A great idea, with some kinks to work out.

***( )( )

Let me start by saying this is a great idea. Allowing players to take flaws gives players an incentive to develop more interesting characters, and paves the way for some great role-playing moments. Furthermore, the incentives for taking flaws -- gaining 3 skill points or an extra feat -- are also helpful is fleshing out starting characters, especially characters who would otherwise start with only 2 skill points, and characters built around the idea of doing something which requires a handful of feats to get off the ground.

That said I was a little disappointed in the implementation of this idea, for two reasons.

First, these flaws aren't terribly well balanced, either against themselves, or against the incentives for adopting them.

For example, consider the Unlucky flaw. The Unlucky flaw incurs a -2 penalty on all saving throws(!) and a -3 penalty on rolls to confirm critical hits. This is essentially 4 negative feats worth of penalties, and something I can't ever imagine a player taking in exchange for a feat. And since the penalties of adopting this flaw are so severe, it doesn't provide players who want to play an unlucky character with a viable way to do so.

On the flip side, consider the Contact Allergies or Scrawny flaws. The Contact Allergies flaw has you choose some material -- say, wool -- and you incur some minor penalties if you come into contact with this material. The Scrawny flaw grants a -5 penalty to CMD checks against being Bull Rushed. Since many characters will go their entire adventuring careers without coming into contact with wool or being bull rushed, these penalties seem very mild; too mild to justify an extra feat.

Second, while most of these flaws lend themselves to role-playing opportunities, some of them do not. Again, Contact Allergies and Scrawny are good examples of flaws which I suspect can easily have no bearing on how the character was played. (A Scrawny wizard would be role-played differently... how exactly?) But this is a minor complaint.

PROs: A great idea for a sub-system to flesh out characters, and a good tool kit for DMs and players looking for inspiration for interesting flaws to take.

CONs: A number of these flaws aren't well-balanced, requiring DMs to do a non-trivial amount of work tweaking the penalties to keep things balanced. And a few of these flaws aren't very interesting, role-playing-wise.

VERDICT: 3 stars.

An almost-perfect book of flaws for your character


Sometimes the most defining characteristic of a hero, or villain, isn’t their strengths, but their weaknesses. In Pathfinder, however, that’s not something easily modeled under the rules – while there are plenty of ways to showcase a character’s areas of expertise, mainly through feats and class powers, there are few methods for mechanically portraying a character’s poorer abilities.

4 Winds Fantasy Gaming fixes that by making your characters worse with Player’s Option: Flaws.

Flaws is a short book, having less than a dozen pages. Despite this, it has full bookmarks, and the copy-and-paste is enabled. The book’s visual presentation is minimalistic in tone, having no page borders and only two black and white interior illustrations.

Flaws opens with a brief discussion about giving your characters the flaws assigned here. While some of this seems boilerplate, with such caveats as characters normally only being allowed to take two flaws, and only at character creation, there are a few twists here from what you’re expecting. For example, while one flaw can grant a feat, the second one grants exactly three skill points. It’s interesting that this particular route was chosen, in what I can only assume was the idea that granting two feats was too much.

A bigger surprise is the idea that flaws can be bought off – and this doesn’t mean simply giving up a corresponding feat or skill points. Rather, each flaw has a certain, specific manner in which its penalty can be permanently negated, while you get to keep the corresponding feat or skill points. It’s an intriguing idea, and lends much more credence to why the system doesn’t let you get more than one feat, since you can effectively end up with something for nothing once the flaw is bought off. These buy-offs tend to have a minimum level that they can occur at, however, so you do have to spend at least some time dealing with the flaw itself.

Almost fifty flaws are given, each of which is formatted in a manner similar to a feat in terms of presentation style. I do wish that a summary table had been presented so that the flaws could have been looked over at a glance, however. The flaws run the gamut from physical problems with your character (e.g. Flatulent) to mental problems (e.g. Foul-Mouthed) to social issues (e.g. Excommunicated). While some of these present problems as mild as skill penalties, others can have profound role-playing consequences. Similarly, for most of them, lifting the flaw is fairly simple: If you want to stop being Miserly, for example, just spend more than 1,000 gp on a single purchase. Others are harder, however, and being a Wanted Fugitive will require you to find the right person and succeed on a tough skill check and cost you some money.

Overall, I found Player’s Option: Flaws to present a good range of possibilities for what it offers your characters. The selection of flaws is wide, and what you get for them is good without being overpowering. The method of buying the flaws off is also innovative, though I’m slightly wary of how it results in an overall net gain for characters. Between that and the need for a summary table, this is an altogether 4.5-star product, but I’m rounding it up to 5-stars overall. Some minor issues don’t detract from these Flaws.

Neat Player's Option that introduces Flaws

****( )

This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving 7 pages of content for new options for players:

The basic idea behind flaws is both iconic and neat - characters in literature have long been defined by their flaws as well as by their strengths and this pdf focuses on offering the option of flaws for PCs. Essentially, you take them at first level and every character can take up to two flaws, either gaining 3 skill points or a bonus-feat per flaw taken. You may only gain one bonus feat via flaws, though.

Overcoming said flaws is also a trope of literature and thus, each flaw comes with a condition that lets the PC get rid of it - from investing attribute-gains in a certain way, taking specific feats and learning skills, the conditions vary and usually are easy to meet, if you so choose. However, you have to get rid of the flaw as soon as possible or keep it.

Which brings me to a central point - I consider flaws to be quite central to a character's development, after all, no one is perfect and personally, I'd make getting rid of flaws more difficult, but that's just me.

If I haven't miscounted, we get 49 flaws for your perusal, which range from absent-mindedness and being an albino, to partial and total deafness and similar physical problems. While the latter can often be cured with magic, I'd house-rule that to be not an option - getting rid of a flaw should be more than paying the local priest a bunch of GP or turning to your cleric-buddy. I do understand, though, that as designers these options have to be taken into account and assumed as the default of dealing with handicaps like that.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the clear and easy to read two-column standard and the pdf has bookmarks, though not many. The sparse artwork is ok for the low price. I really like the concept of flaws and how they also define a character and the angle of gaining strength/overcoming one's weaknesses, but in the end I felt like something was missing here - perhaps alternate criteria to get rid of flaws, some way to expand upon them (perhaps via feats that require flaws?) or similar material. Also, I do consider the flaws to be unbalanced among themselves, i.e. some flaws are much more severe and/or harder to get rid of - asthma being quite a difficult condition to adventure with, for example. A kind of magic inhaler as a little wondrous item would have made a great supplemental material, just to give an example.
I hope the concept will be expanded upon in a future release, but for now and on its own, I consider this cheap pdf to be a good buy if the concept even remotely intrigues you. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

A nice collection of flaws to give starting characters more options.

****( )

Players Options: Flaws by 4 Wind Fantasy Games

This product is 11 pages long. It starts with a cover and credits. (2 pages)

Flaws (7 pages)
This section gets into how the flaws work and then latter a list of flaws that can be taken. How it works is you can take a flaw at character creation up to a maximum of two flaws. For that you may take +3 skill points or a feat. You may only take one feat regardless, so if you take two flaws you could take one of each or +6 skill points. The flaws do have buy off requirements if the player later wants to get rid of the flaw. There is 49 flaws in this book which is honestly to many to list them all. The flaws range from meh, to pretty good, all the way to that’s pretty cool. Most fall in the middle.

Many of the flaws will require a GM to keep extra notes to make sure the players play up the flaws correctly, some more so than other. Some require no extra book keeping but most do. I personally like the idea of flaws and I think it adds something to the game and it more than worth the little extra work required to use them.

It ends with a OGL and back cover. (2 pages)

Closing thoughts. There is almost no art at all, the two black and white images it has range from good to meh. The meh one I have seen before many times. Layout and editing are good. As I mentioned before I like the idea of flaws and this does well with it. If you don't mind a little extra book keeping then these will be nice options for most games.

So what's my rating? I am going to give this one a 4 star review. I do have a couple of critics, one I would have liked a quick reference table like how feats are done for the flaws. It does have bookmarks but a table would have been very hand for quick reference. The other critic is I didn't like all the flaws and I am not sure all of them are equal. They are not bad but there was a couple I didn't think as bad as most and a couple I thought was a little worse than most, but all and all not bad.

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