Choosing Your Tragic Flaw in the Carrington Event

When you create a character, you create a Heroic Archetype, a Tragic Flaw, and a Gothic Mystery. These each represent different aspects of your life, and you gain an aspect of the same name. Aspects will be fully described in a later post.

In the last post, we looked at Heroic Archetypes. Today we’ll choose a Tragic Flaw.

What Is a Tragic Flaw

In literary terms, the tragic flaw is often described as a weakness or flaw that leads to a character’s downfall. In this game, it’s not as severe as that but it is something that the GM should be looking for opportunities to showcase.

In brief, a Tragic Flaw is something about your character that creates trouble for your character and is perfect fodder for a Compel (see Aspects). This doesn’t have to be traditionally negative! A Code of Honour to always protecting the weak easily gets you into trouble. It will create moments of opposition with powerful people who are oppressing others.

But it can be traditionally negative. A Coward runs away from dangerous situations, but can also use their Coward aspect to run away faster or to dodge danger. Whatever you choose as your Tragic Flaw might help you whenever that Flaw is brought into focus.

It’s very hard to create a table of flaws – there are just so many possibilities. But I’ll present one anyway. if you have another idea, mention it to your GM who will probably accept it if it fits the tone of the game.

Choosing Your Tragic Flaw

Pick a flaw and describe an adventure where this Flaw was very noticeable and affected how the adventure went – maybe it caused trouble to start, or derailed things. Also, this adventure does not have to be a success. Your Flaw might have caused you to take actions that caused harm, and people might be seeking vengeance over it.

When choosing your flaw, it can be anything which represents an occasional problem for your character. This doesn’t mean it has to be negative – if you’re compassionate, you might be driven to help someone in need, and that creates a problem to be overcome!

The categories below allow you to roll a d66 for your Flaw. But your Flaw can be anything that the GM agrees fits their game. This list just represents suitable flaws for this setting, and may act as a guide. But if you want to do it quickly, you can roll too.

Tragic Flaw Categories

These flaws are just a subset of things you can pick, but are a quick way to roll them up. They are focussed on things that will affect play. Complications that affect you outside of play situations, or ones that are so severe they make you unplayable for a time (e.g. catatonia), don’t make good tragic flaws.

Also there is nothing supernatural here (at least, not openly) – these should be flaws that people can easily be understood to have.

  1. Personality Trait: You have a behaviour that is generally seen as good, but which can nevertheless get you into trouble.
    1. Entrepreneur: England is considered by some as a land of shopkeepers, of entrepreneurs and capitalists. You might be greedy and sticky-fingered, but your primary goal is self-improvement.
    2. Proud: You are proud of something, perhaps yourself, and some may call you overconfident, a braggart, a pompous windbag, but they are fools – you know how right you are.
    3. Greasemonkey: A lover of technology, you might be dabbling and tinkering constantly, building from your own kits, admiring the work of others.
    4. Curious: You are interested in something (mysteries, steampunk, strange lands, etc.), perhaps everything, and take opportunities to investigate and learn more about that thing.
    5. Plucky: You are energetic and optimistic, more than willing to defy the stand ways of behaving. Some might view as an eager go-getter, others as a rebellious upstart.
    6. Heart of Gold: You are a natural healer, and cannot abide the suffering of others. You might be a pacifist, and seek to help those in pain. This can easily motivate your adventures.
  2. Righteous Trait: Like Personality Traits, but tend to be more aggressive and unbending. This is something you are convinced of the rightness of. It’s an important part of your self-image. Many of these can be unpleasant, but you choose how seriously you act on it.
    1. Defender of [Cause or Group]: There is a particular cause or group you care about, probably a group that faces oppression or discrimination of some kind, and you believe they are worthy of better treatment.
    2. Crusader: There is something you can’t abide, and you seek to destroy its harmful effects – a drug like opium, an activity like gambling, a faith like Satanism, and so on. Choose what you crusade against and why.
    3. Loyal To [Cause or Group]: There is a cause, person, group, or nation that you are extremely loyal to and passionate about. This may drive you to extremes of behaviour.
    4. Code of Chivalry: You have a sense of fairness, and are offended when it is violated. You might spurn advantages over enemies and be incensed when they take them over you. You might feel the need to defend the weak against unfair treatment.
    5. Faith in [what?]: You are religious, and follow a specific faith like Christianity, Hinduism, or Judaism. This can influence many actions.
    6. Code of Honour: You have a personal code of honour (describe what you care about), and just know you are more worthy than those around you. Those with a code of honour tend to be stubborn and prone to avenge any slights against them. Feuds can last for generations.
  3. Identity and Reputation: You are known and recognised, or something about your identity or how you present yourself can sometimes create trouble for you.
    1. Oppressed: You have a reputation for something which stands out in conservative Victorian society. You might be a foreigner, a shipwrecked survivor, were raised by wolves, or whatever. People might challenge your ability to function in society or do things others take for granted, or they may make fun of you for your background.
    2. Scandal: Something you have done, or something about you, caused (and might still cause) a scandal. You might have to defend your good name, face those who hate you because of the scandal, or go out of your way to prove that the scandal does not define you.
    3. Secret: Something in your life is hidden from the world at large. This can be a good or a bad thing, but you have a reason to keep it hidden. Maybe your family committed an evil act, or you fight crime in disguise.
    4. Uniform: You have a particular look or style that is part of your public identity. A member of a noble family who always wears rich and easily identifiable finery, a member of a warrior order who always wears their insignia, a woman in a man’s world, and so on. There will be times you are pushed to hide this facet of your character, and you may refuse to do it.
    5. Heroic Deed: You have a reputation for taking part in some deed or group of similar deeds. A hero of a certain battle, the rescuer of abducted scientists, and so on. People may seek you out because they think you can help them, or they see the deed as a bad thing and want to avenge it.
    6. Eccentric: You hold a belief that is regarded badly or questionably by society. This might be seen as a quaint eccentricity or a serious problem. Choose a belief that can easily be incorporated by the GM in your adventures.
  4. Underbelly: You are drawn to the darker side of society, or are driven into it.
    1. Temptation: You have a weakness for something, and give in to temptation for that thing – opium is an easy choice. You might be swayed by this temptation, or act to keep it from looking important. (I mean, who doesn’t indulge once in while…)
    2. In Every Port: You are a womaniser or maneater. You might have contacts or be distracted by your wandering eye. Feel free to change this to another group of contacts, but make sure there is some kind of activity in your part that helps gather those contacts.
    3. Gambler: You are drawn to taking risks, and may be an adrenaline junkie. Yes, you gamble with money to keep your hunger at bay, but if there are higher stakes you jump at those. Maybe you just want to prove you can do it.
    4. Friends in Low Places: You have criminal connections with the underbelly of society, or maybe you are drawn to the downtrodden. You might be approached to do questionable deeds, or have to act to keep your connections intact or avoid them being exposed.
    5. Prosthetic: You are missing a body part – like an arm, leg, part of your brain, etc. – and have a steampunk prosthetic giving back that function. You might find yourself needing spare parts, face discrimination for being “less than” human, or use the prosthetics strengths to your advantage.
    6. Renegade: You stand against a particular group or nation (maybe even this one). You have your reasons, but are known as a champion against that group or nation, and may find your beliefs and desires challenged.
  5. Enemy: You have made one or more enemies in your adventures, and sometimes they hate you or want revenge enough to pursue you, becoming an ongoing part of your story.
    1. Small-Time: You have earned the enmity of someone or a group who don’t have much power. They hate you for some reason (or vice-versa) and keep turning up to address this situation.
    2. Former Relationship: Someone you used to have a relationship with is now your enemy. Where they a rival, romantic prospect, mentor, debtor, or what? Maybe roll d6 on the relationship subtable, but they should be of a status or position to threaten you.
    3. Mastermind: a leader of a criminal gang is opposed to you – maybe you foiled them or made them look bad – and his minions are now looking to cause trouble with you.
    4. Spymaster: a well-place agent of a foreign power is out to get you, and sends minions against you or looks for more cunning ways to fit you up. How did this enmity start?
    5. Society: Someone higher in your own society is out to get you – a pillar of society, a noble, a spurned lady, etc. They might be above reproach, but they still want you to suffer – how and why?
    6. Frenemies: this ‘enemy’ wants to help you, but the way they help tends to create problems or associations with them you don’t want to have.
  6. Relationship: You have a positive relationship with a person or group, which nevertheless causes you trouble from time to time. They may ask for favours or might be in danger – and you do care about them and want to help them when you can.
    1. Debtor: you are in debt to someone, and they call on you for favours to pay off your debt. This might be something you can never pay off – maybe they saved your life – or it maybe more of a Jabba The Hut-style situation. Whoever you in debt to should be wealthy and/or important, someone you don’t want to become an enemy – which might happen if you ignore them.
    2. Betrothal: You are involved with a betrothal. maybe you are promised to someone, someone is promised to you, or you are protecting someone who is betrothed. This relationship is one you can’t ignore – maybe you need to keep it, want to keep it, or find yourself pressured into it.
    3. Ward: Someone is in debt to you. Maybe you protected them and they now follow you around, or you may have seen thier potential and took them under your wing, or society placed them under your protection. They might try to help you in ways you don’t appreciate, or may need more protection!
    4. Rival: Someone of roughly your ability and prestige wants to prove they are as good or better than you. They frequently interfere with your adventures to outdo or outshine you, but may need help from time to time. They may be a very hostile rivalry, or a friendly one.
    5. Romance: You are involved with, or are shepherding, a romance and it possibly goes against the rules of society. Scandal might be looming, and the romance might be threatened or under pressure.
    6. Mentor: You owe who you are to someone else, or someone guided you through a difficult part of your life. You look up to them, and will go out of your way to protect them and do what they ask.

About the Tragic Flaw

Remember, you choose this – and you chose it because you want it to be part of your character. In some games, players choose a ‘disadvantage’ then do everything they can to avoid that disadvantage affecting them. In this game, you want it to affect you – it’ll benefit your story and give you experience. So, pick something you want to see in play – trust me on this, you will benefit from it.

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