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Character Background

Two Quirks and a Flaw: Quick and Dirty Character Establishement

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 15
If you’re pressed for time or you’re looking to create the basics of a character as simply as possible, establish the essence of your personality by thinking of two quirks and a flaw. Quirks are specific attributes of your personality or psyche: character traits, compulsions, eccentricities, or uncommon physical features. These shouldn’t be commonplace or mundane. “Tall” is a poor one, but “too big for my body” could be great. “Charismatic” is weak, but “flirts with nearly everybody I meet” is specific and actionable. “Homebody” is not as good a quirk as “feels tired, uncomfortable, and hungry away from home.”

Add a flaw the same way. Instead of merely being “arrogant,” maybe you “believe I’m smarter than anyone I know.” Perhaps you’re not so much “proud” as “afraid of being wrong and looking stupid.” Rather than “greedy,” you may be “terrified of dying poor and hungry.”

When you choose an attribute or trait to use as a quirk or flaw, you can dig deeper into the concept by asking yourself how and why. If you’re shy, how shy are you? So shy that you can never look anyone directly in the eye? If you’re paranoid, why are you paranoid? Maybe everyone you’ve ever trusted betrayed you? Homing in on desires and fears will help answer those questions. For the sake of brevity, the background generator uses basic descriptors for quirks and flaws. Take a little time to further build on those bare-bones descriptors with these sort of details, which will help color in an otherwise simple, nondescript character.