Ten GURPS Disadvantages That Aren’t Too Painful
In the GURPS universe, any disadvantage should limit your character in some meaningful way, but a disadvantage should never make your character less enjoyable for you to play. Selecting disadvantages is possibly the most personal aspect of defining a character. What one person can shrug off or enjoy as a challenge, another may find extraordinarily frustrating and limiting. This list represents some recommendations for disadvantages that remain enjoyable and don’t limit characters’ success in most campaigns.
Deciding to be less attractive isn’t something that most of us would willingly do. But when creating your character, it is definitely something to consider. In fact, you can use a less-than-normal appearance to add richness to your character. The homely hero has a lot of potential for fun.
Charitable (–15 SCM)
If your character is going to be nice to everyone he meets, you should probably consider taking a disadvantage that represents that. Of course, Charitable means more than just being nice — it means you’ll help others with less consideration of the risk or cost to yourself. But unless your character has another trait that makes that a problem, or if your GM runs the campaign with an eye toward the economics of the world, this gives you an opportunity to do good works and get points for them. If appropriate for your game world (and if your GM approves), you can achieve a similar effect with a Sense of Duty.
Curious (–5 SCM)/Incurious (–5 SCM)
No player is completely uninterested in the mysteries of the campaign, but you may decide that your character isn’t interested, in which case take the Incurious disadvantage. Or you may recognize that your character really wants to know what’s going on, so Curious is more appropriate. That said, don’t be foolish and abandon your free will — make sure that you keep your self-control modifier at a reasonable level so that if you need to resist temptation (or want to go exploring some option if you have Incurious), you can try to overcome your character’s natural inclinations.
Do not take this disadvantage if you want to be a merchant, a thief, or an electrician. But if your character is mostly about hitting things or having abstract knowledge, Colorblindness is a reasonable disadvantage to consider. In most campaigns, a good GM will make it matter occasionally, but you will frequently be able to work around the limitation with a bit of creativity or some help from others. Do not take this disadvantage if you want to be an alchemist, demolitions expert, or tracker. For those, creative GMs can turn colorblindness into a crippling disadvantage.
Giving your character a Duty disadvantage provides a framework for your character’s personality, career, and decision-making because you must consider how the consequences of each action relate to fulfilling your character’s Duty. Certainly Duty isn’t appropriate for all characters, but for many, it is a good disadvantage to explain why they’re involved in such a crazy adventure in the first place. Be warned, however, that Duty exists primarily to give the GM a way of influencing your actions, so don’t be surprised when she takes advantage of the opportunity.
Impulsiveness (–10 SCM)
If you are naturally impulsive or impatient and are going to play your character that way, then by all means take this disadvantage. If, however, you are very cautious by nature, avoid this disadvantage because you may become frustrated when your GM forces you into situations that you would rather avoid. Having an impulsive character in the party has its upside, too: It is one good way of making sure that the action continues to flow along.
Odious Personal Habits (–5/–10/–15)
An Odious Personal Habit (OPH) is something that all the other characters find annoying. Make sure that the other players in the group don’t find it annoying as well. But as long as you keep that in mind, an OPH provides a cornerstone for your character’s personality.
If you can’t conceive of a situation in which we would create a character with a goal of harming innocents, the 10-point version of Pacifism, Cannot Harm Innocents, seems like a natural disadvantage. It does definitely limit your actions, however, and often calls for greater creativity in planning attacks. The 5-point version, Reluctant Killer, is another good option.
Both of the 15-point versions of Pacifism (Self-Defense Only and Cannot Kill) can be run and are appropriate for some characters in some campaigns. The key item to keep in mind with the higher-point version is that you are responsible for limiting the actions of the rest of the party as well. These are also dangerous disadvantages in any world in which your characters may be put into the role of guerrilla warriors. Don’t consider the –30-point version (Total Nonviolence), it’s too limiting for most campaigns. Other Codes of Honor are equally good choices, although they must be appropriate for the campaign and should be approved by the GM.
Phobias (Variable SCM)
A phobia adds an element of personality that can come into play in all sorts of situations, from the humorous to the life-threatening. With a little bit of research, you can find a phobia to match any character concept and then write a background story to explain how it came about. Of course, it will be harder to find one if you have Cyberphobia (a fear of computers). Be cautious about taking Phobias at too high of a point value, however; a Phobia truly can be a crippling disorder.
Weirdness Magnet (–15)
A good GM should restrict how many party members can have the weirdness magnet, but players enjoy being the one who will have strange and possibly wonderful things happen randomly. Don’t give Weirdness Magnet as a disadvantage for characters who need predictability in the way in which their characters will develop.