Characters have weaknesses as well as strengths — both are necessary to create an interesting, well-rounded individual. In the HERO System, the personal complications, hindrances, and drawbacks a character has to confront during his adventures are represented by Disadvantages. Determining a character’s Disadvantages helps develop his personality and background. Disadvantages should also provide the GM with interesting ideas for adventures.

This section describes the various Disadvantages a character can take. Not all Disadvantages are appropriate for every character in every game.

To encourage characters to take them, Disadvantages give a character more Character Points to spend. The GM determines the total number of points in Disadvantages a character may take, based on the type of campaign he’s running. The more Disadvantages each character has, the more complications and hindrances he has to overcome, and the more points he gets to spend on Powers, Skills, and so forth. In this campaign you may take between 0 and 75 points of Disadvantages. When added to your Base Points (also 75) this will give you up to 150 points to spend on your character.

The Basic Law of Disadvantages
All Disadvantages are subject to the Basic Law of Disadvantages:

A Disadvantage that isn’t a disadvantage isn’t worth any points!

None! For example, if a PC wants to take Physical Limitation: No Legs, and then buys Extra Limbs (legs), he doesn’t get the Disadvantage points. Similarly, if the character takes Hunted By Trolls when there are no trolls in the campaign world, it’s not worth any points.

The GM also has to approve all Disadvantages; he should weed out any that don’t seem reasonable, don’t fit into his campaign, or are likely to cause more trouble than they’re worth.

Using Disadvantages In The Campaign

The GM should remember that Disadvantages are there to be used. A Disadvantage shouldn’t dominate play — not every opponent needs to have an attack that exploits the character’s Vulnerability — but they come into play often enough to keep the character on his toes. A GM shouldn’t feel bad if he uses a lightning bolt against a character who takes 2 x STUN from Electricity; that’s what the Disadvantage is for, after all.

The GM should have a copy of each player character’s sheet for his reference, especially the character’s Disadvantages. He should use them to create adventures and subplots. If he’s stuck for an adventure to run one evening, he can script an entire scenario around a PC’s Hunted or DNPC. Such an adventure won’t seem far-fetched, and besides, that character gets to be the center of attention for a whole game.

Disadvantage Frequency

Many Disadvantages are weighted in terms of how often they affect the character. For example, they’re worth the most if they occur Very Frequently, a little less if they occur Frequently, and the least if they only arise Occasionally. Similarly, many have Very Common, Common, or Uncommon circumstances that trigger them. For ease of reference, and to assist GMs who are more comfortable with hard-and-fast rules, these frequencies are often assigned numbers indicating how often the Disadvantage arises (such as 14- for Very Frequently, 11- for Frequently, and 8- for Occasionally). However, the GM should feel free to ignore these guidelines if he prefers. For example, rather than rolling at the start of every game session to fi nd out if a character’s Hunted shows up, he could just keep the Disadvantage in mind as a potential plot element — or roll Disadvantages when he’s planning the game to help generate adventure ideas. Instead of having the Hunted show up unexpectedly to interrupt a carefully-planned scenario, construct a scenario that features the Hunted as the main antagonist.

A Disadvantage’s frequency indicates how often it affects the character in the game. Many Disadvantages affect the character all the time, but what matters for game purposes is how often they affect his performance in the game. For example, being unable to walk affects a character every minute of every day of his life. But it only impacts his abilities in the game frequently — there are plenty of things he can do in the game that don’t require him to walk. Therefore Unable To Walk is a Physical Limitation that affects the character Frequently, not All The Time.

Disadvantages Summary Table

Disadvantage Name Description
Accidental Change Character sometimes involuntarily changes between two forms or identities
Age Character suffers the weaknesses of youth or old age (Requires Normal Characteristic Maxima)
Dependence Character suffers harm if he does not regularly have some substance or item
Dependent NPC Character must protect/help an NPC who often gets into trouble
Distinctive Features Character has an unusual, distinctive feature
Enraged or Berserk Character sometimes loses control of himself
Hunted Character is pursued by an enemy
Normal Characteristic Maxima Character is at his core, a normal human
Physical Limitation Character suffers from some physical handicap
Psychological Limitation Character suffers from some mental or emotional handicap
Reputation Character is known for some negative quality
Rivalry Character competes with a profession and/or romantic rival
Social Limitation Character’s ability to interact with society is restricted
Susceptibility Character takes damage when exposed to some normally harmless substance or effect
Unluck Character is unlucky
Vulnerability Character takes extra damage from some type of attack

Return to Character Generation


Agents of BIFROST JayJay JayJay