A while back there were a number of good for use threads (in the 1001 format) including monologues, bank heist twists, and campaign origin summaries... and more! I have often wondered why there has not been something similar for drawbacks, flaws and complications (or even any of the above!) Here is my take, and i hope it will be useful. For 3rd Ed. players, skip drawbacks, they will not help you anymore...
Drawbacks: I am often reminded of one time in a game gm'd by a friend one pc had a severe allergy to peanuts. The gm was uncomfortable with any method to trigger the flaw, and so would never trigger it, and it was easily avoidable. This caused a rather point hefty flaw to be free points. It was not that the player was unwilling to deal with the flaw.
Some flaws can be hard to use... or hardly used (weak point i am looking at you). Staring with that flaw i will list a few ways to include them without being a [insert any curseword here].
Allergy: the hardest one to be honest, as it is difficult to include food based ones without being arbitrarily cruel. A few scenarios where it would come up would be...
Food Fight!, The villain uses [peanut, nut or some other applicable] oil to coat the inside of his gas canisters, to prevent their contents from reacting with the can this adds the [x] descriptor to his smoke-bomb attack. The restaurant made a usually [almond] free dish, but the cook panicking because he was out of [y] replaced it with [x] because there was no allergy note attached: action! A dastardly villain with unusually poor morals finds out about the allergy, and poisons his next meal with [milk] so that this hero will be unable to stop his next scheme.
Power Loss: This one again can have that "arbitrary" problem, where the person affected my feel unfairly targeted; Nevertheless, in some cases you just might have to deal.
Social occasion: devices. It is not uncommon for inventor characters to go without their gadgets to do everyday things. Eventually some villain will show up at the wrong time and place. It's a Trap (this usually affects everyone anyways)! The hero has angered a villainous scientist who tries everything to figure out his weakness. The people needing saving are too close to [his weakness]: will he try to save them anyways and without powers (note: must be able to save them without powers)?
Disability: Sometimes you are injured before you got powers... in a way they failed to fix. How can this be meaningful?
Look at the disability and make it come up- A wheelchair bound super may have to climb stairs (requiring crawling or very complex wheelchair maneuvering). The powers do solve the problem (such as blindness and super-hearing), but that sense is disabled at the moment (sound absorbing walls, flashbang). Events in which these might occur are a psychic (like Xavier) may have to deal with a problem 'in the meat' and the enemy broke his wheelchair and left thinking him helpless. Daredevil may be trying to escape spec. ops. or police and be affected by a nonlethal arm. The character my be in a weapon range or other place which is trying to hide the noise it makes.
Flaws: Mostly flaws take care of themselves, but in some cases the may matter, or may not come up. Full power for example, or 'nonlethal damage (limited)', or medium. These flaws may need some treatment like drawbacks, in that the GM (whether you or I) may have to keep an eye on them.
Full power: Full power is a flaw which can make extras go bad. Among other things. In some cases that extra may not be your friend and full power makes that always. Full power is usually a 1 point reduction because players will rarely if ever hold back. They may want to...
In a crowded area, or against goons; crowded areas can make AOEs create collateral damage, and knock-back on an ordinary person can make them sail from unconscious through a wall into dying. Another example is when fighting a mind controlled ally, you usually want to stop them, not hurt them. If every time you miss, the shot goes somewhere firing tank shells may be a bit reckless.
Permanent: Permanent is sometimes a difficult flaw to handle. Why wouldn't you want a beneficial effect always around? Less points for no risk of loss, what's to lose? Sometimes less is more...
Permanent protection may make it impossible to get the cure (flu vaccine), to pretend to be normal (able to take punches and slaps like a rock), or determine risk to others (guns can't hurt people... right?). Permanent blast take a look at Cyclops, he can't have nice things. Permanent force field, for sake of variety may make it difficult or impossible to touch someone (bubble effect), or make things slippery (all thins are a mit away from your skin and have to be adjusted at through your shell).
Nonlethal Damage Only: (an example of "Limited") It might be nice to not have to worry about someone screwing with your powers to make mister crook dead instead of unconscious, and why would you ever need to deal lethal damage?
Fighting robots, you might as well have limited "living creatures only." When subduing a crook nonlethal doe not necessarily mean nonviolent, and people may find overmuch use of the power unheroic.
Medium: at first you may say, "alright that seems reasonable" but some mediums such as air are unlikely to ever be absent in your setting.
In some cases they might be, such as in a space adventure, villain is creating a vacuum in the room, or you are underwater.
Complications: What are they and what do they mean? There is an implicit contract between player and GM that when this or one of the above is accepted for play, that 1) the player is willing to be subjected to it and 2) the GM is willing (and will) subject the player to it. Other thins vary substantially. Some complications may be more difficult. When does this apply? How can i use this and not make it seem arbitrary and petty? Perhaps this will help.
Rival/Enemy: many players seem to take this flaw, but i have rarely seen it come up, whether in gaming stories, PbP games or in my own group. The problem always seems to be "when does the player deserve a hero point for this?" or "How do i use this without being a [insert favorite curseword here]?"
As stated the player gets a hero point when he (or she) is harmed by the complication. 'Harmed' can be argued day and night so i will continue on to "how do I." The rival need not, and likely should not be the main antagonist, as the rival is for that player, and not for the group. The rival should have a point of contention, why does he hate/vie with the pc. Whenever the pc does/is doing this and the rival catches wind have him or her crash the party. Perhaps it is for the love of a fair lady (or gentleman, in which case the method of contest must be addressed (as well as if 'the prize' is aware). If it is by 'derring do' the rival (or enemy) will try to not only beat but show up (and possibly embarrass) the hero. If the hero causes problems to pursue the rivalry that may also earn a hero point.
Examples: [rival or enemy, method, goal]: Rival, Romance, Love Interest - As the hero goes to fight the villain he asks the lady for her favor which she give him. After he is gone the rival goes and finding his quest attempts to a) defeat the villain first and b) return with 'the Rose of Lumenia' reputed for it's beauty to bring her. Enemy, Battle, Victory - The villain hears that Brimstone is off to battle Doc Otaku in his perilous Pokemon Arena (using robots of course) as he faces off against Toyboy in the Central Stadium and Nightshade decides that he wants to show Brimstone that he, Nightshade is the one he should be fighting so [Nightshade] "defeats" them both and challenges Brimstone in the deadly field to glorious battle! Rival, Contests, To be the very best- The rival challenges him randomly on the way to an emergency as to who can save more people: not bad for them annoying for the player if the rival wins. The rival may take a handicap or head-start.
More later, if interest is shown.
I hope this turns into a fruitful and useful topic!
Oblivious Man Strikes Again!
"Sometimes I think you are more useful dead than alive!" -A Friend regarding one of my characters.