Many MMO aficionados cut their roleplaying teeth on one of the many pencil-and-paper titles that formed the early generation of multi-player gaming. In addition to rolling (and rolling, and rolling, and rolling) some dice to come up with their basic stats and traits, character generation involved a lot of "wet work" when it came time to acquire skills. Often, players would bargain with their Game Master to get special dispensation for pushing the envelope.
Player: I want to run this adventure as a zombie elf with three arms.
GM: Okay, but if you do that, none of the other characters will trust you. Also, you will spend 50% more on shirts and body armor. Still want to do it?
Thus, the mechanic of trading character flaws for enhanced abilities was born. One of the hallmarks of tabletop gaming is this trade-off -- saddling yourself or your character with a shortcoming in order to obtain an advantage elsewhere, either as a skill, or a talent, or just another way to go about Min/Maxing. The huge number of available options in some games (Vampire: The Masquerade, for instance) ensures that any player, with only a few minutes' consideration, will have an almost absolutely unique character, fully their own creation.
And yet, almost without exception, the online iterations we all enjoy seem to have omitted this altogether. We are an immense legion of perfectly-formed, mentally-stable, socially-adept übermensch. Even the so-called "ugly" races -- World of Warcraft's Forsaken or Tabula Rasa'sHybrids -- don't explore the depth and breadth of this concept too deeply. Racial traits and differentiation are the merest tip of this particular iceberg.
Why does this rich milieu, this fecund ground of roleplay fodder and character diversity, languish? (And who left this thesaurus on my desk?)