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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default How to design a personality

    Developing a character's personality is hard. Most Dnd players don't successfully develop a complex person in their character – and isn't that really the goal of role playing? My goal is to help a player create a framework and play a character as detailed as one finds in good fiction.
    I would like some feedback on the idea.
    More information here:
    http://crashburn274.blogspot.com/200...eneration.html
    Six Axes of Character Generation

    Good ------------------- Selfish (Good-Evil)
    Lawful ----------------- Independent (Law- Chaos)
    Deterministic --------- Spiritual (Scientific-Superstitious)
    Flamboyant ----------- Reserved (Extrovert-Introvert)
    Optimist --------------- Cynicical (Naïve – Jaded)
    Principled ------------ Opportunist (Willing-Unwilling to compromise beliefs and personality)

    When designing a character, select two, three or four personality axis that character feels strongly about and leave the remainder neutral.
    Last edited by CreativeUserNam; 2008-01-16 at 05:54 PM. Reason: spelling.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    I actually have been trying to use a very similar idea for my RPG system. I've got opposed pairs of personality traits, as well as moral tendencies, which can mostly be classed along the lawful/chaotic and good/evil scale. Rather than choosing one of each, you choose about 4 or 5 or so traits which your character expresses most strongly. I.e., the traits that really define your character.

    Here's what I got so far:

    Chaotic/Lawful:
    impulsive/methodical
    individualistic/conformist
    erratic/dependable
    flexible/uncompromising
    emotional/logical
    creative/practical
    indirect/forthright
    hypothetical/categorical*
    independent/loyal
    excitable/stoic

    Good/Evil:
    compassionate/sociopathic
    altruistic/selfish
    caring/hateful
    humane/sadistic
    nurturing/destructive
    forgiving/vengeful
    trustworthy/treacherous
    merciful/ruthless
    humble/proud

    Like the character of Dr. McCoy, from Star Trek, is defined by compassion, humanity, altruism, and mercy. And he's also pretty emotional. Those five would probably be his defining traits from the list. Neutral good with a chaotic bent.

    I'd probably be individualist, logical, independent, hypothetical (based on Kant's imperatives). So chaotic neutral.
    Last edited by RyanM; 2008-01-16 at 06:09 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Yami's Avatar

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    Oct 2005
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    Default Re: How to design a personality

    I think your lawful-independant axis has a flawed basis.

    There are people outthere who are both lawful, and independant. On the flip side think of your classic delinquent gang. Chaotic, and yet group mentality.

    I'd also rather have good-selfish be phrased as selfless-selfish. Just feels better that way.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    I think your lawful-independant axis has a flawed basis.

    There are people outthere who are both lawful, and independant. On the flip side think of your classic delinquent gang. Chaotic, and yet group mentality.
    And some Chaotic people, like me, can be logical and practical. I'm going by which traits fit the stock D&D definitions. Yes, some people are mold-breakers. But if you have enough traits on one end of the scale to outweigh the other, then you've got that overriding alignment. Or if you've got equal amounts of both, then that's one form of Neutrality.

    Oh, wait, that was to the OP. Crap. Never mind.
    Last edited by RyanM; 2008-01-16 at 09:55 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Dec 2007
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    UTC -6

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    Would it not be possible to use the Law/Chaos and Good/Evil axes, as well as the character's ability rolls and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a springboard for the character's personality?

    For example, a character with a high CHA may be an extrovert; Chaotic would lean towards Feeling (judging actions subjectively, from the inside); whereas Lawful may lean towards Thinking, as that tends towards detached, rule-based decisions. A Chaotic Good Bard may file under the Myers-Briggs personality of ESFP, whereas a Lawful Pally may be ENTJ.

    The reason I'm suggesting this is that these are some decently well-developed personality stereotypes that do not have any direct correlation to Law/Chaos, Good/Evil, and could be used to flesh someone out, explaining the Pally's passive dislike of a CN party member more than the near-opposite alignments.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    ZebulonCrispi's Avatar

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    Mar 2007
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    West of House
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    Male

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    All right, I'll bite:

    What purpose does this serve, beyond needlessly shoehorning your character into specific categories? It seems more sensible to just roleplay these things, rather than assigning values to them.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    Forum Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Yami View Post
    I think your lawful-independent axis has a flawed basis.

    There are people outthere who are both lawful, and independent. On the flip side think of your classic delinquent gang. Chaotic, and yet group mentality.

    I'd also rather have good-selfish be phrased as selfless-selfish. Just feels better that way.
    The lawful-independent question is thorny, but my intent is to continue the classical feeling that society at large defines lawful, so a unified gang in opposition to the laws counts a independent or chaotic. I only chose independent because I don't want to imply that opposing society means being random.

    selfish-selfless was actually my original term for that axis. I just changed it because I kept lawful, and good can be a synonym for selfless, right? Perhaps I should change it back, but I'd like to continue the discussion.
    Does being selfless imply too strict a moral code, such that it would rule out characters who want to improve society but aren't willing to suffer personally to do so? Should such a character have an alignment that is fundamentally "good"?

    Quote Originally Posted by RyanM View Post
    actually have been trying to use a very similar idea for my RPG system....
    I really like your idea, it does a good job of giving guidelines for personality without throwing away the original alignment system. Traits like “emotional/logical” and “altruistic/selfish” really help give structure to an undefined personality.

    I think adding axis has the advantage of being more flexible, however. For instance a lawful good paladin might find very good reasons to be vengeful, and some concepts of good and evil could accept such vengeance as good – provided the target is evil. I fear the definition could be very messy, so moving it outside the traditional axis might relieve the tension. Pride is similar: I like that you define it as evil, but I firmly believe such a sin is committed by people D&D would grant a good alignment.



    Quote Originally Posted by ZebulonCrispi View Post
    All right, I'll bite:

    What purpose does this serve, beyond needlessly shoehorning your character into specific categories? It seems more sensible to just roleplay these things, rather than assigning values to them.
    Ah, and there's the question I really wanted to answer. When a new character sheet is rolled up it's got a a lot of numbers but few words. Defining a person based on class and wisdom score is ambiguous and difficult. I've seen, and played, characters with all the personality of a base attack bonus. I imagine you agree that bouncing different personalities within a party off one another is a lot of fun. My goal is not to limit a player to a bunch of statistics but to help players make sense of an unknown character.

    The 3.5 PHB II (p.136, building your character) has various personality archetypes to base a character around. I like the idea because it give players idea for creating characters, but... you said something about shoehorning. The 3.5 DMG had some traits to be used in defining NPCs, but those tended to be surface traits. My goal is to provide questions a player can answer before while drawing up a character sheet: Is the character dedicated to an ideal or willing to use any means available? Does the character believe in an orderly universe that can be fully explained or in one filled with mystery? Does this person desire to enrich the world or to get rich? That sort of thing. Without some attempt to explain personality, players may do as I have done: know all the rules for grappling and be clueless about actual role playing.
    Please pardon my soapbox; I hope I answered your question.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: How to design a personality

    I think adding axis has the advantage of being more flexible, however. For instance a lawful good paladin might find very good reasons to be vengeful, and some concepts of good and evil could accept such vengeance as good – provided the target is evil. I fear the definition could be very messy, so moving it outside the traditional axis might relieve the tension. Pride is similar: I like that you define it as evil, but I firmly believe such a sin is committed by people D&D would grant a good alignment.
    Most of the other axes, though, fit under the D&D alignment system.

    Deterministic = lawful, Spiritual (though I'd say free will) = chaotic
    Flamboyant = chaotic, Reserved = lawful
    Optimist, Cynicical, I dunno, I guess that one doesn't fit.
    Principled = good/lawful, Opportunist = chaotic/evil

    And like I accidentally said to someone else, just one character trait doesn't mean you belong to that alignment. A fundamentally good person can have a selfish streak, or something like that. Contradictory things like that are what make interesting characters. It's when the majority of your traits fall into one category or another that you know you've got that alignment. Like the aforementioned Dr. McCoy has 4 Good traits, 1 Chaotic. So he's NG, with slight Chaotic tendencies (especially in his tendency to bait Spock).

    Mr. Spock would be, pared down to the defining 5 or so...

    Dependable, logical, stoic, trustworthy, and altruistic. 3 Lawful, 2 Good. I'd say he's definitely Lawful Good, but not in the conventional sense.

    Me, should probably add on a 5th... I really am definitely Neutral when it comes to Good vs. Evil. Flexible definitely works, though. So that makes it 4 chaotic, 1 lawful. I'm definitely CN with very slight lawful tendencies. I'm a Practical Chaotic, the exact opposite of Lawful Stupid.

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