Adding Personality to Your PC

Spotted a great thread on Twitter tonight: @anxietywizard

Anxiety Wizard on twitter
It was requested that Wizard put this thread into a blog post, and they might, but I though I might add a little commentary.(Also, I edited the tweet into a collated set of lists)

it’s actually very boring when all the features of a class relate to combat.

some ideas

Fighting Man:
• pick one: authority, confidence, menace. you exude this quality and it influences all interactions you have.
• if it’s uncertain which side is stronger, for every fighter in the group add 1 to reaction rolls if that moves the reaction away from violence.
• you know the basics of outdoor survival.
• you get along with authority figures, you know how to behave (best of 2 reaction rolls)

• you seem untrustworthy in general but will get away with the first lie you tell or scam you pull on someone regardless.
• you are suspicious, reduce reactions of local authorities by 1 for each thief present.
• your superficial charm adds +1 to initial reactions by non-authorities. re-roll reactions the second time, it cannot be better than your first roll.
•you know nothing about either (outdoor survival or medicine), but know where to best steal both.
• authority figures dislike you, and you don’t get along with them. (worst of 2 reactions rolls, roll often)
Magic User:
• you seem like you would “know” when things are uncertain. strangers ask you for advice, and offer information freely.
• 1 in 6 chance any interaction you have leaves others with a Strange Feeling that influences future contact. Roll 2d6:

2-3: Cursed. Avoidance.
4-6: Bad Omen. Distrust.
7-9: Mysterious, Curious.
10-11: Enchanted. Fascinated
12: Prophetic, “saw you in a dream”. Blessed.

• you know the basics of folk and academic medicine.
• authority figures are imposing toward you, regardless

Fighting Man
• you know how to party, but know less about subtle social cues.

Magic User
• you do not know how to party, but have wonderful etiquette.

• you know how to party, and know how to charm, but it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

I like these little “personality traits” or “generalizations”. Obviously, there could be some swaps for individual characters, as there is nothing to say a Fighting Man can’t have wonderful etiquette. This thread also reminds me of the Personae of NPCs section of the 1e DMG (page 100), with the General Tendencies, Personality Traits and personal beliefs .

The Personal Beliefs categories include Honesty, Morals, Materialism, etc. You can roll on one chart, or all of them, to get a better idea of how your NPC will react in a given situation. I like how Wizard’s personality traits are a little more mechanical, and some of them have an effect outside interpersonal interactions.

It occurs to me that you could do something with the old Secondary Skills (1e DMG p. 12) chart as well, by grouping them and making some more generalizations:

Tradesman (Navigator, Teamster, Sailor) or Craftsman (Armorer, Mason, Tailor), you could add in some Professional Class Secondary Skills too (Accountant, Merchant, Engineer, Steward)

These Secondary Skill groups could confer more prompts or knowledge in Encounters. A Tradesman might know about contracts, setting up groups or organizations, perhaps the value of a product in one location vs its value in another (iron is cheap in a mountain mining town, quite dear in a seaside village).

A Craftsman could tell the relative quality or origin of a material, its workmanship/design and relative value here and there.

A Professional might know how things work in a macro sense, such as how many farmers to feed a town of 500, how many barrels weighing X can fit in a wagon, when or by whom a building was constructed.

I had already created a space for Personality Traits in my NPC template, now I can add some other descriptive comments to help bring these characters to life.

NPC description card template

As always, please share your thoughts in the Comments.

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