Better NPC Personalities Through Tarot

You can use Tarot cards to generate personalities for your NPCs. Each card has a theme and personality traits based on whether it is drawn right side up or reversed. You can give those traits to an NPC to create an instant personality!

Randomly pick a Tarot card. If you have a physical deck, shuffle it so that the cards can be either right side up or reversed. If you don’t have a physical deck, generate a random number between 1 and 78. Look up that number's entry on the [Tarot Reference Chart]. Select one Temperament from each column that fit your idea for the NPC. If you want more detail, repeat the steps and select more Temperaments to flesh out the personality.

Tarot Reference Chart


Minor NPC Barkeep:
47 - Page of Cups.
My options are Sensitive, Romantic, Gentle, Kind and Immature, Naive, Unintuitive, Disappointing Relationship.
Since this NPC has a minor role (for now), I pick one from each set. I want this Barkeep to be a bit different, so I pick Romantic and Disappointing Relationship. It's up to me to fit these two pieces together into a logical person, so I see the Barkeep being a sucker for romance and grand gestures while their partner has no appetite nor awareness of such things. That leads the Barkeep to take their ideas to the bar and give them to patrons.
That gives the Barkeep a dynamic with the PCs - the Barkeep will encourage the PCs to make dramatic gestures and proclamations to those they fancy - and a dynamic outside of their job - the Barkeep is discouraged by their partner's lack of romantic spirit.
That gives me a lot of guidance when improvising how this character will interact with a situation.

Minor NPC Guard
13 - XII The Hanged Man.
Submissive, Patient, Yielding, Free and Procrastinating, 'Victim', Hypocrite
A minor guard will get one of each, like the Barkeep. I feel like the prompts don't match up with a standard Guard, so I'm leaning into the strangeness to make a more memorable encounter. This Guard is Free, and a Hypocrite. The  Guard enjoys his low key assignment and makes sure to take every opportunity to shirk duties, while demanding respect and deference from those under his authority. I expect this to bother PCs, and the Guard's weak discipline will make the conflict entertaining.

Minor NPC Robot Cop
28 - Six of Wands
Role Model, Praising, Self-Confident and Corrupt, Arrogant, Poor Leader
This Robot Cop is an effective Role Model but a protocol deficiency makes it a Poor Leader. Robot Cop will always lead by example rather than delegate effectively. That makes it fantastic on the beat, but when a crisis strikes everyone will look to Robot Cop to organize a response - and it is not prepared for that.

Major NPC Assassin
46 - Ten of Cups
Blessed, Peaceful, Family and Separation, Selfishness, Emotional Flaw
29 - Seven of Wands
Threatening, Persevering, Enduring and Powerless, Misguided, Timid
Major NPCs get more cards drawn and more traits to create a more complex personality. Assassin will get 2 cards, and 4 traits.
The Assassin is Blessed, Separation, Persevering, and Misguided.
She's on a mission from the Gods (Blessed) which takes her far from home (Separation). Despite her longing for home, she believes in her mission deeply and continues (Perseverance). But this deep dedication has clouded her judgement and curiosity, and her targets are being chosen by a corrupt priest rather than the Gods (Misguided).

Major NPC Mentor
72 - Eight of Pentacles
Meaningful Work, Precise, Committed and Unfulfilled, Unskilled, Cuts Corners
69 - Five of Pentacles
Insecure, Unstable, Siege Mentality and Unsatisfied, New Money, Positive Turn
The Mentor enjoys his Meaningful Work in teaching the next class of Star Warriors. But he takes each of their deaths as a personal failing, leaving him Unfulfilled. As the War dragged on, Mentor became increasingly Insecure about the worth of his teachings. His life would take a Positive Turn if any of his students would visit him after serving on the Front.

Major NPC Dragon
17 - XVI The Tower
Shocking, Destructive, Doubtful, Chaotic and Stubborn, Manipulative, Unpredictable
23 - Ace of Wands
Energetic, Inspiring, Sexual, New Child and Uninspired, Unfocused, Low Self Esteem, Ineffective
The Dragon is a hatchling (New Child) just learning to fly. She's filled with curiosity about her powers, which she tests on everything she finds (Destructive). Whenever she sees a new material or creature, she drops what she's doing to perform another test (Unpredictable). This leads to her other studies suffering, and the ire of her mentor (Unfocused).

Further Reading:
Thoth Tarot Deck

No comments:

Post a Comment