Recurse Games

Personality Traits in The Amaranth Saga

June 1, 2019 | View Comments |

I’m working on romance in The Amaranth Saga at the moment. NPCs need to make decisions like whether they want monogamy or marriage. Initially, I considered having a different personality trait influence each type of decision. But this quickly creates overly-abstract traits like InclinationToHaveMultiplePartners and InclinationToHaveChildren. So I decided to create a list of personality traits to cover all scenarios.

A phrenology diagram

Self-portrait as phrenology illustration, by Jason Priem

Modern personality inventories, like Myers-Briggs, are not really suitable. They don’t tell us whether someone will seek vengeance on their enemies, for example. Instead, I’ve compiled a list using some of my old notes, role-playing game character creation resources, and The Characters of Theophrastus. The following list is subject to change, but (I think) covers most scenarios I can think of without overlaps.


Hierarchical / Egalitarian
The Hierarchical believes people get what they deserve, and thus dislikes those poorer than themselves. The Egalitarian will help the weak.
Sycophant / Envious
The Sycophant seeks to ingratiate themselves with the powerful, and has no pride. The Envious hates seeing others succeed.
Disreputable / Reputable
The Disreputable is attracted to vice and dishonesty. They are easily conned. The Reputable seeks honest company.
Hubristic / Humble
The Hubristic underestimates others, thinks they know best, and tends to micromanage. The Humble accepts criticism and avoids meddling.
Boastful / Understated
The Boastful desires attention, exaggerates their influence, and expects deference. They Understated avoids recognition.


Independent / Attached
The Independent avoids taking on obligations. They will travel and leave things behind. The Attached seeks comfort, and memorialises the past.
Honourable / Dishonourable
The Honourable always keeps promises (if they're incautious, this can be awkward). The Dishonourable will lie and backstab, without care for reputation.
Corrupt / Principled
The Corrupt will bend rules for personal advantage, although will not necessarily betray others outright.
Strict / Merciful
The Strict will adhere to rules and principles, no matter how cruel. The merciful will bend them.
Tribal / Cosmopolitan
The Tribal puts their family, nation, religion, or race before everyone else. The Cosmopolitan does not discriminate.
Nepotist / Nonreciprocal
The Nepotist always returns favours, and helps those that help them.
Jealous / Compersive
The Jealous demands complete loyalty and devotion. The Compersive tolerates divided loyalty and gives their allies and partners freedom.


Ambitious / Content
The Ambitious is always seeking to increase their wealth and power.
Conniver / Generous
The Conniver always expects something in return, and takes as much as they can (or asks too much).
Stingy / Profligate
The Stingy hates spending money, even on themselves.
Hedonist / Abstinent
The Hedonist indulges in sex, drink, etc.

Decision Making

Impressionable / SelfAssured
The Impressionable is easily convinced by others.
Stubborn / Changeable
Once the Stubborn makes a decision, they refuse to change it (even when it would be wise to do so). They do not often learn from mistakes.
Distrustful / Naive
The Distrustful always assumes others are dishonest and self-interested.
Insecure / Confident
The Insecure has low self esteem, and is desperate for the approval of others (not necessarily in public).
Defiant / Yielding
The defiant is brave and reacts poorly to threats. The Yielding will surrender or give in to despair.
Pessimist / Optimist
The Pessimist expects things to go poorly. They are cautious and risk adverse.
Hurried / Patient
The Hurried will take risks to achieve their goals sooner. The Patient may miss opportunities.
Conformist / Nonconformist
The Conformist goes along with the majority, and is wary of causing change or controversy.


Bully / Respectful
The Bully uses intimidation to control others. The Respectful wants people to make their own decisions.
Unforgiving / Forgiving
The Unforgiving hates those who wrong them, takes things personally, and thinks in black-and-white.
Wrathful / Passive
The Wrathful is prone to sudden outbursts of violence.
Cruel / Compassionate
The Cruel doesn't care about the suffering of others, and may actually enjoy it (particularly as revenge).
The Blustering makes threats they can't (or won't) follow through.


Gormless / Opaque
The Gormless is incautious with their speech, and makes their intentions obvious. But at least they're honest.
Garrulous / Taciturn
The Garrulous loves drama. They will spread unsubstantiated rumours and readily smear others.
Extrovert / Introvert
The Extrovert is friendly, and enjoys maintaining relationships and networks.

I will probably add some more specific cultural values (e.g., monogamy, devotion-to-religion, devotion-to-family) at a later point.

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