Dungeons & Dragons Next Shows Off Personality Generation

Iron Dragon

Dungeons & Dragons Next lets you roll for personality traits and character flaws with your opening stats.

It may be the game that defined the roleplaying genre, but sometimes Dungeons & Dragons seems a little light on actual roleplaying. Outside of the standard character alignments like Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil, the core books really don’t offer much in the way of developing a character’s personality, forcing players to fill in the blanks as along the way. This is something Wizards of the Coast is looking to change with Dungeons of Dragons Next, particularly for new players who don’t have much roleplaying experience. According to Wizards, the solution is to produce procedurally-generated personalities, letting you roll up a backstory much in the same way as attributes or starting gold.

The upcoming edition of D&D will provide various background tables to define your character’s personality and backstory. While the system is still subject to change, Wizards has revealed tables for Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws. Traits are easy-to-remember background details that act as hooks for players, like believing in one god, or preferring the company of high society. Ideals define how a character might behave across a campaign, while Bonds tie them to specific objects or NPCs. Finally, flaws serve as a character’s dark side or something they struggle with. An example of one such table is included below.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I idolize a particular hero of my faith, and constantly refer to that person’s deeds and example.
2 I can find common ground between the fiercest enemies, empathizing with them and always working toward peace.
3 I see omens in every event and action. The gods try to speak to us; we just need to listen.
4 I have a relentlessly optimistic attitude.
5 I quote (or misquote) sacred texts and proverbs in almost every situation.
6 I’ve enjoyed fine food, drink, and high society among my temple’s elite. Rough living grates on me.
7 I believe my god is the only one that any rational person would want to worship, and I slowly work to convert those around me.
8 I’ve spent so long in the temple that I have little practical experience dealing with people in the outside world.

For players who are already familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, I expect personality tables like these won’t be used too often. After a few campaigns, the options are going to feel limited compared to what you can come up with in your imagination. It also could get incredibly frustrating to be stuck with personalities that clash with your playing style.

That being said, the system has some definite benefits. By treating personality like other generated statistics, new players can jump right into the gameplay of D&D without missing the narrative benefits. Dungeon Masters could also create custom tables reflecting cultural perspectives for their campaigns, allowing character variety that doesn’t clash with in-game worldviews. On the subversive side of things, a crafty DM could design spells and potions that force personality re-rolls, creating several fascinating mid-game twists.

We’ll have to see how the system looks when Dungeons & Dragons Next finally launches, but at the moment I’ll say say it has potential. What do you think?

Source: Wizards of the Coast

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