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Deep as a Puddle: Myers Briggs

No, you’re not all gnomes named Myers Briggs…
Myers Briggs is a classification system that’s popular in high school sociology classes and business books. Quizzes to determine your personality type were also frequently passed around in email from my friends and relatives; this quiz classifies various Harry Potter characters and tells you who you overlap. (For this set of phrasings, I’m Harry Potter, strangely. To skip the test and read the character assignments, go here [1].)

The personality types can be used in many ways. If you have an NPC and want a quick hook to build a character around, randomly assigning a personality type can give you a quirky way to quickly develop motivations and goals. Below is a quick table you can roll on, with a thumbnail description of each intersection. Pick up a 20 sider and go!

  1. ISTJ – The Duty Fulfillers
  2. ESTJ – The Guardians
  3. ISFJ – The Nurturers
  4. ESFJ – The Caregivers
  5. ISTP – The Mechanics
  6. ESTP – The Doers
  7. ESFP – The Performers
  8. ISFP – The Artists
  9. ENTJ – The Executives
  10. INTJ – The Scientists
  11. ENTP – The Visionaries
  12. INTP – The Thinkers
  13. ENFJ – The Givers
  14. INFJ – The Protectors
  15. ENFP – The Inspirers
  16. INFP – The Idealists
  17. Reroll, emphasizing the first preference (I/E).
  18. Reroll, emphasizing the second preference (S/N).
  19. Reroll, emphasizing the third preference (T/F).
  20. Reroll, emphasizing the last preference (J/P).

You can also work backwards, looking at the professions [2] most commonly associated with a type and assigning a character to it. This might encourage you to present the world in a way that feels more real: if forensic pathologists and mechanics are often ISTP [3], then playing your CSI technician with the traits listed on the page might make the character seem more believable. Conversely, if you play the CSI technician as an extrovert, you’ll be intentionally playing against type– instead of accidentally doing so.

Trying it Out

In an upcoming game, the dwarf king’s two primary advisors have been statted out. I know how they are going to fight, what resources they have– but haven’t figured out much about them. (It can be hard to get attached to characters who will be going down in a round or three.)

So, a quick personality for my Eldrich Disciple… let’s roll. The d20 came up 11, ENTP. Clicking through the professions link above, I see that she is flexible and diverse, lively and energetic, and enjoys solving difficult problems. Given her viewpoint, I have an idea how she came to power.

Swanilda Gautvidsdatter was a driven priestess, identified as a dynamic, inspiring presence in the order soon after her ordination. Unfortunately, her drive was difficult to mesh with the routines and deference to authority expected in her order. She found another path, bargaining with demons for personal power (the Warlock class), and blending her depraved worship with her religious training.

She hated the rigidity the superiors in her order demanded and sought a new patron. Her combination of personal and divine power proved attractive to the king, who promoted her to his professional “counselor”. Since her assignment outside of the order, she has proven her loyalty to the king– who maintains her freedom from the religious order as his personal problem solver. A role she relishes.

The other adviser is an Eldrich Theurge. His type was 9, ENTJ. He is a natural leader, who seeks structure and order. I see him as a wizard now (probably a colleague of the king), rather than the sorcerer I’d originally envisioned. His impatience with inefficency, self confidence, and verbal communication skills scream nobleman to me.

Eyvald Gladsen was among the first to commit his clan to the king’s alliance with the demonic powers. His personal powers grew as a result, and the pure wizardry of his powers soon became tainted with the unique powers of his demonic alliance. He has studiously researched methods to infuse his spells with demonic power and has figured out a way to hang spells on his eldrich blasts.

Despite the madness he and his clan have suffered, he remains an inspiring leader of men. His desire for structure keeps things orderly, his madness manifests as obsessive detail and focus. In battle he will make strong clear demands, and act decisively to take control of the battlefield. He is less about pure damage than controlling the PCs options and disrupting their plans.

In Your Games

I have to admit that using business tools for quick personality seems a strange, but there are a lot of sites out there that support the Myers Briggs types. For me, a valuable use is to ensure that other ways of seeing the world make it into the game at times. Not everyone is rational in the same way that I am… and the world feels flat if all NPCs think like the GM.

Have you ever used these personality types in your games? What strange tools have you borrowed from your work or school life to enhance your NPCs?

7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "Deep as a Puddle: Myers Briggs"

#1 Comment By BryanB On February 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am

What an interesting idea. I once took a career interest test over at the College of the Sequoias. My top five possible career results were rather interesting. The personality portion of the test was dead on. I couldn’t believe how accurate it was.

It can be hard to develop different personalities for important NPCs. I’ve been in the habit of giving NPCs a motivation and a flaw, but I can see that a personality index would be very useful to fleshing them out more. I had never considered using something like the Myers Briggs style index. I might have to try it out.

#2 Comment By Sigurd On February 18, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

No insult to Harry Potter but I found the wikipedia info more immediately useful:


Good article! Thanks.

#3 Comment By Martin Ralya On February 18, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

I love quick-to-use, discrete tools like this one — self-contained, easy to grok, and it sounds like easy to use. Thanks for the idea, Scott!

Your Deep as a Puddle series always surprises me in good ways. While I haven’t run a game since I bought my deck and Tarot book, I still can’t wait to try out your [5].

#4 Comment By Scott Martin On February 19, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

[6] – I doubt you’ll be surprised to hear that Jennifer provided the kernel of this idea. A lot of business books seem to take the types as gospel, and there’s a [7] dedicated to advancing research into these classifications. Which is a good reason for us to remain aware of it…

[8] – You persuaded me; I worked a link to the wikipedia page into the second sentence. I forgot that not every high school that makes you take the test.

[9] – Thanks!

#5 Comment By Swordgleam On February 21, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

I’ve always found M-B one of the more useless personality type tests in the realm of psychology. But for quick game design decisions, it’s brilliant! Great idea.

#6 Comment By Bercilac On February 22, 2010 @ 3:30 am

I got Voldemort.

I wonder whether you could do something similar for Gardner’s multiple intelligences?

#7 Comment By Foolster41 On February 25, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

I use the M-B test for fleshing out my fiction characters, but using it to generate ideas for new NPCs and using it for roleplaying is a great idea. I have no idea why I didn’t think of that.