Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Misfits in the backwoods

The frontier's no place for sensible folk. Safety and comfort are back at home, where wiser people go about their lives. But out in the wilderness you find people who just...aren't quite normal.

Baron Ungern

When the party meets someone, choose one trait from the list below.
If they're even moderately important, or if the party wants something from them, choose two.
If that person keeps showing up, introduce a third trait that isn't obvious at first.

Personality (d12)
1stubbornThey almost never change their views.  They won't give up on a goal, but they also won't admit fault.  Loyal, dedicated, and unchanging.
2guilt-riddenGuilty and broken, full of self-hate for what they've done or how they've failed.  They try to keep their brokenness hidden.
3arrogantThinks everyone is beneath them.  They treat you as a fan and a supporter, or else an enemy or a nuisance.  No one is their equal.
4eager to pleaseOverly eager to please, they'll say whatever it takes to make an interaction go more smoothly.  They're always saying what they think you want to hear, or whatever lie avoids a difficult truth.  Inspiring words, but broken promises.
5inspiredThey have a grand vision for the future, a dream and the drive to pursue it.
6optimisticThey see the best in everything and everyone, even if it's unwarranted.  Always finding the silver lining in a difficult situation.  Won't acknowledge what's wrong.
7gung hoImpatient and eager to get down to work.  The time for thinking and talking is past; it's time for doing.
8penny-wiseFocused so much on the details that their larger goal suffers.  Always reorganizing the supplies or saving pennies from the budget, missing the big picture.  But with such focus, they're good at the details.
9burnedDeeply wounded by something in their past, they're always avoiding it.  It's something big: war, hunger, home, family, success, forgiveness, etc.
10unsettledAlways looking to pull up stakes and move on down the road, looking for a new opportunity or new surroundings.  Staying too long with the same job, same home, or same companions makes them uneasy.
11addictedDependent on a drug, they get irritable and shaky when they can't get it.  (fermented drinks from corn or potatoes, potent tobacco tea, complex distilled and flavored alcohol like rum and retsina, strange plants to smoke and chew)
12panickyBad under pressure.  Prone to panic, freeze up, or fall into despair when the going gets tough.

If you can't decide, roll for two random traits, then make them work together even if they seem contradictory.


random personality

Let's try a few combinations for someone in charge of a trading post:
  • Gung ho and addicted.  They're working hard, putting up new buildings and making deals, but if there's no newt-leaf in the next shipment, someone's getting hurt.
  • Unsettled and guilt-ridden.  On the run from what they did back home.  They'll stay here for a time, but they'll leave the trading post behind soon enough.
  • Penny-wise and panicky.  They'll haggle over a single raccoon fur and make sure the shelves are dusted, but when war looms and goods become scarce, they'll fall into despair and panic.
  • Optimistic and inspired.  They see a town growing up here one day, a great meeting place, a shining beacon in the wilderness, and their vision is contagious.  Nothing fazes them: all setbacks are temporary, all progress leads surely to the goal.
Capt. James Cook

For a true monster, whether pitiful or villainous, take one of these traits to an extreme:
  • Burned.  They've seen hunger in their past and they'll do anything to avoid it again.  Hoarding supplies, never sharing a morsel or letting anyone in, they'll kill you for your rations at the first hint of scarcity.
  • Inspired.  Their great dream for the future is persuasive and all-encompassing.  A visionary cult leader, they've convinced so many others to dream the same future.  Everything that crosses their path is fodder for the goal.

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