I don’t actually know much about Dungeons & Dragons. For instance do you have to use “&” instead of “and” when referring to it? I know if I was more than a casual acquaintance I’d call it D&D instead of the whole formal name. A boyfriend in high school was super-embarrassed when I found out he played it… (I don’t even know if play is the right verb!) So of course I was intrigued at that time. But whatever he chose to tell me about it didn’t stick. My apologies to true devotees if I get something wrong here… But I think I’ve stumbled on to a cool tool for getting to know your characters and making sure they are well-rounded and complex.
It’s the Alignment System. From this Online Alignment Test page:
Alignment is central to a D&D character’s personality. D&D uses two measures to determine a specific character’s ethical and moral attitudes and behavior.
The moral axis has three positions: good, neutral and evil. Good characters generally care about the welfare of others. Neutral people generally care about their own welfare. Evil people generally seek to harm the others’ welfare.
The ethical axis has three positions as well: lawful, neutral, and chaotic. Lawful people generally follow the social rules as they understand them. Neutral people follow those rules find convenient or obviously necessary. And chaotic people seek to upset the social order and either institute change, or simply create anarchy.
Here’s a more in-depth analysis of the nine different positions. On this same site you can take a longer test or simply receive an incredibly thorough explanation of your character type – even with a list of commandments and sins specific to your character’s moral guide. It’s all kinds of awesome and thought-provoking!
Answer the questions for the test – as your character – and receive your classification, complete with a description of certain tendencies and personality traits. Assuming your character may change over the course of you novel, I’d suggest answering as he/she would at the beginning of the story. Or do both and see if growth and change happens. The questions assume your world is that of a fantasy – mine is contemporary, but I found I could still answer the questions. It’s interesting to think about a character’s role in society as well as his/her inner moral compass.
I’m definitely intrigued enough to play around with this a bit.
Here’s a Star Wars inspired alignment chart for example.
My character came up as a chaotic neutral – just like Han Solo!
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK