If you’ve listened to the most recent episode of the Roll Up & Die Podcast (episode 11), then you already know I’m a big fan of using tarot cards as an inspirational tool. Mysticism aside, every card means something specific (or vague, if that’s you’re thing) that can be directly applied to an NPC, PC, town, village, villain, storyline, etc. in a tabletop RPG.
Not only do I start a lot of my game prep by drawing some cards, but if I find myself stuck and looking for that “missing piece” to the game I am running, I will oftentimes find that drawing a card at random gets my brain moving again.
So without further adieu, let’s build an NPC…
First card (This Person’s Past): The 9 of Swords
Meaning: Depression, Anxiety, Despair (At least, according to MY list. You can find your own online)
Perhaps this means that this NPC is coming out of a time period where they were extremely depressed, anxious, and desparate? No shit, right? (The first card is always the easiest :-P)
Second card (This Person’s Present): The 9 of Wands
Meaning: Resilience, Persistence
Nice one! This person has dealt with much hardship in the past, but they have been resolute enough to become a better person for it.
Third card (What This Person Wants): The King of Pentacles
Meaning: Disciplined, Controlling
Hmm. This is a harder one. Part of me wants to assume that, given all the chaos this character has been through, perhaps all they want is a steady, monk-like control of their emotions. To me, though, that’s either not enough information for an interesting character, or just downright boring. So I’m going to draw a second card to try to narrow in on “What This Person Wants.”
Fourth Card (What This Person Wants): The Fool
Meaning: Spontaneity, Folly
Nope. Don’t like this one. Let’s try again.
Fifth Card (What This Person Wants): The Devil
Meaning: Bondage, Materialism, Hopelessness
Better! Perhaps this person is a former slave (which would explain the hardship in their past) but was somehow freed and desires some sort of ability to do the same for other slaves (The third card we drew showed some desire for control). Perhaps the adventurers are just the tool they need in order to get the liberation started!
Sixth Card (For the heck of it…): Knight of Pentacles
Meaning: Efficient, Routine-Oriented
The liberation of these slaves will go down in a way not unlike the Ocean’s 11 heist did. Streamlined, and like a well-oiled machine. Get in. Blow it up. Get out. Drink tea. Rock and roll.
So that’s that. Here’s to our new NPC and quest! Now we just need to give them a name!
“Dorian” should do the trick…
(Steal “Dorian” and let me know how it works for you!)