Using the Zodiac to Determine Personalities for NPCs

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I own a Zodiac die, that looks like one of these here. I’ve never used it, because I couldn’t ever really find a use for it. You can find a whole host of them on Etsy. For a few years I’ve had the idea to use them to determine the personality of characters you encounter. As I began looking into it more, I realized how elaborate and detailed your characters can be, and how they can interact with your players.

The Wikipedia article on the Astrological signs has a really good and detailed information on the Astrological signs. Using this die, I realized how much it can provide information on character or monster.

There are, of course, your twelve basic astrological signs, each with general personality traits. (Grabbed from here.)

Ares: Bold and ambitious

Taurus: Relaxed but bullheaded

Gemini: A bit of a split personality, very motivated

Cancer: Highly intuitive

Leo: Vivacious, theatrical, and passionate

Virgo: Logical, practical, and systematic

Libra: Obsessed with equilibrium

Scorpio: Strength from emotion

Sagittarius: Chasing after geographical, intellectual, and spiritual adventures

Capricorn: Navigate both the emotional and material realms

Aquarius: Very humanitarian

Pisces: Divided between reality and fantasy

Beyond that, each astrological sign corresponds with an element: Fire, Air, Earth, or Water, which also means each sign is aligned to one of the Elemental planes, so if you want to connect certain characters to the planes:

Positive (Male)

(self-expressive)

Fire Alchemy fire symbol.svg Enthusiasm; drive to express self; faith Aries; Leo; Sagittarius
Air Alchemy air symbol.svg Communication; socialization; conceptualization Gemini; Libra; Aquarius
Negative (Female)

(self-containing)

Earth Alchemy earth symbol.svg Practicality; caution; material world Taurus; Virgo; Capricorn
Water Alchemy water symbol.svg Emotion; empathy; sensitivity Cancer; Scorpio; Pisces

Each sign is also linked to various modalities: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. In other words: Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic.

Modality Symbol Keywords Signs
Cardinal Cardinal symbol.svg Action; dynamic; initiative; great force Aries; Cancer; Libra; Capricorn
Fixed Fixed symbol.svg Resistance to change; great willpower; inflexible Taurus; Leo; Scorpio; Aquarius
Mutable Mutable symbol.svg Adaptability; flexible; resourceful Gemini; Virgo; Sagittarius; Pisces

Each of those Modalities are linked to one of the elements as well:

Element Fire Earth Air Water
Cardinal Aries Capricorn Libra Cancer
Fixed Leo Taurus Aquarius Scorpio
Mutable Sagittarius Virgo Gemini Pisces

So, as you can see, through the rolling of a single die (you can use a D12 if you don’t have a zodiac die), you can determine both a character’s personality as well as half their alignment. Let’s try this now.

You’ve got a king the players are going to visit. You roll the die, and come up with Cancer. This king is highly intuitive. That’s a water sign, which is linked to empathy and emotion, so he has a lot of personality, and cares for his people. Cancer is also a Cardinal element, so he’s Lawful.

His wife, on the other hand, is a Virgo. She’s practical and logical. She’s an earth sign, and Virgos are mutable, which means she’s chaotic. Her practicality means she’s willing to bend the rules when she thinks it’s right.

This isn’t something that needs to be done on the fly, either. You can roll this up before the session, in order to get into the characters’ heads. The Wikipedia article I linked to also shows how the various signs oppose one another, so you can easily have characters come into conflict with one another simply by having opposing personalities. You know how sometimes when you meet someone, and you just CAN’T hit it off? Play that up in your games using the zodiac.

Have you done anything like this in the past? How do you think this can be handled practically in-game?