Getting Personal 3: Piratically Speaking


In my previous column I explored the various letter codes that you can combine to help define a personality for your character. Along the way, I intimated that there are two major divisions (P and N) as well as a total of 16 subdivisions. This column explores the first half in more depth.


I have used terms like Pirates and Ninja in part because they are more abstract archetypes. You can sum up a Pirate or a Ninja in a single moment. Likewise, it's fairly easy to grasp what a Pirate Monkey Zombie Clown acts like, if you just imagine each archetype.

However, when it comes to describing each of the 16 major types, the letter codes are a little bit like alphabet soup. It's one thing to understand what a PMZC is, and it's another to refer to the category in that way. For this reason, I have given each of the 16 types another signifier based upon well-known RPG fantasy archetypes; for example, the Pirate Monkey Zombie Clown (PMZC) is also known as the Fighter. These category names do, in fact, draw heavily from Dungeons & Dragons and its brethren, in part because the names are so familiar.

In circulating these category names among friends, many proposed I use a different system of naming, such as Tarot Cards (Jack of Hearts, Queen of Spades, etc.). However, while those names help remove the categories from their fantasy roots, they make it harder to immediately understand the personality and function of each category. In the end I think the fantasy names are a good tradeoff. Maybe you will disagree; if so, I hope you will propose something different.

The category descriptions below fuse together an assortment of ideas, including the thinking that each personality type tends to lean towards a corresponding psychological flaw. The examples of "famous individuals" of each personality type are drawn from lists online; they do not necessarily represent my own personal feelings, and do not imply that, for example, Marilyn Monroe was a sorcerer (Marilyn Manson, maybe)...

Pirate Zombies (P*Z*)

Pirate Zombies are not necessarily militant, but many of these warriors would be at home in the military, which like them is focused on service, duty, responsibility, tradition, hierarchy and order, as well as a desire to protect that which one holds dear -- be that an ideal, an individual or a way of life. They are sensory-driven and judge-like in their decision-making, focusing on real-world, practical details and the way things "ought to be done". They are known as stable, solid, dependable individuals who rarely change course and who never give up on tradition. They enjoy being a part of groups, whether they are leading or following. In the real world, they are generally the most numerous, and are often seen to be the people who make the world run. They get things done.

There are four types:

The Fighter (PMZC) - Warriors

Fighters enjoy being in charge, and are excellent protectors, being hyper-vigilant and aware of the danger in the world. They see problems and obstacles clearly, and delegate easily to others where necessary, working and playing equally hard. They have a strong sense of seniority and allegiance, and are willing to serve, though they expect the same from others. Though tough-minded, they are easily wounded emotionally, with their strong sense of right and wrong causing them to struggle between swift justice against transgressors, and rescuing the punished from their punishment at the last minute. Though decisive, they will often construct their worldviews from only those facts that support the conclusion drawn by their gut feelings.

Fighters tend towards a Masochistic temperament, with a pattern of avoiding pleasure and seeking out experiences that lead to suffering. They will prevent others from helping them, and will often hinder the attempts of others to help them in their time of need. They respond to positive rewards with depression and guilt, and take little interest in those who treat them well. They often perform self-sacrificing tasks without being asked to.

Famous fighters include William McKinley, Bill Clinton, Terry Bradshaw, Sally Struthers and Danny Glover.

The Barbarian (PRZC)

Barbarians are not savage huns, but they are pillars of strength and natural leaders who are hard-working, dependable and honest to the point of bluntness. They are natural leaders who thrive on the organization of people, often in a military capacity, and they like to belong to groups in which they can help organize and run things. The believe in discipline, regimen and efficiency, and are proponents of the idea that laziness is not to be tolerated. They make decisions quickly and stand by those decisions, even in the face of overwhelming odds. They believe in tradition, but generally this belief extends only so far as their own traditions and rituals, which they live steadfastly by. They do not like small talk, gossip or familiarity, and do not seek praise, acting quickly to get even dangerous job done in a straightforward fashion. They are capable of working hard for days at a time without rest, and it is during these times that their tight control on their emotions often leaks through, giving way to anger and fury if something goes wrong or someone tells them how to do things.

Barbarians tend towards a Passive-Aggressive temperament, offering negativistic and passive resistance to demands. They resist routine tasks and scorn authority, yet complain of being underappreciated or misunderstood. They become sullen and argumentative and exaggerate their own personal misfortunes, alternating between open hostility and quiet contrition.

Famous barbarians include Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin and Elliot Ness.

The Cavalier (PMZB)

For the devoted cavalier, the need to serve others is paramount. Bound by social convention, cavaliers need to be needed, and will avoid moral and political controversy -- even where it conflicts with their own worldview -- in order to be needed by others. This often results in them being overworked and treated like a doormat, as they are often unwilling to boast, believing that virtue is its own reward. Nevertheless, they are methodical, good workers who work well in small groups or "one on one" situations. They have few close friends, and tend to avoid confrontation, but will take quick action to alert authorities and do the right thing if it means defending the innocent or those they love. They are loyal to the end when it comes to their friends, which can result in vulnerability to those who would do them harm.

Cavaliers tend towards a Dependent temperament, being submissive towards and dependent on others for decision-making, advice and reassurance. They prefer others to make decisions for them, and have difficulty starting ventures on their own. They will agree with people out of fear of rejection and will volunteer for demeaning projects to get praise, as they are in constant need of approval. They are uncomfortable being alone, and act clingy rather then ending relationships.

Famous cavaliers include Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robert E. Lee, William H. Taft, Kristi Yamaguchi and Queen Elizabeth II.

The Ranger (PRZB)

Rangers are punctual, businesslike detectives, interested in taking a step by step approach and rooting out the facts of a situation. They are good judges of right and wrong in their area of specialty, and have a sense of grim determination when it comes to getting the job done. They are frustrated by inconsistency and hate when commitments are missed, comparing everything to its proper form, quality, time and place. They are rather aloof and cold when it comes to emotional closeness, and generally keep their feelings to themselves unless they are asked, which results in blunt honesty. They generally express feelings nonverbally, and are often pessimistic.

Rangers tend towards a Depressive temperament, suffering from depression, dejection, unhappiness, and dysthymia. Their gloomy outlook stems from a low self-esteem and a tendency to be critical and derogatory towards oneself and judgmental of others. They are brooding and worrying, prone to guilt and remorse, and generally pessimistic in outlook.

Famous rangers include George Washington, Herbert Hoover, Evander Holyfield, Jack Webb and Donald Rumsfeld.

Pirate Punks (P*K*) - Rogues

Pirate Punks are roguish, swashbuckling and reckless, roaming the seven seas (literal or figurative) in search of whatever fulfills their current impulses. Freedom and spontaneity are their watchwords, and they love nothing more than to have fun, how they want, and when they want. All actions are driven to fulfill their current needs, though this can at times make them well-suited for activities and careers that require impulsive action (for example, a firefighter). They are interested in the artistic and the aesthetic, though their own interpretations of beauty may not always be obvious, static, or in line with the rest of society.

There are four types.

The Acrobat (PMKC)

Acrobats are all about fun and excitement, and living life in the moment. They are the life of a party, spontaneous and impulsive, jumping from one social gathering to another, and one thought to another in their speech, which is at times incoherent. They are fond of telling stories, which are full of wit and mischief, and can talk for hours. They are in constant need of new experiences, and find dull logic boring, craving excitement and the next new exciting, dangerous thing, to the point of often ignoring the consequences of their actions. All the world is a stage, and they are determined to explore all of it. Ever optimists, they go with the flow, trusting to improvisation and skill to get them through tough situations.

Acrobats tend towards a Borderline temperament, marked by an instability of mood, relationships and self image. They alternate between idealizing and devaluing others, and have frequent shifts of mood marked by anxiety and irritability, with periods of emptiness and boredom wherein they fear abandonment. They shop, eat, drink, and use/abuse substances impulsively, and are uncertain about their long term goals, careers and values. Their self-destructive behavior can lead to anger when their expectations are not met, or suicidal actions.

Famous acrobats include Dale Evans, Bob Hope, Willard Scott, Mary Lou Retton and Steve Irwin.

The Bard (PRKC)

Bards are spontaneous and active, loving thrill, speed and gamesmanship. They never give a sucker an even break, and are quick to pounce on nonverbal cues in their victims that give them an advantage. They admire strength and talent in themselves and others, and respect those who can beat them at their own game, but never admit weakness. They love to be center stage, demonstrating their talents, and are keenly attuned to their senses. They are choosy with friends, and make a good first impression that grows hard to maintain over time.

Bards tends toward Narcissism, marked by a grandiose sense of self-esteem and self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration and attention. They exaggerate their own achievements and expect to be recognized as superior, and have fantasies of success, power and brilliance. They believe that they are unique and special, and have a sense of entitlement that leads them to be exploitive and envious of others.

Famous bards include P.T. Barnum, Mae West, Lucille Ball, Roy Rogers and Jack Nicholson.

The Sorcerer (PMKB)

Sorcerers dance to the beat of their own drum. They are unconventional trendsetters focused on the freedom that comes at the cutting edge of the world, where they can set their own laws and codes as they explore the artist inside them. They live in the moment, although their introversion keeps them from wanting to be the center of attention, instead pushing them towards an exploration of their own dreams and natural talents. They dislike organized education and are bored by logic, and learn best with hands-on training that fits their own loose schedules. They are charming, if aloof, but get along well with animals and children, perhaps because these have fewer expectations and allow them to remain quiet and reserved. They believe in luck and following their instincts, and have an appreciation for beauty.

Sorcerers tend towards a Cyclothymic temperament, marked by an alternation between hyopmanic and depressive moods also known as Bipolar or Manic-Depressive disorder. Their extreme shifts in mood and behavior include swinging between periods of low and with high self-esteem, creativity and apathy, energy and laziness, people-seeking and self-absorption, optimism and pessimism, laughter and sadness. Their unstable disposition leaves them prone to substance abuse, poor productivity at work, and bad relationships.

Famous sorcerers include Marie Antoinette, Auguste Rodin, Ulysses S. Grant, Marilyn Monroe and Donald Trump.

The Rogue (PRKB)

Rogues are performers, but their interest is not artistic. Rather, they focus on the mechanical and industrial arts, living where risk is a reward. They like life on the edge, but are always keenly aware of the dangers involved, which they usually avoid due to a closeness with the physical world (though their disregard for rules and authority can get them in trouble). They do not bounce from one thing to another, preferring to lie low for periods of time, saving their energy for projects or adventures worthy of their time. They do, however, need room to stretch their legs and spread out, which can lead to them encroaching on the rights of others (though they are comfortable being treated the same way). They require flexibility for their lifestyle, yet become inflexible when someone threatens theirs. They are highly sensory aware, and life in a world of gut feelings. They generally express themselves nonverbally, and are masters of the witty one-liner, especially in tense situations.

Rogues tend towards an Antisocial temperament, marked by a complete disregard for the rights of others and a lack of conformity to social norms. They are irritable and aggressive, with inconsistent work behavior and a tendency to ignore financial agreements. They are impulsive liars, reckless with the safety of themselves and others, and show no remorse for wrongdoings, including lying, cheating and other criminal behavior.

Famous rogues include Charles Bronson, Tom Cruise, James Dean, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.

More to Come

Next time: A look at Ninja Robots (Wizards) and Ninja Monkeys (Healers). Find it right here.