Character generator idea

Recently I was suffering from an attack of ennui. I was bored and having trouble thinking of anything to do that sounded interesting. This came in spite of my impending move and need to clean my room, finish the books I checked out from the local library a couple weeks ago, and then the various projects I’m currently sporadically working on or at least thinking about working on.

Then I re-discovered another saved game of Crusader Kings, and I think that my most recent attack of ennui might have passed. Heck, if nothing else, I have a blog I can write on now, right? 🙂

I think I’ve thought about something like this in the recent past, but while at work earlier today I was thinking about writing a program to generate characters for role-playing games or stories. Now that I think about it, I should probably write a post about Crusader Kings II. Anyway, in brief, Crusader Kings II is a combination of a grand strategy game and a role-playing game in which you play as a dynasty in medieval Europe. Technically, it’s medieval Europe and the Near East – modern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. For example, instead of playing as the Kingdom of France, you might play as the Capet dynasty and try to keep your family on the French throne while also trying to put your relatives on other thrones in Europe through marriage, assassination, warfare, and various other stratagems.

In Crusader Kings II, each character has a variety of traits that affect how the AI acts and, in the case of the player, gives you certain events to respond to. For example, if a character is Lustful, they are less likely to remain loyal to their spouse and more likely to, say, have an affair and father or give birth to illegitimate children. Conversely, if a character is Chaste, they are loyal to their spouse, though this has a cost of a slightly lower chance of children.

Before this turns into a Crusader Kings II post, I was thinking about using at least some of the traits from Crusader Kings II in this character generator. I’ve already sort of written a very basic piece of software to generate a basic physical description (hair and eye color, height, weight, and age), which I think could be, at some point, fairly easily combined with software to generate a list of traits that might make interesting characters.

I was thinking each character would probably have three to five traits, which seems like a number small enough to not be overwhelming but large enough to have some dramatic potential. A character that’s Tall, Kind, and Slothful would, of course, be different from a character who is a Cruel, Diligent, Drunkard. I was thinking earlier about somehow having a (pseudo-)random way to generate what list to choose the traits from. A character with only negative traits (e.g., Cruel, Lustful, Drunkard) or conversely only negative traits (Pious, Chaste, Temperate) would, or could, be boring, while a character with a mix of positive and negative traits seems like it would be more interesting.

I was thinking earlier that this idea for a character generation program seems like an indication that either I’ve been playing too much Crusader Kings (which I’ll readily admit is possible) or not enough Dungeons and Dragons. Technically, I’ve only played D&D a few times, and the last time I played any kind of tabletop roleplaying game (in this case, Pathfinder) was last November. I’m hoping to join or find a gaming group once I move, though.


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