Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Character Archetypes


Character archetypes are all around us. We
admire them, envy them, and model our
behavior after them. Here, I explore twelve
familiar character archetypes. These are the
most common archetypes found in fictional
literature and fantasy role-playing games.
I explore each character through several

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Cheat Your Way to the Top

Lady Aberline finished the thirty-two-mile trek through the Forgotten Forest, reaching the foothills of Samaritan Mountain, just a few hours before nightfall. The svelte, but muscular, woman was accompanied by three men. These were hirelings, young and able-bodied. They were scouts and warriors of the woodland. Their chief was one of Lady Aberline’s good friends. To guide her way, and to ensure her safety, he commanded these three young men to protect her at all costs. Initially, Lady Aberline declined her friend’s generosity. She indicated that her journey was to be kept a secret, and that her safety would be assured. But the chief would have none of that. He gave clear and specific orders to his men and sent them off on their expedition.

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Three Words to Empower Your Success

The old man sat in his rocking chair, eye lids falling heavily on his already-tired face. The rhythmic squeak of the wooden rocker rails stopped some time ago. A calm snore began to fill the stillness in the room. Despite his restful appearance, the man’s arms were wrapped tightly around an open book that lay on his lap. The grip of his hands seemed odd given the rest of the man’s gentle presence.

A young boy, maybe just entering his teen years, stepped quietly into the old man’s study. From the doorway, he could hear the gentle hissing from the man’s nose. He is sleeping again – the boy thought. Maybe I can get a peek at that book this time. Slowly maneuvering his way toward the rocking chair, the boy stepped too heavily on a loose board in the wood floor.

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What Makes You, You?

In the past, people generally believed they could acquire magic in two ways: through learning the craft, either from another practitioner or from books; or through obtaining magic from a powerful being-think Faust or the classic, demonized witch, both of whom get their mojo from Satan. Anyone could learn magic as long as he or she had access to the knowledge or could make a connection with the right supernatural entity. The important point is that in theory, the gates of magic were open to everyone, and what I find most interesting is how that has changed in popular culture.

Liss, 2011, para. 5

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Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

My mother (and the Catholic church) taught me two important lessons growing up. The first lesson was to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This lesson is rather straight forward. Be kind to others. This did not mean that people will organically be kind to me. Nonetheless, the right thing to do was be kind to others, even if others were not kind in return. The second lesson, which seemed to follow the first, was to not take something that did not belong to me. In other words, do not steal. Simply, the two lessons were:

1. Respect other people.
2. Respect other people’s things.

By and large, I lived my whole life according to these two commandments.

Why, then, does our culture glamorize thieves in the world of fantasy and fiction?

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Does Backstory Matter – Keys to Unlocking Your Motivation

Does backstory matter – in the game and in real life? Today I look at the keys to unlocking and understanding your motivation, both in the game and in life.

The debate rages on! Does backstory matter? Or should players focus on their character’s personality, needs, and wants? As always, the answer is ‘it depends’, and ‘yes’ to both questions. ‘It depends’ is not a scapegoat answer. ‘It depends’ means it truly does depend on the game (i.e., dungeon) master and the players. If the game master creates the fantasy world based on all the characters’ backstories, then backstories do matter and must be carefully crafted to create a believable, event-driven game.

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I Give You My Word

“I give you my word”, was something we would say to confirm a legal contract.

Once upon a time, life was simpler. Now, we pay lawyers thousands of dollars to accomplish the same thing.

Government officials promise to uphold the laws of the land with their word. Through news events, the populace finds out that not all government officials keep their promises.

On any given day, two people promise to uphold the vows given in marriage. Several years down the road, those same two people find themselves in divorce court.

What has happened? Why is our word – our promises and our vows – such a temporary thing? Have we forgotten the understanding of the word ‘integrity’?

In today’s article, I talk about giving an oath. What is an oath?

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The Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins with a Single Step

Today I challenge you to consider your own personal journey. What do you need to get started? What is the goal of your journey? Who will help you get there? What obstacles are in your way?

I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Lao Tzu

Life is a journey, and if you fall in love with the journey, you will be in love forever.
Peter Hagerty

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Facing Your Fears – and Living to Tell the Story

In my younger days, when I had an abundance of time and energy, I went on adventures. I was an explorer – of sorts. No, nothing like Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Neil Armstrong, or Buzz Aldrin. I never had the time to travel around the world, or venture to the moon. But that did not make my small endeavors any less adventurous. Hide-and-seek was the game; I went exploring for treasure! Maybe there was real treasure at the end of my small journeys (gold and such). More often, the sojourns to different places resulted in learning about people, culture, and tradition! I was exploring the past, and the world that we rarely pay any attention to anymore. I explored caves, caverns, and the underworld. There are many things hidden just beneath out feet.

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Lore, Ancient Texts, and Secrets! The Life of a Druid

If you are following my discussions on the character archetypes in fantasy role playing games, then you understand my position that role-playing is essential for learning and growing. If this is your first read of my journey through character archetypes, then note that I consider play an essential component of humanity. Role-playing is a form of play. And I love to play. I am a builder of Lego sets and my own robotic and #stem creations. However, there is more to role-play than just play. Role-playing allows us to practice critical decision-making, experience deep-rooted emotions, and broaden our understanding of the world around us. In only a few short sentences I have said a great deal. As a point of reference, clinical psychologists, therapists, and educators have begun to integrate role-playing activities into the counseling session and the k12 classroom, respectively.

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You Want Me to Bring the Hammer Down?

I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory several times in my career. When answering the questions in this two-hour long test honestly, the results are spot-on. The test accurately identifies my personality strengths! Unfortunately, neither the test nor the professionals that used the test as a tool to help me plan my future provided me with enough insight into planning a straight and narrow career path. Surely, there is a better way. That way, I believe, is intrinsic to everyone. Meaning: innately, you have a gut feeling – a deep understanding – of what you should be and do in life. It is really a matter of finding the right resources and personal support that will help you reach your true potential. But how does this relate to character archetypes in fantasy role-playing?

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Why using Barbarians as Characters in Stories is Risky Business

“The mindless beast.”
“ . . . dull creature.”
“ . . . a big, green, rage monster.”
Loki: “I have an army.”
Stark: “We have a hulk.”
For fans of the original Hulk character construct, these are good words. However, times have changed, and so have characters in our favorite genres. Much to my chagrin, I had to change my movie watching behavior. If only I could go back in time. Sigh!

For fans of the original Hulk character construct, these are good words. However, times have changed, and so have characters in our favorite genres. Much to my chagrin, I had to change my movie watching behavior. If only I could go back in time. Sigh!

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The Bard – the most Powerful Character in Role Play!

“There is magic in the air!” Yes, there just might be. Many of us use the word magic. Our use of the term may vary based on context, companions, or charge. A place could have a magical effect on you. Something unexpected happens – it is magic! You get the idea. The world of magic has a specific, and even special, place in the world or fantasy role-playing. What is the world of magic? The answer to this question is not straight-forward. The world of magic – or magic – is the manipulation of the physical realm by unseen forces. Or it is the illusion of the same. Although the implications of that statement can open a pandora’s box of other topics, I will limit this discussion to the value of magic within the role-play environment. In this article, I will delve lightly into the world of magic. I do not attempt to explain it. I only discuss it in terms of fantasy role-playing. Today, I will explore the Bard character archetype, music, and storytelling magic.

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