Knowing Your Players: Type Indicators for Gamemasters [The Guardians]



Hey, tabletoppers (and curious lookers-on)! I’m back this week with more on using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) for in-depth GMing. Last week, I walked us through a general overview of the MBTI types and how to figure out what types your players are. This week, we are looking at the Guardian temperament and how they operate in tabletop games. The four Myers-Briggs types with Guardian temperaments are:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Remember that last week we said these are our Concrete Cooperators. They communicate using reality and the physical world, and they act with others in mind. As you may expect from hearing this, they are the movers and shakers, and will often take positions of leadership in your group. Across the board, Guardians share the following:

  • Dependability
  • High work ethic
  • Loyalty
  • Sense of duty
  • Humility
  • Sense of justice
  • Focus on tradition and standards

Often the temperament of Presidents and Kings, famous guardians include people like Warren Buffett, Rosa Parks, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Barbara Walters. At the table, your Guardians will be committed to game night, focused on the rules of play, and devoted to the other members of the group (though the way they show their devotion will vary based on their types). Let’s see what the concerns of each type are and look at how a GM might draw them out with tailor-made challenges or roles.

ESFJ: The Provider

The Provider is a team player, a chairperson, and the master of ceremonies. If this doesn’t describe you as the GM (ESFJs gravitate to GM roles), you can be prepared for these PCs to be concerned with ammo, food supply, med kits, and appropriate clothing for everyone. At the gaming table, the Providers will be hyper-focused on the more mundane details of the needs of their own characters and others’, but will also turn outward to do public speaking situations off the cuff—making the convincing speech or striking up conversation in the tavern that leads to the location of the mysterious grave.

ESFJs are extremely sociable, outgoing, and neighborly people. Perhaps uniquely, they are genuinely interested in news of their friends and relatives, and love to share details of community events. Sensitive to the feelings of others, these PCs will pay careful attention to their teammates, ensuring no one feels excluded.

Some of the most popular games lend themselves well to the Provider personality as-is. Given their attention to detail and their sociability, the need for gathering intel and influencing NPCs comes naturally to them. To increase their enjoyment of their favorite tasks, force them to work for it a little bit. “Mr. Johnson” doesn’t have to be a voice over a tape recorder. Perhaps they are the host or hostess of a local government committee that the PC is a part of.

I have an uncontrollable need to please.

Finally, your ESFJs thrive on positive feedback. Especially if you are working with a new group (and this goes double for Rational GMs like myself who have to work at remembering to give positive feedback!), it’s important to praise your ESFJs, whether that’s verbally or by rewarding them with some extra gold or an item to say “you’re on the right track!”

Quotes that engage the Provider:

“Good idea! Why don’t you select another PC to complete that task with you?”

“Let me hear you convince the cell block of slaves to revolt with you even though it means almost certain death for them.”

ESTJ: The Supervisor

The Supervisor swaps one letter with the Provider, preferring Thinking over Feeling when processing information. If we follow this logic, we might expect to find that the ESTJ cares less about the feelings of others and more about the “getting shit done” aspect of gameplay. We would be exactly right. That said, they are still cooperative. It could be said that Supervisors care about what others do, but they don’t care so much about how others feel.

Me too, buddy. Me too.
Me too, buddy. Me too.

Supervisors are industrious, responsible, and hardworking. They like to make agendas and inventories and have no problem evaluating others. They also have a natural respect for authority figures, and you may find an advocate in them when your Idealist and Artisan players are raising a carnival of hells.

Similarly to the Provider, the Supervisor enjoys social events—especially ceremonial affairs with high degrees of tradition such as weddings or coronations. Because of this, you may find them gravitating toward noble classes when creating a character. When you have players of this type, don’t skip the funerals. Things can always go wrong at a burial.

Quotes that engage the Supervisor:

“Hey, you might want to write this down.”

“Do you think you could compile the list of spells into a digital format this week?”

ISFJ: The Protector

Using the Provider ESFJ as our anchor, we see that Protectors, too, share three preferences, but differ on one: Extraversion/Introversion. The introverted Protectors care for their teammates like the Provider does, but do so from the sidelines. They take immense satisfaction from caring for those in need. They will naturally incline to healing classes and tanks, placing themselves between the weaker members of the party and their enemies.

Protectors are the most diligent of all MBTI types. They are happy doing the monotonous, tiresome jobs no one else wants to do and prefer to work alone. This penchant makes them terrible delegators, and they will sometimes fall into a trap of trying to do it all themselves.

As the title of their temperament suggests, Protectors protect, and often, that includes protection against an uncertain future. This can lead them to prepping behaviors or stockpiling, and you may find that your Protector players end up with little hordes of gold or items stashed away against emergencies. This protective instinct is so strong that the ISFJ will allow it to extend to conflict. When players disagree, the Protector will insert their opinion in a manner that avoids direct conflict, preferring to preserve the feelings of others.

No, no, I’ll look up the damage ratio for a ballpoint pen, don’t worry.
No, no, I’ll look up the damage ratio for a ballpoint pen, don’t worry.

Quotes that engage the Protector:

“See what you can find out from the survivors while you serve them a meal.”

“What would you like to ensure you have before you make this trip?”

ISTJ: The Inspector

The Inspector assimilates and organizes information in a similar fashion to the Supervisor, just without as much fanfare. Inspectors, like all Guardians, take pride in maintaining systems, upholding standards of behavior, and taking part in ceremonies and traditions. They are the yin to the ISFJ’s yang, ensuring that the rules are adhered to while simultaneously ignoring the feelings of others. If someone is found to be committing an infraction, it will be dealt with coldly and efficiently.


Inspectors often get a bad rap. They can come across as negative and are sometimes referred to as “the ultimate square,” but they are loyal, committed to friends and family, and value organizations that teach a set of values to future generations. Their main weakness comes from their trust in the system and their unwillingness to depart from it—or to allow others to depart from it. What problems this can cause, though, it more than makes up for because this personality is probably the most dependable of any type.

As a GM, you can rely on these types to know intimately the details of the system you are working in. When a rule is in question, ask this type first.

Quotes that engage the Inspector:

“Could you type up these notes from the last few weeks?”

“You might be able to make an underling out of Mr. Hiroshima if you play your cards right.”

You may have noticed some overlap with this temperament. All Guardians are oriented to structure and rules, care deeply about tradition and ceremony, and are happy to perform tasks that other temperaments may find mundane. This overlap is present in all temperaments; each set of four has characteristics they share. This is great news for you as GM, because that means even if you don’t have a specific player nailed down completely, if you can discern the temperament, you can throw out a task that is likely to get close to the mark.

Next Monday we tackle the Artisans. See you then!


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