Analysis, Tabletop

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

[Art by Karla Ortiz @ karlaortizart.com]
[Art by Karla Ortiz @ karlaortizart.com]
[INTRO] [GUARDIANS] [ARTISANS] [IDEALISTS] [RATIONALS]

Hey, there! Once again, we’re back with another installment of my series on type indicators for gamemasters. We’ve been using the Keirsey Temperament scale as a guide to individual Myers-Briggs personality types. If you’re not familiar with these assessments, you may want to check out the first post in my series. The theory is that knowing the personality types of each player can help gamemasters devise encounters and scenarios that cater to the specific interests of their group. Knowing your players leads to better planned encounters, which leads to more fun. And that’s our goal, right?

Last week, we took a look at the Artisan personality type. This week, we’re looking at those champions of humanity, the Idealists. Let’s begin! The Idealist temperament is expressed by these four Myers-Briggs types:

Myers-Briggs

These types share a preference for iNtuition over Sensing and Feeling over Thinking, making them Abstract Cooperators. They communicate abstractly, using concept and theory over facts and experiential evidence; their actions, however, are turned outward towards their fellow humans. These comprise the true people-people of the four temperaments. When you hear someone say another person is “deep,” they are most likely talking about an Idealist. I mean, take a look at those Keirsey labels—they are almost all named after careers concerned with elevating or enhancing people in some way. These people are amazing team players, and are happy to “lose” as long as everyone had fun and learned something in the process.

As a group, Idealists share the following general qualities:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Longing for romance
  • Self-knowledge
  • Kind-heartedness
  • A sense of spirituality
  • A nurturing instinct

Idealists thrive on the teamwork aspect of RPG games, and make good gamemasters if they can overcome their abhorrence of conflict, which they avoid at all costs. This will not prevent them from heartily engaging in armed conflict, but they will be uncomfortable arguing with someone or laying down the law.

Idealists are exceptionally good at creating harmony within a group and will serve as peacemakers between your other players. They also celebrate the spirit of “journey” and will likely develop extensive backstories and character arcs for their characters, as they enjoy watching people (even fictional ones) grow into their full potential.

As a rule, Idealists will stick with Lawful or Neutral Good alignments, and will almost never stoop to the Evil alignments. If they do, it should not surprise you to see them develop the character’s journey to the light over the course of the campaign. So how does this inspirational group contribute to the table? Let’s take a look at each individual personality.

ENFP: The Champion

This type is the grand adventurer—the most optimistic and outgoing of all Idealist types. To them, the world is bursting with opportunities for adventure, novelty, and meaningful experiences. The world is full of fascinating people and they cannot wait to tell everyone about it! In life, the Champion will seek out opportunities for new experiences, and will often gravitate towards travel and immersion in other cultures, only to return home to bathe any listening ear in tales of their adventures. They are excellent storytellers and effective motivational speakers; their stories are often designed to inspire or motivate their audiences.

The Champion also carries a strong sense of personal authenticity. They are preoccupied with being themselves, and will likely transfer this trait to their characters in RPG games, attaching significant personal details to their characters like totems or sentimental items, clothing, and even their names. They are great at observing this in others, reading people and their emotions or motivations like a newspaper. You may as well have ticker tape above your head.

This drive for excellent storytelling is what draws the ENFP to the gaming table. RPG games present a unique opportunity to both play a game and create a story, and it’s the story that interests the Champion most. They will spend combat rounds devising stories for the six goblins that are attacking the group, present other players with possible reasons their characters are “doing the thing,” and ascribe illusions of grandeur to the entire campaign arc. Loud and vivacious, this type is a joy to be around, and will add meaning and depth to your campaign.

Even if you don’t want me to!
Even if you don’t want me to!

Quotes that engage the Champion:

“How did your character develop a relationship with this gang?”

“The bartender wants to hear more about your trip to the Nethersphere. What do you tell her?”

ENFJ: The Teacher

The Teacher has two special powers: near-boundless imagination and unwavering belief in their students, whoever they may be. It’s important to note with the career-labeled types that they don’t necessarily do those jobs. ENFJs may be teachers, but they may also choose careers in social work, human resources, politics, or even sales. Whatever path the Teacher chooses, the members of the rung immediately beneath them become their “students,” and will find themselves with a personal cheerleader and advocate in the Teacher.

The imagination of the teacher is without limitation, and it is for them especially you must strive to develop detailed, intricate scenes in roleplay. If you don’t, they will do it for you. They are expressive, communicative, warm, and bubbly. This charisma takes precedence at the table, where you will find they gravitate to colorful yet noble roles. Their graciousness and ease of speech appeals to others, and you may find fellow players subconsciously follow their lead, if they do not outright elect the Teacher as team captain. In fact, their limitless imagination and desire to see others succeed serves to make ENFJs excellent GMs, as long as their frustration with conflict does not impede them.

"You are like-a my childrens!"—Strong Bad
“You are like-a my childrens!”—Strong Bad

Quotes that engage the Teacher:

“Can you tell me more about this wagon you picked up from the gypsies?”

“I will allow your character to keep this NPC with them as a minion with a system for gaining some of your skills.”

INFP: The Healer

The Healer is the Introverted version of the ENFP Champion. With the same steadfast belief in people, a personal sense of authenticity, and a passion for seeing the good in the world, it might seem like there are few differences. That may be true, but the traits that make the INFP unique set them far apart from their Champion counterparts. Their introversion makes them much more reserved than the ENFP, and when applied to a wandering imagination full of the good in the world, this introversion results in a dreamer—starry-eyed and fanciful. They may appear shy and distant on the outside, but inside they are living in vibrant fantasy worlds and fairy-tale lands, and may come to see themselves as swans in a world of ugly ducklings.

At the table, the INFP enjoys the imaginative creation of new worlds as well as the rest of the Idealists, and is patient with learning the systems required to play. Because of their colorful inner worlds, you may find them coming up with unique solutions to your carefully crafted conflicts and puzzles, which adds a great deal to the big draw of RPG games—the art of the unexpected and finding creative solutions together.

Take care not to become frustrated with the INFP at your table, though, as it may be difficult to get them to focus. If you need to explain something to them that’s rule-heavy, use plenty of examples to engage their visual minds and you’ll be well on your way with this type.

I sure hope not.
I sure hope not.

Quotes that engage the Healer:

“What do you have in your inventory that might assist you in your journey through the cold winter snow?”

“Think of your combat pool as a representation of the hours you spend in the shooting lanes honing your craft.”

INFJ: The Counselor

Similar to other Idealists, the Counselor possesses a vivid and intense imagination, but more so than the other types, they prefer to invest this vision into the lives of the people around them. Counselors, you may guess, find immense personal satisfaction in helping others realize their full potential. Unlike many introverts, they do well interacting with groups of people as long as the conversation goes a bit deeper than the latest gossip. They prefer meaningful conversations and enjoy listening to others talk about their problems. So many types are quick to simply slap some advice on a friend’s problems and call it a day, but the counselor will listen and process, and intuitively provide the comfort, advice, or affirmation the friend is actually seeking.

INFJs thrive on ensuring harmony within groups of people, and work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth operation of human systems. When conflict arises, they will focus their attention on the offended party, their natural ability to see intentions allowing them to provide insight to the actions of the offender that the “victim” may not realize.

In the same way you need to make sure your settings are on point for the Teacher, you need to make sure the inner worlds of your NPCs are solid when you have a Counselor at the table, and you may find you need to work hard to develop some intense complexity with your villains. Counselors are intensely aware of the inner workings of the minds of others, and will quickly become frustrated if there isn’t a clear path of motivation for your NPCs’ actions. Make sure you are spending the effort necessary to develop a little complication into them. The dungeon of the mind is far more important to your INFJs than the twists and turns of your physical dungeons.

COME HERE AND LET ME LOVE YOU!
COME HERE AND LET ME LOVE YOU!

Quotes that engage the Counselor:

“How does your character feel about the use of gnome children as factory workers?”

“The villain is caught between his desire to maintain a relationship with his now-orc child and his hatred of metahumanity.”

Where other temperaments will focus on the elements of play, the Idealists are constructing backstories, character motivations, and grand plans that may or may not come to fruition. As a gamemaster, you should listen to them, especially if story is not your forte. They will be an invaluable source of vivid imagery and add a lot of depth to the narrative arcs of your campaigns. If you have the opportunity to add an Idealist to your group, you should do it. Their natural imaginative strength far outweighs their potential frustration with conflict and long lists of rules.

Next Monday, we will tackle the Rationals, our final group in the series. See you then!

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