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

[Art by Rebecca Sarray.]
[Art by Rebecca Sarray.]
[INTRO] [GUARDIANS] [ARTISANS] [IDEALISTS] [RATIONALS]

I may be a little biased, but I saved the best for last. 😉 This week in my series on type indicators for gamemasters, we’re delving into the complex minds of the Rationals. If you haven’t been following along, we’re using the Keirsey Temperament scale as a guide to individual Myers-Briggs personality types and the roles they tend to gravitate toward in tabletop games. Still have no idea what I’m talking about? Check out the first post here. We all want to be better gamemasters—devising legendary conflicts and encounters for our players, and knowing the mechanics of your group can help you to better accomplish this. Last week, we covered the Idealists, and this week, we’re wrapping it up with the Rationals.

The Rational temperament is expressed by these four Myers-Briggs types:

MBTI

Like the Guardian/Artisan relationship swaps out one letter, so too do the Idealists and Rationals. Rationals favor the T (thinking) over the F (feeling) preference, making them Abstract Utilitarians. This means they communicate abstractly, using concept and theory over facts and experiential evidence, but when it comes to actions, they are task-oriented and system-driven. All that creative energy the Idealists pour into people? The Rationals take that same energy and use it to ignite systems. The Rationals are complex, self-aggrandizing, and a little cold, which may sound harsh. I can assure you, they take it as a compliment. These people are planners, developers, and implementers; when it comes to gaming, they are genius-level problem solvers, calculating tacticians, and great makers of plans.

As a group, Rationals overlap on the following qualities:

  • Pragmatism
  • Sense of system
  • Strong will
  • Reason
  • Achievement-orientation
  • Lofty intellect
  • Ingenuity

Rationals are drawn to RPG games more than other types. As just one example, out of five known types at my table, three are Rationals (the other two are Idealists). This is significant, since Rationals make up only about 7% of the population as a whole. Someday, I’ll do a survey and run the stats, but I would not be surprised to discover that Rationals gravitate to the role of gamemaster more than any other type. I never met Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, but I’d bet money he was a Rational.

On the whole, Rationals will gravitate toward the chaotic and evil alignments. As they prefer Thinking over Feeling, they have no great love for humanity in general (I hear the Idealists gasping in horror), and because of this, the gaming table offers them the unique opportunity to experiment—without consequences. This means they can use whatever dastardly means they would like to exploit others and achieve unbridled power, which is usually frowned upon in polite society.

The ultimate reason for Rationals seeking GM roles, though, lies in the structure of tabletop RPGs. In roleplaying games, logic and chance are locked in a passionate tango, governed by a delicate system of checks and balances. These rules allow for the (albeit fictional) creation of literally any social experiment the gamemaster can devise. When that chair sits empty, we fill it, because the opportunity to become the mad scientist building a maze and observing what happens—without getting into trouble—is an aphrodisiac to us.

Gollum

So how do these complex thinkers contribute to the table? Let’s take a look.

ENTP: The Inventor

Inventors devote unfathomable amounts of attention to the construction of gadgets. This is your applied sciences division at the gaming table. If you allow them the freedom to develop off-book weapons, vehicles, and gadgets, you will make their day and unleash a powerful creative force that will do a lot of work for you in the long run. Not only will the Inventor create stats for new kinds of weapons and gadgets you can incorporate into your game, if you ask them to, they will do whole write-ups of these gadgets, including backstory for the items and probable uses. Their ingenuity is boundless when it comes to these things.

Like all Rationals, their minds are swimming in systems, and this doesn’t always come out in the production of things, but sometimes in the organizing of people as well. As an example, I have an ENTP at my table. For the duration of our Star Wars: Saga Edition campaign, he expended copious amounts of time developing useful items out of loot we ran across. Bacta patches for quick healing, some kind of spray for enhancing shields, Defel serum for stealth—all kinds of fun crap. Probably 50% of it was shot down by the GM, but did that phase him? Not at all. He just kept building. On the other hand, for the Shadowrun campaign we are doing now, he has turned his mental prowess to “information brokering.” His character takes video of everything and finds people to sell it to.

Inventors are also incredible debaters. They will often argue just for the sake of an argument. As a GM, don’t take it personally. It’s how they learn. Argue back and you will earn their respect. DO NOT say, “because I said so.” You are the GM, and no, you don’t need a reason, but having one that’s well thought out will earn you respect +1.

Because, yum.
Because, yum.

Quotes that engage the Inventor:

“I disagree.”

“How are you going to get through the raging rapids using only a lightsaber, a few blasters, a shoelace, and a cryo-grenade?”

ENTJ: The Field Marshal

Ah, the Field Marshal. So glutted with power that they get two words in their name. You probably won’t have to wonder about these people for long. They are usually GMing or captaining the troops in some capacity, organizing, administrating, and formulating the team into a devastating cohesive unit. You may find them intimidating. I certainly do.

The ENTJ takes the creative capacity of the Inventor and diverts it into production. Where sometimes the diverse creative prowess of the ENTP will inhibit their capacity to do actual work, the ENTJ will experience a fluctuation in productivity. Interestingly enough, though, (and true of the INTJ as well) the Field Marshal is actually motivated by laziness. If a path does not lead to greater efficiency and shorter production time, the ENTJ will not take that path. These aren’t “stop to smell the flowers” kind of people. Smelling flowers serves no function and slows the party down. Unless, of course, the Eternity Stone is hidden in the flowers. Then this single-minded efficiency becomes a problem.

Above all else, ENTJs prize competence—in themselves and others—and will easily become frustrated with people who repeat errors or demonstrate a clear disregard for elevated effectiveness. Remind them that in roleplaying, creativity is key, and encourage them to tap into alternative means rather than the shortest path from A to B.

Just let them GM. They want to, anyway.
Just let them GM. They want to, anyway.

Quotes that engage the Field Marshal:

“The rules say to perform this as a wisdom check but I believe this is more within the realm of intelligence, so make an intelligence roll for me.”

“Who wants to lead the army?”

INTP: The Architect

What the Field Marshal values in competence, the Architect values in consistency. These are master designers, drawing up and implementing theoretical systems of all kinds outside of engineering blueprints and the like. They are competent at business plans, lesson plans, and technological advancements—whichever suits their interests. They are elegant in their designs, thorough, and not one iota of their creations will be out of place or inconsistent with another.

Verbally, the INTP will trounce any other type in debate. They are sharp, showing astronomical precision in their thoughts and opinions, and again demonstrating the same consistency they show in other pursuits. They are like bomb-sniffing dogs—but for plot holes and fudges in the rules. However, if you can explain to them why your rule-fudging or plot hole makes sense, they will easily defuse.

Finally, Architects are typically shy and reserved—except around very close friends. If you have one of these in your group and they don’t know other players well, make an effort to help the party develop closer friendships, otherwise they may close off further, though they will likely not become discouraged by the lack of interpersonal communication. They, like the other Rationals, show up because they genuinely enjoy the mechanics of the game, and their intense focus can keep their heads in the system for hours.

INTP

Quotes that engage the Architect:

“Have you thought about taking interrogation or negotiation skill?”

“So what are you working on? Do you have any projects going?”

INTJ: The Mastermind

Our fourth and final type in the Rationals—and the last in our series—are the Masterminds, which is my type. Like the Field Marshal, the Mastermind looks for inefficiency and roots it out, reassessing and reassigning as needed to achieve the maximum output for themselves and the people around them. We have plans and plans and plans for everything. The mind of an INTJ is a stream of consciousness of plans and contingencies unfathomable to other types, and they are quick at developing them. It takes us almost no time to, well, plan. The various pathways and effects of various stimuli on a system occur to them almost instantaneously, which makes them excellent GMs and intimidating players. As if that wasn’t enough, in addition to their raw processing power, they are wickedly intelligent, superior, and self-aggrandizing. I warned you.

At the table, INTJs will quietly observe, taking in the bigger picture from high up, like a falcon hunting, and then swoop down with one strike that deals maximum effect. They are experts at finding the weak point of the encounter and exploiting it—often with a single move—to send the opposition into a downward spiral. This effect can be observed if you ever have the opportunity to watch a Field Marshal and a Mastermind argue. The Field Marshal will wax eloquent, inundating the conversation with jargon and a tsunami of facts and evidence. This usually works, as most personalities either can’t or don’t care to keep up, but the Mastermind will listen quietly, taking it all in, and then utter a single point that causes the entire argument to topple.

We are comfortable with this.

INTJ

Quotes that engage the Mastermind:

“The Mafia boss was murdered, there will surely be some shuffling of power coming into play here.”

“You’re ringed in by an Owlbear, an army of Goblins, and a screaming sandpit. What do you do?”

The Rationals. Pragmatic, ingenious, and arrogant, they make for intricate, colorful characters at your table—if they aren’t GMing themselves. This is the stuff villains are made of, and they will lend depth to your cast of characters. If you’re a Rational GM, you know this already. Keep doing your thing, but don’t sacrifice story—not everyone cares about structure as much as you do. If you are a non-Rational GM with Rational players, you will experience the unique opportunity not only to strengthen your encounters to compete with them, but also to encourage these brainiacs to stop and enjoy the unfolding of the story. Goodness knows we need that.

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey through the MBTI types at the gaming table. I hope you learned some valuable information you can take back to your table! As always, keep visiting FemHype for more tabletop goodies from me and awesome articles from the gang here every day. See you next time!

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