You Can Always Tell When Matt Starts Playing A New RPG

In this case, it’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was released in November and I know that, had I purchased it then, my NaNoWriMo effort would have been torpedoed and sunk faster than the Lusitania. Fortunately, I had the foresight to delay my purchase of the game until December.

In 2013, I was pretty down about the idea of the next generation of consoles on the horizon. Of course, it didn’t help that the details for the Xbox One sounded uniformly terrible, even to someone who not only has all of the Xboxes but even owns a goddamn Windows Phone. I’m not saying I’m a loyalist but I like my devices to play nicely together and since my Xbox 360 was my favorite device, all my other devices had to build off that. At the time, I wasn’t excited in the slightest about the idea of buying a new console.

But now that the One has had a year to mature, I’ve come around. More importantly, I was able to scoop up a box for a deep discount, which I think made all the difference. I’m past the point in my life where I can spend $500 plus tax on a toy. $300 is a much more manageable chunk of money to justify. It also helps that I have a wonderful girlfriend. I won’t list all the reasons why that it true; I merely want it mentioned here for the permanent record. It is known, as the Dothraki might say.

I’m happy with my shiny box and I’m happy with the new Dragon Age. Dragon Age, of course, is one of the few series for which I am absolutely a huge, unapologetic fanboy. When I met David Gaider, one of the lead writers on the series a few years ago, I pretty much gushed and kept telling him how amazing he is for about ten minutes until he started looking around for a security guard to drag me away (that last part might be exaggerated just a bit).

Inquisition is like a love letter to the fans of the series. It’s deep, complex, full of lore and layers and things to do. It’s also the reason my blog has gone sadly neglected for the past few weeks and why my flood of Goodreads updates has slowed to a trickle.

It’s difficult to know what to write about; I consider a person talking about their personal video game character only marginally more interesting than a person discussing their favorite brand of bagel. That’s not to say that I don’t love video game characters (and weirdly, WoW is the one game where this rule doesn’t hold true) but generally speaking, I don’t want to talk about my character or other people’s characters in any deep way because it spoils the illusion that the Inquisitor is mine. 

I don’t even really acknowledge all the different ways my own Inquisitor could be different based on my own choices. At this point, my Inquisitor is so fully realized in my own mind based on my actions that I simply can’t imagine that things could be any other way. It all just is. And it is because the game world shapes itself to my actions and allows me to maintain that illusion in a flawless manner.

It sounds like an insult to say that I don’t notice all the care and craft that the designers have woven into the game to create branching paths and different narrative experiences. In truth, it’s actually the highest compliment I can offer to a game of this sort.

Another Look At Myers-Briggs And RPG Classes

Back in October, I wrote a post in which I attempted to correlate different RPG classes with the various Myers-Briggs types. After some discussion in the comments, I decided that it was far too limiting to essentially argue that “all paladins are ENFP or all wizards are INTJ.” Even accounting for the variation within a particular type, it’s still too limiting, especially since one’s RPG class is really more like one’s fantasy career choice than a reflection of personality.

Nevertheless, likely due to some sort of accidental search engine optimization, that post continues to be the largest source of traffic for my site, bringing in a few hundred new viewers each week. Clearly, it’s a topic that people are interested in.

If it’s too restrictive in scope to say that one type correlates to each class, would it be possible to note larger trends? Keirsey considers the second letter continuum (S/N) to be the most important of the four, given that one’s preference for Sensing or iNtuition is what determines whether one is a Guardian (SJ), Artisan (SP), Idealist (NF), or Rational (NT). Thus, the S/N preference is that largest separating factor, at least according to Keirsey.

There are a few other differences but these two are the most relevant for the discussion of type as it relates to roleplaying.

In most fantasy roleplaying games, the largest divide between characters tends to be along the lines of whether or not the character has magical powers. Wizards, sorcerers, clerics, druids, etc. all have magic of various kinds while fighters, rogues, monks, etc. rely on physical ability. There are a few character classes that overlap, like paladins and rangers who are primarily martial characters but posses magical powers. This varies by setting and system, of course.

The question I’d like to pose is whether or not it makes sense to divide character classes along the S/N continuum. Does a preference for intuition indicate that intuitive types are natural magic-users?

Here is how Myers characterizes the preference for Sensing:

Individuals who prefer sensing are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible, and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches, which seem to come “out of nowhere”. They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data.

Here is how Myers describes the preference for Intuition:

Those who prefer intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. For them, the meaning is in the underlying theory and principles which are manifested in the data.

On the one hand, magic seems like the sort of thing that would make sense to someone with a natural inclination towards the abstract and the theoretical. Magic is abstract by its very nature . . . except when it isn’t. D&D shows this divide when it comes to the two primary arcane magic-users. The wizard approaches magic in a logical, rules-based way; spells are learned from books and cast through performing the proper incantations. Sorcerers, on the other hand, derive their magic from their own selves, whether through latent power in their blood or through inspiration or intuition or whatever other means. In other words, one could argue that wizards are Sensors while sorcerers are iNtuitives.

And that’s just between two arcane characters. What about somebody like the D&D druid? In Third Edition, the druid is a spellcaster, but instead of using arcane magic, they use divine magic like a cleric, but unlike the cleric (who draws that magic from a deity), the druid derives power from the natural world (which might be what led to the creation of primal magic in Fourth Edition). Regardless, the druid is a nature mage. But is nature-mage the preference of a Sensor or iNtuitive? Concrete or abstract?

What do you think? Does intuitive seem a characteristic for spellcasting character classes? Or do the different discrepancies and conflicts prove that it’s too varied to say for certain, and that mages are just like everybody else; some are intuitive, some are sensory?