In the past, I’ve been known to rant about how getting “caught up in the numbers” of character creation is a dangerous trap for new and experienced role players alike. In this case, however, I feel that paying attention to these numbers will really improve your ability to role play at the gaming table.
With numerology (Chaldean, Chinese, Kabbalah, or Pythagorean), you can find your character’s “life path number” by using his or her date of birth. Numerology also has methods of determining a person’s personality by deriving numbers from that person’s name (which comes in handy if you’re playing a system that does not support the calendar as we know it.) Therefore, with only the name of your character (their “full name,” or in some cases the name they’re best known by to others) you can utilize various forms of numerology to work out a basic character sketch. You can find various numerological generators online, or useful books that explain the systems to help you find your character’s life path number. Numerology basically works by adding all the numbers in a person’s date of birth, or assigning each letter in the name you are analyzing a number, and then adding those numbers together over and over until you have only a single digit left (except for specific “master numbers” like 11 and 22 in pythagorean numerology, which are left as two-digit numbers.)
For example, I’m creating a character for a SteamPunk style adventure set during the Renaissance. I’m going to say, off the top of my head, that she was born on April 3rd, 1532, and her name will be Cicilia Dea Diamante de Cingulis. Adding her birth date and year together thus:
=1540; 1+5+4+0= 10; 1+0=1
Results in a life path number of 1 (using the pythagorean system.) This means she has to learn independence by being forced to accomplish something on her own. Early in her life she would have been quite dependent on others, but though her experiences she must mature and embrace her destiny as a pioneer and leader. Being ambitious and stubborn are two common faults of ones, and in extreme cases their egos will lead to them rising to the top by pushing others down. Positive aspects include determination, forward thinking, and inquisitiveness, meaning ones can pursue goals with dogged persistence and develop staggering innovations if it will get them where they want to go.
Cicilia’s name (3,5,3,9,3,9,1,4,5,1,4,9,1,4,1,5,2,5,4,5,3,9,5,3,3,9,1) using the inclusion method of Chinese numerology, which counts the number of specific numbers recurring in the name. Cecilia conspicuously lacks the numbers 6, 7, and 8 in her name, and has only one 2. This relates to negative personality traits like difficulty accepting responsibility, unrealistic expectations of perfection, impulsiveness, tendency to blame others for her own mistakes, the desire to acquire lots of money and the inability to hold on to it, lack of tact, and disconnection with spiritual and philosophical “truths” (though she may become a “seeker” later in life.) With a more-or-less the same recurrence of the numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, and 9, however, she will have the following positive personality traits, as well: ambition, originality, sociable, creative, outgoing, hardworking, supportive good with details, enjoys change, knows how to balance work and play (and keep them separate), and willing to assist others.
As you can see, numerology provided me with a very well-rounded list of personality traits that I can use to construct a believable character. This system is also very versatile in that, if you have more time to prepare, there are deeper and more detailed aspects to explore, but if you don’t have much time, plugging your character’s name into an online numerological generator will produce a life path number and associated blurb for you to grab and run with. Either way, numerology can help you fill in the blanks when it comes to your character’s personality and history during character creation.