Saturday, June 11, 2011

Character Building - Literally - With Help From Tarot

Recently I introduced the idea of using the Tarot as inspiration for role-play and visualization. I'm going to delve a little deeper into this same subject matter today, because like Tarot, role play tends to get a bad wrap. Don't believe me? Just look into the protests and boycotts which dragged Dungeons & Dragons through the muck in the late 1980's. Of the many complaints against D&D, and similar fantasy games, probably the most ridiculous was the suggestion this form of entertainment acts as a gateway to more serious concerns such as drug use and dabbling in the occult, even Satanism. With no quantifiable data to support their bogus claims, these voices of contempt were eventually stifled. I'm willing to bet many more were inspired to try D&D because of it's alleged connections to the occult compared to those who were scared straight after a long night of epic battles against orcs.

Truthfully, I could never get into D&D, but it wasn't for lack of trying. All that dice rolling – yech! My brother and I would get bored of the tabletop shortly after the character creation phase, then we took our game outside, our horseplay somehow enhanced by the donning of our recently rolled alter-egos. Convinced I was every bit as dexterous as the elven cleric I'd just fashioned, I took to our dad's backyard like a graceful gazelle, dodging obstacles along the way. Armed with a scythe (read: dried husk of a once-glorious sunflower), my brother the necromancer would try to end my life prematurely. Suddenly the cat-and-dog fighting we engaged in throughout the week was fun. Finally, a game we could play together! Bet you didn't know my brother and I invented Live Action Role Play (LaRP for the uninitiated). I didn't either, but you're welcome just the same.

Perhaps it was this childhood adventure which sparked my interest in role play, writing, and character development, maybe it's my insatiable love of books. Who knows? Who cares? What I do know is, like peanut butter and chocolate, Tarot and role play just go together. You don't have to be a role play enthusiast, or even have a passing interest in role play, to benefit from today's information. If you're a writer, searching for new and interesting ways to brainstorm a character, this is for you too.

A working knowledge of, or some familiarity with, the Tarot is assumed for this exercise. If you feel you would benefit from further information about the history of Tarot or specific meanings of the cards, you can check here (click).

Fastest, simplest method.
Draw a card at random from the deck, meditate on the meaning of the card, and use this as the inspiration to create your character. For instance: The Empress

Characteristics: Clever, motherly, compassionate, patient, mysterious.
Contradictory trait: Conniving/manipulative (she means well...mostly!)
Occupation: Priestess, therapist, counselor, head mistress of an academy, matriarch, queen,
Physical description: well-groomed, garments and adornments of impeccable design, age ranging from mid-twenties to early fifties.

Modern references to the Empress archetype

Keira Knightly – The Duchess
Emily Blunt – The Young Victoria
Aishwarya Rai – The Mistress of Spices
Tilda Swinton – Orlando

Now you try

Draw a card at random, either from your own personal deck, or use the card of the day available in my side bar. Then hop over to my blogfrog community and tell me about the character you'd create based on your card.

Let the fun begin!