Here’s how to use virtues and vices to make a character kick some serious ass.

  1. Check out the lists of virtues and vices. Go now. We’ll wait.

  2. Go through the lists and pick out all the virtues and vices that, at a glance, apply to your character. We suggest copying the list over to Word or a Google Doc and deleting any that don’t make sense with your character. Once you have the final list of all attributes that apply to your character, come back for the rest of the steps.

  3. Choose, for now, one peak virtue or vice to basically overwhelm all other aspects of the character. This will be the autopilot of your character and will help create drive. This peak virtue or vice is the way your character will handle all basic situations. Try not to pick one of the Seven Deadly Sins (definitely villainous) or the Seven High Virtues (definitely heroic), since those make up the Fourteen Major Attributes and could complicate things significantly for your character. More on that on the Layering Virtues and Vices Page.

  4. Now, add four more attributes, two vices and two virtues. These second-tier attributes will help determine how your character will react in more complicated interactions and create variety in their behavior. Just as hint: try to choose attributes that are not synonyms. For instance, if your character is both cranky and moody, choose the one that most applies to your character, otherwise your attributes will be redundant and therefore less useful.

  5. Finally, very quickly stick your character in a few situations in your head. Put them in front of someone that they like/don’t like. Make them lose or find something they need. Their peak vice or virtue should be there on the surface, but their second-tier attributes are also there. You have some useful, easy choices for how your character will behave now. They can react with their most basic virtue or vice, or delve a little deeper and vary back and forth between second-tier virtues and vices.
  6. Do the virtues and vices you chose have your character reacting in a way that makes sense to you? No? Back to the drawing board. Yes? Sweet! Now you have some easy-to-remember buzz words connected to your character!

  7. Write them down and refer to them often. These attributes make up the core of your character.
  8. One more thing, you may want to qualify your attributes by putting little explanations of them in parentheses. For instance, having a vice of Envy (on the the Fourteen Major Attributes), may sound really harsh if the focus of your character’s envy is very specific (ie, maybe they envy those who travel often or envy characters who are healthy when they are not).