Last Updated on June 27, 2023
When you’ve finished rolling up your character’s stats and picked their class, starting background, spells, and gear, the time has come to find out who they really are.
All the numbers and special abilities on a Dungeons & Dragons 5e character sheet are great at helping you figure out what your character is good (or bad) at, but understanding what drives, motivates, and generally makes your character feel more like a real person than an avatar in an MMORPG is an important, often overlooked, part of character creation.
Figuring out what kind of person your budding adventurer is can be a campaign-long process for some players. Some people don’t know — not really — who their character is until they’ve played them in life-threatening or morally tricky scenarios. It can take an impossible decision, a tragedy, or even the prospect of death to really bring out the essence of a character.
Other players just shrug and say, “Uh, they’re me with better hair and no student debt. Oh yeah, and a big sword,” and call it a day.
Both of these approaches are absolutely great as long as you enjoy them and your fun isn’t getting in the way of anyone else’s. But D&D 5e offers some great options to help you create a framework for your character, whether you’re figuring out their deepest, most shameful secret or just how they behave in an awkward social situation.
One of the most commonly overlooked steps in creating a new Dungeons & Dragons 5e character is picking their Personality Traits, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw — narrative prompts tied to your character’s background that help you roleplay and integrate your character into the world of the game.
While your character’s flaws, bonds, and ideals are great at anchoring your adventurer in the world around them, not to mention understanding the core beliefs and issues that define them as a person, they also run the risk of being a little abstract at the table, not to mention making your character feel a little one-note.
This is where your personality traits come into play.
Welcome to our guide to personality traits in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, where we break down how to use these useful roleplaying prompts to make your next adventurer feel unique, not to mention help you roleplay them at the table.
Also, because we like to give you usable materials to play around with here at Black Citadel RPG, we’ve put together a massive generator filled with official and homebrewed options for personality traits you can use when making your next PC.
What Is a Personality Trait in DnD 5e?
Your character’s personality traits are simple details about how they think, act, and feel that help them feel unique. You should treat your character’s personality traits as prompts to help you roleplay with NPCs, monsters, and your fellow adventurers.
The Player’s Handbook recommends that you pick two personality traits at character creation. Personality Traits usually come from your background, but you can make up your own or grab habits, quirks, and behavioral oddities from your favorite fictional characters to form the basis of your character’s personality traits.
You can also use our generator below to randomly get a new personality trait for your character with a single click.
DnD 5e Character Personality Trait Generator
|1||I idolize a particular folk hero from history or legend and refer to their deeds at every chance I get.|
|2||I always try to find common ground between the opposing arguments, group of people, or ideologies.|
|3||I have about a million different superstitions I follow almost compulsively. Everything is an omen or a sign to be interpreted, feared, or obeyed.|
|4||I have a seemingly endless supply of aphorisms and platitudes gathered (and misremembered) from a dozen different philosophies and faiths.|
|5||I have read every book and I understood none of them. I’m always misinterpreting famous texts and sayings, and I will fight people who try to correct me.|
|6||There’s nothing that can shake my sunny, optimistic disposition.|
|7||I have an encyclopedic knowledge of sacred texts and have an applicable quote ready for every situation.|
|8||I have an encyclopedic knowledge of famous plays and have an applicable monologue ready for every situation.|
|9||I have an encyclopedic knowledge of crude poetry and foul jokes that I break out whenever the opportunity arises.|
|10||I am vocally intolerant of anyone with a different faith, political belief system, or lifestyle to myself.|
|11||I’m highly tolerant of people different than myself and love sampling other people’s cultures.|
|12||I am always looking for the next thing to become the focus of my entire personality. They usually last about a week, tops.|
|13||I have a taste for the finer things and have little tolerance for the more rustic lifestyle of an adventurer.|
|14||I haven’t got the biggest tool kit of social skills at my disposal. If my go-to approach (d4. 1. Bullying, 2. Groveling, 3. Wooden Impassivity, 4. Forced Cheerfulness) doesn’t work, I find myself at a loss.|
|15||I find it difficult to show any emotion at all. Joy, sadness, fear — I’m a stone wall.|
|16||I find it difficult to conceal my emotions at all.|
|17||I fall in love at the drop of a hat and would go to the ends of the world for the object of my desire… until the next one comes along, of course.|
|18||I am slow to trust and quick to think the worst of people, but once you have me on your side, I’m a friend for life.|
|19||Why say something sincere when withering sarcasm and scorn will do?|
|20||I wear my disdain for other people like armor.|
|21||I am always on the lookout for a new addition to my collection (d6. 1. Art, 2. Antiques, 3. Jewelry, 4. Carved wooden ducks, 5. Knives, 6. Cursed Artifacts).|
|22||I lie constantly, whether there’s any need for it or not.|
|23||I carry around a pocketful of holy symbols, trinkets, and charms and know the major benedictions of a dozen different faiths — just in case.|
|24||In stressful or tense situations, I can’t help making inappropriate jokes at the worst possible moments.|
|25||In sad situations, I smile rather than cry, and I’m more likely to burst into laughter than tears.|
|26||I can keep my head when everyone else is panicking.|
|27||I’m the first one to panic when danger rears its head.|
|28||I’m always on the lookout for a new friend.|
|29||I like animals more than people. It’s not even that close.|
|30||The first thing I do when I walk into a room is look for the exits and plan an escape.|
|31||I pick up turns of phrase and words from everyone I meet, use them exhaustively for about a week, and then forget them almost completely.|
|32||I have a habit of repeating what people say to me back at them (usually with a word wrong or missing).|
|33||I compliment people constantly, and I can find something good to say about anyone (or anything).|
|34||I like to take calculated risks, but, man, am I bad at math.|
|35||I have a nose for gossip and love to get the juicy details.|
|36||I almost always wait for the other person to speak first. There’s no silence too long or too awkward.|
|37||Asking questions is a sign of weakness. I phrase everything as a statement.|
|38||I have a burning hatred for a folk hero, famous musician, or rival adventurer, and I fly into a blind rage when I hear their name. Whenever possible, I will steer the conversation back to why they’re the worst.|
|39||I whistle — constantly and always a little out of tune.|
|40||I’m always whittling, carving, or making something small and decorative with my hands and a nearby piece of wood, bone, or rock.|
|41||I love to try new food — the more outlandish, the better. My first stop in any new place is the best restaurant in town.|
|42||I’m vocally opposed to the idea of romance and romantic entanglements.|
|43||I’m a hopeless romantic, always looking for the person who could be “the one.”|
|44||I’m a hopeless romantic who found and got rejected by “the one.” Maybe once I’m a famous and wealthy adventurer, they’ll finally notice me.|
|45||There’s something about watching someone fall over or bang their head that makes me laugh harder than anything else.|
|46||I’m intensely bitter if people aren’t paying attention to me.|
|47||I have very thin skin, and I always remember an insult.|
|48||I can take any amount of teasing; I even seem to enjoy it.|
|49||I’m easily bored and don’t always think of the smartest or safest ways to alleviate that boredom.|
|50||I’m a fountain of malapropisms. I think the long words I misuse make me sound educated.|
|51||I never learned to read or write common, and I’m very embarrassed about it.|
|52||I’m a stickler for propriety and actually relish filling out forms and dealing with bureaucratic red tape.|
|53||I’m always the peacemaker. People who are angry — even when it’s not directed at me — put me on edge.|
|54||If it’s not perfect, then it’s wrong and bad, and it must be redone.|
|55||I’m an incurable cynic when it comes to fancy speeches and earnest promises; only actions impress me.|
|56||I’m easily impressed by the smallest display of skill or anything slightly out of the ordinary.|
|57||I’m filled with wide-eyed curiosity and delight by the kinds of things most people would rather never see: ghosts, monsters, death, destruction, and curses. The more unsettling, the better.|
|58||I would rather die than fight dirty, and I always try to make sure things are as fair as possible.|
|59||I’m always curious about what makes things (and people) tick.|
|60||I have expensive, cultured tastes and like to let people know about them.|
|61||My clothes, face, and hair are always immaculately clean and put together. I would stop in the middle of being chased by dragons to wipe dirt from my shoes.|
|62||I’m fiercely protective of my money and simply will not pay full price for anything. Ever.|
|63||I love spending my money, especially on my friends.|
|64||I’m constantly mixing and matching metaphors. It’s mostly word salad, but even a stopped clock lifts all ships.|
|65||I am always willing to talk shop with anyone who’s interested in or knows something about my profession.|
|66||I always assume I know the most about any given subject, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.|
|67||My movements are slow, careful, and precise, as though I never do anything without thinking it through first. Not even blink.|
|68||I have a particular way of clearing my throat that people tend to find grating.|
|69||I’d prefer not to speak out loud if possible. Instead, I communicate mostly through expression as well as the occasional nod or grunt.|
|70||I’m largely oblivious to my surroundings.|
|71||It takes me a while to get used to a new place.|
|72||Flattery gets me everywhere.|
|73||I have a knack for saying the wrong thing within earshot of the wrong people.|
|74||I always try to stay abreast of the latest trends in fashion, art, music, and food.|
|75||I have a special fondness for a particular animal, monster, or beast and let my fascination with it infuse every aspect of my appearance, behavior, and outlook on the world.|
|76||I’m very slow to forgive a perceived slight.|
|77||I don’t see myself as being better than or above anyone, and no one is above or better than I am.|
|78||I’m always wandering off to look at something small and seemingly inconsequential.|
|79||I mutter out loud about myself in the third person.|
|80||I doubt the ability of anyone who isn’t me to take care of themselves and will relentlessly mother anyone in my vicinity.|
|81||I try to encourage everyone to be the best version of themselves they can be.|
|82||I’m comfortable in just about any social situation.|
|83||I have an almost supernatural knack for knocking over, cracking, bending, or breaking the most expensive and delicate thing in the room.|
|84||I’m always the first person to volunteer to try something dangerous.|
|85||If I get wind of a mystery, I can’t rest or focus on anything else until I’ve unraveled it.|
|86||I’m paranoid that most people are out to get me, an outlook that my time as an adventurer has done little to dispel.|
|87||I speak very slowly and carefully, as though each word needs to be retrieved from its own special shelf in my memory and carefully assembled into a sentence.|
|88||I’m always flaking on promises.|
|89||I never pass up a chance to make a wager, and there’s very little I won’t place a bet on.|
|90||I have a knack for going out drinking and coming home either with more money than I left with or a crippling debt to some very bad people.|
|91||I use the kind of foul language that makes sailors and soldiers blush.|
|92||I’m always griping, grousing, and generally complaining about something.|
|93||I have a seemingly endless litany of small health problems — headaches, earaches, a runny nose, bad back, gout, goiters, lumbago, the pox, itchy feet, numb feet, you name it. As soon as one thing clears up, I’m onto the next one.|
|94||I have a pathological hatred and fear of insects and bugs. I’ve burned down whole taverns before because I saw a spider.|
|95||I’ve lost a lot of friends to this life, so I’m cautious to open up to new people.|
|96||I like to prove how strong I am.|
|97||I prefer being direct and straightforward when dealing with people and solving problems. Complicated plans, lies, and doubletalk never work out in the end.|
|98||I tell my favorite (some say only) war story every chance I get, usually to the same people I told it to last time and always more heavily embellished than before.|
|99||I don’t just say things. I share a long-winded, thematically relevant story about my childhood or about a nameless man I once saw in the street.|
|100||I have the manners of a pig and the personal hygiene to match.|
How To Use Personality Traits in DnD 5e: For Players and DMs
While your ideals, bonds, and flaws speak to the underlying nature of your character that shines through in moments of intense stress or moral dilemma, personality traits are great at helping you roleplay more mundane, day-to-day situations. Basically, they’re great go-to details to have in mind whenever your character interacts with their fellow party members or anyone else for that matter.
Now, when I interact with the idea of personality traits, I’m almost always thinking in terms of NPCs. In a campaign where I have dozens of unique individuals with differing goals, motivations, and personalities to keep track of, having one or two recognizable traits attached to each NPC is really helpful when getting into character at the table.
When it comes to embodying a personality trait, my advice is definitely to avoid being subtle. In fact, overact, chew the scenery — make a real meal of it.
Unless you’re all drama students or getting paid to livestream your sessions, no one has to be Sir Patrick Stewart when they sit down to play D&D. The goal here is for your fellow players and DM to grab onto what you’re putting down, and seeing as they’re all in the process of running their own characters (or an entire campaign), a subtle approach is probably going to be wasted.
Now, I will also emphasize that portraying a character in a roleplaying game is not a one-to-one comparative activity to acting. You don’t have to give an Oscar-worthy performance as your character to play D&D “right” or whatever. There are plenty of super-experienced players who just describe what they do in the third person or flit back and forth.
Avoiding subtlety when playing your character’s personality traits doesn’t mean overacting (or even being “in character” at all if that’s not what you enjoy); it means not being coy about acting in accordance with your personality traits. Be distrustful of a new NPC, be overly trusting of a suspicious character, wander off at inopportune times, or take the time to sit down with your party members and talk about your characters’ feelings.
If you want to play in the kind of game where personality traits and other roleplaying details of your characters are important, take the time to make them important. And make sure that — even if you’re just telling your fellow players out of character — your character’s internal life is on display for all to see. This is what personality traits are best at: helping you make your character’s (or NPCs if you’re a DM) internal worlds visible to everyone else.
Lastly, there’s also nothing to stop your character’s personality traits from changing over time. You can let go of traits that no longer fit the way your character thinks or acts.
An especially fastidious and uptight noble who, when they set out upon the adventuring life, couldn’t bear to be without their creature comforts might be transformed into a rustic, utilitarian adventurer by many nights spent sleeping under the stars in the wilderness. A brutal, slovenly barbarian’s time in the big city might endow them with a taste for the finer things.
Whatever personality traits you end up with, they can be a useful, fun, narratively interesting framework to figure out your answer to the dungeon master’s favorite question: What do you do?
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.