Friday Jul 12, 2024

JV’s Motivations Designer

After tweaking, testing and playing through character motivations, I found a method that worked out really well, without taking huge amounts of effort. I suggest using this method for important characters and only very important NPCs.

This is basically my simplification of Character Motivation Guidelines (inspired by LemFliggity) – Check that post out for a more detailed version of this one.

Motivations Table

CharacterGoal 1Goal 2Driving NeedConflictMotivation
Character NameAction-SubjectAction-SubjectDriving NeedsConflict between Goal 1 and Goal 2Main driver based on Conflict

Driving Needs

d6Driving NeedExplanation
1PhysiologicalHealth or psychological issues, basic needs of own
2SafetyPhysical, emotional, financial and safety
3AffiliationLove, biological family, chosen family, memberships and belonging
4EsteemEgo or acknowledgment of self from others
5Self-ActualizationEducation, skill development, better version of self
6TranscendenceMystical, spiritual, identity discovery
Abraham Maslow’s needs principles


  • Goal 1-2 ā†’ We need an abstract Subject-Action random table for this. An oracle will do, or any equivalent random table that can tell us something about character motivations and goals.
  • Driving Need ā†’ Roll on Maslow’s Driving Needs table
  • Conflict ā†’ Combine the two goals and find something that is incompatible with each other. Interpret the results. Target clash of goals, consider that goals can either be internal (from self) or external (from someone else).
  • Motivation ā†’ Combine the conflict you found with the driving need. Interpret the results. With this, target what makes your character move forward, why does he think he is right and what makes him want to answer or solve the conflict.


CharacterGoal 1Goal 2Driving NeedConflictMotivation
BaelevTravel TechnologyDelay TrialsTranscendenceHe was accused of using an illegal travel-technology in Space, but needs to delay the Trials since he needs to use such technology again for his current mission!Baelev wants to make the Interstellar Organization understand that he has justifiable arguments of using such technology, but he does no longer feel like part of them. Too much is at stake from the very self thoughts!

Liked this one? Let me know! Say thanks if you like it šŸ™‚ JV


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