Gießen Test

  • My raw draft of a psychological test applied to character creation


There has been a time when I heavily pondered about the word “character” in Role Playing Games. I thought about how disconnected from its original roots of “personality” the word sometimes could become, and how I would be able to reconnect it as an experiment.

I know, many games use special mechanics for that, in that they assign character traits to characters (and possibly even reward portraying them, like in White Wolf’s Storyteller System), and some allow making up your own keywords for them, but I felt none of the systems portrayed having a personality in real life just as well. It all felt more like picking the most suitable from a list instead of really trying to adequately model the player’s vision and translate it to game terms. What, I asked myself, if you would have to answer questions as if you were your character?

As I already pointed out, the Dread questionnaire forces the player to answer characters in question as the character creation process, but these usually don’t reveal all too much from their personality, instead creating interesting plot hooks.

So I took a look at different questionnaires used in psychology and how I would be able to use them as a character sheet design, and I came up with the following draft.


Please be aware that these are only notes – it is a first draft I found among my files, and it is neither refined nor playtested, and I have no idea if the system would work in practice. I just wanted to share it with people, so it possibly can inspire one of you to come up with something better or more refined – or with something entirely different.


The system is based on the famous Gießen personality test that presents the questionee with a couple of opposite personality trait pairs each with a range between them. For each pair, only one of the seven boxes may be ticked, and it tells the interviewer if the person considers themself more towards the one statement, more towards the other, or somewhere in between.

I tried to boil down the questionnaire to the most essential ones for Role Playing Games, and then transformed it into a rules system as well. I assigned actions to each extreme statement, and whenever a character is engaged in such an action, they throw a D6 and add or subtract their value in the respective question (so when they positioned themself more towards the opposite statement, they had to subtract from their throw), trying to reach a target number. I also thought about adding additional skills (based on a binary system of has or hasn’t) that would add another dice or +2 to the roll. A second draft involved all other players secretly bidding if they think the action should succeed or fail, replacing the dice roll with their total number of “yes” answers. But, as I said, I never came around testing any of this, so it might be complete nonsense altogether.

When filling in the sheet, players were forced to take a 3 at least once in order to color the character. Also, each 3 grants the character one special power that can be used with absolute effect once during the session. But whenever a player uses this power of 3, they cannot use another one during the session (None of this is balanced of course).

As the system was planned to be for a horror game, the characters would often find themselves exposed to unimaginable terrors, resulting in moments called affects, where either the GM, or another player would take over control of the PC and have them perform desperate acts.

There isn’t really much more to it, so without further ado, please enjoy my Gießen character sheet and the gifts.



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