Magic Superpower Personality Tests

Awaken Online tried to do a thing where the full dive MMO gave you a hidden personality test and gave you magic super powers based on it. This went very poorly, on account of the “personality types” had tons of overlap, to the point where some of them were practically synonymous. The general idea of “your personality gives you superpowers” is not a bad one, but rather than coming up with a list of elements and then working backwards to try and cram personality types into them, you’d be better off making use of existing personality categorizations that at least mostly work and assigning magic powers to them.

For example: Myers-Briggs gets a lot of criticism for being unscientific, and it is. All its numbers and letter codes gives people the impression that it’s the result of some sociological study or something, but it’s really just the result of two kinda smart people sitting in armchairs and trying to come up with a way of categorizing people’s personalities, then declaring victory after coming up with four binary switches that felt mostly right. But people strongly identify with their Myers-Briggs personality types and that’s good enough for fiction.

Now, one of the major failings of Myers-Briggs that you’ll have to address is that it treats its four personality axes as binary switches, but quite a few people are close enough to the middle that they can flip letters based entirely on how their day has been going. So you’ll want a set of four opposed pairs of magical power, but you’ll also want to leave room for most people not being strongly attenuated along all four axes. Maybe not being strongly attenuated means you don’t get any magic or maybe you get a reduced form of both.

‘Course, that puts it on you to come up with four opposed pairs of magical voodoo. DiSC personality types are already in a set of four, a 2×2 grid of people-oriented vs. task-oriented and leader vs. follower types, which means you can assign them the classical four elements and call it a day. DiSC’s inspirational personality type is a people-oriented leader whereas their conscientious personality type is a task-oriented follower, so let’s call inspirational fire and conscientious water because they’re opposites like that (or maybe we’d want to make inspirational air and conscientious earth, depending on how we want to assign the other two, whatever). DiSC personality types also usually come with a primary and secondary, and you could either ignore the secondary or let everyone be multiclass.

Option three: The five emotions from Pixar’s Inside Out are based on real psychological research, although they discarded Surprise on account of it being too similar to Fear. You could use the Pixar five or the original research paper’s six. Either way, everyone has all of the emotions to one degree or another, so this would definitely be less of a “only firebenders know firebending” setup and more of a “everyone knows firebending but some people are especially good at it” setup.

You might be able to wring something out of astrology. A major problem here is that astrological personality types are usually phrased as “[thing] but also [opposite of that thing]” and therefore mean nothing at all, or at minimum declare that a sign is predisposed to a certain behavior without presenting any particular alternatives. Like, people criticize the Myers-Briggs for being a horoscope, but it actually does tell you that you’re extroverted and therefore not introverted (or vice-versa), and in fact its major failing is being too certain in that pronouncement, and failing to account for people who are not really strongly predisposed to either trait.

Taking Sagittarius as an example because it happens to be my birth sign (assuming we use the Babylonian system and not the modern one, ’cause it turns out stars move around sometimes), allegedly Sagittarius is supposed to be full of wanderlust and stuff. This describes me not at all, in that I am so attached to staying in my room that I have to make an exertion of will not to get DoorDash to deliver 100% of my meals and never eat out or even go grocery shopping ever again (which, in addition to not being great for mental health, is also something I can’t afford). But it’s not like I have literally never gone traveling or that I reacted like a neurotic cartoon character when I did, so if you wanted to stretch and deform the definition of Sagittarian wanderlust until it fit me, you could, because there’s no explicitly stated opposed trait that it stands in opposition to. Myers-Briggs declares “you are an introvert, and therefore not an extrovert,” horoscopes declare “you are a Sagittarius, and therefore you like to explore.” Okay, sure, but in what context? As opposed to what? Who out there recoils in horror and says “ugh, exploration, I hate exploration”?

But if you’re willing to write up twelve different magic powers and write your characters to match the alleged personality traits, it can still work for fiction. Just ’cause star signs have no connection to personality types in real life doesn’t mean they can’t in whatever fantasy world someone wants to write a book in. There’s definitely a lot of mythic foundations to build on when using star signs. Just saying “the magic of Pisces” feels like it means something just ’cause Pisces is super old.

Or you could throw darts at an exhaustive list of emotions and assign elements to whatever they land on until you get bored or run out of elements to assign. Awaken Online did that, and it’s a top 5,000 book, so hey, clearly it’s not a deal breaker for its target audience.

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