I can help my Conan GM out by creating more NPCs. I’m going to throw out some Gemini inspired thoughts for how to do the character in Conan’s d20 system and then move on to doing someone similar in Legend of the Five Rings.
Conan, being a d20 system, doesn’t have much in the way of mechanics that directly tie to personality. However, certain interests or inclinations can be shown through mechanics.
Attributes: For most RPGs, I envision characters through attributes first. I vastly prefer a system like Vampire: The Masquerade to d20 for envisioning human(ish) characters as the granularity is more intuitive. For example, it’s much easier for me to grok the difference between 2 dots and 3 dots in V:TM than a 13 vs. a 16 in d20. The former is better defined against the real world whereas the latter tends to depend upon what other characters’ (PCs or NPCs) stats are.
Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom are not what I think of with a Gemini. Dexterity is the natural physical attribute fit for this mutable, air sign. Intelligence can mean a lot of different things. In d20, it’s the one attribute I feel like I can calculate cleanly – just take IQ and divide by 10. I tried finding IQ data based on astrological signs and came up empty. I don’t know if any sign is more intelligent or tests better in IQ tests (which measures only certain types of intelligence), but Gemini have a reputation for seeming intelligent. There are various reasons for this, but one may very well be that the Gemini is a relatively personable sign (at least at first or when in an up mood). This leads into Charisma, another attribute I associate with the quintessential Gemini.
So, Pedrono, a Zingaran (“Spaniard”) 5th level pirate, 2nd level soldier who is one of a PC’s mates could easily be quick, smart, and personable.
Pedrono will get a good number of feats as both his classes are favored. For a different sign, I could see focus and ruthless effectiveness. For a Gemini, I can see esoteric, versatile, and shallow. While I don’t see it for this character, Dabbler is just the sort of feat one could expect from a Gemini – a flair for exotic abilities but with only superficial understanding.
Skillwise, it’s clear: breadth over depth. Pedrono won’t be the consummate professional but a jack-of-all-trades. Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Sense Motive are appropriate social skills. Intimidate, less so. It would be effective to put more ranks into Dexterity and Intelligence based skills, but it’s not hard to imagine this Gemini getting by on his natural talent and taking interest in other areas, Climb for instance, for diversity or just to confuse people.
Finally, there’s things like Reputation, Code of Honor, and religion. Typically, Geminians aren’t into being the center of attention; they like claiming the spotlight only when they are performing. Second edition Conan ties Reputation more closely to level and Charisma bonus, but I don’t see any particular reason this character would exceed those like I might with, say, a Leo. Anyone can follow a code, some are just better suited to it. Consistency, a key element to having a code of behavior, is not a Geminian’s strong point. As a sign wired to think as opposed to feel, religion isn’t something I see coming easily.
Time to move on to L5R. Now, I don’t need to make this pirate in L5R for anyone, but as an exercise, the obvious thing to do is to make this multiversal counterpart a Mantis. Mantis, actually, isn’t too hard to see with Gemini as it’s a clan composed of a collection of other clans. Crab, Lion, and Scorpion would be the harder ones to get a feeling for. Moshi family gets +1 Intelligence. Tsuruchi family gets +1 Reflexes. As a pirate, the Yoritomo Bushi School is the obvious school, but if I were going to get away from occupation and go with interests in a very, very different world, I’d be unsurprised to see a Gemini favor the Moshi Shugenja School or – in typical Gemini fashion – take the Different School advantage and go into a courtier school of some other clan.
L5R’s attributes are nicely laid out by element – air, earth, fire, water plus Void. Gemini is an air sign, seems like the Air Ring’s traits of Awareness and Reflexes are a natural place to start. Earth’s Willpower and Stamina? Nope. Water’s Perception and Strength? Perception, maybe. Fire’s Intelligence and Agility? Sure. Void Ring? Not as much because, again, Geminians don’t tend to be deep. Now, more Void Points are great for a free wheelin’ Gemini and help any character be somewhat proficient in a lot of different areas, so I wouldn’t ignore Void as a way to help a Gemini be more Gemini-ish.
Honor and Glory: Can view these much like how Codes of Honor and Reputation are viewed above. But, these mechanics are much, much more important to playing L5R than those mechanics to playing Conan. So, one should be careful not to make the character inappropriate for Rokugan.
Feats in d20 are mostly mechanical, lacking much flavor, and having little to do with personality. Advantages and disadvantages in L5R, however, aren’t so limited. Advantages I can easily see: Absolute Direction, Ambidextrous, Benten’s Blessing, Clear Thinker (don’t try to confuse the confuser), Combat Reflexes, Crafty, Daredevil, Different School (a natural), Forbidden Knowledge, Jurojin’s Blessing (the perpetual teenager of the Zodiac), Languages, Luck, Multiple Schools (but, of course), Perceived Honor, Quick, Read Lips, Wary, Way of the Land. Disadvantages: Ascetic, Bad Health, Compulsion (only some), Contrary (O-M-G!), Fascination (many), Insensitive (maybe – thinker not feeler), Meddler, Rumormonger.
One thing I should iterate is that the intention with being inspired by astrology is not to be ruled by it, nevermind that people have lots of planets in their horoscopes which supposedly influence personality in different ways. Two Geminians (there are always at least two in every Gemini’s body) should not be alike any more than an Aries and a Taurus would be alike. The idea with using astrology is to inspire and to guide to achieve more realistic and coherent personalities/characters.