Alright, now, everyone's familiar with the old "Nature vs.
Nurture" argument. For those who might not be, it goes something
Nature: Mom, Nurture pushed me!
Nurture: Did not!
Nature: Did too!
Nurture: Did not!
Er, wait. That's wrong, though I think Nature and Nurture would be a fine name for a set of twins. Now, the actual Nature vs. Nurture argument entails the question of whether a person is shaped primarily by their genetics or by their environment as they grow up. This debate has been running for years, despite the fact that people have known for thousands of years that it's both. (`Genetics' per se may be a relatively new matter, but ever since the first person said, "Ugh. Him got Thog's eyes," the basic concept has been well noted. As a minor historical anecdote, it's worth noting that the utterer of that statement then followed up by going out and bashing Thog to smithereens for infringing on his women, and with the advent of DNA testing being still well in the wings, it was never discovered that Gok was really at fault.)
However, I'd just like to point out the third possibility that I feel has been woefully neglected. Specifically, past lives, which for the sake of alliteration I will refer to as "Nirvana," on the grounds that the concepts DO relate and "Reincarnation" doesn't start with an N. (Now, if this were Readin', Reincarnation, and 'Rithmetic, it would be fine.)
Think about it. All those dreams about potato farming. That deep-seated feeling that the one job you're truly qualified for is ruler of the world. And what else could explain the desire to dress up in a frog suit, spritz yourself with water, and hop around downtown saying "Ribbit Ribbit" and sticking your tongue out at everyone you pass? Nothing. Except, just maybe, the inexolerable progression towards nirvana. This is something scientists haven't really checked into adequately, though in fairness, a controlled study could be difficult. (And the mathematics involved are intricate, particularly when you consider how many people were Alexander the Great in a past life. My response is always, "Oh, yeah? Well, I was Cleopatra in TWO past lives.")
In role-playing terms, this is easy to take into account. Just roll one die to determine how many lives you've been through of any particular account. (What type of die depends on how many times you want to risk having to roll on the next chart; I recommend a standard d6) Then, for each, roll 1d20 and follow this chart:
|Frog||Good at hopping, inordinantly aware of flies.|
|Periodic urge to conquer the world, bonus to one war-related skill.|
|Whale||+20% weight, can hold breath a long time.|
|Potato Farmer||Hate tubers of all kinds.|
|Jack the Ripper||Bonus to knife and/or surgery skills, but a tad obsessive.|
|Eggplant||Minus to intelligence, enjoy mudbaths.|
|Imelda Marcos||Shoe fetish, bonus to resources/wealth.|
|Cat||Bonus to style & stealth, but breath smells vaguely of tuna.|
|Cleopatra||Imperious manner, bonus to looks.|
|Einstein||Bonus to intelligence, frequently forget to wear pants, frizzy hair.|
|Vampire||Vampires don't reincarnate; start over.|
|Hyena||Bad sense of humor, can eat almost anything.|
|Dustbuster||Cleanliness obsession, sneeze often.|
|Genghis Khan||per Alexander, but bathe less often.|
|P.T. Barnum||Bonus to fast talk / chutzpah.|
|Gandhi||Anorexia and pacifism, but mega bonus to charisma and never look dorky, even if a bald guy with glasses in a toga.|
|The Tick||Big minus to intelligence, big plus to strength, can occasionally operate under cartoon physics.|
|Marilyn Monroe||Massive bonus to attractiveness, not a natural blonde, skirt tends to blow up even with absolutely no wind|
Flip a Coin.
Note that in all cases except Cleopatra, ignore and reroll repeats.
j n m ( m n j )
"You're looking for trout man."
"He doesn't look like a trout. I need to find a man who looks like he thinks he's a trout?!?"