A Passion for Passions

Previously published in Ex Libris Nocturnis. This is a Wraith essay for White Wolf’s World of Darkness.

In the roleplaying game Wraith, the characters (who are, in fact, quite dead) take on “Passions,” the goals that keep them going while they’re dead. At the core of each Passion is a single emotion. Inspiring that emotion in others, or finding others who feel it, further fuels the character. At some point in my discussions with others the question came up: what emotions are proper and relevant to use as Passions? I decided to start from the beginning.

I began with the textbook from a Human Emotions class: The Psychology and Biology of Emotion, by Robert Plutchik. Many psychologists subscribe to the notion that there is a very limited set of actual emotions. The average set of these basic emotions seems to number about 6, and usually reads something like:

  • fear
  • anger
  • joy
  • sadness
  • disgust
  • interest

There’s a lively debate about “interest” (it has a distinct set of facial movements associated with it, and does satisfy most of the other proposed requirements for a basic emotion, but it seems a little counter-intuitive to some).

Joy sometimes gets written as “happiness” or “pleasure”. Love is very occasionally included, but love is usually considered to be a much more complex state than a simple emotion. Interest is sometimes written as “surprise” or “curiosity”. Occasionally “guilt” is listed, or “shame” or “grief.” Still, the six above seem to be the most common, in my albeit brief study of the subject.

Below is a list of emotions I have culled from a number of sources. My advice regarding its use is this: I recommend that people come up with their Passions first, without looking at a list. Then look at the list if you’re having trouble coming up with just the right word for the emotion that goes with the Passion. I also recommend the list to Storytellers who are having trouble coming up with their 20th Passion of the day while designing NPCs; they mightfind something new and interesting.

Most basic-emotion psychologists believe that the majority of emotion words are actually variations on the basic ones: they add to the definition intensity, situation, etc., or they describe a personality trait rather than an emotion. I’ll include personality trait words (and the others) simply because a lot of them make great Passions. Also, some of these are adjectives, some are nouns; it was easier that way. I don’t promise that all of these will be appropriate for Passions, by the way.

  • abasement
  • acceptance
  • adoration
  • adventurous
  • affection
  • agreeable
  • aggression
  • agony
  • alarm
  • amazement
  • ambivalence
  • amusement
  • anger
  • anguish
  • animosity
  • annoyance
  • antagonism
  • anticipation
  • antipathy
  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • appalled
  • appetite
  • apprehension
  • approbation
  • approval
  • ardor
  • arousal
  • assertive
  • astonishment
  • attentive
  • avarice
  • averse
  • avid
  • awe
  • balky
  • bashful
  • bewildered
  • bitter
  • bliss
  • boastful
  • bold
  • boredom
  • broad-mindedness
  • calm
  • capricious
  • captious
  • careless
  • caring
  • caution
  • censorious
  • cheerful
  • cockiness
  • compassion
  • complacency
  • conceit
  • concern
  • confusion
  • consternation
  • contempt
  • content
  • contrary
  • cooperative
  • cranky
  • critical
  • curiosity
  • cynical
  • daring
  • daunted
  • decisive
  • defiance
  • dejection
  • delectation
  • delight
  • depression
  • desire
  • despair
  • desperation
  • despise
  • despondent
  • determination
  • detestation
  • devotion
  • diffidence
  • disagreeable
  • disappointment
  • discomposure
  • disconcerted
  • discontent
  • discouragement
  • disdain
  • disgust
  • disheartened
  • disinclination
  • disinterest
  • dismay
  • disobedience
  • displeasure
  • disquieted
  • dissatisfaction
  • distaste
  • distress
  • distrust
  • doubt
  • dread
  • eager
  • ecstasy
  • effrontery
  • egocentrism
  • egoism
  • elation
  • embarrassment
  • empty
  • enjoyment
  • enmity
  • enthusiasm
  • envyv
  • euphoria
  • exasperation
  • expectancy
  • fault-finding
  • fear
  • fervor
  • foolhardy
  • frenzied
  • fretful
  • forward
  • froward
  • frustration
  • fury
  • gaiety
  • gall
  • generosity
  • glad
  • glee
  • gloom
  • greed
  • grief
  • grouchy
  • guilt
  • happiness
  • hatred
  • haughty
  • helplessness
  • hesitancy
  • homesickness
  • honor
  • hope
  • hopelessness
  • horror
  • hostility
  • humiliation
  • humility
  • impassiveness
  • impatience
  • impudence
  • impulsive
  • indecision
  • indifference
  • indignation
  • inhospitable
  • insecurity
  • insolence
  • interest
  • intolerance
  • irresolution
  • irritability
  • irritation
  • jealousy
  • jocular
  • jovial
  • joy
  • lasciviousness
  • lethargy
  • liberality
  • lighthearted
  • loathing
  • lonely
  • love
  • lust
  • malice
  • malignity
  • meek
  • melancholy
  • merry
  • mirthful
  • misanthropy
  • miserable
  • modesty
  • mortification
  • mysoginic
  • mysoginism
  • narcissism
  • nervous
  • nosiness
  • nostalgia
  • obedience
  • obstinate
  • offense
  • optimism
  • outrage
  • pain
  • panic
  • paranoia
  • partiality
  • passion
  • passivity
  • patience
  • peaceful
  • peevish
  • penitent
  • pensive
  • perplexity
  • perturbed
  • perverse
  • pessimism
  • petulance
  • pique
  • placidity
  • playful
  • pleasure
  • possessive
  • precocious
  • prejudice
  • pride
  • puzzled
  • querulous
  • quiet pleasure
  • radical
  • rage
  • rancor
  • rapture
  • rash
  • rebellious
  • receptive
  • reckless
  • refractory
  • regret
  • rejection
  • reluctance
  • remorse
  • repentant
  • repugnance
  • resentment
  • reserved
  • resignation
  • resolute
  • restive
  • restlessness
  • reverence
  • revulsion
  • sadness
  • sarcasm
  • satisfaction
  • savage
  • scorn
  • self-conscious
  • self-control
  • self-deprecation
  • self-destructive
  • self-reproach
  • sensitivity
  • serenity
  • shaky
  • shame
  • shock
  • shy
  • skepticism
  • sociable
  • solicitude
  • sorrow
  • spite
  • spontaneity
  • startled
  • stoic
  • stubborn
  • submissive
  • suicidal
  • sunny
  • surprise
  • surrender
  • suspicion
  • sympathy
  • tension
  • terror
  • thoughtful
  • timid
  • tolerance
  • tranquility
  • trepidation
  • triumph
  • troubled
  • trust
  • umbrage
  • unassertive
  • uncertainty
  • uneasiness
  • unfriendly
  • unhappy
  • upset
  • vanity
  • vehemence
  • vengeful
  • venturesome
  • vexation
  • vigilance
  • violation
  • wariness
  • warmhearted
  • watchful
  • wayward
  • woeful
  • wonder
  • worry
  • worship
  • worthlessness
  • wretched
  • zeal
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