Rebellious Princess

Basic Information

Being a princess is so boring! You sit around a palace all day and they make you wear ridiculous dresses and attend tiresome court functions and they never let you do anything exciting and you know that eventually they'll force you into an arranged marriage with some elderly viscount or something. No, you are a Rebellious Princess, and you want adventure!

The Rebellious Princess is usually an adolescent, because that's what adolescent girls are; and frequently becomes a love interest for the Hero. She will either run off with a Dashing Adventurer, or sneak off to have adventures of her own.

Of course as a "spare" princess, much like a low order son, she may have a certain amount of latitude - female royal bastards may also be in this position - if you want a background for a woman with a reasonable amount of money and leisure this may be a good one.

By the modern understanding, the rebellious princess will just happen to be competent in all sorts of skills which she has no reason to know - even to the extent of being a Mary Sue in a lot of cases. It will generally require a fairly unusual background to make her believably competent in the role. A subversion would be for her to be useless but adventurous - constantly getting into trouble through naivety and overconfidence and quite possibly overestimating her own prestige amongst "common people" … "annoying valley girl" would be an interesting place to start characterisation.

Another subversion is to make her the heir to the throne - and unwilling to face responsibility for her nation.


  • Arguably Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire fits this role - although her status as a princess is dubious and not entirely coterminous with her rebellion - she fulfills many aspects of the trope and, somewhat unusually, has at least the beginnings of an education in "action girl" skills before the real hilarity ensues. Her aunt may also have qualified … and look how that ended up…

Game and Story Use

  • Rebellious Princess is a possible background for a PC Action Girl.
    • She might grow up into a Lady of War.
      • An academic princess could be an interesting subversion - one who wants to pursue scholarship/a religious vocation or (if applicable) magic. As above, if she isn't a priority for diplomatic marriage and has an indulgent father this will be a lot easier.
    • Princess Leia was a princess who was a rebel, not necessarily a Rebellious Princess. Just making that clear.
  • The Rebellious Princess has possibilities as an NPC.
    • She can be a romantic interest for one of the PC's; perhaps running away from her palace to join the party.
      • Don't think her family's going to like that.
    • Or perhaps she has run off with some other disreputable type, and her family hires the party to get her back.
      • Why does she have to be in love with anybody? Maybe she just wants to hack up orcs/become an international jewel thief/work as an exotic dancer. A girl has ambitions, you know.
      • The point is, that she's supposed to marry Prince Ughthwart next week and if the party doesn't get her to the chapel in time, then Heads Will Roll!
      • It's also good to subvert the traditional modern take on this (that the princess has every right to do what she wants) by emphasizing the consequences of her running out on her diplomatic marriage (for example, the evil empire then picks off her fiancĂ©e's nation and hers in detail…).
  • Another option is to have a conflict of inheritance, either on Salic grounds (for example when the Empress Maude1, named as heir by her father King Henry I, disputed for the English throne with her cousin Stephen of Blois … a period of English history known, for good reason, as "The Anarchy") or the sort of failure to abolish a regency implied in Rudyard Kipling's Gow's Watch, leading her into conflict with her mother or stepmother.
  • PCs can be left to babysit the "adventurous but incompetent" version. This might actually be a role in which a female "man at arms" might be almost socially acceptable.
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