The Caligula
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Basic Information

The Caligula is a Stock Character who is the leader of a great Empire or Nation - and stark raving mad! The character trope ranges from Ax Crazy to just a Bunny Ears Lawyer, but the original Caligula (more properly named Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was a murderous bastard.

Related Tropes:



Game and Story Use

Building This Character

The primary write-up below assumes a Caligula with the basic competencies to hold together his empire for at least a year or two. Less competent Caligula's will vary quite significantly
Character Level

  • High level - at least. Epic is not unheard of, and they may be more powerful than the entire adventuring party of PCs. As tempting as it may be to make The Caligula a weak little putz with a big army, that doesn't work as well in fiction and gaming as it does in real life. Authority Equals Ass Kicking is a very powerful trope, and subverting it often feels anticlimactic.


  • Social or Mental Attributes are usually the focus of the Caligula - you need at least one to keep the Empire together, especially if you're crazy.
  • If your game system has solid and functional Social Mechanics, then this character needs a high rating in whatever is used to resist them. Whatever determines Willpower or Force of Personality in your system is probably a high priority.


Special Abilities

  • If there's anything you can take that boosts your resistance to persuasion and social rolls, it'll help make the character seem extra determined - like any good maniac should.
  • Some games have a Merit or Advantage that represents Nobility, Leadership, Henchmen, Bodyguards, Wealth, Influence or the like. Any or all would be appropriate for The Caligula. Of course, the position of King or Emperor may carry a lot more power than a couple of Feats can sum up.
  • Intuition or Good Luck are also possibilities. There's some potency to the archetype of the madman despot who's survived dozens of assassination attempts.

Flaws and Hindrances

  • The point of the character is that they are insane, but so powerful it's overlooked. Regardless of whether or not the game has Sanity Rules, ham it up! Take your Quirks and Eccentricities to barbarous extremes.
  • Since the character has so much power at their fingertips, you may want to give them a fatal flaw that can be exploited.


  • The above assumes The Caligula is mad and barbaric, but still has the ability to keep a state running. However, a particularly harshly Lawful society may be reigned by an uncharismatic despot who no one dares challenge. *
    • If Fear keeps the empire running, The Caligula needs no social skills beyond Intimidation.
    • If The Caligula is just a pawn for more savvy manipulators, he might lack social skills entirely. Someone else calls the shots, while the emperor's mad whims run the nation into the ground. Such a clueless Caligula probably has much higher Physical Attributes and lower Mental ones.
    • In a magical setting, the Caligula may have some sort of Deal With The Devil, or awesome Magic and Powers that keep the state running without his needing to worry about Bureaucracy or Charisma.
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