This is just brilliant!
Generating Culturally Rich NPCs (Story Games)
Make a list of 12 cultural rules numbered from 2 to 13. When you need an NPC, pull a playing card. The number indicates a rule. The suit indicates the character’s relation to the rule: heart embodies the rule; diamond twists, alters, or avoids the rule; spade has their life altered by the rule; clubs break the rule. If you draw an ace, make up a new rule.
…this idea is just so full of goodness I can’t believe it.
Protip: When trying to come up with cultural rules, googling for “customs” and “etiquette” is going to give some grist for the mill.
Even if you don’t plan on using this in anger, making up a list of cultural rules is fun and easy — and a good way to gain new insights into the culture. I know it did for me.
Here’s one I’m especially fond of: “Offering wine is offering peace for as long the bottle is not empty.”